This article may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
Dirt bike riding is an intimidating sport, and it is easy to be impressed by the jumps, twists and turns that pro riders make with their powerful models.
Even the most celebrated motocross figures, however, began on scaled-down models as they accumulated the skills you see on the track. 125cc and 150cc are some standard dirt beginner models, although you can opt for a 250cc dirt bike. The best dirt bikes for beginners are discussed below:
1. Yamaha YZ125
The Yamaha YZ125 is perfect for riders upgrading from an 85cc or beginners who want to advance their skills.
The Yamaha YZ125 is over 40 years old, but it is by no means outdated. It’s the only Japanese 125 still in production, and it has received several upgrades since it was first unveiled in 1974.
The motor and the frame go back to 2005 while its suspension and bodywork were updated in 2015.
The Yamaha YZ125 is powered by a liquid-cooled 124cc engine. It features a 6-speed transmission, and the gear ratios are matched to engine output for optimal performance.
The engine produces 35 horsepower, and while it is not the fastest European 125, it still delivers incredible output.
This model is recognized as one of the best-handling dirt bikes in the market. It is super light at 200 pounds without fuel, and it is extremely forgiving on the track.
It was fitted with new SSS forks in 2006 that enhanced its top-notch suspension system.
Overall, the Yamaha YZ125 is still a motocross legend thanks to its reliability and power output.
2. Suzuki RM85
Suzuki mid-sized two-stroke dirt bike, the RM85, is an ideal model for juniors. It goes back to 2002 when it replaced the RM80.
The RM85 included some of the successes of its predecessor, like the liquid-cooled two-stroke motor, aluminum frame, disc brakes, and progressive suspension.
The 85cc motor delivers a commendable amount of low-end output and especially shines through the middle of the powerband.
Riders will get a feel of a high-performing dirt bike but in a model that handles well and is easy to control. The motor on the RM85 is mated to a six-speed manual transmission and a long clutch lever.
The bike is equipped with dependable braking and suspension features. Beginners will find it easy to maneuver through corners with the RM85.
All these features come in a slim, compact, and shiny package. The exterior is designed to offer a good riding position for riders, making it a solid buy.
3. Honda CRF250X
The Honda CRF250X offers a blend of old-school capability with contemporary design to give riders a reliable dirt bike.
The powerplant of the CRF250X is its liquid-cooled 249cc engine. This single four-stroke motor produces about 28 horsepower and 12,000 rpm.
It has a five-speed transmission as well as a cable-actuated clutch that is light to operate.
Honda has retained the Keihin 37mm flat-side carburetor, even as more manufacturers move to electronic fueling. The latter may have its perks, but it cannot match the reliability of an old-fashioned carburetor.
The bike’s compression ratio of 12.5:1 gives a luxurious feeling on the road, and it will be exceptionally compliant at mild-trail speeds.
Overall, the Honda CRF250X promises fun and stable rides.
4. KTM 250 SX-F
The KTM 250 SX-F is a racing dirt bike by all means. It has won multiple MX2 World Championships, and it is ideal for riders who want plenty of power.
If you are keen on technological advancements, get a post-2012 model since they feature electronic fuel-injection systems and electric starters.
KTM overhauled the chassis of the 250 SX-F in 2019 to make it more rigid and light. The results made the model one of the lightest 250s in the market.
The WP air forks were also updated in 2019, and you can expect soft landings thanks to the excellent rear suspensions.
5. Kawasaki KLX110
This mini-bike is perfect for kids who are just starting in the sport. It is powered by an air-cooled four-stroke engine that peaks at 7bhp.
The bike’s light weight ensures that it handles well. It has a quick throttle and a low center of gravity that is suited for a beginner.
It does not have a clutch lever, and riders have to shut the throttle and shift. The gear ratios are, however, closely stacked to enhance rideability.
The bike rides on a 12-inch rear tire and a 14-inch front one. It is also equipped with a rear mono-shock, 30 mm telescopic front forks, and an 8.5 inch ground clearance.
The Kawasaki KLX110 wins big on ergonomics, and it is quite suitable for kids.
Choosing a Dirt Bike as a Beginner
Some of the factors that beginner dirt bike riders should take into account before buying a model include:
Rider’s Weight and Height
A rider’s height will inform the kind of dirt bike they get. It is not recommended to follow specific size criteria as people vary in stature. Some riders have longer torsos, while others have a higher reach in their legs.
You will need to test the dirt bike physically to know if it is a good fit. Your feet should firmly touch the ground with you sitting forward and your back straight up and down.
While riding, your knees should have a slender bend so that you can squeeze the tank in between and still be able to push your foot towards the front wheel for optimal maneuverability.
You can identify a large bike if you stand up on your toes while trying to gain balance on it. The ride may also be too small if you are flat-footed while sitting on it.
Riders who weigh less than 150 pounds can handle bikes under 250cc. Larger riders will need the kind of suspension found in bigger models like 250cc and 450cc. Anything above 250cc is, however, fit for experienced riders.
Old vs New Dirt Bike
You can discover some excellent used dirt bikes that will suit your riding style. You can start looking in the motocross community near you.
Chances are that someone is selling an old model, or they know someone who is. You will also get good riding ideas in such communities.
Dedicated online forums are another place to search for used dirt bikes. As with any online transaction, however, it is worth being extra vigilant.
You should be prepared to perform repairs on a used bike, no matter how good it has kept. Such costs can even add up and even out with the cost of buying a new dirt bike.
A new dirt bike offers the latest in technology, and it will last you a long time. You also get manufacture support and warranty, and it is worth buying a new one if you have the money to spare.
Dirt bikes are not exactly cheap, and you no doubt expect to get good value for your money.
Some models from reputable brands can become quite expensive, depending on the features that they have. You can also get a good used dirt bike for affordable prices.
2 Stroke vs 4 Stroke – Which is Best for Beginners?
The choice between 2-strokes and 4-strokes will depend on your riding preference.
2-strokes are lighter and easier to ride, and beginners will be able to handle and control them. They are also quick, and they deliver their power at higher revs. It is also easy and cheap to repair 2-strokes, although they need a precise air/fuel blend to perform optimally.
4-stroke bikes are larger than 2-stroke models, and they are more prevalent in motocross. Since they are heavier and taller, beginners may find it hard to control 4-stroke bikes. Overall, 4-strokes are better for long runs.
Where Can Beginners Learn to Ride a Dirt Bike?
Dirt bikes are not made to ride them on public roads. In fact, it is illegal to drive a dirt bike on a public roads, unless you do the necessary modifications to it.
But where can a beginner learn how to rid a dirt bike? Don’t worry, there are few really options:
Private land is the only place where you can ride a dirt bike carefree, although the noise may disturb any nearby neighbor.
You will need permission if the area has an owner, and you should not trespass in any private property without authorization.
Desert or Forest
Dirt bikes are meant for off-roads like forests, mountains, and deserts. Some of these designations have trail systems, depending on where you live.
These trails are especially fun because they provide a variety of terrains and obstacles. You only need a daily user permit in government-run trails and, in some cases, a spark arrestor.
Tracks for Beginners
The best thing about dirt bike riding is that there are instruction schools and community tracks scattered across the country.
Such institutions will have beginner tracks that are closed off, and where you can comfortably learn to ride your bike. Once your skills have advanced, you can move on to more challenging tracks.
How Old to Start Riding Dirt Bikes?
Dirt bike riding is often recommended for 13-year old kids and over. You can, however, introduce the sport to younger kids, provided there is adult supervision.
Adults who are in good physical condition can also start learning the sport.
They are plenty of beginner dirt bikes from brands like Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki, Yamaha, and Honda.
You want a bike that is easy to handle and control, but one that also gives a taste of higher-performing models. Beginners can learn to handle dirt bikes on private and public trails as well as on tracks.