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What you need to know for your CBTBook your CBT online

Well the good news is that you can’t; it’s not a test, it takes as long as it takes. Why do people say that you can fail? Principally because normally most people will complete the course in one day and therefore to need additional training is deemed to have failed.

So how can you fail? Well in practice there are two main reasons why someone will not complete the course in a single day:

1/. It was decided that the student hadn’t reached sufficient competence with the machine controls to progress onto the road section of the CBT. Students should be given as much time in the training area as possible, however there is a constraint. If the road section is to be completed then the instructor must take the students on the road for a minimum of two hours. This means that there comes a point during the day where, if the instructor is to complete the course with any other students present, he or she has got to call time on the off-road practice. This generally means that the student who is struggling will finishing their day in the early afternoon. We will come back to the implications of this and why it is not as bad as it sounds.

2/. The student did progress onto the road but did not show either enough competence with the machine controls or their Highway Code/Road Awareness were not up to a standard whereby the instructor was happy to issue a CBT certificate. Again we’ll explain more about how and why this can happen, and what it means in due course.

What then is the criteria for the CBT and why isn’t it a test?

There are five elements to the CBT which are made up of a series of objectives and goals. The student can’t move from one element to the next without first completing fully the previous one. Within the elements the instructor can do the objectives and goals in whatever order they deem fit. But the goals must be met; so if the object is to “Gear change satisfactorily” then this is what the instructor will teach and look to see the student achieves.

On the road the situation is slightly different. This is after all Compulsory – something you have to do, Basic – the standard is not as high as that of a Motorcycle Module 2 Test, and Training – the instructor is there to teach the student. This means that instructors are looking for a standard that is best described as “Most of the time”. In other words the student is cancelling their indicators “most of the time”, or taking a rear observation “most of the time”. Clearly this can’t be applied to all situations; checking carefully to see if it is safe to pull out of a junction is something that must be done “all of the time”. Nevertheless compared to the Motorcycle Module 2 Test, where even leaving the indicator on once can be enough to fail the test, the standard is basic. Moreover the instructor is not looking for this “Most of the time” standard from the word go. Remember there are at least two hours of road tuition, and it is really only in the last half an hour or so that the instructor, having trained the student, is assessing to see if the student can ride on their own to this “Most of the time” standard.

How is the CBT structured and what do I have to do?

Element A Introduction:

The aims of the CBT course
The importance of having the right equipment and clothing
Read a vehicle registration plate 79.4mm in height from a distance of 20.5m

What can go wrong here and what can I do to prepare?

The more the student knows the less the instructor has to teach. If you have read the CBT information that was emailed out when the course was booked then it will be possible to get through this element in less than 15 minutes. This is a significant advantage as it means the instructor will be able to devote more time to the important issue of teaching students to ride motorcycles and mopeds.

Two further points; if you wish to avoid disappointment make sure you have checked your eyesight before attending a CBT. If you can’t read a car number plate from a distance of 20.5m then you won’t be taking a CBT. Similarly there is not really a lot the instructor can do if you don’t bring at least the photo card part of your driving licence.

Element B Practical on Site Training:

Be familiar with the motorcycle, its controls & how it works
Be able to carry out basic checks & take the bike on/off the stand
Be able to wheel the machine around to the left and right
Showing proper balance and bring to a controlled halt
Be able to start & stop the engine satisfactorily

What can go wrong here and what can I do to prepare?

This is where things get more serious, even so not much can go wrong here. Again you can help yourself by reading your motorcycle/moped’s owner’s handbook. This will allow the instructor to move fairly quickly through the basic checks.

Don’t expect to understand the controls straight away – this may take a little time to practice the co-ordination and remember what everything does. Make sure that when you are being taught this that the instructor is allowing you to touch the controls. A good instructor will use the daily checks as a chance for you to reacquaint yourself with what each control does.

Taking the bike on and off the stand can sometimes be a struggle, particularly for those of a lighter build. If you think this might be a problem then it’s definitely worth taking advantage of a Free Lesson before booking the CBT. That said this is a technique rather than a feat of strength. If using the centre stand is awkward for you then ask for a bike fitted with a side stand.

Wheeling the machine is fairly straight forward and it is safe to say that 99.9% of people will not have a problem here. Likewise with starting and stopping the machine.

Showing proper balance and bringing the bike to a controlled halt is where people will become unstuck if they have had little or no previous experience of balancing on two wheels. If you’ve not ridden a bicycle before then this should be strongly encouraged before booking a CBT.

Element C Practical on Site Riding:

Ride the machine in a straight line and bring to a controlled halt
Ride the machine slowly under control
Carry out controlled braking using both brakes
Gear change satisfactorily
Ride the machine round a figure of 8 circuit under control
Bring the machine to a stop under full control as if in an emergency
Carry out rear observation correctly
Carry out simulated left and right hand turns correctly using OSMPSL
Carry out the U-turn manoeuvre satisfactorily

What can go wrong here and what can I do to prepare?

This is the meat of the CBT and the make or break for deciding if people are safe to go on the road. It is also the area where the instructor and student need to work best together. Each part of this should be explained, and demonstrated if necessary. There is very little that a student can do by way of preparation apart from left and right turns. Reading through how this procedure works will make life a great deal easier when you come to practice while riding a bike.

Each part is taken in stages and builds on the experience of the previous objective. But as with most things there are some very obvious pit falls to avoid:

1/. Look where you are going. This sounds very trite but motorcycles go where you look. It is a common fault for students to look down at their hands or only a few feet in front of them. Look up at all times.

2/. Brake in a straight line. Grabbing the front brake in a turn is a recipe for falling off.

3/. Go very slowly through bends or turns. So having braked in a straight line always try to go through a bend more slowly than you feel is necessary. At this early stage it is hard for students to access what is a safe speed and they frequently lack the confidence to lean the bike. There are no prizes for riding fast through a corner during the CBT.

4/. Don’t try and impress anyone. Your instructor will have seen hundreds of CBT’s and about the only thing that will impress them is where a student is being safe and sensible. In particular with the emergency stop build up to this. Make your first stop steady and progressive, don’t worry about where you stop, worry about how you stop.

5/. Slow control can be a real problem as it requires co-ordination, balance and vision. Always use the controls progressively and gently. Balance is greatly enhanced by looking where you are going. Frequently students look at the very thing they want to avoid, with the result that they ride into it (target fixation). Make sure that you practice this in a straight line before attempting a U-turn or figure of eight. If you keep the revs up (2,000rpm or above) then you can’t help but slip the clutch if you are to avoid going far too quickly.

6/. Ask! Many, many students head off up the training area not entirely sure what it is they are supposed to be doing. Sometimes the instructor may have used jargon or misjudged how much you’ve understood. If you’re not sure; ask. You’ve paid to be trained so don’t be shy, the instructor wants to help you.

Element D Pre-Road Briefing:

Understand the need to be visible
The importance of knowing the legal requirements for riding a motorcycle
Why motorcyclists are more vulnerable than most road users
Drive at the correct speed according to the road and traffic
The importance of knowing the highway code
Ride defensively and anticipate the actions of other road users
Use rear observations at appropriate times
Assume the correct road position when riding
Leave sufficient space when following other vehicles
Pay due regard to the effect of varying weather conditions
The effect of various types of road surfaces on a vehicle
The dangers of drug and alcohol use
The consequences of aggressive attitudes when driving
The importance of hazard perception

What can go wrong here and what can I do to prepare?

The longer that this takes the less time there is on the road to go past the statutory two hours. The more the instructor has to teach generally the less will go in. There are two things that you can do that will make a significant difference to how easily this element can be completed and both of them will have a positive impact on how likely you are to complete Element E. Firstly, read the notes that were sent out by email when you booked the course – they will cover all the topics described here. Secondly, read the Highway Code. If you’ve never used the road before then you are at a significant disadvantage when you go out for the first time if you don’t know the rules. The Highway Code is a slim volume and an infinitely better way of learning than trying the Motorcycle Theory Test. If you have driven on the road then life will be easier but even so it won’t hurt to brush up – you’ll be amazed at what you’ve forgotten or misunderstood (single yellow line?).

Element E practical on Road Riding:

Traffic lights
Roundabouts
Junctions
Pedestrian Crossings
Gradients
Bends
Obstructions
Carry out U-Turn manoeuvre satisfactorily
Bring the machine to a stop under full control as if in an emergency

What can go wrong here and what can I do to prepare?

The proof is in the pudding and Element E is very much the pudding. Hopefully this should be straight forward as it represents a culmination of all the things that you have learned in Elements B, C & D.

Firstly it is important to understand that your instructor is there to help and train you. This means that initially they will do much “spoon-feeding”, which is where they will explain everything that you need to do over the radio as you approach, for example, a junction. This means telling you when to observe, slow, perhaps change gear and so on. If you can relax and listen you will find this very straight forward. But that does assume that relaxing, in what appears to be a frightening environment, is easy to do, and for some it isn’t.

At this point it is perhaps worth returning to what we mentioned at the beginning – those that didn’t get through Element C or weren’t safe at the end of Element E. Is it a bad thing? Well let’s look at this another way: would you go to the cheapest parachute training school if you were a novice? Probably not, as the connection between what can go wrong and its outcome is so patently obvious. Equally would you feel good if your parachute instructor was a bit blasé and said that while you were a pretty poor parachutist’s with a bit of luck you should be okay? Definitely not – again the cause and effect is clear. So if the parachute instructor said they felt you needed a bit more training would you feel annoyed – no, you might be disappointed at the speed at which you’ve been learning, but not at the decision as this this has clearly been made in your best interests. Therefore if your motorcycle instructor doesn’t feel that you’re ready to go on the road or ride on your own then this decision has been made with one thought in mind. They are worried about your safety – that’s all. Relax, try your best, listen, read up before hand and appreciate that you will be vulnerable when you ride on the road. We want you to enjoy motorcycling – you can only do that if you’re alive.

So the secret to a successful Element E is a good working knowledge of the Highway Code, good machine controls learned through Element C and avoiding the common pitfalls of riding a motorcycle – travelling too fast into corners, junctions or roundabouts.

You will have to practice the emergency stop again, but this is no harder than it was for Element C. There is also a U-turn, but this can sometimes be more problematic as it introduces a curb. More than ever you must not look at the thing you’re trying to avoid (the curb). As you turn look up the road towards a place where you can safely stop. Remember it is essential that you look carefully before turning, so pick a spot where the view is unobstructed.

Students only need to worry about themselves when riding on the road. It is the instructor’s job to ensure that they don’t get split up. There is no pressure to keep up or look for gaps that will also allow your instructor out. Your job is to ride safely (observing speed limits, taking necessary safety checks, not causing others to swerve or slow down etc.) in a manner that others can understand. Your instructor won’t mind where you go as long as it is done safely.

So finally the more you can prepare the easier your day will be:

1/. Read the notes you’ve been sent.
2/. Read your owners handbook (often these can be found online).
3/. Read the Highway Code.
4/. Check your eyesight.
5/. Practice balance on a bicycle.
6/. Try a Free Lesson before booking.
7/. Avoid distractions – turn your phone off.
8/. Take it steady – look up.
9/. Don’t try to impress yourself or anybody else.
10/. Remember this is all about your safety – no one wants to see you get hurt.

Enjoy your CBT and welcome to motorcycling!