What does a dirt bike need to be street legal?

If you want to know What does a dirt bike need to be street legal? Then get ready to know about it.

You know that feeling. This is not your first time, and you’ve already had some good or bad experiences with it by now.

You are in love. The only thing that’s different this time is that it’s not with a person it’s with your dirt bike.

And like any newly love-struck person, you’re thinking about spending as much time as you can with your special someone. This thought had led you to ponder, can I make my perfect partner for off-roads into a street-legal one too?

You are just thinking from an economic point of view that 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 for you. Now that you have your answer, why should you read the whole article?

Well, let’s say the task you are about to undertake would require a much more detailed answer than a mere ‘yes’ or ‘no.’

So, here’s a step by step guide to making your dirt bike street-ready;

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, but your pal from a different state wouldn’t need the same papers. So the very first step would be to make a checklist as per your state.

The U.S. government has a ‘Federal Minimum Requirement,’ which makes this task easy (or difficult) depending on how you see it.

It provides a basic 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 motorcycle to zoom past on State roads, there’s a list of basic 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)

Dirt bikes need to have the following things for Street legal:

License plate holder

It has to be the most important aspect of making your dirt bike legal. Getting a good license plate holder. You have to make a place for it to mount on.

Several states have their own rules on how should display a license plate, so check beforehand from the DMV that you’re abiding by the rules. Else, you won’t appreciate undue attention from officers while riding.  

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. A 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.

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 just 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, color, and design that goes perfectly with your bike. If done well, it could only enhance the overall look of your bike.

Functioning Horn

Adding a horn to your bike is another no-brainer. While in many states, it is mandatory to add an electric horn, there are many that 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 from you. At the same time, the idea is not to make them deaf.

Turn signals

Some states are lenient on turn signals, but it still might be a good idea to get one. Turn signals allow your fellow city dwellers to warn that you are about to make a turn.

Riding a bike in a city that is already full of 2 wheelers & 4-wheelers, there’s nothing like too much safety. Also, get turn signals for both the front and rear end of the bike.

Exhaust

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 very little to say on this aspect. However, don’t get a fancy one.

The more simple 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. 

Tires 

Any bike plying on the streets of the country must have DOT-certified tires on them. While you may get away with this rule by using the same pair of tires but it would simply put you in harm’s way.

Off-roading tires are poorly suited for streets and can be dangerous for the rider as well as for your fellow commuter. Getting a pair that’s more suitable for the streets is more like an investment.

Investment in your well-being. 

Odometer

A dirt bike has a small capacity of only 2 gallons, and using it on the Street; you would run out of gas more often than you would like to. An all-in-one odometer comes as a savior here.

It not only makes sure you are made aware of your gas stock well in advance but also gives you an idea about the RPM, speed, mileage, and engine temperature. Hence, an odometer would be a useful addition to the list.

Fan

Most street bikes aren’t built to keep their on-street performance; hence you won’t find a fan on most of these dirt bikes. However, while using it on the streets, you won’t escape traffic (no matter how much you want).

Going to work or the nearest Starbucks for your favorite coffee, you might find yourself stuck in heavy traffic. Here your fan will keep the engine from overheating.

In addition to that, during summer, a fan would enable your bike to operate smoothly by cooling down the temperatures of the engine. 

Gearing

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, for you to make its optimum use as a street bike, you’ll need to alter the gear ratios.

You can choose to do this yourself 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.   

Conclusion

Converting your dirt bike to a street-legal machine is by no means an 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).

There are even states like California where it’s next to impossible to get your clearance.

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 of dedicating that much effort because there’s a good chance after you have been through everything, you are still not able to make the bike street legal.

So, pause and think it over long and hard before you act on it. This task is certainly 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.                 

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I’m Thomas. Since childhood, I am fond of bikes and hence dirt bikes are my passion now. Ever since then, I’ve been giving advice to the beginners and this has become my hobby.

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