CBT Test

Photo credit Minnesota National Guard

Successfully completing the Compulsory Basic Training or CBT test allows you to ride on the roads using motorbikes up to 125cc. With a couple of exceptions*, it’s illegal to ride motorcycles on the road if you haven’t taken a CBT, and you’ll need to take the CBT if you intend to ride any size of motorbike or moped. The CBT is a day of learning from experienced instructors, it’s nothing to worry about – you might even enjoy it!


There are two exceptions where riders needn’t take the CBT test. These are people who have passed their driving test before 1 February 2001, or have passed a moped riding test after 1 December 1990. In both cases, you are free to ride a moped without completing the CBT, but if you’ve never ridden a bike before then it really is a good idea.

ATBs (Approved Training Bodies)

CBT courses can only be provided by approved training bodies (ATBs), so you can be sure your trainer has been checked and approved by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA). The training site will also have been accepted as being a safe off road training space by the DSA. You’ll need to bring proof of provisional motorcycle entitlement (your licence or provisional licence) with you. Appropriate safety gear is also normally needed, so take your helmet, gloves, jacket and boots.

If you don’t have all of the gear yet, don’t worry, most centres will be able to loan it to you.

Elements of the CBT Test

The course is designed to ensure that riders have basic riding and safety skills before they start riding on roads. It’s split into five elements, which are:

  1. Introduction
  2. Practical on-site training
  3. Practical on-site riding
  4. Practical on-road training
  5. Practical on-road riding

The training is given in this order, and you are only supposed to move onto the next element once the trainer is happy you are competent in the last element.

The introduction covers an eyesight check, safety gear and an introduction to the rest of the course/day. Section B is an introduction to motorcycles and is intended to make riders aware of how they work, to get used to the layout of the controls and their weight and feel. Section C is where you’ll actually learn to ride a bike; including stopping and starting, observations and manoeuvres. Section D is an introductory training talk which will introduce you to riding legally and safely on the road before Section E, which is an on-road riding session.

CBT Assessment

During the whole of the CBT, learners are being assessed by the trainers, and only if a learner is deemed to be safe enough to continue learning alone will they be passed and given their certificate of completion (DL196). If they don’t complete all of the stages of the test, and this is quite likely for complete novices, then further training will be needed before a DL196 can be obtained.

Many riders have failed their first CBT, so don’t worry if you need an extra day.

CBT Test Bikes

It is normal for riders to use bikes provided by test centres for their CBTs, although many centres will allow riders to use their own bikes. If you choose to take your own bike, it must be road legal, with a current tax and MOT. 125cc or less will also need to have L plates. You won’t be legal to ride it to the test centre, however, so you will either need a friend with a licence to ride it to the centre for you or transport it to the centre in some other way.

CBT Test Costs

A CBT day course can cost from £80 to around £120, including bike hire, but this will vary. You can find local test centres by searching online.

Certificate of Completion – DL196

Once you’ve passed the CBT test you’ll get a certificate of completion – a DL196. Keep it safe as you’ll need it to take further motorcycle tests. With the certificate, you can ride on the roads using bikes of up to 125cc. You’ll need to display L plates (or D plates in Wales), and you won’t be able to carry pillion riders or go on motor ways. The DL196 is only valid for 2 years, and if you don’t pass you test in those two years you’ll have to retake your CBT. If you ride a moped, however, and have a full driving licence, then taking the CBT grants you a full moped licence for the lifespan of your driving licence.