Many of us car-loving girls daydream of donning a leather jacket and coasting down the open road on a motorcycle. And the stats show we’re in great company. According to Statista’s Jan 2020 figures, there are 880,900 motorcycles in Australia alone.
That’s nearly one million in a country with a population of close to 26 million!
Most states require that you already have your car driver licence before getting licenced to ride a motorcycle. And for many drivers, a bike is an essential extension to their enjoyment of motoring. More than half (58%) of motorcyclists say they ride a motorcycle as a hobby.
To help you live the biker dream, we’ve put together a two-part guide on how to get a motorcycle licence, state by state. Here is part one, where we look at the steps to take in NSW, ACT, VIC, QLD and TAS.
Get a motorcycle licence in NSW
You need to be 16 years and 9 months old to get a motorcycle licence in NSW. You’ll need to also have your driver licence or Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) customer number (from Service NSW).
Also, although motorcycling is a muscle-building activity in itself you’ll need to already be medically fit to complete the training. Then onto these steps…
Learner licence (L’s)
Next, follow these steps to get a motorcycle licence in NSW… Complete a 2-day pre-learner course that aims to skill you up to ride a motorcycle and runs over 3.5 hrs p/day. The course includes the use of a motorcycle, helmet and gloves.
Once you’ve passed you get a pre-learner certificate. Take these next steps at the RMS within three months of getting your pre-learner certificate:
- Present your pre-learner certificate
- Take the knowledge test, a computerised test of 45 questions. Use the online practice test to prep
- Complete the eye test
Once you’ve successfully completed these steps, you’ll be issued with your learner licence (L’s). You’re now allowed to ride a motorcycle approved for a novice rider. Hooray! Check the full list of approved motorcycles and rules which apply to you under “Rules for learner riders.”
Provisional licence (P1 and P2 licence)
After three months of holding your learner licence you’re ready to move to the intermediate P1 licence level. This licence step shows you’re advancing from being a learner toward getting your full licence.
To get your P1 licence you’ll take the pre-provisional course and skills test. These take one day to do and comprise a 6.5 hour course together with a 1.5-hour test. The course will develop your riding skills and must be completed no later than 12 months of getting your learner licence.
On successful completion of the pre-provisional course and skills test, you’ll receive your pre-provisional certificatesto the RMS to have your learner licence upgraded to your P1 licence.
After 12 months of riding with your P1 licence, you can automatically upgrade your licence to the P2 licence (Green P’s) at the RMS. If you’re over 25 years and you drive a car with a full drivers licence (not a learners), you can skip the P2 step.
While you’re provisional rider (P1/P2), you can only ride approved motorcycles for provisional riders.
Full driver licence
After two years of holding a P2 licence you’re eligible to apply to the RMS and receive your full motorcycle licence. Now you’re ready to ride a Harley!
If you’re already mapping your two-wheel weekend plans, here’s the video on how to get your motorcycle licence. Just thought we’d throw that in to go with some popcorn 😊.
Riding a motorcycle in the ACT
Same as in NSW, you’ll need to be at least 16 years and 9 months old to ride a motorcycle and have your Australian driver licence.
If you don’t have one, you must complete a 2-day Pre-Learner Licence Course (“PLLC”). The course includes a computer based knowledge test on the ACT road rules. Most ACT schools offer the pre-learner licence course for free as part of their year 10 curriculum. The course is also available with various training providers across the ACT.
Next, follow these steps to get a learner licence…
Learner licence (L’s)
Complete a motorcycle rider training course which runs for 1 full day/2 days for 3.5 hours p/day. The course includes the use of a motorcycle, helmet, and gloves. Once you complete the course, you’ll receive a Motorcycle Rider Training Course certificate.
You’re now ready to complete these next steps at an Access Canberra Service Centre:
- Complete an eye test
- Present your full car driver licence or your ACT road rules knowledge test certificate (completed as part of the pre-learner licence course)
- Provide your Motorcycle Rider Training Course certificate
You’ll get your driver licence endorsed with your motorbike learner licence. Although you can begin riding, be sure to first read the learner licence restrictions.
Then you move on to your….
Provisional motorcycle licence
To get your provisional motorcycle licence, you must complete a pre-provisional course/rider assessment. You’re eligible to complete the course/assessment after three months of holding your learners. The course builds on your basic riding and risk management skills. It takes a day and comprises a 6.5-hour course and 1.5-hours test.
Then, present your byoo-tiful pre-provisional certificate and learner licence to Access Canberra. The provisional class for the motorcycle licence will be added to your provisional or full car licence and is valid for 3 years.
After the provisional period of 3 years has been completed, you can get your full licence with no further tests.
Getting your motorbike licence in Vic
To get a motorcycle licence in Vic, you’ll need to have turned 18 years old and hold a learner or driver licence for a car. If not, you first need to pass a road rules knowledge test at a VicRoads Customer Service Centre.
Once you’re ready, follow these steps…
Learner licence (L’s)
Complete a pre learner motorcycle permit assessment course (MPA). This 2-day course includes the use of bike, helmet and gloves. The course has these three elements:
- Eyesight test
- Learner permit knowledge test (you’ll need to answer correctly for 25 out of 32 questions to pass – that’s 78%). Prep by reading the Victorian Rider handbook.
- On-road and off-road assessment
Once complete, you’ll get your Motorcycle Learner Permit that’s valid for 15 months. You can now ride, provided you follow the learner restrictions. Your learner permit card gets posted to you from VicRoads. Nice touch!
After three months with your learners, you’ll be eligible to complete these next steps toward your full motorcycle licence.
- Eyesight test
- Hazard perception test (unless you already have a driver licence)
- Check Ride (at least 1 month before going for your motorcycle licence)
- Motorcycle licence assessment
Check ride (CR) explained
This 3.5-hour coaching session is a (compulsory) chance to try out your range and road skills. This step must be completed at least one month before the next – and final – step.
The Motorcycle Licence Assessment (MLA) is the final step in the process. That is, if you have a car driver licence. If not, first complete the Hazard Perception Test and pay a first licence fee at a VicRoads office.
Motorcycle licence assessment (MLA) explained
The math on this one seems bit tricky, so listen carefully…
OK, so there’s no minimum waiting time needed between getting your L’s and doing your Check Ride. But you must wait at least 1 month after your Check Ride and 3 months after getting your Learners Permit before doing the MLA. You must complete all 3 steps in a minimum of 3 months and a maximum of 15 months.
The MLA is a 1.5-hour long one-on-one evaluation session with an assessor. It’s recommended that you do this range and road assessment with your own bike if you have one.
At this stage, there are various factors which affect the type of motorcycle licence you’ll be issued with. Find out what applies to you under “What type of motorcycle licence will I be issued”?
How to get a motorcycle licence in Queensland
To get going on a two-wheeler, you must first hold a provisional or open car licence for at least 1 year and be at least 17 years old. Here’s what to do…
Learner licence (RE)
Complete the 2-day (12.5 hours) Q-Ride pre-learner course. The course includes the use of a motorcycle and safety gear. For anyone who watched Easy Rider, or likes romantic sixties flicks, the motorcycle is a late model (and fully insured).
And… you’re also faced with a 30-question test. You can complete the test online or at the Department Transport and Main Roads. Prepare with the online practice motorcycle test. Once you’ve passed these tests, you can have the learner licence added to your car driver licence.
You can now practice riding – make sure to familiarise yourself with the learner restrictions.
RE provisional/open licence
Once you’ve had your learners for 3 months you can take these steps to upgrade to an RE provisional/open licence:
- Q-Ride restricted (RE) course or the Q-SAFE riding test
- Apply for your class RE provisional or open licence with the Department of Transport and Main Roads
Find out which rules and restrictions apply to this level of licence.
R motorcycle licence
After you’ve held your RE provisional/open licence for 2 years you can move onto the final level of licence, the R motorcycle licence. You must first complete an Q-Ride unrestricted (R) course or pass a higher R licence level Q-SAFE riding test.
Once you’ve passed, apply for your class R provisional or open licence with the Department of Transport and Main Roads.
Motorbiking in Tas
You’ll need to be 16 and 6 months to begin your motorcycling career in Tasmania.
Here are the stages and steps to take…
This is a two-part exercise made up of a knowledge test followed by a pre-learner course. You can prep for the knowledge test with a practice test. The pre-learner course is a 2-day practical training course that covers the basics.
Once you’ve successfully completed these, you’ll receive a certificate of competence. Take this to Service Tasmania, to receive your learner licence. You can now begin riding – but first get to know which restrictions apply to you.
This two-part exercise is made up of a check ride and a test. You’ll need to have had your learners for at least 6 months and be at least 17 years old to do the pre-provisional test.
You must do the check ride a minimum of 28 days before your test. The test takes about 1 hour and 15 mins and is an assessment of your road and range skills. This earns you a certificate.
Head to a Service Tasmania Shop with your certificate and ID and do the eye test to receive your licence.
The Tasmanian Transport Services has created a video on these steps to becoming a road ready rider. It’s so good you’ll want to watch it on replay!
All you need now is the jacket to complete your look!
Motorcycle diaries – what to remember
Every woman knows that what you wear can constitute a figurative suit of armour. With motorcycling, this is literally the case. Always wear full length tops and bottoms made of natural materials like leather and denim, and sturdy shoes. As American actress Maggie Grace said, “Never ride a motorcycle in stilettos and a miniskirt.”
We hear you Maggie. Loud and clear.
Regardless of which state you’re in, you need to be fit enough to handle a motorcycle (and grease😊). You also need to be Australian, and a resident of the state you’re applying in.
Our guide is by no means exhaustive and rules change all the time. Getting your motorcycle licence is a legal process, so check out the full and exact details for each state and territory here.
While you’re on the road to becoming a dyed-in-the-wool motorcyclist, don’t forget that sometimes four wheels are better than two! Hello boot storage… passengers (aka girls weekend away)… no bugs in your teeth.
So, maintain your car with affordable comprehensive car insurance.
Get a motorcycle licence – over to you
Got any fantastic stories about getting on a motorcycle for the first time? Any regional road trips you’d recommend for bike enthusiasts? Or maybe you’re a pro and have some top tips for the rest of us out there. Share your thoughts in the comments below; we’d love to hear from you.
* all information correct as at January 2021