New York is one of the best places to own a motorcycle. The hilly, forested areas of the county and the busy streets of the city are a perfect contrast for people wanting to learn how to navigate on different terrains. 

A motorcycle is the best way of getting around in a densely packed borough like Manhattan, where owning a car is related to prohibitive costs. Getting a motorcycle license in New York is a straightforward process that generally has three phases: the written exam, the practice riding, and the skills test. 

In this article, we will break down the steps needed for you to obtain a New York motorcycle license.

1. Take the written test

Before you are issued a learner’s permit, you must first take a test at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The test covers topics, such as motorcycle terminology, safety practices, techniques in handling a motorcycle, road rules, and state laws. The New York State DMV has resources that can help you prepare for the test.

Remember to compile your application form and submitted it to the DMV on your test day. This includes the completed form, a non-driver ID card form, a picture ID, and learner’s fees. Also, set aside around $120 for fees associated with getting a permit.

2. Undergo training

Once you pass the motorcycle test, you will get a learner’s permit; either a Class M or Class MJ permit. Class M is for motorists operating a motorcycle, while MJ is for junior motorists operating the same. The learner’s permit is valid for a year from the date of issuance, which gives you enough time to complete your certification.

Before you take your skills test, you will need to log at least 30 hours of practice, ten of which should be within areas of heavy traffic or congestion. It is strongly encouraged that applicants take regulated motorcycle driving courses. 

The New York Motorcyclist Safety Program is a provider of regulated driving courses. NYMSP is a duly recognized organization offering courses for $275 to $300. If you complete your 30 hours of practise sessions with the NYMSP, you can waive your road test and show proof of completion to the DMV.

A note about learner’s permit restrictions

When you have a learner’s permit, there are limitations on how you can operate your vehicle. For instance, you may not drive unless accompanied by a supervising driver aged 21 and above, and they must have a valid motorcycle license as well.

There are also several restrictions on where you may drive. Know that you cannot drive with a learner permit on any street within a New York City park, or cross a bridge or tunnel supervised by the Tri-borough Bridge and Tunnel Authority. The Cross County, Hutchinson River, Saw Mill River, Taconic State parkways in Westchester, and DMV Road Test areas are also off-limits to you.

3. Take the skills test

If you don’t want to take a course with NYMSP, you can take your 30 hours of practice at your own pace and schedule for a skills test whenever you are ready. Keep in mind that there are some differences between a driving test for a car and a motorcycle. 

For one, your examiner will supervise from a distance. They will see how well you can navigate a closed course, using maneuvers, such as a cone weave, quick stop, U-turn, normal stop, obstacle weave, and others. You may also be required to take an on-road skills test to show how you interact with other vehicles.

On the day of the skills test, make sure that you have your photo learner permit, corrective lenses (if applicable), the Pre-licensing Course Certificate (MV-278), or the Student Certificate of Completion (MV-285). Expect to shell out around $85-95 in fees for your motorcycle driver’s license. If you pass your skills test, you will need to pay around $70 for your registration.


As you can see, it’s easy to apply for a motorcycle license in New York! All you have to do is follow the steps and put in the hours for training. Remember to follow the tips given above so that you’ll have a seamless experience.

If you are looking for the best motorcycles for beginners on the market, get in touch with us today to see how we can help!