On Your Bike Pt. 2

See Part 1 here: On Your Bike Pt. 1

The first part of getting your licence is getting your CBT (Compulsory Basic Training). The CBT allows you to ride a moped up to 125CC (with L plates) and which lasts you two years unless you go on to take your full test within that time. The day is split up into two parts. The first half of the day goes over the basics of the motorbike/moped and involves slow speed manoeuvres in a carpark. You do basic things like U-turns, figures of eight, emergency stops and left/right turnings. Once the instructor is happy with your performance you’ll head out onto the road for the second half of the day, where you’ll really just pootle around town and demonstrate that you know basically what you’re doing and won’t be a major danger to yourself and other road users.

I hadn’t expected to go out on the road, so being able to ride around was a nice surprise and really made me feel like I had made the right decision to persue my DAS. I didn’t think it was possible to “fail” a CBT but one of the riders was really struggling to get to grips with the clutch and gears on his bike. He’d never ridden a geared bike before, so I can only imagine how hard it is to try and take all that in at the same time as concentrating on navigating the course. I’ve ridden loads of miles on a moped and geared bike so the CBT was a total breeze. If you’ve never ridden a bike before, just do it on a moped and don’t go for a geared bike. You’ll save yourself a lot of hassle and frustration. If you’re plan is to just commute around town, then you’re probably better off with a moped over motorbike.

As I did really well on my CBT I was allowed straight onto the 600CC bikes for my second day instead of being restricted to one of the 125s. One of the first things which struck me was just how much heavier the bike bikes are. I can’t believe that people actually manage to manoeuvre them around traffic in London. I think it’ll take me a long time to get to a point where I would feel comfortable filtering and weaving through stuck traffic. Getting up to 70 on the dual carriageway was a bit scary, but felt great once settled in. We rode for ages and ended up way out of London. I was actually really surprised how quickly we got outside of the M25. I can’t wait to have a bike of my own. The problem is deciding what bike. Suzuki SV650? Suzuki Bandit? Honda Hornet? Yamaha Fazer? Yamaha ER6N? Too many too chose from and not enough money to afford the ones I really want ;)

  • wooter

    Looky here! Didn’t know you were doing this!

    I did the training and tests in Belgium in 2009 and commute since then 200km a day, and did trips to Munich and Sheffield on my current bike.

    I went for a ’99 Suzuki SV650S as my first learner bike. It’s reasonably light, small and fast enough to thrill you for more than a few months. Technically it’s very easy so any shop can handle maintaining it if you don’t like doing it yourself. For long distances, the naked SV650 or Bandit would work better for your back and knees, but you might get bored of the wind you’re catching.

    After a year of Suzuki’ing, I decided to bite the bullet and got myself a proper BMW R1200RT Touring bike, including the side cases and topcase. If you thought a 600cc is heavy, think again! But once this BMW moves, it’s eager to lean in so all that weight means nothing if the bike handles very well.

    My advice: get good gear, ATGATT and get ABS. I once fell down with my SV because I didn’t dare to apply full front break to avoid an accident on a wet highway, and ended on all fours anyway because at the end I did apply full braking because I was still nearly hitting the car in front of me. Now with the BMW, I just slam the breaks and let the electronics figure out what to do with the stoppie I’m pulling. My brother started riding too and he went with a secondhand R1200RT. If you’re going to ride anyway, why not invest in something that keeps value and is better at saving you, no? :)

    • Got tired of spending $$$ to keep my car on the road and being stuck in London traffic all the time.

      Yeah I was pretty much settled on the SV650, then thought with the weather like it is in the UK and drivers being as bad as they are a bike with ABS is well worth the premium. As I did all my training on a Yamaha XJ6 with ABS, it seemed like a good idea just to get that as I’ve already put so many miles on one! Everyone else seemed to echo what you said and that ABS is well worth getting!