How to Get a Motorcycle License in Colorado – [Complete Guide]
According to the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), riders must add an endorsement to an existing driver’s license when applying for a motorcycle license.
You should, however, meet all the requirements to ride your bike legally within the state.
Today, I outlined a simple guide to help you learn how to get a motorcycle license in Colorado. I also included the Colorado motorcycle license requirements, validity, and renewal.
I’m a Colorado native, and I’ll break down the points and guide you through getting a Colorado motorcycle license. The process includes requirements, fees, and tests.
Do I need a license to operate a motorcycle in Colorado?
Yes. The law dictates that you must own a valid license to apply for or add to a motorcycle endorsement to operate a motorbike in Colorado.
This applies to everyone who rides either a 2-wheeled or a 3-wheeled motorcycle with engines over 50cc in Colorado.
The state issues two types of endorsements; an “M” or a “3” endorsement. For minors below 18 years, the law is a bit different.
They must first acquire a motorcycle instruction permit for one year before applying for an endorsement.
What are the Requirements for Motorcycle License in Colorado?
Applicants should meet the basic requirements before they begin the licensing process.
Here are the requirements for getting your Colorado motorcycle driver’s license:
- You must hold a valid Colorado driver’s license.
- You need to be at least 16 years old.
- Issue proof of identity, residence, and legal presence.
- Pass the motorcycle written test at a Driver’s License office.
- Pass the road skills test at a State DMV Office or provide proof of completing a Motorcycle Operator Safety Training (MOST) course with a certified third-party tester.
- Pay the DMV required fees to add the endorsement to your license.
You should have the following documents before heading to the Colorado DMV Office:
- Social Security Number, if issued.
- Colorado ID card.
- US passport.
- Driver’s license or instruction permit.
- Birth certificate issued in any state.
- Signed parental consent form.
- US military ID card (active duty, reserve, retired).
- Marriage certificate.
- Documents from a court of record.
Applicants Who Are Under 18 Years of Age:
There are some additional requirements for those under 18 years:
- You must apply for an instruction permit.
- You must provide an Affidavit of Liability and Guardianship. A parent or guardian must sign it to get your instruction permit.
- You must hold the motorcycle permit for at least 12 months before applying for a motorcycle endorsement to add to your license. You must be at least 16 years old to receive your license’s official “M” Colorado motorcycle endorsement.
Applicants Who Are Under 16 Years of Age:
Colorado law allows applicants above 16 years to apply for a motorcycle endorsement. But for those between 15 and 16 years, there are some additional requirements.
- You must apply for an instruction permit.
- You must complete the Motorcycle Operator Safety Training (MOST) course and issue proof of completion at the DMV office before receiving your instruction permit.
- You will get an instructional permit but can only practice riding with the oversight of an MSF instructor at all times.
- Practice riding with the supervision of a licensed adult who is at least 21 years old with your parent or guardian’s permission. Your supervisor must have a valid Colorado license and a motorcycle endorsement.
How to Get a Motorcycle License in Colorado?
The state of Colorado does not have a separate motorcycle license. Instead, they issue an endorsement to add to your existing Colorado driver’s license.
This only means you must have a valid Colorado driver’s license before adding or applying for a motorcycle endorsement.
However, if you don’t have a driver’s license, you can first get a motorcycle instruction permit before applying for an endorsement. All applications can be submitted at any Colorado DMV office.
There are two different options for getting a motorcycle endorsement:
- You must pass the Colorado motorcycle written exam and the motorcycle driving road skills test. You can do this at your local DMV or with a certified third-party tester.
- Through the completion of a Motorcycle Operator Safety Training (MOST) course. This course waives the requirement for taking the written exam and road test.
You must be at least 16 years old, no matter which option you choose. You also need to:
- Pass the physical aptitude review.
- Pass the driving record review.
- Pay the necessary fees.
Once you complete at least one of the two options above, you can buy a new Colorado license with your motorcycle endorsement at the DMV agency.
You need to first apply for a Colorado motorcycle instruction permit if you are under the age of 18 years and do not have a driver’s license.
To apply for an instruction permit, visit your DMV office and:
- Provide proof of completion of the MOST course if you are below the age of 16 years.
- Pass the vision test.
- Pay the required fees.
- Provide proof of your legal presence, identification, and residence.
- Pass the written motorcycle exam.
- Provide an insured and registered motorcycle for use during the driving test. Ensure you are familiar with all its controls.
A Colorado motorcycle instruction permit allows applicants to:
- Practice riding under the immediate and direct supervision of a parent or guardian who signed the Affidavit of Liability
- Practice riding with a licensed adult who is at least 21 years old with your parent or guardian’s permission. Your supervisor must have a valid Colorado license and an M motorcycle endorsement.
- Practice riding under the immediate and direct supervision of your MOST or MSF instructor if you are 16 years old or younger.
Applicants Who Are New Colorado Residents
If you recently moved to Colorado and have an out-of-state driver’s license, you will need to get a Colorado driver’s license first.
The license is used for identification purposes and to waive the licensing test requirements.
Bring the following to the driver’s license office:
- Bring a motor vehicle record from your previous state of residence if you don’t have your out-of-state driver’s license. It must be dated within 30 days of your office visit.
- Documents proving your current physical Colorado address.
- Your Social Security number.
- A valid out-of-state instruction permit if you are under 18 years old.
- Identification documents.
- An Affidavit of Liability and Guardianship signed by a Colorado driver over 21 or your parent or guardian if you are under 18. It must be signed before a notary public or driver’s license employee.
- Your drive test completion form from driving school, if any.
You must pay a fee when transferring your license and getting a motorcycle endorsement.
Colorado does not accept MSF cards acquired from out of state. However, it makes an exception for the MSF cards gained from military bases.
But you must hold a legal military ID. The MSF certification card waives the written and road skills tests.
On the Road After Getting an Endorsement
An endorsement will be added to your driver’s license or instruction permit once you meet all the licensing requirements. As a rider, you will have to operate your motorcycle safely.
This requires practiced skills and basic knowledge. Before going for a ride, a safe rider makes a point to:
- Familiarize themself with the motorcycle controls.
- Check the motorcycle equipment.
- Wear proper gear, including protective clothing, face or eye protection, and a DOT-approved helmet.
Types of Motorcycle Endorsements
The state of Colorado issues two types of motorcycle licenses in the form of a motorcycle endorsement. You can obtain either an “M” or a “3” endorsement on your license.
The endorsement is usually added to your regular driver’s license.
- M endorsement – This type of endorsement allows the rider to operate both a two-wheeled or a three-wheeled motorcycle. However, you must take the road skills test using a three-wheeled motorcycle.
- 3 endorsement – This allows the rider to operate only a three-wheeled motorcycle. You will have to take the road skills test using a two-wheeled motorcycle.
Before deciding on the type of motorcycle endorsement you want, consider your motorcycle riding habits to ensure you pick the right one and avoid future inconveniences.
Most riders need the Class M endorsement type. Class M has the same process and fees as Class 3.
How to Add a Motorcycle endorsement to your Colorado driver’s license?
In Colorado, you must be at least 16 years old to add a 2-wheel or 3-wheel motorcycle endorsement to an existing valid driver’s license.
There are two ways of adding a motorcycle endorsement to a driver’s license:
Option 1: Passing a Written Test and a Road Skills Test.
You will have to apply and pass the Colorado motorcycle written exam. You should use a motorcycle-specific test study guide when preparing for this exam.
Usually, the state offers free guides and training materials online to help you prepare for the test.
You can also get more information from the DMV website or study the Colorado Motorcycle Operator’s Handbook.
The motorcycle written exam entails:
- Motor vehicle laws apply to motorcyclists.
- Your knowledge of traffic signals and signs.
- Basic motorcycle operations, safe driving tips, and safety concerns.
After passing the written exam, you can go ahead and purchase a motorcycle instruction permit (This is only for applicants below the age of 18 years).
You must provide proof of age, identity, and residence when applying for a permit. Find all the identification requirements for Coloradans here.
Once you get an instruction permit, schedule a road skills test through your local DMV or with a certified third-party tester. The road skills test may last between 2–6 weeks.
The final step would be to visit the Colorado DMV and pay the required fee to purchase your motorcycle endorsement. The DMV lets you pay the license fee by credit card, cheque, or cash.
You will receive a temporary license while waiting for the DMV to mail you the permanent one; it is valid for 30 days.
Option 2: Start and Finish a Motorcycle Operator Safety Training (MOST) Course.
The Colorado DMV provides another alternative for getting a Colorado motorcycle endorsement. This is through the completion of the MOST course.
The MOST program prepares you to ride your bike in the safest possible manner.
MOST provides three types of courses:
- 3-wheel Course. This is for applicants interested in driving 3-wheeled motorcycles. It takes 2 days to complete.
- Experienced Riders Course. This is a motorcycle course for applicants with basic skills; it takes 1 day to complete.
- Basic Rider Course (BRC). This motorcycle safety course for new riders takes 2 days to complete. (Approximately 10 hours of riding exercises and 5 hours of classroom training)
Generally, the MOST course allows you to bypass the written exam or motorcycle skills test at the DMV. But you must practice riding under a qualified instructor and pay the associated fees.
These courses last between 2–6 weeks. They also involve classroom instruction and driver training in a controlled, off-street environment.
Once you pass your course, you will get a MOST license waiver card or completion certificate. After that, you should make an appointment to visit the DMV and bring proof of completing the MOST course.
You must bring:
- Valid Colorado driver’s license
- Proof of MOST course completion
- Endorsement and licensing fees
Note: You must visit a Colorado DMV in person when adding a motorcycle endorsement to a driver’s license.
Obtaining Your License
The process of obtaining your motorcycle license is simple. Once you pass the written and skill tests or MOST course, you are ready for your motorcycle endorsement.
However, please note that adding the endorsement over the phone, via mail, or online is not possible.
You must obtain your motorcycle endorsement physically by getting an appointment at the Colorado driver’s license office.
Also, you will pay the required fee to purchase a new driver’s license at the office. The license will include your endorsement.
For people who have recently moved to Colorado, transferring your out-of-state motorcycle license and getting your motorcycle endorsement is almost similar to obtaining a new one.
You will have to visit the Colorado DMV office and complete the simple steps;
- Complete an application for both the driver’s license and motorcycle endorsement.
- Surrender your out-of-state motorcycle license to the DMV.
- Provide proof of your identity, legal presence, and residence.
- Pay the application and testing fees.
- Pass the vision test and written exam.
Once you finish the process, you will receive a new driver’s license for the State of Colorado. The license will also include your motorcycle endorsement.
License Validity and Renewal?
The validity of a motorcycle endorsement in Colorado is 10 years for drivers of ages 61 and below. Drivers above 61 years have to renew their licenses every 5 years.
The renewal can be done by mail, online, or in person.
For drivers above 66 years, the license renewal can only be done in person because they have to retake the vision test.
However, if they have a doctor or optometrist certification that they passed the vision test, the license renewal can be done via mail. The test should be dated within 6 months.
The process includes:
- Providing proof of identity and residency, insurance
- Paying the renewal fees.
The renewal takes time, and you should receive the new license within 30 days. If you have not received the new license within that time, contact the DMV office.
Note: If your license has expired for more than a year, you must take a written and skill test for the renewal.
You should renew your license before its expiry to avoid driving with an expired one. Usually, driving with an expired license can attract fines and penalties.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Get a Motorcycle-Only License in Colorado?
No, the state of Colorado no longer issues motorcycle-only licenses. The state only issues motorcycle endorsements to add to your driver’s license.
If you want a motorcycle license and do not have a driver license, you will first have to obtain a driver’s license and then add a motorcycle endorsement.
Can You Drive a Motorcycle Without Insurance in Colorado?
No. You must follow all road rules, including having motorcycle insurance to ride a motorcycle in Colorado.
The insurance shows proof of liability coverage that can cover injuries and damages that you may cause others in an accident. If you are visiting Colorado, you must have insurance coverage from your state to legally ride a motorcycle.
What Happens if You Drive a Motorcycle Without a License in Colorado?
Riding a 2-wheeled or 3-wheeled motorcycle without a license in Colorado is illegal. You risk getting fined or serving a jail term.
You could also get up to four points on your driver’s license, receive a ticket, or have your motorcycle impounded. Your insurance coverage could lapse if you cause an accident while driving without a license.
What Are the Penalties for Riding Without a License in Colorado?
Riding a motorcycle without a license is classified as a misdemeanor. You could attract serious penalties such as huge fines and court fees, get 40 hours of community service, and up to 4 points on your driver’s license. The points on your driving license can affect your insurance rates and driving privileges.
The steps for getting your Colorado motorcycle license are fairly simple.
Unlike many other US states, Colorado does not issue a separate motorcycle license. Instead, it requires all riders to add an endorsement to their driver’s license to operate their motorcycle legally.
Remember that driving a bike in Colorado without a motorcycle license is against the law and can attract fines and other penalties.