Dirt bikes are typically allowed on rough terrains. If you want to use it on highways, you have probably considered what is needed to make it street legal. Each state relies on its guidelines to determine what makes a dirt bike legal on the roads.
These regulations can be a bit overwhelming when you are just venturing out. Luckily for you, I have done extensive research to act as a blueprint when making your dirt bike street legal in Texas. The process in Texas includes an OHV decal, inspection, and registration.
Dirt Bike Street Legality in the State of Texas
Texas is like many other states in relation to dirt bike street legality, which means that they are mechanical adjustments to make as well as non-mechanical procedures to get your dirt bike recognized as street legal. These mechanical additions will make your bike resemble more of a street bike than a dirt bike. You need to add components like rear view mirrors, approved tires, and headlights. Non-mechanical processes will include having your bike inspected and registered.
Knowing the mechanical parts, you need to purchase is the easy part, while making the bike street legal is the complicated process. These parts include:
A working headlight is among the necessary requirements. In addition to being DOT-approved, it must be switchable from low to high beams. It must also be lit during the day and night so that other drivers can easily spot you. You can place the switch where it is easily accessible by the driver. A headlight will generally drain energy from your electrical system. To minimize this draw, opt for an LED headlight as it needs a fraction of the power needs of a halogen light.
- Tail Light/Brake Light
A tail light equipped with brake light functions, and which is DOT-approved, is another important requirement. It makes it easy for the drivers at the back to see that you are slowing down, and it additionally attracts attention. The light should run from a mounted battery, which should be able to power the brake light for at least 20 minutes. Choosing an LED taillight will reduce the power draw in the battery and make your engine last longer.
The tail light’s switch must be fitted in such a way that the front brake lever and the rear brake pedal light up once the tail light is engaged.
Your bike should, in the very least, have a functioning mirror. You can install two if you like. The mirror will empower you to view what is happening behind you. Mirrors facilitate your safety, so do not purchase a cheap and shaky one.
It is common to see riders installing low-profile mirrors for aesthetics. If you opt for this route, purchase a wide-angle mirror to eliminate the blind spot on either side of the bike. Most bikes with available dual-spot models will readily accommodate classic, long-stem, and threaded mirrors.
You can also clamp on bar-end mirrors. These mirrors have a substantial lower profile in comparison to stem mirrors and they deliver a much better view of the surroundings. Basically, the mirrors for dirt bikes come in endless varieties, and the challenging part is identifying where to install them for an excellent rear view.
Without DOT-approved tires, your dirt bike cannot be approved as street legal. To know if they are approved, check the sidewalls of the tires in question. It does not even matter if the tires are knobby, provided they have DOT certification. Dirt bike rims typically accept these DOT-recognized tires, which have extra layers of rubber. If you took your dirt bike as it is to a highway, the tires would break away at the seams since they are not optimized for the roads.
If you want to model a Supermoto-style bike to take to the road, the braking system and the wheels and tires will need upgrading. DOT-certified street tires, sportbike sized wheels, and larger disc motors are commonly used to achieve this. You can scour internet forums for the conversion process, although it may not necessarily be the legal way to do this.
Adding a horn is a simple but necessary step. An electric unit is quite cheap and loud. Most varieties draw less than ten amps in energy.
- License Plate Bracket
A license plate bracket is a must for all street legal bikes. For the method of display, consult the local DMV. You can purchase aftermarket brackets which display the license plates in a way that will be legal. Alternative ways of fixing the bracket include mounting it beneath the fender or zip ties. A light is additionally necessary, but you can install a cheap LED strip. The bracket should basically be visible from the bike’s rear.
Your bike’s exhaust must be in good shape, meaning that it should not smoke a lot and should meet sound regulations. An EPA-certified exhaust it the safest route to take. If it cannot be found, ensure that the system is not loud and that it is clean and free of dents. The more ‘street’ your exhaust looks, the easier it will be deemed acceptable. In practice, the silencer is all that needs replacement.
The above modifications are legal necessities, but they are other non-legal additions that will make your adventures on public roads easier, including:
- Turn Signals
Turn signals are not mandatory in Texas, and some riders make do with hand signals. Hand signals are fine but are not the safest option as another driver may miss them. Flashing lights also become effective at night, and they allow your hands to remain fixed on the steering. Turn signals cost a few dollars and are easy to install. You can fix them on the front and rear and place the switch in an accessible area like on the left-hand grip. LEDs are the best option, and you can get ones that are DOT-approved.
An odometer may be a luxury on a dirt bike, but it becomes necessary when you take it to the road. It communicates mileage, speed, engine temperature, and RPM. A trip meter will ensure that you never run out of gas. Dirt bikes only carry about two gallons of fuel, so it is common to run out of gas. Odometers are also quite easy to install.
Dirt bikes meant for rough terrains do not have kickstands for safety reasons. When you take your bike to the urban scenery, a kickstand becomes a necessity. It will offer you convenience on the road.
- Charging System and Stator
The classic charging system in a motorcycle includes a battery, a stator, and a regulator. A battery is not vital to power a dirt bike’s lights if you have adequate energy from the stator. To power the installed lights for street riding, the AC power the stator is generating will need to be converted to DC power the lights can utilize. The lights will be damaged by alternating current. There are lights that can work on AC voltage, but they typically have a shorter life.
A stator is responsible for generating power in a motorcycle. A dirt bike without a starter or lights has minimal power needs, and the stator probably provides minimal wattage. The entire draw of the electrical components to be fitted on a street legal dirt bike should leave sufficient leftover energy to charge the battery (13 to 15 volts). Most kickstart-only bikes will need an upgraded stator to feed the added parts.
- Obtain an OHV Decal
The law requires an OHV Decal for vehicles ridden on main, public roads. You also need the decal to ride a dirt bike on regions that have been bought with Texas Parks & Wildlife Departments OHV Grants. You can get the decal for $16 at OHV dealerships and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Customer Service Center. It is also available at select OHV venues where it is required to ride.
The objective of all these modifications is to obtain approval from the state DMV. Large proportions or all of the above modifications must have been done. Take the dirt bike to a motorcycle shop to have it inspected. If your bike passes the test, you will be given a certificate to support the registration process.
To make a bike street legal, the relevant documents should be filled and signed. Register the bike at the DMV and carry the inspection certificate, license, title, and proof of insurance on the bike. There will be a few to register the dirt bike, ranging between $200 to $300. You can get plates as soon as it is registered, and mount them before venturing into public roads.
The process of turning a dirt bike to be street legal is becoming more challenging as rules are streamlined. The prices of finding and installing the parts are also prohibitive.
You should try and convert your dirt bike if you are wholly committed to the process. The first step it to source for additions like taillights, mirrors, tires, license plate brackets, and an exhaust. Most of these components should be DOT-certified. After finalizing the adjustments, you can seek certification in a motorcycle shop and registration in the local DMV. Do not forget to get the OHV Decal as it is a requirement in Texas.