Imagine yourself riding a motorcycle. Riding is fun, the community is great, and the freedom is unparalleled. Before you can open the throttle on the highway, however, first you need to get a motorcycle license (endorsement). If you don’t yet have your motorcycle license, then here is your quick and easy easy guide to getting started.

There are several steps along the way to your newly minted endorsement. I highly recommend that you begin your motorcycle riding journey by taking a motorcycle safety class. These classes will get you started with good habits and fundamental skills that will help to keep your motorcycle riding safe and fun. Plus, your home state may be one of the ones to waive the road skills test if you pass the motorcycle safety course.

Every state has a slightly different procedure for licensing new motorcyclists, but here are the general steps. (Don’t forget to bring a photo ID to your appointment.)

  • Make an appointment at DMV
  • Fill out your application
  • Pay the application fee
  • Get a fingerprint (depends on your state)
  • Get a vision exam

You also need to pass a motorcycle written test, as well as a road skills test, unless your state waives it (if this is the case, then be sure to bring the paper proof that says you passed the safety course). Depending on the state in which you’re applying, there may be other requirements as well, so be sure to visit your local DMV or go to their website for additional and specific information. 

Motorcycle learner’s permit

In some states, you can obtain a motorcycle training permit, which is typically valid for up to 12 months. You can use this permit to practice riding and build your skills, although I still recommend that you begin with the motorcycle safety class. The learner’s permit does have some restrictions. For instance, you may not be allowed to ride at night,  you cannot ride with a passenger and most likely there’s no riding on the freeway either (again, this depends on your state). Since the permit is only valid for 12 months, you need to apply for a written and driver’s test before it expires.

Motorcycle written test

Another requirement for you to obtain a motorcycle license is passing a written test. The topics covered on the test can be found in your state’s DMV handbook. Before taking the test, definitely study the handbook – they always try to throw in a trick question or two. Often you are allowed to retake the test again on the same application. But you’ll boost your confidence if you pass the test on your first try. 

To make sure that you ace the test on the first go-round, try to take some practice tests beforehand. This will give you an idea of what to expect during the actual test. You will familiarize yourself with the way the questions are worded, what’s covered, and the overall feel of the exam. 

Motorcycle Range test

For most people, this is usually the hardest part of getting your motorcycle license. This test assesses your basic operational skills like using the brakes, the throttle, the turn signals, the kill switch, and starting the machine. They’ll also score your basic riding skills and how well you maneuver the motorcycle through obstacles. 

Another reason to take the motorcycle safety course and bypass the range portion of the DMV testing is that you’ll need your own motorcycle (or you’ll have to borrow one). It’s much better to make sure you get your license and a bit of practice under your belt before you make that investment.

So. Ready, set and go! Wade through all the requirements, ace the written test as well as the range test, and get your license. Riding a motorcycle will change your life in so many wonderful ways – I guarantee it!