Skip to main content

Dirt bikes are fairly common for people who like two-wheel vehicles. Of course, people mostly use them on unpaved terrain, but it’s also not uncommon to see them driving on roads. However, it’s uncertain to many people if dirt bikes are legal on the street or if some brave riders simply risk it for the thrill.

Here’s a look into the legality of dirt bikes.

According to Global Market Insights INC, the dirt bike market was made up of 4 billion dollars in 2022. This figure continues to grow, but most dirt bikes are not street legal. The reason is that they are made for off-road use and lack many of the necessary features to function on the street. Of course, the features that dirt bikes lack are mostly related to safety.

Dirt bikes can become street legal with modifications
A person on a dirt bike | Hafizov via iStock

However, it is possible to make a dirt bike street legal. However, this can be pretty expensive as there are many components a vehicle needs for legal road use. For starters, dirt bikes that are legal on the street will need DOT-compliant headlights, turn signals, and certified tires. Of course, you’ll also need taillights, brake lights, and mirrors. Many states may also require street legal dirt bikes to have a horn.

Additionally, any street legal dirt bike will need a license plate bracket. However, how you get a license plate for your dirt bike varies by state. Notably, many require an inspection first. The price to make your dirt bike street legal typically ranges from $200 to $500. However, this depends on the model in question.

How are dirt bikes different from motorcycles

Of course, the law treats motorcycles as regular vehicles because they have the proper safety features. However, this isn’t the only difference between them and dirt bikes. As most people know, dirt bikes are smaller than motorcycles. Another difference is that motorcycles are faster, as dirt bikes don’t tend to keep up with highway speeds.

Regarding speed, dirt bikes typically average between 25 and 85 MPH. This is significantly lower than most motorcycles.

Most people can also tell a motorcycle apart from a dirt bike by its tires. Dirt bikes have narrow tires with more significant thread, which allows them to move rocks and other materials, such as debris, out of the way.

In general, dirt bikes are not legal on the street. However, they can be with the proper modifications. Still, they are not as safe on the road as other vehicles.