Dirt bikes do not come with the same features and protections as traditional vehicles, so you can’t exactly drive them wherever you want. They are designed to be ridden in off-road areas far away from the noise and commotion of busy streets. You don’t need a driver’s license or liability insurance to drive a dirt bike, but some states do have age restrictions in place. This gives you enormous freedom to travel as you please in the great outdoors, but that freedom comes to an end when you reach paved roads.
So, are dirt bikes street legal?
No, stock dirt bikes are not considered street legal because they don’t have the features and equipment needed to drive on the road. Street driving is a lot more complicated than cruising through the wilderness. Your bike needs proper identification in order to travel on the street so the government and the local authorities can identify the bike if necessary. You will need a driver’s license and general liability insurance to drive on the road. However, you will need a motorcycle license to drive a dual-sport motorcycle.
You can ride your dirt bike on the street in some areas providing you make the necessary modifications. If you are thinking about driving your dirt bike on a paved street or road, keep these tips in mind to avoid getting into trouble:
Communication plays a part in why dirt bikes aren’t street legal. When you’re alone in the woods or driving along a desolate trail, you don’t need to worry about pedestrians or other drivers. When you are driving by yourself on the road, you still need to communicate with other drivers by signaling your intentions.
What if you’re not alone? In a car, you can simply talk to your passenger or call whoever you need to talk to. Most modern vehicles have bluetooth capabilities so you can make phone calls hands-free. But what about on a dirt bike?
If you’re hitting the trails with a couple of friends, you can’t just turn to each other and talk while you ride. Between the helmet and the noise of the bikes, you’ll only stand a chance of hearing each other if you’re shouting. Even then, there’s no guarantee. You may need to install a device on your helmet so you can communicate instead. A hands-free device will keep you safe and connected to each other just in case someone gets lost or you need to warn each other about an obstacle in the trail.
Every State Has Its Own Laws
While factory dirt bikes aren’t street legal, you might be able to ride your dirt bike on the street in some states assuming you follow the rules. Every state has its own laws regarding the legalization process. Some states ban the practice outright except for certain makes and models, while other states allow dirt bike riders to drive on the street if they have the proper equipment.
For example, California has some of the strictest dirt bike laws in the country. In order to ride your dirt bike on the road in CA, the bike must meet the state’s emission standards. The state gives out either red or green stickers based on emissions. Red stickers are for older, less efficient dirt bikes, while green stickers are for more energy efficient models, such as the 2022 Honda CRF450X, CRF250F, CRF125F, CRF110F and CRF50F.
But even a green sticker doesn’t guarantee you a spot on the road. You will also need to have functional mirrors, lights and a windshield.
Check with your state’s dirt bike laws to see if making your bike street legal is even an option. Follow all the rules and guidelines to modify your bike for the road.
You will need to modify your dirt bike regardless of where you plan on riding. The main components you will need are side-view mirrors, a horn, improved braking system, turn signals and quality headlamps for seeing at night. The headlamp needs to have a high beam and low beam setting, as well as an indication of when the high beam is on so you don’t blind other drivers. The tail light needs to be actuated by the front brake lever and the rear brake pedal. The turn signals should be approved by the Department of Transportation.
You shouldn’t go anywhere on a dirt bike unless you are wearing the proper safety gear, including a full-face helmet with a visor, boots and gloves. You may also need long sleeves and pants to protect your skin from the wind, sun and flying debris.
Attach a Bluetooth helmet communication device to your helmet to communicate hands-free while riding. You can access your phone, radio or GPS device without taking your hands off the handlebars. This makes it much easier to communicate with your fellow riders on and off the road. You shouldn’t look down or physically interact with your device while riding.
Considering the risks of riding on the road, brush up on your dirt bike riding skills by reviewing important safety information.
It’s possible to ride a dirt bike on the street, but these vehicles are generally reserved for approved trails and private property. Do your research before driving your bike on a paved road to avoid getting a fine or having your dirt bike impounded.