Dirt Bike And Off-Road Motorcycles
Off-road, motocross, and dirt bikes are all motorcycles used to navigate nature while on two wheels. Find the latest on these bikes at Cycle World.
Arguably the most fun you can have on two wheels off road, dirt bikes, motocross bikes, and off-road motorcycles are known for their grin factor. From mini bikes to putter around on, trail bikes to explore the wilderness on, to the latest cross-country enduro and race-derived motocross machines, dirt bikes cover a wide range of off-road motorcycles.
Featuring a long-travel suspension and knobby tires as well as a high seating position, dirt bikes are designed to tackle tough terrain. The tougher the terrain, the better. Whether it be woods, desert, or mountain single-track, to high-flying motocross action, these lightweight single-cylinder bikes can handle it. The most popular dirt bike, off-road, and motocross motorcycle manufacturers are Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Husqvarna, Suzuki, and Yamaha.
Designed to tackle the toughest of terrain, and possibly fly through the air, dirt bikes and off-road motorcycles reviews are demanding on our editors. Not every single-track is the same. The same goes for jumps. Our editors take care in every review they write, ensuring that you know which is the best dirt bike that you can buy.
Not only do our editors produce reviews, but they orchestrate some of the best comparison reviews of dirt bikes and off-road motorcycles of the same caliber. They even have time to dyno the bikes, so you have actual real-world knowledge, making you more prepared for your dirt bike purchase.
One thing to always consider when buying a dirt bike or off-road motorcycle is if you are ever planning on taking the motorcycle on the road. By their nature, dirt bikes are sold as OHV, or off highway vehicles. This means they are not road legal and can only be driven on private property, or property that allows their use such as off-road trails or tracks. If you ever plan to take your dirt bike on the road, there are ways to get it legal for on-road use, or you could consider purchasing a dual sport or adventure motorcycle.
Now you know that you want a dirt bike or off-road bike you have to consider a couple of things, like what level of rider are you? Have you ridden in the dirt before? Do you want a 2 stroke or 4 stroke motor? How often are you going to be riding, and can you work on this or will you need to be taking it to the shop for maintenance?
Dirt bikes are considered some of the best beginner motorcycles because of their lower price, light weight, the fact that they don’t have fairings and other bits and bobs to break when you crash, and you get to learn how to ride without the worry of traffic. You can learn the fundamentals of shifting, braking, and turning, while not having to worry about dodging semitrucks.
Some popular dirt bike manufacturers are Honda with its CRF lineup, Kawasaki has its KLX and KX models, KTM has its SX, EXC, XC, and E-XC ranges, Suzuki has its RM and DR series, and Yamaha has their YZ line of dirt bikes.
Every motocross bike is a dirt bike, but not every dirt bike is a motocross bike. Think of the dirt bike as a 10-inch chef’s knife. Sturdy, reliable, able to do a lot of work before it has to be fixed or honed. That’s your basic dirt bike. Your motocross bike is more of a scalpel. Very sharp, very light, but it requires a higher degree of maintenance to keep that edge. Your motocross bikes are dirt bikes built for racing. They feature the best parts, tires, and have a considerable amount of weight-saving work done to them. This is to ensure that when you are racing motocross, you are getting the holeshot every time.
On the other hand, enduros are the cleaver of the dirt bike family. They feature larger gas tanks needed for the longer-distance races that they participate in. Overall, the delineation in the dirt bike family depends on where your dirt bike is going to end up. A motocross bike finds its home at motocross and supercross events, and landing jumps at big air competitions, while enduro bikes can be found at multi-hour cross-country races like the Grand National Cross Country. Shooting up backcountry roads, then any dirt bike will be your best option.
When shopping for a dirt bike, off-road motorcycle, or motocross bike you’ll run across models that either are powered by a two-stroke motor (2T) or a four-stroke motor (4T). The main differences between the two types is that the 2 stroke has one revolution of the crankshaft within one power stroke, while the 4 stroke has two strokes. Another difference between the two is that a 2 stroke doesn’t have a system dedicated to lubricating the crankcase while a 4 stroke does. This is why you need to add oil to the fuel in your 2 stroke dirt bike.
What does all of this mean for you? Well, it means that a 2 stroke can produce torque quicker because the crank only has to revolve one time instead of two before power delivery. Two-stroke engines, because of their lack of complex moving parts and lubrication systems, are easier to work on and rebuild. On the other hand, 2 strokes are known for their distinctive “tinny” noise and smell. As a result of tightening emission standards, 2 strokes have come under harsh scrutiny because they do create more exhaust emissions than their 4 stroke counterparts.
Another strike against the 2 stroke engine is due to not having a lubrication system integrated. So when an unlubricated engine fails, it happens quick and there is a catastrophic failure to the moving parts within.
Depending on your riding style and how noisy you want to be, a 2 stroke or 4 stroke dirt bike will get you over the terrain you want it to.