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Whether you own a motorcycle and are looking to travel or you are thinking of purchasing one, you have likely wondered if motorcycles need mirrors. Knowing what is required to safely and legally operate a motorcycle is important. We have done some research to help you know whether mirrors are a strong suggestion or a legal requirement.
In the United States, there are 21 states that legally require motorcycles to have at least one mirror. These states are:
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- Washington (if the motorcycle is less than 25 years old)
- West Virginia
We've done some investigation to help you know as much as possible about motorcycle mirror requirements. Keep reading to find out more answers to common questions about motorcycle mirrors and how to use them safely and correctly.
Motorcycle Mirror Laws Vary from State To State
The United States is made up of 5o states and several territories that operate under a unique agreement. While there is a federal government that oversees matters that apply to the whole country, the states themselves largely operate independently. What is legal in one state can be illegal in another. This is commonly seen with things like speed limits, criminal statutes, and more. Motorcycle laws also vary from state to state.
Because the United States has so many differing rules from state to state, it is essential that you know as much as you can about the state where you live or the states you plan to visit on your motorcycle. Unfortunately, "I didn't know" will not get you out of a ticket if you are pulled over by a police officer or state trooper for operating a motorcycle that does not meet the state's legal requirements.
If you live in one of the 21 states listed above, you must have at least one mirror on your motorcycle. Some states, like Alaska, Nevada, and Oklahoma, require two mirrors — one on each side. Make sure that you purchase a bike that meets the legal requirements of your home state. If you are taking a road trip to one of these 21 states, be sure that your motorcycle is up to code before you hit the road.
To avoid potential issues and save yourself from trouble, it is best to have at least one mirror on your motorcycle. This will ensure that you are meeting the legal requirements in nearly every state and territory in the U.S. Furthermore, mirrors will help protect you from potential accidents by giving you a more complete picture of what is on the road around you.
How Do I Adjust Motorcycle Mirrors?
Motorcycle mirrors that are mounted on the handlebars can be adjusted relatively easily. Usually, it requires only the loosening of what's called the adjusting nut. You can then rotate the mirrors up or down and push them outward or pull them inward.
The most important part of adjusting your mirrors centers around your posture. Be sure to sit on your motorcycle just as you would if you were riding it. You will want to be sure that you have a straight back and are properly balanced. From there, you will be able to position the mirrors as you want them.
How Should Motorcycle Mirrors Be Angled?
Motorcycle mirrors should be angled so that you can see as much of the body of a vehicle as possible. Seeing the top of a car isn't enough to help you stay safe. You will want to be able to see as much in the lanes on either side of you as you possibly can. This will make it safer for you to change lanes if necessary.
The other thing you need to consider is how much you can see behind you. If you have two mirrors (one on the right and one on the left), you can look in them to see if both mirrors capture much of the same view. If they do, you will want to angle them outward. This will help you to see as much as possible in each mirror. By widening the angles of the mirrors, you can increase the view behind you. Again, this is critical to your safety.
Once you've adjusted the mirror(s), it is important to make sure that they stay in the desired position.
How To Tighten Motorcycle Mirrors
When your mirrors are where you want them and you feel confident that you can see everything behind you that you need to see, it is time to tighten the mirrors. Forgetting this step will mean that the whole process was for naught. If they remain loose, the mirrors can be shifted by the wind or a bumpy road.
Simply tighten the adjusting nut once you've positioned the mirrors as you want them. Be sure not to overtighten the nuts, as you could damage them and cause potential problems to the mirrors themselves. A good rule of thumb is to always tighten until a nut is snug and requires some effort to loosen, but don't tighten it to the point where it is completely impossible to move the nut.
Do Motorcycles Have Rearview Mirrors?
Many motorcycles do come with at least one mirror that allows the driver to see what's behind them. However, not all motorcycles come with these mirrors. The style of bike, the manufacturer, and where it was made can all factor into whether or not a particular motorcycle will have mirrors. Ultimately, the responsibility of having mirrors lies with the consumer.
It is up to you to know whether you live in, or are planning to ride in, a state that requires motorcycles to have mirrors. It is also up to you to know the specific requirements for those mirrors. So, if you purchase a motorcycle without mirrors, it is likely best to invest in adding them to your bike. If the motorcycle you purchase has mirrors already, be sure that they meet the standards in place in your state.
Before You Ride
Mirrors are valuable pieces of safety equipment. Having them is not always a legal obligation, but they're never a bad idea. They can help protect you and your loved ones when you ride.
If you are thinking of riding a motorcycle, be sure that you are familiar with the laws and requirements of your home state and the states in which you may choose to ride. This post aimed to help you learn a little bit more about motorcycle safety and legal obligations. For more information about motorcycles, check out some of our other guides. You can use these to familiarize yourself with requirements and procedures before your first ride.