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If you’re thinking about getting a license to ride a motorcycle, you probably have a lot of questions. Getting a regular driver’s license is easier because driver’s education in high school usually tells us what to do. We’re on our own figuring out how to get a motorcycle license.
I’ve gotten a motorcycle license in several states in the U.S. and have been able to see the normal process it takes to obtain one. Throughout this article I can answer the basic question of how to get a motorcycle license as well as address some further questions you’ll likely have.
Disclaimer: While many states offer similar ways to obtain a motorcycle permit, each state has their own rules, regulations and age requirements. There are also fees involved in obtaining a motorcycle permit. Check with your local DMV for specifics if you’re serious about getting your license to ride a motorcycle. This article is intended to provide an overview of the process.
Obtaining Your Learner’s Permit
Before you even begin to think about getting on a motorcycle and operating it yourself, you’ll need to first obtain your learner’s permit just like you do when you’re learning to drive a car. You shouldn’t ride a motorcycle without a permit.; a regular driver’s license doesn’t count and here’s why.
If you are riding a motorcycle without a permit or license and get caught and/or pulled over, you’ll likely face a hefty fine and a lot of states have rules where they can confiscate the motorcycle. You’ll be on your own finding a way home. This is especially annoying if you’re borrowing someone else’s motorcycle and you’ll likely have to pay another large fine to get the motorcycle back.
Not having a motorcycle license or permit often means you don’t have insurance either. A lot of insurance agencies will be wary of offering insurance on a person who doesn’t actually have a license to operate the motorcycle because that increases liability on their part. So in addition to the fees previously stated, you’ll likely get cited for not having insurance either.
You’re in even bigger trouble if you ride a motorcycle without a license and end up getting in some sort of accident. Besides the fact you probably don’t have insurance and are held 100% liable for damages if the accident is your fault, someone is more likely to sue you because you didn’t have a license. And there’s a possibility of the state withholding your ability to even get a license at all if this happens. You should not ride that train until you have a permit.
To get a permit, you’ll need to go in to your local DMV with the appropriate paperwork to get the process started. You’ll need to take in some sort of proof of identity, proof of residency, and pay a fee specific to your county and state. For most states, you must be at least 16 years old to apply for a motorcycle licence.
During this same appointment, you’ll also need to take an eye test and a written exam. Because it proves your ability to see and ride a motorcycle, the eye test is crucial. This is a simple test that doesn’t take more than five minutes. They’ll have you read some letters printed on a board across the room and you will cover each eye and continue reading. You should be able to see well enough to pass.
After the eye test, you’ll take the written test. The test used to be on a piece of paper that was given to you. You had to fill out a bubble form. Today, more departments allow you to take the test online in a testing centre they have.
This test typically consists of around 25 questions. You will be asked basic questions but important questions about how to operate a motorcycle. Most places require that you get 80% or better on the test in order to pass (that means you’ll need to get 20 out of the 25 correct if your test has that many questions).
Don’t feel too bad if you don’t pass the written exam the first time. Most places will let you take it as many times as you need though you’ll need to wait a certain time in between each attempt (usually a day) and pay an additional fee each time you take the test. Most states don’t have a limit on how many times you can take the test.
After you have paid the fee and passed the eye and written tests, the DMV will issue a motorcycle permit. You can legally ride a motorcycle once you have this permit. Most DMV’s will give you a handbook of what you should practice as well as the specific rules you should follow when riding with a permit.
Also note that it’s important you immediately get motorcycle insurance when you get your permit if you are going to practice on a motorcycle you own. If you are planning on using a family member or friend’s motorcycle to practice on, consider adding yourself on their insurance so you are covered in the case of an accident.
How to Get a Permit
Just because you have a permit to ride a motorcycle doesn’t mean you’re free to do whatever you want on one. There are still rules you’ll need to abide by if you want to get your actual motorcycle license.
Most states have a 12-month limit on motorcycle permits. They can also be renewed once every six months. If you let your permit expire after that without obtaining a license, you’ll need to go through the process at the DMV again to obtain a new permit.
Most states prohibit motorcycle permit holders from having any kind of passenger on their motorcycles, unless the passenger is a licensed driving instructor.. Because you are learning how to ride a motorcycle, it’s inappropriate to have a passenger on the back of your bike since you’re at a higher risk of crashing.
A motorcycle permit holder is not permitted to ride a bike between dawn and dusk. You cannot ride at night. Riding at night is very different from riding during the day and it’s not appropriate for a beginner to be doing that. If you ride at night without a permit, you could face heavy fines.
Many states require you to not ride at higher speeds on roads. If you have a permit, you cannot drive 60 mph or faster on Utah roads. Most states have the same MPH range. However, you should check with your local DMV for specific information.
It is a common requirement to ride for a certain number of hours before you can take your riding test. Some states also require you to have your permit valid for at least two months before you are allowed to take the riding test. The amount of hours you ride a motorcycle and practice on it is on your honor since you’re not allowed to have a passenger with you like you can with a learner’s permit for driving a car.
Places to Practice
Being a beginner on a motorcycle can seem intimidating, especially when there are other drivers. These are some suggestions that I have to help you get the practice and safety you want without distractions.
In the beginning of your practice routine, ride your motorcycle around any empty parking lots such as school, church, and store parking lots after hours if it’s light enough. Because they are flat and have lines that you can maneuver around, empty parking lots make a great place to learn how to ride.
After you feel comfortable riding in parking lots, you can start moving to residential roads. There will still be cars around but not enough for you to be nervous. You will soon feel more comfortable riding on residential roads. Next, you will want to move up to faster speeds and busier roads.
Take a Motorcycle Safety Course
It’s a great way to get to grips with the basics of riding a motorcycle. And it’s in a safe and non-judgmental environment which makes the experience a lot less intimidating. This course has many benefits.
A motorcycle safety class is a course that a new rider takes. It lasts approximately 1-3 days. This course includes both classroom and actual riding under the guidance of an MSF-certified rider coach.
This class will teach you how to ride a motorcycle and how to handle any tricky situations. The education covers the basics of riding a motorcycle, including how to start and stop, lean, stop abruptly, turn tight, curves and steer, as well as how to handle any sticky situations.
Although all states offer this course, some might need to travel a long distance to access it. If you’re a seasoned rider and just want a touch-up on your safety skills, they also offer an advanced course.
A motorcycle safety course can be very beneficial. Some states will waive the riding test for those who pass it. This is because you’ve already passed both a written and riding exam during the course.
You will probably get some discount from your insurance company if you complete a course such as this. They recognize that you’ve gone the extra mile to ensure your riding safety and they reward you.
Some states require new riders to complete a motorcycle safety course to obtain their license. Check with your local DMV for more information.
The only problem with the motorcycle safety course? It’s expensive. Each instructor will charge a different fee, but it is usually $150-$250. That’s a lot more expensive than just going the permit route and taking the test from the DMV which is usually under $50.
The riding test
Once you have had your permit for the appropriate amount of time, ridden the required amount of hours, and feel like you have gotten the hang of riding a motorcycle, you’re ready to take your riding test.
To do this, you’ll need to contact your local DMV and schedule a time to come out and do the test. You cannot just show up to do this. Many DMVs offer online scheduling. They must ensure they have the correct instructor for your test.
Make sure to bring all the necessary documentation when you arrive. You’ll need to have your permit, a form of identification, proof of residency, and money to pay the fee for a license.
Most DMVs have a riding spot outside for you to take your motorcycle riding test. Your examiner will ask some questions about the parts of your motorcycle before you begin the riding test. Your examiner will ask you to show them where the front, rear, and left brakes are. They’ll also want to know where the left- and right-side signals are.
Once you have proven to your examiner that you are well acquainted with the motorcycle and it’s parts, you’ll begin to start your riding test. It’s always a good idea to go prepared with a helmet as well as wearing other proper riding gear. You don’t necessarily need to have the leather jacket and gloves, But it’s a good look to the examiner, if you are wearing long pants and boots that cover your ankles.
Tiered Licensing is a regulation that many states adhere to. This means that whatever type of motorcycle you test at the DMV will determine what type of motorcycle you are allowed to legally ride with your license.
For example, if you test on a motorcycle with 90 CC’s, you will be restricted to ride only motorcycles with 90 CC’s or lower. If you test on a motorcycle with 250 CC’s, you are restricted to only legally ride motorcycles with 250 CC’s or less. You are permitted to ride any kind of motorcycle if you test on a motorcycle with 650 CC’s or larger.
A test of motorcycle riding usually lasts about 30 minutes. The examiner will give you instructions on how to ride a motorcycle and then will observe your skills by standing off to one side with a clipboard.
They will require you to demonstrate skills such as stopping distance, maneuvering with low speeds, maneuvering regularly at high speeds, turning at irregular speeds, moving around cones while keeping your feet on the ground, using signals while maneuvering and using different brake pedals. You may be asked to ride directly towards the examiner, and then they will randomly point to one side to make you swerve.
Failure to pass your riding test will result in you being offered other opportunities. Most states don’t have a limit on the amount of times you take your riding test, however most do have regulations on how often you can take them. The interval between riding tests can be anywhere from 1-10 days. For those under 18 years old, the time between tests will be longer.
Once you pass your test, your examiner will go over some things with you that you could improve on but wasn’t bad enough to withhold your license. You’ll go into the DMV, fill out the appropriate paperwork, and complete the process of getting your motorcycle license!
A motorcycle license means you’ll have an endorsement on your regular license, meaning they’ll print an “M” It. Some DMVs may be able to issue it on the same day. Others might need to mail it.
These are a few common questions I’ve heard people ask when they are in the process of getting their motorcycle license (and I asked myself these as well).
Do you need a driver’s license to get a motorcycle license? Most states do require that you have a regular driver’s license in order to obtain your motorcycle license. Those who are 16 must show that they are working towards getting a driver’s license and must obtain it before they get their motorcycle license.
This is mostly because a regular driver’s license teaches drivers the basic laws of the road. These points will be covered, but learning how to ride the motorcycle will focus more on how to use it than how to understand all of the road laws.
Are you required to have a motorcycle license in order to ride a moped or scooter? It all depends on your location and the size of scooter or moped that you wish to ride.
In general, if the scooter or moped you are riding is smaller than 50 CC’s and you have a regular driver’s license, you are permitted to ride it without obtaining a motorcycle license or endorsement. If it’s anything larger than that, you will need to proceed with the steps of getting a motorcycle license.
What if you don’t have a motorcycle to practice on or use during a riding test? While learning to ride a bike is one thing, getting one to practice is quite another. It’s a hard decision to make if you’re wanting to learn but don’t necessarily want to pay for a nice motorcycle that you might wreck.
You can rent a motorcycle and helmet for $50 if you have taken the motorcycle safety course. That’s one of the many perks of taking that course. You will need to find a motorcycle that you like. You cannot test drive a motorcycle provided by the DMV. You’ll either need to buy a motorcycle or borrow one from a friend or family member.
It is a good idea to buy something small and portable. Get comfortable riding on a two-wheeled vehicle by doing all the practice. You can sell the vehicle once you feel confident enough to buy something that you like and test it.