Every instructor will conduct the CBT slightly differently but all of them will go through five main stages.

These are called the Elements and each one offers training in different areas of theory or practical skill and each last for different amounts of time:


  • Element A – introduction to the CBT – ~30 minutes
  • Element B – practical on-site training – ~45 minutes
  • Element C – practical on-site riding – up to 3 hours
  • Element D – practical on-road training – ~45 minutes
  • Element E – practical on-road riding – a minimum of 2 hours


Element A – Introduction to the CBT

In this element, your trainer will introduce you to the CBT and briefly explain each of the elements to you in basic detail. You will then have your provisional licence and eyesight checked. After that, you will sign the required paperwork, including insurance documents, allowing you to ride on the road with your trainer.


In summary, this element will cover the following:

  • an overview of the CBT
  • the importance of equipment and clothing
  • an eyesight check
  • an explanation of vehicles you can ride or drive, along with minimum ages
  • driving eyesight requirements

The eyesight check will involve reading a number-plate in daylight at a distance of just over 20 meters. You are allowed to wear glasses or contact lenses if you usually wear them.



Element B – Practical on-site training

In this element, you will be introduced to the motorcycle. You will be taught how the controls work and be given a feel of the motorcycle’s weight by holding it upright.

You will then learn how to handle the bike while both sat on and wheeling it. Following that, you will be taught how to conduct basic safety checks such as like assessing tyre pressure and brake effectiveness. You will not be riding the motorcycle in this element, just familiarising yourself with it.


In summary, this element will cover the following:

  • motorcycle controls
  • basic safety checks
  • wheeling the motorcycle
  • use of the stands
  • braking
  • starting and stopping the engine



Element C – Practical on-site riding

In this element you will develop the basic skills needed to ride a motorcycle under control. Firstly, you will be taught the very basics including clutch control, balance, moving off and stopping.

Once you have a firm grasp of the basics, you progress to moving the motorcycle; first in straight lines, then in circles, then u-turns. After this, you will move on to brake training. This will involve an explanation into when to use the front and rear brakes in different situations like in wet  or icy weather, how stopping distances are affected and “emergency braking”.

You will also be taught the correct method for correcting a skid, though this will not be physically practised.

You will then be taught basic observation, including using mirrors, and executing the ‘lifesaver’ check: looking over your shoulder before committing to a manoeuvre to ensure that nothing unexpected is happening.


In summary, this element will cover the following:

  • clutch control, balance, moving off and stopping
  • riding in a straight line, circles, u-turns and the figure of eight.
  • use of brakes, including the emergency stop
  • changing gear
  • rear observation, including the use of mirrors
  • turning left and right


Element D – Practical on-road training

This element will prepare you for the on-road riding section of the CBT and will cover all the information you need to ride safely and legally on public roads.

This section will take place in a classroom, and will involve a wide range of subjects that will prime you for the last element. The subjects you’ll be covering include the following:

  • the Highway Code
  • defensive riding
  • appropriate use of rear observation
  • road position and spacing between other vehicles
  • weather conditions
  • the effect of different road surfaces on a motorcycle
  • staying visible
  • legal requirements
  • understanding the vulnerability of motorcyclists
  • speed
  • attitudes toward riding
  • hazard perception
  • drug and alcohol use

This element will last around 45 minutes and will need to be completed satisfactorily before any on-road riding is undertaken.


Element E – Practical on-road riding

Once your trainer is satisfied that you have a grasp of the concepts explained in Element D, you will take to the road to start element E.

You will be on the road for at least two hours, and will be proving that you can ride proficiently in a number of different road and traffic conditions.

You will be linked to your instructor via radio headset and while riding, be exposed to as many of the following as possible:

  • traffic lights
  • junctions
  • pedestrian crossings
  • roundabouts
  • slopes and hills, including hill starts
  • u-turns
  • bends
  • obstructions, such as road works
  • one emergency stop


You will be stopped at certain points during the two hours to discuss specific aspects of your riding. Your trainer will suggest areas of improvement and explain how the theory learnt in element D can be put into practice.

Once your trainer is happy that you are proficient enough to carry on learning alone, you will make your way back to the training centre to bring the course to a close.

After the CBT

Once you have completed the CBT you will be issued with a DL196 Certificate of Completion; give yourself a pat on the back! This certificate entitles you to ride a motorcycle up to 125cc with L-plates and is valid for two years after issue of the certificate. You must now pass your full motorcycle test within two years, or will have to retake your CBT.


Now that you have your CBT certificate, you are free ride ride on your own as much as you like, but to gain the additional skills and theory necessary to pass your Practical  tests, as well as to prevent bad habits from forming, it is highly recommended that you take motorcycle lessons. If you liked your ATB’s riding style, you may want to take lessons with them again, or you may pick another, it’s up to you.


The next step in the journey to getting your bike licence will be the two-part Theory test, which we’ll break down on the next page.


The Motorcycle Theory Test >