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Office of Traffic Safety

A Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety
 

FAQ

Questions and Answers for Motorcyclists

What is the difference between a scooter and a moped?

A scooter is a style of two-wheeled vehicle and may be either a moped or a motorcycle. Two-wheeled vehicles are typically registered and licensed as motorcycles unless they meet all three of the following criteria.

  • Engine displacement of 50 cc or less
  • No more than two brake horsepower
  • Incapable of exceeding 30 miles per hour on a flat surface

Two-wheeled vehicles meeting all three of the above criteria are registered and licensed as mopeds.

Do I need a motorcycle license endorsement to operate a trike or motorcycle with a sidecar?

Three-wheeled motorcycle operators do need to pass a knowledge test and a riding skills test at a Driver and Vehicle Services exam station. Operators who successfully complete both tests are provided with a three wheel restriction on their drivers license as opposed to an endorsement. This restricts these operators to motorcycle trike or sidecar operation. Operators having a motorcycle endorsement are legal to operate both motorcycles and trikes and side car rigs.

I am an endorsed motorcyclist who has just moved to Minnesota from another state. Can I transfer my motorcycle license endorsement?

Yes. New Minnesota residents can transfer their motorcycle license endorsement to their new Minnesota driver's license at the time of application by passing the state's motorcycle operator's permit knowledge test at a Driver and Vehicle Services exam station. There is a $21 motorcycle endorsement fee. Study Minnesota's Motorcycle Operator's Manual. No operator skills retesting is required as long as the out-of-state license is not expired over one year.

I am on active duty in the military and stationed out of state. Is there a procedure for me to obtain a motorcycle endorsement on my Minnesota driver's license?

For a Minnesota resident to add a motorcycle endorsement to their Minnesota driver license while in the military, the applicant must submit proof of having passed comparable motorcycle knowledge and skills testing in the state of temporary residence. Acceptable proof of passing the knowledge test consists of having either:

  • A current Minnesota motorcycle permit expired less than one year.

  • Completing the motorcycle knowledge test if it is not currently on record and the Minnesota resident is here on leave.

  • Proof from another jurisdiction of having passed their motorcycle knowledge test.

  • Acceptable proof of passing the skills test consists of having:

    • A letter of completion on letterhead paper from the motorcycle course provider indicating:

      • The date the skills test was passed.

      • The type of skills test administered (MOST, ALT-MOST, BRC, RSS).

Note: a MSF card is not sufficient proof to verify that training was completed and comparable tests were passed.  

If currently out of state, the applicant must submit the acceptable proof of knowledge and skill testing, along with the completed out-of-state packet for a duplicate or renewal of the Minnesota driver license and appropriate fees ($21 if no Minnesota motorcycle permit is on file plus the cost of the license duplicate or renewal) to Driver and Vehicle Services, 445 Minnesota Street, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55101-5195. Further questions can be directed to 651-297-3298 or dvs.driverslicense@state.mn.us.

I am a Minnesota resident working out of state.  Is there a procedure for me to obtain a motorcycle endorsement on my Minnesota driver's license?

No. Minnesota residents must obtain a Minnesota motorcycle permit from a Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) exam station and pass a skills test at either a DVS exam station or by taking and passing an approved motorcycle safety course from an approved third party testing and training program in Minnesota.

Does a windshield meet Minnesota requirements for eye protection?

No. Riders must wear either a face shield, goggles, glasses or sunglasses (Minnesota state statute 169.974 subd. 4 (a)).

Does Minnesota require riders to wear a DOT approved helmet?

Riders operating on a permit and all riders and passengers under the age of 18 are required to wear a DOT approved helmet. Although recommended, license endorsed operators and passengers over age 18 are not required to wear a DOT approved helmet (Minnesota state statute 169.974 subd. 4 (a)).

Are motorcycle headlight modulators legal in Minnesota?

Yes since they are allowable by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS, Title 49, Part 571, Standard 108).

Are there standards that regulate muffler exhaust noise?

Mufflers should blend the exhaust noise into the overall vehicle noise and the exhaust system shall not emit or produce a sharp popping or cracking sound (Minnesota state statute 169.69).

How do I earn my motorcycle license endorsement?

  • If you are 18 or older, there are two ways to earn your motorcycle endorsement:
    • Skills Test Waiver/Third Party Testing option. If you are age 18 or older and have a valid Minnesota driver's license and motorcycle instruction permit, the riding skills test for your motorcycle endorsement will be waived if you successful complete the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center (MMSC) Basic Rider Course (BRC). You must: 
      • Pass the state knowledge test for the motorcycle instruction permit (fee $21). To study for the motorcycle permit test, read the Minnesota Motorcycle and Motorized Bicycle Manual. 
      • Have your instruction permit before taking the BRC skills test. Expired permits are accepted if they have been expired for less than one year. 
      • Successfuly complete the BRC. This requires 100 percent attendance and you must pass the BRC skills test. 
      • Pay the duplicate license fee​ at an exam station to receive your endorsement. 

Note: ​Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) reserves the right to retest any student, even if he or she passes the BRC. Riders who have failed a state and/or MMSC skills test twice are not eligible for the State Skills Test Waiver, and all third and subsequent skills tests must be taken at a DVS exam station. 

  • Take the motorcycle skill test at a DVS exam station. 
    • You must: 
    • Have a valid Minnesota driver’s license. 
    • Pass the state knowledge test for the motorcycle instruction permit.  The fee is $21. To study for the motorcycle permit test, read the Minnesota Motorcycle and Motorized Bicycle Manual.
    • Pass the riding state skills test for the motorcycle endorsement. Some exam stations are open late for motorcycle skills tests. More information is on the Evening Testing Program webpage. You can schedule a skills test at a state exam station online at drive.mn.gov.
    • Pay the duplicate license fee and receive your endorsement

  • If you are under 18, you are required to take the BRC. You must: 
    • Have a valid Minnesota driver's license or instruction permit. It is necessary to have a license or permit to enroll in the BRC. 
    • Successfully complete the BRC. This requires 100 percent attendance and completion of the BRC classroom and the riding skills test. Upon completion, you will receive two certificates to take to a DVS exam station along with your Minnesota driver's license. One certificate will allow you to take the state knowledge test for your motorcycle instruction permit. The other certificate will allow you to take the state skill (riding) test for your motorcycle endorsement. The certificates are valid until you turn 18. 
    • Have a Minnesota driver's license - you cannot earn a motorcycle permit or endorsement with a driver's instruction permit. 
    • Pass the state knowledge test for your motorcycle instruction permit. You must present the BRC completion certificate. The fee is $21. To study for the motorcycle permit test, read the Motorcycle and Motorized Bicycle Manual. 
    • Pass the state skill test for the motorcycle endorsement. You must present the BRC completion certificate. 
    • Pay the duplicate license fee and receive your endorsement.

How do I obtain a motorcycle permit?

You must pass the state knowledge test for the motorcycle instruction permit and pay the $21 fee to complete your application. The motorcycle knowledge test is available at DVS exam stations on a first come first served basis. To study for the motorcycle permit test, read the Minnesota Motorcycle and Motorized Bicycle Manual.

Do I need a motorcycle permit when I take a rider course? 

Minnesotans wishing to receive a motorcycle license endorsement through the Basic Rider Course must be 18 or older and have a motorcycle instruction permit in hand. Rider under 18 are required to take the BRC in order to obtain a motorcycle permit. 

Riders taking the Intermediate, Advanced or Expert Rider Courses are required to have a valid driver’s license with either a motorcycle endorsement or a valid motorcycle permit.

Am I required to take a rider training course to earn a motorcycle endorsement?

If you are under 18, you are required to take and pass the Basic Rider Course to earn your motorcycle endorsement. 

If you are 18 or older, you are not required to take a rider training course to earn your endorsement; however, you may take and pass the BRC to earn your endorsement.

Which rider course do I need to complete to earn a motorcycle endorsement?

If you are 18 or older, you can take the Basic Rider Course to earn your motorcycle endorsement. 

You must have a valid Minnesota driver’s license and motorcycle instruction permit and pass the BRC to have your riding skills test for your motorcycle endorsement waived.

I don’t have any motorcycle riding experience. Can I take the Basic Rider Course?

 ​The Motorcycle Safety Foundation designed the Basic Rider Course (BRC) for beginning riders with no previous riding experience. MMSC also recommends the BRC for returning riders. Learn more about the course and register​.


How much experience do I need to take the Intermediate Rider Course?

You should be comfortable on your own motorcycle or scooter. Newer motorcyclists, returning riders and experienced motorcyclists can all benefit from this course. Learn more about the course and register.

Will I drop my motorcycle if I take the MN Advanced Rider Course?

This course is designed for experienced riders. RiderCoaches are skilled and trained to demonstrate the exercises to set you up for success. They will also provide materials to protect your motorcycle prior to the course.

There are steps you can take to prepare your motorcycle for this course: 

  • Fresh oil and filter.
  • Adjust and lubricate chain.
  • Tires worn no more than 50 percent.
  • Increase tire pressure 3-5 psi for the riding drills.

What skills do I need to be able to take the MN Advanced Rider Course?

You are required to be able to complete a 28-foot U-turn on your motorcycle to take this course. You will need to demonstrate basic motorcycle competency at the beginning of the course in order to participate in the rest of the course. These basic skills include: 

  • Clutch control
  • Straight-line riding
  • Turnings
  • Shifting
  • Stopping

You also need to provide your own motorcycle, with minimum 600cc engine size.  Learn more about the course and register.

I lost my Motorcycle Saf​ety Foundation Rider Course completion card. How do I get a replacement?

You can submit a request for a replacement Motorcycle Safety Foundation Rider Course Completion Card to the Motorcycle Safety Program Coordinate by emailing William.shaffer@state.mn.us. You will need to provide: 

  • Your name and address.
  • The name of the course you completed.
  • The year you completed the course.
  • The location or college where you completed the course.

The MMSC will use this information to confirm you passed or completed the course and mail your replacement course completion card.

If you did not pass the Basic Rider Course, you cannot receive a course completion card. 

The MMSC may only issue replacement cards for courses completed within the last 7 years due to record retention.

Where can I take a Motorcycle Road Guard Course?

The Motorcycle Road Guard Course is offered at these regional training sites April-October: 

  • Minnesota State College in Detroit Lakes (NW)
  • Minnesota West College in Marshall (SW)
  • Rochester Community and Technical College (SE)
  • Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount (Metro)

I ride with a group that conducts group rides every year. Is it possible for the MMSC to provide training on site for us?

Yes. You can bring training to your group for a $250 fee. This option is available if their training location is located more than 75 miles from one of MMSC's established regional training sites. Contact any of the MMSC training sites offering the course for more information. Training must be done during daylight hours at a location that will accommodate the classroom training portion. Groups must supply a classroom space, a computer with Microsoft PowerPoint and a projector. The group must also make arrangements with their local law enforcement and a traffic engineer for a training intersection (that conforms to the Field Guide standards) in their area. More information is on the Road Guard webpage.