Dirt bikes are a blast to ride. You know that already. What you need to know is how to stay safe and legal while tearing up the Minnesota landscape. Luckily for you, Minnesota keeps things pretty straightforward when it comes to statutes about dirt bikes. 

Riding Your Dirt Bike On Public Lands

Dirt Bike Riding in Minnesota

Image via Flickr by Craig Howell

If you plan on keeping to the trails on your own property the only thing you will need to do to stay legal is to register your bike with the Minnesota state Division of Natural Resources. They will then issue you a decal which must be displayed on the side of the bike where it will be easily visible if someone is riding the bike. 

If you plan on riding on public trails there are a few other things you will need to make sure you have before heading out. On the paperwork side, you will need a driver's license if you are over 16, or a safety certificate if you are not. You will also need to wear a DOT-approved helmet and a pair of safety goggles or glasses. 

Your bike will need a working brake, a throttle that returns to idle when released, and a muffler with a federally approved spark arrestor.

Always double check the trails you are planning on riding especially if there have been recent storms. Trails can wash out with heavy rains and may be closed to the public until the Minnesota Division of Natural Resources has the opportunity to fix the trail. 

Riding Your Dirt Bike On Public Roads in Minnesota

If you want to ride your bike on public roads in Minnesota you will need to do a little bit more than if you are sticking to the trails. First, you will need a motorcycle endorsement on your driver's license. This means taking a course and passing both a written and riding test at the Department of Motor Vehicles. 

Your bike will also need some modifications before it is considered street-legal. Let's start from the front of the bike. You will need at least one but not more than two working headlights. You must also keep the headlights on at all times when you are on the road. A hand or foot brake is also required so you have good control of the vehicle. Other lighting requirements include working brake lights, a horn, and a rearview mirror. 

Turn signals are not required in Minnesota, you may use hand signals, but if your bike is equipped with turn signals they must be visible from 100 feet away. 

If you plan on riding your bike both on and off road you will need an off-road decal from the Division of Natural Resources and a registration decal from the Department of Motor Vehicles. Both decals must be displayed on your license plate at all times. 

What if I Am From Out-Of-State?

Out-of-state riders must follow the same rules as in-state riders when it comes to wearing helmets and outfitting your ride. Rider's are required to have a valid driver's license or a safety certificate if the operator is under 16. However, out-of-state riders do not have to register their vehicles with the state of Minnesota. 

Out-of-state riders can visit Minnesota and ride their trails for up to 30 days as long as they purchase a trail pass from the Department of Natural Resources. A trail pass will run you $20 plus a $1 issuance fee and is good for a year. 

The Big No-Nos

There are a few things you are absolutely not allowed to do with your dirt bike in the state of Minnesota. Here is a quick run down of the big no-nos

  • Do not ride on or cross interstate highways unless your bike is both off-road and street-legal.
  • Do not ride on trails not marked for off-road vehicle use.
  • Do not ride off-trail. No bushwhacking. 
  • Do not create your own trails on state or national forest land. 
  • Do not ride through waterways. (You may ride across them if they are frozen.)
  • Do not ride on groomed snow trails. These trails are for snowmobiles only. 

No drinking and riding. Even if you are classified off-road, a DWI conviction will affect your driving privileges.  These are the big no-nos, but always remember to be courteous when you are riding on public land. Slow down around small children and dogs. Stop for riders on horseback and ask them how to proceed. 

Minnesota has done a great job of allowing dirt bike riders the opportunity to ride their dirt bikes on both the trail and the road. Make sure your paperwork is in order, keep your helmet and goggles on, and be nice on the trails. This will keep you safe and keep the trails open for generations to come. 

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