If you’re new to the riding world, you may be wondering do you need a motorcycle license to ride your bike? The answer is yes; each state requires this. A class M license is separate from your regular driver’s license and the requirements to get it vary state by state.
Although things like the minimum age to get a motorcycle license, the cost of your M1 or M2 license, and the testing process may look slightly different depending on where you live, there are a few key requirements and good habits to follow when getting your motorcycle license.
How Old Can You Be to Ride a Motorcycle?
In most states, you must be at least 16 years old to ride a motorcycle. This includes the typical 15 ½ year age to get a provisional learners permit with six months necessary of riding before you can get the actual license itself. If you are over 18 years old, some states will not require you to get a learner’s permit, but adequate education and training are recommended before applying for a license.
There are some great online resources, such as the Motorcycle Safety Foundation that can help you study laws and riding practices before you start taking the physical riding lessons. When it comes down to it, you will need a comprehensive base of knowledge and skill in order to pass your first test. Investing in your motorcycle riding education will pay off by saving you time for these tests and keep you safe as you ride.
Class M Driver’s Licenses Processes
There are two specific motorcycle licenses that you can get for two-wheeled vehicles: an M1 and an M2. An M2 is specifically for bikes that have attached engines that are smaller than 150cc, such as mopeds or scooters. M1 allows you to drive any 2-wheel motorized vehicle. We generally recommend practicing for and getting licensed as an M1 operator, but there is nothing wrong with either choice.
Before getting either license, many states will require you to take some sort of formal motorcycle training. Additionally, if you are under 18, you may need to start with a learner’s permit and have it for 6 months before being eligible to acquire an M1 or M2 license.
Motorcycle Riding Education and Endorsements
Before we dive into how to get an M1 license, be sure you review your state’s specific requirements for obtaining a motorcycle license. You may be able to simply pass a Rider Safety Course, or you may have to first pass a written test to get your permit, practice riding for a while, then take a skills test and vision test. Check your state’s Department of Transportation website for current laws.
Motorcycle Safety Courses
Motorcycle safety courses are a great way to practice your riding skills. Many states even require them to get a motorcycle license. For whichever motorcycle license type you’re planning on getting, the early safety courses will be the same. Even though an M2 license has different engine classifications, most rider education courses will cover the covering:
- Motorcycle gear and motorcycle types
- Rider awareness courses
- Beginner riding fundamentals
- Motorcycle street and highway laws
These courses can get you prepared for an M1 or M2 permit and subsequent license and help you really hone in your riding knowledge. For the gear and law portion of classes, it is recommended to supplement with some online quizzes to make sure you are prepared.
In addition to an approved education course, if you are preparing with a learners permit you will need to complete a certain number of hours of riding practice with a licensed rider. This can be completed with a parent/guardian, private teacher, or at a local academy.
Motorcycle Knowledge and Skills Test
Most states require you to pass some sort of knowledge test to demonstrate that you understand the rules of the road while on your motorcycle. There are several test exams online you can use as practice to make sure you pass the first time around.
Following the knowledge test, the skills test consists of usually ten to fifteen minutes of maneuvering on a closed track, off-street course. This is typically required for new licenses, renewals, and out-of-state license transfers. Try to make an appointment for this online and check to make sure the weather won’t hinder your riding test.
Motorcycle Vision Screening
In order to obtain any sort of motorcycle permit or license, most states require you to have uncorrected vision of 20/40 or better in one eye. If you do not, you will have to have a license with an ‘A’ restriction- this means you will have to wear corrective lenses or glasses every time you ride.
Additionally, you will usually need to have this vision exam retaken and your license updated in order to be compliant with state laws. If you’re not sure about your vision, try to make an appointment with an eye doctor for a vision test before you go take your motorcycle license test.
Get on the Road with Law Tigers
While there are a few steps to becoming licensed in motorcycle riding, they all have their place in creating a foundation for safe motorcycle riding. At the end of the day, you want to make sure that you’re ready to ride each and every time you hop on your bike.
At Law Tigers, our business is keeping riders safe through education, community support, and representation in times of need. If you are looking to learn more about getting your motorcycle license, need help finding the best rider education course, or want to learn more about laws in your state, reach out today. We’re here to help get you on the road and keep you there.