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Riding a motorcycle in Hawaii can be an exhilarating way to enjoy the islands’ beautiful scenery and warm weather. If you want the freedom of cruising Oahu’s North Shore or Maui’s Road to Hana on two wheels, you’ll need to get a motorcycle license.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: To get a motorcycle license in Hawaii you must be at least 16 years old, complete a motorcycle safety course, pass vision and written tests at the DMV, and pass a riding skills test.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through all the steps required to get a motorcycle license in Hawaii, from choosing the right motorcycle safety course to passing the driving exams at the DMV.

Enroll in a Motorcycle Safety Course

Choose Between Basic and Intermediate Courses

Hawaii requires all motorcycle operators to complete a motorcycle education course approved by the Department of Transportation (HIDOT) in order to obtain a motorcycle license endorsement. There are two main types of courses to choose from:

  • Basic: For beginners with no prior riding experience, the basic course covers motorcycle safety fundamentals, basic riding skills, and includes a knowledge and on-cycle skills test. The course takes approximately 15 hours over 2-3 days.
  • Intermediate: For riders with some experience, the intermediate course builds upon basic skills with a focus on more challenging riding exercises and surface negotiations. Class time is around 9 hours over 2 days.
  • Most motorcycle safety courses in Hawaii utilize the nationally-recognized Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) curricula. MSF-approved courses provide quality, standardized instruction and meet the state’s licensing requirements.

    Sign Up and Complete Classroom and On-Cycle Training

    To enroll in a motorcycle safety course, you must be at least 15 years old and be able to balance and ride a bicycle. The following steps outline the registration and participation process:

    1. Find an approved training provider. Schools like Big Island Riding School and ST Motorspots offer various course formats.
    2. Choose a course date that fits your schedule and reserve your spot with prepayment.
    3. Attend classroom instruction covering topics like proper gear, mechanics, and riding techniques.
    4. Demonstrate skills during on-cycle exercises under instructor supervision.
    5. Pass a knowledge test and skill evaluation to successfully complete the course.

    In 2020, over 2,800 students enrolled in state-approved motorcycle courses. With quality instruction tailored to all riding abilities, taking a hands-on safety class can give you the skills and confidence needed to properly handle a bike on Hawaii’s beautiful roads.

    Study for the Motorcycle License Exams

    Memorize Hand Signals and Rules of the Road

    One of the key parts of preparing for the motorcycle license exams in Hawaii is memorizing the hand signals and rules of the road. The written tests will cover questions on proper hand signals for turning, stopping, hazards, and more.

    Mastering these signals and understanding when to use them is crucial for safely operating a bike on Hawaii’s roads.

    In addition to hand signals, motorcycle license applicants must also memorize the state’s rules of the road. These cover right-of-way, lane changing, passing other vehicles, speed limits in different zones, and more.

    The Hawaii Driver’s Manual available from the DMV is the best resource for studying this content. Some key rules to note include:

    • Motorcyclists must ride as close to the right side of the lane as practicable and should not ride between lanes.
    • Use hand signals when turning, changing lanes, stopping, etc. since bikes lack turn signals.
    • Wearing a helmet certified by the DMV is required when operating or riding a motorcycle.
    • Lane splitting by motorcycles is illegal in Hawaii.

    Thoroughly studying the Hawaii Driver’s Manual and memorizing key hand signals and road rules are the first steps in preparing for the motorcycle permit exams.

    Practice with Online Sample Tests

    After reviewing the handbook content, motorcycle license applicants should take practice exams. The Hawaii DMV offers free motorcycle permit practice tests consisting of 25 multiple choice questions just like the real exam.

    Sample motorcycle permit practice tests are also available from third party sites like ePermitTest. Taking these practice exams helps reinforce knowledge and identifies areas needing more review. On average, 65-70% of questions must be answered correctly to pass the real exams.

    Timing practice tests also helps get comfortable with the pace needed on the official administrations.

    Number of Questions Passing Score Time Limit
    25 multiple choice At least 17 correct 25 minutes

    In addition to repeating practice exams, applicants should continue reviewing any missed questions and the relevant sections in the Motorcycle Manual. Making flashcards of frequently missed questions and key rules is also helpful.

    With consistent practice, aspiring motorcyclists will master the knowledge needed to ace the exams and operate safely on Hawaii’s roads.

    Take the Written and Vision Tests at the DMV

    Taking the written and vision tests is a key step in getting your motorcycle license in Hawaii. Here’s what you need to know:

    Study the Motorcycle Manual

    Hawaii requires all motorcycle license applicants to study the state’s Motorcycle Operator Manual. This manual covers traffic laws, safe riding techniques, and other important information you’ll need to know for the written test.

    Be sure to study the manual thoroughly before taking the test. Many practice questions on the exam come directly from the information in the manual.

    Take the Written Test

    The written test consists of 25 multiple choice questions. To pass, you’ll need to answer at least 20 questions correctly (80%).

    Some key topics covered on the written test include:

    • Traffic laws and regulations
    • Proper riding techniques
    • Safety equipment requirements
    • Emergency maneuvers

    If you fail the written test, you’ll have to wait 7 days before you can retake it.

    Pass the Vision Test

    You’ll also need to pass a basic vision test verifying 20/40 acuity vision in at least one eye. Make sure to bring your glasses or contacts if you need them to meet the requirement.

    Pay the License Fee

    Once you’ve passed both the written and vision exams, you’ll pay a $72.50 licensing fee to get your motorcycle permit. This permit is valid for 6 months.

    During that time, you’ll need to successfully complete a motorcycle safety course to qualify for your full motorcycle license.

    Pass the Motorcycle Riding Skills Test

    Schedule the Test in Advance

    Passing the motorcycle riding skills test is a crucial step in getting your motorcycle license in Hawaii. To ensure you secure a test date, it’s important to schedule the test well in advance through an approved third-party tester.

    Popular testers book up quickly, so calling to make an appointment 1-2 months ahead of when you’d like to test is best. Confirm the tester’s operating days and hours before visiting, as some locations have limited schedules.

    On test day, be sure to arrive early and bring all required documentation – this includes your valid driver’s license, proof of insurance, and often your own DOT-approved helmet. Arriving prepared both mentally and with all paperwork in order ensures your test goes smoothly.

    Practice Key Skills Ahead of Time

    You don’t want to walk into your motorcycle skills test cold. Practicing key skills ahead of time can greatly boost your confidence and success rate. Some of the most important skills to practice include:

    • Sharp turns and curves – Safely navigating turns and curves shows control over the motorcycle.
    • Stopping quickly – Practice emergency braking in an empty parking lot. Remember to use both brakes!
    • Checking blind spots – Get comfortable taking your eyes off the road briefly to check blind spots by looking over both shoulders.
    • Balancing at low speeds – Smoothly accelerate from a stop, ride in a straight line, and come to a complete stop without putting your foot down.

    Practicing these skills in low-risk areas means you’ll be prepared to demonstrate them when it counts during your skills test. Some riders even schedule a practice test with their third-party tester in advance of the real thing.

    This allows the tester to identify any weaknesses and provide feedback to help improve. It also familiarizes the rider with the testing route and procedures. Taking steps to practice ahead of time can really pay off with a smooth testing and licensing experience.

    Get Your Motorcycle License

    Pay License Fees

    After passing your motorcycle license exam at the DMV, the next step is to pay the license fee. Fees vary by state, but generally range from $10-50. Hawaii charges $45 for a motorcycle endorsement added to your existing driver’s license.

    Payment can be made by cash, check or credit card at your local DMV office.

    The motorcycle license fee covers processing and production costs. The revenue also helps fund motorcycle safety programs in Hawaii, which is awesome! These programs provide training and education to new riders.

    Wait to Receive License in the Mail

    Once payment is processed, your permanent motorcycle license will be mailed to the address on file with the DMV within 10-15 business days. So sit tight! Resist the urge to take your new bike out before the license arrives.

    Riding without a valid motorcycle endorsement could result in fines or having your vehicle impounded.

    If you need to ride right away, you may be able to obtain a temporary paper license at your local DMV office. Just check with the clerk when paying your fees. This option lets you ride legally while waiting for the actual plastic card to arrive in the mail.

    When your snazzy new motorcycle license shows up, make sure all the information is correct. Carefully review your name, address, birthdate, endorsements and restrictions. If there is an error, head back to the DMV to get a replacement license issued.

    Misprinted licenses are rare, but it’s always good to double check.


    With some preparation and practice, getting your motorcycle license in Hawaii is an achievable goal. Completing a hands-on training course, studying the rules of the road, and passing all required tests will soon have you cruising Oahu’s best roads.

    Ride safe and enjoy the freedom of exploring Hawaii on two wheels!

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