Are Electric Dirt Bikes Street-Legal?
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BIKE/BOARD

Are Electric Dirt Bikes Street-Legal?

StarkFuture electric dirt bike

Electric dirt bikes, like the Surron Light Bee X, Segway X260, and Talaria Sting have become really popular in the last couple of years. But are these electric dirt bikes street-legal?

These bikes don’t qualify as electric bicycles, they have no pedals, so they can’t be called true electric bicycles. They could almost classify as a class 2 e-bike if they were limited to 28 mph, but the motors are far above the 750W (aka 1 hp) limit for street-legal electric bicycles.

Also, electric dirt bikes can only be registered as motorcycles for street use if fitted with mirrors, turn signals, a headlight, a brakelight, etc. Many riders who get these bikes do modify them, not with mirrors and turn signals, but with third-party controllers that allow them to go faster.


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These bikes are often limited when shipped, sometimes to 20 mph for various state laws, but there are places online where you can learn how to remove the limiter. Luna Cycles, who sells the Talaria Sting, says in bold: 

IMPORTANT NOTE: THIS BIKE IS SOLD FOR OFF-ROAD USE ONLY.  IT IS SPEED AND POWER LIMITED TO COMPLY WITH FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL LAWS. PLEASE DO NOT BYPASS THIS RESTRICTION OR MODIFY IT TO GO FASTER. THE BUYER TAKES FULL RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PROPER USE OF THIS PRODUCT WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT CONFORM TO ALL APPLICABLE LAWS IN THE REGION IT IS RIDDEN.

Honestly, this is to cover their butts legally, but it also reads as tongue-in-cheek, or maybe a wink at the end. 


Surron Light Bee-X

Surron is the most popular of this style of bike. It’s highly customizable, there are plenty of online resources to learn how to modify this bike with everything from a better controller to better suspension, etc. That’s one truth about motorcycles, whether they are for dirt or for street, very few ever remain in stock.


The Surron Light Bee-X. Photo courtesy of Surron.

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Segway X260

Segway’s story is a fun one. The original Segway PT was created by inventor Dean Kamen using technology from his self-balancing wheelchair called iBot. Dean sold the company to British businessman Jimi Heselden in 2009. Heselden died in 2010 riding a Segway when he plunged off a cliff.

Segway was fighting a Chinese competitor, Ninebot, claiming the company was infringing on its patents. Through a strange change of events, Ninebot acquired Segway in 2015. The company has since diversified into scooters, a go-kart, an e-moped, and dirt bikes like the X260.


The Segway X260. Photo courtesy of Segway.

It ships unlimited, with a 47 mph top speed stock. They claim a 74.6 mile range and up to 221 lb max load. It has a headlight, but nothing else to make it street-legal. 


Talaria Sting R MX4

Luna Cycles is one of the businesses that offers upgrades for Surron bikes. They noticed that some riders will put as much money into upgrades as they did for the original bike. They then started selling the Talaria Sting, including the top MX4 model, which specs out like a modified Surron, but at the same prices as the stock Surron. The battery has 18% more capacity than the Surron stock battery.


The Talaria Sting R MX4. Photo courtesy of Luna Cycles.

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What About Other Electric Dirt Bikes?

I’m concentrating on the above bikes, but there are other electric dirt bikes, like the KTM Freeride E-XC, the Surron Storm Bee, and the Stark Varg that are aimed specifically at dirt bike/motocross riders. They are much larger, heavier, and more powerful.

KTM Freeride Electric Dirt Bike
Full-size motocross bikes like the KTM Freeride E-XC are definitely not going to get away with urban riding. Photo courtesy of KTM.

All in all, none of these bikes are street-legal. Even if you did modify them with mirrors, lights and turn signals, you have to check with your state to see if you can even license and register them, and what license you might need to operate them on the roads.

They should only be ridden on private land or in OHV areas. I see guys riding these on mixed-use trails here in Southern California, and that is flat-out dangerous! A bike that weighs over 100 lbs, with a 150 lb rider, adds up to 250 or so lbs. Losing control at 40+ mph can do a lot of damage to hikers, mountain bikers, dogs, or horses. It’s just not worth it.

California cops are cracking down on these bikes, famously Newport Beach mounted police stopped a Surron rider and cited him. Manhattan Beach police confiscated a Surron at a stop. I think if you live in a suburban neighborhood, you could get away with toodling around the neighborhood at slower speeds about the same way people use golf carts to get around. In an urban environment, however, it’s just not a good idea.

More and more police agencies are learning about these bikes, and you risk a ticket or the complete loss of your bike by riding them in the street. 


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FEATURE IMAGE: STARK FUTURE

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AUTHOR: 

TONY DONALDSON

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