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Get to know if dirt bikes are road legal

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DIRT bikes are great for traversing tricky terrain and embarking on off-road adventures.

But can you legally use them on the roads?

Standard dirt bikes are not legal on UK roads unless specifically modified and registered, but 'supermoto' bikes are allowed

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Standard dirt bikes are not legal on UK roads unless specifically modified and registered, but ‘supermoto’ bikes are allowedCredit: Getty

Are dirt bikes road legal?

No, unless specifically modified and registered for usage on the roads, dirt bikes are not street-legal in the UK.

Standard dirt bikes bought from dealerships, also referred to as motocross bikes, are not typically street-legal in the UK.

These bikes are designed for off-road use and generally lack the necessary equipment — such as lights and mirrors — for legal usage on public roads.

Also, the off-road tyres they use, which have deep tread to provide traction on loose surfaces, deteriorate rapidly when ridden on tarmac.

‘Supermoto’ bikes — dirt bikes with road tyres and complete with all the equipment necessary to be road legal — have been on the rise in the UK for the past few decades, with many riders choosing them for their superior handling, dexterity and resilience.

What other vehicles are you able to drive on the road?

Vehicle types legally allowed on British roads fall into the following categories:

  • Category L — motorcycles
  • Category M — passenger vehicles
  • Category N — goods vehicles
  • Category O — trailers
  • Categories T, C, R & S — agricultural vehicles

For a vehicle to be road legal in the UK, it must be registered and approved.

According to the government website, vehicle approval is necessary if you have:

  • built a vehicle
  • rebuilt a vehicle
  • radically altered a vehicle
  • reconstructed a classic vehicle
  • imported a vehicle
  • modified a goods vehicle

You can get vehicles approved through:

Vehicle approval is not required for:

  • heavy goods vehicles (more than 3,500kg maximum weight) over 25 years old
  • light goods vehicles (3,500kg maximum weight or less) over 10 years old
  • cars and minibuses with 8 passenger seats or less (not including the driver) over 10 years old
  • buses, coaches and minibuses with more than 8 passenger seats (not including the driver) built by a single manufacturer before 29 July 2010
  • buses, coaches and minibuses with more than 8 passenger seats (not including the driver) with different body and chassis manufacturers, made before 29 July 2011
  • tracked vehicles, for example a vehicle that runs on tracks rather than wheels
  • vehicles designed and constructed for use on construction sites, quarries, ports and airports
  • vehicles designed and constructed for and used by the armed services, fire and rescue forces, or used in maintaining public order

If your vehicle does need approval, ensure you provide proof of this when you apply to register it.

The DVLA will not register your vehicle if you fail to do so.

But of you meet all of the requirements and fill in the necessary forms, it is possible to get some very unexpected modes of transport legally on the road in the UK.

Wheeler Dealers star Edd China has built up a weird and wonderful car collection over the years — including an 87mph sofa.

Incredibly it is road legal and registered with the DVLA.

That’s despite the fact that it has no roof and has potted plants on the dash, a pizza pan for a steering wheel and a Guinness can for a throttle.

Edd China built the drivable, road legal sofe while he was studying at university

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Edd China built the drivable, road legal sofe while he was studying at university

What makes a vehicle illegal to drive on the road?

Registration

For any vehicle to be road legal in the UK, it must be registered with DVLA.

This goes for any mode of transport you’ve bought, built, rebuilt or imported and intend to use on the road.

A dealer will generally register a new car you’ve purchased for you, but if not you need to do it yourself.

Sometimes it is also necessary for the DVLA to do an inspection of your motor when it is registered — but thankfully there is no charge for this.

You can find the relevant forms for registering vehicles here.

Insurance

Your motor must be insured to drive it on UK roads.

By law this needs to be at least third-party insurance, which will cover the damages or injuries to any person, vehicle or property — but will not not cover your own vehicle f you have an accident.

Modifications

There are a number of modifications you can do to your vehicle that can land you in hot water with the law.

Tinted windows are a common offender.

The law states a minimum of 75 per cent of the light must be able to pass through the front windscreen, 70 percent of the light through the side windows, and the back window can be as dark as you like.

Another example of a modification that can get you into trouble is fitting blue lights to your motor, as these are reserved for emergency vehicles.

TAX & MOT

You need to have up-to-date road tax and a current MOT certificate for any vehicle you plan to use on the road in the UK.

The MOT test, which checks your motor is roadworthy and meets all requirements for being road legal, must be renewed annually.

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