Offroad motorcycles: Best dirt bikes for beginners of all ages

We've all seen motorcycles of many kinds, whether zooming by on the street or on classic 80s action movies.

Some of you might even loosely know the types of bikes out there, perhaps also thanks to vintage classics.

And even if the name seems self-explanatory, we should still ask:

In a hurry? The test winner after 14 hours of research:

editors pick
Offroad motorcycles: Best dirt bikes for beginners of all ages 1

Apollo DB-X18 125cc  

Why is it better?

  • Incredibly comfortable
  • Four-stroke engine
  • Manual transmission

95/100
our score


researched sources

6

Researched sources

reviews considered

89

REviews considered

hours researched

14

hours researching

products compared

16

products compared

Last Updated: November 1, 2019

By Max Shumpert: This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information regarding dirt bike/motorcycle helmets available for those who are interested in cycling protection gear. The best 5 available have changed, and information has been added to assist individuals in finding the best helmets available on the market. The FAQ has also been updated.

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS  
Offroad motorcycles: Best dirt bikes for beginners of all ages 2 APOLLO DB-X18 125CC Rating: 95/100 View Latest Deal →Read Full Review
Offroad motorcycles: Best dirt bikes for beginners of all ages 3 APOLLO AGB-36 250CC Rating: 80/100 View Latest Deal →Read Full Review
Offroad motorcycles: Best dirt bikes for beginners of all ages 4 SYX MOTO HOLESHOT RED 2019 Rating: 80/100 View Latest Deal →Read Full Review
Offroad motorcycles: Best dirt bikes for beginners of all ages 5 COOLSTER RYDER 70CC Rating: 87/100 View Latest Deal →Read Full Review
Offroad motorcycles: Best dirt bikes for beginners of all ages 6 TAOTAO DB14 110CC Rating: 80/100 View Latest Deal →
Offroad motorcycles: Best dirt bikes for beginners of all ages 7 APOLLO DB-007 125CC Rating: 80/100 View Latest Deal →Read Full Review

What is a dirt bike?

Offroad motorcycles: Best dirt bikes for beginners of all ages 8

Dirt bikes are a group of motorcycles designed for off-road driving. Off-road simply means rough, unpaved surfaces, such as dirt, sand, gravel, snow, etc. Compared to on-road bikes, dirt bikes have longer suspension travel. Dirt bikes are generally taller and have a more rugged construction, allowing for comfortable driving, even on rough terrain.

While the term 'dirt bikes' is a catch-all term for rugged motorcycles, what people generally mean are trail bikes, purposed for driving on-road and recreationally off-road. This is what we're going to talk about.

What to look for when buying a dirt bike

So, when buying this kind of bike, what are the things you should take note of? This question is why we've put together the specs you should keep an eye on when going through with a purchase.

Power

When reading about dirt bikes, you'll come across terms like power, capacity, torque, and many more. But what do they mean?

Power is the maximum power an engine can put out. It's given in horsepower or kilowatts. Basically, it's how hard your engine can counteract traction and other forces slowing the bike down.

Engine capacity or displacement, usually given in cc (cubic centimeters), is the volume the engine's cylinders take up. While power depends on displacement, it's near impossible to convert between the two accurately. Generally speaking, the higher the displacement, the higher the power.

So what's the amount of power you should for in a bike? There are several things to consider. Namely, the weight of the person riding it. An adult bike should have at least 7kW (kilowatts) to be able to drive usually. A kids' dirt bike, however, doesn't need the extra power just to cover the extra weight. This means that 4 to 7kW is an optimal range for dirt bikes for children.

Another thing to consider is the terrain you plan on riding it on. If steep hills and high traction are going to appear often on your trails, getting extra horsepower will ensure you'll be able to drive wherever. This also means that, theoretically, your top speed should increase as well.

Stroke

stroke engine dirt bike

When talking about internal combustion engines, the term stroke often refers to the type of power cycle used by a piston engine, which is what we will be talking about here.

In dirt bikes, both two-stroke and four-stroke engines can be found. So, what's the difference and which one should you get?

A four-stroke engine completes a power cycle with four strokes (up and down movements) of the piston while turning the crankshaft. The four strokes are the intake, compression, combustion, and exhaust, colloquially known as "suck, squeeze, bang, blow."

A two-stroke engine, on the other hand, completes a power cycle within only two strokes. It accomplishes this by simultaneously performing what different strokes in a four-stroke engine are. Since fuel in a four-stroke engine is consumed only every four strokes, this makes two-stroke engines less fuel-efficient.

Compared to four-strokes, two-stroke engines have better torque at high RPM. However, the relative torque of a two-stroke engine at low RPM is much lower than that of a four-stroke engine.

Two-stroke engines have a significant reduction of moving parts, compared to four-stroke engines, and can be more compact and lighter. This also makes them easier and cheaper to repair.

Suspension

Offroad motorcycles: Best dirt bikes for beginners of all ages 9

The suspension of a motorcycle exists to help the vehicle's handling and braking, as well as providing safety and comfort by isolating passengers from road noise and bumps.

A typical bike has a pair of fork tubes for the front suspension and a swingarm with shock absorbers in the back.

The most common front suspension in a modern dirt bike is a telescopic fork. This kind of fork acts as sizeable hydraulic shock absorbers with internal springs. This lets the front wheel move with road imperfections, while the rest of the bike is isolated from the bumps.

As for the back suspension, while different systems of suspension exist, the most critical components of rear suspension for a dirt bike are its shock absorbers. Better shock absorbers can absorb more road bumpiness that is inevitably there when riding off-road while maintaining quality control.

Back shock absorbers can be either single or twin shock absorbers, referring to the number of absorbers present. Twin shock absorbers are typical in dirt bikes and are my recommendation for a bearable ride.

Size

Offroad motorcycles: Best dirt bikes for beginners of all ages 10

Being comfortable behind the wheel is essential. This is why you should get the seat height right. It depends on your height, yes, but also on the length of your legs. The ideal seat height is the height at which, when you extend your legs, your feet are on the ground.

Seat height and bike size are particularly important for young kids since they need to be able to use their legs as support when stopping reliably.

3- to 7-year-old kids should get a 50cc bike with a seat height under 17 inches.

5- to 9-year-old kids should get bikes with seat heights between 17" and 26".

10- to 12-year-old kids should get bikes with seat heights between 28" and 32".

Starting at 5'2" tall, start looking at seat heights between 29" and 32", and then for every inch increase in height, add 1 inch to the range limits. So, for a height of 5'8", look for seat heights between 35" and 38".

Why should you consider buying a dirt bike?

Offroad motorcycles: Best dirt bikes for beginners of all ages 11

Modern engineering has made motor-powered vehicles ubiquitous. Whether it's cars, motorcycles or jet skis, no surface has been left unconquered.

So, if you like hiking but prefer the comfort of sitting, or just want an extra kick of adrenaline, you might consider getting an off-road vehicle. But why a dirt bike exactly? 

Compared to other off-road vehicles, such as quads or even off-road cars, dirt bikes have several advantages. For one, dirt bikes, because of their relatively small size, can cross more rugged and unsavory terrain than other vehicles. Secondly, they are produced in nearly all sizes, allowing for kids to ride them as well. Lastly, they are much cheaper than others in the category while still being street-legal.

Dirt bikes for adults

Offroad motorcycles: Best dirt bikes for beginners of all ages 12

Now that we've looked at the key characteristics of dirt bikes, it's time to look at some models of dirt bikes for adults.

1. Apollo DB-X18 125cc - OUR TOP PICK FOR 2019

Apollo DB-X18 125CC
  • PLEASE NOTE : Please add a working PHONE number to your order on Amazon so that shipping company can call you for DELIVERY appointment.

Available in green, blue, red, and midnight black, it's the perfect choice for both beginner and returning rider. It sports a four-stroke, single-cylinder engine, allowing for (relatively) quiet, uninterrupted cruising.

The engine displacement is rated at 125cc. The engine is kick-started and is air-cooled. Kick-starting is used instead of electric starters, to further reduce the weight of the vehicle. What this means is that, to start the engine, you have to push a lever with your foot.

The max power is a solid 6.5kW, giving the bike the necessary power to reach a top speed rated at 55mph, though this depends on road condition and the weight pressing down the bike.

This bike has a manual transmission with four speeds. This may seem a bit discouraging if you're not too familiar with stick shifts. Instead of having the transmission automatically switch through gears, as needed, you will have to change through them manually.

It has a heavy-duty steel frame with non-adjustable front and rear suspensions. You can expect reactive and robust braking, as both front and rear brakes are hydraulic disc brakes. The front tire is 17" large, with the rear tire smaller, at 14" in size. 

The seat height is 36.5 inches, which is if you look at our size guide, perfect if you're around 5'9" tall.

Its net weight is 148lbs, and it can hold up to 1.03 gallons of fuel. Note that, since the engine is a four-stroke, you don't need to mix fuel with oil before filling the bike up

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Good bike for beginners
  • Four-stroke engine
  • Manual transmission

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • Small top speed/power

Once again, we look at a single-cylinder, four-stroke air-cooled engine. However, unlike the last bike we looked at, this bike's engine displacement clocks in at 250cc -- double that of the last bike. 

So, is it any wonder its max power is 11.5kW, near double of the last bike? The top speed is rated at 115kph, or about 71mph, though people have reported going up to 75mph with it. This bike definitely has quite a bit of power, and it isn't afraid to show it.

It has both an electric starting system, as well as a kick-start option, in case your battery runs out. It has, however, a manual transmission, meaning that, just like with the last bike, you will have to manually clutch and shift gears.

The seat height on this bike is the same as the last bike: 36.5 inches. This would make it optimal for people 5'9" tall, though it really depends on the length of your legs. As a better estimate, measure your legs while assuming a wide stance.

For suspension, it has inverted forks and pretty good suspension. If you're feeling bold, you can attempt jumps on this bike, as its durable chassis and suspension can handle it pretty well.

The bike and all its constituent parts are CARB approved, meaning you can legally drive this in the state of California. And, since California has the strictest laws on emission, this bike is legal to ride in all 50 states.

The bike sports hydraulic brakes on both wheels, giving excellent braking. The net weight of the motorcycle is rated at 273lbs, significantly heftier than the last bike.

Sadly, this dirt bike does not come completely assembled. Don't worry, it's not in a million pieces either. All the engine components, as well as the transmission, is fully assembled. You will have to assemble the tires, handlebar, batteries and such yourself. You can find PDF files and videos on assembly instructions. Overall, it's not a challenging build.

WHAT WE LIKE

  • High top speed
  • Good suspension
  • Manual transmission

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • Hefty price if bought for beginner
  • Addition of an electric starter adds weight

Children's dirt bikes

dirt bike teen

So far, we've looked at essential characteristics of dirt bikes, many of which apply to most internal combustion engine-powered vehicles, as well as some adult-size dirt bikes. But what exactly are kids dirt bikes?

Kids dirt bikes are more-or-less smaller versions of regular, adult-sized dirt bikes. They're easier to ride, lightweight, and serve as an introduction to dirt bikes for young children. They're also known as mini bikes.

The smallest entry-models produced for young children (ages 3-6) have minimal features and are more akin to upscaled ride-on toys than downscaled motorcycles. For example, they often lack any suspension. 

Perhaps the most apparent difference between adult and kids' dirt bikes are their actual size. Kids' bikes are significantly smaller, to match their rider's size.

Likewise, they have small engines. The smallest gas-powered engines range from 50cc - typical for starters - to strong 125cc engines made for advanced riders. In recent years, however, gas-powered engines aren't the only engines available. Electric motors have been growing in popularity. They're silent, efficient and low-maintenance. Furthermore, they provide instant torque and are attractively priced.

It's important to note that these mini motocross bikes, more often than not, aren't street-legal. Most do not meet the minimum federal requirements for on-road use. This means you cannot drive these bikes on publicly-owned roads.

Kids' minibikes aren't too fast, to begin with -- their max speed is about 20mph, but even this might be too fast sometimes. That's why some models have speed limiters and even kill switches which allow riders to stop the engine when triggered instantly.

Dirt Bikes for 5 to 7-year-olds

Entry-level dirt bikes for little kids are usually the ones with low engine power and weight. This ensures excellent control and smooth steering, as well as safety. This is why we've picked the SYX MOTO Holeshot Red 2019 as our pick for this category.

SYX MOTO Holeshot Red 2019

SYX Moto Holeshot RED 2019
  • IDEAL BEGINNER DIRT BIKE CHOICE - FEATURE 1: Real 2-stroke ENGINE, instead of noisy lawn mower motor. FEATURE 2: Equipped with IMPROVED SPEED...
  • 365-DAY CUSTOMER SERVICE: We provide 365-day customer service via email and phone call support during busniess hours. UPS SIGNATRE...
  • WARRANTY COVERED:We warranty the products to be free of material defects in workmanship for the warranty period from the date your product is...

It comes with a 49cc two-stroke engine that can reach speeds of up to 30mph. It comes with a speed limiter that has three speed limits. The transmission on this bike is automatic, meaning your kid won't have to worry about engaging the clutch. This combination makes it perfect for all beginners.

The fuel tank has a capacity of 0.45 gallons. Since this is a two-stroke engine, you will have to mix fuel with lubricant oil with a ratio of 20~25:1 (fuel to lubricant) before filling it up.

This bike has a net weight of 49lbs, allowing for easy control and tight handling. With a maximum weight capacity of 160lbs and seat height of 23 inches, it can handle what it's built for.

Both wheels have reliable hydraulic disc brakes to give the driver maximum control over the bike. It also sports shock absorbers both in front and back, allowing comfortable driving.

Sadly, when it arrives, it won't be ready for driving, as some assembly is required. It isn't much, and there are PDFs and instructional videos on how to assemble the parts. You will have to put together the rear shock absorber, front wheel, handlebar, and fender.

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Automatic transmission suitable for kids
  • Big weight capacity
  • Hydraulic disc brakes

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • Two-stroke engine
  • Needs fuel mixing
dirt bike kids

Dirt bikes for 8 to 10-year-olds

Being a bit older and larger than the little kids in the previous category, a bit larger engine with extra weight to match the demands for kids their age is necessary. This is why we've picked the Coolster Ryder 70cc for this category.

Coolster Ryder 70cc

Coolster Ryder 70cc
  • Engine:70cc air cooled enginer
  • Max.load:50kg
  • Max. speed: 55km/h

A slightly stronger engine, clocking in at 70cc of engine displacement, it can provide up to 4kW of power or about 35mph of max speed. The engine itself is a single-cylinder four-stroke. This means that, unlike the last bike we looked at, you won't have to mix the fuel and oil manually..

Once again, some assembly is required. The handlebar and tires have to be assembled manually, but you do receive a tool kit to help you do it. There are instruction guides and videos to help you, as well.

This bike is CARB approved, meaning you can drive it in the state of California. However, being CARB approved only means that the bike and its constituent parts meet limits on emission, and do not mean the bike is street-legal. As a matter of fact, this bike isn't street-legal.

It's started relatively easily with a kick start. It has a weight limit of about 130 pounds, while itself weighing approximately 105lbs. It has shock absorbers that absorb all trail bumpiness pretty well.

The bike has an automatic transmission with a semi-automatic clutch. This may sound daunting, but it just means you won't have to manually engage the clutch or switch gears, perfect for kids learning to ride.

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Four-stroke engine
  • Good shock absorbers
  • Automatic transmission

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • Kick start might be difficult for really young children

Dirt bikes for 11 to 14-year-olds

Offroad motorcycles: Best dirt bikes for beginners of all ages 13

Once reaching the preteens, an even stronger engine is what you'll need. This is why we picked the Taotao DB14 110cc for this category.

Taotao DB14 110cc

Taotao DB14 110cc
  • 110cc Dirt Bike,Single Cylinder,4-Stroke Engine Type
  • Automatic Transmission, Front/Rear Hydraulic Disc Brakes
  • Front/Rear 14"/12'' Wheels, Seat Height 28"

With an even larger engine displacement of 110cc, a single cylinder and four-stroke engine powers this bike. This combination gives the vehicle a max speed of 45mph, allowing for satisfactory rides while remaining safe.

The bike is started with a kick start and does not need a lot of force to get it going. It has a net weight of 125lbs and can support up to 120lbs of extra weight. The seat height is 28 inches tall.

Both wheels have hydraulic disc brakes, with the front operated by hand and the back one operated by foot. They give reliable braking and extra control to the driver. The bike also brandishes shock absorbers that help mitigate trail bumpiness and keep it to a minimum.

This bike is not CARB approved. This means it's illegal to operate in the state of California. However, it's perfectly legal to do so in all other states. The bike isn't street-legal, so keep it off public roads.

The fuel capacity on this bike is one gallon. Since the engine is a four-stroke, you will not have to mix oil and fuel before filling the tank up.

It comes with a (semi) automatic transmission, so you won't have to worry about the clutch or manual gear shifts.

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Four-stroke engine
  • Automatic transmission
  • Large fuel capacity

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • Low top speed for cc

Dirt bikes for 15 to 18-year-olds

dirt bike mud

Being a teenager, you can safely buy a dirt bike with a powerful engine. If not for the speed, it helps handle the weight difference when compared to bikes built for 12-year-olds. This is why our pick for this category is the Apollo DB-007 125cc.

Apollo DB-007 125cc

Apollo DB-007 125cc
  • 125cc Dirt Bike,Single Cylinder,4-Stroke Engine Type
  • 4 Speed Manual Clutch, Front/Rear 17/14" Wheels. Seat Height 36.5 inches
  • Aire Cooled,Max Speed 55 mph May vary depending on road condition


Sporting a strong 125cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine, it can give you 10kW of power, easily reachable. It's no wonder the bike can reach up to 60mph, provided the conditions are good enough.

The engine is kick-started and air-cooled. What separates this bike from the other ones we've covered is its manual transmission. Having four speeds on a manual clutch might be a bit confusing, but being a teenager, getting used to manual shift won't be too difficult. It'll even help teach driving stick shift.

The seat height is 36.5 inches, which, by our seat height guide, is optimal if you're 5'7" tall, though it may vary if your legs are longer/shorter.

The front and back suspension are both non-adjustable at 760mm/320mm in size. The bike sports twin shock absorbers which reduce the amount of bumpiness felt by the rider.

As with all bikes covered so far, some assembly is required before it's rideable. It's the usual wheel, handlebar, suspension treatment.

The manufacturer did not specify whether this bike is CARB approved or not, so drive it in the state of California at your own risk. Suffice to say, this bike is not street-legal.

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Powerful four-stroke engine
  • High top speed

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • Manual transmission


FAQ

Q: What dirt bike should I get a toddler?

A: Since you need a small-powered engine, an electric dirt bike is what you need. It can deliver just enough power to drive but remain safe.

Q: What safety gear do I need?

A: You should get a helmet, riding boots, gloves, and goggles at the very minimum. If you're planning on riding often, get extra protection like knee pads to minimize any injuries.

Q: What does cc mean?

A: CC stands for cubic centimeters. It's a unit of volume, and in the context of engines, it represents to engine displacement. Engine displacement is the total volume all pistons displace when moving. Essentially, it's the total volume inside your cylinders.

Q: What does two and four-stroke mean?

A: Two and four-stroke refers to the number of strokes in a single power cycle. Four-stroke engines are more fuel-efficient, quieter, and powerful at lower RPM. Two-stroke engines use more fuel, are louder, more powerful at a higher RPM but require mixing oil and fuel before filling the reservoir.

Conclusion

Dirt bikes come in many shapes and sizes. We recommend you first pay attention to their size and abilities and then consider their design.

If you're looking for a sturdy, fast bike, look for one with high cc. If you want a bike that you can ride both off-road and on-road, look for street-legal bikes.

Once you've found a model that you like and that meets your demands, check if the seat height fits.

editors pick
Offroad motorcycles: Best dirt bikes for beginners of all ages 1

Apollo DB-X18 125cc

Why is it better?

  • Incredibly comfortable
  • Four-stroke engine
  • Manual transmission

95/100
our score


Resources

“How Bicycle Helmets Are Made” Helmets.org,

https://www.bhsi.org/howmade.htm

Last update on 2019-11-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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