What you need to know about CBT

Learner Motorcycle on road

Published 17 June 2022
Last updated 17 June 2022

Follow Jess as she shares her experience of Compulsory Basic Training (CBT). You’ll learn about proper prep, what happens on the day and what to consider next.

Hi! My name is Jess, and I’ve just completed Compulsory Basic Training, or CBT.

Like it or not, CBT is something that you have to go through if you want to ride a powered two-wheeler. That includes mopeds if you’re 16 or over, and motorcycles up to 125cc and with a power output of up to 11kW if you’re 17 or over.

Tips for CBT success

It might surprise you to learn that CBT isn’t a pass or fail type of course. Sadly, that doesn’t mean that you can turn up and hope for the best. To get the most from your day, I would recommend that you brush up on your Highway Code knowledge and dress with motorcycling in mind. There’s usually clothing available for those that need it (and the trainers spend time going through the importance of choosing the right equipment and clothing), but your trainer can send you home if they think you lack the gear, skills, or knowledge to ride safely on your own. Oh, and a couple of extra little tips for you:

  • don’t wear thin shoes like trainers – they are completely unsuitable and will put you on the fast track to injury!
  • it’s well worth taking a look at Ridefree. I only found out about it after I’d completed CBT, but I think it would have helped me to understand what to expect from the training.

On the day

When I arrived at the training school, I was a little nervous, but after a while, I started to feel better. The trainers took time to explain the format of the course as well as the controls of the bike. There was time to ask questions and I didn’t feel rushed into the practical on-road training.

Once we’d completed the basics (we spent some time going over road positioning and how other road users react to motorcyclists), we were ready for some on-site riding. Now, virtually everyone reading this blog will either have been a passenger in a car or driven a car, but you may not have ridden anything on two wheels except a bicycle. So, for anyone who has never been on a motorcycle of any kind, it’s a completely different experience. There’s nothing around you and your perception of speed is different. I don’t mind admitting that it took some getting used to! Having said that, once I got the hang of the throttle and my balance improved, I felt more comfortable and started to enjoy it.

On the road

After lunch, it was time for the big one...on-road riding. It was at this point that I began to feel a little bit nervous again. Although it feels liberating to go out on public roads, I found it difficult to completely dismiss my worries. Questions like ‘what do I do at roundabouts?’ and ‘how will I cope at junctions?’ were swirling around my mind.

When I set out with my trainer it did feel a bit daunting, but as the session went on, I started to get to grips with what I was doing and ride more confidently. The route contained bridges, roundabouts, and plenty of junctions, so it felt like I was getting a proper grounding in the basics. When we finally got back to the training centre, I was halfway between dreaming of my newfound freedom and worrying about whether I’d shown enough to get the all-clear. Fortunately, my trainer was satisfied and I was given my certificate.

That’s not to say that I had nothing to work on – and this is a key point I would make to all would-be motorcyclists. It’s very unlikely that you will sail through everything without a trainer pointing out some weaknesses or areas of improvement. CBT is a way of checking your basic competencies. It does not and will not make you a riding expert. Whether you improve your skills

and become a better, safer rider is down to you and the amount of work you put in after the training. So don’t be afraid to ask questions of other, more experienced riders or take additional tuition if you feel you need it. There are also plenty of additional resources available to help you, such as Riding – the essential skills.

Good luck!

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