Ride By the Rules: Requirements for Legally Riding a Motorcycle

By: Kat Saks July 3, 2012
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Ready to ride? Don't be a rebel without a cause. Before you hop on your motorcycle, make sure you drive by the rules of the road.

Get Your Motorcycle License or Endorsement

While requirements for legally riding a motorcycle vary from state to state, all states share one common requirement: a license to ride.

Depending on your state, you'll get one of the following:

  • Motorcycle permit.
  • Motorcycle endorsement (on a regular driver's license).
  • Motorcycle license.

Some states require all bikers to obtain a motorcycle permit before securing a full-fledged motorcycle license. Other states offer riders the opportunity to immediately register for a license. Check our state-specific pages on getting a motorcycle license for more on the requirements where you live.

Purchase Motorcycle Insurance

Before you put the pedal to the medal on the open road, insure your motorcycle.

As with most types of car insurance, you often will have numerous options on how to insure your bike and how much insurance to purchase. Each state holds their own minimum requirements for motorcycle insurance, so be sure you look into this before you buy a policy. You might also inquire about motorcycle insurance discounts.

Register Your Motorcycle

Every motorcyclist needs to register her ride.

Motorbike registration requirements differ by state, but at minimum you will likely need the following paperwork to begin your registration process:

  • Titling documents (i.e., the actual title, a bill of sale, etc.).
  • Proof of motorcycle insurance.
  • A valid motorcycle permit, endorsement or license.
  • Proof of a passed emissions test, if applicable.

Check Your State's Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Just as some states require drivers to wear seat belts, some states require bikers to wear helmets. Even if your state doesn't have a helmet law, consider wearing a helmet anyway to help make your ride safer. Check your specific state's safety laws pertaining to wearing a motorcycle helmet. Then consider reviewing our page on purchasing a motorcycle helmet that's right for you.

Ready? Set? Ride!

Each state maintains a unique set of motorcycle riding requirements. Double check your state's requirements with your local DMV or refer to the motorcycle manual. Once you've mastered the rules of the road, you can hit the highway with your head held high.

Bikers: What state motorcycling requirement surprised you the most when you got your license? Tell us in the comments section below.

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