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To legally ride a motorcycle in Kentucky, operators must be properly licensed and comply with all Kentucky motorcycle laws. A motorcycle is defined as any motor-driven vehicle having a seat or saddle for the use of the operator, and is designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground. These specifications and exclude mopeds.
To apply for a KY motorcycle permit, you must be at least 18 years old, or you must hold a valid operator license (the minimum age for obtaining a KY driver’s license is 16 years old).
Applicants for a motorcycle permit who are younger than 18 years old must have a parent or legal guardian who is willing to assume responsibility and sign the application for a permit. Applicants must complete the following tests administered by the Kentucky State Police before obtaining a permit/license:
- The written test, which will consist of questions on information found in both the Kentucky Driver’s Manual and the Kentucky Motorcycle Manual
- A vision test
Applicants must possess a valid Kentucky motor vehicle operator’s license to be able to obtain a motorcycle license. Please check with your local circuit clerk’s office for information on their fees for obtaining a motorcycle license.
If you do not yet have your driver’s license, see our page for Kentucky Driver's License Information.
When you are ready to apply, there are two options for getting your KY motorcycle license.
- You may schedule an appointment at your local circuit clerk’s office to take your on-cycle skills test. Once you have successfully passed your skills test, you may pay any fees to obtain your endorsement.
- You can choose to participate in a Justice and Public Safety Cabinet-approved rider training course.
A rider training course must include a similar test of skill provided under the direction of the Kentucky Motorcycle Rider Education Program. Successful completion will waive the motorcycle skills test at the DMV. Once you have completed the course, you can schedule an appointment at your local circuit clerk’s office and show proof of course completion.
You will also need to pay any required fees to obtain your motorcycle endorsement.
Kentucky state residents can take a Motorcycle Safety Education Program that offers rider training courses designed to develop and instill knowledge, attitudes, habits, and skills necessary for the safe and proper operation of a motorcycle. Rider training courses are open to any resident of KY who either holds a current valid driver’s license for any classification, or holds a motorcycle instruction permit.
Kentucky Motorcycle Program (KMP)
The Kentucky Motorcycle Program (KMP) offers rider courses developed by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
These courses are taught by Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF)-certified instructors and are approved by the state. Visit the MSF website for more information.
Kentucky Motorcycle Safety Education (MSE) offers two different courses:
- The Motorcycle Rider Course: Riding Street Skills―This course teaches basic operating skills. Half the course consists of classroom instruction, and half is practical instruction.
- The Experienced Rider Course (ERC)―This is an advanced course designed for more experienced riders and takes place on the riding range.
Your skills test may be waived if you complete and pass an MSE course; however, all motorcyclists must have had their motorcycle permit for at least one month before they can be issued a motorcycle license.
If you are looking for additional information, the Kentucky Motorcycle Manual provides information about laws, education programs, vehicle requirements, protective clothing and gear, safety tips, and much more regarding motorcycles, mopeds, trail bikes, and ATVs.
For more information regarding motorcycle rider training school locations and costs, please contact the Kentucky Motorcycle Safety Program.
The operator must have:
- A valid KY driver’s license with a motorcycle operator’s endorsement, or an instruction permit to operate a motorcycle (a permit does not allow you to carry passengers)
- Proof of liability insurance
- Current registration
- Transportation Cabinet-approved eye protection
- Transportation Cabinet-approved helmets for both operator and passenger (a person may operate a motorcycle without a helmet if they are older than 21 years old and they have held their motorcycle license for 1 year or more)
- Rearview mirror
- One headlight (high and low beam)
- Brake light
- Front and rear brakes
- Tires with legal tread depth
- Turn signals (now required if they were part of the factory equipment for that model)
It is unlawful to operate or ride on a motorcycle that does not have a seat or footrest permanently attached (both being specifically designed to carry passengers in a safe manner). Riders and passengers must have their own seat and footrests.Compare Motorcycle Insurance Rates in 3 Steps
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