How to Make Your Dirt Bike Street Legal: Everything You Need to Know

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If you want to turn your off-road dirt bike into an everyday on-road vehicle, there are a few hoops you need to jump through to make your bike street legal. Every vehicle on the road needs to comply with the same set of regulations to keep the public safe. Auto manufacturers create vehicles that are designed to comply with these laws; however, since your bike was designed for off-road purposes, you can’t legally drive it on the road without making a few changes. Use this guide to learn how to make your dirtbike street legal without putting yourself or others at risk. Here are some street legal three wheeled motorized e-scooter you can also checkout.

What the Law Says

Most dirt bikes are not considered street legal, which means it is illegal to ride a dirt bike on public roads or sidewalks. They are specifically designed to be driven through the dirt.

According to the Federal Minimum Requirement for on-road motorcycles, all two-wheel vehicles, including dirt bikes, must contain the following in order to be driven on public roads:

  • A headlight with high- and low-beam functions as approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
  • A headlight indicator light that’s visible to the driver, so they can see when the light is on.
  • A battery-powered taillight and brake light that have been approved by the DOT. The bike must come with a switch for both front and rear controls. It should also be able to operate for a minimum of 20 minutes using only battery power.
  • Turn signals that have been approved by the DOT.
  • At least one rearview mirror.
  • A horn for alerting other drivers.
  • Tires that have been approved for on-road driving by the DOT.
  • A DOT-approved fuel tank.
  • A license plate bracket with the correct license.

However, this is nowhere near the definitive list. Most states have added to the federal guidelines by including their own regulations for on-road motorcycles. For example, some states will ask you to have two rear view mirrors instead of one. Other states mandate having an electric horn.

For example, you must receive the proper certification from California’s Air Resource Board (CARB) if you want to drive your dirt bike in the state, which is designed to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions in the state by 45%.

Source: Gerain0812/Shutterstock.com

Be sure to research the latest regulations in your state by contacting your local Department of Transportation for more information. In most cases, you will need to obtain a permit and/or license and register your dirt bike with the department.

Necessary Upgrades and Specifications

Let’s look at how these various upgrades will affect your dirt bike. Swapping out one part for another may sound simple enough, but converting a dirt bike is an extensive process that requires professional skills. These modifications will ultimately change the way your bike handles on the road. If you don’t feel up to the job or don’t have the necessary know-how, consider buying a street legal dirt bike or dual sport motorcycle instead.

Converting your dirt bike into an on-road vehicle can easily cost you several hundred dollars or more, so be sure to set aside some money ahead of time. The cost may be higher if your bike needs to be repaired or your state has a lot of additional requirements.

Consider making the following modifications to improve on-road performance:

  • You may need to upgrade the electrical system to make room for all these new components and devices.
  • Add an EPA-approved exhaust to make your bike look like it was made for the street. It shouldn’t be noisy or produce a lot of smoke.
  • When upgrading your tires, you may need to upgrade the braking system as well, especially if your new tires are larger in size.
  • You may also need to update the speedometer, now that you’ve made all these changes, so you can accurately track the number of miles you’ve traveled, although this isn’t required by law.
  • It’s also best to add a kickstand to your bike, so you can keep it up right on the street without it falling over.
  • Consider upgrading the gearing system as well. Off-road bikes are geared with lower speeds than on-road motorcycles, so you may need to adjust your gear ratios.
  • Add a mount for your GPS or cell phone, so you can look up directions without taking your eyes off the road.
  • Use Bluetooth motorcycle helmet speakers to listen to the GPS or make calls hands-free

There are so many factors to consider when upgrading your dirt bike. Your first job is to make sure your vehicle complies with the law, but after that, it’s up to you to decide how much time and effort you’re willing to invest. If you plan on using your dirt bike as your main form of transportation, make sure it will perform well on the road. If you still plan on using your dirtbike in the wilderness, look for parts that let you enjoy the best of both worlds.

Source: David MG/Shutterstock.com

Safety Considerations

You can never be too careful when riding your dirt bike on the street. Increasing your speed and long rides can do a number on your bike after you’ve made all the necessary repairs, especially if it hasn’t been inspected by a professional.

There’s always a chance your dirt bike might not make the trip. That’s why it’s best to wear a Bluetooth motorcycle helmet that connects wirelessly to your phone, GPS or radio. You can quickly call for help in an emergency without physically reaching for your phone.

Make sure you are complying with your state’s road safety laws. Many states have specific safety laws on the books. For example, anyone that’s under the age of 21 must wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle in the state of Florida.

Keep this information in mind when converting your dirt bike into a street legal motorcycle. Stay safe and enjoy the thrill of the open road.


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