Whether you’ve been riding pillion (as a passenger for those who are 100% new to the ever increasing list of new terminology you will learn along the way!) for 20 years and wanting to finally get your own machine, you’ve been riding dirt bikes off the beaten trail since you were a kid, or you’re 100% new to the riding world, there is a place for you.
For some, it can seem like a lot of maneuvering to become a legally legit motorcycle rider. You have to get a temp permit, take the class (or go straight to the test), get the right gear, get a bike, practice, find riding buddies, learn how to service your bike, and the list goes on. However, we’re going to try to break it down, step by step. Keep in mind, the legalese presented here is based off of the procedure and requirements in Columbus, Ohio and your state or local government may have different requirements. Past getting your license, though, the helpful hints should be universal.
The first step in this process is really to commit to it. A special note for women: commit to letting yourself go through this process. The feeling of accomplishment doesn’t end with “getting your license.” It can be difficult to find the right gear or people to ride with (we’ll have future write ups on those issues in the future!), but it is so worth it. If you’re serious about becoming a motorcycle rider, commit to doing it.
Getting Started: GET LEGAL.
1.) LEARNER’S PERMIT: Get your TIPIC (Temporary Instruction Permit Identification Card) through our local BMV. You take a written test, after studying the handbook. Once you have passed the written test, you go to the Registrar’s Office to get the actual temporary ID to be able to ride around. This will be valid for ONE YEAR, with restrictions (no passengers, must wear a helmet, and no nighttime riding).
You also need this ID card to enroll in a class (more on that later) or take the test to get your license.
1B.) Before you start riding, you should consider getting the minimum gear required for taking an ODOT-approved class. This includes: A DOT-approved helmet, “over-the-ankle” protective footwear, long pants, long-sleeved shirt or jacket, full fingered gloves, and eye protection. Motorcycle Ohio (linked below) will provide a helmet for use during class, if you don’t have one.
2)TAKE THE CLASS ( OR TAKE THE TEST DIRECTLY): You can either take a class with your TIPIC (recommended), or take the skills test “when the rider is ready.” After you take the skills test, or complete the class, you get your license.
**At the end of taking a class (that uses the Motorcycle Ohio Curriculum), you take the actual test and get a little card that you take to the Registrar’s Office to get your license.
There are several places (in Ohio) to take a class and the costs vary, as does the quality of instruction. However, all Ohio DOT sanctioned classes use the same basic curriculum/require the same standard level of instruction and provide passing students with the waiver card for the state test upon successful completion.
The Motorcycle Ohio course is 16 hours long. The majority of that time is spent outside, on the bike. On pavement. In long pants, long sleeves, potentially in the sun. We strongly suggest that you bring plenty of water and wear sunscreen.
Special Note: In Ohio DOT Motorcycle Ohio classes, the class bikes are provided and are maintenanced regularly. However, if you find yourself struggling mechanically with your bike, be sure to SPEAK UP to let the instructor(s) know. Dropping a bike or losing control of a bike due to an unbeknownst-to-you mechanical error would be an unfortunate way to get booted from the class!
Speaking of, ALWAYS speak up when you feel you don’t understand something or don’t know if you’re doing something right. It’s better to put yourself out there to ask a question than to incorrectly learn , not learn, or get hurt! (Believe me, I KNOW that can be hard!)
3)PRACTICE: Once you have taken the class, or have gone straight to taking the test through the BMV, you should practice if you’re totally new to riding! Passing the licensing test is just a snapshot of what it will be like to ride on the open road. Practicing in an empty parking lot can be difficult if it’s private property, etc, but it’s worth it to have a relatively distraction free area to practice stopping and starting, turns, and your clutch, especially if you’re going to be riding a vastly different bike than you used in the class.
Next steps: While you’ve probably worn some minimum required gear in the permit class, or to take your test, have you really invested in the protective gear you need to ride on the road? Check out the next blog post, “Gearing Up,” to learn about the stuff you really need to ride for the slide on the real roads!