Is your motorcycle street legal?

It’s time to take a good look at your cafe bike / chopper / bobber / enduro…

Riding old enduro bikes around in the woods and street is pretty awesome. It’s some of the most fun I’ve had since BMX.

My CT1-175 and IT250 are pretty loud. Chain saw loud. I assume most people assume I’m on an off road dirt bike, just like every other ghetto kid ripping around. I get it. Whenever I hear that 2 stroke noise I naturally assume the bike is an off road dirt bike and not street legal.

So, I started thinking about what it really means to make any motorcycle 100% street legal?

For example, yes, my CT1 is insured, and has PA title and registration, and I have lights. Bike is totally street legal right…? But if a cop pulled me over, could he still give me tickets for little things if he wanted to be a dick?

Items needed for a MC in PA to be truly street legal

  • Motorcycle VIN needs to be the type: “dual-sport” or “street”. “Off-road” type VIN can’t be titled for street use.
    Read comment #5 and #6 here if you want more clarification.
  • You must have a MC permit or license and insured.
  • Must have a registration. Yes, Vermont is fine and legal.
  • Must have inspection. Unless your plate is an “antique” plate?
  • Must have a working horn.
  • Must have a brake on each wheel.
  • May have turn signals. Basically this means, you don’t need them and can hand signal.
    PA MC code: 175.146 sub section f2.
  • Must have a speedo and odometer.
  • Tires must be DOT and say DOT on them.
  • Must have a headlight and tail light. Tail light or a light must illuminate the license plate.
  • Must have at least 1 mirror
  • Fuel system must be leakproof. So if your carbs leak, you could get a fine?
  • Exhaust can’t be louder than 88 (decibel (A).
  • Must have fender for each wheel.
  • Must have a kick stand.
  • License plate can’t hang loosely. Must be seen by 50ft from the rear. Can’t be obscured.

All of the above info is based on the PA motorcycle code. Link below:
PA motorcycle code

Just because it states you need everything in that list, I highly doubt any cop is checking certain things. For example; are they checking if you have a horn ha. 90% of the time cops don’t even care if your MC is inspected. Seriously, who the F gets their MC inspected. Are cops riding around with a decibel sound tester for your exhaust, ha. No.

Guarantee the cops don’t know the PA MC code off the top of their head anyway, so if you get pulled over be nice and play dumb. It’s worked for me; “Uh, I didn’t know my license plate couldn’t be hidden under my seat. Are you sure officer?” Ha.

Last – To reiterate from a previous post I made several months ago here… about if the cops can take your MC… In this article by NBC10, Lt. Stanford of the Philly police states twice; “Police can only confiscate a dirt bike under two conditions — if the operator doesn’t have a license or the bike is not registered.”

Comment and let me know if there’s anything big I’m forgetting, or if anything is blatantly wrong, which I’ll update in the list above. I’m not a lawyer so I’m reading the PA code and making the best sense of it that I can.

13 responses to “Is your motorcycle street legal?”

  1. Ben says:

    Last time I got pulled over [on 476] the cop looked for my [non existant] inspection sticker. Luckily he let me pass with a very stern warning, but he threatened to impound without it.

  2. ed says:

    @Ben
    I’m not sure about cops elsewhere, but regarding Philly cops:
    Lt. Stanford of the Philly police states twice; “Police can only confiscate a dirt bike under two conditions — if the operator doesn’t have a license or the bike is not registered.”
    http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Confiscating-All-Terrain-Vehicles-in-Philly-Not-Easy-205435671.html

    Short answer though – cops can do whatever they want and if the cop is being a real big dick, they’ll take it regardless of it’s within their right to do so. Thats my experience… but you can just go get it back the next day.

  3. Brian says:

    Cops cannot “legally” impound a bike for no inspection. In fact state law says the penalty for no inspection is “up to a $25 fine”.

    I know I paid a $41 fine for expired inspection on my car a few years ago. Looks like I overpaid. Although it is possible Philly has its own rule or there were other bullshit fees attached. I should look into that.

    Ed is correct bikes can only be impounded if you lack valid insurance, registration and license.

    However, as we learned the hard way, cops don’t always follow the rules. They have the badge and gun. If they want to take your bike they will. But as long as your paperwork is legit you will get it back.

  4. Brian says:

    Some more info on turn signals.

    Turn signals are not required on any bike. However, to pass inspection, turn signals are required.

    While riding it is required to signal when turning via either lamps or hand signal.

  5. Mike K. says:

    I’ve always wondered what the actual rule with turn signals was. A cop next to me at a stop light said “cool bike, do you need turn signals?” I said “nope” and he asked “you sure?” I said “nope.” and laughed and drove off. If only they were all that cool.

  6. ed says:

    @Mike
    Don’t kid yourself. That cop almost gave you a ticket for something. He was probably a dick.

  7. Mike Ashleigh says:

    -Horn fell off on the way to Kentucky last year
    -Never had any of my bikes inspected (Has anyone ever gotten shit for this?)
    -Dual Sport has a motocross only tire on it.
    -Exhaust is probably too loud on both bikes

    Also not mentioned is a chain gaurd. The GPz lacks that.

    When I wired up my bike from scratch, I made the choice to run turn signals. With a bike that I commute on and ride almost daily, turn signals are important to me. Wish I had a horn sometimes too. Wonder what it looked like when it broke off the bike as I was riding.

  8. Jeremy says:

    I got pulled over on Broad after jumping onto the shoulder of 95 south by the stadiums to avoid the bridge traffic. Let me go with a warning but told me I’d get ticketed if I got pulled over without an inspection again.

  9. D car says:

    Got pulled over by a cop who was off duty in his Audi once. Told me that I was jamming too hard around the city. He told me that if I wanted to race, that I should take it up the boulevard where it’s safer (wtf?). Then told me about how much “sick chrome” he had on his sport bike. Last thing he told me was to “keep the front wheel down”……. On my sportster.

  10. Adam says:

    Hahahaha thats awesome

  11. Chris francione says:

    I don’t meet any of Ed’s former criteria….see you on the road!

  12. Evan says:

    MA also requires a DOT approved headlight…and that I tape over Yamaha’s “off road use only” rear fender sticker on ’78 IT-175E. Bike sees rural use so prob risk using up my year of VT reg while prepping for MA inspection with DOT tires, LED brake light, horn…& printing up a “DOT” headlight decal. Ripped all around New Haven, CT & to high school on my unregistered ’79 IT-175F through the mid ’80’s but now huge crackdowns with mega fines & confiscations for BikeLifers

  13. DirtLegal says:

    This was a great blog. Very informative, and definitely a great starting point for anyone trying to figure out how to make their bike street legal.

    But the fact of the matter is; because of a lack of a centralized DMV database what is street legal in one state may not be street legal in another.

    This works in one of two ways:

    1)- You could end up spending hundreds of dollars on equipment you don’t need such as a kickstand, speedo, etc when all you really needed was a few lights and a mirror.

    Or…

    2)- You could be misinformed, and get one mirror when you really needed two, then get pulled over by a cop who hates dirt bikes and have a bad day.

    This is where I plug my website: http://www.dirtlegal.com

    Just head over to:

    https://dirtlegal.com/conversion/

    We make dirt bikes street legal. We walk you through the process. Give us a call, or shoot us an email for a free consultation:

    Info@dirtlegal.com 800-994-7513

    Make your dirt bike street legal today.

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