Motorcyclists Guide

Before you head out on the road for a ride on your motorcycle, there are several things you should consider. Taking a safety course and wearing protective clothing, helmets, and gear are just a few. Here we have gathered some basic motorcycle information to help you ride safely.

In This Guide

Motorcycle Licensing

Find out what is needed to apply for a motorcycle license, how much it will cost, and what special instructions you may need.

Register Your Motorcycle

Learn what qualifies as a “motorcycle”, calculate registration fees, and register your bike.

Special Interest License Plates for Motorcycles

From vintage-looking legacy plates to breast cancer awareness plates, you have many options when it comes to plating your bike.

The California Motorcycle Handbook

View the latest version of the California Motorcycle Handbook, and learn about the rules of the road.

Sample Tests

Before you take your official motorcycle exam, practice with our online sample tests here.

Find a Location

Schedule an appointment for a motorcycle license exam, or find the nearest office to apply for a motorcycle license.

Frequently Asked Questions

California Highway Patrol (CHP) California Motorcyclist Safety Program

CHP California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP) provides great information for new and existing riders. The program consists of a 15-hour classroom and on-cycle Basic Rider Course (BRC). The BRC is mandatory for those under the age of 21 but is also recommended to those 21 and older who are seeking to obtain a motorcycle license.

The CMSP also offers the Premier Program, which is an extended BRC consisting of 7.5 hours of classroom and 13.5 hours of on-cycle time. Riders can refresh or enhance skills at a Basic RiderCourse2. Visit ca-msp.org to sign up for a course.

Motorcycle Safety Course

After completing the requirements of the motorcycle safety course, you will be issued a Certificate of Completion of Motorcycle Training (DL 389) by the motorcycle training facility. The DL 389 may be used to waive the motorcycle skills test at DMV and must be submitted to DMV within 12 months of the date of issuance.

For information about the CHP-approved training course:

To satisfy safety training requirements for your motorcycle Class M1 or M2 license, you must do one of the following:

  • If you are under 21:
    • You must complete a motorcycle rider training course approved by the CHP, provide a DL 389 form to DMV to be issued your permit.
    • You must hold the class M1 or M2 permit for six months prior to getting a motorcycle license.
    • DMV may waive the skills test for a person presenting a valid DL 389; however, you may be required to perform an observation test for a motorcycle only license.
  • If you are over 21:
    • You may either choose to complete the motorcycle safety course approved by CHP and provide the DL 389 or schedule an appointment online with DMV to take the driving test.
    • You have three chances to pass the test.

The above requirements are for motorcycle safety training only; standard licensing requirements (application fee, proof of residency and identity and SSN, having your photo taken and fingerprint scanned, etc.) can be found on our motorcycle licenses page.

Motorcycling is not just recreation. Driving a motorcycle requires you to be familiar with the motorcycle, wear the right clothing, and be a responsible rider. You are expected to:

  • Be visible.
  • Communicate your intentions to other drivers.
  • Keep adequate space for passing and lane splitting.
  • Be prepared to act.

For areas throughout the state that are designated for off-highway vehicle (OHV) use, check the California State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation or call (916) 324-4442.

Please visit the following California State Parks link for laws and safety information for off-highway vehicles.

Off-Highway Laws and Safety Information.

What Are the Rules on Sharing the Road with Other Vehicles?

Every vehicle on the road has its place on the road, but motorcyclists face additional dangers because motorcycles require exceptional handling ability and are harder to see.

Motorcyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as automobile drivers, but California law does not allow or prohibit motorcycles from passing other vehicles proceeding in the same direction within the same lane. This practice often called “lane splitting,” “lane sharing” or “filtering.”

Creating a safer highway environment is the shared responsibility of drivers and motorcyclists alike. This is achieved by staying alert and using common sense and courtesy while on the road. It is also important for motorcyclists to minimize their risks by riding responsibly, always wearing a helmet and other protective gear and to never ride under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants. Here are other important safety reminders:

  • Watch your speed—a motorcycle collision is highly likely to cause injury or death.
  • Assume people in cars do not see you.
  • Avoid blind spots in other vehicles, particularly large trucks.

The CHP also strongly encourages all motorcycle riders to sign up for the CMSP, which is administered by the CHP as California’s official motorcycle safety and training program. The program offers courses for new and experienced riders. For more information, visit the CHP website.