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5/4/05 Draft VI

There is a wide array of ORV types/technology to meet many rider needs. There are two principal types of off-road motorcycles. Both evolved from street motorcycles after World War II. The first is the moto cross or dirt bike. This cycle is designed to be used solely off paved roads and generally lacks the appropriate equipment to be licensed by the Michigan Secretary of State as “street legal”. The second type of motorcycle is the dual sport or enduro bike. These cycles have the appropriate equipment to be licensed by the Michigan Secretary of State as “street legal”.

ATVs emerged in the early 1970s and have steadily grown to be the most common ORV in Michigan. They have balloon style tires and initially had a tread width of slightly less than 50”. At first, most ATVs were three wheeled vehicles, but due to safety concerns, they have been supplanted by 4-wheeled vehicles. ATVs have high ground clearance, the capability to carry significant loads and many have 4-wheel drive. They come in “workhorse” varieties and those more suited to trail-riding (lightweight, more nimble) including youth sized models. The workhorse varieties have numerous after-market attachments that can facilitate snow plowing, planting, spraying and mowing vegetation, can accommodate an incredible variety of containers that can carry everything from tools to firearms and provide the opportunity to tow a trailer or other device behind. They are used in many non-trail applications including hunting, ice fishing, etc.

More recently, larger vehicles that have cross-over applications in agriculture, land management and construction with a 56” tread width are becoming more prevalent. Some have 6 or more tires and are touted to be at home on land, ice or water. These are not characterized by the law as ATVs as they do not fit the definition of “low pressure tires, has a seat designed to be straddled by the rider” (MCL 324.81101). Currently, these vehicles are not able to be licensed by the Michigan Secretary of State as “street legal”.

Full-size, 4-wheel drive trucks and sport utility vehicles along with large specialty vehicles round out the ORV picture. Initially enthusiasts converted military jeeps and other large vehicles to ride over sand dunes and lightly maintained backwoods roads. Today, 4-wheel drive full size vehicles are a major part of the US automobile/truck market. Typically, with the exception of some specialty vehicles, these vehicles do have the appropriate equipment to be “street legal” and many are used only occasionally in off- road applications and primarily for day-to-day road transportation. They have high ground clearance, power in all four wheels and can carry multiple passengers and equipment.

Prior to 1975 Prior to 1968, ORVs were unregulated in the State of Michigan. In 1968, the Natural Resource Commission (NRC) enacted state land use rules that prohibited ORV operation in State Game and Wildlife Areas. This is also the year that the Michigan Cycle Conservation Club was formed and members began to identify and develop the Michigan Cross Country Cycle Trail. Most riders of the trail as it was being formed rode dual sport motorcycles, street legal yet functional off-road.

Public Act 319 of 1975


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