So, you’ve got yourself a great off-road bike but have been finding yourself in need of a machine to get around town? Well, you don’t have to pony up the cash for a street bike, with just a few hacks, you can convert your beloved off-road thrasher to a street-legal dirt bike or a SUPERMOTO dirt bike, as they love to call it on the streets.
Supermotos, aka Motard dirt bikes, appear as motocross or hardcore enduro, but they have features such as slick tires and modified gear ratio making them fit for riding in the streets. They have quite a significant following, and even though they are not that comfortable, they are darn good for getting around town.
If you don’t want to make your dirt bike into a supermoto that’s not an issue either. You can get DOT knobby tires that allow you to ride on the road to your nearest dirt singletrack.
But converting a dirt bike to a street-legal machine is not a piece of cake. It may be cheaper than ponying up for a street bike, but you are going to have to invest proper time and effort. Additionally, the rules and laws of what makes a dirt bike street legal are not carved in stone; they keep changing. So, what you read here is just a quick guide, and to be sure, always check with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or the Department of Transportation (DOT) before getting excited and switch everything over to the road. You also need a motorcycle driver’s license.
Make SURE YOU CONSULT YOUR LOCAL STATE DMV for all the rules and regulations.
But even so, it is a fun project to immerse yourself into, plus don’t you want to brag to your buddies on how you created your street-monster dirt bike? And if you are successful, you get to stick with what you know instead of learning the mechanisms of a brand-new street bike. Okay, here is how you about modifying your off-road thrasher dirt bike to a street-legal dirt bike:
Fast Guide to Building a Street Legal Dirt Bike
Get yourself a DOT- Compliant Dirt Bike Headlight
You are going to ride on the road, and sometimes the night will fall on you while still riding, so install a headlight that is switchable from low to high beam, can function during the day and night, and has indicator lights, so you know which beam is engaged. Another property of DOT-compliant headlights is they shouldn’t be blinding to drivers.
Some of the OEM dirt bike lights are just not bright enough for riding on the road at night. Typically riding a street-legal dirt bike on the road you are riding at higher speeds. You tend to overrun your OEM light at higher speeds.
When Making your dirt bike street-legal, It’s much easier to start with a dirt bike that already has a battery system and electric start.
Keep in mind the power drain; many dirt bikes do not have efficient power systems, so consider getting power-efficient LED headlights instead of halogen lights to conserve power. And lastly, keep in mind your region’s laws on headlight positioning.
You may need to upgrade your stator on your dirt bike to make your dirt bike push a better lighting system.
Street Legal Dirt Bike Tail Light
Drivers behind you should be able to tell whenever you are slowing down or turning, so according to the DOT street legal rules, proper taillight features include taillight, brake light, license plate light, and turn signals. Install switches to control taillight using both front brake lever and a rear brake pedal. You can use a mechanical or banjo-bolt switch.
There are excellent taillight bracket-fender combinations on the market to simplify DOT tail light compliance.
For example, you can get a tailpiece with integrated turn signals to hold the license plate and display turn signals.
Street Legal Dirt Bike Working Mirrors
Mirrors are frigging important because you can see what’s happening behind you. In some states, you can get away with one mirror, but in others, you’ve got to install two of them. Go for two because the more aware you are of your surroundings, the safer you are going to be. Go with wide-angle mirrors, the more you can see the safer you are going to be.
Street Legal Dirt Bike Turn signals
Already touched on them a bit, but know old school hand signals, not right, especially at night, install flashing lights even if your state does not require it.
Street Legal Dirt Bike Horn
Horns are a must-have. You can get away with a non-electrical or an electrical horn, depending on your state’s regulations. But to be on the safe side, slap on an electrical horn, please. The cost to nothing and don’t draw much power, only around 10amps.
DOT Street Legal Dirt Bike Tires
DOT certified tires for street bikes are speed rated for the highway and contain additional rubber layers. They usually have a DOT mark on the sidewalls. You may get away with this requirement, but know those off-road only tires are not strong enough to handle highway speeds. So get DOT-certified tires, whether knobbly or strictly road-use versions.
You could also make your dirt bike a Supermoto by simply slapping 17-inch rims plus sleek tires onto your dirt bike.
Get a Street Legal DOT Approved exhaust for your Dirt Bike
Having a spark arrestor for your street legal dirt bike is usually required by law. In fact, a spark arrestor is required to ride on any state or federal property.
Some dirt bike exhausts give out extra decibels beyond what is considered polite. To be on the safe side, get an EPA approved exhaust.
Dirt Bike License Plate Holder
What is your local DMV guide on the license display? Play it safe by getting a license plate bracket with integrated turn signals and taillights. And mount the license plate bracket beneath the fender well for a cleaner look.
Side Stand or Kick Stand
Sometimes that vacant stretch on the wall may not be available, so install a side stand on your dirt bike. It’s not a legal requirement, but it’s common sense. There is nothing worse to have to lay your dirt bike on the ground or on the street. Get a kick stand….
Street Legal Dirt Bike Odometer + Speedometer
A street rider’s best friend, you can use it to check speed, engine temperature, RPM, and mileage. Dirt bikes only carry 2 gallons of gas; it’s, therefore, easy to run out of gas if you don’t have an odometer to tell you the amount of gas left. Get an all in one odometer that is easy to install. Also, make sure that you have a speedometer as well as your odometer. Luckily most computer displays come with both.
Upgrade the Dirt Bikes Electrical System
A lot of the above components use power, so you may want to get a better battery, a rectifier, and a stronger stator. You may get a kit that contains all the three, plus wiring harnesses. If you don’t know how to install, watch YouTube tutorials or ask for help.
Modify the Gearing Ratio
Off-road bikes front and rear sprockets are set up for explosive bursts and, therefore, not practical for getting around town. So, consider modifying the gearing on your dirt bike. It is not exactly a legal requirement, but it could give you better performance. For rear sprocket, get the one with more teeth for better pickup, and for front sprocket, fewer teeth will provide you with great acceleration. And remember to modify speedometer after you change the sprocket.
There you go crew, if you already have a strictly off-road dirt bike but then keep finding yourself in need of something to get around town, ponying up for a street bike may not be the practical thing to do. You could modify your off-road thrasher dirt bike to street-legal settings. According to experts, it is not that expensive, somewhere between $200-$500 + installation costs+ registration fees + cost of additional tools.
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