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How old do I have to be to ride a motorcycle?

There is nothing like riding a motorcycle. The motorcycle lawyers at Hupy and Abraham understand your eagerness to get on a bike, but you can’t just save up and buy a motorcycle. You need to have a license.

Each state has its own motorcycle license requirements.


If you are age 14 to 17, you may obtain a motorcycle instruction permit. To get the permit, you must pass a written test and pay an $8.00 fee. Once you have the permit, you can ride a motorcycle with your parents or any member of your family who is over 21 and has a license with a motorcycle endorsement. You can ride with a non-related adult, if the adult is over age 25, has a license with a motorcycle endorsement, and has your parent’s written permission to ride with you.

In order to get your license and be able to ride on your own, you must complete an Iowa Motorcycle Rider Education (MRE) course. The MRE course costs $115 to $245 and includes five hours of classroom instruction and ten hours of riding time. Courses are available at most Iowa community colleges. You must complete a written test and a skills test to receive your certificate of completion. Once you complete the course, you will qualify for an Iowa motorcycle license.


You must be at least 16 to ride a motorcycle in Illinois. Sixteen-year-olds and 17-year-olds must complete an approved driver’s education and pass a written exam before applying for the 24-month instruction permit. The permit costs $20.

Teens with a permit may operate a motorcycle during daylight hours when accompanied by an adult over age 21 who has a valid Class M license and at least one year of riding experience.

Before you can get your license, you will have to complete a 20-hour Basic Rider Course (BRC). You must have your parent’s permission to take this class. Most courses are free, but you may need to pay a registration fee. Once you complete the course, you are eligible to take the Secretary of State's written and riding tests for a class "M" motorcycle endorsement.


You must be 16 to obtain a motorcycle license in Wisconsin. If you are under 18, you must also show proof that you have completed a driver’s education class and a basic rider course before applying for your Class M license. The course costs about $250. However, you do not have to take the class if you live more than 50 miles from a basic rider course site.

You will need to complete the required courses and taken a written test in order to qualify for a Cycle Instruction Permit. The permit costs $32 and is good for six months.

Permit holders may ride a motorcycle during daylight hours, but need to be supervised by a licensed motorcyclist after dark. The motorcyclist must be over age 25 and have at least two years of cycling experience. Permit holders must wear helmets and may only carry Class M license holders as passengers.

You must pass a skills test and bike inspection to get your Class M license. The license costs $22.

Hupy and Abraham represents victims of motorcycle accidents in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa. Although you may never be in a motorcycle crash, you want to be prepared just in case. We’ve written a book just for motorcyclists. Simply fill out the contact form to request your free copy of The Ultimate Guide for Motorcycle Accident Victims.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham