Motorcycle License in New Mexico

During the past few years, the folks who make the rules in New Mexico have started taking more interest in motorcycle training. You still will not find an instruction manual outside of the regular Driver License Manual, and the licensing requirements have yet to require Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) training. But the state is definitely moving in the right direction, and it is most likely only a matter of time before you will need to attend an MSF course before getting a motorcycle endorsement.

Each year there seem to be more and more fatalities on the roads resulting from motorcycle accidents. Unfortunately, the majority of these are due to rider inexperience. In most cases, the riders had no formal motorcycle training―they were self-taught. Most of these types of crashes can be prevented by having some type of formal training.

But for now, New Mexico's Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) just strongly recommends taking an MSF class and offers numerous incentives to do so. For example, you could be rewarded by the MVD waiving the testing process. After all, taking an MSF course doesn't just test your ability to answer multiple-choice questions and maneuver through some cones―it builds riding skills.

Types of Motorcycle License

The Class M motorcycle license comes with three endorsement levels, depending on your age and how powerful the motorcycle is that you will be riding:

  • W endorsement: for 100cc and larger motorcycles.
  • Y endorsement: for motorcycles between 50cc and 100cc.
  • Z endorsement: limits riders to motorcycles with a displacement of less than 50cc.

When you take the riding portion of the licensing test, you'll need to do so on the type of motorcycle you wish to be licensed for.

Applying for a Motorcycle License

A Class M license is needed for anyone to operate a motorcycle in New Mexico. The steps involved to get this license or add a motorcycle endorsement to your current driver's license are the same as for applying for a regular driver's license. You will have to supply the same documents and pass a battery of tests.

The testing will definitely have a motorcycle lean, but all of the material for the written exam is taken directly from the Driver License Manual. In most cases you will either already have a driver's license or have passed a driver's education course, so you will have a good idea what type of testing the MVD has in store.

Motorcycle Training

As mentioned earlier, the state has yet to institute any type of formal motorcycle training as a prerequisite to earning a motorcycle license. Still, if you are a novice or have never even hopped on a motorcycle, it is pretty imperative that you get some qualified instruction before taking to the roads.

These days the written test and the basic handling test offered at the MVD offices may just not be enough. A solid foundation is essential to becoming a top-notch rider. Besides, having confidence on the bike makes the experience of riding even better.

Now, if you are under 18 years old you will need to sign up for a course if you want to ride any type of motorized cycle on public roads. You may hobnob around the local trails on an ATV or minibike without being trained or licensed, but if you want to hit the road with some speed you will need to seek out a place that offers an MSF Basic RiderCourse.

Find a location near you authorized to teach the Basic RiderCourse. Some are private businesses and provide bikes for you, which is an added bonus.

Basic RiderCourse

The curriculum is a mix of classroom lectures and actual range riding. It is designed as much to build in-the-saddle confidence as it is to teach you the fundamentals of operating and handling a motorcycle.

Some course instructors have specific requirements related directly to the way they teach the course, but there are a few that apply to all of them. Before you can start the course, you must:

  • Have some experience on a bicycle. Rudimentary or inherent balance is necessary to maneuver on two wheels. So if you cannot ride a bicycle, maybe you should stick to four wheels.
  • Hold a current driver's license or a learner's permit.
  • Bring along a DOT-approved helmet to protect your head. A number of places provide these for you.
  • Dress the part: full-fingered gloves, boots that protect the ankles, jeans (it may be a bit early yet to pull out the riding chaps), and some type of eye protection.


The great helmet debate rages on. But in New Mexico, if you are over 18 years old the choice is up to you. You are not required to wear a helmet, although it is recommended. Those under 18 years old will need to wear a helmet at all times.

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