Motorcycle Handbook / Motorcycle Manual

motorcycle manual
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Your decision to drive a motorcycle starts with the motorcycle handbook or motorcycle manual for your state.

Each state will have a similar set of motorcycle safety regulations regarding signage and interstate travel due to similar laws across state travel. Individual states may have separate motorcycle helmet laws governing safety equipment necessary to be within the laws of the state.

Each state motorcycle manual will educate the new driver of those safety guidelines and rules of the road to get himself ready for the motorcycle testing. Your DMV handbook is a valuable tool to learn about how motorcycles differ from car and truck licensing laws. 

Your local state DMV website or office will have the motorcycle handbook or manual free to pick up or download. Studying will help you gain comprehensive knowledge to be a safe cyclist. As you read through the handbook your confidence will grow with your knowledge of the safety practices and many rules for driving a motorcycle on public streets and highways.

Topics covered in the DMV Motorcycle Handbook

Your state DMV puts a great amount of research for you within the pages of your motorcycle handbook. Maneuvering your motorcycle safely, signage, safety equipment necessary and so much more information is gathered and included to prepare you to get on the road. If you are looking to get your first motorcycle license or update your knowledge, the motorcycle manual is updated regularly as motorcycle laws change from year to year. Many topics you can look forward to learning about are:

  • Controlling your motorcycle safely on the road
  • Safe starting, steering, stopping and parking
  • Operating your motorcycle safely in multiple weather conditions
  • Helmet laws for drivers and riders
  • Motorcycle safety gear mandated by law
  • Signaling by hand
  • Testing and what to expect for your motorcycle license
  • Renewing or replacing your motorcycle license
  • Substance use and abuse. How your driving may be impaired
  • Defensive driving techniques
  • Sharing the road. The rules

Where do I Get a Motorcycle Manual?

Motorcycle handbooks/manuals are available online and in person at your state DMV. If you choose to pick one up online, it will be in pdf format easy to read through. Your local DMV office will have copies of the latest motorcycle manual as well. If you don’t have access to a computer, your smartphone can download the file but it will be a bit hard to read. Often your local library will have a copy. You can call ahead to check.

The NHSTA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will also have a more general motorcycle safety manual which you can read here. The NHSTA guide has many of the basic safety principles that DMV motorcycle manuals cover, but always get the DMV motorcycle manual as well to be sure you have the test materials.

Does a DMV motorcycle manual help prepare me for the exam?

Motorcycle manuals are a great part of preparing you for the exam. When you really study the handbook/manual you gain a different perspective than driving a car. You engage your total body in the driving experience. You also risk great injury to yourself and your passenger if mistakes are made. Read the manual.

There are several laws that only apply to motorcycles on the road. Driving is a new experience on a motorcycle. Lots of practical experience is recommended to become a knowledgeable driver that can react to situations and road threats not faced by large enclosed vehicle drivers. Motorcycle safety techniques are taught for avoiding road hazards. Speed limits to follow and other additional rules of the road are in your manual, all designed to prepare you for your written and road testing and exams.

Note: If you have just moved from another state and need to take your new state’s motorcycle exam, it is best to familiarize yourself with the state’s laws. Motorcycle laws are different from state to state. Passing, for instance, is only allowed on the left in many states. Moving over for emergency vehicles and road workers are mandated in many states and punishable by law. Motorcycle helmet laws exist for acceptable types of motorcycle safety equipment necessary. Younger riders and drivers may be subject to more strict motorcycle laws than older more experienced drivers. Younger drivers may experience a curfew. The motorcycle state manual will cover all that information needed to study to pass a different state’s written test and learn to be a safe motorcyclist.

What other materials can help applicants prepare for a motorcycle test or road exam?

There are lots of materials a new motorcycle motorist can pull from to prepare for written and road exams. We have covered the motorcycle manual/handbook from the DMV. If you planning to operate a motorcycle, what type of motorcycle will you be driving? Get that manual out for the make and model of the motorcycle. There are many great tips offered by manufacturers on how to drive the vehicle safely. Take additional classes offered at local and national bike shops:

  • Basic motorcycle safety classes
  • Advanced rider courses for experienced riders
  • Brush up with a refresher course on riding

Follow these tips for the day of the test:

  • Get used to the bike. Balancing, turning, stopping
  • Practice driving on empty parking lots and side roads
  • Practice driving on various types of roads for balance and control (dirt roads, road bumps, rotary circles, types of turns, etc.)
  • Study… know your stuff
  • Listen to what the instructor asks you to do
  • You are new at this. Don’t try to be a hero
  • Take a practice written motorcycle test
  • Try and relax through the process

Who else can benefit from a motorcycle manual?

Any driver on the road would benefit from reviewing a motorcycle manual. Whether planning to operate a motorcycle or not, wouldn’t it be good to know as an automobile driver what motorcycles are planning to do and what laws affect motorcyclists? How to watch out for them? Sharing the road safely is our common goal.