Riding any motorcycle gives you a great sense of freedom. Now, imagine if you had a bike that was capable of riding on-road and off. Now that’s really freedom!
If you’ve got a dirt bike that you love to ride, you may have wondered what it would take to make it street legal.
Well, MotorcycleZombies.com has the answers for you. We’ll cover the general requirements involved to help you determine whether it’ll be worth it to convert your dirt bike into a street legal motorcycle.
What is a Street Legal Dirt Bike?
A street legal dirt bike is a type of motorcycle that can be ridden off-road and on-road legally.
Street legal dirt bikes are more commonly known as dual sport motorcycles, while dirt bikes designed for off-road use only are often referred to as an enduro.
What Makes a Dirt Bike Street Legal?
There are a few different things that determine whether a dirt bike is street legal or not.
Some bikes are easier to convert to street legal than others.
In order for a dirt bike to be street legal, it will need to:
- Meet both federal, state, and local requirements for street motorcycles and on-highway vehicles.
- Satisfy emissions and safety standards set by your state or local jurisdiction.
- Pass a VIN inspection.
- Have all the necessary street-legal equipment.
- Be properly titled and registered with your state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
- Have a license plate with current registration stickers.
- Have a current motorcycle insurance policy that meets your state’s minimum liability requirements.
In order to ride your street legal dirt bike on public roads, you’ll also be required to have a valid motorcycle endorsement.
Still think it’ll be worth it to convert your Enduro to a Dual-Sport? Keep reading for more tips and requirements.
How to Make a Dirt Bike Street Legal
If you’re determined to make your dirt bike street legal, you’ve got a long road ahead of you.
First, you’ll need to make sure that you’ll be able to do it with the bike you have. Not every dirt bike is going to be able to satisfy the emissions and inspection requirements set by the state.
You’ll also need to be able to present the proper documentation in order to get it titled and registered with your state DMV.
Finally, you’ll need to install all the necessary street legal equipment so that it will pass safety inspections and you won’t be pulled over and ticketed when riding.
We’ll cover the major steps below.
If you think you’ll be able to do it, you’ll need to confirm the exact steps, forms, and fees through your state DMV.
Emissions Requirements for Street Legal Dirt Bikes
Vehicle emissions requirements vary from state to state, with states like California having the strictest emissions standards.
Dirt bikes that are manufactured to be sold in California (any many other states) will have a California Air Resource Board (CARB) certification sticker.
CARB stickers are either green or red.
Green means that the vehicle satisfies emissions standards and may be eligible for on-road use.
Red stickers mean that the vehicle does not satisfy emissions standards, can only be used at certain times of the year, and cannot be street legal.
Title, Registration, and License Plates
Your next step for converting your dirt bike to be street legal is to get it titled and registered.
For more information about the motorcycle title and registration process in each state, check out our Title and Registration section.
In order to get license plates and stickers for your bike, you’ll first need a valid on-road title and registration.
To register and title a street legal dirt bike, you’ll need:
- To schedule an appointment and visit your local DMV office.
- Complete an application for Title and Registration.
- Provide proof of ownership, which may include:
- The Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO).
- A bill of sale or factory invoice from a dealership.
- Title documents.
- Pass a VIN inspection.
- Provide proof of a motorcycle insurance policy that meets your state’s requirements.
- Satisfy the state’s safety and emissions requirements for motorcycles.
- Pay the title fees, registration fees, and taxes.
Note that if your dirt bike’s title states “Off-Highway Use Only,” you’ll need to take the steps to get that changed through the DMV. This typically involves getting the bike inspected and having the title changed.
As part of the title and registration process, you’ll need the dirt bike to pass a few inspections before it can become street legal.
The first one is typically a VIN inspection.
A VIN inspection will require you to take the bike along with your title/ownership documents to an inspection station where an authorized inspector will certify that the vehicle meets the state requirements and can be registered for on-road use.
Additionally, the bike will need to pass a safety inspection. This may be a combined process with the VIN inspection step.
The safety inspection will confirm that the bike includes all the necessary equipment and functionality for on-road use, including:
- Headlight with high beam and low beam settings.
- Brake lights.
- Turn signals.
- DOT-approved tires.
- DOT-approved fuel tank.
- On-road exhaust.
- License plate holder.
Depending on the specific dirt bike you have, satisfying all of the above requirements may be difficult. More on that below.
Street Legal Equipment for a Dirt Bike
Each state has slightly different requirements for street legal motorcycle equipment, but must have fairly similar requirements. We’ll cover the general ones below.
Maybe the most time consuming and costly part of the process is installing all of the necessary street legal equipment that most dirt bikes are lacking.
You’ll need to confirm exactly what your motorcycle will need with your state DMV. You can learn more about motorcycle laws by state here.
Some things are easier than other, such as:
- DOT-approved tires.
Others, like all the electrical components, may be a bit more difficult.
Most off-road designed dirt bikes lack the appropriate charging system and battery required to run all the street legal lights and electronics such as the headlight, taillight, turn signals, and horn.
In order to run these components without killing the bike, you may need to upgrade the charging and electrical system, which can include:
- Adding a larger battery.
- Installing a stator and alternator.
- Regulator/rectifier unit.
- Creating a new wiring harness to accommodate the new electrical components.
Once you’ve got the necessary electrical system upgrades to handle the new components, you’ll need to wiring it all up and attach the new lights and parts.
Additionally, you’ll need to add a lighted license plate bracket to properly display your plate.
You’ll need to make sure your exhaust doesn’t create excess noise or smoke as well.
Some other things to consider, to make on-road use easier for you include:
- A kickstand.
- A speedometer (which may be required in your state).
- A gear ratio that is better suited for on-road speeds.
If you’re not convinced yet, anyone who is telling you that converting and off-road dirt bike into a street legal is easy, is not telling you the full story.
Easiest Way to Make Your Dirt Bike Street Legal
If you’ve read this far, you’re well aware that there is a lot of work involved with converting your off-road dirt bike into a street legal one.
You’ll need to purchase and fit a lot of new parts and components, and you’ll be required to satisfy all the documentation and inspection requirements set by the state and federal government.
Converting a dirt bike that was manufactured for off-road use only into a street legal motorcycle is no quick and easy task.
Do you want to know the easiest way to do it?
Purchase a motorcycle that is already street legal and designed for off-road use – AKA a dual sport. There will be a lot less hoops to jump through, and you’ll likely save yourself some major headache.