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By Jesse Walters

That precious spring day arrives, the calendar is free, sun is shining, and birds are chirping. You head out to the garage to fire up your vintage motorcycle for a cruise to your local bike night, but realize your plates have expired and the tires are flat. The tires are an easy fix, but the expired plates are cause to scratch that day’s ride. You wonder back inside the house and do dishes.

Don’t let this happen again.

A solution to your frustration could be Minnesota’s classic motorcycle license plates. Classic plates offer a one-time fee for the motorcycle license plate, which require no annual tag renewal. This article doesn’t aim to provide authoritive legal guidance for classic plate usage, instead the author hopes to convey enough information for you to consult with your local MN DVS and see if classic plates are right for your vintage bike.

Let’s dive right in to the gory details! The State of Minnesota considers a classic motorcycle to be at least 20 years old. The age of the bike is typically determined by the model year on the title, not manufactured date on the VIN. A classic plated bike is not to be used “for general transportation purposes” 2014 Minnesota Statute Section 168.105 Classic Motorcycle Registration. In fact, a prerequisite to a classic plate registration is owner’s proof of a primary vehicle registered with the State of Minnesota.

While classic plates may slightly limit the bike’s usage, classic plated motorcycles can be used “in a classic motorcycle club activity, exhibition, tour, parade, or similar use.”  Of course, the usage as defined by the Statute leaves room for interpretation. Usage to your local bike nights and mechanical shake-down rides are within the spirit of the law. Right?  This is for you to research and decide. This author has never been pulled over on his classic plated motorcycles, but keeps copies of his AMCA and AMA membership cards in his wallet just in case he has to show proof of club membership and participation.

Unlike some states, there is no annual mileage limitation. Some insurance agencies provide discounted rates for motorcycles with classic plates, since you are voluntarily limiting the vehicle’s usage.  If you’ve owned the vintage bike for less than a year, other taxes may be collected by the State, so be sure to ask questions!

Bottom line, if your vintage bike is used as your daily commuter, classic tags are probably not for you.  On the other hand, if you have a vintage bike that sees occasional use at club events and weekend cruises, look into classic license plates and avoid doing the dishes.


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