Can You Ride A Motorcycle Home After Buying It?


Buying a motorcycle, either from a dealership or a private seller, is an exciting time as you take the next few steps forward in pursing a hobby you love. However, there can be a lot of questions that come to mind when doing this.

If you haven’t asked yourself this question yet, on of the biggest things you should be wondering is whether or not you can ride a motorcycle home after buying it. Most people wonder about registration and the legality involved once you purchase a motorcycle.

So, can you ride a motorcycle home after buying it? As long as you have the bill of sale and/or title with the date of your purchase, you can ride a motorcycle home after buying it. Each state will give new motorcycle owners a grace period of a few days to get the motorcycle registered. However, you should immediately obtain insurance before riding.

There’s a lot more to buying a motorcycle than simply paying for it and riding it home. I have purchased close to 15 motorcycles in the last few years and can tell you exactly what you need to know when buying a motorcycle and the rules you need to be aware of.

The Rules Of Riding A Motorcycle After Purchasing It

Amid all of the excitement of purchasing a new motorcycle, it can be quite easy to forget about all the other stuff that should be involved with such an event. Being aware of the aspects of purchasing a motorcycle will prevent you from paying heavy fees or tickets and will also prevent a lot of frustration in the future.

A situation like this can be a little sticky and it’s hard to know exactly what you should do to keep yourself from getting in trouble. You’ll hear people say you’ll need to immediately register your motorcycle after you buy it so you won’t get a ticket, but what about the ride you have to make from the seller’s house to the DMV? And what if you buy a motorcycle on a holiday, weekend, or after hours and can’t register your motorcycle for a few days?

The good news is that most states will give you a grace period of how long you have to register your motorcycle. They recognize that it can be difficult to get to the DMV immediately to get it registered. Each state is different with how long their grace period is, so be sure to contact your local DMV to see how long you have.

As a rule of thumb, get your motorcycle registered as soon as you can so you don’t have to worry about the grace period expiring. If your motorcycle requires inspection and you’re worried it’ll take too long, you can also get a temporary registration that will last a lot longer than that grace period.

Some states have laws indicating that the plates or tags go with the motorcycle, not the owner. You may think you’re safe if this is your state’s law, but the seller can simply call the DMV and report the motorcycle is sold which means the motorcycle isn’t technically registered anymore. Don’t rely heavily on the fact that plates go with the motorcycle; you should still get it registered under your name as soon as possible.

If you are riding your motorcycle home after buying it and happen to get pulled over because you don’t have plates (or the cop ran your plates and saw they expired because the seller notified the DMV of the sale), you can usually show them either the title or the bill of sale that has the date you purchased the motorcycle.

You won’t get into any trouble, but the policeman will usually encourage you to get your motorcycle registered as quickly as possible or they may give you a “fix it ticket.” A “fix it ticket” isn’t anything serious and you don’t need to pay a fee associated with it. It just means they issue a warrant that you get the motorcycle registered in your name by a certain date and take the proof of registration to the police department once it is registered in your name to prove you have registered it.

If you do not have these important documents with you when you get pulled over, you could get a ticket. That’s why you should never buy a motorcycle without getting the title and/or bill of sale. See my article here to learn more about buying a motorcycle without a title.

If you ever ride a motorcycle that is uninsured, you will likely get a ticket if you get pulled over. Getting insurance is something that should be done before you ever think about driving off the seller’s driveway.

Luckily getting insurance is pretty simple and all it requires is a 5-10 minute phone call with your insurance agency. They can email you an insurance card which you can show a police officer from your phone if you do get pulled over.

Alternatives To Riding The Motorcycle Home

If you cannot get the motorcycle home after you purchase it, there are a few alternatives to riding it home yourself. The biggest reasons people don’t want to ride their new purchase home is because they’re either uncomfortable with the possibility of getting pulled over, the laws in their area are strict, or they can’t contact their insurance agency to get insurance right away.

The first alternative you have is negotiating with the seller and requesting they ride the motorcycle to your place to complete the transaction. I recommend you do not give them the money before they bring it over because you may never see the bike again.

I have done this several times when selling a motorcycle and it has worked out perfectly. I was able to legally ride it over to their place, we completed the sale, and the new buyer didn’t have to worry about getting pulled over on his/her way home.

The second alternative you have is simply towing it home. It may seem weird towing a motorcycle that works fine, but a lot of people choose this option because it’s safe in every way. It’s also helpful if you’re the only one that’s able to be there during the purchase and won’t have to leave your car at the seller’s house. Click here to see my list of recommended ways of towing a motorcycle.

What You Should Not Do After Purchasing A Motorcycle

Now that we’ve covered what you can do after you purchase a motorcycle that will keep you safe from the law, there are a few things I’d like to note that you should not do that some people think is okay.

First, you should never use old or “spare” plates you have and put them on your newly purchased motorcycle. Cops can run your plates through a database that will tell them everything they need to know about the vehicle they are registered to including the make and model or if the plates have expired.

You can get in a lot of trouble by doing this. If you happen to get caught, you can pay large fees, get your motorcycle impounded, or even serve jail time. Having the wrong plates on a motorcycle often portrays to cops that it’s stolen. Note: this is different from keeping the plates on the motorcycle from the previous owner if the plates in your state go with the bike.

Another thing you should never do after purchasing a motorcycle is running from the cops if you notice you’re about to be pulled over. This may be an obvious no-no, but you’d be surprised with how often people think this is okay. Some motorcyclists seem to think that because their vehicle is smaller, they can quickly get away from the police.

While you may be able to sometimes get away, you now have a description of your motorcycle cycling through the database of the police department and they are on the lookout for you. If you get caught again they can impound your motorcycle, give you a ticket, or you could serve some jail time.

Lastly, don’t ever keep the previous owner’s plates on the motorcycle longer than you have to, even if the state you live in indicates the plates or tags go with the vehicle. Taking too long to register the motorcycle in your name could mean fees or legal issues from the previous owner.

What About Buying A Motorcycle From A Dealer?

If you buy a motorcycle from a dealer, the rules still apply but the dealership actually makes things a lot easier for you if you’re willing to pay a few extra fees.

Dealerships have the ability to register your motorcycle for you. Usually what they’ll do is generate a temporary registration under your name immediately after you purchase the motorcycle. Withing the next few weeks, they will have your new plates either mailed to them and you pick them up or they can mail them to you directly.

You will still need to immediately get motorcycle insurance before you drive off the lot. You will be held liable for any accident caused by you and your motorcycle the minute you purchase it.

Related Questions

Why is motorcycle insurance so high for some people? The reason motorcycle insurance is so high for some people is because of the driver’s age, their driving record, the motorcycle CC’s, the motorcycle’s age, the motorcycle’s value, and the city you live in (crime rate). Click here to see my article for more information.

Do you need a motorcycle license to buy a motorcycle? You do not need a motorcycle license to buy a motorcycle. However, you will need a motorcycle license to get it registered since insurance requires a license and registration requires insurance.

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