Since moving to North Dakota I’ve discovered that there are a great deal of things that are different from what I’m used to. Different way of life, different use of language, different way of doing things and some of these differences are harder to get my head around than others. Today, it’s the North Dakota motorcycle permit requirements.
Riding a Motorcycle in the UK
I’ve been riding motorbikes in the UK since I was 18 years old, starting with a CBT certificate and a 125cc. As soon as I could I passed by unrestricted test which allowed me to move up to a 400cc, then a 900cc and finally I settled with a 1000cc.
In the UK the process and requirements for obtaining a motorcycle licence is comparatively torturous, time consuming and expensive, but with very good reason.
Before you can ride any motorcycle on the road in the UK you have to first pass a written test followed by CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) course. It’s a full day’s course and has to be taken on a motorbike up to 125cc. You’re taught basic knowledge about motorbikes, the motorcycle’s controls, walking with the bike, taking the bike on and off the stands (including centre stand if fitted), riding on the road and how to handle the bike at low speeds. You learn this in designated area followed by a 2 hour on-road instruction. The course includes riding the bike around a course and performing various manoeuvres such as emergency stop, u-turns, figure-of-eights and emerging from junctions.
If you can complete the course and show a high enough competency level then you are presented with a certificate of completion that can be sent off to obtain the required endorsement on your driving licence.
To ride your bike after passing a CBT course, you HAVE to display L-Plates and you are restricted to bikes no more than 125cc for two years (though if you’re old enough this can be shortened).
What I’ve described above is the BASIC level required to ride a SMALL CAPACITY motorbike on the road. To ride larger capacity bikes requires courses that span several days / weeks with written tests and practical with a very strict on-road test by a qualified examiner.
And yet the CBT certifcate far exceeds the requirements required to pass a FULL UNLIMITED SIZE motorcycle in North Dakota, and from what I gather, most of the US.
Yes, you can literally, having NEVER ridden a motorcycle before, do less than required for a UK CBT and then swing a leg over a 2300cc Triumph Rocket or 1000cc Honda Fireblade.
Motorcycle Permit in North Dakota
To obtain my motorcycle permit (endorsement) in North Dakota I first applied for a basic permit. This allowed me to ride my 1000cc Sports Bike (At the time a Yamaha FZR1000) solo during the day. I didn’t have to take ANY written or practical tests (had to take an eye test) and the fact I had a motorcycle endorsement on my UK licence didn’t factor into this. Neither did my age. I had 6 months to apply and pass the tests required to have the endorsement added to my ND driving licence (that’s “License” if you’re ‘Murcan). A month later (not realising what was or wasn’t involved in the tests and because I’d been a few years sans-bike, I took a month to practice slow speed manoeuvres. I applied and passed the simple written test (25 multiple choice questions) and then went on to the practical.
Myself and five other guys bowled up to the DMV and made our way, with our bikes to the small concreted area around the back of the building. We took it in turns to complete the manoeuvres, including one I’d never done before and the main reason form my month of practice, the sharp obstacle avoidance test. Having passed that I paid the $10 for a new licence and I was off.
Yep, you read that right, the North Dakota Motorcycle test does NOT even include an on-road session! It’s all off-road!!
And again, Yep, you DON’T even have to do ANY of this to ride a bike. Not a single bit of it. Go bvack and read that bit about applying for a permit. Seriously. In the state of North Dakota you can mosey on down to your nearest DMV, take an eye test, pay about $10 and walk out with a permit to ride solo, during daylight hours, on ANY bike you like. No test, nothing. You don’t even need learner plates.
Holy. Fucking. Shitballs.
Needless to say, I passed the North Dakota motorcycle tests with ease.