motorcycle laws in colorado

Before hitting the Colorado highways on your motorcycle, it’s important to know all of the rules and regulations required in order to ride. Here are a few laws regarding proper equipment usage, licensing, noise limits and riding requirements for the state of Colorado that you might not be aware of.

Equipment

Eye Protection: When riding a motorcycle on an interstate, highway or other “main road,” the rider is required by law to wear some sort of eye protection—whether it’s in the form of a visor that goes onto the helmet or goggles.

Headlights and Taillights: Riders are allowed to use their headlights during the day, but they don’t have to. However, they are required to be turned on at night, and it has to be a white light that projects 500 feet in front of the bike. Taillights are also required after sunset.

Mirrors: When driving on main roads, it’s required to have at least one side-view mirror on the bike—one on the left side, the right side, or both.

Mufflers: Mufflers are required to be used on your bike if you’re planning on riding it on interstates, highways or other main thoroughfares in Colorado.

Helmets: While it’s not illegal to ride without a helmet if you’re over 18 years old, it’s still highly recommended that riders wear one that has a hard outer shell, vent, comfort liner, an impact-absorbing liner, a retention system and a visor.

Safety Inspections: It is legal for police officers to perform periodic safety inspections at random on your motorcycle.

Licenses

In order to operate a motorcycle on a public street or highway in Colorado you must have a valid license that specifically authorizes the operation a motorcycle. The general motorcycle endorsement “M” qualifies you to ride a 2- or 3-wheel motorcycle. Colorado also issues a separate endorsement “3” that authorizes the operation of 3-wheel motorcycles, only. Low-power scooters (engine size of 50cc or less or 4476 watts or less, if electric. 40 mph max.) do not qualify as motorcycles but Colorado law requires that you have at least a basic driver’s license to operate a low-power scooter on public streets.

In order to obtain a motorcycle permit (or to add an “M” endorsement to your driver’s license if you’re over 18) you must do the following:

  • Pass a written motorcycle test
  • Pay the current fees
  • Have ready a proof of identity, age and residency

If you’re under the age of 18, there are a few more requirements you must complete before receiving a permit, in addition to the requirements above. These requirements include:

  • Submission of an “Affidavit of Liability and Guardianship” signed by a guardian
  • Having your permit for an entire year before becoming eligible for a motorcycle endorsement (the “M” on your driver’s license)
  • If you are between 15-16 years old, you must complete a “Motorcycle Operator Skills Training” (MOST) program
  • Must be at least 16 years old in order to receive the official “M” endorsement for your license.

In addition to those requirements, motorcycle riders under 18 years of age can only ride under the supervision of an adult who is at least 21 years old and has a motorcycle-endorsed driver’s license—and that adult has to have permission from your parent or guardian.

Noise Limits

If you’re planning on cruising on your bike while blasting your favorite tunes, there are a few rules and regulations that must be considered before doing so, and it depends on when your motorcycle was made. According to AAA, Colorado law states that any motorcycle manufactured on or after July 1, 1971, and before January 1, 1973 may not exceed a noise level of 88 dBA at 50 feet. Any motorcycle manufactured on or after January 1, 1973 may not exceed 86 dBA.

Riding

Most automobile driving laws are similar for motorcyclists; however, there are a few exceptions that pertain only to motorcycles, as cars couldn’t physically perform these actions due to size.

Traffic Lane Use: Lane splitting is not authorized. The rule states that “Passing or overtaking a vehicle in the same lane is Illegal in Colorado; no lane sharing or splitting with cars. ” In other words, riders cannot ride in the middle of two lanes on highways or other roadways—such as in between other vehicles when trying to pass them. However, if two riders want to cruise in the same lane side-by-side, they can do so because they are “entitled to full use of a traffic lane.”

Passengers: If you have a passenger cruising with you, you must have them ride in a side car or an enclosed cab, or have footrests for them on the back of the bike. This ensures they’re stable when holding on tight while riding. There are no age restrictions for passengers riding on the motorcycle, however.


Related:

Motorcycle Law: A Little Book About the Big Things You Should Know — This handy book is available free as an iBook or a PDF. It contains invaluable information that you can use before an accident to protect yourself and detailed information about what to do if you or someone you care about has been in an accident.

What NOT to do after a Motorcycle Accident — The insurance companies — even your own! — are not on your side when you’ve been injured in an accident. Taking this advice could save you from ruining your own claim.

What Insurance Companies Don’t Want You to Know — They are in this to make money, which is fine until they try and hide what you’re owed.