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  • Writer's pictureBrad Keating

How to Get Your Motorcycle License: A Complete Guide

Updated: Jan 17

Before a person can enjoy riding a motorcycle down the highway, they must undergo a process to earn their license. Generally, there are plenty of similarities between the licensing process between their driver's license and a motorcycle license. However, there are some critical differences between the two: most states require a person to have a driver's license or to complete both driver's education and driver's training. Aside from that, operating a motorcycle is radically different from a regular automobile, so there are some motorcycle safety tips people need to learn.

Ultimately, it would be best if a person were looking to obtain a certificate of completion to show they have passed all of the requirements. The requirements differ from state to state, and that's only for the United States. Sometimes, they are required to have a driver's license first, and other times they need an endorsement mark to be added to their license. It would help if a person also had a deep understanding of Ohio motorcycle laws, as they are typically required to pass a written test. After somebody obtains a motorcycle permit, they should practice their skill on a motorcycle in preparation for passing the skills test.

Motorcycle Skills

Even if somebody passes the written test, they can't drive a motorcycle without extensive training and knowledge. A person needs to have the skills and expertise capable of going through a safety course. Mastering skills such as clutch control can allow somebody to move at a comfortable speed. Likewise, other skills such as counter steering are essential, as otherwise, they couldn't make safe turns. When somebody can combine all of the necessary skills for their motor vehicle, they may finally get their license. A motorcycle learner’s capabilities depend heavily on these skills, so here is a short summary of some skills to master:

  • Clutch Control (Speed)

  • Counter Steering (Turns)

  • Situational Awareness (Prevent Crashes)

  • Braking (Slowing Down Speed)

  • Other Basic Driving Skills

Should one take these skills into consideration, then their ability to operate a motorcycle should improve significantly. A motorcycle skills test may consist of cone weaving, controlled turns, etc. A person can always practice on a motorcycle safety course. Practice makes perfect, so you must keep their skills honed to get your motorcycle license.

Motorcycle Road Skills

If somebody already has a driver’s license, then they should already have a comprehensive understanding of the necessary road skills needed for these tests. However, keep in mind that awareness is even more important on a motorcycle. Motorcycles have significantly fewer safety features compared to that of a car or truck. As a result, a crash involving a motorcycle is more likely to induce an injury on the driver. Motorcycles have more mobility, so there are more opportunities to avoid an incident. Unfortunately, that extra mobility can also get a person into more crashes. Hence, people must always take extra care when considering motorcycle safety.

If one hasn't gotten a driver’s license yet, then there are some necessary road skills they must learn. These can be as simple as ranging from learning how a vehicle operates to when to merge with oncoming traffic. Taking a driver's education course can significantly assist a person in trying to obtain a license for motorcycles. Knowledge of basic road skills can also come in handy for getting your motorcycle permit.

Knowledge Test

If a person is interested in obtaining a motorcycle permit and, eventually, a motorcycle license, then they need to pass a knowledge test. These sorts of tests are written tests that are multiple-choice and are required before one can obtain a motorcycle license. When an aspiring motorcyclist takes a test like this, they need to remember what they have learned from driving ed, driving manuals, videos, and other sources of knowledge. Riding a motorcycle can be fun, but some of the wisdom regarding it isn't too intuitive.

For example, a person might need to know the safest braking method. Hard braking on the front can give up nearly 80% of a motorcycle's stopping power. Some other standard questions include:

  • What type of face protection should a motorcyclist wear?

  • What does the right foot pedal control?

  • Is it legal to have tinted eye protection?

  • How does a motorcyclist approach a turn?

  • Are there differences in approaching lanes with a motorcycle compared to a car?

It would be advisable to know the answer to potentially hundreds of questions. Some may be obvious, and others are challenging. To successfully take a knowledge test, a person needs to have a deep understanding of motorcycle knowledge. Outside of specific knowledge, some basic test-taking skills may be of tremendous help. Remember, it's just a test. There's no need to panic, and take advantage of the time allocated for completion. As it's multiple choice, a person can also take a guess on some of the more challenging questions. Some questions may be nigh identical to those seen on a written test for a driver’s license. Failing a test isn't the end of the world, for a person can always take it again on a later date.

Motorcycle Safety Course

A motorcycle safety course is an excellent place to go to if one needs assistance in learning how to ride their motorcycle. These courses are designed for new drivers, but it can also double as a refreshment course for veteran drivers who need to freshen up dusty skills. In some states, a person can also obtain motorcycle driving insurance at a reduced cost with proof that they have completed a safety course. Likewise, it can be used in place of a skills test at some DMVs. So what exactly are these safety courses?

Most of these safety courses include instructors who teach classes on driving. A person may need to delegate up to 20 hours to learn all of the material taught in these classes, as it can take about a week to complete. In these classes, a person may also get the hands-on experience they need. People can expect to take on various exercises to get some real-world experience as they learn to operate a motorcycle. These exercises differ from course to course, so it's advisable to do some specific research into the local motorcycle safety course.

What to Bring to Learn more About Motorcycle Safety

If you want to get your motorcycle license as soon as possible, you need to study hard! A person needs some method to take notes. Whether it's with pen and paper or a laptop, either is sufficient for this situation. Learning can also be exhausting on a stomach, so a person should bring some food for lunch. Keep in mind, clothing also heavily influences one's safety.

Flimsy dresses or a basic tank top won't offer much protection if somebody falls at a high speed. Leather jackets are seen as a common stereotype for motorcyclists, but this apparel greatly ensures a motorcycle learner’s safety. Bring some comfortable thick padding, gloves, and a helmet.

Some states have a motorcycle safety course as something required to obtain a motorcycle license. When considering all of the above, a person needs to decide their current readiness with motorcycles and if they are capable of passing any test. Even if a safety course isn't required by law, it can still provide them some much-needed experience. In order to get a motorcycle license, a person needs to practice and study.

Motorcycle Permit

Some states allow young people to obtain a motorcycle permit before they're old enough to get a motorcycle license. Motorcycle permits are not available in all states, so people need to remember this trait. The following states have motorcycle permit options available:

  • Alaska (14 years old with a licensed motorcycle operator & those under 18 need a 6-month permit)

  • Arizona (15 and a half years old, only needs to take the written test)

  • California (15 and a half years old, can't be operated after dark, on freeways, or with a passenger)

  • Colorado (An optional requirement for obtaining a motorcycle license)

  • Connecticut (16 years old, can't hold a passenger for six months after obtaining a motorcycle permit)

  • Georgia (16 years old)

  • Hawaii (15 and a half years old, can't hold a passenger or operate after dark)

  • Illinois (18 years old, 12-month provisional period)

  • Indiana (16 years, 180 days old)

  • Maine (16 years old, must complete an education program designed for motorcyclists)

  • Minnesota (16 years old with a valid driver's license, cannot carry passengers or operate after dark)

  • Missouri (15 and a half years old)

  • Nebraska (15 years old, must be nearby a 21 year old or older supervisor)

  • Nevada (15 and a half years old, can't operate on a highway for one year)

  • New Hampshire (16 years old who had completed a driver's education course)

  • North Carolina (16 years old, valid for one year)

  • North Dakota (16 years old, must use an engine of 250 cubic centimeters or less)

  • Ohio (15 and a half years old)

  • Oregon (16 years old, valid for one year)

  • Pennsylvania (16 years old, can't have a passenger other than an instructor)

  • South Dakota (14 years old)

  • Utah (16 years old, can't hold a passenger or operate after dark)

  • Vermont (16 years old)

  • Washington (16 years old)

  • Wisconsin (16 years old)

Keep in mind, there are various facets at work when trying to obtain a motorcycle permit. Also, a motorcycle permit may not be valid in other states, so a person should check up on local state laws if planning to go out of state. There are more legal aspects to a motorcycle permit not listed, so they should check in with their local state mandates to see how they can obtain one. Obtaining a permit can get a person one step closer to owning a motorcycle license.

Guide to Getting Your Motorcycle License

Motorcycle License

Like in the case of obtaining a permit, getting a motorcycle license can vary from state to state. Some states require passing written tests, a safety course, a skills test, or some combination of the previously mentioned requirements. How old a person also influences their eligibility to obtain a motorcycle license. Again, it is imperative to check in with the local DMV for basic info. A motorcycle license acts similarly to a driver’s license, except solely for motorcycles. Some states require a person to have a driver’s license before becoming eligible for a motorcycle license.

In the states that require completing a safety course, a person needs to bring a certificate of completion to prove that they are ready for the skills test. Among other ways to know how to get your motorcycle license, a person needs experience in driving one. Motor vehicles differ from regular cars, so don't expect to get a motorcycle license without having ever ridden one.



A DMV is a location people go to to obtain their motorcycle license. The overall process is similar to getting a driver’s license, except with the general knowledge a person needs for a motorcycle. Prices vary from location to location, so be prepared to pay a few dozen dollars to take a skills test. Failing a test does not get people their money back, so take the test seriously. When passing the test, a person should get their license within a few days or weeks.

In addition to a standard skill test, people also need to pass a vision test. Vision is arguably more important for motorcyclists than driving cars as one accident can break bones far easier. If one cannot pass the vision test, restrictions are placed on their license. These restrictions can vary, but it limits what a person is allowed to do on their motorcycle. Limitations can include:

  • Who is allowed on the motorcycle

  • What time of day they can drive

  • Requiring corrective lenses

  • Grants them a short term license, forcing them to retest quickly

  • Limiting locations to drive in (no highways, for instance)

Restrictions can be removed if somebody passes the vision test with flying colors. A new motorcycle license should be a standard one, allowing a person to enjoy the benefits of riding a motorcycle like an average person. Aside from these sorts of tests, it would be best if a person also went to a DMV in case of an incident. Specific incidents can remove a person's right to driving a motorcycle, so pay careful attention to any legal documents.

What to Do if Somebody Loses Their License

There are a few instances in which somebody may lose their license. One can always go to a DMV office or do it online for a duplicate card in the scenario they misplace their existing motorcycle license. In more severe cases that force their license to be invalid, such as a DUI, there are certain actions one must take in order to ride motorcycles. License laws can remove their right to drive a motor vehicle if that person does something illegal. Suspensions related to a motorcycle involving a DUI are usually similar to a suspension involving a regular car.

They must also install an ignition interlock as long as their suspension is active. Drivers are highly unlikely to operate any motor vehicles with a suspension, including automobiles. As soon as they bounce back and complete DUI school (if applicable to their state), they may need to handle some insurance business and apply for reinstatement. Motorcyclists could also win a DMV hearing not to have their motorcycle license revoked. Ideally, they should contact an attorney to help guide them through local and state laws to ease the process.

Driving Motor Vehicles

As an aspiring driver should now know how to get your motorcycle license, they may need to get insurance. Outside of financial business, a person should have a comprehensive understanding of how a motorcycle works. They should know how to ignite it, as well as how to turn a motorcycle around when driving. Obtaining a motorcycle license is hardly different from getting a standard driver’s license. Be prepared to pass any test necessary, including written, skills, and vision tests.

Before somebody can take a test, they should research the latest example tests online. Real tests tend to use similar questions so that anybody can excel at the written portion of the test. Likewise, to get a motorcycle license, people need to practice prior to the skills test. Whether or not somebody needs a permit of a safety course is dependent on their state, yet all states require them to physically practice riding their motorcycle. A person cannot get a license if they fail these tests, although failing the vision test only places restrictions on their license. Nonetheless, people can always get better at riding a motorcycle!

In the assumption that they take all of their tests and ace it, then they should be ready to drive. People can choose to get whatever motorcycle they fancy. Whatever they decide to get, make sure not to get into any trouble that can revoke their motorcycle license. With the knowledge on how to obtain their license, make sure they follow all state and municipal laws. If somebody ever has any specific questions, don't hesitate to ask a DMV or look up their website for a FAQ.

If you are interested in the average motorcycle accident settlement, The Keating Firm LTD. can provide you with all the information you need.

Disclaimer: The details included in this blog is offered for educational purposes only, and should not be taken as lawful guidance in any way. No recipients of material from this blog, clients or otherwise, should or should not act on the basis of any material consisted in the blog without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional guidance on the particular facts and situations at issue from an attorney accredited in the recipient's state.


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