3, 2, 1, GO: How to pass your motorbike Compulsory Basic Training (UK)

3 – Three weeks before your CBT, you should

  • Firstly, learn the Highway Code. Before you start scouring the adverts for your first bike or googling top 10 roadtrips, you need to think about your safety, and the safety of other road users. Being a biker is dangerous. You are slimmer than other vehicles on the road. You fit into car blind spots.You disappear behind this bar:

What if this driver decides to pull left into that lane in anticipation of his left turn ahead? Both mirrors AND the road in front is clear.

FACT: A lot of car drivers are bad at keeping an eye out for bikers. You need to do their job for them to ensure your safety, and their safety.

(a) Be visible – use your lights, indicators, clear hand signals if necessary, wear hi viz clothing, make eye contact with drivers.

(b) Be confident – knowing the Highway Code means that you should be able to predict other vehicle’s behaviour to an extent.

(c) Be vigilent – stay alert to the fact that you will also need to deal with unpredictable behaviour. Always check your blind spots. Always check that you are not in the blind spot of another vehicle. Always check junctions even when you have the right of way. My friend lost his leg biking through a junction where he had the clear right of way.

2Two weeks before your CBT, you should

  • Get to know the bike.bike-anatomy

    Understanding how the bike works, especially the clutch and gears, will mean that you pick up the practical skills much more quickly …because you’ll actually know what you’re doing instead of wasting precious practice time confused.

  • If you don’t have a moped or motorbike  to practice on, get a bicycle and practice your balance – you’ll need to practice looking into your blind spot and looking behind you without swerving the steering, ride one handed whilst making a clear hand signal, making slow manouevres. The slower you go, the more control you’ll need.
  • Become familiar the clutch, the throttle, and the gear shift lever. If you are learning on a moped/scooter it might be automatic (a “twist & go”) which means that you don’t have to worry about gears. You might also learn on a semi-automatic. If you intend to progress to a bigger motorbike, it’s a good idea to get familiar with the gears as early as possible.

    The clutch is in front of your left hand. The clutch controls the release of power (torque) from the engine, to the transmission system.

    The throttle (or accelerator) is on your right hand grip. Be careful with the throttle – it can seem counter-intuitive at first. A lot of beginners take fright at the feeling of the bike pulling away and lean backwards, this causes your wrist to “roll on” and the bike to speed up which is usually the opposite of what was intended!

    If you “roll on” with your right hand (wrist down, fingers back and up) then the engine will rev up, the engine will get noisier and the bike can speed up. These revs prevent the engine from stalling.

    If you “roll off” (wrist up, fingers forward) the revs decrease, the engine becomes quieter and you slow down.

    The gears are controlled by a gear shift bar in front of your left foot.

    The usual pattern for the gears on a manual motorbike is this:


    1 –One week before your CBT, you should

  • Revise the Highway Code again to keep it fresh in your head. Don’t get too bogged down with memorising detail at this stage or you might panic at the amount there is to learn, just have a read through and allow it all to sink in, you will know more than you think you know.
  • Pick your clothing & helmet. Bikers should always wear full protection – even if you are just popping to the shop or to the petrol station. An accident can happen at any time and your clothing and helmet should be the best that you can afford. See this page for more info.  No-one is immune to accidents.
  • Confirm your appointment time & arrange transport to and from the centre.
  • Take your licence (both parts) & any other necessary paperwork like confirmation of your booking with you.
  • Get a good nights sleep the night before your course.


No, seriously, go. I know a boy who was so nervous before his CBT which he had already paid for and booked, that when he turned up on the day, he promptly went back home and skipped his appointment. He was so scared that he would “fail” that he didn’t bother to show up, even though he wanted to ride a bike. By panicking, he guaranteed that he would “fail” by not even turning up! Had he turned up, his chances might have been 50/50 but he could have walked away happy! No matter how nervous you are, just go! 

If you don’t walk away with the certificate, you walk away with the experience.

The list above is quite simplistic but will help you to feel and be more organised in anticipation of your CBT. If you need really specific advice or are feeling unnecessarily nervous, you should contact the instructor who will be taking you through your CBT steps before the CBT day. They will usually be more than happy to help and can give you specific advice about common mistakes they see. An online article can’t be a substitute for expert advice and lots of practice but it can help you get organised and calm your nerves.

What’s your main concern about biking? I’ll try to help.


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