How to Register Dirt Bikes in Pennsylvania

By Teo Spengler - Updated March 15, 2018
Dirt bike rider

Dirt bikes take you on off-road adventures, up hills, over creeks and across valleys from one end of Pennsylvania to the other. Dirt bikes are off-road bikes, meant to travel rough surfaces like sand, gravel, water, mud or snow. One place you cannot explore on a dirt bike, however, are the streets of Pennsylvania.

Tip

You cannot register dirt bikes in Pennsylvania, since these off-road bikes lack the equipment motorcycles require to pass the inspection. Your best bet is to get a dual-sport bike that can go on roads and off.

Here's the Dirt

Quite a few different types of dirt bikes are available out there, designed for off-road riding, or riding on surfaces that aren't conventionally paved. Often the terrain traveled by dirt bikes can be traveled only by off-road vehicles or vehicles that have off-road equipment.

Dirt bikes are simpler and lighter than regular road motorcycles. They are built to have high ground clearance and constructed to be rugged, not fancy, to limit damage in inevitable spills. They usually do not have lights, mirrors, signals or other instruments that road bikes have. That is why they can't get pass the motorcycle inspection required prior to registration in Pennsylvania.

Registration Options

If you desperately want to register your dirt bike in Pennsylvania, you'll have to take it to a chop-shop and get all of the necessary street-parts added back onto the bike. Of course, they were left off to enable first-rate off-roading, so putting them on might defeat the purpose of having the bike in the first place. But it could get you through an inspection, a first step in the Pennsylvania registration process.

Better yet, get a dual-sport or dual purpose bike, and enjoy the best of on and off-road motorcycle fun. These bikes have all the bells and whistles they need to be street legal in Pennsylvania, but have a dirt bike chassis.

Registration Procedure

If you buy a motorcycle at a dealership in Pennsylvania, registration is usually part of the package. The fees are included in the purchase price and you don't have to do anything other than pay them. You'll usually get temporary plates and registration pending arrival of the permanent ones.

If you buy your bike in Pennsylvania from a private individual, you have to do the registration work yourself. First, check and see if the bike has valid inspection stickers when you buy it. If not, take the bike in for a safety inspection within 10 days of buying it.

After that, you'll need to collect these items and take them into the DOT to complete your registration:

  • the current title, signed by the buyer and seller in the presence of a PennDOT agent; 
  • a Form MV-4ST (a Vehicle Sales and Use Tax Return/Application for Registration);  
  • proof of insurance; 
  • your Class M Pennsylvania driver's license; and 
  • registration fees and taxes.

About the Author

From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. World traveler, professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.

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