How to Get a Motorcycle Permit

Here are a few simple steps toward getting your motorcycle permit and endorsement. The rules and steps vary by state, so be sure to contact your local DMV for the specifics of getting your permit or endorsement.

1. Prepare for the written motorcycle permit exam

Nearly all the topics and questions that will be on the test will be included in one form or another in the motorcycle operator or driver manual that is provided by your state. Visit the DMV website for your state to locate the motorcycle operator manual and download it. Don’t assume that you know all the answers as some of them seem to defy easy logic.

Though most of the questions on the motorcycle permit test only require common sense, some of them are a little more subtle. It’s important for you to review the information in the manual, if only to give you a feel for the types of questions which will be asked on the test.

2. Schedule a time to complete the motorcycle permit test

You’re ready to schedule your time to take the motorcycle permit test at your local DMV, and once you have you’ll be able to legally ride your motorcycle if you pass the test. Don’t sweat it, if you don’t pass, you can take the test again. Take your time and relax when you take the test, and read the questions carefully and you’ll ace that puppy.

3. After you’ve passed the written test

Before you take the motorcycle rider test at the DMV, you need to get as much practice as you can get. Some states, like Michigan, require you to take your riding test through a third-party company or driving school. The cost in Michigan is somewhere around $35, and the testing centers will even rent you a motorcycle to ride while you take the test. If you bring your own bike, you’ll need to show your license tabs, registration and proof of current insurance. Do yourself a favor and come fully prepared with all this paperwork.

If you don’t have the option to take the rider test through the DMV in your state, or you just don’t want to deal with the hassle, you can always sign up for a motorcycle rider course. These courses are generally more expensive and take the place of the DMV or third-party driving school tests, but they have the added advantage of providing you some instruction and safety training.

4. So I’ve passed the written test, am I all done now?

In some states, and depending on your age, you’re not really done until have a full motorcycle permit or endorsement. Typically, you aren’t legally allowed to ride carrying a passenger until you’ve completely finished the process. You may also be forbidden to ride after dark under a permit. All the restrictions are removed once you get your full motorcycle license.

5. Are there limits to how long you can wait until taking the riding test?

A motorcycle permit is often, at least in some states, good for 6 months. In Michigan, you must complete your rider test within 180 days or face taking the written test all over again. Some states offer the option to renew a permit a couple of times.

In some states you aren’t required to have an endorsement for some types of mopeds, scooters, or motorized bicycles, but with a wide variety of different state-by-state definitions for these vehicles, it would pay to check your local laws. A common – but hardly universal – rule-of-thumb is that a vehicle with an engine displacement of 125 cc (15 cu in) or less sometimes do not require a motorcycle license to operate.

Some states also require an additional motorcycle license to operate a motorcycle with a sidecar.

Once you completed all the steps above, you’re on the right side of John Law and free to ride like the wind.

If you don’t already have it, take the time to get your motorcycle license or endorsement. Failure to do it can typically cost you between $75-$100 for the ticket the nice officer will write you if you get pulled over while riding and don’t have your endorsement, so keep the cash in your pocket, or spend it on a nice new jacket or helmet.

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