How Are Off Highway Motorcycles Categoried?


There are a variety of types of off-highway motorcycles. Some are dirt bikes, off-highway recreation vehicles (OHVs), or Bobber motorcycles. These motorcycles are usually built using the same techniques used for automobiles. There is a fine line between these motorcycles, but they all serve a similar purpose.

Off-Highway motorcycles

Off-highway motorcycles can be classified in one of several ways. One way is according to their sport. Some types are used primarily for off-road racing, such as motocross. These types of motorcycles are not legal to ride on the street. These motorcycles are also referred to as dirt bikes. They are designed to handle a rough surface not conventionally paved, such as a dirt track.

Off-Highway Recreational Vehicles

Recreational off-highway vehicles (OHVs) are two-wheeled vehicles that are not intended for highway use. These vehicles must have a DOT-approved helmet, which displays a DOT symbol to signify manufacturer certification and federal motor vehicle safety standards. Standard bicycle helmets and hockey helmets are not DOT-approved and not allowed on OHVs.

Bobber motorcycles

Bobber motorcycles are fun, unique machines. They have low handlebars and are easy to maneuver. They are affordable and can be customized to suit the rider’s style.

Dirt bikes

Dirt bikes are off-highway motorcycles that are not legally used on the road. These motorcycles are designed to be ridden off-road, where traffic laws are not as strict. They do not require a driver’s license and do not need to be registered or have a title. However, if you do plan to ride on the road, you should be aware of some important requirements.

Quad bikes

ATVs or quad bikes are two-wheeled off-highway vehicles with high ground clearance and low ground pressure. They are used on farmlands, ranches, or legal ATV driving competitions. In some states, they may also be used on side roads or snowmobile trails during the snow season. If you have to ride one, follow the rules of the road.

Combine harvesters

While combine harvesters are considered off-highway vehicles, they can still pose a hazard to highway motorcycles. Harvesting vehicles are slow-moving, which can be dangerous to drive near. They can also be hazardous to oncoming traffic. When operating a harvester, operators should observe the road and turn signals for safe operation.


Off-highway motorcycles are categorized differently than other vehicles. The FHWA has guidelines for determining which vehicles fall into which category. It recognizes the wide variety of motorcycles on the road, so it does not impose rigid categories. However, the agency has organized a list of vehicle classifications to improve State data reporting.

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