Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Alert: The following services will be unavailable on Saturday, January 5, 2013 from 12 a.m. (midnight) to 6 a.m. CST due to system maintenance.

Proper gear for riding a motorcycle

Rider on green motorcycle doing skills testing

Required equipment | Protective gear

Required equipment


  • Must be a white light, bright enough to reveal a person or object 350 feet away
  • Must be lighted at all times, day or night
  • Modulating headlights are permitted for daylight operation only

Tail light

  • Must be a red light visible for at least 500 feet

Brake light

  • Must be constant red or amber light
  • Must be visible for at least 300 feet


  • Must be properly functioning for constant operation
  • Must be properly maintained to prevent excessive, unusual noise or annoying smoke


  • Must be audible for at least 200 feet


  • Cycle must have at least one brake capable of stopping within 50 feet at 20 mph under normal conditions

Rear view mirror

  • Location of the mirror must show a rear view of the roadway for at least 200 feet


  • May rise no more than 30 inches above the lowest point on the tip of the driver's seat when seat is occupied
  • Improvised, defective or repaired handlebars are prohibited

Protective gear

Protective clothing

Motorcyclists are strongly urged to wear full protective gear, including:

  • A full face helmet
  • Leather or heavy duty long sleeve jacket
  • Leather or heavy long pants
  • Over-the-ankle boots
  • Full fingered leather gloves

Eye protection

Motorcyclists are required to wear any of the following eye protection:

  • A protective face shield attached to the helmet
  • Glasses
  • Goggles

If the windshield rises 15 or more inches above the handlebars eye protection is not required but is strongly suggested.


  • Required for all operators and passengers under the age of 18
  • Operators are subject to fines and demerit points for carrying passengers (on a motorcycle or in a sidecar) under the age of 18 who aren't wearing a properly fitted helmet
  • Helmets are required for all operators with motorcycle instruction permits and their passengers
  • Strongly recommended for use by all motorcycle and moped riders
  • Must meet or exceed US DOT minimum standards

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Questions about the content of this page:
Greg Patzer, gregory.patzer@dot.wi.gov

Last modified: June 5, 2013

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