Getting Your California Motorcycle License

Woman taking motorcycle skills exam in California

If you live in the great state of California, there’s no better way to enjoy the beautiful scenery than on a motorcycle. However, if you’re a new rider, you’ll need to obtain your motorcycle license before hitting the road. 

Getting your California motorcycle license involves a few different steps, and you should understand the entire process before diving in. Read on to learn how to get a California motorcycle license. 

What Is the Process of Getting a California Motorcycle License?

If you are 21 or older and currently have a California driver’s license, you must pass a traffic laws and signs test and a motorcycle skills test to receive a class M motorcycle endorsement. 

California recognizes two types of motorcycle endorsements:

  • Class M1: Enables you to operate any motorized bicycle, moped, or motorcycle
  • Class M2: Only enables you to operate motorized bikes and mopeds

If you plan to ride a motorcycle on the road, you’ll need a Class M1 endorsement. 

Who Is Eligible for a Motorcycle License? 

You can begin the process of obtaining a motorcycle license as long as you are at least 15 and a half. However, California has a few additional license requirements for riders under 21. 

Minors aged 15 and a half to 17 must complete a driver education course and receive behind-the-wheel training certificates to obtain a motorcycle license. They must also receive a signature from a parent or guardian. 

Riders aged 15 and a half to 20 must submit a DL 389, which is a Certificate of Completion of Motorcycle Training. They must also complete a Driver’s License or Identification Card application and carry an instruction permit for at least six months. 

Meanwhile, everyone who applies for a motorcycle license must: 

  • Pass a vision exam
  • Provide fingerprints
  • Pass a knowledge and skills test
  • Pay the required fees

Step 1: Knowledge Exam

The first step in getting your California motorcycle license is passing a written knowledge exam. You can take this exam at your local DMV office. While not every DMV requires you to make an appointment, scheduling your test in advance can ensure that the office has availability when you need it. 

The knowledge exam covers motorcycle traffic laws, road signs, and other information you need to know as a motorcyclist. You can read the California Motorcycle Manual in preparation for this exam. You can also take practice tests online to get an idea of the questions you will need to answer. 

You will have three chances to pass the knowledge exam. Once you pass the exam, you can obtain a permit to ride your motorcycle during the day on non-highway roads. This permit can help you build the motorcycle skills necessary to complete the rest of the licensing process. 

Step 2: Motorcycle Skills Exam 

Once you pass the knowledge exam at the DMV, you can make an appointment to take the on-bike motorcycle skills exam. This exam tests your ability to maneuver your motorcycle safely on the road. 

California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP) Training Course

If you’d like to avoid taking the on-bike skills test through the DMV, you can pass a California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP) training course instead. Upon completing an approved course, you can receive a waiver to skip the skills test. 

You can find CMSP training courses throughout California. However, be sure to check that the course you’re interested in offers this waiver. 

After completing this training or passing the skills test, you will be on your way to getting our California motorcycle license. And here’s some more great advice. Start out with your Rider Benefit Package. It includes Hit-and-Run Reward, Bike Theft Reward, Legal Information for all Motorcycle Matters, Motorcycle Repair or Replacement Assistance, and a really cool Document Holder – all FREE from America’s motorcycle attorneys – Law Tigers.