Been riding for 5 years on an MC Learners Permit. In North Carolina, learners can do anything a licensed rider can do, except carry a passenger. Not that I've hesitated to carry a passenger, although on a stock seat, I didn't ride 2-up a whole lot. And the learners had to be renewed every year, unlike the license which is good for six. IN five years I only actually remembered to go renew it once, so that tells you how much I was riding on an expired permit. I found out the hard way that Virginia requires learners to always be accompanied by a licensed rider (within 50 feet at all times). So every time I headed up on the parkway I was being a scofflaw.
Well, I noticed before MMM that my current permit had actually expired last September. I had always intended to take the MSF course, which in NC takes the place of your 'driving' test for license purposes. But I figured if I was going to have to take a half day off to go wait at the DMV, I might as well go ahead and get all the way legal.
They only offer the skills test twice a day, at 830 and 230 so you have to be there ahead of time and be waiting for them. The examiner was a pretty decent guy. He came out at 230 and asked for all of those waiting for MC endorsements to come up. There were rain clouds threatening and they have to stop testing when the first drops fall. So instead of doing us one at a time, he had all three of us pull our bikes around at the same time. They first check for inspection, current tag, signals, etc. That culled one of us out right away because he had an NC tag but VA inspection sticker. Then he let the two of us remaining basically take the test at the same time.
The skills test was 5 passes through a course consisting of about 8 cones over probably 40 feet. You had to slalom (serpentine) up and back for one pass. The second pass was to show you could shift, as you had to go the length of the course with two shifts (upshift & downshift), turnaround and repeat back to the start. Third pass was supposed to simulate riding in stopped traffic and you had to go up, turnaround and come back as slow as you could without stalling or putting your foot down (I almost told him I could do this test better with a girl on the back and a hot dog hanging from a string. But I figured with my luck, I'd blow the test if I made a smart aleck remark). They time you and you can't finish the course in less than so many seconds. Both I and the other drive (Honda Magna V65) only got about 75% through the course before he signalled us that time was up and we could go faster!. Fourth test was again, he said, supposed to simulate rush hour riding, as we had to accelerate, then pause almost to a stop, then accellerate, without stalling or putting our foot down. We had to do this twice up and then twice back. The last test was supposed to put all the skills together. We had to start at the end of the course and in the first 40 feet shift twice (up & down once each), give a manual signal for a right turn, execute said turn (all the previous turns were leftward...I figured that would be good enough here in NASCAR country), and on the return, shift twice then execute a quick stop when the examiner gave the command without locking or squealing. The other guy went first and he misunderstood the "stop command" notation and thought HE was supposed to signal for the stop instead of the examiner. I said he should have gotten extra credit for that, and making the quick stop with one hand on the bars!
What surprised me was that I have executed everyone of those maneuvers a couple of times over the last week, just riding to work or roaming on Sunday. But I was nervous as hell trying to do this command performance. I made it through, but I think if I had just got my learners, taken the MSF, and tried to do this without a few thousand miles of riding experience, I would not likely have passed. Although in the MSF they use Rebel 250's which may have made it a lot easier.
Oh, and those threatening rain clouds? I felt a single drop right before I began the last test on the course. If he had waited ten minutes, we wouldn't have finished.