male making sure his motorcycle is legal

What motorcyclists have to wear or have equipped on their bike is regulated by local state legislation and statutes. Some states have special rules pertaining to things like headlights and turn signals or mirrors and brakes. Most states require regular safety inspections for motorcycle registration and renewal, but some states, like South Carolina, don’t.

The following are some of the motorcycle equipment guidelines for North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

North Carolina Motorcycle Requirements

North Carolina requires motorcycles be inspected annually if they’re in use on the state’s roads and highways. A variety of bike components are checked, including:

  • Headlights, license plate light, taillights and brake lights
  • Motorcycle brakes
  • Horn
  • At least one mirror
  • Tires
  • Exhaust system
  • Steering

In North Carolina motorcycles are required to have at least one mirror as well as front and rear brakes. Motorcycles are also required to have working headlights, taillights and brake lights.

Motorcycle riders in North Carolina are required to have a motorcycle learner’s permit or endorsement on their driver’s license, and all riders and passengers are required to wear helmets (secured with a chin strap).

People riding mopeds are not required to have the motorcycle endorsement or learner’s permit. Motorcycle learner’s permits are available as early as 16 if the rider has a provisional driver’s license and signed consent from a guardian or parent. The regular endorsement is available when riders turn 18.

South Carolina Motorcycle Requirements

Motorcycle safety inspections are not required by law in South Carolina, but there are certain requirements for motorcycles to be considered road and highway worthy in the state.

  • A rear view mirror
  • At least one working headlight
  • Passenger footrests if a motorcycle is carrying a passenger

Although the South Carlina DMV doesn’t require inspections they do recommend riders frequently check their bike’s steering, tires, oil and fuel levels, lights, cables and chains.

Helmets with goggles or a face shield are required for riders under the age of 21 unless a motorcycle has a wind screen.

Riders as young as 15 can receive a motorcycle license by passing the South Carolina DMV’s motorcycle license education course. Riders older than 16 aren’t required to take the course but passing a road skills test is required.

You can learn more about South Carolina’s specific motorcycle statutes on our website.

Virginia Motorcycle Requirements

Annual motorcycle safety inspections are required in Virginia. Inspectors have a relatively detailed list that covers:

  • Motorcycle brakes
  • Rods, cotter keys, lock nuts and the quality of cables
  • Foot and hand lever action
  • Master cylinder, wheel cylinders and brake lines
  • Whether there is any risk of abrasion between the frame and other components
  • Leaks in hydraulic, air or vacuum lines

Virginia law requires motorcycles and riders to have:

  • Helmets
  • At least one mirror
  • Taillights
  • Brake lights
  • Headlights
  • Eye protection or a windscreen
  • If a motorcycle is carrying a passenger, it needs to have two seats or a single seat designed for two and passenger footrests

Turn signals are not legally required in Virginia, but if they are installed, they must be working properly and are inspected during the annual safety check.

Do States Have Other Motorcycle Gear Requirements?

In most cases no. If a state has laws requiring motorcycle gear it usually pertains to helmets or eye protection. Although gear like leather or armored jackets, jeans and sturdy boots are recommended by many state DMVs they generally aren’t legally required for riders.

Where Can I Get More Information on Motorcycle Inspection Requirements in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia?

Riders can visit the motorcycle inspection pages on our website for:

We also have detailed lists of motorcycle statutes by state if you have any questions about what’s required in your area or if you think you may have been wrongly cited for a riding infraction:

Need Help After a Motorcycle Accident Injury in South Carolina, North Carolina or Virginia?

Dealing with the aftermath of a motorcycle accident is never simple, especially when you or a loved one have suffered a serious injury. There are lots of medical bills and property damage costs that accompany any kind of serious motorcycle accidents.

Not every personal injury or car crash lawyer is equipped with detailed knowledge of local motorcycle law. They also may not be able to speak to the unique challenges facing riders on the road or overcome some of the litigation and insurance negotiation problems facing motorcyclists after accidents.

The attorneys at the Motorcycle Law Group are riders, and they understand the unique challenges you face on the road and after an accident. We’ve represented thousands of motorcyclists in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Georgia, and we’re ready to fight for you and your family.

Call us at 800-321-8968 for a free initial consultation.