How Long Does a Motorcycle CBT Take?



The average CBT should take around 5-7 hours; however, it is not uncommon for riders to complete their CBT in a shorter or longer amount of time.

Read here if you want to get into the details of how to prep for your CBT

To understand how long your CBT should take, let’s take a quick look at how the day is broken down and some reasons why your CBT may take more or less time than expected. 

For more see what is compulsory basic training.

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CBT Breakdown

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has a very detailed syllabus that lays out the expectations of Compulsory Basic Training for new motorcyclists. 

This is reassuring because all approved training courses from providers should follow the same format and be held to the same standards. 

There are 5 elements to the CBT:

  1. Introduction
  2. Practical Onsite Training
  3. Practical Onsite Riding
  4. Practical On-road Training
  5. Practical On-road Riding

In the syllabus that is sent out for training providers, which you can read here, there is only one section that has a required length of time assigned to it. 

Section E, the practical on-road riding, should take no less than 2 hours. 

Knowing that there has to be a minimum of 2 hours of on-road riding experience, it, therefore, makes sense that you spend a similar amount of time on-site training and riding to get to grips with the handling of the motorcycle. 

So a full day of around 5-7 hours will come out as the average length of time for a CBT to take. 

Why would a CBT take longer

Some new riders struggle from the onset with on-site training and riding. 

For example, they may struggle to handle a manual motorcycle with gear changes, and sometimes the instructor may allow them to complete the course on an automatic scooter instead. 

Until that rider is completely confident on-site, the instructor should not allow them to progress onto on-road training for obvious safety reasons. 

People learn at different paces, and it is imperative to remember that the CBT is not a test; you cannot fail. It is all about giving you the basic training to safely handle a motorcycle/scooter on the road. 

On-Road Training

On road CBT Training

It is not uncommon for an instructor to refuse to allow riders to progress to on-road training and ask the participant to return another day for more on-site training first. 

This is also true if the rider is taken out on the road and the instructor feels they need more training before riding alone. 

Group Size

The size of the group is another reason why a CBT may take longer than expected. 

Generally, group sizes are kept small so a single instructor can manage multiple participants in one day. 

However, it may be that the instructor takes 2 riders out on the road first while some others wait at base, and then they get taken out afterwards. 

Maximum group size

Note maximum legally permitted group sizes are:

  • On-site: 4 trainees
  • On-road: 2 trainees

Why would a CBT take less time than expected?

Some CBT courses will have a mixed group of new riders and riders doing a CBT renewal.

This may mean that the rider/s renewing their CBT can be more quickly assessed on-site, and attention can be paid to the new riders to get them up to scratch with the basic handling of the bike.

What is important to note is that the mandatory length of time for on-road riding is 2 hours, and so this should not be cut short whether you are a new rider or undertaking a CBT renewal. 

Bad Experiences

It is rare but not unheard of for those renewing their CBT to have this time cut short. 

When I undertook my first CBT, it took me 3 hours in total. 

I would guess that I spent around 45 minutes on the road with 2 other new riders, and it was a completely horrible experience. 

I walked away despite gaining my certificate, feeling completely incapable and unsafe. 

Down the line, I renewed my CBT with a new training provider, and I spent around 2.5 hours out on the road with my instructor (despite having been riding my own 125cc at that point for 18 months) and a good 2 hours on-site before this. 

I wish I had gone to that instructor the first time around as he refreshed my skills and knowledge, pointed out bad habits and later took me out on a 600cc as he felt comfortable allowing me to ride the bigger bike. 

If your CBT feels like it was too short or you don’t feel comfortable and, more importantly, safe, you should speak to the school manager or make an official complaint to the DVSA.

It is not worth the risk of riding alone and not feeling in control. 

Check out our directory to find a quality training school.

Final Thoughts

I must reiterate that your CBT is not a test, and it should be treated as a day where you are learning to ride a motorcycle/scooter for the first time and taking the first steps on your riding journey. 


It is something to enjoy and be excited about; you should embrace the time learning.

The syllabus is there to be followed to give you what you need to be safe when riding around solo on L plates, so cutting corners isn’t an option.

5-7 hours or 1 day is not a lot of time for you to take out of your schedule for you to open the door to two-wheeled freedom.