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State By State Motorcycle Laws

SEPTEMBER 2021 | VOL. XII

State by State
Motorcycle Laws

Ride legal wherever you go.

In This Article

Boots on the Ground-5 motorcycle ride

The Call of the Road

Traveling cross-country on a motorcycle is an exciting adventure.
It’s also important to know certain key things before taking the plunge.
Here’s where we can help.

Riding a motorcycle is exhilarating. It’s no wonder that people want to take it one step further and tackle a long-distance trip. You’re never bored while on a motorcycle and it’s more economical than traveling in a car.

Choosing your bike is a very personal choice and is the first step you need to take. But once you’ve got that down, then what?

toy run with 3 motorcycles in the background riding curves

Some Tips Before Your Trip

So – You’ve bought a motorcycle, know how to ride it, and now you want to take it across state lines. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe and legal.

Know your state laws. Each state has varying laws regarding different aspects of your ride. Helmet requirements, traffic laws, and sound restrictions to name a few. We’ll go over these shortly.

Plan your trip long in advance. Though you may want to simply ride where the wind takes you, it’s important to be prepared for different scenarios such as weather changes or mechanical issues. Take your time with this.

Check your insurance & registration. Make sure your insurance is up to date and you have the appropriate coverage. You don’t want to be stuck in a bind where something isn’t covered.

Prepare your bike. Get an oil change and check your tires for signs of wear. Invest in a luggage rack if your trip warrants it.

What to bring

  • Clothes for different weather such as a weatherproof suit
  • Proof of insurance, roadside assistance
  • License or learners permit
  • Safety gear: Helmet, goggles, boots, gloves.
  • Emergency kit: Tire patch kit, high-viz emergency markers

Routes to consider

  • Pacific Coast Highway: 656 miles along the coast of California
  • Great River Road: 2,069 miles following the Mississippi river
  • Atlantic Coast: 2,370 miles spanning from Maine to Key West, Florida
  • Historic Route 66: 2,448 miles spanning from Chicago to L.A.

Consider wearing a helmet and eye protection even in states where it’s not required.

Helmet Laws by State

state by state image of motorcycle laws for helmet use

20 & younger

Arkansas

Florida §

Kentucky †

Michigan *†§

Pennsylvania †§

Rhode Island *†

South Carolina

Texas *§

Utah

17 & younger

Alaska *†

Arizona

Colorado

Hawaii

Idaho

Indiana

Kansas

Maine *†

Minnesota †

Montana

New Mexico

North Dakota *

Ohio *†

Oklahoma

South Dakota

Wisconsin †

Wyoming

Other Restrictions

Delaware – 18 and younger

Missouri †§ – 25 and younger

*= Passengers must wear a helmet

†=Learners permit riders or those in early years of riding must wear a helmet

§=May require additional insurance or special training

Lane Splitting Laws by State

Motorcycle Laws by state, showing united states

What is Lane Splitting?

Lane splitting is the act of driving between rows of slow or stagnant traffic going in the same direction. Though this practice occurs regularly throughout Europe and Asia, it’s rarely permissible in the U.S. with only a few exceptions. For example, riders in California should not lane split faster than 10mph above the speed of surrounding traffic. Similarly, lane filtering means the rider can sneak between rows of stopped or slow-moving vehicles, usually done at a stop light, in order to take off quicker than if they were to have remained behind other vehicles.

overhead view of 5 lane highway with traffic, blurred

Noise Laws by State

graph of US Measurement of exhaust noise

The hum and braaap of your bike may be a pleasing sound to you, and may even put you in a nice meditative state if that’s what you enjoy. Often, motorcycle mufflers are modified to change the desired sound output. When traveling, it’s important to know whether or not this is legal where you’re going.

So- now you know some ways to prepare for your next two-wheeled adventure. Please note that laws are subject to change, and you should always check government sources for updated regulations prior to any trip. Always remember: Have fun, and keep the rubber side down.

arlene malik ride motorcycles in road

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