Make a Dirt Bike Street Legal in California

Living in California exposes you to all types of people, lifestyle, opportunities and a lot of fun. Speaking of fun, California, gives the best platform to showcase your bike riding skills thanks to its modern streets and roads. It is no wonder this state has been voted as the world’s best place to enjoy riding a motorcycle at any time you feel like. And if you have a dirt bike, you can find the easiest ways of joining other bikers on the streets and highways around the cities provided that you meet all legal requirements laid down by the relevant authorities in this state.

But before you even get to know what it takes to acquire a dirt bike street legal status in California, it is important to know why this city is awesome for all riders. To begin with, every part of the state, whether in the south, north or central, has the most amazing roads that attract all types of motorcycle riders from within and beyond. Whichever time you choose to ride on the beautiful streets of California, there’s always plenty to see.


Make a Dirt Bike Street Legal in California

For instance, your day ride will enable you to see the magnificent snow-capped peaks, redwood groves, the shimmering desert sands, and picturesque ocean waves among other attractions. Keep in mind that you can find your way to Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and even Vegas Baby at any time you feel like doing so.

Certainly, California State has a lot to offer, especially if you are a dirt bike adventurer. To achieve this freedom, there are laws governing the use of dirt bikes on the streets and highways of California. This should not scare you if you are a newcomer in this state. Here are a few reasons that should compel you to make your dirt bike street legal while in California.

Why Should You Make Your Dirt Bike Street Legal?

The State of California stands out as the only place in the USA where you are allowed to split lanes. As a matter of fact, it is legal to do so and this gives you a lot of freedom to spend less time on the road. This is interesting in a way that sounds too good to be true. But is it really true?

This law came into the limelight sometimes back when most of the older generations of motorcycles were air cooled. So, staying too long on standstill traffic could make them overheat and consequently affect their performance. This observation compelled law-makers to find a working solution to that problem and that is how the lane splitting came into practice.

Even though the rest of the motorists were not of the idea of seeing someone on a motorbike passing by while they are patiently sitting in gridlock traffic, the advocates found it a good idea to make lane splitting legal. This was done to reduce congestion on the roads and highways in California.

Highway 1

Your dirt bike riding in California is not complete unless you take it to Highway 1. That is when you will be jerked back to reality upon the realization that you’ve been missing a lot of fun all the time. This is an incredible road that you cannot find anywhere across the US.

The road may not be curviest, the fastest or rather the most dangerous, but you will agree with the rest of other riders that Highway 1 is on another level. If you don’t believe this, then take your dirt bike riding mission along this quintessential California road and you will have a tale to tell.

Your riding will enable you to pass through the famous Redwood Tree, have a glimpse of the Big Sur Coast, get across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and not forgetting seeing Santa Monica as well as Venice Beach. With your dirt bike on this road, you can reach places that other street motorbikes cannot simply go.

A Strong Biking Community

In as much as you love biking, there is also a group of like-minded individuals in California who are doing exactly that. This should be good news to you given that you will have a chance to interact, learn and compete with other riders as well.

In addition, California offers a safe haven for all types of riders at any given time. As a rider, you must understand the importance of taking your riding adventures in a group. In case of anything, you are never short of a helping hand at the time of dire need.

All these reasons should motivate you to buy a one-way ticket to visit or settle to the west coast. But before doing that, you probably need to know what lies ahead of you. And that is why the need to make your dirt bike street legal comes in before you set foot on Californian soil. It may not be as easy as taking a leisurely walk in a park, but this move is worth your effort if you really want to enjoy riding your dirt bike in this part of the US.

How does California Registration Work?

If you are from other states other than California, you are pretty sure of the processes involved when it comes to making dirt bikes street legal. One of those processes is plating and it takes an hour or so at their respective Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

In fact, plating your dirt bike in those states is so easy that it will take a few steps and you are good to go. All you need to do is to walk into the DMV, present your paperwork and in the next one hour, you will be enjoying your ride knowing that you are on the right side of the law.

But that is not the case with California, the land of legal weed and lane splitting. Here, you will have to do it right before you take your first ride on its streets and highways. There are some considerations for making your dirt bike street legal and this is how it goes:

EPA Sticker or CARB Permit

Before the year 2004, there were loopholes in place to make dirt bikes street legal but now they are all sealed. This means you need to follow the right path from the start to the end of the registration process.

Besides a speedometer, horn, blinkers, odometer, lights and other features such as whistles and bells, your dirt bike will have to bear an EPA sticker or CARB Permit right from the manufacturer. The stickers and the permits play a very crucial role in showing that your bike is eligible for use on highways in California. Without the EPA sticker or CARB Permit, your dream of ever enjoying riding your dirt bike in this state will be shattered prematurely.

Why are there stringent measures pertaining to the use of dirt bikes and dual sports on the public roads within the State of California? Well, there are underlying reasons much to your surprise.

This part of the country experiences a high number of vehicles on the road as well as having the worst air quality the country has ever witnessed. California is not a state where you can bribe your way especially when you are riding your dirt bikes. In fact, mechanical inspection is not allowed instead there is what is commonly referred to as Vehicle Identification Number or VIN verification.

In a nutshell, you are not allowed to ride on the highway in California unless your dirt bike has an EPA or CARB sticker. Without any of the two stickers, your bike will not get a plate and this implies that there is nothing like street legal dirt bikes in the State of California unless under certain circumstances as follows:

Where Dirt Legal Applies

Dirt Legal can come to your rescue when moving to California with your dirt bike. What will happen is just simple. Those concerned will get you a 50 state legal plate including the registration and title from a completely different state, fix it on your bike and in the next couple of minutes you will have your street legal dirt bike without necessarily going through the DMV.

What if there is a need for inspection and registration?

This should not worry you anymore given that the affixed license is always taken from the state that doesn’t require inspections. Also, the same state should allow registration renewal via a phone call or just an email.

On the other hand, should you move to California from another state, you are required to register your vehicle within a period of 20 days of establishing your residency there. If not, you may find yourself on the wrong side of the law and get fined. Therefore, update your registration at the right time to avoid attracting undue attention when riding your dirt bike in this famous lane splitting state. Just acquire dirt legal today and make your dirt biking in California enjoyable with no strings attached.


Making a dirt bike street legal is the best option for you to enjoy riding your dirt bike on the streets, roads, and highways within California. Even though this state has strict measures for using dirt bikes, there are reasons that will make you adhere to those rules. Most significantly, California is the state in the entire country that allows lane splitting besides having the best places and good roads to showcase your biking skills. What you need is dirt legal and everything else will become easier for you.

Josh Berry - MotoShark Editor
Josh Berry
I'm a off-road enthusiast, extreme sport fan and the editor of MotoShark. If you have any questions or suggestions regarding this article, please leave a comment or contact me.

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