Before you even get on a motorbike, it’s a good idea to start learning the rules of the road. The sooner you start learning about riding, the easier it’s likely to be.
This is essential reading for all road users. Make sure you look at the current edition (2017/2018) to get the up-to-date rules of the road and advice on road safety.
CBT and the highway code – it is essential when preparing for your CBT that you read and understand the highway code, this will help you put the rules of the road into practice during the practical elements of your course before you begin the on road training that is part of CBT.
If you have learned the theory side of learning to ride thoroughly you will have more time to spend learning the practical parts of your training course and it’s less likely to be extended.
The Official DVSA Guide to Riding – the essential skills is a really useful and clear guide to the skills that will help you become a safe rider, including
- good riding techniques
- what to do in an incident, accident or emergency
- maintenance and security
- riding and the law
- ecosafe riding.
Within this website, the Motorcyclist Knowledge Centre provides lots of information about riding a motorbike. It’s based on the DVSA National Riding Standards, which set out the skills, knowledge and understanding you’ll need to be a skilled and safe rider.
When you’re ready to take your theory test, book your test at a local test centre using the guide below. Remember, you must pass your theory test before you can take your practical tests.
The motorcycle theory test costs £23 for full details of the theory test costs, visit GOV.UK.
Read more about how to best prepare for your test
If you’ve used an unofficial booking website, you might have seven working days to cancel your order and get all your money back. However, this will depend on the terms and conditions of the website you used.
Your trainer may be able to book your test for you: speak to your trainer to decide how it’s best to organise this.
If you have special needs, such as hearing or reading difficulties, or if you need the test translated into another language, there may be help available. Visit GOV.UK to find out more about the help that is available for the theory test.
Watch the DVSA’s guide to the theory test to find out what happens on the day of your test.
The multiple choice test
Before you start the multiple choice test, you can have a 15-minute practice session if you want to get used to the format of the test.
In the test there are 50 questions: you’ll need to get at least 43 correct to pass. You’ll have 57 minutes for this part of the test.
The multiple choice questions appear on-screen and you’ll use the mouse to choose the correct answer. Some questions have more than one answer – there’ll be a message if you don’t choose enough answers. There are also case study questions: these will show you a short ‘story’ and you’ll need to answer five questions about it.
If you aren’t sure about any of the questions, you can ‘flag’ them and come back to them later.
The hazard perception test
When you’ve finished the multiple choice part, you can go straight on to the hazard perception part or take a three-minute break. You can watch a short video before you start the test, showing you how the test works.
You’ll need to click the mouse or touch screen when you see a developing hazard (ie something that would need you, the driver, to take some action such as changing speed or direction): the sooner you spot the hazard, the more points you’ll score. You can score up to five points for each hazard. You’ll need to score at least 44 out of 75 points. Each film shows one hazard apart from one film, which has two.
If you click the mouse too much or if you click in a pattern, you’ll be given a warning message and you’ll score no points for that film.
You’ll be given your results shortly after you’ve finished the theory test. If you pass, you’ll be given a letter with your pass certificate number on it. Make sure you keep this safe because you’ll need the number when you book your practical tests.
Your theory test certificate is valid for two years. If you don’t pass your practical tests in that time, you’ll have to take the theory test again before you can take the practical tests.
If you lose the letter, you can find a lost pass certificate number on GOV.UK.
If you don’t pass the theory test, you’ll need to wait at least three working days before you can retake it. Use this time to do some more preparation.
Compulsory basic training (CBT) is the course all learner motorbike and moped riders must complete before you can ride on the road.
CBT is designed to give you
- a basic understanding of riding theory
- practical skills to make you safe and confident on the road
- enable you to gain valuable experience in preparation for taking your motorcycle test
The trainers are experienced motorcyclists who can give you valuable practical advice, so learn as much as you can on the course.
The trainers are experienced motorcyclists who can give you valuable practical advice, so learn as much as you can on the course.
There’s no exam and importantly no time scale, you should only move on to the next element in the course when you and your trainer are happy that you’ve learnt the theory and completed the practical skills to a safe level.
Don’t be worried if your course takes longer than a day, your trainer will only sign you off when they are satisfied you are safe to ride unaccompanied on the road.
The cost of CBT varies but it’s usually between £120 and £160. You may be accompanied by other learners on your course.
To find out more about whether you need to do CBT, visit GOV.UK.
You can read more about CBT in ‘The Official DVSA Guide to Learning to Ride’.
The CBT course can only be given by a trainer from an approved training body (ATB).
You can find out about local ATBs from
- the GOV.UK site
- your local road safety officer
- motorbike dealers
- motorbike newspapers and magazines
- local business directories
- DVSA – call 0300 200 1122.
It’s a good idea to call some local ATBs and have a quick chat to try and find out if they’re the right one for you. Ask them questions about their training facilities, the training course details, how many students will be taught at the same time, ask them about the motorcycles they use and about any clothing they provide.
If you have friends or relatives who’ve learnt to ride recently, ask them if they would recommend their trainer. Although value for money is important don’t always go for the cheapest, course, find a trainer who offers the best course for your individual needs. Try to choose a trainer who
- has a good reputation
- is reliable and punctual
- provides training that suits you
If you have a problem with your trainer, try to sort it out with the trainer or the approved training body first. If you can’t solve the problem this way, there’s advice on GOV.UK about who can help you.
If you’ve done your homework and asked all the right questions you should turn up for your CBT full of confidence in what to expect from your day. Make sure you wear the right clothing ask your trainer about this, some provide motorcycle clothing as part of the course.
It is important to remember that your course may take longer than a day depending on your road or riding experience; your instructor will only move you through the course when they are happy that you have learned both the practical and theory side of the training.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are not sure about anything, learning a new skill can be tiring. Make sure you take proper breaks, it will help with your concentration levels, especially during the road ride which must last for at least two hours and could take longer than this if you need more time to practice.
There are five elements that make up the course
- A: Introduction to CBT – helps you understand the purpose and content of CBT; also covers helmets, the importance of wearing the right clothing, an eyesight check, licencing and all the legal requirements needed when riding a motorbike
- B: Practical on-site training – covers an introduction of the motorbike controls, machine safety checks, using the stand, wheeling the motorbike, and starting and stopping the engine
- C: Practical on-site riding – covers riding techniques including riding in a straight line, stopping riding slowly, using the brakes, changing gear, even if you’re riding an automatic and developing steering and balance skills
- D: Practical on-road training – theory based session covering: The highway code, staying safe on the road, legal requirements, road positioning and attitude
- E: Practical on-road riding – you must spend at least two hours of road riding dealing with different situations and hazards with your trainer to show you are safe to continue learning on your own. This session may be extended should you require any additional development.
This DVSA video gives you an overview of CBT.
Your trainer will talk about clothing as part of element A, so you might consider waiting until after the course before you buy your full motorbike gear, but you will need to wear appropriate clothing on the day.
You’ll need a decent jacket, gloves and boots – not shorts and trainers. Your ATB will provide you with a visibility aid which you must wear.
Many ATBs can provide basic equipment, including a helmet and bike, for the course – remember to ask when you book your training
When you’ve successfully completed the course, your trainer will give you a certificate DL196.
There are some things you must and mustn’t do when you’re riding on your CBT certificate.
You must have red L plates fitted to the front and back of the motorbike.
You must not ride on motorways or carry a passenger on your motorbike (called a pillion passenger).
If you completed your training on an Automatic bike you should seek further training from an instructor if you upgrade to a geared machine.
If you don’t pass your full motorbike test (theory test and two-part practical test) within two years of getting this certificate, you’ll have to do your CBT again.
RAIN AND WET WEATHER CONDITIONS
No matter how prepared you are or how much you try to avoid riding in it, in the end: Rain happens. You need not fear it, or run for cover at the first sight of little dark clouds. But you should respect how rain changes the game and adjust your riding accordingly. While it’s no fun riding through the wet sometimes you just get stuck in it. The best thing to do is slow down, pay attention and be safe.
Any time you find yourself riding in questionable road conditions, the first thing you can do to improve your chances of arriving to your destination safely is to slow down and create more cushion between you and any surrounding vehicles or obstacles. Riding fundamentals really come into play during challenging riding conditions as rain riding tends to amplify any mistakes. Stay calm, be alert and try to look as far ahead as possible.
When braking in wet conditions, use both brakes but apply lighter pressure to the front brake than you normally would in the dry. Ease into it, slowing down without being abrupt is important in the dry but critical in the wet. When wheels and roads get wet and scary it’s easier to lock up the wheel if you aren’t making a conscious effort to be smooth. If you grab a handful of front brake when the street is slick it almost always leads to you and your bike going down.
Give yourself more distance to slow down, apply your brakes well before entering corners and turn-in more slowly and deliberately. This is not the time for aggressive riding. This isn’t to say you should creep along so slow you can barely keep the bike vertical and cause car traffic to run up behind you, but when traction goes liquid, caution should be your first concern.
Any time we talk about cornering we have to discuss tyres. Motorcycle tyres are often a forgotten part of any bike. Since your safety depends on them, it’s a good habit to check your tires frequently for wear, proper inflation and any defects or damage. A tire in proper riding condition will help you survive the ride when the elements are against you. For those of us who like big, fat rear tyres, remember the broader the contact patch increases your chance to hydroplane. Knuckles go white when water floats your rubber and you feel your front end getting lighter and harder to steer while the rear end fishtails. If this happens, try not to brake or make any dramatic changes, but you should back off the throttle a little and ride it out.
The best defense to hydroplaning is to see it coming. If you are approaching a deep puddle and can recognize it in advance, safely slow down to allow the weight of your bike to keep the tires in contact with the road. Most tires these days are designed to dissipate water through the rain grooves or tread. Some tires are better than others and there are some tires that are not well suited for rain at all. Like we mentioned earlier, wide tires are prone to hydroplane more so than a thinner tire. Sport bikes generally run a 180-to-190 series tire with very little tread so if you ride a sport bike, ride with extreme caution in the rain. Cruisers these days have wide rear tires too. If you have a big one on back, take it easy. On the flip side of the coin you can do yourself a favor and know the area you plan to ride in. If you live in a wet weather climate you should equip your bike with tires that offer good wet weather performance.
Read our All Season Tire Guide to see our favorite sport touring tires for wet conditions.
That lack of traction associated with a wet street applies to acceleration as well as braking. Moisture allows the road grime and oil to rise to the surface of the street which can amplify the slippery nature of an already wet surface. This is especially true at intersections. Stay off to the center of the lane and ease on the throttle when pulling away from the stop light. Out on the open road, the rule is the same. Be easy on the gas, accelerate smoothly and don’t be ham-fisted. This is a real concern on the higher-horsepower bikes.
It might be best to avoid riding in the rain if you can. If you cannot avoid it and its obvious you’re going to get doused, then pull over and put your raingear on before you get wet. Wind chill factors increase exponentially when you’re wet, so do all you can to stay dry. Cheap Tricks: It’s also a good idea to line your saddlebags with heavy-duty trash bags so all your other gear doesn’t get soaked.
EXTREME WEATHER: LIGHTNING
Don’t screw around with lightning. You might figure your rubber tires will insulate you from electric shocks traveling through the ground, or ground you if zapped with a direct hit, but you would be wrong. Water is an excellent conductor and if you’re virtually dipped in it, bad things happen when electricity fill the air. Reports of motorcyclists getting killed by lightning are rare, but it does happen. Don’t risk your well-being if lightning becomes a factor. Find a safe place to take refuge and wait it out.
Motorcyclists usually don’t find much joy in getting soaked. In most cases our dyed leather jackets and gloves will stain our skin and it is not pleasant at all to be swimming in our boots either. But if you’re prepared, use some common sense and sound riding techniques, you’ll get home with yet another crazy story to tell. Then again, if it’s too bad out there, then let discretion be the better part of valor. Pull over, dry off, grab a coffee or a bowl of soup and embrace your watery fate as just another part of the adventurous biker lifestyle.
RIDE A MOTORBIKE WITH A PROPER HELMET ON
A lot of riders like to focus on the styling, functionality, construction, safety ratings and features of a helmet, but the biggest thing people tend to undervalue is the importance of fit. Simply put, a helmet that doesn’t fit, doesn’t work. So we put together this guide to help you find the right size helmet and understand what a good fit actually means.
MEASUREMENTS AND SIZING
Your first step in finding the right size motorcycle helmet is getting your actual measurements. Using a soft measuring tape, measure the crown of your head just above your brow. It’s important to make sure the tape stays level, remaining on the widest part of your head. If you don’t have a soft tailor’s tape, you can use a shoe string or piece of string and compare it to a standard measuring tape later.
Once you have this measurement, you’re ready to find the size helmet you’ll need. Most brands provide sizing charts (found on each helmet page) that will tell you what size you are. It’s important to note that not all helmet brands fit the same. For example, a large Shoei may not be the same as a large Bell. If you fall between one size or another, it’s safe to go up or down to the closest size, which direction is personal preference. Some riders prefer a snugger feel, and go down to the closest size, others like a little more room. The most important part is to try the helmet on first before you ride.
One factor that can affect the fit and comfort of a helmet is head shape. There are three primary shapes helmets come in: long oval (longer front-to-back than side-to-side), intermediate oval (slightly longer front-to-back than side-to-side) and round oval (equally long front-to-back and side-to-side). Most riders fall somewhere near the intermediate oval head shape, but it is important to understand where you lie because a too narrow helmet will cause pressure points, and a too round helmet may not fit as snug as you’d like. Lastly, don’t forget to read up on the rider reviews and watch our product videos, there is a ton of great feedback on how a particular helmet fits!
You’ve done all your homework, you’ve got your measurements, but the real test starts when you put the helmet on for the first time. The biggest mistake riders make with helmets is not understanding how a helmet should fit and how to test that fit before they ride. Here are a few tests to run through to ensure you’ve got a properly fitted helmet.
- Putting on the helmet - holding on to the enclosure straps, pull apart the cheek pads and roll the helmet on from front to back. A properly fitting helmet will take a little effort to put on, and shouldn’t simply plop on. The neck roll and cheek pads should enclose you a bit to keep the helmet from sliding off, but also keep noise down.
- Side to side test - from the chin bar, try and slide the helmet side to side. The helmet should not be able to move without your head doing so as well. If there is play, the helmet is too large.
- Up and down - push from the sides of the helmet in an upward direction. Again, the helmet should not move without your face/skin wanting to move with it.
- Back and forth - pushing straight on, the helmet should not slide back and forth on your head (should not be able to make your mouth touch the chin bar by pushing straight on)
- Roll test - placing one hand behind on the back of the helmet, and one on the chin bar, try to roll the helmet forward off your head. You should not be able to achieve much rotation.
Even though fit and safety are paramount, don’t think comfort isn’t important either; after all, you’re going to be wearing the whole time you ride! The best way to figure out how comfortable your helmet will be is to wear the helmet a bit before you actually get on the bike. This may look dorky, and the UPS or milk man might think you’re a wanna-be storm trooper, but this allows you to find any pressure points/hotspots, and identify any discomfort. Keep in mind, the helmet comfort liner, cheek pads and the actual EPS liner itself will contour and break in over the first few rides. So don’t be turned away from a helmet if it feels snug, but it shouldn’t be so tight there is significant discomfort.
A helmet is a crucial investment,
Before you can take your practical driving test, you need to pass your theory test. It’s a really important part of learning to drive: when you get to your practical test, you’ll need to show that you can use what you learn for this test when you’re driving on the road.
The car theory test costs £23 Visit GOV.UK to find out more about the theory test.
It’s vital to prepare for your theory test: there’s a lot to learn about the rules of the road. The better prepared you are, the more likely you are to pass first time, which will save you the time and money that retaking the test will cost.
There are two parts to the test
- the multiple choice part
- the hazard perception part.
The questions in the multiple choice test are taken from three books
- The Official Highway Code
- The Official DVSA Guide to Driving – the essential skills
- Know Your Traffic Signs.
You’ll need to use all of these when you’re preparing. There are lots of products available that contain practice questions, but it's really important you don't just learn the answers without understanding fully why it's correct because the questions on the actual test aren’t exactly the same as the practice ones.
Using official publications will help you get the most out of your preparations.
To help you get used to how the multiple choice test looks on-screen, you can practice doing the test online.
The multiple choice test covers the following topics
- safety and your vehicle
- safety margins
- hazard awareness
- vulnerable road users
- other types of vehicle
- road conditions and vehicle handling
- motorway driving
- rules of the road
- road and traffic signs
- essential documents
- incidents, accidents and emergencies
- vehicle loading.
There are various methods you can use to help you learn what you’ll need to know for your test. Here are a few ideas
- Link what you’re learning to your own experiences: for example, think about where you’ve seen an example of a road sign and use this to help you remember what the sign means.
- Use mnemonics: these are sayings or stories that help you remember something – for example, ‘Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain’ reminds you of the colours of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).
- Practice the question formats: as well as knowing all the information, you’ll also need to know how the questions are asked in the test. Use the practice test and the self-assessment questions in The Official DVSA Theory Test for Car Drivers.
- Plan your study: set yourself some timelines and targets. This will help you to see your progress and make sure you haven’t missed anything. Plan to do your studying somewhere you won’t be disturbed and at a time when you’re fully awake.
- Get help: use friends, family, your driving instructor or your colleagues from work to ask questions and share driving experiences.
Use the stopping distances game and road sign quiz in the Driver Knowledge Centre to help you practice too.
This part of the test checks you can recognise and respond to hazards that could happen while you’re driving. Being out on the road with your instructor will help you prepare for this part. There’s also The Official DVSA Guide to Hazard Perception, an interactive DVD-ROM that will help you learn to recognise hazards, know what to do when you see a hazard and practice for the test.
In the test you’ll see 14 film clips, each shown from a driver’s point of view. You’ll need to spot the developing hazard in each film: this is something that might need you, as the driver, to take some action such as changing speed or direction.
Preparing for the Direct Access Off Road Test.
Practical test for motorcycles
Once you have passed your motorcycle theory test, there are two practical tests. The first is a manoeuvres test which will last about 30 minutes. The second is the on-road practical test.
Motorcycle manoeuvres test
The motorcycle manoeuvres test involves:
- a slow driving exercise, where the candidate rides alongside the examiner at walking pace
- a slalom and figure of eight exercise, riding around cones
- walking and riding U-turn exercises, including use of the motorcycle stands
- a curve, to be ridden in second or third gear, at a minimum speed of 30 kph (18.75 mph)
- a combined avoidance and braking exercise at a minimum speed of 50 kph (31.25 mph)
- an emergency stop at a minimum speed of 50 kph (31.25 mph)
- Reporting for your practical test
The manoeuvres test is only available from the following Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) test centres: Ballymena, Craigavon, Downpatrick, Londonderry (Newbuildings), Mallusk and Omagh.
On-road motorcycle riding test
Before you start your riding test on the road, you will be asked to read a number plate to prove you can meet the eyesight requirements. You will also be asked two machine safety check questions before moving away.
The examiner will check your licence and identification and if you wish, will tell you what the test is about and how long it will take (about 40 minutes). They will help you to fit the radio and earpiece, and explain how they work.
You will be asked to do an angle start (move off from behind a parked car) and several normal starts (moving off from the side of the road). You may also be asked to move away on a hill - a hill start. You are to follow the road ahead unless directed otherwise on the radio. After the practical part of the test you will be asked a question on 'balance when carrying a passenger'.
You must wear:
- a motorcycle helmet that meets the minimum British or European safety standards (this doesn't apply if you're Sikh and wearing a turban)
- motorcycle boots or other sturdy footwear that provides support and ankle protection
- textile or leather motorcycle trousers or heavy denim trousers
- a textile or leather motorcycle jacket or a heavy denim jacket with several layers underneath
- motorcycle gloves
Your test will be cancelled and you will lose your fee if you don't meet these standards.
DVA does not conduct riding tests in adverse weather conditions for the safety of the candidate and the examiner.
Practical riding tests are managed locally on a test by test basis, subject to local conditions which are reviewed regularly throughout the day. All attempts will be made to cancel tests in advance; however this is not always possible as local conditions can change quite quickly.
You can get contact details for your local test centre at the link below:
If your riding test is cancelled, another appointment will be arranged automatically at no further cost, but compensation is not payable. You will be contacted with a new appointment date as soon as possible.
There will be a section where the candidate will be asked to drive independently. For all other parts of the test, examiners will give candidates step-by-step instructions.
In the independent driving section of the test, you'll have to drive independently by either following:
- traffic signs
- a series of directions
- a combination of both
To help you understand where you are going when following verbal directions, the examiner will show you a diagram.
More information about independent driving is available at the following page:
After the on-road test
Whether you pass or fail, the examiner will explain any faults marked on your driving test report (DL9). The debrief will give you a word picture of how you did during the test. It will include all the serious/dangerous faults and any repeated minor faults if you have failed.
You can have your instructor present during the feedback so you should make sure they are on hand at the end of the test.
If you pass
If eligible, your licence can be issued to you automatically. If not, you will be given a pass certificate and should send this and your licence with provisional entitlement to DVA as soon as possible. Your full licence will be posted to you.DVA Driver Licensing Division
Coleraine County Hall
If you fail
If you fail, the examiner will give you an explanation, as above, to help prepare you for your next test. Your driving test report form will show you where you made mistakes.
Motorcycle test 2018 - module 2: official DVSA guideThe practical tests make sure you can ride confidently and safely in different road and traffic conditions, and that you know The Highway Code (and can show this by the way you ride).
Read here about how best to prepare for and book your test. Better Biking - the Official DVSA Training Aid (DVD)will help you improve your practical skills.
Make sure that you book the correct category of test. See GOV.UK for more information about how to gain your licence. The requirements depend on whether you apply under progressive access or direct access.
Also make sure you wear the right clothing for your practical tests: without it, the test might not go ahead and you’ll lose your fee. Check what sort of clothing you should wear for riding a motorbike here or, if you’re still not sure, ask your trainer.
This module is tested in a safe off-road area; it takes about 20 minutes. You’ll need to show that you can do the following with your machine:
- wheel the moped or motorbike and use the stand
- do a slalom and figure of eight
- a slow ride
- cornering and controlled stop
- cornering and the emergency stop
- cornering and hazard avoidance.
Watch this DVSA video for more information about what you’ll need to take to your Module 1 test and what will happen in the test.
This is the on-road module and it usually takes about 50 minutes. You’ll need to show your Module 1 pass certificate when you take your Module 2 test. You must use the same size and type of motorbike for both modules.
The module includes
- an eyesight test
- safety questions
- road riding including stopping, an angle start (pulling out from behind a parked vehicle) and a hill start, where possible
- 10 minutes of independent riding, when you’ll be asked to ride a route following traffic signs or a series of directions, to see how you make decisions while riding.
While you’re riding on the road, the examiner will give you directions using a radio. They’ll normally follow you on a motorbike.
Almost everyone gets nervous about their motorbike test: you’ve done months of preparation and you really want to pass. But to pass, you’ll need to keep your nerves under control. Here are some tips to help you.
- Don’t book your tests at times when you know other stressful things are happening, such as school exams.
- Before the tests, make sure you get a few good nights’ sleep: you’ll feel more stressed if you’re tired.
- Avoid too much caffeine before your tests: it might make you feel jittery and nervous.
- Arrive at the test centre about 15 minutes before your test is due so you’re not hurried but you’re also not waiting too long.
- Remember, your examiner wants to make sure you’re safe on the road. They’re not trying to catch you out. If there’s anything you’re not sure about, just ask.
- Be positive: focus on passing your test rather than worrying about failing it.
If you fail, your examiner will explain the faults and give you a copy of the riding test report. At a Module 2 test, you can ask your trainer to be there when you’re given your feedback.
You’ll have to wait at least three working days before you can retake Module 1. You can’t take Module 2 until you’ve passed Module 1 so, if you need to, change the date of your Module 2 test. Remember, you can only change the date if it’s more than three working days away.
If you fail Module 2, you’ll have to wait 10 working days before you can retake the test.
If you’re retaking either module, show your trainer the riding test report and follow their advice to correct the faults. Practise as much as you can ready for your retake.
Well done! You can now get your provisional licence changed to a full licence. Your examiner will usually send your details to the DVLA so an upgraded licence can be sent to you by post. For more details about how to claim your riding test pass, see GOV.UK.Your examiner will give you feedback on your test. Remember to listen carefully to this: just because you passed your test, it doesn’t mean you rode perfectly!