Colorado Motorcycle Laws

Everything you ever wanted to know about motorcycle laws in Colorado.

colorado motorcycle lawsIf you are a motorcycle enthusiast living in Colorado, you’re already aware of what a wonderful place it is to ride. Gorgeous mountain roads, amazing scenery, great weather – what’s not to love about motorcycle riding here? And did you know that motorcycle registrations have increased from 90,000 in 1994 to 157,000 in 2007? And a whopping 191,000 motorcycles were registered in Colorado in 2015, the last year that statistics are available.

Of course, the more motorcycles are on the road, the more accidents are bound to occur. In 2016, 125 motorcycle riders lost their lives. It stands to reason that riders have to be more and more cognizant of their riding habits, and the vehicles surrounding them on the road.

Riding a motorcycle safely is a huge responsibility – both to yourself and those you share the road with. The feeling of freedom you have when you’re out riding needs to be balanced with safety and attention to the rules of riding. Problems happen when the safety rules are ignored, so we’re going to take a look at Colorado’s motorcycle laws. Whether you’re just considering buying a motorcycle or you’re a veteran rider, gaining a solid understanding of motorcycle laws in Colorado will help you avoid accidents and injuries when you’re out riding.

If you’ve suffered injuries while on your motorcycle due to an accident that wasn’t your fault, it pays to have an attorney who is experienced with Colorado motorcycle laws representing you. The attorneys at Marathon Law are experts in the field of personal injury relating to motorcycle accidents, and we can help you get the compensation that you deserve for your injuries.

Motorcycle Licensing in Colorado

In Colorado, separate motorcycle licenses are not required. Rather, you are issued a motorcycle endorsement to your regular driver’s license after you’ve completed and passed the required testing consisting of a written test, and an on-cycle driving test. An “M” endorsement will allow you to ride any type of motorcycle, and a “3” endorsement will only allow you to ride a three-wheeled motorcycle.

You must be over 16 years of age to obtain an “M” endorsement, and if you are under 18 years of age, you must hold a motorcycle instruction permit for 12 months prior to obtaining the endorsement.

An exception to testing occurs when you’ve successfully completed a Motorcycle Operator Safety Training (MOST) program. If you have, you are exempt from taking both the written and driving tests at the Department of Motor Vehicles. The MOST program was started in 1991 by the state of Colorado and is a motorcycle safety program promoting the proper awareness, knowledge, attitudes, habits, and skills necessary to operate a motorcycle safely. MOST training also includes education on the effects of alcohol and drugs as they relate to the safe operation of motorcycles.

Required Safety Gear in Colorado

The importance of using a helmet while riding can not be overstated. In 2015 alone, 62% of Colorado motorcycle riders that were killed were either not wearing a helmet at all, or wearing it improperly. Since head trauma is the number one cause of severe and fatal injuries for motorcycle riders, wearing a helmet is simply smart riding. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated that helmets are at least 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries. That means that at least 34 Colorado motorcycle riders could have been saved in 2015 if they’d been wearing a helmet properly. So even though Colorado does not have “helmet laws” for those over 18, it is in your best interest and the best interest of your passengers to wear one at all times when out on your bike. Of course, anyone under 18 years of age riding a motorcycle must be wearing a helmet by law.

Eye protection is the law in Colorado, and you must wear safety lenses made of safety plastic or glass. If you’re wearing a helmet, your safety goggles or glasses must be worn on the outside of the helmet.

Protective clothing isn’t mandated by law but should include gloves with full fingers, boots that protect the ankles, long pants, as well as a long-sleeved jacket. Keep in mind, also, that brighter clothing will allow others to see you more clearly when you’re out riding.

Required Motorcycle Safety Equipment in Colorado

In Colorado, certain equipment is required (or prohibited) by law in order for a motorcycle to be considered legally driveable. The required equipment includes:

  •    Head lamps (at least one, but two is better)
  •    Tail lamps and reflectors
  •    Rear-view mirror
  •    Stop lamps
  •    Brake system
  •    Horn
  •    Muffler
  •    Passenger footrests (only if a passenger is present)

Prohibited are:

  •    Headphones, except in the case of a helmet with speakers

Colorado Motorcycle Traffic Laws

Under Colorado law, motorcycles are required to carry liability insurance in case of an accident or property damage. The minimum limits are:

  •     $25,000, per person for bodily injury;
  •     $50,000, per accident for bodily injury;
  •     $15,000, per accident for property damage.

They are subject to the rules of the road just like any other vehicle. But, along with the obvious differences between cars and motorcycles, there are some differences in the way motorcycles are allowed to be driven in Colorado.

Lane Sharing

Lane sharing occurs when two motorcycles or a motorcycle and a car occupy the same lane at the same time, side by side. In Colorado, it is illegal to share a lane with a car or overtake or pass a car in the same lane. It is legal for two motorcycles to ride side-by-side in the same lane, at the same speed, sometimes called co-riding.

Lane Splitting

Lane splitting is when a motorcycle rides in-between lanes and potentially in-between two other vehicles. Lane splitting is also illegal in Colorado.


As a rider, it is illegal to attach your motorcycle to any other moving vehicle.

Marathon Law

If you’ve been involved in an accident on your motorcycle that was caused by the negligence or inattention of another driver, we at Marathon Law invite you to call us for a free consultation. We’ll discuss the specifics of your case, and offer you a realistic legal assessment of your case based on our extensive experience with motorcycle accident victims. You can reach us at 303-704-1222, or via our online contact page.