Can You Ride a Motorcycle Home after Buying It?

I know the tempting feeling to ride a motorcycle home after buying it. However, can you ride a motorcycle home after buying it? I recall a recent event I encountered regarding whether or not I could ride a motorcycle home immediately after buying it.

I purchased a motorcycle for a project out of state because it was cheaper than in my state (a barn find I located). The temptation to ride it home was pressing, and I had the bill of sale and title. I made a quick search on MA regarding riding my motorcycle from NH to MA, and resolved that I was good to go with the bill of sale and title.

can you ride a motorcycle home after buying it

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However, you ought to know the law that applies in your state before riding a newly purchased motorcycle home. Otherwise, the cops will have you pay for a bad day without a doughnut.


Can You Ride a Motorcycle Home after Buying It?

Yes. You can ride a motorcycle home after buying it, but it depends on your state laws. If you buy the motorcycle from a dealer or private seller out of state, one or both of the state laws may permit you to ride your motorbike home. On occasions, I have ridden motorcycles home for about an hour and a half on the interstate with no plate.

From the first experience, the temptation was pressing, especially since I had the bill of sale and title. It struck my mind to call my insurance agent, which I did. I purchased cheap insurance for the motorcycle, looked up sources online, and was good to go. I drove home that calm evening, fortunate not to get pulled over.

On a second event, the cops pulled me over, and I explained that I just purchased the bike and I have it insured. I presented the bill of sale and title, and they let me go.

Of course, it varies by state, but in Florida and Illinois, for instance, you need insurance to ride your motorcycle home after buying it.


Whatever the situation, makes sure to get the motorcycle insured before driving it. It takes a phone call. Call your agent, and tell them the make, model, and VIN of the motorcycle to get a copy of your insurance on the phone.

As I mentioned earlier, you can ride a motorcycle home after purchasing it without a plate in Florida, for instance. Get the bill of sale and title with you to present to the cops; suppose you get pulled over. Again, confirm that your state or the out-of-state DMV permits riding home a new bike in this manner. Legally, however, here’s according to Florida department:

The operator must possess the registration certificate for a motor vehicle while the vehicle is in use. Florida requires most owners to renew their registrations during the 90 days prior to their birthday. Exceptions will be noted on the registration certificate.

Moreover, in most states, contact the DMV for plates, but if you buy on the weekend, you may be allowed until the following business day.

Furthermore, there may be an exception immediately after purchase. The cops can see you just bought the motorcycle since the signed over title should be dated anyway. It should not prevent you from getting pulled over but will prevent you from getting a ticket.

Is it illegal to ride a motorcycle home after buying it?

If you follow the law, including buying insurance and getting a permit, it is not illegal. Yes, it is illegal to ride a new motorcycle home without plates, but a bill of sale and title can make you escape the wrath of ticketing. If you want it to be legal, get a temporary tag or permit to ride your motorcycle home immediately after buying it.

How to Ride a Motorcycle Home After Buying It

Apart from hoping on the bill of sale and title to keep you from being ticketed, you have other options to move your bike home legally.

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Below are the ways to ride a motorcycle home after buying it:

  1. Use the Plate from a Previous Bike

If you have a plate from a previous, slap that on your newly purchased motorcycle. The distance between your home and the seller’s location should be closer. Otherwise, you might be messing yourself if the cop pulls you over and your registration does not correspond.

In South Carolina, riders put the plate from another of their motorcycle or use a temp tag. It is illegal to ride without anything on the back.

Suppose you have the bill of sale and title with the same date on an evening after DMV closed – the cop would have to be having a pretty bad day to write it up. You can have someone follow you in a car, so only a short window for cops to see that the motorbike is missing tags, though. Either way, the ticket for it would be cheaper than towing the motorcycle some miles home.

  1. Use the Buyer’s Plate

Ask the seller if they can keep their plates on, and you will ship them back when you get home. Make sure to be insured before taking off, though.

The seller or dealer would have to be nice enough, though, to trust you with their plates and you to mail them back. It is not advisable for out-of-state purchases.

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  1. Use the Tow Truck

It seems much more of a hassle than renting a van, truck, or trailer for a day to tow your motorcycle home. Rent a van or get a zip van from an enterprise or budget in your area or a pick-up from home depot.

It will be best if you have some ratchet straps. Get a 6ft long 2×6 or a real folding ramp. Put the motorcycle in the van using the ramp, tie it down with the ratchet straps, and drive it home.

Endeavor to leave the bike in gear; it locks the rear wheel, and the bike will not roll.

  1. Get Temporary Permit

Go to the DMV and tell them you are purchasing a motorcycle (don’t say out of state). Request a temporary plate to ride it home. Depending on the state, you may be issued a 2-day temp plate.

However, you have 48 hours from the time of purchase to ride the motorcycle straight home with just the bill of sale, meaning no temp tag. All cops do not know this law (in specific states), though, and you may be pulled over the bill of sale. Suppose you are pulled over, be polite, and explain that you bought the motorcycle newly. Present the bill of sale and title to avoid a ticket.

Meanwhile, can you register a motorcycle without a license?

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