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.


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).


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.

Levi Bath

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

Recent Posts

Serious Off-Road enthusiast?

Earn money writing articles for Off-Road Lifestyles and other partnering motorsport sites.