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Motorcycle training - Should I learn on an automatic or a manual?


Alex K · October 05, 2018

Should you learn to ride on an automatic or manual motorcycle? Well, that very much depends on what you want to ride. Below I’ve broken down the reasons for both types of bikes and the benefits of each.

Scooters ready for training

One thing to note - whatever you do your CBT on whether it’s a manual or an automatic you are able to ride either gearbox once you have received your CBT certificate. However, we here at RideTo would always recommend having training on a manual if you’re looking to buy a manual motorcycle.


When starting out learning to ride a motorcycle the automatics can offer an easier route into biking for those without a great deal of experience. If you’re learning to ride a bike from scratch then it’s much easier to not have to worry about a clutch and gears while you get to grips with your bike control.

Rider completing cone training

Automatic scooters are great for in town and city riding - a twist and go throttle is ideal when you’re stopping and starting in traffic. It saves your hands cramping up on the clutch as you creep forward but also saves on maintenance as that creeping on the biting point can wear out the clutch.

Limitations of the automatic gearbox are that they can be a bit slow-witted at times and are not always able to offer power when you need it. When you’re talking about learner legal scooters and mopeds though it is the easier option.

Don't be fooled into thinking that automatics don't offer that 'cool' vibe either... a lot of the classic Vespas are automatic and with the smaller capacity market continually growing, more and more manufacturers are bringing out some fantastic looking machines. Whether you're after something old school and retro or something a little more sporty.

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Manual motorcycles offer an extra challenge to beginner riders, especially those that have not driven a manual car in the past. One of the key skills you need to ride a manual motorcycle is clutch control followed closely by gear selection. This is something that can be taught by your instructor during your CBT but there are always ITM (introduction to motorcycling) courses that you can take if you're nervous about it.

Rider with instructor getting instruction

As I mentioned earlier it's definitely worth doing your CBT Training on a manual motorcycle if you're planning on buying a manual motorcycle once you have completed your CBT. If you're planning on going on to get a full motorcycle licence it's better to learn on a manual motorcycle, it will make sure you get as much practice using a clutch and your gear awareness, therefore, making your full licence training and test easier.

Instructor working with a full class

There's a huge variety of learner legal automatic and manual bikes on the market at the moment and picking the one that's right for you is key. Remember, when starting your motorcycle journey more training and taking things slowly is beneficial and you always feel free to get in touch with us here at RideTo HQ if you're not sure which is right for you.

If you're looking to get onto two wheels but not sure where to start, why not take our getting started survey

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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.