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Are Dirt Bikes Street Legal & How?

Most dirt bikes are not street legal because they’re made for “off-road use only” and don’t have the parts to make them legal (lights/mirror/etc.), but there are a select few models from each company that are street legal when you buy them from the dealership.

Some dirt bikes can be converted to be street legal depending on your location, but it’s much easier (and usually cheaper) to buy one that’s already plated for road riding if you want to ride on the road and dirt with the same bike.

Can I Ride A Dirt Bike On The Street?

Only dirt bikes that are legally licensed and plated for street use can be ridden on the road. Most dirt bikes cannot be ridden on the street because they’re “Made for off-road use only”.

Riding a wheelie on a street legal supermoto dirt bike on the road
Your dirt bike needs to be plated and registered for road-use to ride on the street

With that said, some small towns in rural areas allow off-highway motorcycles and ATVs to legally share the road with cars and trucks.

Are enduro bikes street legal?

The word “enduro” can mean different things depending on who you’re asking. In today’s era, I consider an enduro motorcycle or dirt bike to be a high-performance trail bike. This can be 2 stroke or 4 stroke.

In that case, enduro bikes are typically not street legal from the factory because they’re built for off-road and trail riding. For example, a KTM 300 XC-W is an enduro bike that has a headlight and tail light, but it’s not road legal from the factory because it doesn’t have all of the required parts.

2016 KTM 300 XCW Are Dirt Bikes Street Legal & How?
The KTM 300 XCW has become one of the best off-road enduro bikes, but it’s not street legal

There are a few Austrian-made street legal dirt bikes from KTM and Husqvarna that are basically an Enduro bike.
These enduro-based dirt bikes are street legal:

  • KTM 350 EXC-F
  • Husqvarna FE 350S
  • KTM 500 EXC-F
  • Husqvarna FE 501S

The major difference is that they have all of the extra equipment/parts, such as tires and lighting, to make them legal for riding on the road. This makes them a little heavier and slower in stock form than the average enduro bike model.

20210928 162216 Are Dirt Bikes Street Legal & How?
Husqvarna’s street legal FE 501S

What makes a dirt bike street legal?

A street legal dirt bike is an off road motorcycle with knobby tires that is road registered and plated for use on public roads. To be street legal, it has to have at minimum:

  • DOT tires
  • Headlight
  • Tail light
  • Brake light
  • Mirror
  • Turn signals (some states don’t require them)

A street legal on road dirt bike with road tires is often called a dual sport bike in the motorcycle industry. Dual sport simply means that it is designed for two different types of riding; on and off-road.

Dual sport bike gearing – A Compromise

Dual sport bikes have wide ratio transmissions. This means that each gear is spaced further apart. 

For example, when you shift from 1st to 2nd gear, the RPM will drop a lot more than a close-ratio transmission bike will. Motorcycles with a lot of low-end torque can take advantage of this because you can lug them at low RPM and they will still accelerate.

Colorado Trip 2018 Edit 16 Are Dirt Bikes Street Legal & How?
Challenging trails are even tougher with “street gearing”

Wide ratio transmissions are also great if you do a lot of highway riding. A tall 5th or 6th gear will keep the RPM lower at cruising speed, which equates to better fuel economy, less wear on the engine, and less vibrations.

The problem is that when you are riding single track trails with a lot of changing terrain or obstacles, you want to be in the meat of the power more often. Having a wide ratio transmission in a road legal dirt bike makes this more difficult because the gears are spaced further apart.

What’s the best street legal dirt bike?

There are a lot of good dirt bike options these days, but these are the best dirt bikes that are street-legal in 2023: