Riders of dirt bikes almost always have the urge to ride their bikes either on their own property or on the streets, but before they can do either of those things, there are a few things they need to do in order to make their bikes street legal.
Just like everyone who has recently fallen in love, you are thinking about how you can spend as much time as possible with your dirt bike. Because of this train of thought, you are curious about whether or not dirt bikes are permitted to be driven on public streets. What kind of permits and insurance will you require?
Are Dirt Bikes Street Legal?
The straightforward response to the question is that it is determined by the laws of each and every state. The regulations for riding a dirt bike can vary from state to state. In some locations, it is expressly forbidden, whereas in a few states it is legal but subject to certain restrictions.
I have created a web story which give you an overview of this question and you can read are dirt bikes street legal by clicking here.
If you are just thinking from an economic point of view, it would be much cheaper. The short answer to your question is yes, you certainly can. “How?” you ask. Well, the answer to that “how” isn’t a simple one.
But if you have your heart set on it, the results would be very satisfying. Now that you have your answer, why should you read the whole article?
Let’s say the task you are about to undertake would require a much more detailed answer than a mere ‘yes’ or ‘no.’
Let’s get something out of the way first. There is no hard and fast universal rule for this. A lot of it all would depend on the part of the country you live in.
That means while you’ll be required to do certain modifications in a particular state, your pal from a different state wouldn’t need the same papers. So the first step would be to make a checklist per your state.
The U.S. government has a “Federal Minimum Requirement,’ which makes this task easy (or tricky) depending on how you see it.
It provides an essential list of requirements for the machine to be road-ready but makes it difficult for you as you have to go through a huge checklist.
However, for any dirt bike to zoom past on State roads, there’s a list of essential requirements. Here’s the general checklist for the same;
(Note: some of these are mandatory by law, while others are only needed to make your daily commute easy)
What Does a Dirt Bike Need To Be Street Legal?
1. License plate holder
Legalising your dirt bike and getting a suitable license plate holder must be crucial. You have to make a place for it to mount on.
Several states have rules on how to display a license plate, so check beforehand from the DMV that you’re abiding by the authorities. Else, you won’t appreciate undue attention from officers while riding.
2. Side stand
Most dirt bikes don’t come equipped with this, as having a stand can cause more nuisance than comfort while racing. But in day-to-day life, having a side stand comes in handy.
While not having a side stand isn’t illegal as per law, not having one while using your dirt bike on roads would insult common sense. You can’t just let your bike lean on the nearest wall you find.
Maybe you could have done that in a perfect world where officers won’t give you a ticket for attempting something like that. As for now, that world seems distant, so get a side stand.
3. Rearview mirror
You never needed one as you zoomed past your buddies on the trails or tracks, but you’ll certainly need one when a car overtakes you with whiskers away from touching you.
It would be a sensible choice to get rearview mirrors on both sides of the handles. There are a large variety of options available to choose from.
Choose a size, colour, and design that goes perfectly with your bike. If done well, it could only enhance the overall look of your bike.
4. Functioning Horn
Adding a horn to your bike is another no-brainer. While in many states, it is mandatory to add an electric horn, many don’t insist on any particular kind as long as you get one.
You might need to check the maximum loudness allowed under law, though, as the horn’s loudness is vital for the rider. The car in front of you must be able to hear you. At the same time, the idea is not to make them deaf.
5. Turn signals
Some states are lenient on turn signals, but getting one might still be a good idea. Turn signals allow your fellow city dwellers to warn you that you are about to make a turn.
Riding a bike in a city that is already full of 2-wheelers and 4-wheelers, there’s nothing like too much safety. Also, get turn signals for both the front and rear of the bike.
If you are in California, this will be tougher for you than your pals from other states. California state has some very stringent rules for exhaust hence the extra work.
However, guys from other states need not worry as their states have little to say about this aspect. However, don’t get a fancy one.
The simpler your exhaust looks, the easier it would be to pass by an officer. You wouldn’t appreciate stopping by every time you pass by one law enforcer.
Any bike plying on the country’s streets must have DOT-certified tires. While you may get away with this rule by using the same pair of tires, it would simply put you in harm’s way.
Off-roading tires are poorly suited for streets and can be dangerous for the rider and your fellow commuter. Getting a more suitable pair for the streets is more like an investment.
Investment in your well-being.
A dirt bike has a small capacity of only 2 gallons, and using it on the street, and you would run out of gas more often than you would like to. An all-in-one odometer comes as a saviour here.
It ensures you are aware of your gas stock well in advance and gives you an idea about the RPM, speed, mileage, and engine temperature. Hence, an odometer would be a valuable addition to the list.
Most street bikes aren’t built to keep their on-street performance, so you won’t find a fan on most of these dirt bikes.
However, you won’t escape traffic while using it on the streets (no matter how much you want).
Going to work or the nearest Starbucks for your favourite coffee might make you stuck in heavy traffic. Here your fan will keep the engine from overheating.
In addition, during summer, a fan would enable your bike to operate smoothly by cooling down the temperatures of the engine.
An often neglected aspect, altering your bike’s gear is not essential in the legal sense, but it is more of a usability issue. Off-road bikes are geared to lower speeds than on-road bikes.
So, to make optimum use as a street bike, you’ll need to alter the gear ratios.
You can choose to do this by watching a YouTube video or taking your bike to a good mechanic; either way, it is good as long as the car behind you doesn’t have to suffer because of your painfully low speed.
11. Permission From neighbors
In order to ride your dirt bike in the area behind your house or in your backyard, you must first get the permission of your neighbors.
If they are not accustomed to the sound of dirt bikes, then there is a good chance that they will become agitated, which can make your riding concept more challenging.
You should read my dedicated article about this topic where I have described it and you can read if you are allowed to ride a dirt bike on a private property by clicking here.
Converting your dirt bike to a street-legal machine is no easy task. It would require a lot of paperwork, time, and money on your part, and even then, there’s just no surety about that (yes, the DMV could still not approve your bike).
In several states like California, it is impossible to get your clearance to get your bike street legal.
Rules are being made more and more stringent for these off-roading machines to keep them off the streets.
It’s a huge task, so don’t even think about it if you are not sure about dedicating that much effort, because there’s a good chance after you have been through everything, you can still not make the bike street legal.
So, pause and think it over long and hard before you act on it. This task is undoubtedly not meant to be undertaken by anyone afraid of committing time, money, and effort to the cause.
However, if you still choose to go for it, tell us how easy or difficult the process was for you in the comments section—a huge ‘Good Luck’ from us.
And remember, ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET.