There are 3 types of street legal dirt bikes available. They are called:
Dual Sport, Adventure and Supermoto/Motard.
#1 Dual Sport.
Dual sport dirt bikes are super popular because they are street legal straight off the showroom floor without having to do any modifications to them.
Just throw some plates on them and you can ride anywhere.
They have been fully tested by EPA, DMV, DOT (and all the other big government agencies with 3 letters in them) to be compliant for pollution, safety and noise regulations.
They have a wider, more comfortable seat than their motocross cousins for a more comfortable ride.
They also have softer suspension and the engine is designed to go for many thousands of miles with little engine maintenance.
There are two breeds of dual sport dirt bikes out there – Standard and Competition.
1) Standard Dual Sport Dirt Bikes.
The standard dual sport dirt bikes are for riders that need a bike for off-road use, but also need it to be comfortable enough to ride it on the road for extended periods of time like a normal road bike.
Here are some really popular models –
Suzuki DRZ 400.
Super reliable, super easy to ride, comfortable for the road, plenty of power and lots of fun.
I’ve personally witnessed the Suzuki DRZ charging on some of the toughest trails I’ve ever seen. The Australians affectionately call the Suzuki DRZ the ‘tractor’ because it tractors through the toughest terrain like a bulldozer.
Kawasaki KLR 650.
Another classic that has a legion of fans. They started building the KLR in 1987! and it’s just gotten better ever since.
Honda XR 650.
The Honda XR also began life back in 1985 as a dual sport that was for hardcore off-road use. The later models though are built for more road use to capture that 80/20 market. (80% road 20% dirt)
I used to watch the Honda XR winning cross country enduro races back in the 80’s and early 90’s. This thing is bulletproof!
2) Competition Dual Sport Dirt Bikes.
The competitive dual sports look like a motocross and are used for dedicated, hardcore off-road use, but they are also street legal straight out of the factory.
Thy have the same low maintenance features but they aren’t as comfortable as a standard dual sport for road use. They feel like you are sitting on a motocross bike.
A rider would buy one of these if they needed a bike to ride at road compliant off-road places such as a national park or specific enduro races.
They are popular with pro enduro riders.
KTM EXC F 500
Here’s a perfect example of a hardcore dual sport. Notice how high it sits off the ground and how narrow the seat is. Not ideal for the road but brilliant for the most hardcore enduro trails!
#2 Adventure Dirt Bikes.
Adventure bikes are a dedicated road bike that you would use for full road/highway use and are hugely popular.
But the difference is that when the tarmac road turns into a dirt road, you can keep riding!
Adventure bikes are a hugely popular option for riders that want to take long, scenic rides in their spare time and who aren’t interested in hardcore, enduro trails.
Adventure bikes have a huge, comfy seat that seats 2, a massive fuel tank for long distance rides and dual purpose road tires.
There engines also are typically like road bikes and sit in the 1000cc range. Saying that, there are now 450 adventure bikes as well that are built for ‘mini adventures’.
Some also come equipped with a windscreen to make the ride comfortable for freeway use and you can also bolt saddle bags on the back to carry your camping gear.
One of the pioneers of adventure bikes is BMW.
BMW R1200 GS
#2 Supermoto/Motard Dirt Bikes.
A supermoto is a dirt bike that has been modified by the owner to be street legal for 100% road use.
They look and feel like a motocross/hardcore enduro but you can ride them on the road as they have slick tires and the gear ratio have been modified for road use.
Why have this? Well because they are huge amounts of fun for getting around town, especially if you love the feel of riding a motocross in the streets.
They are crap for freeway use and they aren’t that comfortable but they are loads of fun for the streets and have a dedicated fan following!
Here is a street legal Honda CRF450 Supermoto to show you what I mean.
If you have any questions about road compliance dirt bikes, please let me know in the below comments box or email me here.
To learn more, read my post about the 6 types of dirt bikes that are available on the market.