Although four-wheeled vehicles and motorcycles seem to fall under different category of transportation means, the process of obtaining licenses to legally operate them is similar. What we mean here is that the process of obtaining your Tennessee motorcycle license is similar to that of Tennessee Vehicle driver’s license.

License and Endorsement Requirements

You can choose to either apply for a Tennessee motorcycle license or motorcycle endorsement on your Tennessee driver’s license. Any of these can be done at any local driver license station. You will need to pay $38 for both a regular driver license and motorcycle endorsement or $20.50 for a Tennessee motorcycle-only license. All applicants must provide the same documents as those of a regular Tennessee driver’s license. However, if you don’t have a driver’s license and you are younger than 18 years old, to apply for a motorcycle license you must provide proof of attendance from school and complete Form SF-0259 (Minor/Teenage Affidavit and Cancellation Form).

Types of Tennessee Motorcycle Licenses

There are four types of Tennessee Motorcycle Licenses:

  • Motorcycle Learner's Permit (Class P-M).
  • Motorcycle Only (Class M).
  • Motorcycle-secondary (Class M).
  • Motor-driven Cycle (Class M Limited).
  • Motorcycle Learner's Permit (Class P-M)

You must be at least 15 years old to apply for a Tennessee motorcycle learner’s permit. The permit comes with some restrictions such as:

  • Operating a motorcycle only during daylight hours.
  • Operating a motorcycle with only a 650 cc cylinder or smaller.
  • Operating a motorcycle only within 20 miles of your home.
  • Never use the interstate system.
  • Carrying of passengers will not be allowed.

The motorcycle learner’s permit is valid for 1 year. Once you turn 16 years old, you will graduate to a regular Tennessee motorcycle license.

Motorcycle Only (Class M)

The Tennessee Motorcycle Only license will allow you to operate a 2 or 3-wheeled vehicle with a 125 cc or greater cylinder. This license is valid for 4 years and can be renewed after the expiry period. You have to be 16 years old or older to obtain motorcycle only license. You will also be required to pass the written, vision and road skill tests to apply for a motorcycle only license.

Motorcycle-secondary (Class M)

Motorcycle-secondary, also referred to Class M, is the motorcycle endorsement that is added on your regular driver’s license (Class D). To apply for this license, you must be currently a holder of another type of operator license. You will also be required to pass the written, vision and on-cycle skills tests.

Motor-driven Cycle (Class M Limited)

To apply for this type of Tennessee motorcycle license, you must be at least 15 years old. This type of license comes with the following restrictions:

  • Operate only 2 or 3 wheeled vehicles that are less than 125 cc cylinders.
  • Operate a motorcycle only within 7 miles of your home.
  • Operate a motorcycle only between 4 am and 8 pm.

Testing

All applicants of any Tennessee motorcycle license must pass the motorcycle knowledge test. This test consist of mainly multiple choice questions on various situations that you may find yourself in as a motorcycle rider. It also consists of on-cycle skill test that are designed to check your riding skills.

Motorcycle Training Courses

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) in Tennessee offers Motorcycle Rider Courses. These courses help people learn how to ride a motorcycle and sharpen their riding skills. These courses are divided into two: Experienced Rider Course and Basic Rider Course. For more information about these courses, visit TN Motorcycle Rider Education Program website.

Additional Education

You can also get additional motorcycle education in the Tennessee Motorcycle Manual. This manual is provided by the Department of Safety (DOS) and can be accessed online or downloaded in form of a PDF. This manual contains everything you need to know about motorcycles.