In this article we try to tackle the commonly asked questions and zero in on the best dirt bikes for adults available on the market.
With a wide range of ages catered for, it’s easy to get caught up looking at the wrong selection of bikes for you, but join us as we shed some light on the key factors which make the best dirt bikes for adults and how to go about selecting the right one for your requirements.
What is a Dirt Bike?
If you’re joining us in this article, you might be a beginner looking to start up in the world of riding dirt bikes off road, or you might be a seasoned veteran looking to upgrade their ride to a newer model.
There’s a very wide spread of motorcycles to select from from manufacturers all over the world, and make no mistake, some dirt bikes are better than others.
Not only this, but different dirt bikes specialise in different types of riding, and picking the right tool for the job can make your seat time much more enjoyable and productive rather than trying to force a square peg into a triangular hole.
The term “dirt bike” is generally a blanket term used to describe all off-road motorcycles, but the style that springs to the majority of people’s minds first and foremost is without doubt the typical motocross style bike.
But this may or may not be what you think you’re looking for, so let’s continue on and shed some more light on this point.
What Are The Dirt Bike Disciplines?
There are many different disciplines within the dirt bike niche, and these disciplines seem to be growing more diverse with each passing year.
The industry has tried to keep up with this trend by providing riders with the latest, highly specialised machinery optimised to perform a specific style of riding or objective.
While you can still get good all-rounder bikes, gone are the days where you’d want to jump on any old bike to take on all terrains. At least not if you want to do it in a way that feels and looks at all effective.
A quick run-down of the current popular trends are the below:
- Enduro or trail riding
- Cross country
- Adventure Dakar
- Flat track
Some of these niches feature bikes that, while still technically “dirt bikes” are not what you’d expect to see appearing on this list. We will gloss over these for now as the majority of readers will be looking to find out about bikes in the motocross, and trail riding enduro niches. If you are interested in the other disciplines however, they are well worth looking up and discovering what they are all about.
Top Adult Dirt Bike Brands
Even if you’re a beginner looking for your first dirt bike for adults, you are guaranteed to recognise some of the brands on this list. Many of them don’t just do motor bikes but also mainstream automotive products such as cars and even musical instruments.
The below list is by no means exhaustive, and there are plenty of younger brands popping up which show great potential, but generally, you can be confident that any dirt bike built by one of the companies on this list will be a well polished and reliable product.
- Gas Gas
Those to Japanese manufacturers in particular are notorious for their quality and durability. Plus with many years of research and development under their belt, the ergonomics of their recent dirt bikes has been absolutely on point, which will be a big factor in selecting the best bike for you.
The majority of these manufacturers make bikes in multiple disciplines too so there is plenty of choice among them.
What Size of Dirt Bikes for Adults
When it comes to selecting the best adult dirt bike for you, it’s inevitable that you will get caught up in the displacement race and start obsessing about the bike’s power outputs based on various metrics.
However, before any of that is a consideration, you need to first establish which physical size of bike you would be most comfortable being in control of.
Selecting the wrong size bike, or setting a bike up incorrectly is one of the key stumbling blocks for new or inexperienced dirt bike riders.
You can quickly feel intimidated by the machine or as though it’s in control rather than you, and this is certainly not a situation you want to find yourself in, especially if you’ve just shelled out on a shiny new bike.
Equally, you might feel in charge of a smaller dirt bike, but the ergonomics could be all wrong for you causing fatigue, not to mention that the bike will be a lot more top heavy with you on-board knocking the balance of the machine off. This can potentially be dangerous for the rider.
It’s always advised to visit shops and try some bikes out for size, but a good general measurement is to use a dirt bike’s seat height as a guide. This can be compared to your inside leg measurement to determine whether you’d be able to put your foot flat on the floor or not.
If you have another bike you ride, such as an old bike, you can also measure the seat height of this dirt bike to create a comparison. Luckily most modern dirt bikes have a level of adjustability that enables fine tuning of things to each rider.
It’s quite possible to purchase a bike remotely and end up with a bike that’s as though it were tailored especially for you.
Which Adult Dirt Bike Engine Size
Arguably more exciting when shopping for a new motorcycle is its engine size and power output.
However, don’t be fooled, bigger isn’t always better in the world of dirt bikes for adults. There are an almost infinite number of choices when it comes to dirt bike engines these days. But for an adult dirt bike you will generally be looking for a 250cc or larger bike.
It’s easy to get carried away and start desiring hugely powerful 450cc machines, but it can be quite surprising how good a 250cc dirt bike can be, providing a lighter weight, more nimble feel and still with plenty of power, especially if adorned with a 2-stroke engine.
The larger 450cc dirt bikes generally have 4-stroke engines which are quite a bit less zingy and urgent than their 2-stroke counterparts. But with that additional displacement they end up being extremely powerful bikes and certainly not for the faint hearted or inexperienced.
The torque of a large displacement 4-stroke dirt bike is particularly surprising and if you are intending to race around motocross tracks that can be a very attractive prospect.
There are a good range of in-between sizes to select from too if you are searching for a particular power-level or engine feel. KTM are known to make some excellent and robust 2-stroke engines in the 300-350cc range and are highly regarded.
If you’re particularly forward thinking and want to embrace the electric motor rather than the internal combustion engine, then the great news is that there are a few bikes of this type starting to enter the market.
The beauty of electric dirt bikes looks like it will have ample torque and power without as much disruption to the places we want to ride, so the future of dirt bike riding is looking brighter than ever.
Our Best Dirt Bikes for Adults Recommendations
So now is the part where we share our top recommendations for the best dirt bikes for adults.
First on the list is the spectacular Yamaha YZ250 motocross bike. This is an excellent dirt bike for track riding and is built for outright performance and handling.
Its quite a stiff motorcycle making it a bit less suited to the rough stuff, but if you want 2-stroke thrills blasting around a motocross track then look no further.
There are larger sizes of the YZ range, but we feel that the 250cc is particularly stand-out thanks to its scalpel-like handling and real chuck-ability in the corners.
The CRF250F is the ideal beginner’s trail bike by the renowned motorcycle manufacturer, Honda. You really can’t go wrong with this bike and it’s an extremely versatile machine.
With a bit less power and more softly set up, it’s perfect for those beginner adult dirt bike riders or those looking for a more leisurely riding experience.
Make no mistake, this is a very capable ride and can keep up with much bigger bikes on the rough stuff. It’s just more forgiving.
Kawasaki’s legendary KX450 is the classic big, powerful enduro bike. This machine is a monster that will absolutely dominate the trails with its extremely torquey 4-stroke engine.
You can be sure of its build quality too with known Kawasaki design plus years of research and development to perfect it, this 450cc monster will certainly impress you on the performance and ergonomic front.
Husqvarna TE 300i
Husqvarna’s TE 300i is somewhat of a classy and sophisticated machine, featuring some impressive fuel injection technology that maximises performance from that 300cc 2-stroke engine.
Husky really focussed on lightweight design with this line of bikes and their agility is unparalleled.
KTM Freeride E-XC
For those riders looking to embrace the inevitable future, there are a few manufacturers jumping on the electric revolution early.
If you’re a bit unsure about some of the smaller and new to the market manufacturers then don’t fear, KTM have got you covered with their Freeride E-XC all-electric dirt bike.
This bike has impressive performance and a futuristic design with excellent ground clearance. This fantastic bike shows there’s great potential in the future of EVs and our only gripe is the limited range of these, compounded by the fact they take a while to charge.