How to Get a Motorcycle License in Pennsylvania

The Harley-Davidson Street-750

If you’re desperate to experience the freedom of the open road, if you’ve been lusting after motorbikes for more years than you care to recall, then it’s time to take action. More specifically, it’s time to get your motorcycle license. While buying a motorcycle is easy enough (if you’ve got the cash, no dealer is going to care whether you can actually ride the thing or not), getting your motorcycle license is a tiny bit more complicated. Especially if you live in Pennsylvania, a state that likes you to follow each and every letter of the law before it’ll give you the license to ride its roads with impunity. But like all things, the process becomes far easier with a bit of knowledge in your back pocket. Before you turn up at your nearest DOT branch demanding a license, here’s exactly what you need to know about how to get your PA Motorcycle License.

The Benefits of Getting a License

If you want to get a Pennsylvania motorcycle license, you’re going to need to fill in paperwork, pass some tests, and hand over some of your hard-earned cash. Is it worth it? 100%. For a start, it’s a legal requirement. Whether you ride in Pennsylvania or anywhere else in the US, you’ll be breaking the law if you do so without a valid license. Secondly, it’s really not that hard. Passing your motorcycle test is far easier than passing your car driving test, and the process is much of a muchness. Thirdly, it’s proof (to you as much as anyone else) that you know what you’re doing. To get a license, you’ll need to pass a knowledge test along with a skills test or motorcycle course. Do this, and you’ll feel far more confident in your abilities on the road. Last but not least, the legal ramifications of riding a motorcycle without a license are ones you want to avoid at all costs. If you’re caught without one, you’re going to be in trouble. If you have an accident while you’re riding and need to file an insurance claim, you’re going to be in even bigger trouble. Simply put, getting a license is a must. And fortunately, once you know the process, it’s not too hard to do.

We’ll go more into the detail shortly, but as a guide, the three steps you need to follow to get your PA Motorcycle License are:

  • Apply for a Class M learner’s permit
  • Pass a basic motorcycle knowledge test
  • Take and pass a motorcycle skills test
  • Once you tick off all three, you’ll receive the full Class M license.

Applying for a Class M Learner’s Permit

Before you do anything else, you’ll need to apply for a Pennsylvania Class M Learner’s Permit. This entitles you to use a bike on roads under certain conditions. To apply for the permit, you’ll need to complete a Motorcycle Learner’s Permit Application (Form DL-5). This will need to be handed into a PennDOT Driver License Center for processing. The cost of applying is $10.00. As part of the application, you’ll need to undergo a vision screening and a motorcycle knowledge test. The motorcycle basic knowledge test is a written test that is fairly similar to the written section of the driver’s license test. It’s not there to trip you up – it basically serves to ensure you know enough about basic motorcycle safety and operation not to be a risk to either yourself or anyone else. If you want to swot up before the test, read the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Operator Manual – all the questions will be based on the content. The test consists of twenty multiple-choice questions: to pass, you’ll need to answer at least 16 of those questions correctly. If you pass both tests, the DOT will process your application and issue you with a motorcycle (Class M) learner’s permit. As per vehq.com, once you receive the permit, you’ll need to ensure you only…

Ride between sunrise and sunset

Ride under the supervision of someone who holds a Class M license Avoid carrying any passengers other than an instructor with a Class M license Bear in mind that the Class M learner’s permit is valid for one year only. if you want to renew it after the year passes, you’ll need to retake the basic knowledge test and the vision screening. If you want to apply for it four years in a row, you’re out of luck: under the regulations of the DOT, the permit can only be requested 3 times in any 5 years.

Applying for a Class M License

Got your Class M Learner’s Permit? Then you can start working towards your Class M license. Here, you’ve got one of two options to choose between.

Option one involves making an appointment to take the motorcycle skills test at an official Pennsylvania Drivers License Center. If you’re confident in your skills, you can do this straight away. As part of the test, you’ll need to demonstrate your abilities across a range of different scenarios. You’ll need to show you can handle street riding, safely navigate an enclosed parking lot, and more besides.

Option two involves signing up for a Motorcycle Safety Program Basic Rider Course. If you hold a permit, you won’t be charged for enrollment. Classes run from March through October. This is the ideal option for riders who aren’t quite ready to take their test. The course will equip you with all the skills you need to become a proficient motorcycle rider. At the end of the course, your skills will be evaluated by a certified Rider Coach. As permit.bike notes, pass the evaluation and your job is done: you’ll be awarded your Class M License with no further requirement to pass (or even sit) the official motorcycle skills test at the DOT.

The Exception

For every rule, there’s an exception. The exception in this scenario is anyone aged below the age of 18. If you’ve not yet hit your eighteenth birthday, you’ll need to follow a slightly different process to obtain your license. As per dmv.pa.gov, you’ll need to wait 6 months after obtaining your Class M learner’s permit before you can apply for your license. You’ll also need to demonstrate that you’ve received at least 65 hours of supervised riding practice. While enrolling on the Motorcycle Safety Program Basic Rider Course is optional for anyone over 18, it’s compulsory for those below that age.


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