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What’s The Best 4 Stroke Dirt Bike For Your Size & Budget?

Trying to figure out what the best 4 stroke dirt bike is? In this article I’ll help you decide whether or not a 4 stroke is right for you, why they’re not all created equal, and how to easily pick the right size for you, even if you’re on a budget!

However, there is no perfect dirt bike for every type of dirt bike riding. I had to make separate categories to help you choose the 4 stroke that will be best for you.

What does 4 stroke mean on a dirt bike?

It simply means that it’s a gas engine with 4-strokes to make a complete combustion cycle.

Here’s how a 4 stroke engine works: there are 4 strokes to a complete cycle – the intake (air/fuel sucked in), compression (air/fuel compressed), power (air/fuel ignites), and the exhaust stroke (excess goes out exhaust).

Is a 4 stroke better than a 2 stroke for beginners?

Not necessarily – it really depends on your preferences and what type of dirt bike you get. A 4 stroke trail bike for beginners is better than a 2 stroke because it’s easy to ride and control, allowing you to ride safer and learn the basic techniques quicker.

On the flip side, a 2 stroke enduro bike is often better in tight and technical (hard enduro) type trails because it resists stalling better, feels lighter (less fatiguing), and doesn’t overheat as easily.

Are 4 stroke dirt bikes reliable?

It mainly depends on how well you take care of it. This includes your maintenance routine as well as how you ride it. 

4 stroke top end maintenance
Putting this 250 4 stroke engine back together in the garage.

I have personally not had a 4 stroke dirt bike blow up on me yet, but I know plenty of riders that have. I can tell you, an engine rebuild gets expensive quickly, especially for a modern mx or enduro 4 stroke. 

Want your 4 stroke dirt bike to be reliable? Change the oil when it gets dirty or low, keep the air filter clean, and don’t constantly hit the rev limiter. The higher you rev the engine the less hours you’ll get out of it before needing a rebuild. 

How long does a 4 stroke dirt bike engine last?

A 4 stroke dirt bike engine can last as little as 5 hours, but up to 500+ hours. Yes, that’s a huge range, but there are so many factors that are involved.

These factors to how long it will last include:

  • Which dirt bike
  • How well you maintain it
  • How you ride it
  • Where you ride it

For example, if you pick a trail motorcycle, you maintain it well, you don’t over rev it, and you aren’t riding in sand or mud, it can last for years or hundreds of hours fairly easily. Dirt bikes aren’t always a money pit if you pay attention to what it’s telling you.

Best 125 4 stroke

There are a few different 125cc 4 stroke dirt bikes made by the top brands, and they’re all great beginner bikes for teens, females, or if you’re just a short rider like me (5’6″ and under).

These 125 four-stroke trail dirt bikes are:

Best 230 dirt bike

There are only a few options when it comes to 230cc dirt bikes, and they’re all good for teens and adults that want a reliable trail bike. It’s a good size if you’re between 5’4″ and 5’10” in height.

These are the best 230’s:

The CRF230 isn’t made anymore, but it has a cult-like following with lots of info and mods available. The TTR230 is still being made and has similar specs (less low-end torque but more peak HP), but it doesn’t have quite the following or aftermarket for upgrades.

Both the Honda and Yamaha have a carburetor, but the newer Kawasaki KLX230R has fuel injection, which makes it more appealing if you don’t like dealing with carbs and jets.

Best 4 stroke for beginners

Looking for your first dirt bike? 4-stroke bikes are generally easier to ride because the power is smoother and more predictable. You want to start out on a beginner friendly bike so that you don’t crash and get hurt right away.

So, the best 4-stroke dirt bikes for starting out on are:

  • Kawasaki KLX140/L/G
  • Kawasaki KLX230R
  • Honda CRF250F

Top 4 stroke trail bikes for adults

Whether you’re a new Rider or you’re looking to do some technical trail riding there are four strokes specifically designed for each type of riding

An air cooled four stroke is typically going to be better for a new Rider, while an Enduro bike is better for hardcore woods riding.

Single track trail on my CRF230F 4 stroke dirt bike
Even a “little girls bike” can ride technical trails

The best 4 stroke dirt bikes for trail riding are:

The overall best 4 stroke if you’re a beginner that’s riding trails is the Honda CRF250F (or a used 230F) because it’s a full size bike, it has electric start and fuel injection, making it virtually frustration-free, and it’s super reliable. 

Best 4 Stroke Enduro Bike

2 strokes tend to dominate the 4 strokes for hard enduro riding. However, the moderate to high speed trails and terrain is perfect for these enduro 4 stroke bikes:

  • Honda CRF250RX
  • Yamaha YZ250FX
  • KTM 250 XC-F
  • Kawasaki KX250XC

Are the closest thing to motocross bikes, but still have suspension that is designed for off-road riding. The power characteristics are great if you’re an aggressive rider that wants a lot of snappy power. 

250 vs 450 4-stroke

There are pros and cons to each, so you have to pick the one that suits you best. For most people, you don’t need more power than a 250cc 4-stroke enduro bike has to offer. Unless you’re a pro or hill climbing, you don’t need more than 40 HP riding off-road.

A 250 also feels much lighter than a 450, even if it the actual weight isn’t much difference. When you’re weaving through trees, the rotational mass of the 450 engine feels heavier than it is, making it more exhausting to ride.

250 or 450 4 stroke dirt bike for trail riding?

What type of trails are you doing, what’s your weight, and what’s your skill? Those are the most important questions you need to answer when choosing between a 250 & 450 for trail riding.

If you can get away with less power or are doing slower, tighter trail riding, I always recommend the lighter bike. But, if you’re a heavy rider (250+ pounds) and are riding easier trails or absolutely need the power, then a 450 might be better if you have enough experience and confidence.

Colorado Trip 2018 Edit 22 What's The Best 4 Stroke Dirt Bike For Your Size & Budget?
Trail Riding A CRF250X

Best 250cc 4 stroke Dirt bike

There are a lot of 250 4-stroke dirt bikes available now, so you need to know what kind of riding you want to do to find the best one. There are 250cc Trail bikes, enduro bikes, more across bikes, as well as dual sport bikes.

The best 250 4-stroke dirt bike for a beginner is the Honda CRF 250f.

The best 250 4 stroke for intermediate level Trail Riders are the Honda CRF 250X Yamaha WR250F, and KTM 250 XCF-W.

Most Reliable 250 4 Stroke

The most reliable 250 4-stroke is the one that you properly maintain. In all seriousness, air cooled four strokes are generally the most reliable because they are low performance. 

This means that the Honda CRF250F is the most reliable four stroke. Regular oil changes and cleaning the air filter are the two most important factors to reliability. 

Best 450 4 stroke dirt bike

Depending on what type of riding you like, a 450 can be good for dual sport, motocross, as well as trail riding. With that said, it’s not ideal for slow speeds and tight trails because it’s heavier and powerful.

The best 450’s overall for riding off-road are:

Is a 450 too much for a beginner?

Yes, for riding off-road a 450 is too much power to handle for beginners. It’s fine for dual sport riding on the road or fire/gravel roads, but you don’t need that much power for trail riding. It’s one of the easiest ways to crash and get hurt as a new rider.

Most reliable dirt bike

Basically any trail bike is going to be reliable. Air cooled dirt bikes aren’t high performance, but they’re capable on single track trails with the right rider.

For example, the Honda CRF250F is very reliable because it’s low-performance, simple, and easy to maintain.

Best used 4 stroke dirt bike

I really like Honda XR’s if you want a cheap used dirt bike because they’re made to last. With that said, if you want a used dirt bike to save some money, you have to know what kind of riding you’re doing.

These are 3 of the best used dirt bikes you can get:

What will make you a better trail rider?

Starting on the right bike is a good starting point, but there’s one thing that will help you the most.

It starts with how you ride. Learning proper riding technique will give you more control, confidence, and make you a faster & safer rider. Ready to get started? Tap here now.