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. 

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.