How to Make a Dirt Bike Street Legal: The Rules and Modifications

You’re the type of person who likes to push boundaries and explore new territories. You love how a dirt bike feels in your hands, and you can’t wait to ride it on the street.

But there’s one problem – dirt bikes aren’t street legal in most states and you don’t want to get ticketed or fined.

So, how do you overcome this obstacle and still ride your bike without getting in trouble?

The answer lies in fulfilling all the road legality requirements by bringing necessary modifications to your dirt bike.

In this article, we will discuss how to make a dirt bike street legal without spending too much money and time.

Table of Contents

What Makes Dirt Bikes Different from Road Bikes?

Road bikes are designed to be ridden on paved surfaces. This classification has an average ground clearance of about 12 inches and they don’t have any suspension components as a dirt bike does.

Dirt bikes are different in that, they feature front and rear suspension. They have large knobby tires that can grip onto the terrain better due to their width, as well as other modifications such as foot pegs for added control.

Street legal bikes require a headlight and taillight, which are required by law to be sold with the bike. But a dirt bike doesn’t need this and it can come with of aftermarket LED light kit.

In brief, a dirt bike lacks some key components that are required by the law for it to become street legal.

The Law That Governs Street Legality of Bike

The laws that govern the street-legality of bikes are the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and its regulations. The MVA sets out minimum safety standards for vehicles, including motorcycles which also include dirt bikes.

There are two types of requirements for a bike to be street legal, mechanical and non-mechanical.

Mechanical Requirements

A bike should meet some mechanical specifications for it to be legal to ride on the streets.

It should have a braking system that will stop the bike within 30 meters from an initial speed of 32 km/h. This is to ensure it stops in time and doesn’t injure anyone on the road.

A bike should have some key components required by law for a street-legal vehicle, such as reflectors, headlamps, rear lamps, and turn signals which are needed to be sold with, or an aftermarket LED lights kit can replace them.

The handlebars must also meet certain requirements set out by law where they have to extend at least 760 millimeters above the seat when measured horizontally.

Non-mechanical Requirements

Apart from mechanical requirements that determine the performance of the bike on road, it also needs to fulfill some non-mechanical requirements like:

  • Registration from the respective authority.
  • A license plate that meets the legal requirement.
  • Vehicle decal for Off-roading and highway.
  • Inspection certificate from the respective authority.

How to Make a Dirt Bike Street Legal – Additions and Modifications

Get an Appropriate Headlight

One of the modifications needed to make a dirt bike street legal is installing a headlight. Every street-legal bike should have a headlight that is strong enough to see and be seen by other road users.

Not only for the shake of law, but a good headlight will also allow you to be more visible in low-light situations, which is especially important during the wintertime.

For street bikes, this means that a headlight should not have any luminous intensity of less than 300 lux at 100 meters (330 feet) from its centerline.

You should be able to switch between high and low beams, have both a “steady on” setting as well as a flashing mode by using an appropriate battery.

A headlight should not be mounted in such way that the light beam is more than 25 inches from the ground to prevent blinding other road users.

There are two types of headlight available, LED and Halogen.

LEDs are brighter, longer-lasting, and more energy-efficient. Halogen lights provide a warmer light that is easier on the eyes and cheaper to buy. It will help you in foggy conditions.

If you have enough budget for modifications then you can easily find one in your local stores or online. But if you want to save some bucks here, you can find a used one on Craigslist, eBay, or other websites.

We recommend you give special attention to the headlight because it will be the one that gets your attention from other drivers and a bad cheap one can be dysfunctional anytime.

Add Tail and Brake Lights

Motorcycles are required to have an operating brake lamp also known as taillight, capable of emitting both red and white lights in order to create a stop signal when needed.

Brake lamps shall emit either steady or flashing red light as long as they are applied. The color should be amber.

You can choose from LED or Halogen. The legal specification for tail light is that:

  • The taillight should be wired so that it can emit amber light if needed that will be the color when brake lamps are applied.
  • A tail light must have a range of between 250 and 600 ft in normal atmospheric conditions to comply with legal standards.
  • Taillights must also not interfere or affect other driver’s vision which means they cannot project beams more than 200 degrees from its axis point, nor illuminate any part of the vehicle behind them unless specifically permitted.

Add Turn Signal Lights

Turn signal lights are very important to have on your bike.

Statistics show that more than 600,000 cars a year are involved in crashes with motorcyclists. One of the main factors is when drivers don’t know what turn signal lights to look for on bikes.

So, if you want to ride safely and get a road permit for your dirt bike then, add front and rear turn signal lights to your bike.

The requirements for turn signals are:

  • You must use white light with amber or yellow lenses.
  • Turn signals may not be red in color and they are limited to one on each side of the vehicle. They cannot flash simultaneously nor can they flash more than once every two seconds as long as their battery is functioning properly.
  • They should be mounted at the front and rear of the vehicle, with a maximum distance between them being 20 inches apart from center to center.
  • If they are wired so that their function is opposite for each side, they must turn off when not in use.

Get a Pair of Rearview Mirror

Depending on where you want to ride your bike, it may require one or two rearview mirrors.  The two-mirror setup is suited for street or country riding, while one mirror will work well in the woods.

If you aren’t on a tight budget, then we recommend you add two mirrors to your dirt bike because the other one will come in handy when you’re riding in traffic.

Rearview mirror price varies from $12 up to $150 for the most advanced models.

The mirrors should be placed at the right height and angle so they can offer a clear view of the traffic behind you, without being obstructed by any part of your bike or body.

Replace Your Tires

Although overlooked by most of the new riders, tires are the most important aspect of making your dirt bike street legal.

Most people think that dirt bike tiers will do the job on the streets, but not. They were not made for that.

The best way to ensure a safe ride is by replacing the tires with two new ones that have enough grip on asphalt, so you can maintain control even when going at higher speeds and through wet conditions.

While choosing a replacement tire for your bike make sure it performs well in both asphalt road and off-road conditions. A perfect tire for this would be a dual-purpose cruiser tire that can handle both the asphalt road and dirt.

Depending on the quality of the material a dual-purpose tire will cost around $150-$200 for the pair.

Change the Exhaust If Necessary

In most of the state’s motor vehicle laws, there are different exhaust restrictions for bikes.

Dirt bike manufacturers often include street-legal exhausts in the purchase price or offer street legal kits as a separate item, but if not, you will need to change the stock one with a modern closed pipe that is quiet and does not exceed noise limits set by state law.

Different states have different regulations on how much of an improvement can be made from stock and what kind of pipes are allowed.

For example, California only allows non-slip coated slip joint pipes because they are less likely to make noises due to vibration than other types like cats and megaphones, whereas Arizona lets any type of muffler do except straight open pipes which it considers too loud.

Make sure you add an EPA-approved spark arrestor to the end of your exhaust system.

Upgrade the Electrical System

Your dirt bike may require an electrical system update to make it street legal.

Check the specifications of your dirt bike to determine what components need to be replaced or upgraded.

For example, some dirt bikes have an electric starter but not a kick-start which would require the addition of a battery and wiring for it to function properly on the street.

Check your bike’s specifications to determine how much power it draws and what type of alternator is needed for street use, as well as any other electrical components that may need upgrading such as a voltage regulator.

You may also need to upgrade the batter in order to meet state requirements.

Add A Good Horn

The next needed modification to turn a dirt bike street legal is getting an adequate horn.

One of the most important safety features on any vehicle is the horn, and you are not going to find one when riding a dirt bike. It’s really hard for people behind you or pedestrians crossing in front of your path to know that they need to be aware that a dirt bike is coming their way.

The best horn for this situation would be the Hipster Horn. This small, compact device clips onto your steering column and can be operated by either hand. It’s designed to fit most bikes without any modifications needed in terms of mounting or positioning.

A good horn will cost you about $25 and will be well worth the investment. But you can get one for as low as $15, so shop around.

Install a Speedometer

Although not strictly required by the law in most cases, it’s a good idea to have one. If you are ever pulled over by the police, they may ask for proof of how fast you were going, and it’s best not to be caught with your pants down on this front.

If your dirt bike is modified in such a way that there isn’t space for an analog speedometer or digital device such as those found inside most motorcycles, then don’t sweat it. All modern smartphones come equipped with GPS technology which can measure how far you’ve traveled at what rate of speed.

If budget allows, you can get an odometer that can measure a number of things like speed, RPM, gas, mileage, engine temperature. This is super handy when planning for a long road trip.

Attach a Kickstand

The kickstand isn’t required by the law for a bike to be street legal, but it’s a good idea to attach one to your dirt bike.

You will find it more difficult to store your bike while it’s lying flat on the ground, and you will find that a kickstand makes for an easier time parking.

Get a Number Plate

When you have done all the modifications, it’s time to get a number plate. There are two types of plates, Permanent and Temporary.

A permanent number plate will cost you about $167 and last for five years. You can renew the registration after it has expired, but keep in mind that this may be subject to change depending on your state’s laws.

A temporary plate is only good for one year and costs between $35-$50, plus an extra fee if you want to mount it.

The cheapest option would be the permanent plate because they last longer than one year so there’s no need to buy another sticker every time you ride around town without a license plate mounted somewhere on your bike as some people do.

Inspection Certificate

After all the modifications are done, you will still need a valid inspection certificate to be able to ride your street-legal dirt bike on the road.

The only way you can get one of these is if, after passing all state and federal requirements including emissions testing, your vehicle has been inspected by an authorized officer.

You can get your bike inspected at any DMV office, but if you’re willing to make the trip, there are some states that offer mobile inspections.

For example, in Massachusetts, an authorized officer can come out and inspect your dirt bike at any location of your choosing as long as they have advance notice.

In fact, one can get their street-legal dirt motorcycle fully inspected on-site with just 15 minutes’ notice by using Mass DMV’s new on-demand service.

Purchase Vehicle Decal

An off-highway vehicle decal is a decal that you can purchase to show that your bike is street legal. You attach it to the lower left-hand side of your headlamp and it costs $25 each year.

The most important thing about getting an OHV decal for your dirt bike is ensuring that they are not expired or else you will be breaking the law by riding on public roads with an illegal vehicle sticker attached.

Get Insurance If You Ride on Public Streets

It is required by the law that all bikes be insured, but you’ll also need to get the right kind of insurance.

If you have an accident, and there is not enough insurance to cover the damage or injury, then your assets will be at risk.

The law requires that, for bikes up to $20,000, you have liability and property damage coverage for $25,000 per person or $50,000 per incident, not just motorcycle riders.

If your bike doesn’t meet this requirement, say it costs more than $20,000, then a written statement from an experienced dealer or manufacturer can satisfy the requirement instead.

Vehicle Registration

It is by the law that you must register your bike and keep it registered.

The registration can be done at any DMV office or the police department in which you live.

To get vehicle registration, your bike must be in safe, operable condition and have a title. It is also required to display the plate on your bike so that it can be seen by other drivers as well as law enforcement if you were stopped.

The registration fee for motorcycles will vary depending on whether or not the motorcycle has an engine size of less than 50 ccs. If the engine size is over 50cc’s then there may be additional fees because they are classified as high-powered vehicles.

You must make sure to register your dirt bike legally within 15 days following its purchase date. Otherwise, this could result in fines up to $1000. These same rules apply when simply registering a new address.

Frequently Asked Question About Dirt Bike Modification for Street?

How Much Does It Cost to Make a Dirt Bike Streel Legal?

The cost of making a dirt bike street legal can be between $200 and $600.

The cost varies depending on some factors like, what kind of license plate you want to buy, whether or not you need insurance which can add up to the price, and how much work needs to be done to make your gas-powered dirt bike to be more efficient.

Are 125 cc Dirt Bikes Street Legal?

125 cc dirt bikes can be made street legal with all the necessary additions and modifications.

A 125cc dirt bike should not exceed 69 decibels while operating on a public roadway or sidewalk, so anything over that needs to be removed from your vehicle in order for it to pass as street legal.

What is the CC Limitation for a Dirt Bike for it to be Street Legal?

All dirt bikes must be less than or equal to 300cc in order to be street legal.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a License Plat for a Dirt Bike?

The cost of license plate will depend on the type of plate you want to have. If you buy a permanent plate for your bike, then that will cost you around $150 and you can get a temporary one for as low as $50.

What is the Best Street Legal Dirt Bike Available Now?

There are a lot of options out there. However, the best street-legal dirt bike for the money is probably going to be a KTM 200 XC-W. You can also have a look at the Yamaha YZ250X.

Does a Dirt Bike Worth Modification for Street?

Modifying a dirt bike for the street worth it, but be aware that there are certain parts and modifications you will need to make in order for your bike to be fully compliant with the law.

What is A Street Legal Dirt Bike?

A street-legal dirt bike is one that has been modified to adhere to the law.

Once you have added the necessary components that are required by the law, it will become legal to ride on the road and often termed as a motocross bike.