How to Find the right Motorcycle Rider Training School for You.

Finding the right motorcycle training school can make all the difference between a life long love of Motorcycles, vs switching to four-wheels. If you are looking to conquer the road on two-wheels, or you know someone who is thinking of learning to ride a motorcycle in the near future, then please read this article, it could make all the world of difference to your riding future.

The First Step – The First Mistake

So what is the first step people usually choose when searching for a training school? Well, they usually pick up their local telephone directory and pick the glossiest advert, give them a ring and ask the price and availability. Some more technically minded people will at least visit Google and type in keywords such as ‘CBT’ and their nearest town/city to find the nearest training centre. True

You book in and wait for the day to arrive so you can start training and fulfil your dream to be like Steve McQueen from the great escape, and there arises the first mistake…

You are just about to part with your hard-earned cash, but you have no idea what so ever as to how your training will be conducted… After all, the advert looked nice, or the website was glitzy, that should be ok then, right? Wrong! Remember, you have never met these people before, so how can you make a decision as to whether they are going to be suited to give you the quality training you not only deserve, but also require.

So here are some tips as to what to look for when choosing a rider training school:

Tip #1 from The Instructor: Ask friends

  • Where they did their CBT (compulsory basic training).
  • Did they enjoy it?
  • What didn’t they like about it?
  • Did they learn from it?
  • Did they feel safe to go out on their own after completing the training?

Remember, your friends, contacts and family have no hidden agenda; they have no reason to bend the truth or mislead you.

Tip #2 from The Instructor: Phone some bike shops

Ring round a couple of local bike shops and ask about the bikes they have for sale in the 125/50cc class as you are going to do your CBT shortly and will be wanting to buy a bike.
Then ask casually, who would they recommend to go to for a CBT? Most motorbike shops are in the “know” as to who is good and who is bad, after all, it is their job to be on the know on this subject. Tap into that wealth of knowledge and always use it to your advantage.

Tip #3 from The Instructor: Call the rider training schools directly

Ask if you can come down to have a look at the site and bikes you will be using for your training. Also, don’t be afraid of going off your gut instincts here, the person on the other end of the phone is a direct reflection of the school itself, if they came across as rude, lacking knowledge, pushy etc. Then there is every chance the instructors will be the same.
Additional Steps: You should now be left with a couple of names that will keep cropping up as being ‘the best in the area’’. Aim to visit the schools on your list and when you get there don’t be afraid to talk to the trainers and ask questions.
From years of experience teaching both instructors and students, I have devised a list of follow-up questions that you can add to your armoury when you visit the schools. Print this out if necessary.

Motorcycle Rider Training School Interrogation Techniques

This is where we dig a little deeper; we have to find out what substance and protocol is in place at the school. Be armed with these questions for maximum effectiveness.

  • Is the use of helmets, gloves, jacket’s included in the price of the CBT?
  • What happens if I don’t finish my training in the allocated day?
  • Can I come back to finish?
  • What additional costs will I incur?
  • What happens if the bike gets dropped or damaged?
  • Will I be sharing a bike/scooter or are we allocated a machine each for the day?
  • Do they supply all the necessary equipment for you to use on the day in case you decide it isn’t for you and you haven’t just spent your student grant/ load/ overdraft on expensive bike gear?
  • What other training do they offer?
  • Do they work with other organisations such as local colleges or local county councils? (Remember councils and colleges wouldn’t want to be associated with a rider training school that isn’t 100% legal or transparent. They can’t afford to be.)
  • How many pupils will there be to an instructor? Ask this one because it is illegal for an instructor to take more than two trainees on the final road (element E). However you can have a ratio of four trainees to one instructor on the pad elements (a to d). Would that be satisfactory to you though knowing that he can’t give you his/her best attention whilst trying to train three others at the same time? You may find you are sitting on the bike all by yourself just watching the others for long periods of time.
  • Ask how long they go out on the road for? Again, a legal requirement that you are out for a minimum period of two hrs. (One hour and 59 minutes is NOT long enough).

Insider Secrets: Here is an insider tip to see how professional the training school really is: If the instructors are out on the road with students by say half ten in the morning and it is their first days training then it is quite possible that the CBT isn’t being conducted properly and to the law/guidelines set down by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA).

Note: Any rider training school worth its salt will gladly let you come down and see how a CBT is conducted prior to you doing yours. If you get resistance or feel that your questions were not answered properly, then cross the school off your list.

Go Deeper Undercover: So now you are getting a feel for the company and its expertise in training…  We need to go even deeper undercover, for example, are they shouting at the pupils already training? Are the pupils laughing or too frightened to do anything?
Remember this could be you next week! Do you wish to be treated the same way?

Next, look at the bikes. Are they in good condition? Are they clean? Are they safe? Or are they held together with bits of insulation tape and wire? How old are the bikes? Look at the clothing people are wearing to train with, are they dirty oil stained day glow vests? Are the jackets filthy? Are the helmets clean and bright? Have they even seen a cleaning cloth since they were bought? Don’t be frightened to ask the others training if necessary if they are enjoying it!

Ok, so now you have seen a little bit deeper into the world of training schools. But now the BIG question: How much is it going to cost for the CBT?

Some are dearer some maybe cheaper, so what? Being dearer doesn’t necessarily buy a better service Focus mostly on where you think you are going to enjoy your training, ask yourself. Is it worth that extra ten or 20 quid?

If so go for it, and if not, go where you think you will be happy and maybe save some dosh so you can buy a pair of gloves with the savings.


Phil Johnson – (Greenlight rider training) is a leading CBT, direct access and instructor trainer and not only teaches students on a day-to-day basis, but also teachers many instructors.  Phil has also taught examiners to ride motorcycles as well as examiners friends and families. Phil also works with local councils and colleges with various projects to give their clients training and motorcycle rider education.

If you know someone who is looking to learn to ride a motorcycle, or perhaps you know someone who is looking to make a living as a motorcycle training instructor, please contact Phil directly at for more information and advice.

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