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Basics of Motorcycle Use in Pennsylvania

Just because you have a license to drive a car in Pennsylvania does not mean you can legally ride a motorcycle. The process is similar to that of learning to drive a car, but there are some slight differences in the process and laws that you need to be aware of. We have the process outlined here.


Although you may think some of these are common sense, even the definition of what a “motorcycle” is can be confusing. For example, if you have a 4 horsepower mini bike, do you need a license to ride it?

  • Motorcycle- a motorcycle is a vehicle with a seat, that either has:
    • Two wheels
    • Three wheels or
    • Two wheels with two support wheels in the back for stabilization
  • Motor-driven cycle- fitting the definition listed above for motorcycle, but with 5 horsepower or less
  • Moped- fitting the definition of motor-driven cycle, but with 1.5 horsepower or less, an engine of 50 cubic centimeters or less, automatic transmission, and does not go faster than 25 miles per hour
    • A pedal bike with a battery powered motor also is considered a moped if it meets the above requirements.

While a class C license states that it allows a person to drive a vehicle that weighs 26,000 pounds or less, this does not include a motorcycle. A Class M license is given to someone who has passed their motorcycle drivers test, and the requirements leading up to the test.

Learner’s Permit

You can get a motorcycle learner’s permit at any Department of Motor Vehicles office in Pennsylvania. The permit only allows the person to ride between sunrise and sunset. The exception to this rule is if you already have a license for another type of vehicle, and you are supervised by a licensed motorcycle rider.

If you get a learner’s permit for a motorcycle and you do not already have another driver’s license (such a Class C license to drive a car) then you must always have a licensed rider supervising you when you ride.

You cannot have a passenger on your motorcycle if you have a learner’s permit. The permit is good for one year.

To obtain the permit, you need to apply, pass a vision test, and pass a knowledge test.

Getting Your License

Once you have your permit you will need to wait 6 months, ride at least 65 hours of supervised riding, and take a motorcycle safety program before attempting to take your skills test. You can also take a motorcycle safety program for training, in which you will be evaluated at the end, which if you pass allows you to get your license without taking an additional skills test. The safety training program counts as 15 of the mandatory hours needed for your license.

Be Prepared in Case of an Accident

If you are in an accident while riding, make sure you have a law team behind you that you can trust. You will want experienced, aggressive attorneys who will fight for you if someone injures you while you are riding. Statistically most accidents involving riders happen when another vehicle hits them, and most of these accidents are not the rider’s fault.

We hope you are safe while riding, and we hope you enjoy the freedom of riding for a long time. If at any point you need us because of an accident, we will not charge you anything to review your case and inform you of your rights.

Ride on.

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