If you’re a dirt bike owner, then it goes without saying that you love a lot of things about the experience of riding. Dirt biking isn’t just thrilling and exciting on every level. It’s incredible exercise as well, so it’s not hard to understand why you feel so good after some serious time spent out there on the trails.
It only makes sense to wonder what that same exhilarating feeling might bring to your morning commute or your usual Sunday drive. If you’re willing to do the work to officially make your bike street legal, you can actually do exactly that. Here’s a quick and dirty beginner’s guide to get you started on the right track.
Knowing the Law
Before you can make your beloved dirt bike over so that it’s perfectly in step with the law, you need a thorough understanding of what does (and doesn’t) make a given bike street legal. Start by becoming familiar with the federal minimum requirements set forth by the United States government. In order for you to legally be able to operate your dirt bike on state or federal roads, it will need to include the following.
Since visibility is a huge concern for any type of bike or motorcycle driving on a public road, it makes sense that you might need to upgrade your bike in this arena. To start with, your headlights need to not only be Department of Transportation (DOT) approved, but they must feature both high beam and low beam functions. The light you choose must also feature a visible indicator light that clearly shows when the high beam feature is active.
You may need to update your taillight and brake lights as well. To be more specific, you’ll need DOT approved battery-powered options that are capable of operating solely via battery power for a minimum time span of 20 minutes. The lights you choose are also required to have both rear and front switches for control purposes.
Of course, you’ll not only need to equip your dirt bike with turn signals if it doesn’t already have some, but you’ll need to make sure they’re compatible with current DOT standards. It’s also important to note that many U.S. states require the signals you choose to have been manufactured after 1973, so definitely check to see if your state of residence is one of them before settling on an option.
In addition to the above, you’ll need to fit your bike with a rearview mirror. However, some states only require one mirror, while others expect every bike to have at least two, so this is another detail you’ll want to look into as far as what your state’s laws say. You’ll also need to outfit your bike with a DOT compliant set of tires, fuel tank, exhaust system, and horn.
As always, thoroughly cross check the current federal DOT requirements with the state-specific requirements where you live. Some states do have item-specific requirements in place, while others leave bikers with a lot more wiggle room to work with. Be sure to look into whether your state requires your bike to have still more features in addition to the above as well. Possible examples include but aren’t necessarily limited to odometers and speedometers.
If at any time you have questions or aren’t sure about something specific, contact the DMV or the DOT and ask just to be sure. Direct contact with either of those entities is also the best way to be sure you have a comprehensive list of requirements that is completely up to date as well.
Your Electrical System: To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade?
If you’re wondering whether all of these alterations you’ll need to make will also require an upgrade to your bike’s existing electrical system, you’re right to do so. Many of the newer parts, lights, and options you might have your eye on could well require such an adjustment, so keep that in mind as you shop. Also consider the following.
- If your bike does have electrical components present in its current configuration, check your owner’s manual for detailed information on how your specific make and model bike is wired. This will help you determine whether anything new you want to buy is compatible.
- Consider whether or not a stator upgrade would make the desired changes to your bike easier. In many cases, such an upgrade is recommended and considered a very good idea, but your mileage may vary.
- Ask for advice from other bike enthusiasts in your state who may have made similar upgrades to their own rides. If you don’t know any personally, consider joining and taking advantage of an online forum dedicated to dirt bikes and the process of making them street legal.
Completing Your Conversion
When it comes to actually acquiring the equipment necessary to complete your upgrade, you have a couple of options available. If you have a specific look, feel, or function in mind for your bike, you can choose your gear and dirt bike aftermarket parts individually. You may also want to check with your bike retailer of choice to see whether all-in-one conversation kits are available. Just keep in mind that while conversion kits are definitely convenient, they should be considered a jumping off point only, as you’ll likely still need to buy more parts to fully complete your upgrade.
You’ll also want to make sure you’re fully prepared mentally for the fact that it will take time, patience, and dedication to take your bike from its current format all the way to full street legality. Although it’s understandable that you’re eager to be finished so that you can get your bike on the road already, it’s vitally important that you don’t cut any corners.
Be thorough in regards to your research, especially when it comes to the laws in your state, as it’s the best way to avoid any problems later. Be sure to take your time evaluating all of your options when it comes to parts as well. In the end when you’ve got a sweet ride you can be completely proud of on every level, you’ll be glad you took the extra time. Get started today!