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Converting Your Dirt Bike Into A Street Legal Vehicle

Chaparral Motorsports
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February 14, 2015
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Last Updated: November 6, 2020

With love in the air for St. Valentines Day, let's not forget those that love their bikes. Off-road riding, burning up the highway, and cruising down city streets; there are many ways to enjoy the thrills of two wheels.

Numerous dirt bike enthusiasts want to take their ride from the rugged terrain to the streets in their city. However, certain laws, which vary per state, have specific restrictions on what type of bike you can legally ride on the roads.

There are rules, regulations and licenses required to drive any vehicle on public roads and highways, even just to park your bike. It's important to become familiar with a few important steps before you take your dirt bike to the streets:

Look Up Your State's Regulations

Again, each state has its own set of laws to prevent unwarranted vehicles from driving on the street. There are specific cc requirements and speeds that your state might enforce compared to other areas in the U.S.

Currently, the U.S. government uses the Federal Minimum Requirement, known as the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS), which is a good starting point to see what is required nationally. In addition, each state's Department of Transportation can have other requirements for road worthiness for vehicles in that state only. Every rider must follow these regulations, no matter if their bike was manufactured in a factory or built at home.

DOT Approved Lights

One of the most important parts to switching your dirt bike into a street legal ride is updating your lights. The DOT requires motorcycles to have an approved headlight that can switch between low beam and high beam. Additionally, there needs to be an indicator telling the rider when the high beam is in use.

Also, to legally ride your dirt bike on the road, you need a DOT-certified tail light and brake light that will let drivers behind you know that you're on the road or that you're braking. DOT regulations require that your tail light works for at least 20 minutes by using only battery power.

Other Necessary Parts

Since each state has its own regulations, it's important to look them up to see what specific parts you need. However, here are a few of the most common accessories needed:

One more item that you certainly need is a motorcycle license plate bracket. If your ride does not have an area to screw in a motorcycle license plate, you need to get a plate bracket that holds it in a visible display.

Additionally, depending on your state, you might be required to wear a helmet. This usually depends on your age and location. If your state does require a helmet, the gear must also be DOT certified.

DOT Tires Required

Another thing you need to do when you are changing your dirt bike into a street legal ride, is add new DOT-approved tires. Your wheels are an important part of your ride, and to keep you safe on the road, you need to have tires that are at least dual sport. DOT-certified tires have bigger disc rotors and thicker rubber to handle rough weather conditions.

No matter what kind of bike you are converting, there are plenty of street legal kits available for purchase that will come with all the necessary parts to get your ride prepared for the road. Some of these kits come with a horn, turn signals, a speedometer (though many states don't require, it's still good to know how fast you are going on the road), a high beam switch panel, a headlight and a kill switch. Getting all of this motorcycle gear will get you on your way.

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