A dirt bike, also known as an off-road bike, is designed for off-road usage is usually great for driving on rough and non-paved surfaces like sand, gravel, and snow.
Dirt bikes are perfect for handling these conditions, and when compared to road-going motorcycles, they are much lighter and versatile, equipped with long suspensions and a good amount of ground clearance.
If you are wondering can you ride dirt bikes on the road then you can drive a dirt bike on the road, but depending on your state and the area you are driving, there may be consequences. So while you can ride bikes on roads, it may come with issues and legal repercussions.
In this article, I will talk about all the things you need to drive your dirt bike legally and where you can drive it without having any trouble.
I will also be talking about the laws related to bikes in California, so if you’re a Californian, make sure to read the article.
Where Can I Ride My Dirt Bike Legally?
Just because your state has deemed it is not legal for you to drive your dirt bike on roads and in public does not mean that it should be the end for the motorcycle. It means that you will have to be more careful about where you can drive.
The states that allow you to drive registered dirt bikes do not prevent you from driving bikes anywhere but restrict riding them in residential areas where there are many people that you can disturb.
But driving a dirt bike on the road is not that fun, so here are a few places you can ride your registered dirt bike without any issues.
If you own private property and have the space, why not drive your dirt bike there? There have been cases where people have made entire bike courses in their private property, and while it is still not ideal, it beats having your precious dirt bike rot away from rust and corrosion.
While this may not be the case for most people but if you or a friend you know have a large patch of land and are willing to use it to ride your dirt bike, then, by all means, go for it as no one can stop you unless you have neighbors which get upset by the loud sounds of a dirt bike.
Many states allow their registered dirt bike owners to ride their vehicles in national forests and other recreational areas.
These places are perfect to drive an off-road motorcycle as there are no roads, and you can push your motorcycle to its limits. National parks also facilitate this type of behavior by allowing the use of dirt bikes and ATVs.
Both of these places are dependent on a case by case depending on the state. Some states may still not allow these places to be hot zones for dirt bikes, so before you take your bike out to the nearest national park, hoping for a good time, make sure they allow it.
The best recreational areas include:
- Death Valley National Park
- Ozark National Forest
- Arizona Cycle Park
Courses And Tracks
If you are looking to ride your dirt bike competitively or in an environment where you can test out the vehicle, most states offer their people the option to take their bikes out on select courses and tracks.
Once again, certain states may not allow this, so make sure yours does.
Raceways and motorsports parks are great places to drive dirt bikes, and as long as your bike is registered and does not violate any laws or cross the emission barrier, you should have no problem getting in and having fun.
Here you can not only ride your motorcycles but go head to head with other riders, race around, and have a fun time.
In certain states like Alabama, there are just no driving dirt bikes at all, and while they allow you to drive on private property, it can eventually get boring and stale.
Sometimes the best thing you can do in this situation is to move to another state. While not all states are lax with their laws, certain ones like Indiana have no restrictions on their dirt bikes and can allow anyone to ride one.
Most states, however, can let you drive your dirt bikes on public roads, but only if your bike is registered and OHV certified.
Without being OHV certified, you are not allowed to take your bike on the road, but there should be nothing stopping you if you are.
Other states allow you to drive your bike on the road, but if road conditions get severe, like during intense snow.
Do You Need A License To Ride A Dirt Bike Off-Road?
You must have a standard driving license to legally operate and ride a motorcycle, regardless of whether you are on the road or not.
While it is not required for you to own a specific license to be able to drive a dirt bike off-road, age restrictions do apply. Most states take this one step further have a specific age restriction to be able to ride a dirt bike.
Apart from this, states do not require a license to ride a dirt bike off-road however they do have a myriad of requirements that the bike must satisfy to be driven on the road.
What Do You Need To Ride A Dirt Bike Off-Road?
While aside from being a certain age, you do not need anything to drive a dirt bike off-road, it doesn’t help to be equipped for the job. Riding a bike off-road is not an easy task and is quite different compared to driving on the road.
You will need to be well equipped with safety gear and a helmet to make sure nothing happens in case the bike topples. Another thing you need when riding a motorcycle off-road is a lot of practice.
This is true for both on-road and off-road driving, and practice will only make it easier for you to traverse the bumpy paths your motorcycle can travel on.
What Do You Need To Ride A Dirt Bike On The Road?
If you own a dirt bike and want to drive your motorcycle on the road, you must make modifications that convert your motorcycle from a dirt bike to dual-purpose.
For this conversion, your motorcycle will need the following:
- A headlight with low and high beam
- A taillight
- Front and rear turn signals
- A rearview mirror
- A horn
- OHV Registration
If you have all of these requirements, you should be able to ride on the road.
California Dirt Bike Laws
The State of California decided to take a direct approach when tackling their air quality issues and thought it would be best to target dirt bikes.
The state issued new rules created by the California Air Resource Board, making it much more difficult to get a dirt bike that is legal to drive.
All off-road motorcycles must comply with the green sticker emission standards to be driven legally.
Laws On Red Sticker Motorcycles
The laws of the California Air Resource Board have made it such that motorcycles that were allowed to be driven on public land during certain seasons are now not to be sold from 2022 onwards.
This means that people will only be able to drive green sticker-crossed motorcycles. This prevents red sticker motorcycles from being driven on public lands, meaning that if you own a dirt bike and it is not green sticker certified, you cannot legally ride it on any road.
You can, however, drive it in a neighboring state or on private lands, which is a huge compromise and defeat the purpose of having an off-road motorcycle.
The red sticker law was seen as a compromise by the government due to pushback and was a temporary solution. It seems now it’s time has run out.
Laws On Green Sticker Motorcycles
The sticker system even exists because it allows the government to mark and regulate the emissions of dirt bikes and keep them in check.
Motorcycles marked with a green sticker pass this emission test and are certified to be driven anywhere, on roads and public lands.
If you are a dirt bike owner, it should be your priority to have your motorcycle green sticker certified. What you can also do is buy models that have already been certified.
With the recent change to the red sticker law, people will be happy to know that nothing is changing for green sticker certified motorcycles, and as long as they have that certification, they can drive anywhere they want.
Just make sure not to upset the locals!
So I hope the question “can you ride dirt bikes on the road” was answered. While the government will restrict dirt bike owners whenever it gets the chance, there will always be areas and places where you can safely and legally ride your dirt bike without any problems or issues.
While states like Indiana allow you freely drive your dirt bike wherever you want, whether it be roads or tracks, other states do have legal limitations set on dirt bikes, such as California, which only allows certain registered dirt bikes to be ridden on the road and prevents others from even touching the streets.
Other states like Alabama have it completely illegal to drive your dirt bike on public roads, so if you are a proud dirt bike owner, make sure to be well aware of your state’s stance on the vehicle to avoid problems and ride till your heart’s content.