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 Texas, it is probably a good idea to first understand the dirt bike laws and if it is street legal in Texas.
In order for a two-wheeler to be considered street legal in the state of Texas, it has to comply with regulations governing safety, emission, and antitheft standards. Since dirt bikes in stock form are not manufactured to comply with any of those federal and state statutes, they are not considered street legal in the state of Texas. That being said, there are some mechanical and non-mechanical procedures to make your dirt bike street legal in the state of Texas.
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 Texas.
Is it Illegal to ride dirt bikes on Texas roads?
Riding a dirt bike is a lot of fun. However, you can not ride your dirt bike anywhere you want. There are state rules, regulations, and laws you’ll need to follow while riding your dirt bike in Texas. Since dirt bikes in stock form are not street legal in Texas, it is illegal to ride them on Texas roads, streets, and highways. Dirt bikes can be ridden on the public roads and streets of Texas only if it is registered and plated. In order to register a dirt bike in Texas, you’ll need to make it street legal first. Ignoring the dirt bike laws and riding them on Texas streets may likely lead to a citation(ticket). And at worse, your dirt bike may be towed and a small fine may be imposed.
Where can you ride your dirt bikes legally in Texas?
If your dirt bike is not registered and plated, you can not legally ride it on public roads, streets, and highways in Texas. Therefore, if your dirt bike is not street legal in Texas, 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 Texas. 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 Texas 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 Texas 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 Texas?
Dirt bikes are considered to be Off-Highway Vehicles (OHV) in Texas. When it comes to making an OHV street legal, Texas is just like every other state. The state of Texas 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 Texas is to make your dirt bike resemble more like a street bike or a motorcycle.
In Texas, a motorcycle is defined as any motor vehicle that is designed to propel itself with no more than three wheels in contact with the ground and having a saddle for the use of the rider. The term does not include a tractor or a three-wheeled vehicle equipped with a cab or occupant compartment, seat, and seat belt and designed to contain the operator in the cab or occupant compartment.
The process of making your dirt bike street legal in Texas includes some mechanical adjustments as well as some non-mechanical procedures. Let’s discuss the procedure in a bit more detail.
Mechanical Additions to make a dirt bike street legal in Texas
The first step to making your dirt bike street legal in the state of Texas 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 Texas 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 Texas.
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, Texas restricts the sound that the dirt bike makes. Therefore, every motor vehicle must be equipped with a muffler in good working condition that continually operates to prevent excessive or unusual noise. Moreover, a person may not use a muffler cutout, bypass, or similar device on a motor vehicle.
Non-mechanical procedures to make a dirt bike street legal in Texas
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 Texas.
1. Obtain an OHV Decal
Texas requires an OHV Decal for all bikes ridden on public roads and highways. You also need the decal to ride a dirt bike on regions that have been bought with Texas Parks & Wildlife Department OHV Grants.
You can get the decal for $16 (per fiscal year) at OHV dealerships and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Customer Service Center. You must renew it yearly and you may also buy it at select OHV venues where it is required to ride.
2. Get Liability Insurance for your dirt bike in Texas
In an effort to decrease the number of uninsured Texas riders, lawmakers in Texas have set required minimum amounts of liability insurance. So, if you want to ride your dirt bike or a motorcycle in this state, you must have an insurance policy that includes liability coverage in at least the following amounts:
- $60,000 bodily injury coverage total per accident,
- $25,000 property damage coverage per accident,
- $30,000 bodily injury coverage for each injured person in an accident.
3. Have your dirt bike inspected at any Department of Public Safety (DPS) Inspection Station
Once you get the liability insurance sorted for your dirt bike, the next step is to have your dirt bike inspected for a safety inspection and emission testing at any DPS inspection station. Your dirt bike MUST pass a safety inspection before you can register it in Texas. However, if your dirt bike is less than 2 years old, it is exempt from emissions testing. Moreover, emission testing is required only in the following cities/counties:
- Austin-Round Rock (Travis, Williamson)
- Houston-Galveston-Brazoria (Brazoria, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Montgomery)
- Dallas-Fort Worth (Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Johnson, Kaufman, Parker, Rockwall, Tarrant)
- El Paso
In order to complete a safety inspection in Texas, visit your local DPS-certified inspection station and bring the $7.50 safety inspection fee. The safety inspection fee is non-refundable. That means, if your dirt bike fails the safety inspection, you must have it repaired and retested by paying $7.50.
In order to complete your dirt bike’s emissions check in Texas, visit your local DPS-certified inspection station and bring proof of Insurance and applicable fees. If your dirt bike fails its Texas emission check, you must have it repaired and retested. If it still fails, it could be eligible for a waiver or extension. These vary from low-mileage waivers for bikes driven less than 5,000 miles during their inspection cycle, to low-income waivers for residents who qualify.
After you pass your emissions test, you’ll receive a Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) stating you passed (these reports also state if you’ve failed). Keep this report safe as you’ll need it while registering your dirt bike in Texas.
4. Register your dirt bike with your local County Tax Office in Texas
The registration of your dirt bike in Texas depends on where you purchase your dirt bike from. When you plan to take the trip to your local county tax office in Texas, you must provide some crucial documents to complete the registration.
- A copy of the title or Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin,
- Bill of Sale.
- An acceptable form of Identification,
- A dealer’s affidavit (if the motorcycle was bought in another state),
- Proof of Insurance,
- A completed Vehicle Inspection Report from the DPS inspection station,
- A completed Application for Certificate of Title/Registration Texas (Form 130-U),
- Receipts of all the paid fees and taxes.
You’ll need to pay some fees for dirt bike registration ($30), title ($28 to $33), processing and handling fee ($4.75), the local fee (up to $31), and sales tax (6.25% of the sales price) at the local county tax office in Texas. 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 your local county tax office in Texas. 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 local county tax office in Texas. You can title the dirt bike 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 Texas 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 Texas?
Yes, it is possible to title a dirt bike in Texas. 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 in Texas, 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 your dirt bike’s MSO, it is usually considered for “off-road” purposes only and thus will be very difficult to get registered or even titled in Texas.
How to get a title for a dirt bike in Texas?
The process of getting a title for a dirt bike in Texas 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 Texas is proof of ownership and insurance. 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 Texas, you may also need to complete a VIN verification.
Once all the documents are ready, visit the county tax office in Texas and:
- Provide all the proof of ownership documentation,
- Proof of Insurance Coverage,
- Photo ID,
- Complete an Application for Texas Certificate of Title for a Vehicle (Form 130-U),
- Pay the $28 to $33 title fee (depending on the county).
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 Texas 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.
Texas 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 Texas?
If you’re trying to register a dirt bike in Texas 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.
- Run the dirt bike’s VIN to be sure that it’s not stolen and matches the dirt bike you’re buying.
- Get your motorcycle inspected for safety and emission at any of the DPS inspection stations.
If you are still having issues registering your dirt bike without title in Texas, 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.
Do you need a license and liability insurance to ride a dirt bike in Texas?
You will need both a Texas motorcycle license (or a motorcycle endorsement) and insurance papers while riding your street legal dirt bike on the roads and highways of Texas. However, if you plan to ride your dirt bike strictly off-road or on your private property, you do not need a license or insurance.
A motorcycle endorsement (Class-M) is a credential added to your current, valid Texas driver’s license authorizing you to operate your dirt bike with that license. If you don’t already have a Texas driving license, you can apply for a “Motorcycle Only” driver’s license. And lastly, always carry your license, title, and insurance papers with you while taking your dirt bike on Texas public roads.