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Apollo vs. Yamaha: Complete Dirt Bike Comparison

Dirt bikes are fast, fun, and reliable. These bikes have grown in popularity over the years, prompting many traditional manufacturers to focus their attention on them and start making them in larger numbers. The companies that are doing it for a while and who are known for their dirt bikes are Apollo and Yamaha.

Between Apollo and Yamaha, Apollo’s dirt bikes are inexpensive and provide more bang for the buck. If you don’t have the budget for relatively expensive dirt bikes, Apollo bikes will be ideal. However, if money is no concern and you want the best dirt bike, Yamaha offers both quality and variety.

Dirt bikes are ideal for off-roading; however, not all dirt bikes are made the same, and the company that makes them play an important role in how much you enjoy riding them. Yamaha and Apollo are among the two unavoidable dirt bike makers, with Yamaha being among the industry leaders. Keep reading to know how they fare against each other.

Yamaha: The Japanese Manufacturing Giant 

P.S. This comparison article intends to focus more on Apollo than Yamaha as the latter is a well-known global company that requires little to no introduction. The name “Apollo,” on the other hand, doesn’t ring a bell among non-riders as much as Yamaha does and, therefore, would be discussed at much greater length.

Yamaha is a Japanese multinational company with a diversified outlook. It’s a manufacturing conglomerate that makes a wide variety of products that include boats, scooters, water pumps, car engines, music equipment, dirt bikes, etc. Despite having its foot in a wide variety of businesses, it has managed to excel and be successful at all, at varying levels.

As far as motorbikes go, Yamaha makes a wide range of them. Head to its official website to learn how serious it is about bikes. The company has been making dirt bikes since 1955, under the Yamaha Motors motorcycle division, and has been dominating the segment ever since. Needless to say, professional racers and dirt bike enthusiasts look forward to new Yamaha dirt bike announcements and launch dates each year.

Yamaha Dirt Bikes: The Road Taken 

Having made dirt bikes for decades, Yamaha has quite the collection of racing dirt bikes in its lineup. It sells bikes in the 125cc, 250cc, and 450cc (and above) engine displacement categories. Their small, light and agile bikes have won multiple races and are known for their solid handling and suspension.

ModelEngineTransmissionMax. Speed
YZ125125cc; 2-stroke; liquid-cooled5 or 6-speed70 MPH (112 KPH)
YZ250250cc; 2-stroke; liquid-cooled5-speed89 MPH (143 KPH)
YZ400F400cc; 4-stroke; liquid-cooled5-speed80 MPH (128 KPH)
YZ426F426cc; 4-stroke; water-cooled4 or 5-speed80 MPH (128KPH)
YZ450F449cc; 4-stroke; liquid-cooled4 or 5-speed90+ MPH (145 KPH)

Kindly note, 125cc engines are considered mid-range or the norm for dirt bikes. There are, in fact, dirt bikes with 110, 70, and even 50cc engines. Those, however, cater more to pre-teens and under. Dirt bikes with engine displacements of 250cc or more are usually viewed as being in the higher end of the spectrum.

Image of a 2021 Yamaha YZ250X

Yamaha YZ250 

The Yamaha YZ250 is a two-stroke dirt bike considered iconic in the off-road racing and motocross world. This is thanks to its multiple championship wins. It, in fact, goes down as among the best dirt bikes ever made. The first YZ250 was released in 1974. The air-cooled motor was later replaced in 1982 by a liquid-cooled engine.

During the early 2000s, almost all dirt racing bike manufacturers moved on to making four-stroke engine bikes. Yamaha stuck to its guns and continued making bikes with two-stroke engines. The success of the YZ250 had a major role to play in Yamaha, maintaining its stance.

The 2020 YZ250 replaces the steel frame with an aluminum frame, bringing down the bike’s overall weight to 212 lb (96 kg) in the process. The motor outputs around 49 horsepower, ensuring a solid power-to-weight ratio. The bike is also great to tune and work on. Not to mention, it’s extremely fun to ride.  

7th Generation 2021 YZ450F

Yamaha YZ400F 

The YZ400F is often attributed with having changed the dirt bike landscape across the globe. For a long time, the two-stroke, 250cc engine models were ruling the roost and became quite the standard in the dirt bike circuit. The introduction of the YZ400F with its four-stroke, liquid-cooled engine created a thud across the industry. The bike was so ahead of its time, Yamaha’s competitors couldn’t come up with anything comparable for the next five years.

The YZ400F sort of launched the four-stroke revolution in the dirt bike racing circuit. At that time, during 1997, four-stroke dirt bikes were not taken seriously. Even though brands such as Husqvarna were making four-stroke bikes for motocross, those were not reliable and/or affordable. YZ400F was not just a dirt track-ready, four-stroke engine bike, but it also rendered two-stroke engines difficult to ride and outdated.

The Yamaha YZ400F’s claim to fame was its excellent motor. It ensured the bike ran, unlike other four-stroke bikes prior to it. The high flowing head design mated to a short stroke configuration, and an extremely lightweight slipper piston gave the motorbike a free-revving feel. The bike’s head was devoid of RPM-limiting and power-robbing features, such as rocker arms, which made it easy to rev the bike safely up to 11,000 RPM.

Kindly note, the aforementioned bikes may not be current or available for sale directly from Yamaha. However, they feature on the list because they did well during their time and set the standard for later bikes. If these bikes are not available for purchase, you can always get their more modern variants.

2nd Generation 2001 YZ426F

Yamaha YZ426F 

Launched in 2000, the YZ426F was the updated version of the YZ400F, increasing engine displacement to 426cc for greater throttle response and power. Also, the jets and carburetors were made better to address the minor starting troubles of the YZ400F.

In 2001, the original steel valves were replaced with titanium ones. They were at least 40% lighter, permitting softer and lighter valve springs. That, in turn, allowed quicker revving engines, great rev ceilings, etc.

The crankshaft was reshaped too, and the entire assembly was redesigned. Besides changes to the motor, some transmission-related modifications were made to contain power and ensure endurance. The suspension underwent minor overhauls, too, with the objective to decrease weight and ensure smoother stroke action. Carburetor tuning was altered to counter off-idle and starting difficulties.

All these overhauls and tweaks resulted in a bike that earned the “benchmark” label very soon after its release. With multiple versions of the YZ426F having been released, the bike’s success has been phenomenal, to say the least. Even Yamaha would not have expected the model to fare so well, particularly with the popular YZ400F already in its ranks.  

Apollo: The Chinese Value Proposition 

Having set up shop in 2003 in Wuyi, China, Apollo doesn’t possess the history and heritage of Yamaha and other market leaders. But it’s certainly a company growing in market size and value within its niche globally, thanks to its unbridled passion for adventure bikes.

Specializes in Adventure Bikes 

The company specializes in making off-road motorcycles, e-scooters, electric bicycles, and a variety of other recreational vehicles. Apollo is so invested in the manufacturing and sales of its products that it has dedicated production workshops for different vehicles spanning several thousand square meters.

From forging, molding, and casting to engine assembly, gear machining, painting, and welding, Apollo’s integrated manufacturing setup is capable of them all. With total assets worth more than 200 million, Apollo rolls out 200,000 motorcycles each year.

Attention to Details 

One of the major reasons why Apollo is so strong at its craft is its attention to product details. The company understands the significance of precision tolerances, proper frame geometry, and usage of metals to provide high-quality bikes that deliver excellent performance. Components fabrications are core to the business’ ethos, in fact. Since 2014, the company has been allying with like-minded businesses to boost the technical attributes of its products.

Has Dedicated Research and Testing Teams 

Apollo carries out its research and testing in-house. The company, in fact, puts a lot of emphasis on testing, design, and development. This clearly indicates the company knows what it’s doing and that it isn’t just rebadging offerings of other companies. 

Though its budgets for research aren’t as massive (yet) as some of its Japanese and European counterparts, it does manage to put in a lot of thought and effort into its bikes with its comparatively scarce resources.

Apollo’s Dirt Bikes Stable 

Apollo strives to strike the right balance between performance, fun, and price with its dirt bike offerings. The company offers multiple options, which could make it difficult for potential buyers to zero in on their ideal motorcycle. Here are some of the company’s top offerings in the dirt bike segment:

ModelEngineGear TransmissionMax. Speed
DB-X18125cc; 4-stroke; air-cooled4-speed55 MPH (88.5 KPH)
DB-X29 X-PRO250cc; 4-stroke; air-cooled5-speed70 MPH (113 KPH)
AGB-36250cc; 4-stroke; air-cooled5-speed72 MPH (115 MPH)
DB-007125cc; 4-stroke; air-cooled4-speed45 MPH (72 KPH)

Apollo DB-X18 

The Apollo DB-X18 is a well-built dirt bike equipped with a single-cylinder, four-stroke engine. It’s not the biggest dirt bike Apollo has to offer, but the motorcycle is certainly capable. It, in fact, more than makes up for its slightly underwhelming guts with its excellent power delivery and performance. Not to mention, the bike is easy to handle and maneuver even on the most challenging paths.

The 125cc air-cooled engine is middle of the range, but the four-stroke prowess clearly indicates the engine is no slouch. The smaller stance and 150 lb (68 kg) curb or kerb weight mean the bike suits people of all ages and varying sizes. However, it is more suited to amateur and intermediate riders. Teens and young adults who would like to learn to ride dirt bikes would find the DB-X18 ideal.

Apollo DB-X29 

The DB-X29, also called the X-PRO, is a 250cc bike that is bigger and more powerful compared to the DB-X18. With an 8-liter (1.8 gals) fuel capacity, the bike has a carrying capacity of up to 440 pounds (199.5 kg), which means it can shoulder up to two fully-grown adults at once. The high horsepower and torque numbers indicate the bike is almost ideal for competitive racing events.

The five-speed gearbox, large tires, great maneuverability, etc. make this bike almost ideal for riding on a variety of terrains, which include mud, dirt, and sand roads. The bike is affordable, and for its price, it offers some serious value – like most Apollo bikes.

If you thought Chinese motor vehicles are inferior, the DB-X29 would be a pleasant surprise and may even force you to reassess your preconceived thoughts. The bike affords top-quality components at a relatively low price. Not to mention, the bike is available in a range of colors, with the metallic look being the standout hue.

Apollo AGB-36

A tad too powerful for newbie riders, the Apollo AGB-36 250cc overcomes all shortcomings of its parent’s 125cc offerings. It’s an easy-to-assemble bike, despite not being at the very low end of the segment. The bike is rugged and fun to ride. The front and rear-knobby wheels are 21 and 18 inches, respectively, which ensure solid traction on a range of terrain and tracks.

The 55.9 in (142 cm) wheelbase offers great riding control and comfort. The 70 MPH (112 KPH) top speed and horsepower of 16 make it clear that the bike is not meant for serious riders. However, if you’ve been riding 125cc and much smaller dirt bikes, the AGB-36 250cc would be a solid upgrade.

P.S. The bike models mentioned above (both Yamaha and Apollo) are not purchase-recommendations. The larger objective of this comparison is to showcase the technology and prowess of the two companies and how far they’ve come over the years. If you’re out in the market to buy a bike from either, the information above shall help you make a sound purchase decision.

If you are looking to buy a dirt bike on Amazon, irrespective of price and brand, this video should be a good guide:

Apollo Dirt Bike Pros and Cons 

Before you buy an Apollo bike, here are a few things you should consider, or could be constantly reminded of by your co-riders:

Solid Value for the Money 

Apollo has managed to create a legion of fans in a short time due to its ability to churn out inexpensive bikes that are comparable to or on par with the motorcycles of bigger brands, such as Yamaha and Honda, on the performance front. If you are testing out dirt bikes, getting started with Apollo bikes makes a lot of financial sense.

Chinese Roots 

Despite offering solid products time and again, Apollo consistently gets berated for its China base. Chinese products are cheap, but they are not known for their quality. Many potential buyers, as a result, are skeptical about buying Chinese items, such as Apollo bikes. Though industry experts and insiders find these concerns valid to an extent, they feel not all are justified.

When Japanese companies first started making bikes, their bikes met with widespread skepticism and some scathing reviews in the West. Over the years, the perception changed. Japanese manufacturing and technology are now considered industry-standard.

Chinese manufacturing is currently undergoing a similar phase. China’s manufacturing capabilities have come a long way, and it could take quite some time for the perception of China-made products to change. Companies like Huawei and Apollo are spearheading that change.

P.S. Most of the Japanese bikes are being currently made in China.

Spare Parts Are Difficult to Find 

Finding spare parts for Apollo dirt bikes, including gas valves, carburetors, and exhausts – can be a challenge. As a result, Apollo bike riders are forced to settle with parts from other brands. Thankfully, the dirt bike spare parts market is quite robust, and finding compatible parts if you do some looking around is certainly not impossible.

The issue is relatively minor, but the fact that Apollo could have made sure or at least made public its commitment to strengthening its spare parts game is something that makes it a drawback. The after-sales support, on the contrary, is pretty responsive.

Conclusion 

If you want the best dirt bike, look at Yamaha bikes. Though you might end up spending more on a Yamaha bike, you are unlikely to buy a bad Yamaha. And if you somehow manage to land with a sub-par Yamaha motorcycle, there is the strong after-sales service and support that shall come to your rescue.

With Apollo, it’s kind of a mixed bag. If you do your research or know about dirt bikes in general, picking up a decent Apollo bike should not be that difficult. However, if you don’t do your due diligence, you could possibly end up disappointed. And the poor spare parts availability situation will only add salt to your wounds.

In short, Yamaha is for buyers with deep pockets and who want the best the market has to offer. Apollo dirt bikes are for budget-conscious buyers, typically young riders who are not necessarily seeking excellence.

Levi Bath

I'm the co-creator of OffRoad Lifestyles. I live in Loveland, Colorado with my wife and 3 kids. My wife and I have spent a lot of time out on the sand dunes near Walden, CO and we both love offroading and camping.

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