Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) Element D

The previous elements will have seen you learning practical training and theory off-road at your training site. Element D is classroom based theory and will prepare you for final the on-road element.

Element D will last for around 45 minutes and will further your knowledge on legal and safety aspects of riding a motorcycle on public roads. Detailed in this section are the various topics you can expect to cover with your trainer in the classroom-theory based element D.

Legal Requirements

You will have already covered some of the legalities involved with riding a motorcycle on public roads at the beginning of the CBT course. Your trainer will run the provisional motorcycle entitlements and motorcycle legal requirements such as insurance, tax and MOT testing. Other legal requirements discussed are safety helmets and displaying L-plates as a learner rider.

Being Seen

A significant danger of any motorcyclist is to not be seen. Being conspicuous is essential for other road users to see you. This topic will see your trainer discuss situations where you may not be seen and how you can make it easier to be seen. this will cover:

  • Visual aids and the differences between fluorescent (daytime visual aid) and reflective (low light visual aid)
  • Use of headlights
  • Use of indicators
  • Road positioning
  • Changes in road surfaces
  • Keeping motorcycle / lights clean
Compulsory basic training element D
Compulsory basic training element D is classroom based theory

Rules of the Road

The Highway Code is a reference in paper book or digital format that all road users must read. When applying for a provisional licence, you will have agreed and signed confirming that you have read the Highway Code. You’ll be expected to have a reasonable level of knowledge on the rules of the road before attending your CBT.

Vulnerable Riders

As a motorcycle rider, you are more vulnerable than many other motorists due to the lack of protection. Your trainer will explain many of the dangers associated with riding a motorcycle including:

  • collisions
  • different types of road surfaces and how they affect the motorcycle
  • weather conditions

To help in reducing injuries and the effect of weather conditions on the body, your trainer will also explain:

  • legal safety helmets that must be in good condition
  • appropriate protective clothing

Defensive Driving and Hazard Perception

Defensive driving is a skill that enables you to see potential hazards and developing hazards well in advance and to take appropriate action. Defensive driving requires constant concentration and riding skills including road positioning, safe, appropriate speed and awareness and anticipation. Your trainer will explain defensive driving and provide examples.


Many of us know the dangers of riding too fast. Your trainer will explain why it’s important to ride within the legal speed limits and at an appropriate speed for the traffic, road and weather conditions. You’ll also have an explanation of the danger or riding too slowly and how it can affect other road users.

Rear Observation

For all-round observation whilst riding a motorcycle, you must use a combination of mirrors and looking behind you. You will need to understand why you need to use this combination, how and when to use rear observation effectively. Your trainer will also explain when it is an inappropriate time to be looking around when observation should be concentrated ahead,

Blind spots (the areas that aren’t seen in your mirrors) will be explained in more depth with the observation know as the ‘lifesaver glance’. This observation is in reference to the blind spot and is a final check all is clear. This can be just before changing lanes for example. For further information on motorcycle blind spots and those of other vehicles, see:

Road Position

The safest road position for a motorcyclists is around the centre of your side of the road. Riding too close to the kerb or too close to the centre of the road can prove hazardous. Your trainer will cover this along with the correct road position for bends and junctions. Forward planning is essential as you’ll need to avoid hazards such as drain covers and manhole covers.

Keeping your distance

Many accidents occur due to drivers and riders traveling too closely to the vehicle in front due to a lack of thinking and braking distance and the inability for the drivers of other vehicles, particularly large vehicles to see you in their mirrors. This will be discussed by your trainer with the many dangers associated with traveling too close to the vehicle in front. Keeping a safe distance and using the two second rule will also be discussed along with the advantages of keeping a safe following distance, including:

  • an increased stopping distance that allows for more time to slow down
  • forward planning is improved due to the ability to past the vehicle in front
  • other road users can see you easier

The two second rule is a simple system used by many motorists to gauge a safe following distance in varied weather conditions. The two second rule will be discussed by your trainer.

Weather Conditions

All motorists are affected by weather conditions, motorcyclists more so than most. You’ll discuss how various weather conditions can impact the handling of the motorcycle and how it can affect the riders concentration when becoming too hot, too cold or wet. You’ll discuss:

  • High wind
  • Rain
  • Fog
  • Snow and ice
  • Low sun and a bright sun can affect levels of observation

Rain can substantially change the level of grip your tyres have on a particular surface and your trainer will explain those road surfaces that are best avoided if possible, such as painted road markings and drain covers.

Different Road Surfaces

As with weather conditions, motorcyclists are affected to a greater extent on certain road surfaces. Road surfaces that represent a hazard include:

  • Road markings and drain covers in wet weather
  • Potholes
  • Tramlines and railway lines
  • Loose road chippings and gravel
  • Mus and leaves
  • Well-worn, shiny road surfaces

Your trainer will discuss the importance of forward planning and the ability to see these potential hazards in advance. Advice will include spotting hazards such as the rainbow effect that diesel or oil spillage can have on a road surface in wet weather and how the various surfaces affect braking, accelerating and cornering.

Competitive and Aggressive Attitudes

Riding competitively or aggressively significantly increases your risk of an accident. Try to remain calm and focused even when other motorists make mistakes.

Alcohol and Drugs

To ensure you remain legal and as safe as is possible, it’s best to never drink and ride, even if it’s within the legal limits. CBT element D will cover the legal limits of alcohol whilst riding within England, Scotland and Wales and that this limit varies on countries around the world. You’ll discus how alcohol and drugs affect your concentration and how it slows your reaction times and balance. You’ll cover also how long they can remain in your body.


After the completion of element D, the final element E will begin. For further reading, see: