Know the Rules and Be Safe 

Preparing to ride a motorcycle in California involves following specific rules and regulations unique to the state. In addition to the general steps mentioned earlier, here are some additional considerations for riding a motorcycle in California:

  1. Obtain a California motorcycle license: To legally ride a motorcycle in California, you need a Class M1 or M2 motorcycle license. The Class M1 license is for operating any two-wheel motorcycle or motorized scooter, while the Class M2 license is for operating motorized bicycles or mopeds only. Visit the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website for specific requirements and to schedule a written and riding skills test.
  2. Comply with California motorcycle laws: Familiarize yourself with the specific motorcycle laws in California, which may differ from other states. Be aware of lane splitting rules, helmet requirements (all riders must wear a helmet), exhaust noise regulations, and any other motorcycle-specific laws in the state.
  3. Understand lane splitting guidelines: California is one of the few states where lane splitting is legal under certain conditions. Lane splitting refers to riding a motorcycle between lanes of stopped or slow-moving traffic. While it’s legal, it must be done safely and with caution. Review the California Highway Patrol’s guidelines on lane splitting to understand the recommended practices and limitations.
  4. Check emission requirements: Ensure that your motorcycle meets the emission requirements set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Motorcycles sold in California must be certified to meet specific emission standards. If you plan to bring a motorcycle from another state, check if it meets California’s emission requirements and get it certified if necessary.
  5. Research parking regulations: Different cities in California may have specific parking regulations for motorcycles. Some cities offer designated motorcycle parking areas or allow free parking in certain areas. Research and understand the parking rules for the specific locations where you plan to ride your motorcycle.
  6. Explore scenic routes and destinations: California offers a variety of scenic routes and destinations that are popular among motorcycle enthusiasts. Research and plan your rides to explore beautiful coastal roads, winding mountain passes, or iconic destinations like Big Sur or Death Valley. Discover local motorcycle clubs or online communities to get recommendations and connect with fellow riders.
  7. Stay informed about wildfires and road conditions: California is prone to wildfires, and road closures or detours may occur due to fire activity. Before embarking on a ride, check for any current wildfires in the areas you plan to visit and stay updated on road closures or advisories. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) provide up-to-date information on wildfire and road conditions.

Remember, safety should always be your top priority. Ride responsibly, follow traffic rules, and wear all necessary safety gear, including a helmet, protective clothing, and gloves. Enjoy the scenic rides and the diverse landscapes that California has to offer while being mindful of the unique regulations and considerations specific to the state.


Here are some things you need to do to prepare to ride a motorcycle in California:

  • Choose the right motorcycle for you. There are many different types of motorcycles available, so it’s important to choose one that’s right for your size, skill level, and riding style.
  • Wear protective gear. This includes a helmet, eye protection, gloves, long pants, and a jacket. Protective gear can help to protect you in the event of a crash.
  • Be familiar with motorcycle controls. Before you ride, take some time to familiarize yourself with the controls on your motorcycle. This includes the throttle, brake, clutch, and gear shifter.
  • Check your motorcycle before every ride. Make sure your tires are properly inflated, your fluids are topped off, and your lights are working.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. When you’re riding a motorcycle, you need to be aware of everything that’s going on around you. This includes other cars, pedestrians, and cyclists.
  • Ride defensively. This means being prepared for the unexpected and taking steps to avoid accidents.
  • Be visible: Wear bright clothing and use your headlights and turn signals.
  • Obey the speed limit: Speeding is a major factor in motorcycle accidents.
  • Don’t lane split: Lane splitting is illegal in California.
  • Be aware of the weather: Motorcycles are more susceptible to the elements than cars, so be sure to check the weather forecast before you ride.
  • Take a break if you’re tired: Riding a motorcycle can be tiring, so it’s important to take a break if you’re feeling tired.

By following these tips, you can help to stay safe while riding a motorcycle in California.