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Explanation about Compulsory Basic Training (CBT)

The CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) was introduced in 1990, and is a training course that everyone has to do before they can legally ride on the road.  You need to be 16 in order to ride a 50cc machine (restricted to 28 mph), and 17 or older to ride a 125cc machine. The CBT has to be done before a motorcycle test can be taken. Everyone with a provisional licence has to take the CBT to ride a moped or a motorcycle; the only exemption is if they have a full UK car licence that they passed before Feb. 2001, in which case they can ride a moped without L-plates or the need for a CBT.

CBT is not a test; it is an acquired standard that takes as long as it takes. Each Module must be completed to a safe standard before moving onto the next. It is a legal requirement to do at least 2 hours of road tuition (on the road) to complete the CBT. CBT can easily take more than one day or be done in as little as 3.5 hours depending on your previous experience. CBT can only be conducted by a DVSA approved motorcycle instructor on an authourised training area. The ratio is a maximum of 4 students to one instructor in the training area, and 2:1 on the road. A CBT certificate is a legal document that validates the provisional entitlement on a UK driving licence.

You can only take the CBT with a UK or Northern Ireland driving licence. Since 2023 CBT courses must last a minimum of six hours. Students are also required to log with their instructor a record of their progress through the CBT.

Other slightly obscure rules apply to 3 (or more) wheeled mopeds (where the wheels are more than 460mm apart) or taking the CBT on a motorcycle with a sidecar (125cc and 11kW with a sidecar not more than 0.16kW/kg). In both cases you are restricted to these vehicles on completion of the CBT. The CBT certificate records automatic and geared but the rider is not restricted to these vehicles – for example, you can ride a geared motorcycle if you took your CBT on an automatic (this rule is under review).

If you live in Wales you can display a red D plate (instead of a L plate) as a learner riding on a CBT. However, you can’t ride into any other part of the UK with a D plate displayed (it would need to be changed to a L plate).

The DVSA strongly recommends that people preparing to take the CBT course study and take the Ridefree course.


1/. Do I need to do the Theory Test first?
No, the CBT and Theory Test are separate.  You need to pass your theory test before going on to take your full motorcycle tests.

2/. How long does the CBT last?
The CBT certificate lasts for 2 years. However, if you have a full UK car licence and only ride a moped then it lasts for as long as your driving licence (this does not include riding a 125cc).

3/. Can I fail the CBT?
No, it is not a pass/fail course – it is training NOT a test.  In many cases it takes only a day, but some students may need more than one day in order to reach the required standard.

4/. Is there any preparation for the CBT?
There are two things that can be done to prepare for a CBT: firstly, it is easier to learn balance on a push bike, and secondly, reading the Highway Code. In addition we have some course learning material you can read in advance: CBT Course Learning Material

5/. Is the CBT a test?
No it is definitely not a test. The instructor is there to teach you how to ride a moped or motorcycle. The course takes as long as it takes. A majority will complete it in one day; but some will need longer. At the end of the training the instructor has to be satisfied that you can ride safely on the road without hurting yourself or anybody else.

6/. How long can I expect the CBT to take?
For most novice riders it will take a full day, with some people needing more than one day. However, if you have taken the CBT before it is possible to complete it in as little as 3.5 hours. 

7/. I have done my CBT before and I am just renewing it – do I need to do the whole thing again?
Yes, you will need to retake the whole CBT including all five elements. We encourage you to take further training and pass your test, rather than just renewing your CBT every two years.

8/. What happens if I don’t complete the CBT on day one?
You cannot fail a CBT; however, you can take longer than one day to complete it. In this event you can either come back and re-do the whole CBT at the heavily subsidised rate of £135.00, or take further training by way of personal tuition for £94.00 per hour (this would be suitable for someone who is not likely to complete the CBT on the second attempt). Please ask your instructor which option would suit you best.