Top 5 Motocross Bikes of the Decade

This past decade saw much change and technological advances compared to the 1990’s. The Pro National scene went from 99.9% of the bikes being two-stroke (Yamaha’s YZ400 was about the only thumper out there in the late 90’s). 2001 was the beginning of the end for the 125 2-stroke because of the YZ250F, and soon after, the other companies followed suite. By 2006 the scenario had done a complete 180. Within the past 10 years, there have been some atrociously made bikes, as well as the best bikes ever made. This list may not include the entire globe, but should cover the United States, along with many other countries that have similar inventory of bikes. My list is objective and unbiased; I am going by which bikes are being sought after and bought the most, both new and used.

5. Yamaha YZ250

Yamaha YZ250 2-Stroke

Yamaha is the only Japanese manufacturer that still imports their two-stroke motocross bikes to the U.S.. They have had it together the entire time, but the YZ250’s best years are 2005 and newer. The lightweight aluminum frame and updated suspension (2006) makes the bike nimble, quick, and easier to ride. Power right out the box is excellent for almost any amateur, so there really isn’t much you need to do for it to be competitive, other than a suspension re-valve for your weight and riding style. The YZ250 has quite a bit of bottom-end power for a 2-stroke, and has plenty up top. You can move the power-band around with an aftermarket pipe if you don’t like the stock curve. Probably the best modification for engine performance is porting. It’s relatively cheap, and if you get it done by the right person this bike will absolutely rip.

4: Yamaha YZ125

Yamaha YZ125 2-Stroke

I know I said that four-strokes have dominated the pro motocross and supercross scene the past several years, but that doesn’t mean people don’t buy two-strokes anymore. In fact, riders are realizing how expensive four-stroke motocross bikes can be if there is a major failure, so they’re moving back (or to) two-strokes. Don’t fool yourself, the 125 two-stroke is a very fast bike, even stock, when properly tuned. When James Stewart entered the pro-scene on a 125, his lap-times were often as fast or faster than a lot of the 250cc riders because he knew how to ride his KX125 so well. He continued to beat four-strokes in 2004 when 250F’s started becoming “the bike” to race, so you know the bikes wasn’t lacking, that much.

The Yamaha YZ125 has reigned has “the bike” to get in the 125cc-class for many years now. It may not have the best of everything, but as an overall package it’s arguably one of the best motocross bikes ever because it is versatile. Although, the motor hasn’t changed much since 2001, and the chassis/suspension since 2006, there really isn’t a whole you need to do to this bike to race it.

Unlike most other 125’s, the YZ125 has some bottom-end power. So if you’re not afraid to finger the clutch a little, you can turn it into a woods weapon because it is so light. The center of gravity is lower than four-strokes, adding to its maneuverability. I like riding both two- and four-stroke dirt bikes, but getting on the pipe and ripping it up on a YZ125 is just too much fun!

This bike also makes my top 5 list because of how easy maintenance is, as well how cheap it is to repair if something major happens because of less moving parts. A four-stroke engine costs 3-4 times as much if something catastrophic happens, especially if you have a shop do the work. On a two-stroke, as long as you change the oil regularly, a top-end kit (usually just a piston, rings, gaskets, etc.) costs around $100-150. Even if your cylinder gets scored you can re-plate it to new condition for about $200.

3. Yamaha YZ450F

You guessed it, another Yamaha. Not only are its two-strokes good, but so are the four-strokes. The first year of the YZ450F was 2003 (superseding the YZ426F). This is when the bike was titled “Impossible To Ride.” It did have a lot of torque just because it’s a 450, but the top-end power was unbelievable. It was hard to hang on to the bars for less-experienced riders (Here I’m thinking, “supermoto, supermoto….”). Well, it is a little harder to ride than most others in its class, but any 450cc motocross bike is going to have a lot of power if it’s fresh. Don’t let all the “internet hype” get to you, it was still a great bike. In fact, some say it had the best 450cc from 2003-2005.

2003 Yamaha YZ450F

The second generation YZ450F got even better (for the most part) in 2006 with the all-new aluminum frame. This reduced weight and helped with handling (more on that in a little bit). The power curve was changed considerably, changing from a top-end monster to a more mellow beast. Some complained, others loved it. Don’t worry, the engine is probably the easiest to change, it just takes a little dough.

Moving on to other things, the YZ450F’s suspension is good in stock form. Just make sure it has the correct spring rates for your weight and riding style. The handing on this bike is said to be an issue. Supposedly the steel frame was to blame and made it feel heavy and turn slower. I mentioned that 2006 is when Yamaha switched to aluminum frames for its four-stroke motocross bikes, and doing this resulted in better turning and handling for this bike. 2010 is really when handling was a positive for the YZ450F with the new bilateral-beam frame and centralized weight. It made it feel more like a two-stroke, but not quite because of its weight.

2. Honda CRF450R

Honda CRF450R 4-Stroke

Red has always been a popular color, and there’s a reason why; they make high-performance bikes. Honda’s CRF-R line is near the top in almost every performance category, but the thing that has held them back from others is the reliability. Granted these are full-on race-bikes we’re talking about, but some of Honda’s early model four-stroke motocross bikes have had some problems causing failure much sooner than others in its class. The valve-train malfunctions were primarily on the CRF250R its first few years, which is why I chose the CRF450R to be on this list.

The first year of Honda’s 450cc four-stroke motocross bike was 2002, when Yamaha was still making the YZ426F, so it had a little edge. The CRF450R helped bring down the two-stroke legacy in pro racing. You know something is wrong when Kevin Windham on Honda’s 450R is passing Ricky Carmichael (aka the GOAT) on an RM250 two-stroke. No disrespect to Windham because he is one of the smoothest riders in the history of motocross. It’s just that “RC” is clearly a faster rider when he is healthy.

Honda has been known to make dirt bikes that handle well. The bilateral-beam aluminum frame on the CRF450R is just the same as far as four-strokes go. Point it and it goes there. The ergonomics are great for most riders as well. Suspension has always been on par or better than other bikes in its class. Over the past few years Honda has been making their 450 easier to ride for more riders right out of the box, bringing out the fuel-injection (second company to do that behind Suzuki’s RMZ450). There have been some glitches, but then again, what bike doesn’t when it introduces something completely new?  Overall this is a very powerful, easy to ride fast, and great handling bike for riders of all experiences, which is why it’s so popular.

1. Yamaha YZ250F

Yamaha YZ250F 4-Stroke

Yep, that’s right. The YZ250F is The Top Motocross Bike of The Decade. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. It’s the most popular 250cc four-stroke motocross bike, and for many good reasons. It was the first one made, and by a few years two. The first year of Yamaha’s 250F was 2001, and it was an instant success. People saw how powerful it was and how much torque it had compared to a 125 two-stroke.

Yamaha knows how to make a four-stroke motocross bike, plain and simple. Their 250F has always been known as the most reliable out of its entire class, even in its early years. It was a bit porky and hard to start at times in ’01 and ’02 with its manual decompression, but once they figured that out in 2003 this bike was a force to be reckoned with. No more clutching out of every corner, bogging out and casing jumps, or having to perfect your shift points. Once the pros started riding them, everyone wanted one. The thumping and thundering sound of a four-stroke ripping up the track is loved by many, but hated by many as well.

The YZ250F’s engine characteristics weren’t number one once all the other companies figured their 250F’s out, but it was mainly lacking some down-low. It was a pretty easy fix with an aftermarket exhaust or cams, but that’s only if you wanted it easier to ride with a smoother power-band. Yamaha has always had great suspension, and the YZ250F is no different. Ready to race out of the crate as long as the spring rates fit your weight and riding style.  Ergonomics have been a positive for the most part. The early models were a little chunky, so the newer you get the better.

Handling is something that people always complained about, but I think that most of the propaganda came from people reading magazine reviews. Statements like “It can’t turn right,” or “It stands you up in corners” are usually from people that have never ridden the bike. It’s not as dramatic unless you are a Pro or fast A rider. You can also re-valve the suspension, change bars, triple clamps, springs, ride height, and many more things to get it to corner. Other than that, the YZ250F is a great bike and is very reliable. There are riders that get 200+ hours on stock and with everything still in-spec if they aren’t racing it hard. That’s saying something for a high-performance, high-revving machine.

Now remember, this list is the top motocross dirt bike of this past “Decade”. If it was within the last few years this list would more than likely be completely different. These bikes have been the most popular for the most amount of time in the past ten years. The reason why I did that instead of the last few years is because not everyone has the budget to buy that new of a bike. Some riders that are looking to start out in this extreme sport want cheaper, yet competitive and reliable bikes. I want to give those riders (YOU) the benefit of knowing these things so that you can stay with the competition.

-Tom Stark

How To Buy A Dirt Bike

Hey guys, if you know what bike you want to get but are not sure how or where to buy one, then pay attention to this. If you don’t know what bike to get, go check out my other post titled, “What Dirt Bike Should I Buy?”

Whether you don’t know where to find dirt bikes for sale, or if you what to do after you find one I will tell you how to do both and more. Although buying a bike may sound as simple as finding the right one and going to picking it up, the finding may not be as easy as you think, especially if you want a particular bike or deal on it.

Where To Search

There are many places you can find bikes for sale, including: eBay, classifieds, online stores, sitting in someones yard, and many more. But, the most common and best place to look for most areas of where you live is If you haven’t heard of it, it is a very simple to use and free classifieds for pretty much anything.Just click on the “motorcycle” link.

How To Buy One

Once you find the one that you want, the first thing you should do is contact the person who is selling the bike; preferably using a phone, but if they don’t have one then use email. Once you talk about the bike and find out what you want to know and if you still want it then ask when you can go look at it.If you to look at the bike and decide that you want it then make an offer if you haven’t already, an if he takes it then you got yourself a bike! Make sure that you get a bill of sale/receipt and the title for the bike if the person has it. If you don’t know what bike to buy yet, check out my articles, “What Dirt Bike Should I Buy?” and “What Dirt Bike To Buy For My Kid?

Good luck buying a bike!

-Tom Stark


What Dirt Bike Should I buy?

One of the most common questions I hear when people start getting interested in dirt bikes is, “What dirt bike should I buy?” This is a very good question, but the answer can vary greatly. The decision doesn’t necessarily depend on your age, although you don’t really want to stick a 6 year old on a big 450cc motocross bike. These are the main deciding factors on which bike you should buy.

Two or Four stroke?

The first question that I would ask is, “Do you want a two or four stroke?” It is important to some people because they might have grown up on one or the other and only want that specific stroke.


Now like I said before, age does not matter as much, but it does matter a little bit more if you are a kid. Riders from 3-5 will probably want to start out on a 50cc. All of the name brand companies make a 50cc bike. Riders older than 15 will usually start riding full-size bikes.

Riding Purposes

The next big question would be, “What kind of riding are you going to do?” Will it be motocross, trail-riding, desert, dual-sport, or a little of everything? This is the fork in the road where you pick the type of dirt bike you want to ride.


If you are going to be riding motocross most of the time, then you have several options. For big bikes you can choose a 125cc two-stroke, 250cc two or four-stroke, or a 450cc four-stroke. If you are a beginner in motocross then the smaller bike is always going to be better, and if you want to learn the basic techniques and good riding skills then I suggest a 125cc two-stroke motocross bike. These are the best training bikes because they teach you how to ride a bike faster, smoother, and they require more skill to ride fast. Intermediates will usually choose 250cc bikes, and expert riders will often choose the 450cc four-stroke, but that’s not always the case.

Trail Riding


There are many bikes that are great for trail riding. All of the name brand companies have four-stroke trail bikes that are usually 250cc and 450cc. Kawasaki, KTM, and other European companies have two-stroke trail bikes that range from 125cc to 300cc+. If you aren’t going to be doing night riding and are a beginning rider, Honda has a great line of small-bore four-stroke trail bikes. They have a CRF100F, 150F, 230F(which is rumored to be discontinued soon), and then there is the liquid-cooled CRF250F enduro with lights that is similar to a motocross bike. KTM has 125, 200, 250, and 300cc two-stroke trail bikes that are all great and have excellent power. If you want to be a better rider and have a little more fun then a two-stroke would be a great choice, but if you want a full-size four-stroke trail bike then a 250cc would be a good bike too, because they have plenty of power and are able to be street legal.


Supermoto on WR250X

Like I mentioned before the 250cc and the 450cc are capable of being street legal(You can also get a two-stroke legal for the street, but it might be a little more difficult). They are both great bikes, but a novice rider should start out on the smaller bike. Every name-brand company has a 250cc liquid-cooled four-stroke bike and are all comparable. Suzuki has a DRZ400 which is more street-oriented with a few more options than the other bikes. Honda has the XR250R, 400R, and 650R/L that can be street legal, but are also great off-road. I wouldn’t suggest getting the big 400, 450, or 650cc bikes if you are new to riding because they have a lot of power and torque.


Riding In The Desert

Desert riding may not be common to most riders, but out in Phoenix, California, and other desert areas, riders go out and ride there all of the time. The bigger the engine, the easier it will be to get through the sand. The Honda XR650 is a very good bike if you are a better rider and like to go on trips to the desert because of all the torque it has. The smallest bike that you would want out there is a 125cc two-stroke, otherwise the sand will just eat you up.

Choosing the right dirt bike can be tough. There are many bikes to choose from, so make sure you pick the right bike. But that doesn’t mean that you can only buy one. Another way to find out what bike you want is to try out some friends bikes and see if you like it or not, and the more bikes that you try the better you will know what you want. If you find out what you like before you buy one then you are on track to getting a bike that fits your needs. Thanks for viewing, and remember to check back soon for my new post titled, “How To Buy a Dirt Bike“.

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If you have any questions, feel free to ask, because there is more detail that I can go into about this subject. Thanks

-Tom Stark