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Do Dirt Bikes Need To Be Registered In My State?

So you’ve got a dirt bike and you’re curious if it needs registration to be ridden. Well, that’s quite simple:

Dirt bikes don’t need to be legally registered in most states, territories and jurisdictions provided you are riding on private property. You won’t be allowed to ride on public land which includes both formed residential roads as well as offroad tracks without registration.

By having a dirt bike registered, you’ll actually open up many more riding areas. Often it’s worth the expenditure as you can join other riders out there enjoying some great spots and camping trips.

Dirt Bike Registration Overview

While you don’t need registration if you choose only to ride on private property, you may have to register the transfer of sale with your local motor vehicles registration office. This will ensure that there is a record in case your dirt bike gets stolen.

They will often just need your VIN number as you won’t have a licence plate or registration plate number. In addition, you can typically only register a dirt bike if you hold a motor vehicle licence. This does mean that you can own a motorcycle, whether registered or unregistered, regardless of whether or not you have a licence to ride one.

Many people actually have unregistered dirt bikes at home which are reserved for private property riding. You’ll find ranch/station owners to have several motorcycles and quadbikes which are never registered because they don’t need to be.

Where to Ride Unregistered Dirt Bikes

Let’s say you’ve just bought an unregistered dirt bike and are looking for places to ride. Well, you’ll still have some options:

  • Your own private land. You can ride in your backyard if space permits. Some people buy up farms simply to go riding regularly and for free, though keep in mind that excessive noise could attact calls from neighbours and have police presence.
  • An organized motorcycle park. Most states have several of these where you pay an entrance fee and can ride for as much as you want. These are in far-flung places where noise complaints aren’t likely.
  • MX tracks. There are plenty of motocross places where you can ride an unregistered dirt bike. In fact – this is what they’re truly built for! It’s more of a competitive landscape though with less focus on casual riding.
  • Organized group rides. Sometimes organizers get together and organize group rides on several interjoined private properties for riders, even if their motorbike isn’t registered.

Don’t be the type that takes the risk of trying to ride your unregistered dirt bike on government land which is very much against the law. There are dirt bike police who monitor riders in offroad areas a long way from the city areas and often do licence and registration checks on the spot, with big fines involved if you break the law.

How to Get Dirt Bikes Registered

So it’s time to get your dirt bike registered. It can be a time-consuming process which is why buying a dirt bike which is already registered can be a much better idea. Some riders trade or swap their dirt bikes for one that’s already ready to go, but then again, that isn’t always feasible.

To get a dirt bike registered, you will need:

  1. A hardwired headlight that runs constantly when the engine is running.
  2. Turn signal indicators front and rear, as well as working tail and brake lights.
  3. A working horn, mounted dirt bike mirrors and registration plate mount.
  4. Speedometer which also shows turn signals, engine hours and highbeam/low beam settings.

These are the general things you’ll need to attach permanently which will add more weight to your motorcycle. Before you can get registered, these will need to be inspected by a government official for authenticity. Afterwards, your licence plate will be issued and you’ll need to pay an annual registration fee.

Dirt Bikes Which Can’t Be Registered

Yes, unfortunately, not all dirt bikes can be registered as they don’t meet EPA guidelines. You’ll have to check with your dealership first or the manufacturers’ website.

Generally speaking though, kids dirt bikes and very small adult dirt bikes can’t be registered as they don’t meet road-legal requirements. This is also the case with pit bikes and some Chinese motorcycles too.

This is why doing your upfront research is necessary for success.

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