If you want to ride a bike or scooter then you’ll need to take Compulsory Basic Training (CBT), the only exception to the rule is if you passed your car test before February 1st 2001. If you did you can ride a moped without taking a CBT.
A CBT is simply a one day basic course to familiarise you with how a bike/scooter works. It also teaches you how to control your machine in a safe off road environment and by the end of the day you’ll be out on the road with an instructor for your first legal road ride. The certificate lasts for two years.
Over winter we’re going to be following Linsey as she plans to gain a full bike licence. Like many people, riding is something Linsey has wanted to do for a while but having kids put it on hold for a while. Recently the urge has started to get stronger and she recently took the first steps to two-wheeled freedom. Her ultimate aim is to have a full bike licence and tour Europe but first she needed to get the CBT under her belt. Linsey is no stranger to two wheels; she’s been a pillion for years and knows how exhilarating it feels to be out on the road but the time has come for her to get out on her own.
Choosing a training school can be daunting but you shouldn’t be too far from one, a Google search will bring up your local bike schools, or ask for recommendations on local social media sites, or from friends. Linsey was already familiar with Derbyshire Motorbike School and had heard good reports about them so they were chosen for her CBT. Their winter offer is £99 for a CBT including bike hire, petrol and equipment (that saved around £20 on the usual price). You can of course use your own bike if you have one but it’s less hassle just to use one of the schools. At least then you won’t be paying for any damage and if the bike plays up they’ll provide a replacement.
If you’ve got your own bike gear then by all means take it but if not the school will lend you the equipment. It is advisable to wear some decent boots if possible and if you’re training over winter remember it can get very cold/wet so extra layers and waterproofs are essential. ‘Proper’ kit isn’t compulsory but is adviseable.
Remember to take both parts of your driving licence; your instructor will need to see them. If you wear glasses/contact lenses then make sure you wear them, you’ll be required to read a number plate at a distance of 20.5metres. A packed lunch and a drink are also worth taking.
After signing on and passing the sight test you’ll be told about appropriate clothing, choices of materials (textiles versus leather for instance), the different types and styles of helmet and given some common sense advice relating to riding.
After the classroom session you’ll be shown to your chosen machine (Linsey opted for an auto scooter for her CBT) and the instructor will talk you through basic maintenance and the machine controls on both geared and auto machines. You’ll also be shown how to check the bikes fluid levels, tyres, chain, brakes, suspension etc. Once everybody is happy you’ll move on to learning how to put a bike on and off the stand (novices often struggle with this part until they get the technique right). Use of brakes is also shown in this part and trainees will learn how to start and stop the engine.
As a spectator this is the most daunting part as trainees are shown how to move off for the first time. For many it’s the first time they’ve ever ridden a bike but the three trainees on this particular day had all ridden before so it didn’t take too long for them to master the basics.
During element C you’ll ride in a straight line, ride slowly, change gear (if applicable), learn how to stop safely, use the rear brake to control the machine, do a figure of eight, U-turns, turn left and right, do an emergency stop, learn about blind spots and use the indicators and rear observation.
This part is a question and answer section to make sure you’ve understood everything so far. You may be asked some questions relating to the Highway Code as well, so make sure you’ve read and understood that beforehand. The rules of the road are there to help you.
Finally you’ll get out on the road for the first time. You’ll be given an intercom so the instructor can give instructions whilst you ride. The road part is a minimum of two hours, during that time you’ll need to show the instructor that you’re safe to be let out on your own. Use the ride wisely and try to iron out any problem areas that the instructor picks up on. Once he, or she is satisfied you’ll be either given a DL196 CBT Certificate or asked to book in for extra training. The CBT isn’t a pass or fail but you do need to be deemed safe before you get a certificate.
Once you’ve got that certificate you can get out on your own machine and start to learn how to ride in the real world. The CBT is just the beginning of what should be an exciting new skill; it’s up to you now as to how far you’ll go with it.
I’d already taken a CBT back in 2007 after my partner booked me in for a scary surprise Birthday present. I’d said I wanted to get on the road but was scared to death when he booked it. I passed the CBT back then and had a scooter for a couple of months but wasn’t really comfortable riding at the time, especially after he took me to a busy town centre on my first ride on the road. I sold the scooter soon after but have kicked myself ever since, that’s why I started thinking about it again. Recently I just took the plunge and booked it, my mind set was totally different this time and I was excited in the days leading up to my CBT. I was even happier when we woke up to warm sunshine on the morning of the CBT.
I met my instructors Tracey and Barry at DMS and got on with them well from the off. The classroom session was informative and light hearted enough not to be boring. Finally we got to the exciting bit though and went out to the off road training area. I quickly got the hang of the auto scooter, although in a way I wish I’d have used a geared bike just to get myself familiar with one for later on when I take my bike test. One of the most important things I learnt during this part was how to control the bike at slow speeds and whilst cornering using the rear brake to steady the scooter. Before that I’d been going into corners too quickly.
The road part didn’t seem at all daunting; I was comfortable on the scooter and didn’t feel fazed about getting out on the road. The instructors had plenty of banter, which helped to relax us and the two hours quickly flew by. I loved every minute of the riding and was pleased to get my CBT certificate at the end of it. I couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day and I insisted we went out for a ride on my scooter as soon as I got home. This time I wasn’t daunted by it and luckily (for him) my other half didn’t try to push me too hard.
It’s now a few weeks after passing my CBT and although I’ve not been out as often as I’d like (due to being away on holiday) I have enjoyed riding the scooter. I’ve got an Italjet Dragster at the minute but I’m looking for a classic Vespa or Lambretta really. I’ve decided to get cracking with my Direct Access so I took the plunge and booked my theory test, I’ve also ordered a couple of books to help teach me about the test itself and in the next week or so I’ll do an hours lesson on a geared bike to get me used to one. After that I’ll start my bike training and I aim to get my full licence before next spring. I always said I wanted to have a full licence before I’m 50, suddenly it’s looking like it’ll be much sooner…. Watch this space.
Thanks to Derbyshire Motorbike School in Riddings for help with this article. They can be contacted on: 07581 017754 or at www.derbyshiremotorbikeschool.co.uk