Dirt bikes can take you anywhere off road, whether you’re riding a trail or soaring through the air, Dirt Rider has the latest news on dirt bikes.
Dirt bikes are off-road motorcycles designed to tackle terrain that would break any street-going motorcycle in half. Equipped with knobby tires, tall suspension, and a torquey single-cylinder engine, dirt bikes can ride over, jump over, and bounce off just about anything they encounter on a trail. If you’re more of a competitive rider, you can race your dirt bike.
There are multiple off-road series to race in, such as the Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) and the World Off-Road Championship Series (WORCS). If you enjoy a more typical track-based race, then motocross and Supercross would be your thing.
When purchasing a dirt bike, there are multiple manufacturers to choose from, with electric options becoming more readily available. Popular dirt bike manufacturers include Beta, GasGas, Honda, Husqvarna, KTM, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha. In 2019, the only electric dirt bike manufacturers are KTM and Zero, with Honda displaying a CR electric prototype at the Tokyo Motorcycle Show and round 1 of the MFJ All Japan Motocross Championship.
Coming straight from the factory, dirt bikes are not street legal. There are ways about titling and getting your off-highway vehicle (OHV) dirt bike made street legal. The first step is to check what your state requirements are for making your dirt bike street legal. All states require a headlight, taillight/brake light, and a functioning horn. Turn signals and mirrors are on a state-by-state basis.
After installing all of your parts, you need to contact your state’s titling agency to have your dirt bike inspected. There are services that will do this process for you, saving you some of the headache. Dirt bikes are inherently not street legal. If you want a street-legal dirt bike right off the showroom floor, you would be better suited to purchase a dual-sport motorcycle instead.
Which Dirt Bike Should I Buy?
When purchasing a dirt bike, you should take into account your experience with motorcycles and your experience with off-road motorcycle riding. If you are new to motorcycles and dirt bikes, consider taking a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course or attending a dirt bike training camp. These will get you accustomed to riding and balancing on two wheels, and introduce you to some of the models that you should be on the lookout for.
All dirt bike engines are not created equal. A 250cc two-stroke and 250cc four-stroke are two completely different bikes in how they deliver power and in how much they weigh, with the two-stroke being faster and lighter. A 250cc two-stroke is more comparable in power to a 450cc four-stroke.
Once you’ve got your training sorted and have decided on an engine displacement, it’s time to buy. If you're going to buy used, make sure that the person you’re buying from has kept up on all of the scheduled maintenance. There’s no sense in buying a dirt bike that is essentially a ticking time bomb. If you’re buying new, manufacturers like Beta, GasGas, Honda, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki, and Yamaha offer full-size and/or youth dirt bikes in two-stroke and/or four-stroke engines.
Whether you’re new to dirt bikes or are a seasoned veteran, racing is one way to help you get better as a rider. Add to that fact that racing is just pure fun. If you’re looking to get started in racing, your best bet is to look locally in your area. There might be a local motocross track, or maybe an event organizer that is putting on a hare scramble. Join a local motocross group, or take your search to the internet to find a race.
One thing to keep in mind when racing is that it will cost you some money—more than if you were just riding. There is not only the cost of your bike, tires, general race wear and tear, and your protective equipment, but also the cost of the track entry, a racing license, race entry fee, and, if you’re planning on staying at the track overnight, add in another fee to hook up an RV or rent a camping space. There are ways to mitigate costs, as some riders to with sponsorships.
Racing a dirt bike is a great way to get better at off-road riding. The competitive nature will force you to correct your mistakes, ride to the best of your ability, and refine your dirt riding skills. Honing your dirt riding skills can also be done with trail riding, but nothing looks as good as a shiny, first-place trophy sitting on your mantle.