There’s a reason why they call them dirt bikes. But this also doesn’t mean that you can no longer enjoy it on the country’s paved roads and highways. However, before you take your bike off the dirt road and onto asphalt, make sure that it conforms to your state’s definition of a street legal motorcycle first. You don’t want to get apprehended on the highway for using a bike that is not street legal. Here’s how to make your dirt bike worthy of the country’s asphalt roads.
Check Your State’s Requirements for a Street Legal Motorcycle
The definition of an on-road or street legal motorcycle is dependent on the state where you live. Like everything else, different states will have their own set of rules on what constitutes a street legal bike. This also means a lot of research and paperwork. It’s imperative that you determine the Federal Minimum Requirement that the government requires of all on-road motorcycles. It’s also important to check if you need a tag, a title, and a registration for your converted on-road motorcycle.
It may be wise to enlist the services of a company that has handled such transactions before. Sure, you’ll be paying a hefty sum but considering the hassle and stress of going through all these legal obstacles, having someone do it for you is a blessing. Legal companies can give you a concise, quick, and hassle-free motorcycle documentation services. This way, you can keep your energy on the actual conversion of your dirt bike.
Make the Necessary Modifications to Your Dirt Bike
While the legal company assists you in the documentation of your dirt bike conversion, you can start executing your plan. Depending on your state regulations, you will be performing some or all of the following modifications on your dirt bike.
Dirt bikes often have a racing number plate mounted onto the area where the headlight should be. As such, this is one modification you have to perform. Ditch the plate and install a DOT-approved headlight. Depending on the specific requirements of your state, the headlight should have both high-beam and low-beam capabilities.
Tail and Brake Light
All roadworthy motorcycles need a tail light with integrated brake light functionality. Again, the type of tail light that you have to install on your bike should be DOT-approved. The tail light should also be on while the front position light is on. As for the brake lights, this should have a mechanism that allows you to turn it on by pressing on the brake pedal.
Not all states require on-road motorcycles to have turn signals. However, it would be for your own benefit if you install a system on your bike. Most states require the installation of turn signal lights on both the front and the rear of the motorcycle. Like everything else, the system has to be duly-approved by the DOT. Place the switch of the turn signals on the left-hand grip.
Some states require the installation of two side or rear-view mirrors on any dirt bike that’s bound for conversion into a street legal bike. There are also states that require only one. There are also no strict rules as to the design of mirror you can place on your bike. The important criteria here is optimum view of the rear.
Many states expect on-road motorcycles to have electronically-controlled horns. Riders can activate the horn with a simple press of a button. Now, there are also states that consider the use of conventional squeeze-type horn to be fine. Perhaps the most important consideration here will be the noise level of the horn. It would be senseless to install a horn that is so weak in alerting other motorists.
With the exception of California, there aren’t any hard and fast rules when it comes to an exhaust system that’s street legal. As long as the exhaust system meets sound regulations, is in good shape, and doesn’t emit too much smoke, then it should be fine. Your best bet here is to install an exhaust system that’s EPA-approved.
Brake System, Wheels, and Tires
Depending on how you want your on-road bike to handle, you can make a number of modifications to its brake system, wheels, and tires. If you’re looking for a dual-sport bike, the stock wheels of the dirt bike are acceptable. However, it should always be DOT-approved. The same is true for super-moto types of bikes. They will need sportbike wheels, street tires, and large brake disc rotors. All of these have to be DOT-approved.
License Plate Holder
All vehicles, including motorcycles that run on roads need to have their own license plates. Hence, it’s imperative that you also install a bracket to hold your bike’s license plates. States have specific requirements as to how the license plate holder should be installed. Make sure you check these rules.
Odometer, Speedometer, and Tachometer
Not all states require these instruments on your bike. However, it would still be nice to have these installed. They can give you an idea of your engine speed, velocity, and the distance covered. There are products that can integrate at least two of these technologies.
It’s not important if you put a kickstand on your bike or not. However, keep in mind that not every place you’re going to will have a ready bike stand to accommodate your ride. As such, installing a kickstand can sure get you all ready for a ride on city streets and highways.
This is not a fundamental requirement when converting from a dirt bike to an on-road motorcycle. However, you need to understand that dirt bikes often have low-speed gears. Once you hit the highway, you may not be able to hit max speed. Hence, it’s always a good idea to change the gear ratios to fit on-road specifications.
Converting your dirt bike into a street legal motorcycle requires compliance with federal, state, and local regulations. It’s best to check them out first before modifying your dirt bike.