Motorcycle Riding Laws and Requirements in the US

There has been an increase in motorcycle fatalities in recent years thus the motorcycle safety and riding laws should be observed and obeyed strictly. Following are some rules and regulations that every rider has to obey in the United States. Some of these vary from state to state while others are consistent. Important regulations include wearing appropriate motorcycle riding gear, helmet with visor, face shield, and some motorcycle standards.

Licensing by engine displacement


14 of the US states’ licensing varies on engine displacement. For smaller displacement engines you can ride a bike if you have a valid car license, for mopeds no license is required and for the, to drive bikes with bigger engines you need to pass a rider education course. 

Some states allow off-road riders to drive without any license but there is an age requirement or practical considerations. These may include things like able to reach all the controls.

Riders’ education


21 states in the USA require riders to pass a “Rider Education Program” in order to get a valid motorcycle license. Rider’s age, prior failure in the test, and engine displacement are some things that are well noted and deciding factor to get a license.

Driver’s license


This might seem a little confusing to you it goes like this; you need to have a standard driving license to get a motorcycle license or cycle validation.

Motorcycle helmet 


Wearing a motorcycle helmet is compulsory in 22 US states. The wearing of helmet varies in some states depending on the age and license of rider, but this is mostly where helmets are not compulsory. Mostly you have to wear a helmet under the age of 18. DOT certified helmets are compulsory in 35 US states. 

The current federal law does not allow any manufacturer to market a helmet to be used in the U.S. unless it meets DOT standards. In some cases, helmets exceeding DOT standards also cannot be sold. But if the manufacturer opts to bear added DOT standards test it can be allowed. While some states require the ANSI standard helmets and while some have requirements of both.

There is one state that necessitates every rider should possess a helmet unless you’re under 19. If you are in the passenger set you should also be wearing a helmet. Hey, are you reading these laws to be safe on your first motorcycle trip across multiple states? Cool, congratulations, read the first-timers guide to motorcycle road trip as a suggestion from our side and thanks us later.

Eye protection

eye protection

Eye protection is necessary for thirty-six states from which 22 only require the rider to wear it while 23 exempts this if your bike has a windshield. Among these 23 states, you need to have the windshield of 15” in height or more. One of these requires eye protection for only under 18 riders while other states it to be under 21 in addition to speed over 35 mph. That is not it, some still think riding under 35mph can be injurious.

Rear-view mirrors

Most of the states done specify the law clearly. 3 states made it a necessity, 7 make it compulsory it only on one side and 5 say you should have it on both sides.

Handlebars and Fenders


Fenders on front and back wheels are a necessary requirement in 23 states only while 3 require it on the rear wheel only. Handlebars guided height across 30 states ranges from no more than riders’ eye level up to 30 inches high above the motorcycle seat at max.



In 21 states make the presence of turn signals on the bike to be necessary. It mostly includes bikes manufactured after some specific year.

Other requirements


In just 2 states appropriate motorcycle footwear is necessary while three states’ requirements are compulsory footrests. There are many other motorcycle laws like speedometer, tail light, daytime headlight, etc. Most of the motorcycle laws are regulated after some time. Here we only mentioned the most important ones.

Mostly exhaust or muffler is compulsory while some forbid tampering with the original such that it sounds louder than the original one.