Off-Road Motorcycles in 2014
Sales of off-road motorcycles in the U.S. rose in 2013 following five years of downturn while sales of Dual Sport motorcycles have climbed for six straight years.
The six leading brands of off-road motorcycle in 2013 sold 73,371 units, up 5.7% compared to 69,395 units in 2012, according to figures compiled by the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), which also indicated that Dual Sport sales last year climbed 7.8% to 32,979 units.
Major motorcycle manufacturers retail off-road bikes in multiple niches, including Motocross, Enduro and Youth models. Dual Sport models are classified as “on-road” bikes, but we’ll include them in this roundup of 84 models from six of the leading MIC-affiliated suppliers of off-road motorcycles.
HONDA … 12 models … Competition: CRF450R ($8,699), CRF450X ($8,440), CRF250R ($7,599), CRF250X ($7,410), CRF150R ($4,990) and Montesa Cota 4RT ($8,999); Trail: CRF230F ($4,170), CRF150F ($3,640), CRF125F ($3,199) and CRF100F ($2,880); Dual Sport: XR650L ($6,690) and CRF250L ($4,999)
KAWASAKI … 11 models … Motocross: KX450F ($8,699), KX250F ($7,599), KX100 ($4,599), KX85 ($4,349) and KX65 ($3,699); Off-Road: KLX140L ($3,399), KLX140 ($3,099), KLX110L ($2,499) and KLX110 ($2,299); Dual Sport: KLR650 ($6,599) and KLX250S ($5,099)
KTM … 26 models … Motocross: 50 SX, 50 SX Mini, 65 SXS, 85 SX, 125 SX, 150 SX, 250 SX, 250 SX-F, 350 SX-F and 450 SX-F; Enduro: 150 XC, 250 XC, 300 XC, 250 XC-F 350 XC-F, 450 XC-F, 350 EXC-F, 500 EXC, 200 XC-W, 250 XC-W, 300 XC-W, 250 XCF-W, 350 XCF-W, 450 XC-W, 500 XC-W and 690 Enduro R
SUZUKI … 10 models … Motocross: RM-Z450 ($8,699), RM-Z250 ($7,599), RM85 ($4,149) and RM85L ($4,199); Off-Road: DR-Z125 ($3,099) and DR-Z125L ($3,199); Dual Sport: DR650SE ($6,499), DR-Z400S ($6,599), DR200SE ($4,199); Supermoto: DR-Z400SM ($7,189)
YAMAHA … 11 models … Motocross: YZ450F ($8,490), YZ250F ($7,490), YZ250 ($7,150), YZ125 ($6,290) and YZ85 ($3,990); Off-Road: WR450F ($8,290), TT-R230 ($3,990), TT-R125LE ($3,290), TT-R110E ($2,240), TT-R50E ($1,540) and PW50 ($1,440) Dual Sport: WR250R ($6,690), XT250 ($5,190), TW200 ($4,590)
All motorcycles operating off-road in Minnesota must be registered with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), even if they are used exclusively on private property, in track racing events, or if they are dual sport bikes licensed and insured for road use.
Motorcycles registered only for off-road use must display the current registration decal on the side of the bike so it is visible while the rider is seated.
A motorcycle licensed for highway use that is also used off-road must have both the regular motorcycle license and the DNR OHM registration. On the flip side, motorcycles registered for off-road use may also be licensed for highway use if properly equipped with items including headlights, taillights, mirrors, horn and other modifications. Whatever the case, OHMs licensed in Minnesota for roadway use and registered for off-road use must display the OHM decal in the upper left corner of the rear regular motorcycle license plate.
The total cost of a new, three-year OHM Registration is $38.50.
Most of us live in the highly populated suburbs of the Twin Cities, and few of us have access to an out-state property owned by family or friends who would let us visit with our off-road motorcycle.
So, what’s a rider to do? According to state literature, you may operate an off-highway motorcycle (OHM) on private land with the landowners’ permission and on frozen public waters where access is not restricted by law or local ordinance. Beyond that, be prepared to trailer your bike to a riding area. Depending on your preferred discipline, you have a choice of visiting State Forests, National Forests, trail systems, privately run off-road parks and dedicated motocross tracks.
As for riders, youth under the age of 16 must complete an OHM safety training CD course that covers operating procedures, laws, safety hazards and environmental considerations. The CD is available for free; there is a $5.00 fee to process the OHM safety certificate. Further, riders under 18 are required to wear a helmet when operating on public lands, frozen waters, and road rights-of-way.
For more information about the legality of off-road riding in Minnesota, obtain a copy of the 2013-2014 Off-Highway Vehicle Regulation Handbook produced by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
It is illegal to ride off-road motorcycles in state parks, but a dozen of the State Forests in Minnesota do offer access to motorized two-wheelers.
State Forest lands are traditionally open to off-road motorcycles from May 1 through November 1. State Forest lands are classified as either: Managed, where no vehicle use is permitted; Limited, where motor vehicle use is permitted unless posted closed; or Closed, where no OHMs are permitted, except that OHMs may operate on frozen public waters.
Paul Bunyon State Forest / Martineau Off-Highway Motorcycle Trails
Location: From Walker, 10 miles west on Hwy 34 to Hwy 64, then north 5.5 miles to trail marker.
Nemadji State Forest
Location: From Holyoke, Co. Rd. 145 to Harlis Rd., 4.5 miles.
Chengwatana State Forest
Location: From Pine City go 4 miles northeast on Co Rd 9,
then 9 miles east on Co. Rd. 10/Chengwatana Forest Road
to parking lot.
St. Croix and the Nemadji State Forests / Gandy Dancer Trail
Location: From Hinckley go east on Hwy. 48, then north on Co. Rd. 173 to Tamarack Forest Road.
General CC Andrews State Forest
Location: From Willow River, north on Co. Rd. 61, 2 miles,
R (east) 2 miles, L (north) 0.5-mile Dago Lake day-use
Genoa OHV Trail
Location: Begins in Eveleth at the intersection of U.S. Hwy 53 and State Hwy 37 and ends at the Sherwood Forest Campground in Gilbert.
Richard J. Dorer State Forest
Location: From Kellogg, 3 miles south on Hwy 61. From Winona, 15 miles northwest on Hwy 61, then 1.7 miles southwest on Co Rd 29.
Miles: 7.5 & 13.5
Solana State Forest
Location: 7.5 miles north of McGrath on Highway 65.
Soo Pits Trails
Location: From Moose Lake, 0.5 miles east on Hwy 27.
Foot Hills State Forest / Spider Lake OHV Trails
Location: From Pine River, 12 miles west on Co. Rd. 2 (24th St SW), then south 1.5 miles on Spider McKinley Forest Rd to parking area.
St. Croix State Forest
Location: From Hinckley go east on Hwy. 48, then north on Co. Rd. 173 to Tamarack Forest Road. Or, from Marksville, Co. Rd. 25. The Willard Munger State Trail is connected by forest trails to the Gandy Dancer and St. Croix ATV/OHM trails.
Tower Multi-Use Trail
Location: In Tower, from Main St 2.5 blocks north on Poplar St. Connects the city of Tower to the public beach and campground at McKinley on Lake Vermilion.
Riding an off-highway motorcycle is a great way to get out and enjoy Minnesota’s abundant forest, particularly the large tracts in the northern part of the state.
To utilize the two National Forests in Minnesota – the Superior and Chippewa – motorcyclists must adhere to a Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM), annually-updated publications designed to show which roads and trails are open to which type of OHV, as well as any seasonal restrictions.
Superior National Forest
In the Superior National Forest, the MVUM is split into eight sections: Vermillion River Area, Virginia Area, Border Area Ely Area, Toimi Area, Upper Trail Area, Isabella Area and Grand Marais Area.
Together, these sections offer hundreds of miles of routes. Have a favorite community to visit? Check out the MVUM and study which loop or spike may interest you most. Be wary, though, there are no campgrounds or campsites specifically connected to off-highway vehicle use in this Forest.
Chippewa National Forest
The Chippewa National Forest has a unique OHV Road Travel Access decision policy, and allows off-highway motorcycles only on roads that are designated open for such use, as marked on its own MVUM.
These designated Forest Service roads are identified and signed with a number at their main intersection with other roads and include both low standard and higher standard roads.
Low standard roads are Forest Service roads planned, constructed, and maintained for future management use. They are managed for use by high clearance vehicles. High standard roads are Forest Service roads managed for passenger car traffic. Specific high standard roads are open for off-highway motorcycle use.
MVUM and trail permits for both National Forests are available online at www.fs.fed.us, as well as at National Forest offices in Blackduck, Cass Lake, Deer River and Walker.
Download GPS Data for MN Trails
Many of Minnesota’s off-road trails for motorized vehicles open in May. To help you plan a trip, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has teamed with Garmin to provide GPS users with downloadable IMG files containing Minnesota Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Trails.
Visit the DNR site at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/ohv/gps_garmin.html, then 1) download the Garmin background map file to your computer from the supplied links; 2) open your Garmin IMG file uploading software (not provided) and 3) use your uploading software to load the IMG files from your computer to your GPS.
The map data show the state monitored OHV opportunities, including state OHV trails as well as OHV trails funded through the Grant-In-Aid system.
Playing At the Off-Road Park
Trails offer a good time for off-road motorcyclists, but some folks prefer to ride in dedicated areas situated close to amenities or lodging. For you, Minnesota offers two specialized areas devoted to off-highway vehicle (OHV) use.
IRON RANGE OFF-HIGHWAY VEHICLE STATE RECREATION AREA
Arguably one of the best places to get your off-road fix in Minnesota, the Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area near Gilbert offers 36 miles of trails and an open play area where you can get your roost on.
The Area, just east of Gilbert on Hwy 135 at Enterprise Trail, is open 8:00 a.m. until one hour before sunset and no later than 8:00 p.m. seven days a week from May through October.
There really is a riding area for everyone. Just as you see on ski slopes, trails are posted as “Easy” to “More Difficult” to “Most Difficult”.
The State does not charge an entrance fee, but vehicles entering the Area must have a three-year Off-Road Vehicle Registration sticker required for off-road vehicle use on public lands. Also, be sure your bike isn’t too loud; the emission sound must be under 96 decibels.
The City of Gilbert operates the Sherwood Forest campground, which is connected to the Recreation Area by a trail. Otherwise, camping is available at many campgrounds operated by local governments and private individuals, and gas, restrooms and food all are available in nearby Gilbert.
APPLETON AREA OHV PARK
On the west side of the state, between Wilmar and the South Dakota border, you’ll find the Appleton Area OHV Park.
Located on 330 acres about two miles northeast of Appleton on Hwy. 59, the OHV Park offers 15 miles of OHM trails, a 1.5-mile OHM practice track, three enduro tracks, a youth OHM practice track, jumps, sand dunes and hill climb opportunities.
The OHV Park is open from sunrise to sunset seven days a week. Admission is free, but you’ll have to have a State of Minnesota Off-Road Vehicle Registration sticker.
Riding in Minnesota’s District 23
Have you always had a desire to try off-road motorcycle competition? Looking for a pastime you can share with your family? If so, you may want to check out the Amateur Riders Motorcycle Association (ARMCA).
Founded in 1969, ARMCA is chartered as District 23 (Minnesota) of the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) and thus oversees approx. 20 local clubs that hold AMA sanctioned competition events in Enduro, Flat Track, Hare Scrambles, Hill Climb, Motocross, Youth Enduro and Youth Hare Scrambles … 150 events per year.
Activities include: providing and administering a numbering system and an awards system for competition riders; providing and administering a participation and advancement system for riders; coordinating the calendar of AMA sanctioned events held within District 23 boundaries; acting as the second level of adjudication of amateur competition protests in District 23; and other activities in support of amateur competition.
While the main focus is competition, ARMCA is also committed to advancing and promoting dirt bike riding opportunities of all types in Minnesota. ARMCA was instrumental in passing Minnesota’s Off-Highway Motorcycle (OHM) registration and funding bills in 1993 and 1994, and is the only statewide organization recognized by the DNR as the voice of dirt bike riders in Minnesota.
Recently, ARMCA created a Trail Rider division to encourage non-competition rider membership. Public riding opportunities are crucial to the long-term future of dirt bike riding, and ARMCA says it recognizes that rider involvement through organized clubs is essential to the development of such public trails.
Agree? If so, you’re encouraged to contact one of the District officers or a class representative to find out how to join. Simply visit ARMCA.org to learn more.
Motocross Tracks in Minnesota
Mankato Motocross/Motokazie, Mankato
Midway Motocross/Motokazie, Kellogg
Echo Valley MX Park, Brookston
Meadow Valley MX, Lake City
Hurricane Hills MX Park, Mazeppa
MotoCity Raceway, Little Falls
Spring Creek MX, Millville
Jordan Motocross/Motokazie, Jordan
Buffalo River Race Park, Glyndon
Rejoice, for it is legal in the State of Minnesota to convert an off-road motorcycle into an on-road motorcycle.
The Department of Vehicle Services (DVS) has a form that contains a non-inclusive list of some of the requirements that must be met and on which you’ll attest changes were made to bring the motorcycle into compliance (available on the DVS Motor Vehicle Forms page, dps.mn.gov).
Most basically, the bike must have 1) at least one and not more than two DOT-approved headlamps; 2) at least one tail lamp, exhibiting a red light plainly visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear, that includes a stop lamp and a white light illuminating the registration plate; 3) reflectors; 4) at least one rear view mirror; 5) at least one horn; 6) DOT-approved tires; 7) an exhaust system compliant with M.S. 169.69 (96 decibels); and 8) footpegs for a passenger.
There’s no formal inspection of the bike; it is the owner’s responsibility to ensure the required modifications for compliance were done.
You also must also have an up-to-date registration with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) as an off- highway motorcycle. You will be asked to show proof of this registration upon initial application for DVS registration, and you may be asked to show this proof when applying for renewal.
The State will charge you a $10 annual registration fee, as well as transaction and filing fees.