What is involved in getting a CBT licence?

If you start researching getting a bike licence, one of the first things that will start to appear are the letters C B T. This is usually followed by.. ‘what the hell is that!’.

CBT stands for Compulsory Basic Training. Something that isn’t mentioned as much, is that you can’t actually fail a CBT; it is a training day not a test. Even if worse comes to worst and the instructors don’t feel you’re safe on the roads, they just extend your training to another day. This isn’t failing, but an extension of the training.

So what actually happens on the day?

Throughout the day you’ll be instructed on the basics from how to start your bike, to making safe manoeuvres. All learner motorcycle and moped riders must complete this before riding on the road.

For the most part of the day you will be in a large off road area, where you will practice:

  • Pulling Away and Stopping
  • Slow Control Riding
  • Controlled Emergency Stops
  • Figure of Eight
  • Turn in the Road

When the instructors believe you are confident enough and have the right skill level, you’ll hit the road! On this next section you and the rest of your group will ride out on the road with your instructor. You will all be issued with radios before setting off, the instructor will be able to direct and watch how you deal with other road users. This part of the day will give you the final green light, confirming that you are able to ride on the roads with a good understanding of safety.

After the ride out you will be debriefed, you’ll go through how the ride and rest of the day went. You’ll either be presented with your certificate or be booked in for more training.

Once you’ve completed you’re CBT, you can ride a:

  • Moped if you’re 16 or over
  • Motorcycle up to 125cc (power output of up to 11kW if you’re 17 or over)


How long does a CBT take?
A CBT usually takes one day to complete.

Do I need a theory test to take a CBT?
No, at CBT level a theory test is not needed.

How long is a CBT valid for?
Two years from the date of completion.

What do I need to take to a CBT day?
This depends on the school you book with, some provide all the equipment and some do not. If you are just trying biking out and aren’t sure you’ll continue, we would suggest booking somewhere gear is provided.

Do I need a car licence to take a CBT?
Well this depends, if you have a full car licence which was obtained before 1st February 2001, you can automatically ride a 50cc moped capable of no more than 30mph. If you passed your car test after this date you will have to complete a CBT. Once completing this you’ll have your moped licence and your provisional motorcycle licence.

Do I need both parts of my car licence?
Yes both parts are needed, paper and card. If you have lost one and need to organise replacement contact the DVLA www.dvla.gov.uk.

Can I ride a 125cc bike on a car licence alone?
No you need to complete a CBT to qualify for riding a 125cc motorbike, regardless of it being a scooter or a geared bike. Then you can ride up to a 125cc learner-legal bike.

If I do my CBT on an automatic bike, can I legally ride a geared bike?
This is a strange one, but yes. If you pass your test on an automatic bike you can ride a geared bike, but we would definitely recommend further training at this point.

Can I take a pillion on a CBT?
No, to take a pillion you must take a full bike test.

So you have now completed your CBT.. What’s next?!

Gov.uk created this table, showing the different licence categories and the requirements for each. This is worth a good read through, you need to look at the minimum ages required to take each test. It’s a great tool when planning your next step:

Licence Category Vehicles you can ride Requirements for licence Minimum Age
AM Mopeds with speed range of 25 km/h to 45 km/h Compulsory basic training (CBT), theory test, practical test on all powered 2-wheeled moped 16
A1 Light motorcycle up to11 kW (and a power-to-weight ratio not more than 0.1 kW per kg) and 125 cc CBT, theory test, practical test 17
A2 Standard motorcycle up to 35 kW (and a power-to-weight ratio not more than 0.2 kW per kg), bike mustn’t be derived from vehicle more than twice its power Direct access route – theory and practical Progressive access route – 2 years experience on A1 motorbike and a further practical test practical. 19
A Unrestricted motorcycles in size/power, with or without a sidecar, and motor tricycles with power output over 15 Direct access route – CBT theory and practical (you must be at least 24) Progressive access route – held an A2 licence for a minimum of 2 years – practical test (21 or over) 24 (direct)
or 21 (progressive access)