Everything You Need to Know About Getting Your Motorcycle License

Written by Jordan Stokes.


Similar to having a driver’s license to drive an automobile, you will need your motorcycle license to take your bike for a ride. From age requirements to motorcycle classes, here’s everything you need to know about getting your motorcycle license.
Every state (including D.C.) requires you to have a Class M motorcycle license or endorsement before operating your machine on the streets. There are several requirements you need to meet in order to obtain a motorcycle license.
Types of Motorcycle Licenses:

  • Class M is valid for motorcycle and motor-driven cycles.
  • Class M1 is for motorcycles.
  • Class M2 is for motor-driven cycles and motorized bicycles.

Motorcycle License Requirements:

  • Age requirements. What is the minimum age to obtain a permit and/or license?
  • Motorcycle training requirements. Do you need to take a safety course?
  • Motorcycle permit requirements. Are they mandatory?
  • Motorcycle test requirements. Will you need to pass a written, vision, and road test?


Age Requirements: Motorcycle Permit and Motorcycle License

They don’t just let anyone hop on a motorcycle! If you are at least 16 years old, you shouldn’t have a problem riding on two wheels.
Motorcycle Permit Age Requirement
If you are under 18 in any state, you are typically required to get a motorcycle permit. You can obtain a motorcycle permit by:

  • Being at least 15-16 years old (exact age depends on state)
  • Completing a drivers education course, including a traffic laws and signs exam (often not necessary if you already have a driver’s license)
  • Passing a written motorcycle exam
  • Passing a vision screening

Motorcycle License Age Requirement
You can qualify for a motorcycle license in most states by:

  • Being at least 16 years old
  • Passing a vision screening
  • Completing a motorcycle safety course OR passing a motorcycle road test and knowledge exam (if not already completed for permit)

Age Requirements by State
Keep in mind that motorcycle laws and license requirements vary by state. Be sure to check out your state’s requirements on your DMV’s website. If you live in California, Texas, or Florida, it’s your lucky day because we looked up the information for you! Here are your age requirements for obtaining a motorcycle license or motorcycle permit.
In California, the following can operate a motorcycle:

  • 15 years and 6 months old with an instruction permit and completion of both an approved driver education course and a driver training course (no freeways after dark or passengers)
  • 17 years and 6 months old with an instruction permit (no freeways after dark or passengers)
  • Those under 21 cannot be issued a Class M1 or M2 license unless they provide evidence of completion of an approved motorcycle safety training program

In Texas, the requirements are a bit more streamlined:

  • To operate a motorcycle or moped, you need a Class M driver’s license
  • To operate a three-wheeled motorcycle you need a restricted Class M license and you must complete a training course. Restricted licenses keep riders safe by only allowing them to ride what they can handle. In this case, the restricted would be to a motorcycle with more than two wheels.
  • You must be at least 18 years old, have a minimum of a beginners drivers license, and pass a motorcycle safety course.
  • If under 18, you must be at least 15 years old, complete requirements for a learner license, pass a motorcycle riding test and get a parent signature.

In Florida, everyone, no matter their age, must take a motorcycle license endorsement exam on traffic laws and motorcycle knowledge, as well as prove their ability to ride and control a motorcycle during an actual demonstration.

  • You must be at least 16 years old to obtain a motorcycle only driver’s license. If under 18, you must hold a Learner’s License for one year with no traffic convictions.
  • 21-year-olds who are applying for their first license must provide proof of completion of a motorcycle safety course

Don’t live in these states? You can find more information here.

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Motorcycle Class and Training Requirements

Motorcycle training is not always mandatory, but it’s a good idea to take training and safety courses to sharpen your skills and make you a better and safer rider on the road.
In a basic training course, motorcyclists will spend about 15 hours learning everything your state’s DMV needs you to know in both the classroom and on the bike. In addition to riding and learning motorcycle-specific traffic laws, motorcycle training classes also review:

  • Anatomy of bikes
  • What to wear when riding
  • Safe riding strategies including passing and lane-changing
  • Special defensive maneuvers like swerving, avoiding collisions, etc.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation is a terrific source for locating a motorcycle class or if you’re just looking to get more key riding info. You can simply punch in your ZIP Code and find an MSF Basic RiderCourse near you.

Motorcycle Test Requirements

If you take a beginners safety course, sometimes a road test isn’t necessary, just make sure to check with your local DMV prior in order to make sure you meet all other requirements needed to obtain a motorcycle license.
Riding a motorcycle is a skill, and any experienced rider will tell you that proper education, along with training and safety courses may save your life out on the road.
In addition to motorcycle training and safety classes, you should also practice riding. More specifically, you should practice starting and stopping, using turn signals and hand signals, and become familiar with using the clutch. The more you practice, the better rider you will be.
Motorcycle Skills Test
If a rider skills test is necessary, you must have a legally equipped and registered motorcycle. If you ride the motorcycle to the test, you must have a valid temporary instruction motorcycle permit and be under the supervision of a licensed motorcycle operator who is at least 18 years old.
If you’re stuck on which motorcycle to use for your test, standards are recommended, as they are built with a more relaxed rider position and in general, have a more manageable powerband that new riders can easily handle. Standards also have moderate seat heights so you can plant your feet on the ground easily. Another significant benefit of a standard motorcycle is the short wheelbase, which makes slow speed maneuvering much more manageable. Most rider training courses use lightweight standard motorcycles as instructional bikes, so why not use one for your test?
Motorcycle License Plate
Motorcycle licenses typically cost around $15-$50. You can find more information and search for pricing in your state here
Once you get your license, you will need to ensure you have a license plate to drive legally on the streets, as well as a license plate frame to keep it nice and secure.
Motorcycle plate frames can actually do a lot for you and your safety. There is a wide variety of license plate frames that can help you be a better and safer rider on the road. While many motorcycle plate frames come with chrome trim, others are illuminated with LED’s and even offer running, brake lights, and turn-signals!
No matter what type of riding you will be doing or what kind of motorcycle you prefer, you are going to need a motorcycle license to legally ride on the road! Take motorcycle training classes to help you become a better and safer rider, and remember to always check your DMV’s website in order to make sure you meet the requirements to obtain a motorcycle license. Good luck and be safe out there!
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