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What Is a Motorcycle License?

Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann

A motorcycle license is a special permit to allow an operator to legally ride a motorcycle. Similar to an automobile driver's license, a motorcycle license contains the operator's address, age and other pertinent information, as well as a photograph of the operator. In some areas, the actual motorcycle license is nothing more than an endorsement mark on the driver's license, while other areas issue a separate document or physical license to the holder.

For most motorcyclists to obtain a motorcycle license, a specialized driving test in the form of a written exam and an actual driving test must be completed. In some areas, the written test is taken first and, when successfully completed, the individual is issued a temporary rider's permit. This permit allows the rider to operate a motorcycle during certain times and with a licensed motorcyclist only for a temporary duration. The rider is then tested on his or her riding abilities by riding on an obstacle course set up at the driver's testing facility. Once the rider has successfully negotiated the obstacle course, a permanent motorcycle license will be issued.

Man working on motorcycle.
Man working on motorcycle.

In some areas, an alternative method of obtaining a motorcycle license is available through a new cycle dealership and certain independent rider training courses. This method often involves several hours of classroom training along with actual riding completed by candidates. The course is commonly completed in a single weekend and supersedes the testing at the licensing bureau. Community colleges commonly also offer this type of course in the summer session in some areas. Once the course has been completed, the student receives a document to present at the licensing bureau that allows him or her to receive a license without any further testing.

One advantage in this type of testing is that the course typically provides the motorcycles for the students' training. These are commonly small motorcycles that are easy to operate and are much more user-friendly on the obstacle course than a full-sized motorcycle. When completing the testing at the licensing facility, the obstacle course is usually designed for a smaller motorcycle than the type typically operated by the average motorcyclist. If the test is being taken by an individual who has recently purchased a new motorcycle, the dealership that sold the new motorcycle will often provide a small motorcycle for the test to be completed on. This is also a common promotion used by new cycle dealerships to aid in boosting new cycle sales by easing the motorcycle license testing concerns common to many new cycle owners.

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    • Man working on motorcycle.
      By: Patrick Hermans
      Man working on motorcycle.