There are few freedoms quite like the feeling of racing down an open road with the roaring engine of a motorcycle beneath you. In a state like Pennsylvania, the abundance of country roads makes motorcycle riding all the more enjoyable. With the privilege to ride a motorcycle comes the responsibility to ride safely, ensuring not only your safety but the safety of other people sharing the road with you.
Because of the unique challenges that come with motorcycle riding, the state of Pennsylvania requires riders to acquire a new license specifically for motorcycle riding. So, how does one get a motorcycle license in Pennsylvania? Don't worry, we’ve done the research and have all the information you need about how to get your Pennsylvania motorcycle license in this article.
To get a motorcycle license in Pennsylvania, one must complete the following steps in order:
- First, one must apply for a Class M learner’s permit
- Then pass a basic motorcycle knowledge test.
- Then, one must take and pass the motorcycle skills test to receive the full Class M license.
As you can see, there is a clear progression of steps required to get your motorcycle license in Pennsylvania. However, there are certain exceptions to the process as well as important considerations when it comes to choosing when and how to apply and take the required tests. Read on to learn all about the ins and outs of getting your motorcycle license in Pennsylvania.
Class M Learner’s Permit
The Pennsylvania Class M Learner’s Permit is analogous to a standard learner’s permit; it allows the holder to operate a vehicle on official roadways, but with certain restrictions. In the case of this Class M learner’s permit, the following restrictions apply.
- The permit holder is only allowed to ride between sunrise and sunset.
- The permit holder is only allowed to ride under the instruction and supervision of an individual who holds a Class M license unless the permit holder is licensed to operate another class of vehicle.
- The permit holder cannot carry any passengers other than an instructor properly licensed to operate a motorcycle.
The Class M learner’s permit is only valid for one year, and the applicant must successfully pass the basic knowledge test every time that they apply for a learner’s permit. The learner’s permit may only be reapplied for a total of three times in any five years, allowing for a maximum of four permit periods every five years. The cost of the Class M learner’s permit is $10.00.
Motorcycle Basic Knowledge Test
The motorcycle basic knowledge test is a written test administered by the DMV for Class M learner’s permit applicants at official offices only. Similar in layout to the written section of the driver’s license test, the motorcycle basic knowledge test seeks to ensure applicants understand the basics of motorcycle safety and operation on roadways.
The questions on the test are drawn from the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Operator Manual. The basic knowledge test consists of twenty multiple-choice questions, of which sixteen must be answered correctly to pass. You can find a practice test here.
In addition to the written test, Class M learner’s permit applicants are required to undergo a vision test given in person at the DMV office at the time of the basic knowledge test.
Class M License
Once you have passed the basic knowledge test and obtained the Class M learner’s permit, there are two ways in which to obtain the Class M license.
The first is through personally scheduling an appointment to take the motorcycle skills test. During this test, applicants will be required to demonstrate their motorcycle riding competence in a variety of settings, ranging from enclosed parking lots to actual street riding. The motorcycle skills test can only be taken at an official Pennsylvania Drivers License Center.
If you are not feeling fully confident in your ability to pass the motorcycle skills test right out of the gate or otherwise want to brush up on your skills, you may want to consider signing up for the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program Basic Rider Course.
By enrolling in the Motorcycle Safety Program Basic Rider Course, you will not only be fully prepared for riding, but you can even be exempt from taking the motorcycle skills test at a Pennsylvania Drivers License Center. At the end of the training, a skills evaluation is given to all course participants by a certified Rider Coach. Upon passing this skills evaluation, the Drivers License Center skills test is waived, and you will be awarded your Class M License.
The Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program holds classes from March through October at sites throughout the state, and classes are free to Pennsylvania Class M permit and motorcycle license holders. You can find more information on the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program here.
An exception to the above steps exists for applicants who are younger than 18 years old. Such applicants are required to complete the following steps before applying for their Class M license.
- Hold your Class M learner’s permit for at least six months before the license application.
- Complete 65 hours of supervised riding practice.
- Enroll in an official Motorcycle Safety Program Basic Rider Course.
Now that we’ve thoroughly investigated the steps required to get a motorcycle license in Pennsylvania, let’s go over some common additional questions that you might have.
How Much Does It Cost To Get A Motorcycle License In Pennsylvania?
There are several different costs involved with getting a motorcycle license in Pennsylvania, and the prices can be broken down as follows:
- Transfer out-of-state motorcycle credentials:
- PA Class M License for 2 years: $35
- PA Class M License for 4 years: $50.50
- Motorcycle permit with a motorcycle license:
- 4 years: $50.50
- 2 years (only for applicants at least 65 years old): $45.50
The fees associated with obtaining your motorcycle permit and license are compiled as a one-time payment charged only when you apply for your permit.
Can You Get A Motorcycle License Without A Motorcycle?
Yes, you can get a motorcycle license without a motorcycle. While there is no motorcycle ownership requirement to obtain a Class M license, you will be required to bring a motorcycle to a Pennsylvania Driver’s License Center when taking the basic skills test, as the DMV will not provide a motorcycle for you to use.
If you elect to take the Basic Rider Course offered through the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program, a motorcycle will be offered to you throughout the course, including for the end of the course skills evaluation.
Can I Ride A Motorcycle With A Car License In Pennsylvania?
No, you must have at least a Class M learner’s permit to ride a motorcycle in Pennsylvania.
Where Can I Learn To Ride A Motorcycle In Pennsylvania?
You can take official Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety program courses at over sixty locations throughout the state. Locations can be found in major cities as well as smaller towns, including the following locations:
- PA Turnpike Association, Valley Forge
- Pittsburgh Technical College, Pittsburgh
- The Exchange at Oxford Circle, Philadelphia
- Piccola Law Enforcement Training Complex, Harrisburg
- Pocono Mountain Harley-Davidson, Tannersville
Now that you’ve read our guide on how to get a motorcycle license in Pennsylvania, you’ll be sure to be applying and riding in no time. Be sure to follow the steps listed above and complete each one in order.
Additionally, it is highly recommended to take the basic knowledge practice test a few times before attempting the exam in person, even if you already hold a standard Pennsylvania driver's license. There are a number of challenging questions that are unique to motorcycle riding, and you will be forced to pay the exam fee even if you fail the test.
Additionally, unless you are already a highly skilled rider, it is advised to enroll in the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program Basic Rider Course. The course does more than waive the DMV test, it fully prepares you for the wide variety of conditions and situations that any motorcycle rider can and will encounter while riding.
Once you have your permit or license, it’s time to start thinking about what type of motorcycle you’d like to own and ride. There are lots of options out there, from the classic cruisers up to modern sportbikes. Check out our guide on types of motorcycles to get started making your decision.
Perhaps even more important than selecting the type of motorcycle to ride is selecting the type of motorcycle helmet to wear. From the type of riding you'll be doing to the safety profile, there a lot of helmets to choose from. Be sure to read through our guide on types of motorcycle helmets before making your selection.