How Do You Fix Low Compression on A Dirt Bike?

Low compression on your dirt bike is one of those things that is relatively inevitable. Whether your engine is a two-stroke or a four-stroke, its compression will eventually run low and will require your attention. 

In a two-stroke dirt bike engine, the likeliest cause for low compression is worn pistons or rings. A four-stroke engine also has piston rings that need to be replaced regularly. However, the latter can also experience worn intake or exhaust valves, leading to low engine compression.

As is the case with most dirt bike questions, there is a lot of detail that goes into these common problems, and the more you understand about the machines, the more capable you will be at solving issues before they happen.

How to Tell If My Dirt Bike Has Low Compression

Low engine compression is the number one reason for dirt bikes working perfectly one day and struggling the next. Fortunately, there are many symptoms that indicate that your engine is in need of attention. In the case of a two-stroke dirt bike, you may notice any of the following signs that indicate your engine compression is low.

  • It becomes difficult to start
  • The kick-starter is too easy to kick over
  • Your dirt bike feels lower power than usual
  • Your spark plug is fouling
  • Your dirt bike won’t idle well

If you have a four-stroke dirt bike, many of the symptoms will be similar to the two-stroke variety, but with a few notable differences. You can expect to see any of the above, but with the following added to the list.

  • Dirt bike backfires or pops when decelerating
  • Complete loss of power
  • Runs very roughly

The only benefit of low engine compression is that it is easy to identify, thanks to these extremely obvious symptoms. Once you find your dirt bike showing any of the above signs of low compression, it’s time to get it tested.

How to Test Your Engine Compression?

Completing a compression test is reasonably straightforward, but there are a few variables to be aware of before starting. There are actually two ways to test an engine, warm or cold. The concept behind a compression test on a warm engine is that it will give you more accurate results because the machine will be closer to its average operating temperature. 

While this has the benefit of accuracy due to the thermal expansion of the piston, cylinder, and rings being more representative of your engine when it’s running, it can be challenging to replicate this when testing. There are a few steps that need to be completed to run the test, and your engine will inevitably cool down as you get prepared, so in the pursuit of accuracy, you may end up with more variable results.

Choosing to perform a cold compression test is much simpler. However, it is important to be aware that the resulting compression values that you get from your test on a cold engine will be lower than a warm one. While mechanics will go back and forth over which choice is better, repeatability is the key to successful testing, and a cold compression test is infinitely easier to duplicate.

Step-By-Step Two Stroke Compression Test

  1. The first step is the simplest one, and that is to remove the seat from your bike. Note that some bikes will give you sufficient access to the engine that you won’t need to remove the seat, but consult your owner’s manual to determine if yours falls into that category.
  2. Remove both the fuel tank and the radiator shrouds from your bike. If your bike has a petcock equipped, turn it off before removing the fuel line. For safety and cleanliness, catch any fuel draining from the line with a rag.
  3. Next, you will need to remove the spark plug cap. However, before you remove the plug itself, use compressed air to blow dust and debris out of the plug cavity so that it can’t get inside your engine. After doing so, remove your spark plug.
  4. At this point, you should install your compression tester into the spark plug hole and ensure that all of your fittings are tight to reduce the possibility of getting false readings.
  5. You will then hold the throttle wide open and kick the bike over five times as quickly and as hard as you can. Then, confirm the number recorded on the compression tester.
  6. Once you’ve recorded the value somewhere, reset the testing gauge, and repeat your test three to five times to ensure that your results are accurate.

Testing compression on a two-stroke dirt bike is not a very complicated process. As long as you follow these steps and confirm the details of your exact make and model of bike in your owner’s manual, you should be able to get consistent readings of your dirt bike’s compression. 

It is worth noting that a four-stroke engine will also involve a compression relief system and will have a specific allowable compression range. Consult your owner’s manual to find this information, and if your test indicates low compression in your four-stroke engine, you should complete a leak down test to determine what components need replacing.

What Level of Compression Should My Dirt Bike Have?

Now that you have a recorded compression value, you will need to compare it to your dirt bike’s recommended minimum compression. As mentioned above, your owner’s manual will have a minimum PSI specification, but there are commonly upheld two-stroke PSI values that you can use as a guideline. Be aware that these numbers are not absolute for every dirt bike.

  • 50cc engine – 120 PSI minimum
  • 65cc engine – 120 PSI minimum
  • 85cc engine – 130 PSI minimum
  • 125cc engine – 140 PSI minimum
  • 250cc engine – 170 PSI minimum
  • 500cc engine – 140 PSI minimum

Along with various makes and models possessing individual minimum requirements, where you live may also make a difference. Suppose you run identical tests on a single dirt bike at sea level and again at a higher altitude. In that case, you will receive different values as the difference in air pressure will provide alternate conditions.

How to Fix Low Compression?

With all the information you’ve gleaned from your dirt bike’s compression test, you will be ready to fix the actual problem. In most two-stroke engines, the primary reason for low compression will be a worn top-end, which may require replacing the piston or perhaps just the piston rings. However, if your cylinder has worn out of specifications or has physical scratches on it, you may need to rehone or replate it.

If you have a four-stroke engine suffering from low compression, you may need to replace the valves, seals, and potentially a new timing chain to ensure its reliability. Whether this is a task for you or your local mechanic depends on your mechanical aptitude and familiarity with top-end rebuilds.

Don’t Let Compression Get You Down

While the signs of low engine compression can be dramatic and alarming if you are not familiar with it, taking the time to understand your dirt bike’s engine will pay off in the long run. Even if you aren’t mechanically inclined, identifying problems with your machine before they get serious can save you time and money by preventing them from getting worse. 

At the end of the day, knowing more about your bike will make maintaining it more straightforward and ensure that you spend less time worrying about what might be wrong and more time back out on the track!

The Ultimate Youth Dirt Bike Guide

Are you looking to buy a dirt bike for your child or teen? It can be hard to figure out which bike to get, including which size your child needs and what features you should be looking for. 

The right size dirt bike for your child is one that lets you adjust the height, so the balls of his feet touch the ground. For an 8-10-year-old, get a 50-90cc dirt bike, a 90-110cc dirt bike for a 10-12-year-old, a 110-125cc dirt bike for a 12-14-year-old, and a 150-250cc bike for a 14-17-year-old.

If you would like to read the full youth dirt bike guide, which includes different size dirt bike options for your child and buying factors and tips, just keep scrolling. 

What Size Dirt Bike for an 8-Year-Old

Engine Size

The average eight-year-old is only around 5’5” (128 cm) and weighs around 57 pounds (26 kg). As such, you should not get a large dirt bike for them. A 50cc dirt bike will be sufficient for many eight-year-old boys and girls, especially if they are beginners.

If your child is very small and is a true beginner, you may even want to consider getting a 25cc dirt bike, though that would be stretching it a little and probably unnecessary. A 25cc dirt bike is more suited for 3-6-year-olds. 

Another option is getting a 70cc or an 80cc dirt bike. If you feel that a 50cc dirt bike is a little too small for your child and a 100-125cc dirt bike is too large or fast for your child’s level of experience, get a 70cc or 80cc bike. 

This is not to say that an eight-year-old can not ride a larger cc dirt bike. They can, but it’s best if they do so after they gain a bit of experience. If your eight-year-old is very experienced with dirt biking, that’s a little different; in that case, a 100-125cc dirt bike will be fine. 

Height

As for height, it all depends on the height of your child. Usually, the correct seat height for an eight-year-old child will be between 22 inches (56 cm) and 26 inches (66 cm). You should adjust the seat, however, to fit your child. Their feet should be able to touch the floor when they are sitting on the seat, but they should not be able to put their feet flat on the floor.

Instead, the balls of their feet should touch the floor while the heels should be in the air.

If your child is a beginner, however, you should make the seat a little lower so they can place their entire feet flat on the floor. While this is not standard seat sizing for dirt biking, it can help your child feel more comfortable on the bike and keep themselves steady. If they cannot place both feet on the floor, they may end up hurting themselves due to not being able to stop their bike. 

It should be noted that most 50cc dirt bikes have a seat height that is around 21 to 22 inches (53 to 56 cm). As such, if you get a 50cc dirt bike for your eight-year-old, you may have to actually raise the seat a little. 

Clutch

Get an automatic clutch. Gears are okay, but a manual clutch can confuse your child and lead to some dangerous situations. For example, they can accidentally release the clutch and stop power to the engine, throwing them off the bike. 

Recommended Bikes

  • The Honda CRF50 is a great dirt bike for eight-year-olds. The CRF is known as a great all-around dirt bike in general, and the 50cc version is no different. With a weight of just 104 pounds (47.2 kg) and a seat height of 21.6 inches (54.9 cm), it is perfect for eight-year-olds. Since the gears operate without any clutch interaction, it is a great bike to learn with. 
  • Another great bike is the Yamaha TT-R50. It is small, you can control how much power is released by the throttle to protect your child’s safety, and there is no clutch interaction to confuse your child. 

What Size Dirt Bike for a 9-Year-Old

  • Engine Size: For a nine-year-old kid, a 50cc dirt bike might be too small. Of course, this all depends on the child, but look for something a little bigger at that age. A 65cc, 70cc, or 80cc bike might be a better choice, and you could go up to 110cc depending on your child’s size and experience. For most nine-year-old beginners, though, a 65cc or a 70cc would be perfect. 
  • Height: For a nine-year-old child, you will generally need a seat height that is between 24 to 28 inches (61 to 71 cm) tall. Nine-year-old children are usually around two inches (5 cm) taller than eight-year-old children. 
  • Clutch: An automatic clutch would still be recommended for a nine-year-old child. An exception would be if they are not beginners and already have a lot of experience with dirt biking, in which case a manual clutch would be okay. 
  • Recommended Bike: The KTM 65 SX is a great 65cc bike that is flashy and will inspire future dirt bike racers. It has the same orange and black style of larger KTMs, which will make your child feel really cool and awesome. The Kawasaki KX65 is also a great option, and it tends to be a little cheaper than the KTM. 

What Size Dirt Bike for a 10-Year-Old

  • Engine Size: For a 10-year-old, a 65cc would be on the small size. Your 10-year-old is much better off with an 80cc, an 85cc, a 90cc, or even a 95cc. As before, you could go higher if your child is larger, taller, or more experienced, but the 80-95cc range is a good starting range for beginner 10-year-old dirt bikers. 
  • Height: For the seat height, aim for between 26 to 30 inches (66 to 76 cm) of height off the ground. As before, this will depend on your child’s height, so adjust the seat height as needed.
  • Clutch: For a 10-year-old, an automatic clutch is still recommended. It is easier to learn with and safer. 
  • Recommended Bikes: A good 80cc bike would be the Honda XR80R. It’s small but not too small, and it has a powerful four-stroke engine. You could also get the Honda XR 100cc version. These bikes may be hard to find, but there are plenty of other 80cc bikes out there as well. 

What Size Dirt Bike for an 11-Year-Old

  • Engine Size: For an 11-year-old, you will need something with a little more power. An 80cc bike just won’t do it. Instead, opt for a 100cc or a 110cc bike. As always, go higher depending on your child’s size and experience. 
  • Height: The seat should be between 26 and 32 inches (66 to 81 cm) off the ground. Again, this is just a general rule of thumb, as it all depends on your child’s height. In addition, it will depend on how long your child’s legs are. 
  • Clutch: At this age, you can get a bike with a manual clutch. At 11 years old and up, children are mature enough to be able to ride a manual bike safely. Of course, you will have to give them extra training to help them handle manual bikes. 
  • Recommended Bikes: There are plenty of great 110cc bikes that you can get for your 11-year-old. The Kawasaki KLX110cc is green and colorful, which is why many children like it. The seat height is a little low, but it can be adjusted. The Honda CRF110 is another great 110cc bike that is great for beginners. It has both an electric start and a kick-start, which makes it a lot easier to ride. 

What Size Dirt Bike for a 12-Year-Old

  • Engine Size: Most 12-year-old children can handle a 125cc bike just fine. They might need a bit of practice to get used to it, and you will need to give them all the training they need, but there’s no reason they can’t ride a 125cc bike. If you are worried that it is too much for them, you can give them a 110cc bike instead. A 110cc bike will still fit most 12-year-olds, even if it is a little small. 
  • Height: Your child might need anything between 26 inches and 33 inches (66 to 84 cm). Always ask your child to try out the bike first to see if they are comfortable. If they are too short, you will need to lower the seat. Alternatively, if they are too tall, their feet might snag on the ground while riding, so you will need to raise the seat height to prevent that. 
  • Recommended Bikes: If your child wants something flashy, a KTM 125 SX is a good option. KTM tends to be an expensive brand, so you can always go for a Honda or a Kawasaki if you are on a budget. The Honda XR 125cc is a decent-sized bike that is kind of small for adults but perfect for 12-year-olds and teens. 

What Size Dirt Bike for a 13-Year-Old

  • Engine Size: While a 110cc dirt bike is okay, a 125cc dirt bike is definitely better. You could even go higher than that if your teen is experienced or tall. 
  • Seat Height: Anything between 27 inches and 34 inches (69 to 86 cm) might be required. It is best to take your child’s height into account at this point rather than their age. There will be a size chart displayed further in this article. 
  • Recommended Bike: The Honda XR 125cc is a great 125cc dirt bike that is powerful, smooth, and fun to ride. 

What Size Dirt Bike for a 14-Year-Old

At this point, your teen might need a 150cc dirt bike. A 125cc dirt bike is still fine, but a 150cc bike will provide a little extra power. That little extra boost can make your teen’s dirt biking experience a lot more fun and engaging. 

Recommended Bikes

  • We would again suggest you go with the Honda XR150R.
  • The Honda CRF 150cc is also a good option.
  • If you don’t want a Honda, you can get the Yamaha YZ150cc.
  • If you are looking for a 125cc bike, just get one of those bikes in the 125cc version: the Honda XR 125cc, the Honda CRF 125cc, or the Yamaha FZ 125cc.

A lot also will depend on availability in your area, but these bikes are commonly used all around the world. 

What Size Dirt Bike for a 15 to 17-Year-Old

A 150cc dirt bike is still a good option, but if your teen is larger and more experienced, they could very well use a 200cc or even a 250cc dirt bike, which is already a full-sized adult bike. This will depend on availability in your area. In many countries, it is hard and very expensive to find bikes that are over 150cc. 

Recommended Bikes

There are plenty of options for 200cc and 250cc bikes.

The latter option can be used on-road as well, as dual sports are street-legal. As such, you can use it yourself when you need to ride, or your teen can use it if they have a junior motorcycle license. 

Dirt Bike Size Chart

This size chart is courtesy of Dirt Bike Planet. Note that this chart is not perfect; there is no one size fits all. For example, someone with longer legs might need a higher seat than someone who is as tall as them but has shorter legs. 

HeightSeat Height
5’10” (178 cm) 35 to 39″ (88.9 to 99.1 cm)
5’8″ (172 cm)34 to 38″ (86.4 to 96.5 cm)
5′ 6″ (167 cm)34 to 37″ (86.4 to 94 cm)
5’4″ (162 cm) 33 to 36″ (83.8 to 91.4 cm)
5’2″ (157 cm) 31 to 35″ (78.7 to 88.9 cm)

The most important thing to remember is that the balls of the rider’s feet should touch the ground so they can stabilize themselves and stop the bike when necessary. However, the heels should be off the ground. Unlike with a street bike, the rider’s feet should not be able to stay flat on the ground.

If the rider is a beginner, however, and feels unstable without being able to place both feet flat on the ground, you can adjust the seat height to accommodate them. 

Buying a Youth Dirt Bike: Factors to Consider 

When buying your child or teen a dirt bike, there are a number of things you should keep in mind, both in regard to buying the right bike for your child and training and preparing them properly to ride it. 

Getting the Right Bike 

We already went over general guidelines on which bike is best for which age. However, those guidelines are not set in stone. Some children might feel more comfortable riding a 50cc even if they are 10-12 years old, while some eight or nine-year-olds might have a lot of experience and feel that a 50cc is too slow and not fun. Use your common sense. Always buy a bike that fits your child’s experience and riding skills. 

Also, don’t buy a larger bike for your child to grow into later. That is not a good strategy; a bike that is too large and too powerful can be dangerous for your child to ride. When your child gets older and grows out of their smaller, beginner bike, you can always sell it on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist and buy a new one. Alternatively, you can keep it for your younger children if you have any. 

Giving Your Child Training

Many parents just let their children hop on a bike and figure it out on their own. However, riding a motorcycle of any kind is not like swimming. You can’t just figure it out on your own. If your child does teach themselves to ride it on their own, they may pick up bad riding habits that can interfere with safe riding later in life and which can be difficult to shake off. 

Instead, invest some of your time showing your child how to properly operate and ride their new dirt bike. There may be a riding center offering a kid’s dirt bike course in your area; a quick Google search will help you find information about that. 

For example, The Dirt Bike School has certified MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) instructors giving kids classes on how to safely ride a dirt bike. The course takes place with professional supervision, on a dirt bike course. There may be other schools in your area. If not, you may be able to find a private instructor who can help. 

Here’s a video with some useful tips on how to teach your child to ride a dirt bike: 

Getting the Right Gear

Wearing protective gear isn’t just important when riding on the road. It is also necessary when riding in the dirt, whether the rider is an adult or a child. 

Helmet

To start, get a strong, DOT-certified helmet that properly fits your child’s head. It can be hard to find good helmets for children, so shop around. There are many brands of MotoCross-style helmets, but not all are DOT-certified. This GLX Unisex-Child 

It’s even better if the helmet features SNELL, SHARP, or ECE certification in addition to DOT certification. DOT certification is the bare minimum, but its standards are relatively low and it relies on a model of self-certification, which means that some DOT-certified helmets don’t actually meet the DOT’s own standards. 

The helmet should fit your child’s head snugly. It should not be loose; a helmet can only protect against concussions when there is a snug fit. Try to get a full-face helmet, as half helmets and open-face helmets provide no protection for the face and mouth. In addition, make sure the helmet has a strong visor that is not cracked or dirty. 

A helmet, however, is only the bare minimum. Gloves come next; a good pair of motocross gloves will help your child grip and control the throttle and protect their hands from abrasions when they fall off their bike. A good pair of boots is also necessary; the boots should cover the ankle to protect against sprained and broken ankles. 

Riding Goggles

A pair of riding goggles or sunglasses will prevent dirt and sand from getting in your child’s eyes and obstructing their vision while riding. It will also protect their eyes from flying pebbles. Alternatively, just make sure they keep their visor down. 

This colorful GLX Unisex-Child DOT-Certified Helmet comes with a pair of free gloves and a pair of goggles as well, and it’s very affordable. It comes in three colors: Blue and white, camouflage green, and graffiti pink, so it’s perfect for both boys and girls. 

Elbow and Knee Guards

Finally, get some elbow and knee guards to protect your child when they fall (it’s not a question of if but when; falling off while dirt biking is to be expected, even for experienced riders). Ideally, you would want to get a full suit and jacket that has built-in elbow, knee, shoulder, chest, and back guards, but it can be hard to find such suits or jackets that fit children. 

Get the Appropriate Bike

We already went over ideal engine sizes and clutch types. However, there are many kinds of dirt bikes you can get. Here are some of the different types out there: 

Trail Bike

This is the standard dirt bike and probably the one you should choose for your child. A regular dirt bike is designed to be light, smooth, and easy to maneuver. It is not built for explosive speed but rather to take the rider through rough terrain; it is meant to be ridden on rocks, stones, dirt, mud, and through all types of obstacles. 

Enduro Bike

Enduro bikes, on the other hand, are built for more speed and power. Enduro bikes are usually heavier and more difficult to maneuver. There are plenty of 50cc Enduro bikes out there, but in general, they are made for speed and are not optimized to ride better on rough terrain. 

Motocross Bike

A motocross bike is even more optimized for speed than an Enduro. Motocross bikes are made for racing. However, unlike Enduro bikes, they are actually lighter than most trail bikes. A motocross bike, for example, might not have a kickstand or headlights; they are removed to shave off some extra weight. It will also have an altered suspension.

Unless your child plans on getting into Motocross racing, there’s no need for a Motocross bike, as they are also not as smooth as trail bikes. 

Dual Sport

A dual-sport bike is a street-legal bike that is designed to be ridden both on and off the road. As such, it sacrifices some of the optimizations a dirt bike usually has so it can be ridden on paved roads as well. If you want to ride only off-road, there’s no reason to get one. However, if your teen plans on using the bike on the road once they get their junior license, you might want to look into a dual sport.

In many places, a standard trail dirt bike is not street-legal. 

Customize the Bike

Regardless of which bike you get, consider customizing it so that it fits your child’s needs. For example, if your child is a beginner, you can get training wheels so they can learn how to operate their bike without worrying about maintaining their balance. 

Your child should be able to ride a bicycle before learning how to ride a dirt bike, but training wheels exist for dirt bikes as well. On the other hand, if your child is a little older, training wheels might end up becoming a crutch for them, so you might want to skip them. 

Other modifications include controlling how much power goes to the rear wheel when the throttle is turned. Many small dirt bikes that are designed for children make it easy for you to control this. Also, consider adjusting the seat height and handlebars. 

Practice, Practice, Practice

Motorcycling is a skill that one only gets better with by practicing. It is important to take your kid out to a dirt bike track or to an open area where they can practice dirt biking fundamentals. Focus on things such as emergency braking, emergency swerving, and slipping the clutch properly (if the bike is not automatic).

Other skills, such as keeping a loose grip on the handlebars and having a relaxed posture instead of grabbing them tightly and leaning forward, are important too. 

Supervise Them

Finally, never let your child ride a dirt bike themselves unsupervised unless they have a lot of experience. Keep an eye out so you can help them if they get into an accident. Also, if the weather is hot, make sure they stay hydrated the entire time. If they don’t get enough to drink and get dehydrated, it can interfere with their ability to focus and ride properly. 

Conclusion

Regardless of what kind of dirt bike you get for your child, always get one that is appropriate for their skills. It can be tempting to want to get a bigger bike, so they can “grow into it” and you won’t have to buy a new one later, but that can lead to some dangerous situations. 

More important than the bike you get for your kid is the training you give them and the mindset you instill in them. Too many parents just let their children hop on a bike with no prior training whatsoever. Instead of doing that, take the time to teach your child important safety skills.

They should have the mindset that motorcycling is dangerous and that proper safety precautions, including wearing protective gear, are necessary in order to have fun. 

Electric Dirt Bike vs. Gas Dirt Bike | The Ultimate Guide

The electric dirt bike and the gas dirt bike are very similar, but with a few key differences. Whether you’re a beginner buying your first dirt bike or an expert looking for an upgrade, it’s important to know the difference between these bikes to know what’s right for you.

An electric dirt bike is powered by a lithium-ion battery and therefore saves on operating costs, whereas a gas dirt bike is powered by either a two-stroke or a four-stroke engine and has more power. Electric bikes tend to be more expensive, but are easier to maintain than a gas dirt bike.

This article will discuss the differences between gas dirt bikes and electric dirt bikes, as well as their similarities and some things to take into account when purchasing a dirt bike or maintaining one that you already have. 

Know Your Environment

Before you make a choice about the right dirt bike for you, you should develop a clear picture of how and where you’ll want to use the bike. Most bikes can be used in multiple kinds of environments, but you’ll find that knowing what environment you’ll be riding in will help you find a bike that is especially well suited to your needs.

There are two main kinds of dirt biking: motocross and off-roading. Within motocross, there are three primary forms of competition: racing, freestyle, and supercross. There are also competitive forms of off-roading, with the main being enduro.

Motocross takes place on an outdoor track that is groomed for bikers. You’ll know what to expect as you take laps around the course and move through the preset ramps and turns. Motocross is both a recreational activity and a competitive sport. 

Motocross Racing

During an official motocross race, about 25 to 30 riders ride around the course for a certain number of laps, and the first to finish is considered the winner. In championship events, the fastest riders compete in a series of rounds leading up to a final race.

Freestyle Motocross

Freestyle motocross is like motocross racing in that it is performed on a set motocross course, but instead of being judged based on speed, riders are judged based on acrobatic stunts as they complete laps. 

One kind of freestyle motocross is big air, where the riders are given two major jumps covering a distance of 75 feet in which they can perform a stunt. In this kind of event, judges consider originality and difficulty and give a rating on a scale of 100. 

Another kind of freestyle motocross, simply called freestyle, involves two routines, each lasting 14 minutes and 90 seconds. During this time, the rider takes laps around the motocross course, performing a series of jumps at different lengths and at different angles. In this case, judges also evaluate the skill and originality of stunts and give a rating on a scale of 100. 

Supercross

Supercross is an indoor form of track racing that is very similar to motocross but technically considered its own sport. These courses are shorter than motocross courses and involve steeper jumps and harder obstacles, which are less similar to the natural terrain. Supercross tracks are also shorter than motocross courses.

Off-Road Dirt Biking

Off-roading, or trail riding, takes place on natural trails that span hundreds of miles and have endless unknown obstacles: rocks, holes, steep slopes, and tight corners. Off-roading bikes need to have bigger tires with more rubber padding and softer suspension to be able to handle these obstacles. 

Off-roading is also more doable with a push-button start than a kick start because you’ll need to start and stop the bike more often. These bikes are also often heavier than racing bikes because they have bigger gas tanks (if applicable) and more features built for comfort. 

However, all kinds of dirt bikes can be ridden for motocross or for off-roading. Different models simply have better performance in different areas. 

Enduro

Enduro racing happens on off-road courses, and are given points based on the rider’s timing. The race takes part in stages, and riders are allowed to re-fuel or service their vehicles at certain stops along the way. If they do not keep to this schedule for stops, they can be penalized and lose points.

Endurocross

EnduroCross is a mix between enduro racing and supercross, and is usually conducted on indoor tracks. Riders are judged based on both the time that it takes them to finish the course, like in enduro, and based on how well they navigate course obstacles, like in supercross. 

In EnduroCross, obstacles generally resemble outdoor obstacles, including rocks, boulders, fallen tree trunks, water, and mud, as well as giant tires and other obstacles. 

Gas Dirt Bikes

History

Gas-fueled bikes have been used since the 1800s, and racing came soon after. Motorcycle racing became popular in the early 1900s. These events all occurred on rough, open terrain, and races became official by the 1920s in the UK, funded by factories like BSA, Norton, and Matchless.

By World War II, motorized bikes took a lighter form with less rigid frames, better shock absorption, and suspension, looking more like the dirt bikes that we see today. The speed and power of these bikes improved due to these and other innovations in engineering.

By the 1960s, motocross became popular internationally, both in the United States and Japan. Major auto manufacturers Suzuki and Honda began producing dirt bike models designed for off-roading.

Since then, the engineering of motocross bikes has developed to improve speed and overall performance, but the basic design of the gas dirt bike has remained the same. 

Maintenance

Gas dirt bikes require regular maintenance of the engine, as well as the exterior of the bike. This includes washing and drying the bike and keeping a close eye on its performance, as well as changing the oil and air filter like you would for a car. 

The following steps are important to take for a gas dirt bike. Some of these are the same as what you’d do for an electric dirt bike, and some are unique. Generally, a gas dirt bike will require more steps in the maintenance routine.

  1. Gently wash your bike after every ride, using brushes and water, but avoiding getting water or dirt into the engine. You can, however, use a powerful stream of water, even a power jet.
  2. Dry the bike before checking for hardware problems. You can use a leaf blower to make the drying process faster.
  3. Check for oil leaks.
  4. Check for leaks in coolant and brake fluid.
  5. Clean dirt from the chain and let it dry.
  6. Inspect the chain for weak points or tension issues
  7. Lubricate the chain with chain lube like this Klotz UpLon lubricant or this Maxima Racing Oil.
  8. Lubricate the levers and cables, any moving parts.
  9. Inspect and tighten bolts.
  10. Check for frayed or bent control cables.
  11. Check your throttle for twisting issues.
  12. Make sure your air filter is clean and coated with oil.
  13. Check your tire pressure after every ride.
  14. Change your oil at least after every 8-10 hours of riding.
  15. Grease your engine to seal out water and dirt.

Technology

A gas dirt bike engine comes in two varieties: two-stroke and four-stroke. Both are internal combustion engines with pistons, cylinders, fuel, exhaust, and a crankshaft, although the four-stroke varieties operate more similarly to large vehicles like buses and cars. 

The dirt bike engine works by igniting a combination of fuel and air to move pistons up and down inside the cylinder, turning the crankshaft, which then turns the rear wheel of the bike. The clutch and the transmission allow you to control the rate and intensity at which this happens. 

Most gas dirt bikes are classified according to the size of the combustion chamber, measured in ccs. 1,000 cc is equal to about 0.22 gallons, and most engines are somewhere in the range of 250-350 cc. You may also find bikes classified according to the number and shape of cylinders, like in cars.

It’s important to note that the lubrication process is different between a two-stroke and a four-stroke engine. A two-stroke engine mixes oil and fuel, and so either needs a fuel pre-mixed with oil or needs oil injected into a reservoir that combines with fuel on intake. 

Having an oil reservoir means that you don’t need to worry about measuring the proper ratio of fuel to oil, but if something breaks in the pumping system, your engine can undergo serious damage.

The four-stroke engine is only ever lubricated through the use of an oil reservoir, which does not mix oil with fuel. 

Electric Start Gas Bikes

Some gas bikes have an electric start mechanism, making them hybrids mostly reliant on engine power but with a small battery and some electric features. The push-button start is the most common electric feature and allows the bike to start more quickly and smoothly.

Best on the Market

250cc Hawk Dirt Bike 5 speed Manual transmission, Big wheel, Electric kick start
250cc Pro-Hawk 5 speed Manual transmission, Big wheel, Electric kick start
125cc X-PRO Kids Dirt BikeBuilt for kids, 4 speed Manual transmission, Kick start, Big wheel
110cc X-PRO Kids Dirt Bike Built for kids, 4 speed Manual transmission, Electric kick start
Fit Right 49cc Kids Dirt BikeBuilt for kids, Aluminum big wheel, 2 stroke engine

Electric Dirt Bikes

History

Electric bikes were invented first in the 1890s, then evolved throughout the 1900s along with gas-powered bikes. However, very few electric bikes were available on the market for purchase at this time, even though they had been invented. It wasn’t until the late 1990s and early 2000s that electric bikes really became available to consumers. 

During this time, electric bikes moved through a heavy lead-acid battery design to a lighter lithium-ion battery design, which made for more lightweight bikes. This led to speed improvements and extended the range that the bikes could go before needing to be charged. 

Maintenance

Electric dirt bikes require regular maintenance to prevent failure and injury, and to keep you from having to pay for repairs. Make sure to wash your bike after every ride, and to inspect components for hardware issues before they become a problem on the track or trail.

The following steps are important to take for the maintenance of an electric dirt bike:

  1. Very gently wash your bike after every ride, using brushes and water, but avoiding any powerful streams of water. It is very important not to get water into the electrical components.
  2. Dry the bike before checking for hardware problems. You can use a leaf blower to make the drying process faster.
  3. Check for leaks in coolant and brake fluid.
  4. Clean dirt from the chain and let it dry.
  5. Inspect the chain for weak points or tension issues.
  6. Lubricate the chain with chain lube like this Klotz UpLon lubricant or this Maxima Racing Oil.
  7. Lubricate the levels and cables, any moving parts.
  8. Inspect and tighten bolts.
  9. Check for frayed or bent control cables.
  10. Check your throttle for twisting issues.
  11. Check your tire pressure after every ride.
  12. Don’t store your bike in direct sunlight, or anywhere that the battery might overheat.
  13. Avoid opening electrical components, as they are difficult to seal and susceptible to water damage.
  14. Recharge the battery.

Technology

Most electric dirt bikes today are powered by lithium-ion batteries, which can be charged by removing the battery pack from the bike, turning it off, and plugging it into a general power outlet. Some bikes come with a spot for the charger on the bike so that you’re sure to have it when and where you need it.

Most electric bike batteries will charge within 2 to 6 hours, depending on their range. Some charge at a rate of about 15 miles per hour, while others charge faster, at a rate of 25 miles per hour. Generally, the bigger the range, the faster the battery will charge. 

Some more expensive models charge the battery as you ride, transferring energy each time you use the brakes. This can extend the life of your battery by 5-10%, although it also makes pedaling more difficult. 

Batteries last longest if they are charged before they run out of power, and so you’ll want to recharge the battery after every use if possible. There is no harm in unplugging the battery before it is fully charged. 

Many bike owners carry an extra battery so that they can make long trips and extend their range without worrying about stopping to charge. Without recharging, an electric bike will generally make it to about 22-56 miles, although some can go for over 70 miles.

You can extend the life of your battery by using the appropriate gears for different speeds and situations and by using a lower assistance setting on the bike. 

Lithium batteries tend to last 500 charging cycles before losing much of its power, and up to 1200 cycles on some bikes. This translates to about 10,000 to 30,000 miles of total bike usage. 

An electric bike can usually reach about 20 miles per hour, although some can go up to 28 miles per hour.

Best on the Market

Electric dirt bikes have become more advanced in recent years, now including high-quality brakes and suspension systems. These are ten of the best electric dirt bikes currently on the market:

KTM Freeride E-XCGreat for off-roading, Energy recuperation technology that means charging less often and for less time
Zero FXAllows you to adjust settings for different kinds of terrain, Includes Eco-friendly mode, Includes Sport mode, Top speed of 85 mph
Cake Kalk ORMade for off-roading, Unique design, Innovating engineering
Cake Kalk INKSimilar to the Cake Kalk OR, but sturdier, Top speed of 50 mph, Range of three hours
Cake Kalk&Street legal, Similar in style to the Kalk OR design
Oset 24.0 RacingBattery-powered, Appropriate for a wide range of ages
KTM SX-E 5Made for beginner, junior riders, Quiet, ideal for noise-restricted areas
Husqvarna EE 5Suited for kids, Adjustable seat height, Range of two hours for general riding, 25 minutes for racing
Oset MX-10Starter bike for young kids, Maximum speed of 22 mph
Oset 12.5 RacingBuilt for young, beginner riders

Similarities Between Electric Dirt Bikes and Gas Dirt Bikes

History

Both electric and gas-powered bikes were invented in the 1800s and improved in performance and style throughout the 1900s. 

Maintenance

Both gas and dirt bikes require regular maintenance to keep performing well and prevent the occurrence of mechanical failures, which can cause major accidents and injuries. All dirt bikes are also expensive to repair, so maintenance is also important from a cost-saving perspective.

No matter which kind of bike you have, it’s important to wash and dry it after every ride, and make sure that no liquids are leaking, no matter whether or not oil leaks are a concern. There is also coolant and brake fluid to consider, which both kinds of bikes have. 

Both kinds of bikes also have chains that need to be checked and cleaned, as well as bolts and control cables. Tire pressure and brake liquid levels should be maintained in either case, too. 

Technology

Both gas and dirt bikes are powered and need to be re-supplied with energy from time to time, and work through the use of a clutch and transmission. For this reason, the experience of riding and guiding a bike is generally similar between an electric and gas bike.

Differences Between Electric Dirt Bikes and Gas Dirt Bikes

History

Although gas and electric bikes came onto the scene at roughly the same time, gas bikes were available to consumers at a much earlier time and were at the heart of early motorized racing. It wasn’t until about a century after their invention that electric bikes became purchasable and usable for racing purposes. 

Maintenance

Electric dirt bikes are easier to maintain than gas dirt bikes because they do not require engine maintenance. Oil changes and leak checks, air filter cleanings, and engine maintenance are all unnecessary or not relevant to an electric bike, but are necessary for the owner of a gas dirt bike. 

However, the electrical components of an electric dirt bike are very sensitive to water and overheating, so it’s very important to be careful washing the bike with water and to keep the bike in temperature-controlled environments.

Technology

Where electric bikes are fueled by a lithium-ion battery, gas bikes are fueled by either a two-stroke or four-stroke combustion engine. Generally, the battery-powered model will have a longer range before needing a new supply of power, but the gas engine will top out at higher speeds. 

Cost

Although both electric dirt bikes and gas dirt bikes come in a range of prices, depending on the model, electric dirt bikes will usually be more expensive. However, gas dirt bikes involve more maintenance expenses, and so the cost can also build over time. 

How to Choose a Bike

When choosing which dirt bike to purchase, there are a number of factors you’ll want to consider. First, make sure that you understand the context you’ll be riding in. You should know what kind of terrain you’ll need to be ready for, how long you expect to ride, and how fast you need to be able to go. 

If you are a beginner purchasing your first dirt bike, you’ll likely want to choose a secondhand bike with a gas engine, which is easier to find and generally cheaper for the amount of power that you get. 

If you have some experience riding and want a bike that will go longer distances and be easier to maintain, and have the money to spend, you’ll likely be happiest investing in an electric bike. 

Consider these factors as you look through your options, whether you choose gas or electric. 

Bike Size

Your height, weight, arm length, and leg length are all relevant in picking a bike, and so the best way to find a good fit is to sit on the bike and see how it feels. Notice how heavy the bike feels, whether your feet can sit flat on the ground and whether you can reach the handlebars with a straight back and 90-degree angle in your elbows. 

You should have room to reach the pedals without more than a slight bend in the knees, without being cramped. 

Tire Size

Dirt bikes are made with a smaller wheel in the rear, which helps with fast acceleration, and a larger wheel in the front, which allows you to ride smoothly over rocks and other rough terrains. 

If you’re hoping to spend more time off-roading, find a bike with smaller wheels and more rubber, which can take more of a beating from rocks and other obstacles. 

In general, larger wheel sizes means for a more comfortable ride for beginners.

Motor Size

If you’re choosing a gas bike, check for a value measured in cc, like 250cc or 450cc. This stands for cubic centimeters and will tell you how big the dirt bike’s cylinders are. Higher numbers and larger cylinders mean that the bike will have more power, while lower numbers and a smaller cylinder size means less power. 

Note that high and low cylinder sizes do not always go along with the size of the bike itself. A smaller bike can have a larger engine, and a larger bike can have a smaller engine. Other factors, like ground clearance, can be a reason for differences in bike sizes. 

Two-Stroke vs. Four-Stroke Engines

In gas bikes, you will have the choice between models with a two-stroke engine and models with a four-stroke engine. Two-stroke engines will speed up more quickly, whereas four-stroke engines will have more consistent power and more reliable motors. 

Best Bikes for Beginners

The following are the best dirt bikes for beginners, based on ease of use and durability.

The Honda CRF250X – Beginner Dirt Bike

  • Electric, push-button start for quick and easy starting and stopping
  • High ground clearance good for inconsistent terrain
  • Four-stroke engine and consistent speed
  • Easy to find replacement parts
  • Easy steering
  • 250cc

The Honda CRF230F Beginner Dirt Bike

  • Reliable four-stroke engine
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable seating
  • Lower ground clearance
  • 230cc

The Yamaha YZ125 – Best Beginner Dirt Bike

  • Introduced to the U.S. in the 1970s
  • Well-known trick bike
  • Very lightweight
  • Easy motor to maintain, rebuild
  • 125cc

The Yamaha TTR-50 – Kids Beginner Dirt Bike

  • Tailored for kids
  • Four-stroke engine
  • Only three gears, can be left in one gear for learning
  • Training wheels
  • Speed control mechanisms to keep the bike from reaching its highest speeds
  • Highly available
  • Electric start

The Kawasaki KLX110

  • Highly customizable, upgradable
  • Four-stroke engine
  • Low center of gravity
  • Four gears
  • Easy to balance

Conclusion

Electric dirt bikes and gas dirt bikes are very similar in function, but are different in that electric dirt bikes tend to have less power but are easier maintenance and are more environmentally friendly. Electric dirt bikes also tend to be more expensive, and so are better for riders with more experience than for beginners.

What Size Dirt Bike Should I Get? For my — Height, Weight, Kid, Adult

Buying the right size dirt bike for you is important, not just because of the financial commitment required to get one, but also for your overall safety and to ensure a great experience every time you’re out on the trails. Knowing the right dirt bike size to go with before you head out to the dealership ensures you won’t make a rushed decision or rely on only the knowledge of the dealers to pick a bike.

To choose the right size dirt bike consider height, weight, age, the size of a dirt bike’s powerplant, how you fit on the bike, and experience level. Choosing a dirt bike based on these factors reduces the risk of injury ensuring you maintain control of the dirt bike. 

In this article, we’ll provide all the information you need on dirt bike sizes and how to choose one for yourself or loved one. Watch out for the section on specific dirt bike model recommendations

How Is Dirt Bike Size Measured? 

There are two main factors considered when measuring the size of a dirt bike. The first is the physical size of the dirt bike known as the seat height. It is the most important metric used to know if a dirt bike matches your body.

The second factor is the engine size, rated in “CC” or Cubic Centimeters. It refers to the engine displacement. Generally, the bigger the CC number, the more power in the bike. So, a 250cc bike is more powerful than a 125cc bike even if they both look the same visually or have the same seat height. There are always some exceptions to this rule, but this is what you should generally expect.

There is a misconception that tall people should only choose the highest CC engines in the market, but as you’ve seen above, the CC has nothing to do with your height. It’s not uncommon to find higher CC engines in smaller bikes, made for shorter people that are looking for a more powerful bike.

You can also find intimidating looking bikes with smaller CC engines made for teenagers that need big but not necessarily the most powerful bikes.

How to know if a Dirt Bike is the Right Size?

It’s easy to find dealerships and manufacturers with high definition images of their dirt bikes online, but you shouldn’t gauge a bike’s fit based on images and listed dimensions. To be certain that the bike fits you, you really need to sit on it in real life.

First, straddle the dirt bike and make sure your feet are touching the ground, but ONLY your toes and the balls of your feet, ensuring that just your heels are up. Being able to reach the ground with the tip of your foot will help you maneuver the dirt bike easier and yet still be tall enough. 

If you get this fitting, then you’ve chosen a bike with a proper seat height for you.

However, If you’re a new rider, you’ll want to consider a dirt bike height that gives you more control by having both feet firmly on the ground. Since some dirt bikes can weigh quite a bit simply having more stability when your first starting is essential. 

If you’re a casual rider, you can get by with such a fitting until you get more comfortable with the dirt bike. More frequent riders, however, will find that a bike that sits too low will leave their foot in a cramped position, which increases the chances of foot and knee injury. Also, you just look like a big kid on a little kids bike and will stick out in a crowd.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Dirt Bike For Your Body

When looking to pick the perfect dirt bike for your body size, the three main factors to consider are your dirt bike experience level, your height, and weight. We’ll take a closer look at these factors below.

What Is Your Dirt Bike Experience Level?

It doesn’t matter if you’re getting the bike for an adult or for a child; the level of experience plays an important role in the size of the dirt bike you’ll choose. New riders need to choose a dirt bike with a CC-rating that will allow them to get a feel of the dirt bike experience and get a proper handle on riding across multiple trails. A CC rating lower than 250 is typically recommended.

A bike with a smaller displacement will have less power, and the overall size will be slightly less of a factor in how comfortable the bike would be while it’s out on trails. Once you choose a bike with an engine that isn’t too powerful for your experience level, you can proceed to measurement-based factors.

How Tall Are You?

As we’ve seen above, dirt bikes come in various seat heights. To choose the right size dirt bike for your body, you have to pick an option with a seat height that agrees with your overall height. Again, you have to actually sit on the bike to see how your height agrees with it.

You’ll find many seat height recommendations for people that are tall by X inches (we have some recommendations below), but it’s just general guidance. Two people of the same height might not have the same level of comfort on the same dirt bike. This is because some people have taller torsos, while others have longer arms or shorter inseams.

Remember, a dirt bike is too small for you if your foot is completely on the ground while you’re standing on the bike. You’ll only end up overloading the suspension, making every bump or rock you hit while out on the trail a lot more painful than it should be. On the other hand, the bike is not the right size for you if you’re struggling for balance on the tip of your toes while standing on it. 

The goal is to choose a bike size that won’t leave your legs feeling cramped while at the same time balanced enough to allow you to use your toes and the balls of your feet to control the bike when you run into bumps and need to control the bike with your legs.

What Do You Weigh?

Your weight is important because it determines what qualifies as the right amount of suspension for you in a bike. Two beginner riders weighing 120lbs (54kg) and 225lbs (102kg) may not be able to ride the same dirt bike.

If you weigh less than 150lbs (68kg), it’s often a good idea to start with a bike that’s under 250cc. This way, you can gradually adapt to the height and weight. If you’re well beyond that weight limit, you have to look towards bikes between 250 and 450cc to ensure you can navigate any trails without your suspension giving way.

However, your weight isn’t enough. If you choose a 450cc bike because of your weight and you’re a novice rider, the bike will be too powerful for you, at least until you’re experienced enough for it. If you’re experienced and are heavier, going for the most powerful bikes is always a good idea.

If, for some reason, you can’t find the perfect bike that has the perfect engine for your experience level and also strong enough to hold your weight, you should consider submitting a request for a custom order. It will cost a bit more in many cases, but at least you can avoid wasting money and get the perfect bike size for your body.

Best Dirt Bike Sizes for Kids

Are you looking for a dirt bike that matches your child’s body? You still need to pick the bike, taking the factors we’ve discussed above into consideration. If your child is aged 15 years or younger, there are many dirt bikes of 50cc to 150cc you can choose from.

Ages 5-6

Children aged five or six years old who are just getting started with a dirt bike can go with the Yamaha PW50. With its low seat height of 18.7″ (47.5cm), it should fit even the smallest kids. It also only weighs 90lbs (40 kg), so it shouldn’t be too heavy for young children. 

A useful feature on the bike is the throttle limit, which reduces the amount of power the bike can put out. This makes it easy to keep a lid on how much power the child is exposed to at any interval. As they grow in confidence and experience level, you can adjust the throttle to allow them to go a bit faster.

The PW50 also comes with an automatic transmission, so your child won’t have to worry about controlling the clutch and gears. The bike is designed to help your child learn balance, control, and steering.

Ages 13-15

If you’re looking for a bike that will fit the body of your 13-year old, you need to also consider their riding experience and overall height. If the child has grown to a height of around 5’1″ and is only just getting started with dirt bike riding, you should choose a bike like the 4-stroke Kawasaki KLX 140 for them.

It’s an off-road bike designed a bit differently from standard track-oriented dirt bikes, giving it a predictable and smooth power that makes it perfect for newbie riders.

The KLX comes in different seat heights ranging from 30.7″ to 33.9″ (78cm to 86.1cm). With this, you should be able to find the perfect fitting easily. Obviously, taller and heavier children should try out the 33.9″ (86.1cm) variant or the KLX140G. Smaller sized children in this weight class can stick to the vanilla KLX 140.

Children aged 14-15 and also just getting started with dirt bike riding can also get started with the KLX 140, choosing the model that fits their height and weight. If the child is already an experienced rider, however, you should consider getting them something close to the KX250.

Its seat height is 37.3″ (94.7cm), though, so you should also make sure that it won’t be too tall for your child. You can look for other bikes, but the KX250’s power means it’s one of the best if your child is a regular racer. A good idea will be to make some modifications to the seat (covered below) to reduce the height for the child.

If the height is manageable for the child, then it’s a good fit. The child’s experience will come to the fore, ensuring that they’ll handle the bike perfectly in the meantime while growing into it in a year or two for even better fitting.

Dirt Bike Size Table for Kids

AgeRecommended Seat  Height
3-618.7” (47.5cm)
8-924 to 28″ (61cm to 71.1cm)
10-1226 to 31″ (66cm to 78.7cm)
13-1530 to 37″ (76.2cm to 94cm)

Best Dirt Bike Sizes For Adults: Tall and Small

To choose the right size dirt bike for your body as an adult, you also have to work with the factors we’ve covered above in mind: your height, weight and experience level as a dirt bike rider.

Dirt Bikes for Smaller Adults 

If you have little experience and your body type is short and small, you should be looking at dirt bikes in the size of the 125cc Honda CRF 125F. It’s a mild-powered trail bike, and at 30.9″ (78.5cm), the seat height will work well for smaller adults. It’s also a lightweight bike that can be maneuvered easily.

Dirt Bikes for Tall or larger Adults

For tall (6ft+ or 182cm) 200lbs (90kg) experienced riders, the right dirt bike size to go for will be something in the 450cc range. There are lots of options to pick from, so you should base your final decision on the type of riding you intend to do.

If you’ll spend a lot of time riding on motocross tracks, the Yamaha YZ450f is a good option to go for. It has a 37.5″ (95.3 cm) seat height, making it suitable for tall people. The 450cc engine also means it packs a lot of power.

If you’ll be spending more time off motocross tracks and more on the trails, you can consider a bike like the Honda CRF450X. It’s similar to the Honda CRF450R, but it’s been designed for off-road riders. The six-speed transmission (wide-ratio) has made it a favorite for many off-road enthusiasts.

Average Height Adults

If you qualify as an average height adult (5’8 to 6ft or 172.7 to 182cm), and your riding experience is somewhere between beginner and advanced, you should consider a 250cc dirt bike. This is another category with lots of options to choose from, but the Kawasaki KLX250 is a top model to consider if you’re looking for something a bit fun and not too powerful.

Many people choose this bike because its Dual Sport design means you can legally ride it on the streets and then move to the trails whenever you want. Its 35″ (88.9cm) seat height makes it a good fit for average height riders.

However, it’s a bit heavier than other standard dirt bikes in its class as it weighs 305lbs (138kg). This is understandable as the bike needs to be stable enough for average speeds around other vehicles if you take it to the highway.

Dirt Bike Size Table for Adults

HeightRecommended Seat Height
5’2″ (157cm) Tall31 to 35″ (78.7 to 88.9cm)
5’4″ (162cm) Tall33 to 36″ (83.8 to 91.4cm)
5′ 6″ (167cm) Tall34 to 37″ (86.4 to 94cm)
5’8″ (172cm) Tall34 to 38″ (86.4 to 96.5cm)
5’10” (178cm) Tall35 to 39″ (88.9cm to 99.1cm)
6′ (182cm) Tall+37.5″ or higher (95.3cm)

Adjusting the Height of Your Dirt Bike

We’ve seen the recommended seat height for various body types above. However, it’s still possible that some of the bikes and seat heights for your body type may still not fit properly. Remember, these are not custom made. In such a situation, what should you do?

First, you can go ahead and order a custom bike from your favorite manufacturers. Many of them won’t honor the request, and you can expect to pay higher fees for any that agrees.

Alternatively, you can just adjust the height of the dirt bike. Knowing how to adjust the height of a bike is also a great way to avoid buying a new bike every year if your child is still at a stage where they can overgrow bikes in months.

How to Lower the Dirt Bike Height

Here are some tips to lower the height of your dirt bike:

Reduce the Seat Size

The easiest way to lower the height of your dirt bike is to cut some foam off the seat. It may sound counterintuitive as the foam makes for a more comfortable ride, but you won’t feel the change too much, and you’ll be able to ride more confidently.

Alternatively, you can replace the often sturdier foam in the seat with a softer block of foam. Such foam will compress when you get on the bike, thus lowering distance from the seat to the ground. If you don’t have the skills to replace the foam, drilling holes in the seat will achieve the same results.

Finally, you can also replace the built-in seat with a new option to avoid engaging in any DIY work. As long as you find a seat that isn’t as padded as the original, you can be sure of lowering your dirt bike’s height.

Modify the Sag Configurations

Another excellent way to reduce the height of your dirt bike is to modify the sag setting of the bike. You can do this by tweaking the rear suspension until you have a height that’s perfect for you:

However, this approach is not for everyone as may end up changing the original steering configuration of the bike a great deal. You’ll need to use your owner’s manual to be sure you have the perfect sag settings.

How to Increase the Dirt Bike Height

If you’re looking to increase the height of your dirt bike, all you need to do is the opposite of the steps discussed above. Simply changing the seat on the bike to one that has thicker, harder and higher foam can give you a few more inches in height. You can buy one from your local bike shop or have them make a custom seat for you.

You can also change the sag settings to make it higher, but remember, such a change can affect the handling of the bike. You should only use the option if you know what you’re doing.

Choosing the Best Dirt Bike for You

As we’ve seen thus far, every rider will have different needs. If you’re just starting out, choose a bike with a total seat height which rhymed with your height, and an engine that isn’t too powerful.

As a beginner, you should focus on choosing the bike that will be easiest to ride for you. A 4-stroke trail bike that matches your height is always a good place to start. As your experience level increases, you can move further up the power chart.

Your decision-making should also be influenced by the type of dirt bike you really need as they vary. Options include enduro, motocross, and trail bikes. If you don’t want to get involved in races or go to treacherous off-roading tracks, a trail bike is often all you need.

When you’ve narrowed down the size and type of dirt bike you need, it’s time to look at different models from different manufacturers and the specific features they offer. Then you should consider the following questions:

  • How reliable is the bike?
  • Does it have abrupt or smooth power?
  • Does it have suspension designed for your type of riding?
  • What does it cost?
  • Are there any other special benefits for choosing one model or manufacturer over the other?

By answering the questions above, you can pick the perfect bike. However, don’t descend into analysis paralysis. There’ll always be some disadvantage to any bike you choose. Look for the one that best fits and go with it instead of spending days trying to find the perfect dirt bike with any downsides.

Buying Your Chosen Dirt Bike Model

To make it easier for you to choose a dirt bike, we included some dirt bike models in our analysis for each body type above.

You can buy brand new versions of these bikes off a dealership, directly from the manufacturer or second hand from other bike riders—mostly those looking to upgrade. Getting a second-hand bike, however, is feisty territory. It’s easy to buy a bike that’s already too damaged. So what should you do?

To buy a good second-hand dirt bike, here are some tips you should follow:

  • Look at the overall cleanliness. If the bike is looking very worn out with lots of stains and caked dirt, there’s a high chance that the owner was careless with it—which translates to a bike that will most likely disappoint you if you buy it.
  • Check for damage to the frame, subframe, and handlebar. If the bike owner has been in a major crash or too many minor ones, you’ll see the tell-tale signs on the handlebar, frame, and subframe. Look for unusual bends, cracks, or welds. If the bike looks uneven from the rear when it’s standing, or the fender leans too much to one side, that’s extra repair work you’ll have to pay for.
  • Check the wheels. If there are few missing spokes, bends, and cracks, it shows that the bike has been used roughly. If you can’t readily see any damage to the wheel, spin the wheel and check for wobbling. New or used dirt bike wheels are costly, so you should try to avoid the expense.
  • Check the engine. You should turn on the bike and let it run for a minute at least. If there’s a ticking, it could mean a worn tensioner or timing chain—which can be fixed easily. If there’s a rattle, however, the piston needs a rebuild.
  • Check the transmission and brakes. If you’ve looked over the bike thus far and you’re satisfied, the next thing is to ride the bike and test the transmission by shifting through all the gears. It should shift easily through all the gears. If the gear doesn’t engage at a specific level, it suggests a bend in the shift fork, which will require the cases to be split—a repair job that can cost a lot of money. The brakes should also work perfectly.

Speed up progressively and check the brakes at various intervals.

If the body of the used bike doesn’t show too much wear and tear and the engine and transmission are perfect, you may be able to save thousands by choosing it instead of getting a new one.

Your focus should be on avoiding as much repair as possible, so you don’t get to lose the money you save from choosing to get a second-hand option at the mechanic or rebuild shop. There’s also the problem of putting yourself at risk by riding a bike that can give way under you or stop suddenly while you’re out on the trails.

Conclusion

Being a dirt bike owner is fun and exciting, only when you choose a bike that fits your body. You can choose a bike that fits you perfectly by paying attention to factors like your height, weight, and riding experience. Always remind yourself that smaller bikes aren’t necessarily safer, and tall people don’t always have to go for the most powerful bikes.

Test as many bikes as possible before you make a decision. If you can’t find a fitting model from your preferred manufacturers, look elsewhere. Remember, a standard bike will cost thousands of dollars. It’s not a decision you should make lightly.

4-Stroke Bike Maintenance: A Complete Guide

Over the years 4-stroke dirt bikes have improved thanks to technological advancements. There have been power increases, weight decreases, and the performance of 4-stroke engines have become a lot more efficient. Nonetheless, these types of bikes require maintenance, and while maintaining a 4-stroke isn’t as intensive as a 2-stroke, you’ll still want to make sure you know what needs to be done.

4-stroke Dirt Bike Maintenance: 

  • Wash, Dry Inspect, Tighten and lube bike (Every ride)
  • Oil change (4-6 hrs)
  • Replace Oil Filter (6-10 hrs)
  • Clean, Check, Replace, and Oil the Air Filter (Every ride or 3Hrs)
  • Replace Brake Fluid ( 20-40 hrs) 
  • Replace Pads (0.04 in-1.00mm)
  • Check Calipers and Rotors (Regularly)
  • Check Coolants (Every ride, change yearly)
  • Check Tire Pressure, Valve stems (Every ride)
  • Check Tire and wheel Condition (10k, lube every 6 months)
  • Check for Engine, Brakes, etc… for leaks (Every ride)  
  • Check Chain tension and Sprockets (Every ride) 
  • Check Control Cables (Regularly)
  • Change the Piston and Rings (Every 30-100 hours) 
  • Check Suspension/Steering (Regularly)

Make note that the maintenance of a 4-stroke dirt bike is different from that of a 2-stroke as the engines are different.

Read on to learn more about the difference between 2-stroke and 4-stroke, the importance of creating a maintenance schedule, and tips on maintaining a 4-stroke dirt bike.

How Does a 4-Stroke Engine Dirt Bike Work? 

A 4-stroke engine consists of four functions, which include exhaust, combustion, compression, and intake. This type of engine is more complex than that of a 2-stroke engine. That’s because a 4-stroke engine power is fired every two revolutions of the crankshaft, something that allows for steady power delivery.

Also, the 4-stroke engines feature a smooth powerband that makes handling easier. It’s the reason why dirt bikes with this type of engine are preferred for beginners. They require little effort to ride. The 4-stroke dirt bikes have more moving parts, and there’s controlled engine power, which means you don’t need to worry about shifting, clutching, or the brakes.

Another reason why 4-stroke dirt bikes are preferred is that they require less maintenance than 2-stroke bikes. You can comfortably use these bikes for trail riding. Nonetheless, having too many moving parts also means the bike becomes heavier than that of a 2-stroke engine. You may also need to account for the replacement of the moving parts.

4-stroke dirt bikes have more power down low. Users of the 4-stroke dirt bikes prefer them because they are easy to maneuver, control, and ride.

Differences Between 2-Stroke and 4-Stroke Dirt Bikes

Some of the major differences between the two include:

Power

Modern 4-Stroke dirt bikes have an excellent power performance due to the different advanced versions of the engines. 2-stroke dirt bikes, on the other hand, have a high power performance, but this can be difficult to control when trail riding or controlling the bike on rough terrain. The best part is that a 4-stroke bike has better power handling as power management is better than that of a 2-stroke.

Handling

Another difference between the 2-stroke and 4-stroke engine is the handling. Four-stroke engines are heavy as they have multiple moving parts. The result is challenging handling. However, two-stroke engines have fewer parts, something that makes them lighter and easier to handle. The good thing is that adding suspension can reduce handling problems in a 4-stroke dirt bike.

Operation

Another difference between the 2-stroke and 4-stroke is in the operation. A two-stroke engine has oil mixed with fuel inside. The combination goes through a combustion cycle where it burns up and leaves through the exhaust pipe. There are some 2-stroke engines with an oil injection system that adds oil into the carburetor.

2-stroke engine oil is refined as it needs to mix well with the fuel and burn in the combustion chamber. These oils are thinner and have specific additives. You can find 2-stroke engine oils made from synthetic, conventional, or castor oil.

The 4-stroke engine has a separate chamber for the fuel. There is a pump that circulates the fuel through the engine, while the filter removes unwanted particles. The process repeats, and although the oil can be recycled, it’s best to change it after some time to avoid contaminant buildup.

Four-stroke engine oil isn’t as refined due to the circulation system. Nonetheless, additives may be added. Viscosity plays a critical role in how the engines function. 

Repair

2-stroke engines have less moving parts, hence less repair and costs to rebuild. A 4-stroke engine consists of multiple moving components, which means you may have different parts to repair. That makes it costly to rebuild this type of engine.

Maintenance

Another difference between the two engines is in the maintenance. Like repair, maintaining a 2-stroke is easier because of the few moving parts. A 4-stroke bike will need more maintenance as there are a lot of parts involved. 

The Pros and Cons of 4-Stroke Dirt Bikes

Pros

  • They are fuel-efficient
  • Only gasoline required to fill up
  • Durable with proper maintenance

 Cons

  • More maintenance is required
  • Predictable power delivery
  • Can be extremely loud
  • Heavier due to the many moving parts

Change the Oil Regularly

A 4-stroke dirt bike has so many moving parts, which is why you need to change the oil regularly and lubricate these parts to ensure longevity and guarantee performance. Failure to change the oil means you may be unable to race or ride because your bike needs an engine rebuild.

How often should you change the engine oil for your 4-stroke dirt bike? The recommended time frame is five to ten hours. However, this depends on the times you race. It’s also best to buy stainless steel reusable filters as they only require cleaning using a contact cleaner when changing the oil.

When cleaning the oil filter:

  1. Spray every part with a contact cleaner to remove all the debris.
  2. Focus on the edges and the corners where dirt hides.
  3. Allow the filter to dry before putting it back inside.

You should start by reading the owner’s manual for the process of changing oil and get your model of bike. Modern 4-stroke bikes have a single oil compartment, while others have two-one for engine oil and the other for transmission. Checking the oil filler caps will tell you how many compartments your bike has.

If you are forgetful, simply write down the time you last changed the oil and remember to clean the air filters each time. That will ensure you never have to deal with engine failure.

What’s more, when dealing with a 4-stroke dirt bike, you need to change the oil filter. If you are using the stainless steel filter, you only need to clean it every time you change the oil. However, when using the disposable filter, you need to change it each time you do the oil.

What Happens to a 4-Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Without Oil?

Engine oil is what lubricates the metal parts in the engine. Lack of proper lubrication means that these parts will rub against each other at high temperatures. The result is premature wear and, finally, a damaged engine. You may need to replace most of the engine metal components, which is expensive.

How to Change Oil in a 4-Stroke Dirt Bike

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Take the bike for a ride until the engine oil is warm. Doing this helps the used oil drain better.
  2. Put an oil pan under the bike’s bottom and remove the oil filter cap on the bike’s side. Unscrew the drain bolt on the bottom of the dirt bike. You’ll start seeing oil pouring out. At this point, shake the bike from side to side to ensure you get everything out.
  3. Remove the oil filter cover. Take the filter out and place a new filter, ensuring you cover it with some oil for a good seal.
  4. Use a contact cleaner to remove any particles and hunk on the filter cap that could block oil flow. Fit the cover in place, but avoid over-tightening the bolts. Check the rubber o-rings to see if they are loose or worn out. You’ll need to replace them if they are old and don’t fit properly.
  5. Tighten the drain bolt and add fresh oil. Use a funnel to avoid creating a mess and ensure you put the recommended amount from your user manual. Some bikes have this written on the engine casing.
  6. Clean the oil filler cap and put it tightly.

Tips on the Type of Oil to Use in a 4-Stroke Dirt Bike

The kind of oil you put depends on the bike’s brand and model. All this information is available on the user manual, but here are some tips that you should consider:

  • Don’t go for the cheapest oil in the market. Instead, opt for high-performance oil. Although it may be costly, it will keep your engine running smoothly.
  • The type of oil to choose also depends on API classification and viscosity. The thickness of the engine level is the viscosity.
  • Some engine oils are best for cold weather, while others work for warm weather.
  • Another factor to consider is the API classification.
  • Find an oil with a classification of SG or higher, apart from oils labeled as resource-conserving or energy-conserving on the label.
  • Most dirt bikes will use engine oils rated equally in performance to SJ.
  • You should stick to the name-brand dirt bike oil if you are unsure of what engine oil to get.

Be Careful About the Coolant

4-stroke dirt bikes are more involved as they have multiple moving parts. These parts can overheat and affect you on the track. Unfortunately, you can’t just add coolant and forget about it.

The 4-stroke coolant is designed to lower the engine temperature drastically and keep the engine parts from breaking down and overheating. You need to change the coolant regularly if you ride a lot or go to the sand dunes. 

Check the Tire Pressure

Another essential aspect of a 4-stroke dirt bike maintenance is tire pressure. You need to check the tire pressure in between each ride. Begin by checking the tread and any signs of visual damage like flat spots or cracks. Inspect the tires for any stuck objects in the tire like glass pieces or nails that could damage your tires.

Most riders get a range of 10,000 miles with a pair of tires. Nonetheless, this is dependent on how you ride the dirt bike and the type of bike you have. The front tires last longer than the rear ones.

It’s also critical to check the tire pressure of your dirt bike tires, especially if you are taking long rides. That helps to prevent wear and tear.

  • The best way to check tire pressure is to use a tire pressure gauge. There is an electric pressure gauge that checks the tire pressure in a minute or less. Experts recommend checking the pressure on cold tires before you ride and not after. 
  • Check the pressure of the tires often when they are new. Afterward, you can extend the pressure check intervals.
  • The recommended dirt bike tire air pressure is between 10-21 psi. You’ll need to read your user manual to know the pressure your bike needs. You can adjust tire pressure down or up to get the right traction on the terrain you’ll be racing or riding on.
  • Tires that are soft feel spongy and roll on the rim, while tires that are too hard means less grip.

All of these could affect your performance. Incorrect tire pressure could lead to uneven tire wear, tube/tire failure, punctures, and sometimes the tire may come off the bead.

Check the Valve Stem

After checking the tire pressure, you need to check the valve stem:

  • Air leaks often happen in the valve system as opposed to tire punctures or holes in the tube.
  • The valve can have dirt and debris that creates gaps in the seal.
  • When checking the valve stem, ensure the caps are on and tightened.
  • If your stem has spun, you need to deflate the tire and reset it.

Check Tire Tread, Spokes, and Rim Locks

The next step is to check the tire tread. Most traction is from the knobs that get into the terrain, instead of friction between the pavement and rubber when riding, Check between the knobs for cuts and cracks in the tire as this could affect traction.

The tire spokes and rim locks are an essential part of the tires. They need to be tight in place and straight. Find out if the rim locks are fastened.

Sometimes you may need to replace the tires. A few signs you may need to replace tires include: cracked tires, rounded knobs. discolored tires, missing or torn knobs, and tires that are more than a year old.

If it’s time to replace a tire, it’s recommended to replace both tires even if one looks better than the other. Overall, tire pressure is about experimenting. Begin with 12 psi and go down or up with the tips.

Check for Leaks

When your engine is clean, you can quickly spot oil and air leaks. You’ll notice oily drips or marks on the floor. Other signs include sooty marks on the exhaust and cylinder. Check for leaks on the brake calipers, brake fluid reservoirs, and hydraulic brake cables.

Other areas prone to leaks are coolant pipes, radiators, and the water pump gasket. In case of any leaks, ensure that you deal with them before riding the bike.

Inspect the Sprockets for Wear and Damage

The chain and sprocket are critical in any dirt bike. Unfortunately, dirt wears out the bushings and rollers. Although lubricating the chain might seem like a good idea, sometimes it could worsen the situation. The lube forms a sticky substance that attracts dirt. You need to clean the chain as this makes inspection for damage easier.

For sprockets, look for any eroded/chipped teeth and missing teeth. Worn sprockets are easy to spot. Other indicators include bent rear chain guides, bent sprockets, or chain rub blocks that are worn through. If you find them damaged, it’s best to replace both the chain and sprockets. 

Another area where people make a mistake is in the chain and sprocket alignment. That’s what leads to premature chain failure. Make sure that the chain is centered on the sprocket tooth. Use a chain adjuster to correct the misalignment. 

Ever wondered how long the chains and sprockets last? All that depends on the riding environment, maintenance, and rising habits. If you want the sprockets and chains to last longer, make sure that you inspect the drive components regularly, adjust the chain properly, and keep the drivetrain clean and lubricated. 

Check the Brakes and Brake Pads

Brake pads tend to wear out over time as the material breaks down until all that is left is the backing plate. The hardened steel can damage the brake rotor when this happens. Moreover, you could end up with brakes that no longer work. It’s critical to check your motorcycle brake pads routinely.

Brake pads that are between 0.04 in and 1.00mm need to be replaced. Some brake pads have indicator marks that are no longer visible when worn out. That is an indication to replace them immediately. Also, you need to replace other brake components like the rotors.

Carry Out Air Filter Maintenance

Your dirt bike’s air filter helps get rid of external elements you may encounter while riding. It’s essential to check the air filter regularly as dirt and debris may be embedded in the filter and not visible to the eye. Accumulation of moisture in the air filter can also result in other consequences. 

Experts recommend atleast cleaning the air filter after one ride. Ensure that the filter is also covered in a good amount of oil, as too little can easily get through the intake, and too much can weep into the engine. The air filter should be replaced between 6-10 hrs of riding depending on how hard you ride and terrain.

Exhaust Pipe Maintenance

Focus on cleaning the outside of the exhaust pipe to prevent corrosion and rust. Don’t forget to check the muffler packing. Four-stroke bikes have the muffler packing compressed, which makes it ineffective. If you notice the compression, it means that it’s time to replace it.

The best exhaust packing prevents the exhaust from becoming too hot. Some are made from fiberglass for durability and maximum performance. 

Plastic Maintenance

Your dirt bike is designed with mudguards, fenders, and side paneling to protect you and your bike from debris and dirt. They also come in handyman the event of a crash. Regular cleaning can prevent plastic parts from looking old and faded. 

When restoring the plastic parts, some experts suggest sanding the plastic as it allows for better absorption. There are plastic restorers that provide a clean and fresh look by working as an undercoat protector and a lubricant. Some block UV rays to reduce cracking and fading.

Carburetor Care and Maintenance 

Carburetors in a 4-stroke dirt bike regulate airflow through the main bore. It’s this flowing air that draws in fuel, and the mixture gets into the engine through the intake valve. They consist of a center bore, a bowl, passage, vents, jets, a slide, air/fuel ratio adjustment, accelerator pump, and idle speed adjustment.

Some of the signs that show you need a carburetor tuning include:

  • A bike that isn’t smooth to accelerate
  • Engine hiccups when the throttle is opened
  • The engine overheats even when you don’t race a lot
  • Reduced fuel efficiency

The importance of carrying out routine maintenance is to determine the right air-to-fuel ratio that the engine is getting. Adjusting these ratios ensures that your bike functions optimally. If you have a weak spark, check the ignition coil. A damaged ignition coil causes the engine to miss at high rpm and run erratically.

Clogged carburetor vent hoses are another problem that needs to be addressed. Any dirt and debris accumulation in the hoses or vent tubes causes jetting to be lean, something that makes the engine sluggish.  

A worn carburetor fuel inlet needle needs to be replaced every two years. Failure to replace it means the fuel will get into the float bowl and go up the pilot jet and into the engine. 

Spoke Tightening and Maintenance

Spoked wheels are more durable than single-piece cast wheels, and that’s the reason they are fitted on most dirt bikes. However, the spokes which are between the tire and rim are neglected. Loose spokes cab damage or break the rim, which is something that can be costly to repair or replace. Also, overtightening strips the thread and stresses the rim.

You need to check the spokes regularly by tapping them with a metallic item. A dull sound will be heard if you have loose spokes, while tight spokes have a high pitch. Check if your wheel is running true by placing it on a stand and allow it to spin freely. 

Maintaining dirt bike spokes requires tightening them when they become loose. Follow these simple tips if you’re doing this on your own:

  • You can use a spoke wrench or get a spoke torque wrench to tighten the spokes.
  • Avoid using pliers as it could damage the nipples.
  • Put the spoke wrench over the spoke’s head.
  • Turn the loose spokes anti-clockwise and examine the inside of the rim as you tighten the spoke.
  • If you need to loosen the spoke, turn the spoke clockwise. The direction is unlike regular bolts and nuts that use a clockwise direction when tightening.
  • Remove the wrench and tap on the spokes to listen to the sound.
  • If the sound is high pitched, this shows the spokes are properly tightened, but if it’s dull, you may need to tighten them again.  

Change the Piston and Rings

The durability of the piston and rings depends on how you ride the dirt bike. If you are a weekend rider, the pistons will wear out gently, but for motocross racers, the pistons wear out faster. Other factors like track conditions will affect the longevity of the pistons and rings.

It’s best to change the piston in a 4-stroke dirt bike used for racing at least every 30 hours of riding. Although most people suggest that riding a bike gently can get you up to 100 hours of a 4-stroke piston, exposing the piston to tough conditions can break it. That’s why it’s recommended to change the piston every 50 hours when riding the dirt bike gently. 

Replace Worn Out or Damaged Bearings

It can be challenging to know when bearings wear out, which is why you need to check them often and replace them once you notice something is out of place. You can check the wheel bearings by holding the dirt bike and trying to move the wheels from side to side. 

Check the swingarm linkage bearings by placing the dirt bike on its stand. Take the rear wheel and try to move it up and down. The movement will point to the top rear shock bearing or the linkage bearing. Any wheel movement shows that the bearings need to be replaced.

To replace wheel bearings, you’ll need a screwdriver, a wrench to remove the wheel, punch, hammer, bearing retainer tools, and a bearing installer/socket.  

Here are the steps to replace the bearings on a dirt bike:

  1. Start with a clean bike. Wash it to make your work easier and let you know if you have a leak or any other problem with your bike.
  2. Set the bike on a stand once it’s dry and remove the wheel that has the bearings you need to replace. 
  3. Remove the seals with a screwdriver to get to the bearings. Get rid of the retainer and flip the wheel to remove the bearing. Take the punch and push the wheel space in between the bearings to hit the bearing.
  4.  Hammer on the punch to knock the bearing out of the wheel. You want the bearing coming out straight. You’ll notice the wheel spacer out once the first wheel bearing is out. 
  5. When installing new bearings, clean the area around the wheel and set it back on the stand. Take the wheel bearing and place it on the journal. Use a piece of wood to hammer the bearing in until its flush. Install the wheel spacer once you flip the wheel over to the other side. 

Conclusion

4-stroke dirt bikes have multiple moving parts, which means they require lots of maintenance. These bikes are fast, powerful, and efficient, something that makes it ideal for trails and other races.

The above tips will help you understand how a 4-stroke bike works and how to maintain it to ensure the bike is simple to handle, easy to ride, and offers optimum power when maneuvering and controlling it. 

ATV or Dirt Bike for Kids?

Maybe you grew up riding both ATVs and dirt bikes and are torn because you love both or you might be completely new to the sport and might not have a clue where to start and that’s ok. When it comes to your child, understandably, you would want to do a thorough analysis of each of these off-road rides before deciding which one is best suited for your kid and we are here to guide you.  

Deciding on a ATV or a dirt bike depends on factors like age, previous experience, and how the kid intends to use it. ATVs are great for someone who is a beginner and offers greater comfort in riding, while dirt bikes offer more suspension travel, can have greater speed, and quicker acceleration.

This article discusses in detail the various factors affecting the safety, ease, and durability of these two machines. It will help you understand the benefits that each of the bikes offers as well as inform you of the things you need to be aware of so that you can make an informed decision. Keep on reading to find out more about some of these major differences that set the two rides apart.

It Is Easier to Learn ATV

It has been seen that ATVs are much easier to learn compared to dirt bikes. All your kids will need is a basic set of instructions, and they will be all set to go for a ride. A dirt bike, on the other hand, will require your kids to invest more time in understanding the instructions, and it may take up to a few days before they can actually ride the bike.

Additionally, there is a much lower chance of crashing on an ATV, whereas with a dirt bike, you should just plan on knowinging they are going to crash. Knowing this means you could take more preventive measures by buying more safety gear. In this video, you can see the set of instructions that your kid can follow to learn how to ride an ATV:

ATVs Are an All-Terrain Vehicle

ATVs can be used for longer periods of the year compared to dirt bikes. For instance, ATVs can do quite alright on light snow while dirt bikes can’t handle snow and ice the same.

So, if you live in a cold climate that sees snowfall during the winter, then opting for an ATV will be wiser. ATVs will be able to get far more traction on the ground than a dirt bike, and so it will be more stable than a dirt bike.

ATVs Are Less Prone to Crashing Compared to Dirt Bikes

The likelihood of crashes happening with ATVs is far lesser compared to dirt bikes. ATVs are encouraged for leisurely outings on trails and farmlands where the possibilities of a crash are less likely. To ensure safety, kids should not be encouraged to go too fast too soon and push the limits of the vehicle. For this purpose, ATV bikes make more sense than dirt bikes.

ATV or Dirt Bike: Which Is Safer?

ATVs usually feel safer as they are steadier when riding compared to dirt bikes. They are relatively easier to learn as well and are often recommended for beginners. Due to these reasons, it makes the rider feel more secure.

On dirt bikes, riders often tend to be seriously injured with broken bones and sustaining injuries that are more than just a scratch. Sometimes, during a crash, the rider is flung off, resulting in further grievous injuries.

As an added safety measure, you can use the right gear when you are on your ATV or dirt bike. Investing in GV Driving Mirror Glasses is a good option.

Helmets are another important piece of gear that you need to invest in in order to ensure the safety of your kid. The ILM Youth Kids Helmet is lightweight and incredibly durable, making it a great investment for your kid’s ATV adventures.

ATVs Have More Functional Value Than Dirt Bikes

Dirt bikes do not allow for carrying any equipment or provide any sort of storage solution. ATVs are a better choice in this regard and is being used often when going out for camping trips. Carrying things at the back of a dirt bike seems quite impossible, but with ATVs, you could easily carry a small tent. Due to these reasons, the functional value of ATV rates is higher than a dirt bike.

It Is Easier to Carry Dirt Bikes

If you are planning a weekend trip where you plan on going quad biking, dirt bikes are easier to haul because of their lightweight. ATVs, on the other hand, are far more heavyweight and will not be easy to carry at the back of a truck or van if you are going away for the weekend.

A dirt bike weighs 200 lbs while an ATV weighs close to three times that. This makes it easier to move and load a dirt bike around compared to an ATV.

Dirt Bikes Are Suitable for Those Seeking Adrenaline Rush

Dirt bikes are made for adrenaline junkies. It gives a rush to the rider, and they are constantly at the edge of their seat when driving a dirt bike. ATVs do not cater to this kind of adrenaline-seeking crowd. It is meant for comparatively slow-paced biking.

ATVs Can Carry Passengers

ATVs can accommodate passengers on it in addition to the rider. Though there are many ATVs out there that do not have a passenger seat, many choose to take a passenger along anyway as the ATVs have proven that it is possible to carry passengers even on a single-rider machine. This, however, is not recommended.

Dirt bikes have provision for a single-rider only. If you are planning to take your young one on a bike ride, then using an ATV over a dirt bike is recommended. Opt for ATVs that have provision for carrying passengers when you are taking your kid along.

ATVs Cost More Than Dirt Bikes

If one were to avert one’s eyes from the safety perspective for a moment and only consider the cost of the vehicle, then perhaps the dirt bike will come across as the winner. For the sake of comparison, you can look at the chart below:

MakeATV CostDirt Bike Cost
Mid-Grade Honda$7,300$4,500
Mid-Grade Suzuki$8,500$7,700
Old Mid-Grade Honda$4,700$3,000

However, it is important to note that the severity of the injury, should any occur, is likely to be far more for a dirt bike than for an ATV. So, pinching pennies when purchasing a bike may not always translate to savings in the longer run.

Conclusion

If your kid is just beginning to learn quad biking and intends to go out on leisurely rides or use it more as a functional machine, then opting for an ATV makes more sense. On the other hand, if you are looking for something that is easier to haul and ride and relatively more lightweight, then the dirt bike is a better option for your kid.

It is important to remember that no matter what you choose for your kid, you will have to ensure that all proper safety measures are taken at all times in order to avoid any mishap and make the experience more enjoyable. 

2 Stroke Dirt Bike Maintenance: A Complete Guide

2-stroke dirt bikes are amazing machines with a power band all their own making for a very unique riding experience. 2-strokes are said to be somewhat maintenance free but that doesn’t mean that you can just keep getting on and riding without ever giving it any love.

2-stroke dirt bike maintenance involves cleaning the air filter, checking the oil, maintaining the carburetor, cleaning and lubricating the cables, chain, and sprocket, and keeping everything clean and free of mud and dirt after every ride.

Read on to learn more about how a 2-stroke dirt bike works, signs that you may be neglecting maintenance, and some essential maintenance tips to ensure everything is working properly and you get to ride and enjoy your bike.

How Does a 2-Stroke Dirt Bike Work?

A 2-stroke dirt bike engine fires and produces power, once for each revolution of the crankshaft. Every time the piston goes up, it’s filled with a balanced combination of petrol and oil. That combination is compressed, and the spark plug ignites it, which results in an explosion. That action forces the piston to go back down, and the process repeats itself. 

What Is the Difference Between a 2-Stroke and a 4-Stroke?

The difference between these two engines is the combustion cycle process depends on the frequency the piston moves up and down during every cycle. 

For a 2-stroke engine, the whole combustion cycle requires one piston stroke to be completed. There is a compression stroke and an explosion of the compressed fuel. The return stroke means the exhaust is let out, which allows fresh fuel mixture to get into the cylinder. The spark plugs will fire every single revolution, and this produces power once every two strokes of the piston.

What’s more, you need oil to be pre-mixed in with the fuel with 2-stroke engines.

However, for a 4-stroke engine, the piston completes two strokes during each revolution. That involves one exhaust stroke and one compression stroke. They are each followed by a return stroke. The spark plugs fire once every other revolution, and this produces power every four strokes of the piston.

The 4-stroke engine does not need pre-mixing of oil and fuel as it has a separate compartment for the oil. 

Lack of proper maintenance will not only cost you in terms of the fees for replacing the parts, but it could also mean you may not enjoy your ride as much as you’d like. Below are some essential maintenance tips.

Engine Maintenance

The engine of a dirt bike plays a critical role in the overall performance of your dirt bike. The advantage of 2-stroke engines is that they don’t have valves, something that reduces their weight. They also have low output in horsepower and fire once each revolution. 2-stroke engines can function in any position as oil flow isn’t a problem. 

On the downside, 2-stroke engine parts wear out a lot. These engines also use more fuel, which means dealing with a lot of pollution. Failure to maintain the engine means you would need to replace the parts often, which is expensive. 

Signs You Need to Maintain Your Engine

Some of the signs that you may be neglecting your engine include:

  • Diminishing engine power. If you’ve noticed that engine power has diminished, this could be due to a clogged air cleaner, restricted fuel flow in the carburetor, worn rings, worn valves and seats, ignition problems, leaking gaskets, or a stuck valve. 
  • Hard to start engine. Another indication of a dirt bike engine maintenance problem is when starting your bike becomes an issue. That could be attributed to a stuck valve, worn valves, worn rings, ignition problem, leaking gaskets, the decompression system could be out of adjustment, or the cam timing could be off. 
  • Noisy top end. A loose cam chain, worn cam bearings, a worn cam chain guide, or out of spec valve clearances could all result in a noisy top end. 
  • White smoke. When a head gasket starts leaking, you may notice white smoke as soon as the engine starts burning coolant. 
  • Blue smoke. Blue smoke is an indication that the valve seals could be allowing oil to leak past them. Also, the piston rings may no longer be sealing correctly. 
  • Creamy engine oil. Creamy engine oil is an indication that moisture could be getting into the engine oil. Too much moisture in the oil should be a concern as this shows the water pump seal could be leaking.
  • Engine consumes oil. If you notice that your engine is consuming too much oil, it could be entering into the combustion chamber from worn piston rings or worn valve seals.
  • Big pieces of metal in the engine oil. Although metallic particles can be found in engine oil, large metal pieces could indicate damaged parts.
  • Engine that vibrates excessively. Worn counterbalance bearings, out of place crankshaft, a loose clutch, or a mistimed counterbalancer could cause excessive engine vibration. 
  • Noisy bottom end. Bottom end noise could be due to gears that are lubricated improperly, damaged stuck bearings, and a worn bushing and needle bearing between the clutch basket.

Tips on Engine Maintenance

Engine maintenance involves engine oil, air filters, and coolant.

Engine Oil

Dirt bike engines are small and work more with high compression ratios. 2-Stroke dirt bike engines require frequent oil changes. You should change the engine oil every ten hours of riding. It doesn’t matter the type of oil you choose as the frequency is more essential.

Pressure and heat can break down oil, and this leaves the engine vulnerable to heat buildup and performance loss. 

Changing oil on a 2-stroke dirt bike is simple. It takes a few minutes, and it’s one of the critical maintenance procedures. 

Below is a step by step guide on how to change oil.

  1. Start with a clean bike. Always start with a clean bike. You can warm up the bike as oil drains well when hot. All you need is to take the dirt bike for a spin and turn it off.
  2. Unscrew the oil cap. Place the bike upright and unscrew the oil cap on the engine casing. Ensure that no dirt drops into the transmission.
  3. Drain the oil. Put a bucket under the bike and unscrew the drain plug. That will allow the oil to drain out. You need to ensure you get rid of the oil by tilting the bike from side to side.
  4. Screw the drain plug. Once you drain out all the oil, it’s time to screw the drain plug back. Make sure that you don’t over tighten it or cross thread as this could damage the drain plug. Replace the drain plug if it gets damaged. 
  5. Put the transmission oil. Use the top filler hole to pour in the recommended amount of transmission oil. Your manual should tell you the correct amount. A few bikes allow you to check the oil levels through the check bolt on the side that you can unscrew. 
  6. Screw the oil cap. Wipe any dirt from the oil cap. Check if the washer is in proper condition to make sure it seals tightly. Screw the oil cap back, but don’t over tighten it. 

Air Filters

Air filters play a critical role in your dirt bike engine performance. A dirty air filter means airflow is affected, which means your bike won’t function as expected. What’s more, they can damage the engine by allowing dirt particles in the combustion chamber. These particles end up scratching the chamber and messing up with the piston and other parts.

The air filter could also collect moisture, and that means interfering with air filtration. That’s why it’s critical to inspect your air filter regularly. When checking your air filter pay attention to the filter oil coverage, and check for the presence of sand and silt. 

It’s recommended to clean the air filter after every ride to avoid wearing out the engine. A simple way to do this is to follow these simple steps:

  1. Get a cleaner, oil, and rim grease.
  2. Put some caps of the cleaner into warm water.
  3. Dip the dirty air filter into the warm water.
  4. Avoid turning and twisting the filter as this could damage it.
  5. Squeeze the filter and rinse it off under running water.
  6. Remove any excess water and allow it to dry.
  7. Apply oil on the filter evenly once it’s dried completely.
  8. Don’t forget to clean the rim and apply rim grease.
  9. Put the air filter back and enjoy your ride.

Coolant

Having sufficient coolant in the radiator is critical as this is what ensures the engine remains cool always. You may have changed your engine oil and cleaned out the air filter, but failure to have enough coolant could damage your engine.

Make sure you have enough coolant before each ride. If you can’t spot the level of the fluid, that means you have insufficient coolant, and you need to fill it up. When it’s too hot outside, this equals heat. Flush the radiator and put some coolant. 

Brake and Brake Pads Maintenance

Another part you should never neglect when doing maintenance is the brake and brake pads of your dirt bike. Front brake pads undergo harsh conditions and are responsible for most of the work. That’s why it’s essential to inspect the brakes and brake pads regularly to ensure you get the strongest performing braking system.

Having functional front brakes comes in handy when you are hitting the ramps since stopping distances are tight when competing. 

Front Brakes Maintenance

Start by checking the hydraulic system for adequate pressure or leaks. Simply grab the front brake lever and squeeze it to check for pressure. Inspect the front brake system from the master cylinder to the caliper, while checking for signs of dirt accumulation or wetness. 

After inspection, here are some tips on how to maintain brakes for smooth functionality:

  • Replace brake fluid. It is time to replace the brake fluid if it’s old or dirty. The fluid absorbs moisture and may require flushing. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when replacing the fluid.
  • Adjust the brake lever. Placing your brake lever incorrectly can lead to the constant pressure of the pads on the rotor. Also, you may be dealing with insufficient pressure. Check to ensure it is adjusted, and everything works correctly. 
  • Clean the brake pads. Clean up the brake system and the brake pads when cleaning the rest of the bike. 
  • Clean the clutch cables. The clutch cables are critical parts of your dirt bike. These cables offer access to vital controls, and that’s why you need to keep them in good condition if you plan on using your bike for a long time. You need to clean and lubricate the throttle and clutch cables after every ride. 
  • Lubricate the clutch cables. When cleaning and lubricating the cables, you need to remove the cable from the lever and perch. Disconnect the carburetor end when dealing with throttle cables and use a standard contact cleaner to do the flushing as this will clean off any grime and dirt. Also, lubricating the cables prolongs the longevity of your cables and prevents the accumulation of mud and dust. 

Chain and Sprocket Care

Another essential aspect of a 2-stroke dirt bike maintenance is the chain and sprocket care. Sprockets are critical as they help transfer power to the rear wheel through the help of a drive chain. The sprockets need to endure heavy energy loads and maintain structural functionality. 

With this regular stress, the result is constant pressure on the rear sprockets and countershaft. The parts begin to wear out. Avoid riding on dry chains and sprockets as this only damages the bike. It’s advisable to lubricate the chain and sprockets if you are looking for a smooth riding experience. 

Inspect your bike for any signs of wear and tear in the chains of your dirt bike. In case of any tear, replace the chain to avoid any accidents. Waterproof lube works best for 2-stroke dirt bike chains as it doesn’t wash away. 

Check the Transmission Fluid

Most transmission problems on a dirt bike start with the transmission fluid. The fluid resembles the engine oil as a few dirt bike models use similar oil in the transmission. Check to see if the transmission fluid is fresh and clear. 

A dark brown or black cloudy oil shows that the transmission oil is overdue for a replacement, and you need to replace it. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when replacing the fluid. Furthermore, you should always check the transmission fluid level a day before riding. 

Running the dirt bike with low transmission fluid could damage the internal components and lead to overheating. Low transmission fluid levels also cause wear and tear on the clutch and gears. Check the manual to know the type of oil to use and when to change the transmission fluid. 

Pipe Maintenance

The pipes are prone to corrosion and rust due to exposure to weather and road conditions. Moreover, the part between the cylinder and exhaust spigot that contains the rubber O-ring is often overlooked. 

Check the seal for cracks and other problems. It’s advisable to replace the O-ring. You can use silicone if the new ring doesn’t fit properly. 

Spoke Maintenance

Spokes often get lost, and also sometimes they can break, leading to a crash. In some cases, the spokes can get caught up in another part of the wheel. You need to check and tighten the spokes if you get a new wheel or when you have a new bike. 

When it comes to inspecting the spokes, you need to avoid going through every spoke in a row as this could make the wheel get out of true. Once you’ve tightened the first spoke, skip the next two, and check the third spoke. That means you’ll go through the spokes three times around the wheel. In case of any loose spoke, your wheel won’t be going out of true when you go around it three times.

Another thing to note is to not over tighten the loose spokes as this could get the wheel out of true. Tighten the loose spokes equally to ensure that it stays in place. A spoke torque wrench is a fantastic tool to help you tighten the spokes properly. Read the owner’s manual to understand how to tighten each spoke based on the recommended torque setting. 

Carburetor Care and Maintenance

The carburetor is the part likely to fail first if left unchecked. It keeps your dirt bike functioning at peak efficiency. Having a dirty carburetor affects performance, and this could make your bike fail to function.

Some of the signs that indicate it’s time to clean the carburetor include:

  • An engine that fails to starts
  • The engine begins to run lean when the balance of gas and fuel is thrown off
  • Presence of dirt or debris in the carburetor, causing fuel flow out
  • An engine that runs rich shows the fuel is excess, and there is insufficient air

Get the required tools before you remove the carburetor and disassemble it. You need to get: 

  • Safety gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • A service manual
  • A wrench
  • Compressed air
  • A socket wrench
  • A small screwdriver
  • A hex key
  • Rags
  • A carburetor cleaner
  • A low strength thread locker 

Start by cleaning the carburetor. However, you need to be careful. The service manual will tell you the specific tools and their size required for cleaning. 

What you need to do then is to remove the carburetor from your dirt bike. However, before that, turn off the primary fuel supply and use a tiny screw in the bike’s chamber base and a hose to drain the float chamber. Here are the next steps:

  1. Remove the slide and control cable once you’ve removed the carburetor from the engine.
  2. Turn the carburetor upside down and locate the four screws that house the float chamber.
  3. Remove the screws and use the handle of your screwdriver to loosen the chamber from the gasket.
  4. Once you remove the float chamber, you’ll see the primary jet, main floats, and jets. Remove the floats as they are delicate. 
  5. Remove the air or fuel adjusting screw in the bike’s carburetor.
  6. Check the location of the screws to determine the type your carburetor has. 

Some of the steps you should take to clean the carburetor include:

  1. Clean the float bowl. Get a carb cleaner and a rag. Use this to clean the float bowl, while checking all other components of the carburetor. 
  2. Flush out all the holes. The next step is to flush out the holes in the carburetor’s body. You can use a carburetor cleaner and compressed air to blow through these holes. Ensure that you use goggles to cover your eyes from the dirt particles and fluids that may splash from the holes.
  3. Reinstall the carburetor. The process of assembling the carburetor is similar to the disassembly process. The only thing different is that you need to check the float heights before reconnecting the float chamber. You’ll need to fine-tune the air adjusting screw every time you assemble the bike carburetor. Once you’ve reattached the carburetor and started the engine, give it time to warm up to normal temperature.

Reed Maintenance

Does your 2-stroke dirt bike always become hard to start, or do you experience carbon deposits on the exhaust opening? That could indicate an issue with your reed. Failure to check the outer corners and surfaces of the reed located within the reed cage could affect your dirt bike performance.

Monitor the reeds when you start experiencing problems with your bike. The other alternative would be to replace the reed pedals. 

Remove the screws that hold the pedal in place and install a new pedal. All you need is a screwdriver. Use a thread-locking agent on the screws to fit them in place. Moreover, use a fresh gasket when installing the reed cage back in the motor. 

Spark Plug Maintenance

The spark plug determines the running condition of your dirt bike’s engine. Cold spark plugs are used on high rpm engines, while hot plugs are used on low rpm engines. If you are having issues with fouling, you should use the stock heat range plug as a start point.

On 2-stroke dirt bikes, oil is mixed into the gasoline, something that allows the spark plug to foul out quicker than 4-stroke dirt bikes. Nonetheless, this is dependent on carb tuning. You’ll need to tune the carb on the rich side to hasten along the plug’s fouling. 

Avoid replacing the plug far outside the recommended heat range. Also, it’s best to have a spare spark plug on hand for the unexpected days. Remember that elevation affects spark plugs on 2-stroke dirt bikes because of tuning. That means it will foul faster when you overstretch your dirt bike limits. 

Another point of concern is that bad spark plugs could interfere with your dirt bike’s performance. Some signs of a bad dirt bike spark plugs include:

  • Having a flooded engine
  • A misfiring motorcycle
  • Dealing with backfiring
  • Physical indicators like rust, burn marks, corrosion, and broken tips

All of the above show that you are dealing with bad spark plugs, and you may need to replace them. 

Aging is one reason why your spark plugs could go bad. With time, the plug’s knobs on the end wear out due to sparking. A bike that detonates gas too late or too early means that all the back pressure builds up on the spark plug.

It’s recommended to replace the spark plug every five years. Fortunately, they are simple and affordable to replace. 

Plastic Maintenance

Your dirt bike comes with fenders, mudguards, and side paneling. All these plastic parts help to protect your bike from debris and dirt. These plastics also come in handy in case of a crash. The last thing you want is faded or dull-looking plastics on your bike.

It’s critical to clean the plastic regularly and keep them in top shape to prevent them from deteriorating. Sometimes you may need to get plastic repair if you break the fender or shroud while you are at the track. 

The simplest way is to stitch up the plastic by drilling some holes on both sides of the crack and running zip-ties across. You’ll need to drill a hole at the end of the crack to ensure the cf an inch apart. It’s an easy and quick way to fix the repairs while on track. 

Tire Maintenance

Dirt bike tires have an inner tube that sits inside and holds air to keep the tire attached to the rim and inflated. The tire pressure ranges from 8=18 psi, that’s because some types of terrain and riding need less or more tire pressure.

One essential thing you need to do is to check your dirt bike’s tire pressure. The best way to check for pressure is to use a pressure tire gauge. Monitor the pressure at the trail or track and not at home. If you notice that your dirt bike tire doesn’t have the right pressure, you need to use a bike tire pump to hand pump. 

Dirt Bike Maintenance Schedule

Having a dirt bike maintenance schedule is essential as it helps you keep track of areas you may have overlooked. A good maintenance schedule needs to include washing, inspection, and lubrication. It should also involve cleaning the air filter, changing the engine oil, checking tire pressure, among other things. 

Conclusion

2-stroke dirt bike maintenance is simple. All you need is to check the owner’s manual on the maintenance schedule to follow. The above tips will help you keep your dirt bike in top condition and ensure you don’t have to spend too much money replacing expensive parts.

Can You Ride Dirt Bikes in National Parks?

Most of the country’s national parks look like the perfect place to crank up your dirt bike. The winding path, cutting through picturesque woods, is always very inviting, but is it legal? Are you allowed to ride in any park you choose?

You can’t ride dirt bikes in national parks. However, the laws will vary from one state to the other. Most states have banned dirt bikes and other ATVs from national parks, but some have provided recreation areas, allowing some ATV use in some parks, National Forests, and BLM land.

The rest of the article will take a look at what you need to know about riding dirt bikes in national parks and the laws guiding them. You’ll also see some of the most popular parks in the country that allow dirt bikes.

Laws Guiding National Parks and OHV Use

Two main laws are guiding against the use of Off-Highway Vehicles (OHV) such as dirt bikes on federal lands. The first one is the Executive Order 11644, February 8, 1972, which defined the types of banned vehicles from federal lands. A subsequent amendment to the order, E.O. 11989, May 24, 1977, removed military and emergency vehicles from the definition of banned vehicles.

However, the law gave the administrators of any federal land the authority to immediately close off a trail or area if dirt bikes and other OHVs are causing or can damage vegetation, soil, or wildlife in an area. 

So, if there is no way to accommodate OHV activities in a park without endangering flora and fauna, you can be sure the park will get closed off to dirt bikes, quads, and other such vehicles.

National Parks and Dirt Bikes Today

The National Park Service currently limits OHV use in the park system to these four land units:

  • National preserves
  • National lakeshores
  • National seashores
  • National recreational areas

The regulations guiding the service also require the service to make special rules, considering public comment and environmental impact analysis to come up with routes and areas for dirt bikes and other OHVs in the different parks. Their policies allow OHV use in locations that won’t have any adverse effects on the land’s cultural, natural, scenic, and aesthetic values.

The National Park Service is designed to provide enjoyment to the public, but they are also charged with conservation. Presently, they always tend to favor conservation when there’s a conflict between recreational use and preservation.

This is why the National Park Service has few lands open to dirt bikes and other OHVs compared to other agencies in charge of federal land management like the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. In 2013, the National Park Service reported over 286 million recreational visits for 2012, using OHVs soaring in popularity.

They have since designated 12 out of the 398 park units as open for ATV use. These units include the following:

  • Cape Lookout National Seashore
  • Padre Island National Seashore
  • Gulf Islands National Seashore
  • Fire Island National Seashore
  • Assateague National Seashore
  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore
  • Lake Meredith National Recreation Area
  • Cape Cod National Seashore
  • Big Cypress National Preserve
  • Gateway National Recreation Area
  • Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
  • Curecanti National Recreation Area

Different levels of use are also allowed in each of these parks.

Riding Dirt Bikes in National Forest and BLM Lands

There are no collective regulations for dirt bike or general OHV use in National Forests. This is because each forest has its specific restrictions.

This makes things a bit difficult to find out what works where, but the National Forest Service is unrivaled when it comes to providing information for where ATVs or OHVs are permitted. All you need to do is visit the specific National Forest website to see what is allowed.

Don’t know the website? A quick Google search should show you the website. Once there, click on the “Recreation” tab on the left, and then choose “OHV Riding” to see all the details you need. You can also use this resource on the Motor Vehicle Use Map for each National Forest. Everything is organized by state, making it easy to find the specific forest you’re looking for.

With BLM lands, there’s a lot more freedom on where you can ride dirt bikes. Only 6% of the BLM land (13.1 million acres) is closed off to OHV use. On the remaining lands, OHV use is restricted to either specific trails or completely free of any restrictions.

If you’re in Alaska, the bulk of the BLM lands are very much open to using, as most of them are not designated. To find out exactly what each BLM land permits is more difficult, but the BLM maps site does a decent job.

The Best Location for a Legal Dirt Bike Park Experience

Are you looking for the perfect place to go for an outdoor adventure with your dirt bike without worrying about breaking the law? You’ll find some of the best below:

Taylor Park, Colorado

Taylor Park is a top dirt bike riding location that attracts many enthusiasts all year round. This mountain playground has everything you need for a great riding experience. When you want a break for your bike, you can go fishing or unwind at the designated camping grounds.

Windrock Park, Tennessee

Windrock Park holds 300 miles of trails spread over 72,000 acres. It’s the largest privately owned park in the country, welcoming all kinds of OHVs all year round.

There are trails for riders of all experience levels, so you should research carefully before deciding on the park areas to explore. Stairsteps, gavel washes, mountainside trails, it has it all. The knowledgeable locals on the ground will guide you anyway, but it doesn’t hurt to be adequately prepared.

Red River Motorcycle Park

As the name implies, this park offers over 2,500 acres geared towards dirt bikes and motorcycles. You’ll find a wide selection of moderate to advanced trails to test your skills, with surfaces made of sand, clay, rocks, etc. However, the park is only open on weekends.

The Grand Canyon National Park Arizona

The trails in this National Park are some of the most challenging you’ll experience. It’s divided into a North and South Rim, with the latter typically the busier.

The North is the best if you are an experienced rider looking for a little or no disturbance while riding. However, the North Rim isn’t safe in the winter as the snow can get very deep, making it impossible to get around, let alone ride your bike.

These are just a few outdoor dirt bike trials that deliver an exhilarating experience. As you’ve seen above, most of them are not protected by the National Park Service. However, you’re sure to enjoy an experience similar to what you’ll find in most of the National Parks, or better, especially compared to the National Seashore Park units in the list above.

Conclusion

The National Park Service’s regulations mean you can’t ride dirt bikes in most of the 398 National Parks. However, some of the parks have been designated for some OHV use. Go over the 12 of them listed above to see if they are close to you and also have bike trails worthy of your experience level.

If you are just looking for a great outdoor experience on your bike, you can explore the National Forests and BLM land in your area using the tips we’ve covered above. Alternatively, you can visit some of the private or local parks in your area.

Why Do Dirt Bikes Have Large Front Wheels? 18-Inch vs. 19-Inch

There are all sorts of mysterious features on dirt bikes that might make you wonder why they exist. The differences between the front and back tires are one of the most common questions from beginners. After all, it could lead you to believe that you’d be slanted backward when you’re riding.

Dirt bikes have large front wheels because it allows you to roll over the terrain easier. The rear tires are small so you can accelerate quicker. If you’re trying to choose between 18-inch and 19-inch wheels, know that 18-inch wheels provide more control, whereas 19-inch wheels have more comfort.

Throughout this article, you’ll also learn the following information about why dirt bikes have large front tires:

  • Various reasons that people have different-sized tires on their bike
  • Comparisons between 18-inch and 19-inch tires
  • Whether or not dirt bikes can have two of the same-sized tires

Here’s Why Your Dirt Bike Has Large Front Tires

Most dirt bikes have slightly disproportionate tires, with the larger tire sitting in the front. You might be curious why every bike you come across has this same feature. Even regular trail bikes often have slightly larger front tires, so there has to be a reason, right? You’re in luck!

Below, you’ll find five reasons that your bike’s front tires are a bit bigger than the rear tires.

  1. As mentioned by Moto Sport, the front tire is often bigger because it provides more comfort when you’re riding off-road. If you’ve ever driven on dirt, mud, snow, or sand, then you know that it’s not always the most comfortable experience. A large tire keeps it a bit smoother, allowing you to stay relaxed.
  2. Large tires have few rotations per minute, which means you’ll have more control over the situation. When you’re riding over rocky terrain, you need to have as much handling as possible. Large tires with textured surfaces provide the best control and handling that you could ask for.
  3. Since the tires in the front are large, the rear tires will inevitably be smaller. What this placement means is that you’ll be able to accelerate significantly quicker than if both tires were the same size. Small tires require less force to rotate and the surface area is small, so you’ll move much faster.
  4. The front tire takes the bulk of the impact. It’s no secret that you hit everything head-on with the front wheel, so it makes sense that it needs to be a bit bigger. The textured grooves are often slightly deeper as well, providing better traction, which leads to the aforementioned control boost.
  5. Having a big wheel in the front raises you up a bit. You’ll be able to see further, preventing you from running into rocks and other debris in your path. Furthermore, you can plan your route long before you get to your destination. Tires have quite a large range, so choose the ones that fit your preferences the most!

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to get a dirt bike with larger tires in the front. You’ll have more comfort, control, acceleration, and more. It’s an unbeatable deal for most riders.

If you want to learn about the differences between different tires sizes, then proceed to the next section.

Should You Get 18-Inch or 19-Inch Tires?

Dirt bike tires come in a wide range of sizes. If you’re getting a bike with a large front tire, then you’re likely to encounter the front tires ranging from 18 to 21 inches and the rear tires ranging from 17 to 19 inches.

Take these notes into consideration when you’re choosing between 18-inch and 19-inch front tires for your dirt bike:

Pros of 19-Inch Tires

  • As explained by BMX Mania, having the 19-inch tire upfront will allow you to have a bit smoother of a ride than the 18-inch tire. It won’t be a huge difference, but many beginners and experts will find the 19-inch tire provides optimal comfort and better handling in the long run.
  • Large tires are easier for beginners to ride with, so you’ll have a better experience if you’re new. If you’re trying to learn the ropes, consider sticking between 19 to 21-inch tires before you start moving down. Many high-end dirt bike riders stick with this range because of the aforementioned benefits.
  • These tires are typically easier to work on if you’re trying to DIY repairs and replacements. Since they’re bigger, you have much more room to use your tools and figure out how everything works. As you get more proficient in the industry, you could consider moving up or down a notch.

Pros of 18-Inch Tires

  • Although there are many benefits of 19-inch tires, there’s no denying the speed of 18-inch tires. More rotations equate to quickly accelerate, which allows you to get out of the gates slightly faster than someone with 19-inch tires. If you’re going off-road, then they might not be the best choice.
  • You’ll get a bit more power out of a smaller wheel in the front. Getting 18-inch wheels allows the engine to propel your bike over rough terrain, pushing over obstacles that might otherwise prove difficult. Note that the ride might be a bit bumpier than if you had larger tires.
  • Some people find that they have more traction with 18-inch tires, but that’s still up for debate. If you want to know which size is best for you, the only way to find out is to try them both out. Rent a dirt bike or ask a friend who has 18 or 19-inch tires so you know which set you’re more comfortable with.

FAQ

Can you feel the difference between tire sizes when you’re riding a dirt bike?

Although it might not seem like a big deal, you’ll feel the difference from getting bigger wheels. A change as small as one inch will change the way you ride and what kind of challenges you can take on. The tire size range is so small because every bit counts. It’s essential that you find the right combination for your style.

Is there a noticeable change when you upgrade the tire size?

As mentioned above, tire size changes can make a big difference. When it comes to the height of your bike, you’ll feel quite a bit higher from the smallest changes. One inch is enough to make most riders have a better view, but that doesn’t always mean it’s a better choice. You should be able to firmly plant your feet on the ground.

What size wheels should beginners ride with?

Beginners far too often think about the size of the engine rather than the size of the tires when they’re choosing a dirt bike. Your feet should be level and you need to be able to cruise over whatever terrain you’re going through. If you’re off-roading, then get bigger front tires (20-inch to 21-inch), but if you’re on a smooth dirt path, choose smaller front tires (18 to 19 inches).

Conclusion

Dirt bike tires are often forgotten when it comes to the size. People worry about all of the other specs, but the size of the front and rear tires is just as important as everything else. The front tire needs to be bigger for a smooth ride, while the rear tire offers quick acceleration.

If you’re trying to decide which tires are right for you, start by putting your feet flat on the ground. Your range can consist of any size that allows your feet to stay that way.

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.