The sense of freedom and independence you feel from riding your very own motorbike on the open road is truly sensational. But before you can experience this independently, you'll have to pass your CBT test.
From researching training schools and the highway code, to ensuring you have all the correct gear and equipment, here are ten useful tips to help beginner bikers pass their test first time.
1. The Highway Code
This may sound like an obvious one, but if you don’t know the traffic signs or aren’t aware of the Highway Code during your CBT (compulsory basic training) your trainer can stop the session. Do some research and test yourself as you travel around to see if you know what the signs mean.
There are legal requirements for motorcyclists stated in the Highway Code which you should also be aware of. Read it. The code is there to protect all road users – and that includes you.
2. Make sure you have suitable insurance
Making sure you have the most suitable motorbike insurance that covers you and your bike is essential. It will take away any unwanted stress if you know you are fully insured should anything happen to you, your bike or another road users if you are involved in a collision.
3. Protect yourself with the right gear
Protecting yourself with adequate gear may save your life. If you have an accident or come off your bike, the only thing between you and the tarmac is your clothing.
Wearing bike gear that fastens securely and includes a well-fitting helmet with a clean and clear visor is a legal requirement when riding. Wear bike boots, use gloves and ensure your gear is made of material that offers protection should you fall off.
4. Know your head shape!
Wearing a helmet is a legal requirement as mentioned above, but make sure you buy a well-fitted helmet that is comfortable and safe. It may be tempting to buy a reasonably-priced helmet online, or decide it’s worth splashing out on a well-known brand, but it’s crucial it fits your head.
One important factor in buying the right helmet is knowing your head shape and which brands are best for you. Not everyone’s head shape is the same, so visit a bike shop and try several on. Can you pull it on easily, but is it too loose around the chin when you have it on? Is there too much wiggle room? Get it checked while in the bike shop. Your head may work better with some brands than others! Get to know your own head shape.
Also it’s best to avoid a second-hand helmet as you will not know its history or whether it has been in a crash. Don’t risk it.
5. Know the law
Passing your CBT doesn’t mean you can ride off into the proverbial sunset. The test means you can ride a motorcycle with L plates (L or D plates in Wales) with an engine size of up to 125cc (not exceeding 11kW) for up to two years. Within this time frame you need to pass a theory test and full motorbike test, or repeat your CBT.
There are also rules about pillion passengers and riding on a motorway that are worth checking before you’re tempted to offer your friend a lift home or tackle the M25 on your 50cc bike!
6. Bike maintenance
Knowing how to carry out basic bike maintenance could prolong the life of your bike and prevent an accident. Tyre pressure can affect how your bike handles and grips the road. Too low and you may struggle to handle the bike, over inflated and you may have an issue with grip. Check them once a week. Checking your oil, chain tension, battery life and coolant levels should also be done regularly.
It may be worth considering a course to find out how to do the basic checks, or speak to your mechanic and ask for advice.
7. Keep it clean!
Non-riders may think bikers just like to clean their motorcycles to keep them shiny, but there’s a practical part to cleaning them, and that’s so you can see any mechanical faults. Cleaning salt off the bodywork that gets sprayed from roads helps to protect it and stop rust developing. So grab that Muc-Off and clean your bike!
8. The weather
In winter, be aware of how quickly the weather can turn. Become a fan of the forecast and check in case it may become icy, if there are heavy winds on the way, or if it may snow or become foggy.
9. Additional training
Many riders say additional training and bike courses are life-saving if you ride a motorcycle. The police and other organisations offer additional courses, for skidding or road positioning and taking an extra training session may help reduce your insurance premiums too.
10. Ride safely
Riding a motorbike is fun, you have freedom and it’s a way to travel that engages all your senses. But there is little room for error.
You don’t have a seatbelt, you don’t have a metal box for protection and you need to leave any ego behind. You may not get a second chance if you think you know it all once you get through your CBT. Even the most experienced riders take it very seriously, wear safety gear, look after their bike, pay attention to the weather, the conditions of the road and don’t take unnecessary chances. So make sure you do the same.
© Sabrina Bucknole 2019