Motorcycles share our roads for much of the year and as drivers we must learn to share the road with them. Accidents involving motorcycles are more devastating than car accidents. There is no safety cage to protect the driver and passenger on the motorcycle resulting in much more serious injuries than in car accidents. Drivers are commonly ejected off the bike and unfortunately they are sometimes struck by other vehicles following too closely.
In Ontario there is a graduated licencing system for motorcycle licences and three types of licences for motorcycles. M includes full speed motorcycles, ML for mopeds and motorized scooters, MM for three wheeled motorcycles. All come with certain conditions.
A practical and written test, along with an eye test are required for a licence. Safety courses and refreshers are highly recommended for anyone who rides a motorcycle.
Learn to drive: graduated licensing
After you pass your eye and written tests, you get an M1 licence. Before you get a full M licence, you have to:
- finish two learning levels:
- M1 and M2 (for full-speed motorcycles)
- M1 and M2-L (for mopeds and motorized scooters)
- M1 and M2-M (for three-wheeled motorcycles)
- pass two road tests
Once you get your M2 licence, you have up to five years to finish the learning process. After five years, if you do not get your full licence, you will need to start over.
You are considered a novice driver if you have an M1, M2, M2-L or M2-M licence. If you hold one of these licences, you are still learning to drive and gaining important driving experience before you get a full licence.
Certain conditions apply to you while you are considered a novice driver.
By law, if you have an M1 licence, you must:
- maintain a zero blood alcohol level (no alcohol in your blood)
- ride only during daylight hours (½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset)
- wear an approved helmet (an exemption to Ontario’s mandatory helmet law applies for Sikh operators and passengers who meet the requirements outlined in Regulation 610 (6))
- not drive on roads with speed limits over 80 km/hour — except highways 11, 17, 61, 69, 71, 101, 102, 144 and 655
- always drive alone - you may not carry passengers
You need to wait at least 60 days before you can take your first road test. Your M1 licence is valid for 90 days. If the licence expires, you will need to start over.
After you pass the M1 road test, you get an M2 licence. You can now ride at night and on any road. You must still wear a helmet unless you meet the requirements for exemption outlined in Regulation 610 (6) and maintain a zero blood alcohol level.
After 22 months, you can take the second road test. If you pass, you get a full M licence.
If you take a recognized Motorcycle Safety Course, you can take the test after just 18 months.
M2 with condition L licence
All the conditions of a standard M2 licence apply to you. But with this licence, you can only ride a moped or motorized scooter:
- that does not go faster than 70 km/hour
- on roads with a maximum speed limit of 80 km/hour
M2 with condition M licence
All the conditions of a standard M2 licence apply to you. But with this licence, you can only ride a three-wheeled motorcycle – or motor tricycle.
If your M2, M2-L or M2-M is set to expire
If your M2, M2-L or M2-M licence expires before you take your final road test, taking your level-one road test (M1) again will give you another five years as an M2 to finish the learning process. If you fail the M1 this time, you will lose your M2 licence and you will need to re-apply for your M1 licence. To get back to M2, you will need to pass your M1 knowledge test and M1 road test before that licence expires.
Motorcycle safety courses
After you successfully complete a motorcycle safety course, you will need to apply for your upgraded class of licence within six months at a DriveTest centre. You do not need to take a road test — you move directly to the next level. After completing the level one safety course, you will be able to take the second road test in 18 months.
See a list of approved motorcycle safety courses
Accelerated three-wheeled motorcycle safety courses
If you hold a class A, B, C, D, E, F or G licence, you can enrol in a three-wheeled motorcycle safety course. After you successfully complete the course, you will need to apply for your full M(M) licence at a DriveTest Centre within six months. You do not need to take a road test – you move directly to a full M(M) licence.
Limited-speed and three-wheeled motorcycles
Limited-speed motorcycles are also known as mopeds or motorized scooters.
Limited-speed motorcycles manufactured after 1988 have a label on the steering column or under the seat. Beside the “type of vehicle” – you should see the letters “LSM/MVL”. This confirms it is a limited-speed vehicle.
Without a label, you can identify a limited-speed vehicle, if it is electric or gas powered and has:
- a maximum speed of 70 km/hour
- an automatic transmission
- an engine size of 50 cubic centimetres or less
- a “step through” design between the seat and the handlebars
Three-wheeled motorcycles – also called motor tricycles - are designed with either a single front wheel and two rear wheels, or two front wheels and a single rear wheel.
If you take a road test on a three-wheeled motorcycle, you will get a class ‘M’ licence with an ‘M’ condition. With this licence, you will only be able to drive a three-wheeled motorcycle.
Motor tricycles must:
- travel on three wheels, which are in contact with the ground
- have straddled seating for the driver
- use a handle bar for steering controls
- have no more than four seats
- have a gross vehicle weight of 1,000 kg or less
- not have a structure partly or fully enclosing the driver and passenger except in front of the driver and the seat backrest
Some vehicles with three wheels, because of the close spacing of its front wheels, are considered to be a two-wheeled open motorcycle by Transport Canada. If you take a road test with one of these vehicles, you can get a full, rather than limited, M class driver’s licence.
Upgrading your M(L) or M(M) licence to a full M licence
If you want to get your unrestricted M licence, you need to pass both the M1 and M2 road tests for full-speed motorcycles.
You will need to bring a full-speed motorcycle with you to each test. You will be tested on your riding skills on this specific type of vehicle.