Whether you’re interested in just completing a CBT or the full motorcycle licence it is important to stay ‘in the know’ of the processes in which you must undergo to obtain your different certificates.
In this blog we will be going through every part of the process in detail, with the help from Roger at Bikematters, starting at the beginning with the CBT all the way up to becoming a full unrestricted motorcycle licence holder.
So with that being said, let’s get into it, shall we?
The benefits of learning to ride a motorcycle or scooter
Regardless of whether you’re a teenager wanting to learn how to ride a moped or motorcycle to gain your freedom, or you’re choosing to switch from a four-wheeler to a two-wheeler, there are plenty of benefits in doing so…
Believe it or not, there are a few potential financial benefits to owning and riding a two-wheeler, including:
- Better fuel mileage per gallon
- Lower maintenance costs
- Cheaper insurance
Ideal for city commuting
Whether you chose to ride on a 125cc scooter or 1000cc sportbike, both are as equally quick when nipping through busy traffic. Smaller capacity machines are light, agile, and nippy enough to get through and beat the traffic.
So if your commute to work or school is a busy one, you’ll certainly benefit from choosing a two-wheeler in comparison to a car.
Making travelling fun
While this one may be subjective, I’m pretty sure many riders would agree with me when I say that the freedom and feeling of riding on the open road are like no other.
According to a Neurobiological study published in ‘Brain Research’, riding can not only improve your mood by releasing adrenaline and endorphins into the brain but can also help to reduce stress by 25%.
And if you need any more convincing on why you should learn to ride a scooter or motorcycle why not head over to our benefits of a bike article?
So, you want to learn how to ride a motorbike?
How to apply for a provisional licence
Applying for your provisional licence is a quick and easy process that can be done through the GOV.UK website.
The licence will cost you £34 when you apply online, and you must be at least 15 years and 9 months old, able to read a licence plate from 20 meters away, and have also been given permission to live in Great Britain for a minimum of 185 days.
Alternatively, you can apply by post by obtaining and completing a D1 application form from your local post office. Submitting your application by post will come with a slightly more expensive fee of £43 but can allow you to update your passport-style picture.
In order to complete your application, you will need to have a valid passport and your national insurance number ready. You may also be asked to provide an address where you’ve lived over the past three years.
Applications can take up to anything from 3 weeks so bear that in mind when applying and don’t book anything that requires it too close.
Book a motorcycle theory test
Once your licence arrives, you are ready to make the next steps! Some people may decide to get straight onto the CBT and get riding, while others will choose to tackle their theory test first- please note, there is no right or wrong way of going about this, it is completely up to you!
Booking your theory test is easy and can again be done online via the GOV.UK website, with a fee of £23.
While you are not required to hold a theory certificate in order to do either your CBT or your motorcycle lessons, some people prefer to take the theory first to help gain some insight and knowledge on the theory and rules of the road (the majority jump straight into a CBT). Remember, a theory test is required to do a motorcycle test, and is valid for two years.
How to revise for your theory test:
After everything is booked and in place, it is time to start revising and taking into consideration the current wait times for tests, I would recommend starting as soon as possible to avoid waiting around for too long.
Bikematters Roger recalls the longer waiting times for theory tests saying:
"I was unlucky here as I booked mine just as summer was beginning - the most popular time to get on a bike! As a result I had almost a full month to wait before I could take the test."
However, if you are only planning to do a CBT in order to get out on a moped or scooter this isn’t a concern as some theory elements will be covered during your CBT.
To prepare I would recommend using ‘The Complete Motorcycle Theory and Hazard Perception Test’. This is an excellent, comprehensive guide to everything involved in the test, including all of the actual questions used and various practice tests.
The software also keeps track of your progress, breaking the information into categories and showing you which areas you are doing well in, and which areas would require more work.
CBT motorcycle and moped training
What is a CBT?
Compulsory basic training (CBT) is a course you typically take to allow you to ride a motorcycle or moped on the road.
CBT training will be completed over a single day, covering elements of theory and knowledge, as well as getting out on the road.
Once you have completed your CBT, it will last you up to two years before it expires, allowing you if you are 16 to ride a scooter or moped up to 50cc or if you are 17, ride up to a 125cc / 11KW / 14.7BHP limit with an L plate on your bike.
After the CBT expires you can either retake the course or go on to complete further tests for an A1, A2, or Cat A licence (You'll need a valid CBT in order to take your test).
Can I still do CBT with an electric motorbike?
The answer is yes. You do not need to ride a petrol-powered motorcycle in order to complete your CBT.
If you want to use an electric motorcycle during your CBT, you will need to do it on an electric motorcycle or scooter that has the same power output as a 125cc internal combustion engine bike (11kW).
Find a CBT training centre
The first thing to do is to find where you will take your CBT. There are plenty of training centres offering CBT so make sure you do your research and ask around about who they’d recommend.
Another way you can easily find a CBT training centre close to you is through the GOV.UK website.
What to expect during your CBT motorbike training
The first half of the morning will be spent in the classroom, going over some basic theory and taking a look at the bike controls and how they work. After this, you will also have some time when you go to an off-road area to get started with the basics of riding.
After riding around the enclosed area, practicing everything from gear changes (if on a motorcycle), U-turns, and slow speed control around cones, you will return to the classroom for more theoretical preparation before the afternoon’s road ride
The road ride part of your CBT is the final component before being given your certificate and usually lasts around 2 hours. You won’t be expected to ride like an expert, but simply to be safe and demonstrate basic competence with your bike. This section will consist of riding through a variety of situations such as quiet residential areas to busier town streets, emergency stops, U-turns and safely pulling over.
Usually, you will be split into smaller groups allowing you to have closer assistance from your instructor, so if you do need that little bit of extra assistance they will be there to help you.
Bikematter’s Roger recalls when he went for his CBT training:
"It was quite a long day around 8 hours in total and I felt surprisingly tired at the end of it but I had my CBT and had experienced road riding for the first time. From here I was free to take a 50-125cc scooter onto the road with L-plates if I desired and if that is your goal, this is all you have to do!"
A key thing to remember as a complete beginner is to take your time and not feel pressured to keep up with others who may be more advanced. Simply enjoy the experience and you’ll soon pick it up.
Ready to get a motorcycle licence?
Choose the right course for your needs
There are various courses out there for you depending on your age.
You can take your moped licence at 16 to ride up to 50cc mopeds. At 17 you can take your Category A1 to ride motorcycles up to 125cc. At age 19-23 you are eligible to take a Category A2 licence which allows you to ride motorcycles up to a power output of 35kW. The A2 market is an expanding area right now with manufacturers producing a range of great motorcycles to fit in this bracket with ever-improving performance and looks.
Although, if you are aged 19-23 and thinking about getting on a motorcycle it’s definitely worth taking a look at what’s on offer now (you can head over to our Top 10 A2 motorcycles article if you need some guidance).
Advanced motorcycle training: DAS (Direct Access)
Once you reach the age of 24 or held an A2 licence for two years, you will be able to obtain your full motorcycle licence by taking a Direct Access course and passing all the practical tests - A full motorbike licence will entitle you to ride any sized machine you desire.
If you are looking to get your DAS certificate, your best bet is to call up your local motorcycle school, as they are the ones who can book the tests for you.
What to expect during advanced motorcycle training
First things first, when doing your Direct Access course, you must use a bike that is 600cc or 40kW (if you’re choosing to use an electric motorcycle or scooter).
Typically the DAS training lasts over a duration of 4 days, but it can be shorter if you have already completed your CBT and have basic riding sorted. Depending on where you live can cost you anywhere between £600-£850.
A typical 4-day DAS course would include:
- Day 1: The CBT
- Day 2 + 3: Practicing Module 1 manoeuvres locally and passing your Module 1 test
- Day 4: Practising on local reads and taking your Module 2 test
How to prepare for your practical test
The practical test you take in order to gain your full motorcycle licence is now split into two parts, with module 1 focussing on bike control and manoeuvring and module 2 consisting of a 30-40 minute road ride.
Depending on your experience level you may find one more challenging than the other. Roger from Bikematters says:
"I’ve known people who have been driving cars for years who found the road ride of module 2 much easier since they already had the road fundamentals well practiced. At the same time, I’ve also known people from a motor cross background who had fantastic bike control and sailed through the module 1 only to struggle in the road ride."
It is important to mention that you cannot take your module 2 test until you have completed and passed the module 1 test. So while you may be eager to get yourself on the roads, it is essential to be patient and complete the tests in the correct order.
Module 1: Bike control and manoeuvring
You will start the module one test by completing a series of manoeuvres, starting with a bay park, moving on to switching off the bike, and then walking it to an adjacent bay. From there, the instructors will have you ride slowly and smoothly across a series of cones in slalom, finishing in a figure of 8 at the end.
After completing this section, it will be time for the slow ride, where you will be asked to ride in a straight line at a roughly walking pace.
Next up is the U-turn and the short ride across the test area going around a bend before increasing your speed to 20-30mph and stopping smoothly between two cones.
Last but not least, you will be asked to complete the final two manoeuvres, the emergency stop and hazard avoidance (these are the ones that people tend to have the most trouble with). They will follow the same pattern much as the previous manoeuvrers traversing the bend and then accelerating out of it the difference is you must reach an exact speed of above 32mph before either an emergency stop when the examiner signals or swerving around a cone.
An important tip to remember is that while it may be a short distance to build up the right speed, do not become too focused on reaching 32mph exactly or you may miss the move.
If you’ve completed your motorcycle course up to this stage, you should be prepared for the test, just make sure you are familiar with the layout and have practiced everything that will be asked of you. At the end of the day, if things don’t go right the first time it’s still not the end of the world simply re-book and try again, you’ll get there in the end!
Module 2: Road test
There is not much to say when it comes to module two testing. The test consists of a simple briefing, followed by a few questions regarding motorcycle maintenance and safety, and last but not least the 30-40 minute road ride.
During the road ride, you will be asked to follow signs on your own to a particular destination for one section of the road test before the examiner gives you the directions for the rest.
Depending on where you live and the time you’ve booked your test, you will encounter different conditions. An advisory tip is to make sure during your training you have experienced as many weather and traffic conditions as possible, as well as both countryside and city riding. This will help you to stay confident regardless of what the examiner tries to throw at you!
Once the module 2 test has been completed successfully, that’s it you have your licence!
What is a good motorcycle or scooter for a first-timer?
Buying your first motorcycle and scooter can be quite a daunting process. If you don’t know where to start you can check out our full guide on how to buy your first motorcycle.
We here at BikeMatters have created two articles on some of the best motorcycles and scooters for first-timers:
Top picks for A2 licence holders
However, if you are over the age of 19 or have completed the relevant practical tests and you’re wanting something with a little more power and tech, you can opt for an A2 motorcycle or maxi scooter.
Feel free to take a look at just a few of our guides on some of the best A2 bikes and scooters out there today:
Top picks for full unrestricted licence holders
When you finally have your unrestricted licence, your choice of bikes is limitless. If you need any direction on which bikes to look out for, we have created a few handy guides to help point you in the right direction.
Finding the right motorcycle gear
While only a helmet is mandatory by law, it is recommended that you invest in a full set of good quality protective clothing.
If you're going to be commuting daily (and want to protect yourself from the unpredictable UK weather), then you will want to be as safe and as warm as possible, this means motorcycle jackets, trousers, and gloves.
Finding the correct motorcycle gear for you is all about finding the right fit and making sure it offers adequate protection. Your local motorcycle clothing store will be an ideal place to check out for stock and for help with getting the fit right!
It is worth mentioning that if you plan to wear protective clothing over your work gear, you will need to make sure you have a size big enough to fit over anything you will be wearing underneath.
Ready to ride
Once you have completed your motorcycle training you are ready to get out and ride.
Bikematters Roger recalls when he completed his motorcycle training stating:
"For me, the entire process from obtaining my provisional to holding a full unrestricted motorcycle licence took about a month and was a great experience. If you have ever dreamed of riding a bike but never got around to it, it really is quite straightforward and I would encourage you to give it a try. A week after passing my test, riding through the beautiful countryside on my own bike I couldn’t have been happier than I was!"
Before you do get out there and ride though, whatever motorcycle or scooter you plan to ride on, must be insured.
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