Motorcycle Safety Course

A motorcycle safety course teaches both new and experienced riders how to handle their bike on the open road with safety and confidence. While laws requiring motorcycle safety or training courses vary from state to state, the safe-riding knowledge and experience a rider can gain is invaluable for any level.

Below is some helpful information about potential safety course requirements, as well as what you can expect should you enroll in a motorcycle safety course.

Requirements for New Motorcycle Riders

New motorcycle riders need to meet a variety of state-dependent requirements to obtain a motorcycle license in their state. At minimum, you can expect to need to pass a series of licensing exams tests in order to ride your bike legally.

Depending on your state, you may also be asked to complete a motorcycle training course and even hold a motorcycle permit before taking your full licensing exam.

Some states also allow riders to waive their licensing and endorsement tests by completing a training course.

A few state-specific examples requirements for new riders are as follows:

  • California: Basic motorcycle training is mandatory for new riders under 21 years old.
  • New Hampshire: Riders under 18 years old are required to complete a Basic Rider course.
  • Colorado: Any rider under 18 years old must hold a motorcycle instruction permit for 1 year before they can earn a motorcycle endorsement.

To find out if a motorcycle safety course is required in your state, please contact your local DMV branch.

Types of Motorcycle Safety Courses

Often, the motorcycle courses recommended or required by states are those provided by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. The information below describes the types of courses they provide; other educators may differ, but most are similar to what is described here.

The MSF two types of courses available for riders: basic and expert. Here are some specifics for these types of motorcycle safety courses.

MSF Basic Riding Course

Ideal for entry-level riders of all ages, this course teaches the basics of how to ride a motorcycle. Courses will combine classroom time with riding time. Length can vary, but all run at least 15 hours of formal instruction time, over a period of up to 3 days.

Instruction will include:

  • Explanation of the types of motorcycles.
  • Motorcycle controls.
  • How to operate motorcycles.
  • Safe riding tips.

MSF Expert Riding Course

An expert or advanced level course is a great step up from the basic level. This type of course offers skill-building techniques for:

  • Licensed motorcyclists looking to improve their riding.
  • Motorcycle permit holders using the course as a license waiver course (if applicable in your state).

Riders must provide their own bike and safety gear for this level of course.

Usually 1 day in length, riders must already be proficient in riding a motorcycle. This course teaches more advanced skills including:

  • Quick braking, swerving, and other advanced riding tactics.
  • How to maneuver in traffic or other risky conditions.
  • New laws for motorcyclists.
  • Rider responsibility.
  • Risks of drugs and alcohol use when riding.

Safety Course Prerequisites

While these may differ from course to course or state to state, some standard requirements for enrolling in a motorcycle safety course typically include:

  • Ability to ride a bicycle.
  • Protective clothing and helmet.
  • Legal licensing age.
  • A driver's license or motorcycle permit (state specific).

Not all courses require you to bring your own motorcycle when taking a safety course. Some courses have bikes and helmets available for beginners to use.

Motorcycle Testing Waivers

Some states allow motorcycle license applicants to waive their motorcycle licensing tests by completing a state-approved motorcycle safety course. Completing a course can meet specific requirements including:

  • Vision standards and physical fitness to ride.
  • Written exam.
  • On-road testing.

For state specific information about a motorcycle safety course and waiving your licensing tests, please contact your local DMV.

Finding the Right Course

Whether you're required to take a motorcycle safety course or you just want to brush up on your skills, you want to be sure the course you're choosing is top notch.

Start by searching your state's motor vehicle agency for approved courses. You can also consult the Motorcycle Safety Foundation to search for accredited safety courses in your area.

Once you've chosen a course, double-check to ensure that your course will teach you the following:

  • Motorcycle basics.
  • Riding laws and rules of the road.
  • Maneuvering and bike handling.
  • Avoiding hazards on the road.

For more details on what you need to know in order to obtain a motorcycle license in your state, visit our Motorcycle License section.

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