Compulsory Basic Training is where everyone starts and the title means just what it says. It lasts for as long as it takes, but is usually completed within a day and its designed to make sure you've reached a certain standard before you are allowed to ride on the public road.
If you have your own bike, you can use it for CBT (and the rest of your training), but many people train on one of the schools bikes.
You'll need to come dressed sensibly - at least jeans and a sturdy, preferably leather jacket, and strong boots - but most places provide helmets, gloves, waterproofs and a dayglo vest for safety.
The first thing the instructor will do is check your documents to make sure your licence is in order. Then you'll have to take an eyesight test - you should be able to read a normal car number plate from a distance of 20.5m (if you wear glasses you must wear these for training and on your test). Then its into the classroom for a talk on the aims of CBT and about clothing and equipment.
Next its out on the training pad to learn what the various bits of a bike actually do. You'll be shown how to put the bike on and off its stand, which will help you get a feel for the balance of the machine.
Then you'll start riding. You'll learn the basics of clutch control, pulling away, stopping under control, emergency stops, U-turns and normal turns, all in the safety of the training area. The instructor will be constantly assessing how fast you're grasping what he's teaching and if you need more help or time on one particular aspect, you'll get it.
Once he's happy with your progress you'll go back into the classroom for some more information on the legal aspects of riding a bike, highway code theory and the effects of traffic and weather conditions on the way you ride, as well as the need to be visible to other road users. Some of it will be familiar territory to anyone with a car licence, but the instructor will emphasise the very different attitude you need to ride a bike, simply because of your vulnerability - your perception of hazards needs to change to see threats before they happen, and not to assume that because you've seen another road user, he's seen you!
CBT ends with a minimum 2 hour instructor accompanied road ride. Obviously if you take your CBT during winter, that means by the time you finish your road ride, it may be getting dark, but don't worry, most CBT routes are well lit. On the ride you'll cover positioning at junctions and cross-roads, roundabout protocol, pedestrian crossings and traffic lights, U-turns on the road and more emergency stop practise.
Providing you've mastered the basics you'll be issued with form DL196 and you can go on to the next stage. A DL196 only lasts for 2 years. If you don't pass your test within the 2 years you will have to retake the CBT.
Information reproduced from "What Bike? and Scooter" (summer 2002 issue).