Whats The Best Dirt Bike For Beginners?- The 2018 Guide
This guide covers the best dirt bike for beginners regardless of what age you are. With the focus being on beginners, I have mainly covered trail bikes as I believe this is a good place to start due to their availability and ease of riding.
If you would like to do your own research on dirt bikes for beginners, click here to go to my interactive dirt bike sizing guide. Here you can filter dirt bike results according to rider ability.
Kids Aged 3- 7 (Yamaha PW-50)
For a first bike, it’s hard to go past Yamaha’s PW50. One particular feature that stands out for this bike is it has the shortest seat height (18.7 inches) for all manufacturers of 50cc bikes. This is important to allow your child to comfortably touch the ground with their feet so they feel confident.
This bike also has a number of other features that make it ideal for a first bike.
- Low maintenance – The bike uses a drive shaft system for power to the rear wheel, so no need to worry about chain adjustments or oiling.
- Adjustable throttle – speed throttle can be adjusted in accordance with the child’s confidence and skill level.
- Fully automatic gearbox-no need for your child to worry about learning gears, they can just concentrate on balance and have fun.
If your child is starting later and maybe too tall for this bike then the Honda CRF-50 is a good option. The seat height is nearly 3 inches higher than the Yamaha and it also has throttle adjustment.
Kids Aged 5-9 (Suzuki DR-Z70 )
With just a bit more power than a 50cc bike but still, including an automatic transmission, the Suzuki DR-Z70 is a good “next step” option for a younger rider or first bike for an older child.
The seat is still at a reasonable level and should accommodate a range of riders in the years 5-9 age group.
The four-stroke Suzuki engines are low on maintenance and I have always found them super reliable.
Like the PW-50 the accelerator throttle can be adjusted by an adult.
Kids Aged 7-10 (Kawasaki KLX110)
If your child has been riding for a while, the Kawasaki KLX110 is a good option as it introduces some new riding skills. Firstly, this model has manual gear shifting but with an automatic clutch. This means gear changing can be practised without trying to handle the clutch engagement at the same time.
Secondly, the engine size allows for a new experience of extra power that your child has not previously experienced. This is good practice to get used to the power change and how to find the right gear.
If your child is more advanced in their riding then Kawasaki also has a next level model of the KLX110 which is the KLX110L which has a higher seat height and a manual clutch.
Kids Aged 10-12 and Small Adults (Honda CRF125F)
The Honda CRF125F would be happily received by any young kid who loves dirt biking. The feature set is similar to an adults bike with front disc brakes being a welcomed addition. The electric starter makes it easy for a child to manage and not have to worry about kickstarting.
The Seat height and 28.9 inches make it a versatile height that fits growing kids and is also suitable for small adults just starting to ride. The 125cc engine is just the right size that suits a wide range of rider groups.
Kids Aged 10-12 Motocross Option (Suzuki RM85)
For kids between 10-12 who are interested in motocross, the Suzuki RM85 would be a good starting point to get into motocross riding. It is one of the few motocross bikes that has a low seat and also one of the few that still has a two-stroke engine which can be well suited to motocross riding. The height profile makes this bike an ideal beginners option.
5’2″ Tall (Honda CRF125 Big Wheel)
The Honda CRF125 Big Wheel is basically the same as the CRF125F except it has larger wheels and a longer rear swing arm. This allows for taller teens and adults to get a better riding fit if the CRF125F is just a little short.
The seat height comes in at 30.9 inches which gives you an extra 2inches of seat height vs the CRF125F.
5’4″ Tall Adults (Kawasaki KLX140)
Kawasaki makes an interesting range of bikes that are often the best dirt bike for beginners. The KLX140 comes in three different bike sizes and the difference between them all is the seat height.
The seat height starts at 30.7 inches and goes up to 33.9 on the KLX140 G model. These bikes are clearly aimed at the beginner/teen market and it’s hard to argue.
The 140cc engine is a good size for a beginner with enough power to please a wide-ranging rider profile.
The Honda CRF150F is also a worthy consideration and may suit a slightly more advanced rider who would benefit from a larger engine.
5’6″ Tall Adults (Honda CRF230F)
This opens up a range of options but the bike I think that really fits this group is the Honda CRF230F. It is an easy bike to ride and operate, with a four-stroke engine with a smooth power range and easy electric start.
This bike would also suit larger teens and smaller framed males looking at a first bike.
5’8″ Tall Adults (Yamaha WR250R)
For this height range in the beginner rider category, options start to get a little thin. Most of the bikes in the 250 class are aimed at the intermediate class of rider. The Yamaha WR250R is one of the few bikes that have a good size engine and not the full-size off-road seat height making it suitable for beginners.
Even though this bike is classed as a dual-sport it is more aligned to the dirt than on the road. It has strong ties with its YZ and WR off-road brothers.
If the Yamaha doesn’t work for your body size then you could step up to an intermediate bike like CRF250X. Tuned for trail riding but with the build of a competition bike.
5’10” Tall Adults (Honda CRF250X)
Finding the best dirt bike for beginners when you are over the average height can be challenging as the majority of bikes available for beginner riders tend to have lower seat heights.
The CRF250X has a good seat height at 37.7 inches and even though this bike is regarded as intermediate, it can still be suitable for a newbie.
The four-stroke engine, whilst quite powerful for a novice can also be tamed easily off the throttle.
If you try one of these bikes and you just don’t have the confidence to stay with it then the Yamaha WR250R could be worth trying. It is a little tamer being a dual sport and the seat height is lower.
6’+ Tall Adults (Suzuki DR-Z400S)
So for your larger adult beginner, I like the Suzuki DR-Z400S. Having owned one previously I am well up to speed on what these bikes are like.
So firstly, they are a dual sport, this can be good and bad. The good news is they can be road registered so if you live near some good tracks you can simply ride there on the bike.
The negative element is that these bikes tend to be heavier than your trail or motocross bikes. For me, this never seemed a problem and in fact, when going up hills I would often go past the more fancied bikes. I think this was the extra weight giving me traction on the rear. They named me the tractor as I would chug past other riders on hills just like an old tractor would!
The other negative is that Suzuki has not changed the technology in these bikes for years. The same format has been around for a long while now but the upside is that it also keeps them less complicated and easier to look after.
What I love about these bikes is that they are super low on maintenance compared to most of the other four strokes. Just keep the oil clean and the air filter free of dust and not much else is required.
The video I have included talks about the value of the DRZ for trail riding but also how its suits bigger framed riders.
If you love dirt bike riding and you want to take your riding to the next level then the Suzuki may not be the way to go. The Yamaha 450F is worth a look. This bike is a step up from the Suzuki as it is significantly more advanced in terms of technology, borrowing from its YZ brother in the Yamaha range.
Note: The process of making recommendations for beginner bikes for novice riders is a challenging process. There are so many bikes to choose from! I tried to make this guide as relevant as possible to someone who is completely new to dirt bikes.
KTM, for example, make awesome bikes and it would be possible to start on one, however they really are designed for intermediate to pro level riders.
In addition to the skill level, they are also considerably more expensive than the mainstream brands. I felt it important to provide guidance on bikes that provide good value for money for someone just starting out.
Best Dirt Bike For Beginners Summary
Finding the best dirt bike for beginners can be complicated but if you use this guide and also my interactive sizing chart then you will be well armed with the right information to find your first bike and be well on the way to starting your exciting new hobby.
Need some safety gear as well? Click here to see my recommendations for dirt bike boots, here for helmets and here for goggles.