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What to Expect on the Day of Your CBT Test?


Tom Baker · June 07, 2018

It’s the night before your CBT Test (Compulsory Basic Training) and you’re probably a little nervous. And that’s fine, because at first the idea of riding a motorcycle can feel a little daunting, and we’ve all been taught over the years to fear riding an engine on two wheels - but the honest truth is that there’s very few things in the world more liberating than slapping an ‘L’ plate onto your new bike or scooter, flipping down your helmet visor and heading off into the afternoon sun for a day out on your new pride and joy!

Motorcycle and helmet in the sun

So keep that romantic image in your head and take it with you on the morning of your CBT. AND, here’s the best part… It is IMPOSSIBLE TO FAIL your CBT. Yep, that’s right - the CBT isn’t a test, it’s ‘training’, so the focus of whole day is to show you how to correctly ride and to ride safely. All you have to do is relax, open your mind and be willing to learn.

That said, there are a few things you could do to prepare for the day of your CBT 'test'.

If you’re serious about motorcycle riding, you should already have applied for your provisional licence and you will have probably taken a cursory look at the Highway Code. If you haven’t then make sure that you do so, because whilst you can’t fail the CBT course, the instructor can stop your training on the day if he feels that you’re basic knowledge isn’t good enough for you to ride safely on your own.

Also - and this is something that people often forget - you might want to go out and spend an hour or so the evening before on a bicycle. Whilst a bit of speed from an engine helps with your balance enormously, a bit of a reminder of what it’s like to be on two wheels can never go amiss.

Book Your CBT

Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with gears or the levers on a motorcycle too much, your instructor will show you how everything works during the first few hours of the day - but if you want to brush up a little on your knowledge, or even if you’ve no idea how the gears of a motorcycle work, there are hundreds of videos on YouTube that will remove the mystique (and your worry). Be warned though… A LOT of the videos contain old men with American accents mansplaining everything in excruciating detail, so try and watch a few until you find one you’re comfortable with.

As far as equipment goes, check on the RideTo website as to what precisely the location you have booked with will provide on the day; most have helmets, jackets and gloves for you to wear, which means you’ll just need to concentrate on bringing yourself and some sensible clothing and footwear. Check out our article on the best motorcycle denim to wear.

all prep guides 1.2

In fact, whilst you can get away with wearing heavy denim for your training, we’d recommend NOT wearing trainers or thin shoes. The motorcycle footwear industry is worth millions and if you go on to ride on a regular basis we absolutely recommend that you invest in a solid pair of boots that are designed for riding, but for your CBT anything that covers the ankles and are fairly robust will do.

We don’t want to sound too much like on of your grandparents’ but it really is sensible to check the weather report for the day that you’re due to train and prepare for that accordingly - if you’ve got a baggy rain jacket, that can be worn over your school-loaned jacket and it’ll make riding in the rain a lot less stressful. And if it’s going to be a sunny day, wear layers of clothing that you can remove if it gets too hot on the bike - there’s nothing worse than sweating all day into a borrowed jacket that you’re going to end up handing back at the end of the day.

As for the CBT course itself, well there are five parts to it which consist of:

An introduction and a basic eyesight check (don’t forget your glasses if you are short-sighted and need them to read licence plate numbers of road signs!)

On-site training (expect an instructor to talk to you about the basics of being on a road, where to place yourself on the road and what to expect from other road users).

On-site riding (this will be where you get used to balancing, using the throttle to control your speed and - if needed - changing gears).

Usually, these first three elements happen in the morning of the course. You’ll probably then break for lunch of some description… So bring some money as well, just in case there’s a decent sandwich shop nearby!

Then you’ll most likely hit the local roads for the rest of the day and your:

On-road riding: At the VERY LEAST you’ll get TWO HOURS of on-road riding. This is compulsory, but you should expect more if you and the rest of the members of your training for the day have learned well during the morning.

And that’s actually all there is to it.

Once you’ve finished you get a ‘certificate of completion’ - which the DVLA glamorously refer to as a DL196 - and then you’re legally allowed to ride a moped or motorcycle up to 125cc (or 11kW) on the UK a roads - as long as you’ve got your L-Plates of course! Check out our article on the top motorcycles to ride on a CBT


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Why not grab a copy of our New Rider Journal which contains everything you need to know about getting through your CBT and beyond should you want to continue your journey onto full licence.

This information is given to you as a guide to support you in your choice of licence and RideTo has made every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information provided about motorcycle licence and training requirements. However, RideTo cannot guarantee the information is up to date, correct and complete and is therefore provided on an "as is" basis only. RideTo accepts no liability whatsoever for any loss or damage howsoever arising. We recommend that you verify the current licence and training requirements by checking the DVSA website.