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 and you may need to talk to your family first.

Iowa Motorcycle License Requirements

If you are age 14 to 17, you may obtain a motorcycle instruction permit by passing a written test and paying the required 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. Additionally, 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.

Iowa Motorcycle Rider Education (MRE) courses are available to all riders and are required for riders under the age of 18. The MRE course costs $115 to $349 and includes five hours of classroom instruction and 10 hours of riding time. Courses are available at most Iowa community colleges and other locations. 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.

Illinois Motorcycle License Requirements

You must be at least 16 to ride a motorcycle in Illinois. Both 16- 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.

Wisconsin Motorcycle License Requirements

You must be 16 to obtain a motorcycle license in Wisconsin. If you are under 18, you must also show proof that you have a sponsor and 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 take a written test 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.

Things for Families to Talk About Before a Teen Gets a Motorcycle License

You may be able to get your license, pay for your bike, purchase insurance, and handle the responsibility of being a rider on your own. However, in many families, a teen rider is a family matter. Accordingly, you may want to discuss the following with your parents:

  • Your safe driving record. Riding a motorcycle is very different from driving a car, but a teen who practices good driving habits is more likely to be careful on a motorcycle. A teen who is a reckless driver is more likely to engage in dangerous habits.
  • Safety gear. Discuss whether you need or could benefit from a helmet, leather jacket, gloves, and boots.
  • Safety rules. You may want to discuss house rules for safe driving, the dangers of distracted driving, drunk driving, and drowsy driving, and the house consequences for violating the rules.
  • Who is paying for the motorcycle and motorcycle maintenance. Will this be your responsibility, or will your parents help you with the financial costs?
  • Whether there are riders in the family. These riders may serve as mentors or supervisors to help you become an experienced and safe rider.
  • Potential biases against motorcyclists. Motorcyclists are not always treated fairly on the road and after a car accident. Unfortunately, many people who do not ride have biased and unfair views about those who do ride. You can't change the way other people think of riders, but you can be prepared that other motorists may automatically—and wrongly—assume that you are irresponsible and dangerous.
  • What to do after a motorcycle crash. If you are involved in a crash, you should be prepared to call 911, accept medical help, only talk to the police and first responders, not talk to anyone about the cause of the crash, exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver, collect witness contact information, take pictures of the accident scene and call your parents for help. Then, together, you can decide on the next steps to take.

We don't want to overwhelm you or discourage you from riding. Instead, our goal is to provide you with all of the information you need to make safe decisions and make important choices that many adults have trouble making after a traumatic motorcycle accident.

Our Lawyers are Also Riders

Our skilled attorneys and experienced motorcycle riders know how to investigate motorcycle crashes, know how to make sure that all riders—including teen riders—are taken seriously, and know how to protect your right to a fair recovery.

If someone else caused your motorcycle accident injuries, then we will fight hard to get you fair compensation for your past and future medical expenses, lost income, out-of-pocket costs, pain, and suffering.

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 so that you can be prepared if a crash occurs.


Jason F. Abraham
Connect with me
Helping car accident and personal injury victims throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa since 1993.