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Riding a motorcycle is thrilling, but there are rules you must follow. Beginning with learning to ride safely and ending with getting your license, Texas has some rules for future riders. We've researched the topic in-depth to share every step with you.
To get a motorcycle license in Texas, you must:
- Possess (or earn) a standard Texas driver's license (Class C)
- Take a DPS-approved motorcycle safety course
- Submit your safety course certificate to the driver license office
- Take a vision test, as required
- Take a knowledge test, as applicable
- Complete a motorcycle drive test, unless your safety course satisfies the requirement
If you are under age 18, however, there are further steps required. Minors must be 15 or older, possess a provisional driver's license, submit a high-school verification of enrollment form, complete a motorcycle safety course, and complete a mandatory motorcycle drive test.
Whether you're 15, 18, or 30, there's a lot to cover before you can hop on your bike and head onto the open road. Read on for details on everything you need to do before getting your M1 license.
Can I Ride a Motorcycle with a Car License in Texas?
The short answer is that, no, you cannot ride a motorcycle legally with a car license in Texas. You must have both a regular driver license and the Class M version to conform to Texas law, says the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Minors must earn at least a provisional Class C license or at least have taken the classroom education phase of driver's education before they can take the motorcycle safety course and pursue and M1 certification.
Minors (anyone under 18 but over 15) can apply for a provisional M1, with their parent's authorization. But there are restrictions involved, including submission of a high-school verification of enrollment form. All minors must complete a mandatory skills exam, too.
Also, a minor can't operate a motorcycle that's larger than 250 cc's. Once they turn 16, the provisional M1 turns into a standard M1, and the restrictions are lifted.
How Long Does a Motorcycle License Last?
In Texas, each type of license is valid for six years. This includes your M1 license. The expiration date is your birthday, and the department of motor vehicles should send you a notification in the mail in advance. Want to know What Happens if Your Driving License Expires? Read our related article on the topic.
However, if you add a motorcycle license to your existing car license, it will expire when your DL does. That could mean it doesn't last the six years your Class C does.
The good news is that if you're over 18, you are likely eligible to renew your license online or by phone. You only need to confirm your identity and pay the application fee (an additional $8 on top of your driver's license fee, which is $25).
If you're under 18 when you get your M1, it will expire on your 18th birthday, along with your driver's license. So, you'll need to pay the fees to renew both your C and M1 licenses at that point.
Keep in mind that if you have completed a safety course in preparation for getting your motorcycle license, you only have 24 months to pass your licensing exam. But once you complete the course and secure your license, you don't need to worry about any more classes or certifications.
How Much Does it Cost to Get a Motorcycle License in Texas?
The application fee for a person age 18 or older getting their first M1 license (without possessing any other DL) in Texas is $25. However, if you already have a C license, adding the M1 (to form a CM) costs $15 when you first apply.
If you're getting a learner Class M license (under age 18), it will cost $16 and stay valid until your 18th birthday.
Renewal costs are different, though. Renewing an existing M1 with your Class C license (and the applicable fees for DLs) is $8. Renewing a standalone M1 (if you don't have a Class C) is $33.
While the costs of getting your motorcycle license in Texas aren't too high, remember that there's a mandatory safety course stipulation. Anyone who applies for an M1 must take (and pay for) the course before they can become licensed.
What If I Have a Motorcycle License From Another State?
If you're moving to Texas from another state (or even Canada), you can apply for and transfer your M1 without re-taking any tests.
Your license is good in Texas if it was a "valid, unrestricted motorcycle license" from another area. Just make sure to complete the necessary paperwork to get your driver's licenses (C, M1, and any others) transferred as soon as possible after your move.
Where Can I Learn to Ride a Motorcycle in Texas?
Whether you have off-road experience on dirtbikes or zero experience with two-wheeled bikes, the state of Texas requires you to take a safety course before getting a motorcycle license.
The good news is that there are plenty of choices for motorcycle safety schools all over the state. But keep in mind that if you don't want to take the physical skills test at DMV, you need to choose a course that offers a license waiver upon completion.
Houston has many motorcycle safety schools, but not all of them offer the waiver option. Awesome Riding, LLC offers an MSF Basic Rider course that includes the license waiver. With any other cycle school in Houston, you would still need to pass a skills exam at DMV.
Dallas has plenty of motorcycle safety courses (including ones with licensing waivers), such as:
- American Eagle Harley-Davidson
- GO Motorcycle Training School
- Lone Star Bikers
- Longhorn Harley-Davidson
- Maverick Harley-Davidson
How Much Do Motorcycle Safety Classes Cost in Texas?
The cost of a motorcycle safety course varies by city and provider. But most DPS-approved classes charge around $200.
Awesome Riding, LLC in Houston, for example, charges $220. Javelina Harley-Davidson requires an online course as a pre-requisite (for around $20), and their in-person class is $219.
Do I Have to Pass a Written Exam to Get My M1?
If you take a motorcycle safety course that fulfills the knowledge test requirement, you don't need to take a written test at the Texas DMV. You might need to take a vision test, but that's it.
As of 2015, Texas confirmed that anyone who has a valid Motorcycle Safety Course completion certificate is exempt from the written test.
That said, some motorcycle safety courses meet the state's minimum for teaching you how to ride. But they may not check all the boxes for the written exam and the physical skills test.
It's essential to ask about the types of instruction and certification your chosen school offers, or you could be wasting your time and money.
What is the Motorcycle Drive Test Like?
For anyone who isn't exempt from the driving test (such as minors or those without a waiver), it can be nerve-wracking walking into the DMV. But the skills test isn't as challenging as it seems, especially for anyone who has some experience riding.
Just like the automobile test, your motorcycle test requires you to operate the bike responsibly. You need to know where the controls are, how to shift, and how to operate the brakes, turn signals, and lights.
Your skills test will likely involve turns, including a figure-eight with a series of turns, and stopping within a set distance. If you take the appropriate courses, you'll practice these skills in a less intense environment than the Texas department of motor vehicles.
Can You Get a Motorcycle License Without a Motorcycle?
While most applicants need to take a skills test on a motorcycle to get their license, some don't. So, you can get an M1 without owning a motorcycle. Are you thinking about buying a bike, but aren't sure what type is best for your first ride? Learn about 22 Types of Motorcycles in this related post.
First, you can take a motorcycle safety course that includes the license waiver. The training school will provide a bike for you to learn and practice on. At the end of the course, you'll take a pseudo-test (along with your classmates, as applicable) that checks the same skills as DMV does.
Then, you receive a certificate from your training school that confirms you've shown the skills necessary to ride safely. You submit the certificate to the DMV and then apply for your license.
For minors, however, you must still take the skills test. That means you must borrow or buy a motorcycle to bring to the test.
But don't make the mistake of riding the motorcycle to your test! If you do, the testing instructor will not be happy as you are not yet licensed. Follow the rules, though, and you'll be cruising (on two wheels) on the open road in no time.