If you have just bought a new dirt bike and are looking forward to riding it, but you want to know if you need a license to drive a dirt bike. Here you will find answers to all everything you need to know about riding one.
To answer the main question, it depends. If you are planning to ride a dirt bike on private property, you won’t need a license. But if you want to drive a bike on the highways or public places, you will need a permit for it.
Dirt Bike Licensing Regulations
The rules and regulations vary from state to state. You should check the laws in your state to make sure. There is no requirement of a permit to register a dirt bike, and you don’t need a regular license to apply to get the dirt bike permit.
Most of the states will need you to take a comprehensive dirt bike safety course and pass the test in order to obtain a license. There are states that issue dirt bike only permit. Furthermore, you shouldn’t ignore the insurance requirements too. Your insurance might have some additional elements to cover you financially in case of an accident.
How To Apply For A License?
Depending upon the place you are living in, the process will be different. Here I am covering the process of getting your license in the state of Texas. I think most of the states will have similar requirements with some minor changes. As I mentioned earlier that you would be required to take a motorcycle class approved by the Department of Public Safety. This course is very informative, and you will learn some basics about riding and how to respond in dangerous situations. In addition to teaching you basics, you will be riding a dirt bike in a controlled environment for several hours.
After passing the course, take your results to the local DPS office and obtain your license. If you already have a license in another state, you can skip the DPS course.
The state of Texas also awards the riding permit to teenagers aged 15 to 17. However, they can only obtain a Class C learner license after completing a 23-hour class of a driver education course and complete the road test.
How Long Does It Take?
In most states, you will get your license within a few weeks. The exact time will vary from one state to another and of course, how much time you take to pass the safety course. The primary time-consuming process will be a public safety course. After that, it will take only a few days to get the permit.
If you take your dirt bike on the road without a license, expect some hefty fines and in the worst case, a jail term. In Texas, the rider can face up to $1000 in fines and could end up spending six months in prison. Any rider in California will face a similar situation, with them being fined $500 with two months in jail. So, it is not worth the risk. Make sure you take the classes and obtain your driving license.
Cost Of Acquiring A Dirt Bike License?
The total cost will vary even within a state. For example, in Texas, depending on the license type, you can expect to pay anywhere between $10 to $33. And that doesn’t include the cost of the DPS approved classes. The fee for the course at around $200. Overall you will be spending approximately $210-233.
Things To Know Before Taking Dirt Bike On The Road
So, you have your driving license and plan on taking your dirt bike to the road. There are a few more things you need to know if you want to avoid any trouble with the law. Did you note one thing, the dirt bikes are also known as “off-road” bikes? And that is for a very good reason. They are not street legal. So, if you take your trail bike on the road, you will get a ticket even with the permit. You have to convert your ride into a street-legal motorcycle.
I will be listing the things you require to convert it into a street-legal bike. There are few changes to be made to the bike to make it comply with the safety standards, and you are ready to take it on the highway.
How To Make A Dirt Bike Street Legal?
To make your bike legal for roads you need to add few things to your dirt bike. Depending upon your state the requirements will differ. It is better to check with the requirements with your state. Here I am listing all the changes needed irrespective of the state, keep in mind not all of the steps. Below is a graph that to some extent explains the requirements depending on the state. Some parts like headlights are required by every state but some states have some relaxation when it comes to the speedometer.
Image Courtesy: dirtlegal
They are compulsory in all states. This is due to make sure that the dirt bike is visible to others during the night time on the road. Another purpose of it is to increase the rider’s ability to see in the dark or in poor weather. The headlights are a safety feature for both you and other drivers on the road.
The only difference you will find between the states is that some necessitate the dirt bikes to have a headlight capable of switching between high and low beam settings. Others may not enforce this law. Check out your state’s law to ensure that you are in full compliance.
You can easily find an inexpensive one from either Amazon or Wallmart. If you want to save more bucks than buying a used one from Craiglist or eBay is the way forward.
Horns are a must too. But again not all the states have the same rules and regulations. Few of them will only accept an electric horn, while others don’t care they just require you to put a horn on the bike.
In some states, you can get away with using even these funny looking horns, pictured on the left. Well all jokes aside, it is better if you bought an electric horn. Some of them aren’t even expensive. You can find them even as low as $5. For example, these electric horns are quite cheap and are guaranteed to fulfill legal requirements in all the states.
Rear View Mirrors
The number of rearview mirrors required varies from state to state. Some states need two mirrors on a bike while others are content with only a single to declare the dirt bike legal. I would recommend purchasing two mirrors irrespective of the state you are in unless you have a tight budget and your state lets you get away with a single mirror. For this you will have to visit a local shop as most of the online stores will offer a pack of two mirrors.
There are a few options with decent pricing. You find them as low as $12. But expect a compromise on the quality. The one I recommend isn’t expensive but not the best when it comes to quality either. You can call it a middle ground. I am talking about these mirrors, for the price they have a good enough quality. They will be able to hold up for some time. If you want an even cheaper option than try your local junkyard.
Tail and Brake Lights
Brake lights are a good way of letting the drivers behind know that you are slowing down. This saves many accidents from occuring and it is no surprise that all the states require them. Some have even more stringent laws regarding this. The Department of Transportation requires that the trail light not only light up but also signify braking.
In some states, it is necessary for brake lights to stay lit for 20 minutes. As you can see this will cause a strain on the battery, to counter this your best bet is using LED lights. You won’t be able to find a good quality brake light below $30. But if you don’t have that budget you can give this one a try. However, I would like to warn you that they aren’t very reliable.
Most of the states are lax about them. But some will expect you to have them in order to turn your dirt bike into street legal. Even if your state doesn’t require them, I would recommend to install them as they are a good way of communicating with the drivers that you are intending to take a turn. You can use your hands to communicate if you aren’t sold on the turn signal.
You can get a decent turn signal at a low price. Kinstecks are an excellent example of this, you can get 4PCS for less than $20.
Department of Transportation Approved Tires
They are the most expensive part of this whole process. They alone can cost you above $100. But before you make a purchase make sure that the tires you are buying explicitly stated that they are Department of Transportation approved.
You will need a license only if you are planning to take your dirt bike on the road. If you plan on riding your motocross on private property you don’t need to obtain a permit. However, if you decide to get a license there are some steps to take before driving on a highway. Without making your dirt bike into a street-legal bike you are not legally allowed to ride one on the road. The process varies from state to state. But most of them will require you to have a headlight, rear mirrors, brake lights, horn, etcetera.
Some interesting dirt bike facts.