New York State Police

Required Motorcycle Equipment - What's Legal and What's Not

BRAKES *Brakes must be adequate to control the motorcycle at all times, and must be in good working order*. All 1971 and newer motorcycles registered in this state must be equipped with brakes acting on the front and rear wheels to stop the motorcycle within 25 feet from 20 MPH on a hard, dry surface.
HORN* The sound produced must be loud enough to serve as a warning, but not unnecessarily loud or harsh.
MUFFLER* No person shall operate on any highway a motorcycle which is:
  • not equipped with a muffler to prevent excessive or unusual noise;
  • equipped with a muffler from which the baffle plates, screens or other original internal parts have been removed or altered;
  • equipped with an exhaust device without internal baffles, known as “straight pipes”;
  • equipped with a modified exhaust system that amplifies or increases the exhaust noise so it is louder than the noise made by the original exhaust system.
  • Equipped with a muffler intentionally designed to allow for the internal baffling to be fully or partially removed or interchangeable (1979 and newer motorcycles).
MIRROR*** A motorcycle must have an adjustable rear view mirror to give the operator a clear view of the road and traffic conditions behind the motorcycle. (all manufactured after 1967)
WINDSCREEN If the motorcycle is equipped with a windscreen, the windscreen and its brackets must be permanently labeled by the manufacturer to ensure they are approved for highway use.
HANDLE BARS OR GRIPS* The handle bars or grips must not be higher than the operator’s shoulders.
TIRES* A tire may not be used if there is:
  • a visible break, that is, a cut in excess of one inch which is deep enough to reach body cords;
  • any bump, bulge, ply or cord exposure;
  • any portion of tread design that is completely worn, and which is of sufficient size to affect the traction or stopping ability of the tire;
  • tread depth (when measured with a tire gauge) of less than 2/32 of an inch;
  • labeling such as “not for highway use”, “for racing purposes only” or words of similar intent.
  • Headlamps**
One unit may be used to accomplish two or more lighting purposes. The motorcycle must display at least one headlamp to the front of the vehicle(white or yellow only). When operated with a sidecar attached, it must have at least two headlamps displayed to the front. The headlamp(s) must be capable of projecting a dual beam (high/low). The headlamp(s) must be “on” whenever the motorcycle is operated on the public highways of this state. Modulating head lamps ARE legal during daylight hours.
  • Stop Lamp**
One red stop lamp must be displayed to the rear. Some older motorcycles were equipped with a redamber stop light. These lights are approved only for use on the original vehicle.
  • Tail Lamp**
One red tail lamp must be displayed to the rear. This lamp must be visible from 300 feet, and must be “on” whenever the motorcycle is operated on the public highways of this state.
  • Reflector**
One red reflector must be displayed to the rear of the vehicle (may be a part of the tail lamp).
  • License Plate Lamp**
The plate must be lit with a white light bright enough to make the plate visible from 50 feet.
  • Turn Signal Lamps*
Any 1985 or newer motorcycle must be equipped with directional or turn signals. Any motorcycle which was originally equipped with such signals, or to which such signals have been added, must have them inspected. Turn signals must show amber to the front and red or amber to the rear.
SPEEDOMETER* All 1980 and newer motorcycles must be capable of measuring the motorcycle’s speed, and of displaying the speed in miles per hour.
HELMET* Required by all who operate and passengers – Must meet federal motor vehicle safety standards 218 indicated by DOT sticker,
Unapproved helmet = No Helmet (Same Charge)
EYE PROTECTION* Must meet ANSI Z87 standard and be stamped on the eyewear.
INSPECTION ALL MOTORCYCLES REGISTERED IN NEW YORK STATE must be inspected and display an inspection sticker on the left front side of the motorcycle attached to a structural member. Bolt on plates may be used.
  • Must be illuminated and visible for 50 feet
  • Must be “conspicuously displayed at the rear of the motorcycle”, Securely Attached, not swinging.
  • Must be securely mounted between 12 - 48 inches from the ground (when reasonable)
  • Must be clean and easily readable with no plastic or synthetic covering, may be mounted vertically.

*Applies to all motorcycles operated in this state(does not matter what state the motorcycle is registered in).
**Applies to ALL motorcycles operated in this state 1969 model year and newer.
***Applies to all motorcycles REGISTERED IN THIS STATE Manufactured after July 1967 and newer