How to pass your CBT and ride a motorbike on L-plates

Learn how to get a CBT and ride a bike on L-plates
Learn how to get a CBT and ride a bike on L-plates

If you’ve decided you want to ride a motorbike, the first thing you’ll need to do is complete a Compulsory Basic Training, or CBT course. It may be a step down from your dreams of exploring the open road on a big sportsbike or cruiser, but everyone has to start somewhere.

It’s not a CBT test…

While many describe it as a test, it’s better viewed as a certificate of competence to ride a powered two-wheeler, be that a motorcycle or scooter. Riding schools report that the word ‘test’ makes people overly nervous about an activity that should be, and is, a lot of fun. Don’t approach it like an exam you can fail, but more of a lesson in how biking works. 

The CBT is a mandatory requirement for nearly all new riders and, as the name suggests, will give you the basic level of experience needed in order to ride a motorcycle on the road.

Whether you want to ride a cost-effective scooter through the traffic to work, get your first taste of automotive freedom at 16 or be able to ride a bigger machine eventually, the CBT is your first port of call.

It only takes a day to get a CBT, providing all goes according to plan

What is a CBT and what’s involved?

Assuming you are starting from the very beginning, you will be taught everything from the highway code, to wheeling the machine around and using the stands, through to riding safely on the road. It’s possible to do the test in a few hours if you’ve got experience, but most training centres will offer a day-long CBT to ensure you’ve got the necessary skills.

A training school instructor will assess you throughout the day and if everything goes as planned you will be signed off as safe to ride a moped or small motorbike depending on your age. You’ll be given a CBT certificate at the end of the course, should you succeed, and ideally this should be taken with you when you ride your bike on the road just in case you’re asked to prove you’ve done the training.

How long does a CBT last?

Your CBT will last two years and then needs to be retaken unless you pass your full bike test in that time.

What can I ride on a CBT?

From 16 years old you can ride a moped with L-plates once you have passed your CBT. A moped is a bike or scooter with an engine capacity up to 50cc. Find the best 50cc scooter and mopeds here.

You'll be assessed off the road first, and then on it in traffic

Once you’re aged 17 or over, a CBT allows you to ride a motorcycle up to 125cc and with a power output of up to 11kW (14.7bhp) on L-plates. Get MCN’s pick of the best 125cc motorbikes here.

How much is a CBT?

The price of a CBT varies geographically and depends on whether you use your own bike or hire one but will start at around £120. In most cases, this will also cover the cost of all protective gear hire, too.

Watch: MCN’s guide to the CBT