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What is Compulsory Basic Training (CBT)

What is Compulsory Basic Training (CBT)

What is Compulsory Basic Training (CBT)

So what is Compulsory Basic Training or more commonly known in the biking fraternity as a CBT test?

It is not a test but a process of training and education to develop new riders to a suitable standard to be able to ride on the road on their own.

It is a legal requirement

It is also a legal requirement for anyone wishing to ride a motorcycle or moped on UK roads. There are a few loopholes that exist but they are gradually being phased out.

This basic motorcycle training course was designed to ensure that learner riders have the necessary riding skills to safely ride a motorcycle or moped unaccompanied on the road.

On successful completion of the CBT course, a ‘DL196’ Compulsory Basic Training Certificate (valid for two years) is issued by the instructor. Learner riders must display L Plates, must not carry pillion passengers and cannot go on the motorway.

It is not a one day course

Compulsory Basic Training has generally been offered as a one-day motorcycle training course. It can only be delivered by an Approved Training Body (ATB – motorcycle training school) and by a suitably qualified motorcycle training instructor.

When Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) candidates do not meet the required standard, they will not complete the training in one day. The course is a syllabus that has been designed and implemented by the DVSA, all training must be completed according to these guidelines.

Proper education is required

Any training or shortfalls in training means learner riders are not being trained correctly and the authority of the training school can be at risk. This is to ensure all riders undergo thorough and proper education to ensure standards of riding are raised across the training industry.

When learner riders are not safe to ride unaccompanied on the road, they will have to return for further guidance. This means the training can be extended as required.

Standards are rising

It is not an attendance course and because of changes to the syllabus in recent years, the CBT course has become more demanding for learner riders.

It is more common that riders do not achieve a CBT certificate in one day. This is because we have moved to a nation of academics, rather than the hands-on practical skills of 40-50 years ago. The workplace has changed and as IT has become more prevalent in most roles, we have lost a little bit of the practical skills of yesteryear.

Elongated CBT’s are now commonplace and many training schools offer taster sessions, pre CBT training and 2 or more day CBT courses. The older generation of bikers scoff at the new process brought in now by many training organisations.

But it is done to help riders learn the vast amount of skills properly. Training is not skimmed anymore, this is intended to reduce road deaths and accidents for new and inexperienced vulnerable riders.

On completion of the CBT

On completion of Compulsory Basic Training, a novice rider will be issued with a CBT certificate (DL196). This is issued by the trainer who took the learner rider on the road. They must have spent a minimum of 2 hours riding on the road.

To be able to ride unaccompanied they must have demonstrated a good understanding of how to ride on the road. Also shown that they are capable of making their own decisions and being safe and competent.

On many occasions two hours is not long enough to learn these skills, so further guidance is necessary. No pillion passengers are allowed but new riders on L Plates can use dual carriageways.

They should be aware of their speed, especially riding a moped. The speed of a moped is less than 30 mph and given the 60 and 70 mph speed limit on fastener roads, novice riders are at risk.

UK and Welsh laws

Post-CBT, new riders must display ‘L’ plates (‘D’ plates in Wales) on the front and rear of their machine. They must be visible, vertical and seen from the front and rear of the bike and not cut down. They must be 7×7 inches and should be kept clean for heightened visibility.

These cannot be removed until motorcycle theory, Module 1 and Module 2 motorcycle tests have all been taken and passed successfully.

The introduction of CBT

Compulsory Basic Training was introduced in December 1990 in an effort to address the high accident and fatality rates amongst new riders.

Prior to this a learner rider could buy a motorbike and be riding on public roads without any knowledge, experience or training. This meant novice riders were at a greater risk and many did not do very well with this self learning DIY approach. In fact, many young riders are not around to tell the tale!

A look at pre-1990 accident statistics tells a startling story. A greater relevance is the quantum leap of reduced accident statistics since the introduction of Compulsory Basic Training.

Motorcycle Training Instructor and student


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There is more to be done

There has been a great improvement but there is still more to be done and more things need to change to reduce accidents and death rates amongst young and inexperienced riders.

With a valid CBT certificate, at 16 years of age a learner can ride a moped. That can be an automatic or a geared machine but cannot exceed 50cc. If a rider is 17 years old or over, they can ride a motorcycle up to 125cc with a power output of no more than 11kW. 

To ride anything bigger than a 125cc, a full motorcycle test is required in the category that suits the rider’s age and ability.

The CBT Syllabus

Although Compulsory Basic Training follows a set syllabus, good training schools will deliver the course with a client centred teaching approach. This ensures training is individual for the candidate’s learning needs.

Also important is the instructor to student ratio and although four students per instructor is common, a more effective ratio is two CBT students to one instructor per course, is a wiser learning ratio. Loading the CBT day up with students means profit is the primary goal and not customer safety.

This lower 2:1 instructor to student ratio, naturally affords a more personal, tailored and effective learning experience.

Element A 

Element A is a CBT course introduction.

It covers what to expect on the day, gives a short history and aims of the course, along with an interactive discussion about motorcycle clothing, general safety and comfort.

Element B

Element B is an introduction to the motorcycle’s controls and how they work.

Learner riders are also taught basic use of the controls, manual handling and wheeling the motorcycle and a good introduction to the motorcycle safety checks.

Element C

Element C is the CBT training for off-road practical riding instruction.

Riders are taught how to ride the motorbike within the safety of an off-road training area. There should be no hazards in the area and it must be a safe environment.

Lessons covered during this phase include:

  • Pulling aways and stopping
  • Using the brakes correctly
  • Slow Control
  • U-Turn
  • Carry out rear observations
  • Figure-of-eight exercise
  • Gear changing 
  • Emergency stops
  • Turning left and right at junctions

For a better understanding of how to operate the controls, join Motorcycle Riders Hub online CBT Course to develop and support your training. Pre learning will elevate new riders skills and knowledge.

Element D

Element D is a discussion on how to ride safely on the road.

It is usually classroom based and includes a briefing on the Highway Code. Also about staying visible on the road, defensive riding and generally about what can be expected whilst riding on the road. It also gives advice on what a new rider should do in different situations.

Element E

Element E is the on-road riding part of Compulsory Basic Training.

It takes the form of a minimum period of a two hour road-ride, where new riders will experience a wide variety of roads, junctions and traffic scenarios. 

To be better prepared, home study prior to attending is imperative. The more a rider knows, the better prepared they will be and it will be less likely that they will need to return for further training. Prepare for your CBT Course.

Thorough training is required

Each Element must be covered in full and students must demonstrate a good understanding and practical skill level in order to progress through the course. 

If a learner rider does not achieve the desired standard during Element C they will not progress to riding on the road (Element E). 

Where there are areas of weakness during Element E, CBT students will require more instruction before a CBT DL196 certificate can be issued.

To Summarise

Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) is only the first basic step. Learner riders are encouraged to undergo more motorcycle coaching to be better prepared and safer on today’s busy and congested roads.

Progressing to a full motorcycle test is wise. This allows more tuition and guidance over a longer period of time but do your homework and do not be swayed by cheap, quick motorcycle training. Development is the key to success and intensive courses do not provide a good platform for elevated learning.

NB. The only remaining exception to Compulsory Basic Training is for those who passed a car driving licence prior to 01 February 2001. Their entitlement includes a full 50cc moped category but to ride a higher capacity motorcycle riders are required to take and pass a CBT. 

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