When To Buy A Motorcycle: Before Or After Getting Your License

Jake Robison - August 17, 2021

If you have been dreaming of buying a motorcycle and are finally ready to make it happen, you may have some questions. First, you can’t legally ride a motorcycle on the road without a motorcycle license, so you may be wondering whether you can buy a bike without one. Riding a motorcycle takes a lot more skill than driving a car, so the training and certification that comes with getting a motorcycle license are genuinely worth the trouble.


However, you may be in the process of getting your motorcycle license but are ready to buy the motorcycle right now. If that is the case, there are some things for you to know about the laws relating to motorcycles before you take the first step.

Buying a Motorcycle Without a License

Laws relating to motorcycles and riding them are plentiful, so it is no wonder people assume there are restrictions on buying one. However, there is no law that requires you to prove that you have a motorcycle license before you purchase one. In fact, you can buy as many motorcycles as you would like without a motorcycle license. You just can’t drive it on the road.


Though having a motorcycle license is not a requirement, there are still some rules relating to buying a motorcycle. First and foremost, you will need to have the funds to make the purchase. Dealerships will still likely need a photo I.D., which could be a standard driver’s license, just so they can verify the motorcycle buyer’s identity. Ultimately, dealers and sellers really only care about getting the money for the motorcycle, so what is legally required to drive it is not an issue for them or in the eyes of the law.

Can You Get a Motorcycle Loan Without a License?

Another common question for first-time motorcycle buyers is whether they can purchase one with a loan despite not having a motorcycle license. Since banks can have far more rules about who they loan money to, it is important to know what to expect when applying for a motorcycle loan.


Still, buying a motorcycle using a loan despite not having a motorcycle license should not be an issue. Banks usually don’t require that a person prove they have a motorcycle license to purchase one, but they will require that you have a driver’s license. Additionally, you will need to be at least 18 years old to get a loan at all.


Another important factor to consider is that most banks do require you to carry motorcycle insurance before they issue a loan. This rule is set in place to protect their investment and ensure that the person to whom they loan the money is being as responsible as possible with the motorcycle they purchase.

Buying a Motorcycle with a Learner’s Permit

Much like driving a car, people are issue a motorcycle driving learner’s permit when they start the process of getting their motorcycle license. However, since all you need to buy a motorcycle is a driver’s license, you can certainly buy one with only a motorcycle learner’s permit. Additionally, if you have the learner’s permit before purchasing the motorcycle, you will be able to drive the machine during training.

Registering a Motorcycle Without a License

While this seems like it should be a straightforward answer, it is actually a bit more complicated than you would expect. There are a few factors that determine whether you can register a motorcycle without a motorcycle license, including your area of residence. Many states, such as California, do not require motorcycle buyers to carry a valid motorcycle license to register their bikes. However, other states will not be so generous.


Even states that do not require a motorcycle license to register a bike will require proof of insurance to do so. However, insurance companies rarely offer motorcycle coverage to drivers without a motorcycle license. There are some companies that will bypass that rule, but they are few and far between, so it is best not to rely on that as an option.

Buying a Motorcycle Without a License

If the day has come for you to purchase your dream motorcycle, there are some considerations you will need to take into account first. If you do not have your license, you will need to make a plan for how to transport the bike back to where it will be stored, whether it is your garage or a separate facility. You should not plan on riding the motorcycle to this location on your own, as you could get in serious trouble that results in you never being able to get a motorcycle license at all.


Some dealerships have a delivery service, so be sure to ask about this when making the purchase. You could also look into renting a trailer to haul the bike away. Finally, you could ask someone you know who does carry a motorcycle license to ride the bike to your desired location.

Should You Wait to Buy a Motorcycle?

Now that you understand what is required to buy a motorcycle, you may be asking whether or not you should wait until after you have your motorcycle license. While there is no law saying you need to wait, motorcycles are not cheap, and it may be less stressful to invest that money into it after you have obtained your motorcycle license. If you are still learning to ride on an expensive bike, you may be disappointed when it gets a few dings and scrapes along the way.


There is the option of buying a cheaper motorcycle first and using it to practice while you have your learner’s permit. This route is the one taken most often by new motorcycle drivers.

The Bottom Line

Buying a motorcycle is an exciting event in someone’s life. If you are in the process of getting your motorcycle license, be sure to understand the risks and rules involved in buying a bike before you get your license.


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