Dirt bikes, also known as off-road motorcycles, can be classified into 8 different types based on their attributes and the style of riding they are intended for.
In this article, we explain the most popular types of dirt bikes and the type of rider they are best suited for.
1. Trail Dirt Bike
A trail bike is an affordable, lightweight dirt bike that is intended for riding on trails. The trail bike is welcoming to beginners and easy to maintain. It is also less expensive because it is minimalistic in terms of technology and features.
They typically have a lower seat height to make it easy for riders to put their feet on the ground. The fuel tank is typically small at around 1-2 gallons since they are not intended for long trips. The engine can be two stroke or four stroke, depending on the manufacturer and model.
Since these bikes are not intended for streets, you will need a truck or trailer to transport your bike to the trail. With minimal features and more basic components, trail bike prices are typically very affordable and start around $4,000.
Examples of a trail bike include:
|Honda Trail 125 ABS||125 cc||1.4 gal||259 lbs|
|Yamaha TT-R230||223 cc||2.1 gal||251 lbs|
|Kawasaki KLX300R||292 cc||2.1 gal||282 lbs|
2. Dual Sport Bike
Dual sport bikes are versatile motorcycles that are designed to travel on both asphalt road surfaces and dirt or gravel trails. They behave similar to typical street bikes but with good off-road capability as well which makes them great for both weekday transportation and weekend adventures.
Since they are intended to be used on flat roads in addition to trails, they typically have longer maintenance intervals and can go thousands of miles between oil changes. They typically have better reliability than other types of dirt bikes to ensure they are suitable for driving on roads.
Dual sport bikes are friendly for different skill levels since it is lightweight with good balance and not too powerful. It has a taller seat height than a trial bike, for better visibility of the road.
The ability to travel on streets as well as trails means you have the added convenience of being able to ride from your home to a nearby trail or taking a break to refuel at a nearby gas station.
Dual sport bikes are intended to provide great value for the money rather than high performance. Since they have fewer high-end components, the prices for new dual sport motorcycles start at around $5,000.
Examples of dual sport bikes:
|Yamaha XT250||249 cc||2.6 gal||291 lbs|
|Kawasaki KLX300||292 cc||2.0 gal||302 lbs|
|Honda CRF450RL||449 cc||2.0 gal||291 lbs|
3. Enduro Bike
An enduro bike is a high-performance dirt bike designed to compete in extended off-road enduro or endurance races. Enduro motorcycles have been around for over 100 years and first appeared in the International Six Day Trial in 1913.
They are designed for high performance with higher horsepower than other dirt bikes and will provide plenty of speed for aggressive riders.
They are equipped with high-end suspension to absorb the impact of enduro course conditions. An enduro bike is designed to take a beating with protective hardware around the engine. A lightweight frame brings the total weight of enduro bikes to around 230 to 260 pounds.
One downside of enduro bikes is that they have shorter maintenance intervals and may require oil changes every few hundred miles.
Unlike dual sport bikes, many enduro bikes are not street legal unless they are specially made for road use. Many of their attributes favor off-road use such as the knobby enduro tires and less comfortable seat design.
Examples of enduro dirt bikes:
|Yamaha WR450F||450 cc||2.2 gal||262 lbs|
|KTM 300 EXC TPI||300 cc||2.4 gal||228 lbs|
|Husqvarna TE 300i||300 cc||2.2 gal||235 lbs|
4. Motocross Dirt Bike
A motocross bike (or MX bike for short) is specifically designed for off-road racing. These are high-end dirt bikes that are made for experienced riders who care about top performance. They are used in professional races like the AMA Motocross Championship and AMA Supercross Championship in the United States. Jett Lawrence won the 2021 AMA Pro Motocross 250 national championship on a Honda CRF250R.
One main difference of the motocross bike design is the stiffer suspension to absorb the impact from landing jumps. The powerful engine provides strong acceleration that is ideal for climbing steep hills. They are slightly lighter than enduro bikes for better acceleration and speed.
Since motocross bikes are intended for shorter day-time races, they typically don’t have lights. However, lights can be installed if you plan to go on nighttime rides. Due to the short duration of motocross races, the bikes are not designed to be as comfortable as other bikes. They also have smaller fuel tanks than enduro bikes.
Higher performance comes with a higher cost as new bikes in this category are priced from around $8,000 to $10,000.
Examples of motocross bikes:
|Honda CRF250R||249 cc||1.7 gal||229|
|KTM 450 SX-F||450 cc||1.9 gal||228|
|Yamaha YZ450F||450 cc||1.6 gal||245|
5. Adventure Bike
An adventure bike is a broad category of motorcycles that are intended mainly for long-distance street rides and occasional off-road rides. They combine the characteristics of dirt bikes and sportbikes into one versatile motorcycle that is good for both asphalt and dirt surfaces.
Adventure bikes are typically heavier than other dirt bikes on this list because they come with many features for comfortable road riding. They can have a comfortable seat, extra storage, and a larger fuel tank for longer trips. They also have more electronics and advanced features for road riding like cruise control.
The term adventure bike is a marketing term and can be applied to a wide range of bikes suitable for different types of adventures from touring hundreds of miles across the country or exploring wooded trails.
Adventure bikes may not be suitable for beginner off-road riders because the much heavier weight will make them more difficult to handle and harder to pick up.
Examples of adventure bikes:
|Yamaha Tenere 700||689 cc||4.2 gal||452 lbs|
|Honda Africa Twin||1084 cc||5 gal||505 lbs|
|Suzuki V-STROM 1050XT Adventure||1037 cc||5.3 gal||545 lbs|
6. Trails Bike
A trails bike (different from a trail bike) is intended for special competitions where the rider must display their skill controlling the bike through obstacles without touching the ground with their feet.
A trails event includes natural obstacles that the riders navigate through such as boulders, streams, and even waterfalls.
7. Child Dirt Bike
Most dirt bike manufacturers also offer smaller models that are designed for smaller riders. These youth dirt bikes have small engines and have lower seat heights to allow young riders to put their feet on the ground. Even very young children (age 4 and up) commonly ride dirt bikes with proper safety precautions and training. The Honda CRF110F and Yamaha PW50 are popular options for young riders that cost around $2,500 or less brand new.
Examples of child dirt bikes:
|Honda CRF110F||109 cc||1.0 gal||170 lbs|
|Yamaha PW50||49 cc||.5 gal||90 lbs|
8. Electric Dirt Bike
Electric dirt bikes are a new category and we will likely see more options in the future as companies develop more electric-powered models.
Zero Motorcycles produces the Zero FX, a fully electric dual sport bike with a 46 mile range (city) and 85 mph top speed.
Another option is the Stark Varg, a fully electric motocross bike with comparable or better performance than traditional gas-powered motocross bikes. It has an impressive 80 horsepower, which is significantly higher than the Honda CRF450R at about 55 horsepower.
Electric vehicles are easy to maintain with fewer moving parts and you never need to change the oil. They are cheaper to use due to the lower fuel costs and low maintenance costs.
A disadvantage is that they need to be charged for an hour or more when the battery power is low, whereas you can refuel quickly with a gas-powered bike for longer rides.