Colorado Motorcycle Laws

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), all motorcyclists must obey the same traffic laws as other drivers on the road. Because motorcycle laws vary from state to state, make sure you’re aware of Colorado laws so you can ride safely and legally.

Your Guide to Motorcycle Laws

Colorado has specific motorcycle laws to keep riders and motorist’s safe. Here’s everything you need to know about motorcycle laws in Colorado:

Obtaining a Colorado Motorcycle License

In order to ride a motorcycle in Colorado, you must have the proper endorsement on your driver’s license. This can be obtained at a Colorado DMV. This is not a separate license, but is rather an endorsement showing that you have completed the necessary requirements to ride a motorcycle safely.

The general motorcycle endorsement “M” qualifies you to ride a 2- or 3-wheel motorcycle. Scooters and other low-power vehicles under 50cc or vehicles that have a speed capacity less than 40mph do not qualify as motorcycles in Colorado. However, you must have at least a basic driver’s license to operate them.

In order to obtain a motorcycle license in Colorado:

  • You must be at least 16 years old.
  • You must pass a written examination at the local driver license office.
  • You must complete an on-bike skills test.

Since 1973, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) has set internationally recognized standards of excellence in motorcycle rider education and motorcycle safety training. CDOT administers an MSF-approved program called MOST: Motorcycle Operator Safety Training. According to CDOT, this is the best option for getting a motorcycle endorsement. Riders who pass a MOST class can simply take their completion card to a state driver’s license office to get an endorsement with no further testing needed.

Understanding Colorado Helmet Laws

Although helmets are proven to save lives, riders aged 18 and over are not required to wear helmets in Colorado. However, if the motorcycle operator or passengers are under age 18, they must wear DOT-approved helmets.

In 2006, 65% of fatally injured motorcycle riders were not wearing a helmet in states without all-rider helmet laws, compared with only 13% in states with all-rider helmet laws. (NHTSA, 2007). In order to avoid serious motorcycle accidents, all motorcyclists should wear a helmet at all times when riding.

Insurance Requirements for Motorcycles

In Colorado, not only are you required to have insurance, you are also required to show proof of insurance. If you’re caught riding a motorcycle without insurance, the penalties you could face include:

First Offense

  • $500 fine (minimum)
  • Four points on driving record
  • Possible suspension of license

Second Offense

  • $1,000 fine (minimum)
  • Four-month suspension of license

Third Offense

  • $1,000 fine (minimum)
  • Community service requirement
  • Eight-month suspension of license

Lane Splitting in Colorado

Passing or overtaking a vehicle in the same lane is Illegal in Colorado; no lane sharing or splitting with cars. However, motorcycles can share a lane or “co-ride” with one other motorcycle. As a rider, you cannot attach your motorcycle to another vehicle, i.e. grab onto another motorcycle or vehicle (i.e. towing).

Colorado Motorcycle Laws & Noise

In Colorado, motorcycle safety includes rules governing how loud your motorcycle can be. 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 after January 1, 1973 may not exceed 86 dBA.

Lighting Your Motorcycle in Colorado

Riders are allowed to use their headlights during the day but it is not required. They are, however, required to be turned on at night, along with the taillights. Your headlight must be a white light and it must project at least 500 feet in front of the bicycle.

Colorado prohibits additional vehicle lighting, including neon under glow, red, blue or green colored lights.

Riding Passenger on a Motorcycle

How old do you have to be to ride on the back of a motorcycle? In Colorado, there is no age limit for passengers. If you have a passenger, you must have them ride in a sidecar, in an enclosed cab or have footrests for them on the back of the bike. They must utilize footrests and if they are under the age of 18, they must wear a DOT approved helmet.