6 Things to Look For in a Motorcycle Training Program—and 1 Thing to Avoid

Motorcyclist navigating obstacles at rider training school

If you’re ready to hit the open road on a motorcycle, a rider training program will give you the skills and confidence you need to stay safe on two wheels. And not only is a motorcycle skills course a great way to learn how to enjoy your bike, it can help you save money too—insurance providers offer attractive discounts to graduates of MTO-approved motorcycle training courses in Ontario.

Ontario Motorcycle Licence Classifications

Here in Ontario, an M Class licence is needed to drive a motorcycle on public streets and highways.

There are three categories of M Class licence, including:

  • M (unrestricted): Allows holders to ride any size of street-legal bike
  • M with condition L: Covers motorised scooters and mopeds, a.k.a. limited-speed motorcycles
  • M with condition M: For three-wheeled motorcycles, a.k.a motor tricycle

The classification of licence you get is based on the vehicle used during your road test, so even if you plan on riding a moped, you might want to test on a full-sized bike – that way, you won’t need to re-do your test if you decide to move up to a bigger motorcycle in the future.

Anyone aged 16 and older can get started by applying for an M1 licence, which is valid for 90 days. All that’s required is a pass on both a written test and an eye test, and you’ll be ready to ride.

In Ontario, most motorcycle schools require students to earn their M1 prior to registration, however, there are a few intro classes available where you can hop on a bike without having an M1 licence.

Here’s a quick list of questions to ask, and what to look for when choosing your riding school:

1. Ask For Referrals

Start your search by asking friends, family members, and experienced riders for referrals – this gives you a chance to hear first-hand the pros, and the cons, of courses from people you trust.

If you don’t know anyone who rides, head to your local motorcycle dealer – they’ll be able to provide you with a list of trusted training partners in the area.

2. Check The MTO Website

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation accredits motorcycle training schools throughout the province, and the list of accredited programs includes offerings from community colleges and private schools.

Taking a course from an accredited school will not only help to reduce the mandatory waiting periods of Ontario’s graduated licencing system, but it can also lead to big savings on your motorcycle insurance.

Riders who successfully complete MTO-approved Basic, M2 Exit, and Pro-Riders training programs enjoy discounts on insurance coverage here at Mitch.

3. Are The Bikes Provided?

When you’re first starting out, taking a course where the motorcycles are provided can be a great way to test out different bikes, and some schools include use of their motorcycles in their training fees.

On the other hand, being able to bring your own bike to class will give you a chance to practice your skills on your own machine, which can help keep you safe on the road.

Before registering for a course, be sure to ask if it’s a BYOB (bring your own bike) program, or if the bikes are furnished by the school. Also check out if you’ll have your own motorcycle throughout the course, or if the machines are shared between students.

4. What About The Gear?

Helmets, ballistic jackets, gloves, and boots are all must-have essentials for riders, but if you’re still on the fence about whether or not riding is right for you, buying all these items can be a big up-front cost – that’s why some motorcycle schools include use of safety gear in their program fees.

5. What’s The Student-Instructor Ratio?

When it comes to motorcycle training, you’ll want to find a course that offers a low student-to-instructor ratio. The more attention you receive during your training, the better chances you’ll develop good, safe riding habits from the start.

6. Co-Ed or Women-Only?

In response to the growing number of female riders on the road, many motorcycle training schools now offer women-only programs.

Remember that most classes operate rain or shine, so don’t expect a refund if the weather is lousy.

And The One Thing To Avoid…

Steer clear of non-accredited motorcycle schools. While taking a rider training course from a non-accredited school may seem like a bargain, they can end up costing you in the long run – remember, you won’t be eligible for a discount on your insurance unless you take your training from an MTO-accredited provider.

It’s also important to note that only MTO-approved riding schools can provide rider licencing testing, and many schools include the use of a motorcycle for training and testing. If you take training from a non-accredited program, you’ll have to take your licencing test at a DriveTest center and provide your own bike for your exam.

MTO-Approved Motorcycle Training Programs in Ontario

Below are some MTO-accredited motorcycle riding schools that offer a range of motorcycle courses for both new and experienced riders.

You can also search the current list of government-approved motorcycle safety courses offered throughout the province to find a program in your community where you can hone your skills, complete your motorcycle testing, and earn a discount on your motorcycle insurance.

Durham College

Located right here in Durham Region, the Durham College Motorcycle Training program offers M1 and M2 exit courses, as well as a motorcycle refresher course for seasoned riders who want to hone their defencive riding skills. Regular “Ladies Only” weekend sessions are offered, and motorcycles are provided for all M1 exit programs.

Georgian College

If you’re not quite sure you’d like to hit the Georgian College offers a three-hour, Canada Safety Council-approved Introduction to Motorcycle Riding program that gives you a chance to mount up before you commit to the M1 test. They have locations throughout Simcoe County, Muskoka, Dufferin County and Owen Sound and a full compliment of course offerings including specialized three-wheel motorcycle (Spyder) training and testing.

Humber Motorcycle Training

Update: Humber no longer offers Motorcycle Training courses.

As one of the oldest motorcycle training programs in Ontario, Humber College is a popular choice among both new and experienced riders looking to improve their skills.

Humber offers a wide variety of courses ranging from beginner classes right up to motorcycle instructor training certification – they even offer a “Learn To Ride a Harley Davidson” class that’s perfect for anyone looking to ride big cruisers.

Humber also provides private, one-on-one classes for all skill and licence levels.

Mitch is quickly becoming known for the lowest rates and best service amongst riders in Ontario. Call to speak with one of our specialist brokers at 800-731-2228 or compare quotes online.


We’ll shop the best motorcycle insurance companies in Ontario for you.

Speak with a Mitch Insurance broker today to get a quote on Ontario motorcycle insurance.

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    I did my research with friends and other bikers, and took the 3 day Conestoga college course. I learned a lot that I would never have thought of. They were not over the top tough, but if you didn’t get it down by the final day of test and sort exam you did not pass . They would work one on one if I was having difficulties. Glad I took the course, I’ve been recommending it since. Thx, Graydon.

    I would have never guessed that there were so many factors to look into when choosing motorcycle lessons. It is particularly interesting that the article reminds readers to look for lessons that have a good balance of teachers to students. After all, learning to ride a motorcycle can be quite hard, so you’ll want to make sure that you can get some one-on-one time with a teacher if you need it.

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