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If you love riding your dirt bike so much that you want to ride on the street, too, you have to go through a lot to make it street legal. A lot of time, a lot of paperwork, and a lot of manual labor. But luckily, there are ways to make your dirt bike street legal so that you can save a lot of money!
Following state laws, obtain the proper hardware required using junkyards, Amazon, and craigslist. Deep knowledge of the state by state requirements is necessary for legalizing a dirt bike on a budget.
If you don’t want to break the bank to ride your dirt bike on main roads, keep on reading! This post is for you.
What Does the Law Say?
The tricky thing about making a dirt bike street legal is that every state’s Department of Transportation is a little different and requires something that its neighboring state does not.
That being said, this post is going to cover what is required in most states. So before you make any purchases or start converting your dirt bike into a street-legal vehicle, make sure to check the laws for the state you live in with the Department of Transportation. You can just Google search “Department of Transportation (insert your state here)” and you’ll find it.
Generally, the law requires street-legal vehicles to have both mechanical and non-mechanical elements. Keep reading to find out exactly what you need to get!
When you’re converting your dirt bike into a street legal vehicle, you want to start with the mechanical additions.
Street legal dirt bikes need to have the following things:
- Headlights (some states require that the headlight can switch between a high beam and low beam setting)
- A functional horn
- At least one rearview mirror (some states only require one, some require two)
- Tail lights
- Brake lights
- Turn signals
- Department of Transportation approved tires
- Department of Transportation approved gas tank
Some of these items will vary from state to state, so again, make sure you check with your state’s Department of Transportation.
Whether you’re riding in a car or on a street legal dirt bike, vehicles being operated on main roads require several items. You’re gonna want to do these things after your dirt bike meets every street legal requirement for your state by a mechanical standard.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A license plate
- Off-Highway Vehicle Decal
- Inspection Certificate
These things are required in almost every single state. You won’t be able to get passed a police officer without a ticket if you don’t have any one of these things when riding your street legal dirt bike.
DID YOU KNOW? Many people are tempted to ride their dirt bike on the sidewalk in public, believing this will make is so they don’t have to make their bike street legal. However, riding a dirt bike on a sidewalk is almost always illegal. There are a few exceptions though, find out what the exceptions are to riding a dirt bike on a sidewalk here.
Having a headlight is absolutely necessary not only for street legality but also to keep you safe.
The Department of Transportation in every single state requires that street legal dirt bikes have a headlight that makes the vehicle visible to others on the road and increase the rider’s ability to see in the dark or in poor weather conditions. As I said before, this will keep you safe because it will allow you to see and be seen. It will also keep you from getting pulled over and ticketed by a police officer.
In some states, the Department of Transportation requires that street legal dirt bikes have a headlight that can switch between high beam and low beam settings. Make sure that you check your specific state’s laws on that.
If money isn’t an issue, you can find a perfect headlight for your street legal dirt bike with no problem on literally any motor vehicle website or store, perhaps even Walmart.
Finding one for dirt-cheap, though, can be a little bit tricky.
If you’re looking for a headlight that won’t make your wallet and/or you cry, you have plenty of options that will save you some money.
As with most things, you can always buy something used on Craigslist, eBay, Facebook Market, or other places like them. I was able to find a headlight with both high beam and low beam settings on eBay for $16.95.
If shopping on those websites isn’t your style, don’t fret! There is still hope!
A more reputable and reliable website, Amazon, also sells plenty of headlights that won’t break the bank. I found this set of spotlights on Amazon, they’re cheap, and they’re Prime! While they aren’t “headlights” per se, they’ll do the job. What’s important is that you can see and be seen.
But, if having lights that aren’t specifically “headlights” makes you nervous, I found this Universal one on Amazon for a steal of a price! Without a doubt, this headlight will qualify as street-legal without costing you an arm and a leg.
If you want to go even cheaper, though, take a visit to a local junkyard or pick and pull. You’re sure to find something that will work for you there!
Having a horn seems less important than a headlight, but it’s still required in every state.
There’s actually quite a bit of debate about how to meet this legal requirement on street-legal dirt bikes. Some states require that street legal dirt bikes have an electric horn, and others only require that there’s a horn, electric not necessary.
So, technically, in some states, you can get away with having a cool squeeze horn like this on one Amazon, on your dirt bike.
Ok, jokes aside, you could actually have a squeeze horn on your dirt bike. They come pretty cheap, so if your state allows it, and you’re not embarrassed by the vintage vibes it’ll give you and your dirt bike, why not? You can buy one of these basic ones on Amazon for relatively cheap.
But if your state requires an electric horn, or if you’re just not the bulb squeezin’ type, you can buy those for cheap, too. I found a TON of them on Amazon. This universal electric horn (Amazon Link) is SUCH a good deal! (And it’s basically the same price as the squeeze horn… Ha.)
Since some states require electric and others don’t have a specific law, I recommend just buying an electric horn. The choice is yours, though.
Rear View Mirrors
Rear view mirrors are another thing that changes between state to state. Some states require street legal dirt bikes to have two rear view mirrors just like a car or motorcycle would, while other states only require one mirror.
I guess if you’re in a state that doesn’t require two rear view mirrors and you have a really tight budget, you could buy just one mirror from a pick and pull store near you. But if you’re shopping online or from most other motor vehicle shops, you probably will have to buy mirrors in a pack of two. I also found that buying a pack of two is typically less expensive than buying a single mirror.
Aside from cost-effectiveness, having two mirrors will increase your ability to see when riding your dirt bike on the main road. This is really important, especially when there’s a lot of traffic around you.
Regardless of how many mirrors you have, every state requires at least one to make your dirt bike street legal. So no matter what, you need a mirror.
Buying mirrors for your dirt bike without spending a lot of money is a little tricky. The point of having mirrors is so that you can see more around you, but so many of the inexpensive options are pretty low-quality.
I found mirrors online for $11.99, but I can’t vouch for their trustworthiness on the road. A better option like these Mictuning Universal ones (on Amazon) can be purchased on Amazon. For their price, these mirrors are fantastic and hold up well for dirt bikers.
If you want to explore other options, see if your local pick-and-pull store or junkyard has a set of mirrors for even cheaper than what you can buy online.
I also found this Bike Accessory kit on Amazon that includes a squeeze horn, a bell, and some small LED lights. It couldn’t hurt to give that a try; it’ll knock three things off of your list of things to buy in one purchase!
Tail and Brake Lights
Driving on main roads, you can’t get away with not having tail lights or brake lights. Having lights on the back of your vehicle for others behind you to see you in the dark and/or know you’re slowing down is vital to preventing getting rear-ended.
In fact, the Department of Transportation in every state requires that your street legal dirt bike has a tail light that not only lights up but can also signify braking. In some states, the tail and brake light should be connected to a battery that can stay lit for at least 20 minutes without assistance.
Because of the battery issue, LED lights are the best option to meet the legal requirements on your dirt bike.
Kind of like the mirrors, though, it’s hard to find a high-quality product that works well enough to actually keep you safe while riding your street legal dirt bike. However, you can often find them for less than $20.
For some reasonably-priced brake and taillights, you can go to Amazon. I found this ZW Homeland brand one that functions as a brake light as well as a tail light.
If you can, though, I highly recommend spending closer to $30 or $40 on a tail light, which is the average price between motor vehicle stores.
Turn signals are another addition that is not absolutely necessary in many states, but I highly recommend installing them anyway.
In several states, turn signals are not required at all. Instead, the law only requires that dirt bikers on the main roads use hand signals to communicate with other drivers on the road.
If you’re nearing your budget limit and your state doesn’t require turn signals, I totally understand. However, if you can pay for them, I strongly encourage you to do so.
Just like the tail and brake lights, turn signals play a huge role in not getting rear-ended or otherwise hurt while on the road. Installing turn signals on your street legal dirt bike makes signaling your movements easier because you can maintain control better when you don’t have to move your hands as far. Not only this, but other vehicles will be able to see you easier at night time and in poor weather conditions when you have actual turn signals.
Turn signals don’t need to be expensive, either. I was able to find these turn signals (Amazon link) in a pack of four on Amazon for a very inexpensive price.
You could also buy turn signals in packs of two, but they are typically smaller and less bright than you will probably want for safety purposes. You’ll probably also want to buy two of them, which I’m not sure is more cost-effective.
Department of Transportation Approved Tires
I know I promised you we’d stay under $100, but tires might make it tricky. Typically, tires will cost over $100 alone.
Be careful that when you shop for tires, they do have that Department of Transportation approval. If the product description doesn’t explicitly say that the tires are approved by the Department of Transportation, do not assume they are approved.
And don’t assume your dirt bike tires you already have will work on the highway, either. That isn’t what they’re made for, and they will not survive highway speeds. (And if your tires don’t survive, you probably won’t either. Take this seriously.)
This requirement for Department of Transportation approved tires is not just for the law. It’s to keep you safe, so please make sure you buy tires that are suited for the roads you’re riding on.
Department of Transportation Approved Fuel Tank
While fuel tanks are rarely checked or mentioned in street legality for dirt bikes, they are technically required in most states.
The fuel tank on your street legal dirt bike should be Department of Transportation approved and made of steel.
License Plate & Holder
Part of street legality is having a valid proof of registration for your dirt bike, which I’ll get to later. I bring it up now because when you have a registered vehicle, you need to have a license plate displayed.
You will get the actual license plate when you register your dirt bike with the DMV, but it’s important to get a holder before that just in case the state requires you to mount it immediately.
Something that’s pretty neat about license plate holders is that they’re cheap and often have tail lights already attached, like this Keenso one from Amazon. If you already have your tail lights, though, a plain old holder with the capability to attach the lights to it will work great.
It’s important to mount your dirt bike’s license plate as soon as possible to prevent any issues with the law.
For street legality, speedometers aren’t necessary. In fact, Indiana is the only state that requires street-legal dirt bikes to have them.
But just because speedometers aren’t required by law for street legal dirt bikes doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get one. My main reason for this is that you will still get pulled over for speeding even if you didn’t know you were. And you’ll still get a ticket. So just avoid the heartache and stress now. Just pick up a simple to install 12-volt universal speedometer like this one (Amazon link).
Off-Highway Vehicle Decal
By now, you’re probably close to your budget of $100, but the next few requirements are incredibly important for making your dirt bike street legal.
Getting an Off-Highway Vehicle Decal is one of the most important things you will need to do to get your dirt bike street legal. Almost every state requires it. If you get caught without one, there are some hefty consequences and fines.
In most states, you can get an OHV decal through the DMV for $50 or less. I know that could very well put you over budget, but it isn’t optional.
To get your dirt bike approved for riding on the main roads, you have to pass inspection and receive a certificate. Getting the inspection done is a breeze, and should cost you very little money (or even nothing) depending on where you go. You can get your dirt bike inspected and certified as street legal at most motorcycle shops. Call a few motorcycle shops ahead of time to find out how much they charge to inspect your dirt bike.
Last but certainly not least, you have to get your dirt bike registered to make it street legal. I know it’ll put you over budget, but it’s non-negotiable. Without registration, you can get a huge fine put against you, and sometimes even points against your driving record.
You can register your dirt bike through your local DMV. Fees for registering your dirt bike average at about $50 a year or less.
In any case, it is incredibly important that your dirt bike follows all of the rules and regulations outlined for your specific state. Make sure to check the laws for your state on its specific Department of Transportation website.