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Making Your Side by Side Street Legal: A Complete Guide

Have you ever thought about taking your side by side (SxS) from the trails to the town streets? Well, you're not alone! The idea of making side by sides street legal is catching on fast. It's all about combining the thrill of off-roading with the convenience of cruising on the road. Imagine popping over to your favorite spots in town or exploring new roads, all in the comfort of your own SxS.


Turning your side by side into a street-legal ride is an exciting journey that requires a bit of work, but hey, it's all part of the adventure. You'll need to get up to speed with some rules and tweak your vehicle with some cool upgrades. Lights, mirrors, and maybe even a horn – it's like giving your ride a mini-makeover to prep it for the road.


We're here to guide you through making a street legal side by side. It's about finding that sweet spot where fun meets function, ensuring you're all set for a safe and legal ride around town. 


So, let's dive in and get your side by side ready for a whole new kind of journey!

Understanding Street Legal Regulations for Side by Sides


Navigating the regulations can feel like a bit of a maze, but I've got your back with a rundown of what you need to know.


First off, whether your side by side can hit the road legally varies widely across the states. Some states are all for it, allowing these vehicles to be driven on public roads with the right modifications, while others keep them strictly off-road. For example, states like Arizona, Iowa, and North Carolina have specific requirements that, once met, welcome your side by side onto their roads. On the other hand, places like California and Colorado keep them off the tarmac for the most part.


The essentials for making your ride street-legal usually include adding headlights, brake lights, turn signals, and a horn that can be heard from a distance. A rearview mirror and seat belts for all passengers are also must-haves. Specifics can vary; for instance, Arizona requires your SXS to pass an emissions test if you're in the Phoenix or Tucson areas.


There are a few unique local twists, too. For example, Tennessee wants you to have a red triangle sign on your SXS, similar to what's used on tractors. Meanwhile, Michigan asks for a full glass windshield among other things, making the process potentially pricier there.


Beyond hardware, there's also paperwork and safety considerations to think about. Ensuring your vehicle is equipped to handle the demands of road driving, both in terms of performance and safety, is crucial. After all, navigating city streets is a different ballgame compared to off-road trails.


Now, if you're set on taking this journey, remember it's not just about adding a few gadgets to your side by side. It's about ensuring you, your passengers, and those around you on the road are safe. So, equip your vehicle with the necessary gear, get familiar with your state's regulations, and you'll be on your way to exploring the streets legally in your side by side.

Necessary Modifications for Street Legal Conversion


Turning your side by side into a street-legal machine is like unlocking a whole new level of adventure, but it does require a bit of elbow grease and know-how. Here's a friendly guide to get you rolling down the road legally with your side by side.


What You Need to Make A Street Legal Side By Side


The Basics: Across the board, you'll need to add some key features to your ride. These generally include:


  • Turn Signals: Essential for letting others know where you're headed next.


  • Brake Lights and Headlights: For visibility at night and signaling stops.



  • Horn: To make some noise and alert others of your presence.


  • Windshield: This one varies by state but is great for protection and comfort.


  • Speedometer: Keeping track of your speed is crucial, especially to comply with local speed limits.


Additional Mods: Depending on your state, you might also need:


  • License Plate Bracket and Lights: To display your registration.


  • DOT-Approved Tires: Some states require tires approved for road use.


  • Safety Gear: Seat belts, for instance, are a must for keeping everyone secure inside the vehicle.


Why Go Street Legal?


Going street legal with your side by side can save you the hassle and expense of trailering your ride to off-road trails. It's also super convenient for zipping around town or connecting trails without needing to load and unload your vehicle. Plus, it's just plain cool to take your side by side on the road!


Keep in Mind


Making a street legal side by side isn't just about slapping on some parts. You need to consider the electrical load of new accessories, the safety aspects (like ensuring your vehicle has a robust charging system to handle stop-and-go traffic), and the legal requirements of your specific state. Some states are more lenient, allowing minimal modifications, while others require your side by side to meet almost all the standards of a traditional vehicle.


Before diving into this project, it's wise to check out resources like the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and local legal advice to understand your state's specific requirements. And don't forget, modifications like installing a turn signal kit or adding a windshield not only make you road-legal but also enhance your safety and the overall driving experience.


Lastly, consider the investment vs. the utility. If you're in an area that's friendly to street-legal side by sides, or if you're looking to connect trails with road segments, making your vehicle street legal can be incredibly beneficial. However, weigh the costs of modifications and registration against how often you'll use it on the road.


State-by-State Guide to Side by Side Regulations


Diving into the state-by-state guide on side by side regulations reveals a patchwork of laws across the United States, with some states welcoming street-legal SXSs under specific conditions, while others keep them strictly off the pavement. Here's a concise overview based on the latest information:




Arizona stands out for its SXS-friendly regulations. To hit the streets, your SXS must include basic safety features like brakes, brake lights, headlights, taillights, a horn, rearview mirrors, and more. Phoenix and Tucson metro areas might ask for an emissions test. This state is known for its simplicity in the process, not requiring a safety inspection but just proof of insurance and payment of the registration fee to get a motorcycle license plate in addition to the OHV registration​​​​.




Iowa allows SXS use on public streets only if the local county or city has permitted it, and the vehicle must be insured. There are specific conditions for crossing public streets, including making a 90-degree angle crossing and yielding to oncoming traffic​​.




Kansas permits SXS operation on certain public streets provided the driver has a valid license and the vehicle is registered. The allowance is mainly for county and township roads and city roads in cities with fewer than 15,000 residents​​.


North Carolina


North Carolina has opened up its roads to SXSs as of October 1, 2021, with requirements including headlamps, parking brakes, rearview mirrors, seat belts, a speedometer, brake lights, turn signals, a VIN, and either a windshield with wipers or helmets for all passengers​​.




Utah is recognized for its SXS-friendly legislation, requiring turn signals, a horn, side-view mirrors, a license plate bracket and light, eye protection, and liability insurance for street use. The state's vast Paiute trail system and OHV tourism make it a model for integrating SXS use with local economies​​.




Louisiana offers a unique set of rules for ATVs and SXSs, allowing ATVs on the shoulders of public roads (except interstates and in Orleans Parish) during daylight. SXSs have more stringent requirements, including a plethora of safety features like headlamps, signal lamps, tail lamps, and mirrors, among others. Registration as an off-road vehicle displaying an official decal is required, along with a valid driver’s license and liability insurance​​.




Colorado's approach is more localized, with counties setting their own standards and designating authorized routes for SXSs on county roads and city streets. The state's requirements generally include working lights, a muffler, and a spark arrestor, with operators needing a valid driver’s license, OHV registration and insurance, and eye protection​​.


This guide scratches the surface of the varied landscape of SXS street-legal regulations across the U.S. Due to the dynamic nature of these laws, it's crucial for SXS owners to check the most current regulations in their specific state or local jurisdiction. The rules can vary significantly, with some states offering broad allowances for SXS use on public roads, while others restrict their use to specific circumstances or areas. Always ensure you have the latest information and adhere to all legal requirements to enjoy your SXS safely and legally on the road.

Recommended Accessories for Street Legal Side by Sides


When gearing up your side by side for street legality, enhancing safety, and ensuring functionality, there are several recommended accessories you should consider. Here are some key accessories that will make your ride safer, more enjoyable, and street-legal.


Functional Accessories for Comfort and Utility


Storage Solutions: SXSs are known for their ample storage, but ensuring that your items are secure and protected is essential. SXS bed storage packs and cab storage packs offer organized, safe spaces for your belongings, protecting them from damage while traversing rough terrain. 


Skid Plates: For those venturing into extreme areas, upgrading your SXS’s skid plate can prevent costly damage to the undercarriage. 


SXS Doors: Adding doors to your SXS can protect you from external elements and hazards, particularly in wooded areas or during cold and wet conditions. Doors also enhance the overall safety of the vehicle by providing an additional barrier between passengers and the outside environment. There are various door options available to match different SXS models for seamless integration​​.



Understanding local regulations and making the necessary modifications for street-legal side by sides is essential for safety and legality. Thumper Fab offers a variety of kits and accessories to help make this process smoother.

Equip your side by side for the road with Thumper Fab's range of accessories!

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