Dirt bikes are typically manufactured for tough terrains and an off-road experience. However, if you want to ride your dirt bike on the streets, public roads, and highways of Kentucky, it is probably a good idea to first understand the dirt bike laws and if it is street legal in Kentucky.
In order for a two-wheeler to be considered street legal in the state of Kentucky, it has to comply with regulations governing safety, emission, and antitheft standards.
Since dirt bikes are not manufactured to comply with any of those federal and state statutes, they are not considered street legal in the state of Kentucky. That being said, there are some mechanical and non-mechanical procedures to make your dirt bike street legal in the state of Kentucky.
Each state in the US relies on its own regulations and guidelines to determine if a vehicle is safe to ride on the roads. However, if you’re a beginner rider, the regulations and guidelines may initially become a bit overwhelming.
But don’t worry, I have compiled an extensive guide on making a dirt bike street legal in the state of Kentucky.
Is it Illegal to ride dirt bikes on Kentucky roads?
Riding a dirt bike is a lot of fun. However, you can not ride your dirt bike anywhere you want in Kentucky. There are state rules, regulations, and laws you’ll need to follow while riding your dirt bike in Kentucky.
Since dirt bikes in stock form are not street legal in Kentucky, it is illegal to ride them on Kentucky roads, streets, and highways. Dirt bikes can only be ridden on the public roads and streets of Kentucky only if it is registered and plated.
In order to register a dirt bike in Kentucky, you’ll need to make it street legal in Kentucky first. Not following these laws may likely lead to a citation(ticket), your dirt bike may be towed and a small fine may be imposed.
Where can you ride your dirt bikes legally in Kentucky?
If your dirt bike is not registered and plated, you can not legally ride it on public roads, streets, and highways of Kentucky. Therefore, if your dirt bike is not street legal in Kentucky, the best place to ride it is your own backyard.
Although no one can stop you from riding a dirt bike on your private property, there are laws and regulations regarding pollution and noise violations in Kentucky. Therefore, if your property is close to other homes, you might not be able to ride your dirt bike even on your private property.
Since every city and county in Kentucky has its own laws and regulations regarding pollution and noise violations, I would highly recommend taking some time to research and understand these local regulations before riding dirt bikes on private property.
The next best place to ride your dirt bike is the local state park trails or public dirt bike parks. However, make sure you glance at the park’s basic rules, as some parks or trails in Kentucky only allow certain types of vehicles to be ridden and some may even require you to buy a permit.
How do you make a dirt bike street legal in Kentucky?
Kentucky is like most other states when it comes to making a dirt bike street legal. The state of Kentucky has its own set of rules and regulations regarding the legalities of dirt bikes on its public roads and highways.
The first and most important thing to remember while making your dirt bike street legal in Kentucky is to make your dirt bike resemble more like a street bike or a motorcycle.
In Kentucky, a motorcycle is defined as any motor driven vehicle having a seat or saddle for the use of the operator and designed to travel on not more than three (3) wheels in contact with the ground, but excluding tractors and vehicles on which the operator and passengers ride in an enclosed cab and excluding a moped.
The process of making your dirt bike street legal in Kentucky includes some mechanical adjustments as well as some non-mechanical procedures.
Mechanical Additions to make a dirt bike street legal in Kentucky
The first step to making your dirt bike street legal in the state of Kentucky is making sure all the safety components of a motorcycle is present in your dirt bike. Knowing the parts you need in your dirt bike to make it street legal in Kentucky may sound pretty simple.
However, assembling all the required parts and modifying your bike can be an overwhelming process. Be at ease, though! I have linked exactly where you should go to purchase every part you require to legally ride your dirt bike on the public roads of Kentucky.
Your dirt bike should have the following equipment:
- A working headlight (high and low beam) and a taillight,
- A working brake light,
- A functioning pair of front and back brakes,
- A functioning turn signal and a horn,
- Two Rearview Mirrors,
- DOT-approved Tires,
- A License Plate Bracket,
- Additional Components (Odometer, Kickstand, Charging System, Stator )
Keep in mind, Kentucky restricts the sound that the dirt bike makes. Therefore, Every dirt bike with internal combustion, steam, or air motor must be equipped with a suitable and efficient muffler. No person while on a highway shall operate a bike with the muffler cut out or removed.
Non-mechanical procedures to make a dirt bike street legal in Kentucky
Once you install all the safety components in your dirt bike and make it look more like a street bike, you’ll need to follow a few more steps in order to make your dirt bike street legal in Kentucky.
1. Visit your local Sherrif office and get your dirt bike inspected
Get your motorcycle inspected by the local sheriff’s office. Once the inspection is complete, you’ll receive a certificate of sheriff’s inspection of the vehicle. Don’t lose this, as it’s one of the crucial documents while registering your dirt bike in Kentucky.
Dirt bikes registered in Kentucky are not required for safety or emissions inspections. However, it is required to get a vehicle identification number (VIN) inspection performed by a sheriff before you can register it for the first time.
2. Register your dirt bike with the County Clerk’s Office in Kentucky
The registration of your dirt bike in Kentucky depends on where you purchase your dirt bike from. When you plan to take the trip to County Clerk’s Office in Kentucky, you must provide some crucial documents to complete the registration.
- A copy of the title or Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin
- Bill of Sale
- A dealer’s affidavit if the motorcycle was bought in another state
- Proof of Insurance
- VIN inspection Report
- A sheriff’s vehicle inspection Report.
- A completed Kentucky Certificate of Title/Registration
- Receipts of all the paid fees and taxes
You’ll need to pay some fees for registration and title at the County Clerk’s Office in Kentucky for your dirt bike. There will be a $9 title fee, $5 vehicle inspection fee, $25 yearly vehicle registration fee, and 6% usage tax on the purchase price. Keep in mind, local county taxes and surcharges(varies by county) may also apply.
If you purchased your dirt bike from the dealer and the dirt bike’s certificate of Origin doesn’t mention your dirt bike being off-road only, you don’t need to do anything. The dealer will submit your documents to the County Clerk’s Office in Kentucky. You’ll receive copies of the documents sent for your records.
However, if you bought a dirt bike, which already has a title, from a private seller, it is your and the seller’s responsibility to register the motorcycle at the County Clerk’s Office in Kentucky. The titling can be done at the same time. To register your dirt bike:
- You and the seller must sign the title
- Provide proof of insurance
- Present the current registration
- Present the proof of ownership (MSO, title, or Bill of Sale)
- Pay all the applicable fees
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of making your dirt bike street legal in Kentucky yourself, DirtLegal provides a dirt bike legal service for just $299. After you complete your order, they’ll be getting the paperwork ready for you and send you within 24 hours.
Do dirt bikes have titles in Kentucky?
Yes, it is possible to title a dirt bike in Kentucky. However, you will need either the Manufacturer Statement of Origin (MSO) or a Bill of Sale that meets the DMV requirements.
In case you don’t have the MSO, you can contact your dealer or the manufacturer to obtain this information. If you bought the dirt bike from someone else and the dirt bike is not yet titled, you may ask them for the certificate of origin.
Furthermore, even if the previous owner doesn’t have the certificate of origin, you can use the VIN number to find out who the first owner is. This way you can contact them and ask them if they have the MSO of your dirt bike.
In order to register your dirt bike, the MSO of your bike must state that the bike meets or exceeds all federal emissions, safety, and anti-theft standards. If this statement is not present in y our dirt bike’s MSO, it is usually considered for “off-road” purposes only and thus will be very difficult to get registered in Kentucky.
How to get a title for a dirt bike in Kentucky?
The process of getting a title for a dirt bike in Kentucky is very similar to getting a title for a motorcycle, car, or truck. The most important document you’ll need in order to get a title and registration in Kentucky is the proof of ownership. Proof of ownership can typically be provided with one of the following documents:
- Title from the previous owner that has been filled out and signed,
- Bill of sale,
- Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin from the dealership(MSO),
- Documents that demonstrate the full chain of ownership.
If you purchased your dirt bike in another state and want to title and register it in Kentucky, you’ll also typically need to complete a VIN verification and inspection.
Once all the documents are ready, visit the County Clerk’s office in Kentucky and:
- Provide all the proof of ownership documentation,
- Photo ID,
- Complete an Application for Kentucky Certificate of Title or Registration (Form TC 96-182),
- Pay the $15 application fee.
If you’re buying a used dirt bike and the previous owner doesn’t have the title, or the state doesn’t issue titles to dirt bikes, a bill of sale will often suffice.
To register/title a dirt bike in Kentucky with just a bill of sale, you’ll need to be sure that it meets the DMV’s bill of sale requirements, which typically include:
- Full name, address, and signature of the seller,
- Full name, address, and signature of the buyer,
- Details of the dirt bike including year, make, model, and VIN,
- Details of the sale including date, sale price, and any other details.
Kentucky also requires you to notarize the signatures on the bill of sale. Alternatively, you can also request that the seller applies for a duplicate title before proceeding with the sale.
How to register your dirt bike with no title in Kentucky?
If you’re trying to register a dirt bike in Kentucky with no title, here are some things you could do.
- Get a valid bill of sale from the seller along with any other ownership and registration documents they may have. The more documentation you have that proves the chain of ownership, the easier the process will be in.
- Run the dirt bike’s VIN to be sure that it’s not stolen and matches the dirt bike you’re buying.
- The County Clerk’s Office also requires you to get a certificate of bike inspection from a sheriff from your local county.
If you are still having issues registering your dirt bike without title in Kentucky, you may register the dirt bike in a non-title, no residency requirement, mail-in registration application state. One such state in the US is Vermont.
And lastly, if you still want to ride the dirt bike on Kentucky roads without getting a title, you can go through the temporary dealer’s tag route. You can register a used motorcycle and bicycle repair shop in Kentucky and request a dealer’s tag.
A dealer’s license in Kentucky costs around $100 with an additional $35 as a location fee. You’ll need to fill out a form that requires a Federal Tax ID number. If you don’t have this number, you may also use your SSN.
I don’t personally recommend going through this route even though it is completely legal. Dealer’s tags are for temporary use only to either transfer the bikes or for local dealer use.
Do you need a license and liability insurance to ride a dirt bike in Kentucky?
You don’t need a license or insurance if you plan to ride your dirt bike strictly off-road or even on your private property in Kentucky. However, if you plan to link trails by roads or want to experience riding your dirt bikes on public streets and roads or highways of Kentucky, you’ll first need to register with County Clerk’s Office in Kentucky and get your dirt bike plated.
Furthermore, you should also apply for a Kentucky motorcycle license(Class-M) and have insurance in place. And lastly, always carry your license, title, and insurance papers with you while taking your dirt bike on Kentucky roads.