Ready to Ride? Know Your New York State Motorcycle Law

Ready to Ride? Know Your New York State Motorcycle Law

Knowing state motorcycle laws can help you stay safe on the road.
What Kind of License Do You Need to Ride a Motorcycle?
Kip Doyle

There may be no better way to enjoy the freedom of the open road than on a motorcycle, but operating a motorcycle requires specific licensing and adherence to New York State motorcycle law. 

Don't assume you know the rules of the road before hoping heading down the highway on a motorcycle. Ride smart and ride safe by keeping these New York State motorcycle laws in mind.

Getting a Motorcycle on the Road

A motorcycle requires a specific motorcycle license. 16-year-olds are eligible for a Class MJ license, which includes several limitations. For instance, a Class MJ motorcycle operator must ride with a fully licensed supervising driver within one-quarter of a mile away.

Seventeen-year-olds are eligible for the full Class M motorcycle license, but they must provide the Department of Motor Vehicles with a Student Certificate of Completion from an accredited driver's education program. 

All Class M license holders must complete a 4-hour motorcycle training class.

Like any other vehicle driven on public roads, motorcycles require insurance. 

Get a quote on motorcycle coverage from AAA Insurance here


Motorcycle Requirements

All motorcycles registered in New York State require the following features:

  • Front and back wheel brakes (if manufactured after 1970).
  • A bell, horn or other device for signaling.
  • At least 1 red reflector attached to the rear.
  • One red or amber stop lamp.
  • One yellow or white head lamp that runs whenever the motorcycle is on.
  • The head lamp must be visible from at least 200 feet.
  • One red light on the rear visible for at least 300 feet.
  • A rearview mirror adjusted to have a clear view of the road behind the motorcycle. 

Those oversized "ape hanger" handlebars that some custom motorcycles have specific requirements as well. According to New York State law, no motorcycle can be operated with handlebars or grips more than the height of the operator’s shoulders.

Additionally, motorcycle operators are forbidden from carrying any article that prevents them from keeping both hands on the handlebars. 


Helmet and Visor Law 

Motorcyclists in New York State must wear a helmet with goggles or with a face shield to protect their eyes. New York State is one of 19 states with universal motorcycle helmet laws that require all riders to wear helmets regardless off age. Other states, including our neighbors in Pennsylvania, have laws that allow riders over 21-years-old to not wear a helmet. 

Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire are the only three states with no motorcycle helmet laws. 


Noise Law

The maximum allowable sound level is 82 decibels for any motorcycle traveling at any speed. This is to be measured at a distance of 50 feet from the center of the lane in which the motorcycle is traveling.


Seating and Passengers 

A motorcycle operator is only allowed to ride on the seat of the motorcycle. Passengers are only allowed on vehicles designed to carry more than one person, and anyone riding a motorcycle must face forward with one leg on each side of the vehicle. 


AAA offers an optional rider to cover you when you’re out on your motorcycle. We'll service your motorcycle roadside 24/7, just like we do with cars and trucks. The rider also covers motor homes, pickup trucks with campers, travel trailers and fifth-wheel travel trailers. AAA Plus® or AAA Premier® members can add motorcycle coverage for just $35.


Add new comment