How to Get a Motorcycle License in Pennsylvania (Answered)

There are many people who dream of being motorcycle riders, but they must get motorcycle licenses first.  The requirements for a motorcycle license can vary between states, so where you live will affect how you can get your motorcycle license.  In Pennsylvania, the process is pretty straightforward, and generally easy to understand.

Quick Answer:

The basic steps for getting a motorcycle license are as follows:

  • Apply for a learner’s permit. You can find the application on PennDOT’s website.  Fill it out and bring it with you when you get your learner’s permit.
  • Obtain a learner’s permit. To do this, you will have to pass a knowledge test first, meaning you will have to study and learn the information you will be tested on.
  • If you are a minor, you must have your permit for six months and collect 65 hours of supervised driving time. You must also take an official Motorcycle Safety Program Basic Rider Course.
  • Schedule and take a skills test. Once you pass this, you will receive your license.  If you pass the Motorcycle Safety Program and the skills evaluation at the end, you do not need to take the skills test as well.

There can be a lot of nuance to understand in these steps.  There is a lot to familiarize yourself with to get your motorcycle license.

How to Get a Motorcycle License in PA

It can be exciting to get your motorcycle license, but you must complete all the steps successfully first.  Fortunately, there are only a few.

Get Your Learner’s Permit

The first step you must take to start the process of getting your motorcycle license is getting your learner’s permit.

Step 1: Fill out an application.  You must first obtain and fill out an application to get your learner’s permit.  You can find this application on the PennDOT website, then download and print it out.  You may also be able to get this application at one of PennDOT’s physical locations, but I would not recommend making a trip there just to get a copy of the application.

Step 2: Study for the knowledge test.  Before you get your learner’s permit, you must pass a knowledge test.  Be sure to study carefully for this test.  The best way to study for this is with the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Operator’s Manual.  You should be able to obtain a physical copy of this at a PennDOT location, but you can also find a PDF of it on PennDOT’s website.  In addition, you can find many third party websites to help you study and quiz you on the information.

Step 3:  Take the knowledge test.  Once you feel ready, you can go to a PennDOT location to take the knowledge test for a motorcycle learner’s permit.  This is typically conducted on a walk-in basis.  You will need to get a score of at least 80% to pass.  Be sure to bring your completed application, along with payment for the $10 fee.

Learn How to Drive a Motorcycle

Once you have your learner’s permit, you can learn to ride a motorcycle in order to pass your skills test.

Step 1:  Understand the rules of your permit.  When you have a learner’s permit, there are certain restrictions that may apply, and these can vary depending on a variety of factors.  Your permit is valid for one year, and you cannot reapply for more than three permits within five years.

A permit holder can only drive between sunrise and sunset, and may not have any passengers other than an instructor who has their own motorcycle license.  If you are not licensed to operate any other vehicle, you may only drive a motorcycle under the supervision of a licensed instructor.

Step 2:  Find a teacher.  Even if you aren’t legally required to ride only under supervision of an instructor, it’s still a good idea to find someone with a motorcycle license who can teach you.  You could find a friend or family member who meets this qualification.  Otherwise, you can hire someone to teach you.  As long as they are licensed and you trust them, they can act as your supervisor.

Step 3:  Enroll in a Motorcycle Safety Program (optional for adults).  The state of Pennsylvania offers a Motorcycle Safety Program, also called the PAMSP.  This is required for minors, but optional for adults.  For minors, completing the PAMSP counts toward 15 hours of your required practice.  At the end of the PAMSP, a skills evaluation is conducted.  If you pass this evaluation, you do not need to complete the skills test to get your license.

Step 4:  Practice driving.  Practice makes perfect!  Before you take your skills test, practice riding a motorcycle until you feel confident in your driving skills.  If you are a minor, you must have 65 hours of supervised practice before you can get your license.  If you are an adult, there is no requirement for how much practice you must have.  It is up to you to decide when you feel you have had sufficient practice.

Try to practice in various settings and various circumstances to get as much experience as you can.  It is best to start out practicing in an empty area, and work your way up to busy traffic.  Remember to ride only in mild weather.  Riding a motorcycle in the rain or snow can be very dangerous, and should be avoided if possible.  Although a learner’s permit will not allow you to ride at night, you should practice this as well once you have your license.

Take a Skills Test

The last thing you must do to obtain your motorcycle license in Pennsylvania is to pass the skills test.  Remember that this is not necessary if you pass the PAMSP skills evaluation.

Step 1:  Schedule a test.  You can schedule a skills test online through PennDOT’s website, or by calling them.  Alternatively, you may be able to schedule this at your PennDOT location upon obtaining your learner’s permit.  Check available days and times to see which one works best for you.  Depending on how busy they are, you may find that the next available day is as soon as tomorrow, or month from now or longer.

Step 2:  Prepare for your test.  I cannot emphasize enough the importance of practice.  If possible, ask someone with their license what they were tested on, especially if their test was recent, as tests may vary by location or over time.  Generally, tests will require you to drive in figure 8s while keeping your foot off the ground, perform a U-turn, and drive to a specified location.  You may also want to ask your PennDOT location what requirements they have for your motorcycle, and make sure your bike meets these requirements.

Step 3:  Take the test.  Once you’ve done everything else, you are ready to take your test!  Try not to be nervous, and listen carefully to your test proctor and follow all of the instructions given.

Step 4:  Retake the test if you fail.  If you fail your test, don’t feel bad!  Plenty of people fail their skills test the first time they take it, and even beyond that.  Just practice some more and schedule another test.  You can fail the skills test up to three times.  After that, you must retake your knowledge test.

Step 5:  Ride safely! Once you pass your skills test, you will receive your motorcycle license.  Congratulations!  Remember to ride safely and observe all the rules of the road.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: practice, practice, practice!  Practice is key when learning anything, and riding a motorcycle is no different. Spend a lot of time studying and practicing to get your motorcycle license.

How Much Does It Cost To Get A Motorcycle License In Pennsylvania?

There are a handful of fees and costs associated with getting your motorcycle license.  These may vary depending on your circumstances.

Learner’s Permit: $10.  When you first get your motorcycle learner’s permit, you will have to pay a fee of $10.  This is the first and smallest fee you will have to pay, and one of the ones everyone must pay.

Initial Permit and Four-Year License $45.50.  The cost to get your permit as well as your four-year license is $45.50.  When your license expires, you can get it renewed for an additional fee.

Initial Permit and Two-Year License: $35.  If you are 65 years old or older, you are eligible for a two-year license for a reduced fee, down to $35.

Third-Party Lessons: $200+.  PAMSP lessons are usually free, but will not cover all of the required practice hours for minors, which is one of several reasons why you might want to look at third-party lessons.  Unfortunately, these tend to cost upwards of $200.

Motorcycle: $150+ rental, $1500+ used purchase.  You don’t need a motorcycle to get your license, but you do need to have one to take the skills test.  It’s possible you might be able to find a rental bike that allows it to be used in a skills test, but you will have to check the rental agreement closely.  If you decide to buy a used bike, you’re probably looking at a minimum of $1500.  If you can borrow one from someone else, that’s probably your best bet.

Frequently Asked Questions About Motorcycle License in Pennsylvania

There’s a lot to understand about the process of getting a motorcycle license in Pennsylvania.  Here are a few answers to the questions you might still have.

Do I have to wear a helmet while riding my motorcycle?  If you have a learner’s permit, you must wear a helmet.  You must also wear a helmet if you are younger than 21 years old and if you have had your motorcycle license for less than two years.  If you are over 21 and have completed an approved motorcycle safety course, you are exempt from wearing a helmet.  If you meet the exemption requirements, any passenger 21 or older is also exempt.

What do I have to bring with me to the skills test?  You must bring your motorcycle learner’s permit and, if you have one, a valid Pennsylvania driver’s license.  You must provide the motorcycle you will be taking your test with, and it must have a valid inspection sticker, registration card, and proof of insurance.  Minors must have a Parent/Guardian Certification Form and a Pennsylvania Certification of Completion Card from the PAMSP course.

Does a licensed driver have come with me to my skills test?  Whether you need to have a licensed driver with you depends on whether you have a valid Pennsylvania driver’s license.  If you do, then a licensed driver is not needed.  If you don’t, then a driver with a valid motorcycle license must come with you.  This is the same for both minors and adults.

How do I renew my license?  You will get a notice in the mail 60 days before your license expires which invites you to renew it and includes all associated fees.  You can then renew it by mail or online.  Alternatively, you can find a PennDOT authorized Online Messenger Service Center, and have it renewed there.  PennDOT has a list of these locations available on their website.

What if I want to drop my motorcycle license?  If the time comes to renew your license and you no longer wish to maintain your motorcycle license, you can have it dropped from your driver’s license.  Simply write “do not renew Class M” on your renewal application and deduct $20 from your renewal fee to renew your driver’s license without your motorcycle license.

Wrap Up

Getting your motorcycle license can be very thrilling!  Just remember to not rush through the application process.  Take your time studying, learning, and practicing, and make sure you always drive safely and follow all rules of the road.  Soon enough, you will find yourself riding your motorcycle through the beautiful Pennsylvania roads.

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