My Experience in Getting My Motorcycle Endorsement
At long last, I have completed all the requirements to get the motorcycle endorsement added to my North Carolina Driver's license. In order to help others who may be new to the game, I thought I would detail my experiences here. Although getting the endorsment was one of the easiest things I have ever done, there are still some Best Practices that should be followed. That being said, do keep in mind that obtaining the legal priviledge to drive a motorcycle in your state may differ from mine.
There are two ways to get your M (motorcycle endoresement) added to your driver's license in NC. You can either take a class at a local community college that offers it, or go through the DMV entirely. If you go through the DMV, you'll get a permit then get your M. I chose to do through the local community college. It's more thorough, in my opinion, and stresses safety more.
The first step is to sign up at a local community college that teaches the class. Be certain to ask if the class is DMV approved. If not, you'll be wasting your time and money. I highly recommend going to classes that are endorsed by the Motorcycle Saftey Foundation. These classes are comprehensive, are almost always approved by the DMV, and you'll get your money's worth. For me, the class cost $130 and was held on a Friday, the following Sunday, and then the next Sunday.
The Friday class. This class is meet & greet, get to know the rider coaches, and get to know your fellow riders. You'll go through the first several chapters of the MFC booklet and watch videos. This class is 6pm - 10pm.
The First Sunday class. This class will have you on a motorcycle by 8:30 and you'll stay on your motorcycle all the way through about 4pm. Afterward, it's more class instruction.
The Second Sunday class. This class will have you on a motorcycle by 8:30 and you'll stay on your motorcycle until about 5pm. You will also take your riding test. By 5:30pm (we ran a bit late) you'll report to the classroom to finish up any book material and then take your written test. Assuming you pass both, you'll get your graduation card and your DMV waiver. This waiver gets you out of having to take the ridig test with the DMV again. You will, however, still have to take their eye exam and their 25 question written exam.
The DMV. Go to your local DMV and present your waiver. They will assign you a number and send you back to the lobby. You'll wait. And wait. And then you'll wait some more. Eventually, you'll be called to speak with a DMV rep who will administer the quick eye exam (i.e. read the top row of letters) ask you to identify some road signs, and then you'll go to a computer to take the written exam. Once completed, you have your M. Your license will be mailed to you in a few days.
NOTES ABOUT THE MOTORCYCLE CLASS
1. Be respectful and polite at all times. Remember, you paid money to be there. If the rider coaches think for one moment you may be a hazard to yourself or others, they can make you leave. You will not get a refund. Being an ass is a fast way to convince them the class would be better off without you.
2. Your previous riding experience is IRRELEVANT. The class is designed to take someone who has never had a two-wheeled machine under their ass in their life to someone who can at the very least do some mild cornering and handle the clutch. Showing off or being impatient because you are skilled rider is a very fast way to get on the rider coach's radar in a bad way. Remember, in the eyes of the rider coach it is SAFETY FIRST. Be patient. Do as your are told and no more than you are told. Showing off or being impatient will intimidate the less skilled riders and make the rider coach's job that much harder.
3. Bring the gear they tell you to bring. On the first day of class, they will tell you what gear to get. Have every bit of it. Do not for one moment think you can show up with the wrong kind of boots (or other gear) and be allowed to ride. THIS GOES FOR WOMEN AS WELL. It doesn't matter how expensive your boots are. If they expose the ankle, you don't get to ride. If you have questions about gear, ask. Better safe than sorry.
4. If you have issues with your bike, bring it to the rider coach's attention immediately. Your bike should ride smooth with an even clutch and accelerator. If your bike feels jerky, speak to your rider coach. Remember, these bikes have been ridden by plenty of students before you and have probably been laid down a time or two.
5. Pay attention to all the videos and class instruction. I promise you, there are things for even an experienced rider to learn.
NOTES ABOUT THE DMV
1. On the day you go to the DMV, be sure you have plenty of time. The DMV rushes for no one, not even you. If work is an issue, take a Friday afternoon off or something. Do not go to the DMV thinking they will speed things up just for you.
2. Don't go nuts with the DMV computer. More than likely, your test will be administered to you on a touch screen computer. Be careful. The machine I used was slow, Slow, SLOW. I had to be very careful tapping on the screen lest I answer the next question abruptly. When you tap your answer, be patient and give that slow ass machine your hard earned tax dollars paid for time to catch up.
3. Remember, everyone goes to the DMV. You will see people there you would rather not see ever again in your life (the person sitting next to me in the waiting room smelled like hog poop and was missing teeth). And all the hot babes with big tits show up there, too. Be patient. Wait for your number to be called. Follow instructions. And don't get caught staring at the babe with big tits. She may be only 17 getting her driver's license for the first time and there are plenty of people in the building who are more than capable of arresting you.
One Final Note - Very Important
There have been many things in my life that cause my to-good-to-be-true alarms to go off. Getting my M is one of them. Just because you pass all these tests does NOT mean you are ready to go out and buy a $20,000 Road King and start cruising. Take your time. Get a smaller bike, like a Sportster, and drive around your house in your neighborhood. Get used to the clutch, the brakes, and handling the road. Practice looking over your shoulder to check for traffic. Practice any items you failed during the riding test (I passed everything). Your first few bikes should be rentals. The HD shop in my town will rent a bike to you for $75 a day and you must provide them a credit card with at least $2000 available for insurance. By using rentals, you can gain experience and also find out the bike that is right for you. Rent a small Sportster first then work your way up. Don't go get your rental on heavy traffic days. Go on Sunday mornings when everyone is at church and traffic is minimal. Have a friend with you that will follow you home. If you honestly can't drive that well (e.g. haven't fully mastered the clutch yet), have the bike delivered to your home. People will help you, just ask.
I hope this information is helpful. I'd like to say in closing that getting my M was the most fun I have had in a long time. I'll be getting my first rental as soon as my license comes in. I should have more information later.