If you are so passionate about riding your dirt bike on the street, you have to go through a lot of work to get it road-legal. Complying with federal and state laws regarding road use of an off-road only bike is a procedure that needs a rider to be aware of state regulations.
For your bike to be street legal, several bureaucratic obstacles have to be navigated, and several accessories need to be added to the motorcycle. It will take some time, a little paperwork, and a lot of manual labor for this to be accomplished. But with some simple modifications, dirt bikes can become street legal so that you can save a lot of money!
In this guide, you’ll get insights into what it takes to make your bike comply with street laws. Keep reading to learn more!
Table of Contents
- 1 What Does the Law Say About Making Dirt Bikes Street Legal?
- 2 What is Required to Make Your Dirt Bike Street Legal?
- 2.1 Upgrading Electrical Systems
- 2.2 Headlight
- 2.3 Lights at the Tail/Brake
- 2.4 Battery
- 2.5 Regulator/Rectifier
- 2.6 Directional Signals
- 2.7 Exhaust
- 2.8 Mirror(S) In Rearview
- 2.9 The Horn
- 2.10 Tires and Wheels
- 2.11 Tachometer/Speedometer
- 2.12 Bracket for License Plates
- 2.13 Kickstand
- 2.14 Gearing
- 2.15 The Process of Making Your Dirt Bike Street Legal
- 2.16 Research
- 2.17 Collect Documentation
- 2.18 Modify the Bike
- 2.19 Approval
- 3 Types of Street legal Dirt Bikes
- 4 Conclusion
What Does the Law Say About Making Dirt Bikes Street Legal?
State and local authorities often enforce federal laws that govern what bikes ought to have to be street legal. For your country to certify your motorbike to be utilized on its streets and roads, you should have an understanding of these regulations. In reality, each state has the right to enact its own laws regarding what items are allowed to be used within its boundaries. In general, these laws are simply more stringent versions of existing federal laws.
Getting dirt bikes approved for the street is tricky because each state’s Department of Transportation has its requirements and does not accept requests from neighboring states.
In light of that, this post will go over what is required in the majority of states. If you intend to use your dirt bike as a street-legal vehicle, check the laws of the state you reside in with the Department of Transportation before you make any purchases.
What is Required to Make Your Dirt Bike Street Legal?
Here are the requirements to make your dirt bike street legal.
Upgrading Electrical Systems
In light of the many powered items available today, it requires an electrical upgrade to convert a motorcycle into a street-legal bike. Observe if there are any electrical components on the bike via its service manual. Stator upgrades can be beneficial in most situations. Some convert off-road bikes to street-going units by installing a charging framework from a road-going form of the rough terrain bicycle being changed over. However, this can be difficult as manufacturers use different motors for road and off-road bikes. One way to avert and fix this issue is to find others who’ve accomplished the change on the Internet.
Each state requires that all vehicles have a working headlight capable of switching between the low and high beams. To comply with this statute, it must be approved by the DOT. Despite this, there seems to be some confusion since some areas have different approaches to the rule’s low/high switching aspect. However, using a high beam is always a good idea, as it directly affects safety. Although the headlight does not require a battery, the surrounding rear brake does. Thus, we can attach it to it here. In addition to being visible from the rider’s seat, the high beam indicator and the high/low beam switch should be easily accessible.
Lights at the Tail/Brake
The DOT (Department of Transport) requires that all motorcycles be equipped with DOT-approved tail lights with brake lights that run on a battery mounted on the motorcycle. Furthermore, the battery has to power a brake light for more than 20 minutes. The widespread use of LEDs has made this more straightforward due to their decrease in power consumption. The bike’s tail light must always be on when it is running. In addition, there needs to be a switch to initiate the brake light when utilizing the brakes at the pedal and the pedal
While most dirt bikes do not require a battery, if you do not have one, your lights will only be functional while the motor is running, and while the motor is idle, the lights may dim.
It is possible to find small batteries on the market designed specifically to make dirt bikes street legal.
In some cases, they are the main power source for a bike’s lights, while in others; they are designed to work with a charging system. Despite their discreet appearance, both supply the DC electricity required by these motorcycles.
Nevertheless, relying solely on a battery will drain it rapidly. It will need to be changed frequently and have a short life, but it will get the job done until a proper conversion can be performed.
The complete electrical kit for bikes contains all three essential electrical components, as well as wiring harnesses. It is also possible to find wire harnesses from dual sport versions of your dirt bike on the used market.
This device converts alternating current from the stator into direct current that the electrical components can use. The regulator also reduces the high voltage from the stator to 13 to 15 volts, which is needed to charge the battery.
Various aftermarket companies offer kits, including upgraded stators and regulator rectifiers meant to be used together. Lights should not be operated directly from alternating current unless the lights were designed to do so.
Turn indicators can be optional in some states, while others require them to be present and functional both front and rear. If necessary, bike signals must also be installed in a certain location on the bike and are typically positioned concerning the headlight and taillight. Ideally, these switches should be situated on the left-hand grasp for simpler access without relinquishing the throttle. They ought to likewise be noticeable from the cyclist’s position. Usually, these frameworks would be DOT-endorsed, yet they can be hard to situate outside of conversion packages, so it is here and there adequate to utilize a non-DOT set that is still viable.
It is sporadic that a state requires anything about the exhaust other than that it is in perfect condition, meets local authorities’ rules, and not produce too much smoke. To comply with the EPA standards, an EPA-approved exhaust is still the best option. If that is not possible, ensure that the vehicle’s exhaust system isn’t too loud, spotless and without dent. It is more likely for an exhaust to be considered acceptable if it appears “natural” and “street-like.” In most cases, the silencer will only need replacing, so a clip-on handlebar is an easy and inexpensive way to repair this part of your motorbike.
Mirror(S) In Rearview
A dirt bike must have at least one rearview mirror to be ridden on the streets. Two may be required in some states, however. There are many designs of mirrors that work with dirt bikes. Determining the location of the rearview mirror(s) is the most challenging part here.
A horn is another vital but straightforward modification that a dirt bike must undergo to drive on the street legally. In some states, a bike horn must be electric, whereas, in others, they are perfectly acceptable as squeeze-type bicycle horns. The genuine concern is the rider’s safety, so the horn’s volume is what matters most when the bike is moving. Electric units are much easier to use for this purpose.
Tires and Wheels
Motorcycle tires that comply with DOT requirements are a must for every motorcycle that goes on the street, no matter how it is built. The type of wheels a bike will utilize on the road makes a significant difference in the selection of tires. It is perfectly acceptable to convert the bike into a “dual sport” motorcycle so that much of the bike’s dirt-worthiness is retained, since DOT-supported tires are put on them.
If you intend to build a supermoto-style road bike, you will also need to upgrade the wheels, tires, and braking system. To accomplish this, most sportbikes are equipped with sportbike wheels, large disc brakes, and DOT-approved street tires. Since this type of conversion is common, numerous forums provide information on best practices, but some of the bikes that are converted that way are not street legal.
Speedometers aren’t required in many states, but knowing one’s speed on the road is certainly helpful information. It’s a good idea to have a way to determine distance and speed. Many different types and styles of speedos are available aftermarkets, and they tend to be very easy to install. Many GPS units can also perform this task, and the aftermarket for enduro bikes has a wide selection of devices designed for calculating speed and distance.
No state requires a tachometer. There are many motorcycles manufactured today without tachometers. Although part of the electronic accessories referred to above features a tachometer, the choice is essentially personal.
Bracket for License Plates
To legally use a motorcycle, the license plate must be displayed. It is merely necessary to have a bracket to hold the plate to ensure it can be seen. There are various laws about how license plates can be displayed, so contact your state’s DMV for guidance on displaying the plate so it won’t upset law enforcement.
The federal standards do not stipulate the need for a kickstand. The simple truth is that it is an often-forgotten part of any dirt bike used on the street. The grocery store does not have dirt bike stands.
In a transition from dirt bikes to street bikes, gearing is in most cases ignored. Legal requirements are not involved here, but use issues are. Road-going motorcycles are built for higher speeds, whereas off-road bikes are built for lower speeds. Dirt bikes, therefore, need to have their gear ratios altered so that they can work on the street properly and effectively. As with all issues related to this, Internet forums can serve as useful advice since no one size fits all.
The Process of Making Your Dirt Bike Street Legal
Knowing the information mentioned above and then acting on it is part of the process of changing from a dirt bike to a street-legal motorcycle. A good deal of effort and research will be required to learn and understand the required parts, various regulations, and rules. Consequently, what’s required depends on which state the conversion will be carried out in, so a detailed guide that fits everyone’s needs is nearly impossible. However, it is quite simple to understand the overall sequence of events.
It is of the utmost importance to be sure that the process is achievable. You should start by checking with your local DMV, either in person or online. If a state allows dirt bikes on the streets, the transportation authority will know what is needed to make it this way legally. Before you begin anything, get this information as it may lead to the realization that the dirt bike being prepared cannot have a license plate.
Obviously, the Internet can also be a good source of information but beware of incorrect or misleading information. Numerous people have been successful in getting a plate, and they have posted some information online. Before you use this information, verify it with other sources.
You should then confirm that the bike being converted is compatible with the parts and accessories specified in the state and federal regulations. Many older models won’t work. Identify all the requirements and check their availability. The conversion will not be possible if the items cannot be obtained.
The truth is that multiple states require different documents for verifying the bike’s authenticity, what work has been done on it, and whether the bike complies with federal and state requirements.
Modify the Bike
The next step would be to upgrade or add the parts that need to be replaced or upgraded. You can either do the work yourself or have a qualified, licensed mechanic do it for you. Modifications may typically need a mechanic’s signature, so many of those shops will attempt to handle the work themselves because they understand the potential legal penalties.
As soon as the work is completed, review the applicable state and federal rules and ensure that all new parts and accessories are compliant.
A major purpose of the whole process is to gain acceptance from the DMV for a bike that was once off-road only. Several of the modifications mentioned above ought to be finished before this goal can be achieved – if not quite all of it. When you have completed all of the paperwork and signed all the forms, you are ready to take the vehicle to the DMV.
Don’t give up if you fail on your first attempt. Try again after taking into account what you learned during the first trip and making any necessary changes. Depending on the area, some state workers might have more knowledge about the regulations if you travel to a different location for your subsequent DMV visit.
Types of Street legal Dirt Bikes
Dirt bikes are available in three types for street use. The three categories are Dual Sport, Adventure, and Supermoto.
A big reason they’re popular is the fact that they are street legal right out of the factory without any modifications required.
All you need are a few plates, and you’re ready to go.
The EPA, DMV have fully tested these products, DOT (and all other government agencies with 3 letters) to ensure that they are compliant with environmental, safety, and sound regulations.
In comparison to their motocross cousins, their seats are wider and more comfortable.
In addition, they have softer suspensions, and the engines are designed to run for an extended time without requiring much maintenance.
Adventure Dirt Bikes.
Adventure bikes perform the same functions as regular road bikes, although they are designed to be used on highways/highways.
Nonetheless, when a tarmac road turns into a dirt road, you can continue riding!
For those who don’t want to ride hardcore enduro trails and want to take long, scenic rides in their spare time, adventure bikes are a great option.
Besides a comfortable two-person seat, adventure bikes also have a huge fuel tank for long-distance rides and dual-purpose road tires.
In typical cases, these bikes also have engines in the 1000cc range, like road bikes. There are also now 450 mini adventure bikes, which are also built for small adventures.
A windscreen is also available on some models so you can ride comfortably on the freeway, as well as saddlebags to carry camping equipment on the back.
BMW is among the pioneers in the adventure bike industry.
Dirt Bikes That Are Supermotos Or Motards
Supermotos are dirt bikes modified by the owner for 100% road use to make them street legal.
While they look and feel like motocross/hardcore enduro bikes, they will fit on the road since they are fitted with slick tires, and their gear ratios have been changed to make them fit on the road.
What purpose does this serve? The main reason for using them is that they’re a lot of fun, especially if you’re a fan of riding motocross on the street.
Despite their lack of utility for freeways and comfort, they have a dedicated fan following the streets.
All dirt bike owners need to know that the process of converting a dirt bike to street use is becoming increasingly difficult in all states. Due to tighter regulations and streamlined rules, such special licensing conditions are being closely scrutinized. As the requirements for parts increase, parts availability and cost become primary obstacles. However, with this article, the conversion process will be easier for you.