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11/20/2019 5:07:11 PM
Posted: 11/1/2009 6:07:13 PM EST
A while back, I started looking into building a motorcycle. I got the information from the state on what paperwork would be needed for registration, but I get the feeling I'm missing something on what is necessary for a motorcycle to be street legal. Digging through the internet doesn't seem to help, since state laws seem to vary on motorcycles. What I've found is:

Over 125cc is a motorcycle.

125cc and under is a motor-driven cycle. Motor-driven cycles are not legal on the interstate (I would think it's crazy to even try the interstate on something that small).

An operating headlight is required and must be on at all times on the street. Taillight, brake light and turn signals are also required (is there a minimum distance between the turn signals?).

A mirror is required on the left handlebar.

There is a maximum height for the handlebar grips to be above the seat (no ape hangers).


Am I missing anything? I couldn't find any mention of a minimum seat height, which seemed a bit odd, considering the ape hanger restriction.

Link Posted: 11/1/2009 6:58:58 PM EST
No restriction on seat height that I recall.

IIRC, the law about ape hangers was changed last yearmaking those tard bars legal, but I am not sure of the TCA changing it. I personally hate ape hangers and think they are stupid and unsafe. It is hard enough to ride a motorcycle safely with regular handlebars.

Don't forget that a helmet is required, and either a windscreen that reaches above the eyes or eye protection is required.

A license plate also must be visible (not tucked up like they do where you can't see it), and that motorcycles are subject to excessive noise/smoke like cars are despite the loud pipes save lives BS and are required to have a muffler.
Link Posted: 11/1/2009 7:21:46 PM EST
Thanks!

Is the excessive noise a judgement call, or is there some guideline? I haven't heard the engine I was thinking of using (a small 2 cylinder diesel), but I have heard a larger engine (3 cylinder) made by the same company, and the muffler supplied by the manufacturer definitely could have been better.

I've got a few other projects to get out of the way, before I can get started on this one (would surprise me if I manage to get started next year), but I thought I'd try to find out as much as I could while I'm still in the early planning stages.

Thanks again for the info!
Link Posted: 11/1/2009 7:37:59 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/1/2009 7:38:34 PM EST by TNROBOCOP]
Basically the noise standard is the same pretty much as the loud music standard. If it is clearly heard from at least 50 feet away it is excessive.

Motorcycles come from the factory fairly quiet. I used to ride a 2006 HD Electraglide. It had a rumble, but not a loud exhaust. It was factory.
Alot of riders knock out the baffles to make the pipes louder (including a few MNPD motor officers on their motors).

Most of the time, riders don't get messed with by LE unless they are doing something stupid, reckless, or extremely annoying with their exhaust.
Link Posted: 11/2/2009 2:12:28 AM EST
Headlight & brake light is required, but I don't believe turn signals are required? Too many MX bikes out there that don't have them, IMO.
Link Posted: 11/2/2009 6:05:38 AM EST
Originally Posted By BobCole:
Headlight & brake light is required, but I don't believe turn signals are required? Too many MX bikes out there that don't have them, IMO.


I found a website listing motorcycle laws for various states, and it indicated that turn signals were not required in Tennessee. But I'm 90% certain that I saw something on the state website saying they were required.

Link Posted: 11/2/2009 7:44:39 AM EST
I know that every motorcross bike I was looking at a few months ago that were street legal had turn signals.

Wasn't for sure if it is the law or just something the manufacturers did on their own.
Link Posted: 11/2/2009 8:18:58 AM EST
The TN motorcycle operator's manual (the book they provide to study for the test) states:

At minimum, your street-legal motorcycle should have:

-Headlight, taillight and brakelight
-Front and rear brakes
-Turn signals
-Horn
-Two mirrors.


But elsewhere, I found a statement that the minimum requirement for mirrors is that there has to be a mirror on the left handlebar. So is that part of the manual stating a legal requirement? Or just a safety recommendation?

This is starting to get as confusing as gun control laws.
Link Posted: 11/2/2009 11:24:24 AM EST
I would just go by the book.

Two mirrors is just covering all the bases IMHO.

Use the list from the book, and use it as a reference if you get pulled over.
Link Posted: 11/3/2009 4:37:47 PM EST
I was planning on two mirrors and turn signals. What had me worried, is the possibility that I could follow that list from the book, think I had all the bases covered, then get pulled over and find out there was some requirement I had never thought of. I guess all the fun we all get to have with gun control laws and the BATF, plus my work experiences with the FAA, has me a wee bit paranoid about rude surprises from regs I never heard of.

Thanks again for the input!
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