What is an M1 and M2 Motorcycle License?

Ehline Law Motorcycle Lawyer
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Some youngsters start riding dirt bikes out in the boondocks and with no motorcycle license. Many kids are already great off-road riders when they hit their teen years.

But street riding is a different animal altogether. Even if you're a new rider, you need specialized training and minimal skill before you hit the asphalt jungle.

Rider basic training is mandatory if you want to avoid being scooped up off of the highway as a casualty. Getting a motorcycle license assures that you have basic training. And it is evidence of a responsible, law abiding citizen. To cut to the chase you can go to the DMV Rider Requirements Here.


What Kind of License Do I Need to Ride a Motorcycle?

The State of California offers to types of motorcycle licenses. The California Vehicle Code provides detailed info on what types of self-propelled conveyances can and cannot be ridden on public roads. And it also covers how they are to be classified and regulated. The classifications for motorcycle licenses are known as M1 and M2.

These licenses differ from traditional Class A, B or C automobile driver’s license. The M1 and M2 licenses are issued when you want to ride a specific motor vehicle. But typically two wheels only are covered. The license gives the privilege of riding on the California streets, tollways, freeways and highways.

Due to the high risk of life-altering rider injuries, the state needs to assure an arduous permitting process for cyclists. So it issuance remains involved and so does re-issuance. So it remains hard to get when compared to a standard passenger car.

What is the Difference Between and M1 or an M2 Permit?

Good question. First, we have to understand what these classifications are when compared to a standard car or truck license. First, getting either and M1 or an M2 license, requires a minimum six month waiting period. In other words, you have to ride around with a permit before you get a permanent M1 or M2 license. Understood?

Getting an operator’s license, arguably means that the novice rider made it through the waiting period. Hence, he rode safely. Akin to a provisional license for a teen car permit, the M1 and M2 permits give a chance to test and improve skills.

The main difference? For starters, you are not required to have an adult ride along with you. But that would be true if you had a teen learning permit for a car.


Class M1 and M2 permits enable a rider to operate motor driven cycles, two-wheel motorcycles, and motorized scooters like a Vespa. The California Vehicle Code lists all vehicles covered under M1 and M2 status. An M2 is for slower scooters and two-wheeled vehicles. California law mandates that permits under Call M1 or M2, restrict the occupants of the bike to one rider. Also, no passengers are allowed. And operation must be during daylight times only.

Again, this is a basic permit. And we suggest you take a private rider training safety course too. But get a permit before daring the city streets. Also, the applicant must be at least 21 years old, and:

  • Obtain and complete the required forms.
  • Pay the permit applications costs/fees.
  • Go through the hasty eye at the DMV. Then get a photo of your mug taken, and give up fingerprints.
  • Take and Successfully Pass the written portion of the rider’s test while at the DMV. This will ask you what certain rules are for riders if you understand basic traffic signage warnings and signals, etc.
  • Last on the list is that a rider must show proof of completion of “Motorcycle Training DL389." Just bring the certificate along and keep a copy for your records.

How Does Someone Younger than 21 Get a Rider Permit?

I started riding off the road, and admittedly I was young, probably 16 years old. In fact, I had no permits. So I learned by doing. But I was not interested in street riding. And I still pause for thought before ever braving California surface streets. Especially if during rush hour on weekdays I refuse to ride.

Some brave teens still opt for a chopper, or rice rocket, instead of a hot rod, or cool car. Some teens, especially boys, imagine themselves in their Rebel Without a Cause Leathers, cool riding gloves, biker boots and tough looking helmet. The alluring look of a street warrior is magnetic.

Also, some teens come from poor families. So they need cheap transport to get to and from school and their after school jobs. There is a process to get permitted and eventually licensed. But this is more arduous than obtaining a traditional CDL.

Before you take the exam, get written approval from your parents or adult guardians. Also, you must take and complete a driver’s education course. As a matter of fact, you must attend an approved training school. Last but not least, the CHP requires that you pass their course. Here is a list of the CHP rider courses, as well as the class schedules. You can also use the website to schedule your testing.

What Does the California Highway Patrol Test You On?

There are basically many locations to choose from when you are ready to take your CHP skills assessment test. Obviously, you need to be wearing your riding gear, and ready to roll. The test takers will question you as to your knowledge of the bike, where the various switches are, and what they do.

For example, you will need to know where the horn is, where the clutch and accelerator, gear selector, brakes, and starter or kick start is on the vehicle, etc. Once you prove you comprehend the basic functions of the bike. You also need to know how to operate the turn signals, high and low beam lights.

Once you have proven you have a basic comprehension of the bike, you will b instructed to ride your bike through a basic course that tests you on the most common scenarios and judges your responses. It is smart to use a bike you are already familiar with for the test, if at all possible. A large, or unfamiliar bike could mean you hit the orange cones and get disqualified.

Here is an Example of the CHP Testing the Harley Wobble.

Above you can see why the CHP is so concerned about a novice rider entering the roads. After all, they don’t want to arrive at a traffic scene and scrape you off the pavement. For that reason, the test is pass or fail. There is no grading system line A, B, C, etc. A no pass means you start all over again. So you repay the fee, schedule a new date, etc.

The Test Itself.

This is only a basic, noncomprehensive test. It is still important and tests four important rider skills as follows:
  1. Serpentine ride;
  2. Slow ride;
  3. Circle ride;
  4. Gear Shift ride.

If you pass, you get to traverse the roads. But and M1 or M2 permit/license does not by any means insulate you from getting in a wreck. If you do get in an at-fault accident, you can get a ticket. But you may also lose your privilege to ride. If a speeding ticket, and not felony driving over a 100 mph, you will probably lose a point. Additionally, you may see an increase in your liability insurance rates.

In fact, in the Golden State, at least 12% of all reported crashes on the bike are due to unlicensed riders. This makes sense. After all, at least a million vehicles travel the roadways at any particular hour of the day. The statistics show us that non-permitted, or non-licensed riders have eight times greater chance of engaging in unsafe operation of their cycles.

It is simply reckless to go riding when you're not properly permitted. If you cause a serious injury to another, investigations could find you at fault. This means a long-term or permanent license suspension. But you could serve jail time. Criminal restitution may be in order too.

Can I Still Get Money if Injured and Not Properly Licensed or Permitted?

Our team of highly aggressive injury attorney at Ehline Law Firm motorcycle lawyers, say use your brain when you ride. But if you ride without proper papers, you still can recover for injuries that were not your fault. So with or without an M2 or M-1 ELFPI.com has the experience, knowledge, and skill. And we can take your case all the way. We have a no recovery no fee policy. Call (213) 596-9642.

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