MC Licensing Option in NY State

George_Tranos_Outside_EdgeNew motorcycle licensing option in New York State

By George Tranos

Are you one of the thousands of motorcyclists who are riding without a motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license? Untrained and unlicensed riders are statistically more likely to appear in motorcycle crashes. Many states are aware of the number of people perennially riding without a license. Some, like New York, have periodically sent letters to owners of registered motorcycles who do not have their motorcycle license endorsement. This has served as a warning to these people that the state is serious about enforcing licensing regulations.


In the past, there were only two ways to obtain a motorcycle endorsement in New York. The first is the traditional method of taking a road test with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Most other states provide this option as well, but some are getting out of the road test business. An applicant must have a NYS motorcycle learner’s permit to make a road test appointment. New York State’s road test includes doing circles and figure eights in a confined space (normally a parking lot but sometimes on the street depending on the road test site) and then an on-street riding component.

The applicant must supply an inspected, registered and insured motorcycle, a vehicle (car or truck) for the inspector to ride in and a licensed motorcyclist to accompany the applicant. The DMV inspector does not ride on the motorcycle – they ride behind the bike as a passenger in the provided vehicle during the road test to ensure that the applicant can control the motorcycle in a limited space, is safe on the street, obeys the law and is not a danger to themselves or others. The motorcycle road test takes about ten minutes and is given in at least one location in each NYS county (outside of NY City).

Prior to this year, the only other way to obtain a motorcycle endorsement was to take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Basic RiderCourse (BRC). This was offered by private driving schools through the New York State Motorcycle Safety Program (NYSMSP). The BRC is a nationally recognized rider training program. This extensive course is held over a three-day period and includes 5-hours of classroom instruction and 10-hours of on-motorcycle training. It includes a written knowledge test and a riding skills examination. The school will supply a small training motorcycle and if needed, a helmet. Upon successful completion, the student receives a completion card that serves as their road test waiver. This allows them to go to DMV and amend their auto license without any further testing. They must obtain a motorcycle learner’s permit first if they did not have one for the BRC (a permit is no longer a prerequisite for the BRC in NYS).

For 2015 NYS DMV has approved another course that also provides the road test waiver. This new course is called the MSF Basic RiderCourse2 with License Waiver (BRC2-LW). This course is not intended for new riders! It is designed for individuals that have had some street riding experience and have held a valid New York State Motorcycle Permit for at least 1 calendar year, and possess some street riding skills. The BRC2-LW is an 8-hour course that contains a unique on-line classroom segment as a pre-requisite and also offers a variety of practice riding exercises designed to further develop riding skills on the student’s own motorcycle. The riding exercises conclude with a skills test. In order for a participant to earn their NYSMSP BRC2-LW License Waiver Completion Card they must successfully complete the eCourse (on-line) and the skills evaluation on the range. Many NYSMSP sites are offering this new option.

Every serious motorcyclist should possess a motorcycle endorsement! If you are one of those riding without one, what are you waiting for? You risk your losing your license and confiscation of your motorcycle every time you ride! Having taught numerous Basic RiderCourse2 classes, I can guarantee that you’ll have a good time, enhance your skills and if you pass the riding skills evaluation, come away with your motorcycle license.