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The Best Dirt Bike Based On Your Needs [2024 Guide]

Trying to figure out what the best dirt bike is for you? Whether you’re looking for the best dirt bike for beginners, the top enduro bike, a 2 stroke, or somewhere in between, you’re in the right place!

In this article, I’ll show you step-by-step how to easily choose the right kind of dirt bike based on your specific needs so that you save time and money!

The hard truth finding the ‘Best dirt Bike’

I used to think the “fastest and coolest looking” dirt bikes were the best, but that’s not the case – at least not for everyone.
In fact, it’s rarely the case if you want the best dirt bike for YOU!

Here’s the hard truth…
There’s no “Best Dirt Bike”. 

At least not in that sense that it’s the best dirt bike for everyone in every situation. 
That’s why you have to classify who you are as a rider and what you want out of a dirt bike to make the best decision. 

Colorado 2016 11 The Best Dirt Bike Based On Your Needs [2024 Guide]
“The best dirt bike is the one that you have the most fun on” – Kelley Fager

For example, the best beginner trail bike is most certainly not going to be the best or even comparable to a motocross bike for racing on a track. That’s why I’ve put together this guide and lists of the best bikes for each type of riding, as well as some sizes. 

How to choose the best type of dirt bike

The first question you need to ask is: “What kind of riding will I be doing?” Once you figure out whether you’ll be riding trails, dual sport, motocross, hard enduro, casual, or a combination, then you can pick the best type of dirt bike based on your specific needs.

Choosing the right size bike

After choosing which type of dirt bike to buy, then you need to determine what size is best for you. This depends on your height and your skill level.

The closer you are to a “beginner”, the smaller dirt bike you want – both seat height and engine size. A smaller bike is easier to ride, which will make dirt biking more enjoyable and safer because you can control the bike without it looping out easily, which is very common for new riders – just look on youtube!

Nate Crash Uphill The Best Dirt Bike Based On Your Needs [2024 Guide]
Choosing the wrong bike will make riding harder and more dangerous to you & others!

Best Dirt Bike For Beginners (adults)

Starting on the right dirt bike is key to building your confidence and skill quickly. A beginner-friendly bike is easier to ride because the power is smooth and predictable. This will be a trail bike that’s most likely and air-cooled 4 stroke.

The best beginner dirt bikes are:

  • Kawasaki KLX140
  • Honda CRF250F
  • Honda CRF125FB
  • Kawasaki KLX230R
  • Beta 200RR
  • Kawasaki KLX140G

3 benefits to choosing the right first dirt bike as a beginner

They have a lower seat height so it’s easier to touch the ground and balance when you come to a stop. This builds your confidence because you don’t have to worry about falling over easily when learning how to ride.

A beginner trail dirt bike is also slower, which allows you to focus on having fun and learning how to stay in control, rather than the bike controlling you because the front wheel keeps coming up when you give it gas.

They’re also very reliable and are cheap and easy to maintain compared to a motocross or enduro bike. This saves you time and money as a new rider allowing you to have more fun because you’re spending more time riding than wrenching on your bike(s).
Once you choose the right bike to start on, then it’s time to learn proper riding technique to prevent big crashes.

Best Dirt Bikes For Kids

Looking for a dirt bike for your kid? There’s a lot of models to choose from, but it mainly comes down to size. You can use the chart in this article as a reference. 

The best dirt bikes for kids from smallest to biggest are:

Beginner bike for kids

There are plenty of youth dirt bikes available for kids ages 3-12 years old, as well as teenagers. Starting your kid or grandkid on the wrong bike is not only dangerous, but if they crash and get hurt right away, they probably won’t want to ride again!

So, depending on your height and experience level, these are the best beginner dirt bikes for kids:

  • Yamaha PW50
  • Honda CRF50F
  • Suzuki DRZ50
  • Yamaha TTR50E
  • Kawasaki KLX110
  • Honda CRF110F
  • Yamaha TTR110E
Yamaha PW50 is the best first dirt bike for little kids
The PW50 is the most popular “first dirt bike” for little kids

Best first dirt bike for teenager

Teenagers greatly vary in size, so the best dirt bike for your 13 year old may not fit your 17 year old. It also depends on the skill level. A motocross bike is not good to start out on. 

These are the top beginner bikes for teens 13 years of age and older:

2021 Kawasaki KLX230R The Best Dirt Bike Based On Your Needs [2024 Guide]
The new KLX230 is a great beginner bike for teens

Best dirt bike for girls

More and more girls have gotten into dirt biking, which is awesome! However, it’s important that you (or your female rider) start out on something that is short enough and easy to ride. 

The best dirt bikes for girls are:

  • KLX140L
  • KLX140G
  • TTR125LE
  • CRF125FB
  • KLX230R
  • Beta 200RR

What’s the best dirt bike for trail riding?

Answer these questions: How tall are you, what trails are you riding, and what’s your experience level? Then you will will narrow down your results so that choosing the perfect dirt bike is easy.

Overall, these are the best dirt bikes for trail riding:

  • Honda CRF250F
  • Yamaha WR250F
  • Honda CRF250RX
  • Yamaha WR450F
  • Beta 200RR
  • Yamaha YZ250X
  • KTM 250XCW
  • Husqvarna TE300
2007 KTM 250 EXC 2 stroke enduro bike for trail riding
An older KTM 250 enduro bike is great for trail riding

2 stroke vs 4 stroke for trail riding

This is and always will be a debate, but actually, it’s not even that big of a deal anymore…

Because 2 stroke trail bikes have gotten so good that they almost feel like a 4 stroke engine. They’re smooth and just about as easy to ride – some 4 strokes are harder to ride nowadays with their aggressive and snappy powercurve.

These are the biggest differences between a 2 stroke vs 4 stroke:

  • Engine design – simple vs complex
  • Handling feel – how heavy they feel while riding
  • Exhaust sound – “thump-thump” or “braap-braap”?
  • Mixing gas vs no mixing

Best 2-stroke for trail riding

There’s quite a few 2 strokes that are specifically designed for trail riding nowadays. So, you need to decide on a few factors. What’s your favorite color? What kind of trails are you doing? How aggressive are you riding? And how much power do you need?

Depending on your needs, these are the best 2 stroke dirt bikes for trail riding:

  • KTM 150XCW
  • Beta 200RR
  • Yamaha YZ250X
  • KTM 250XCW
  • Husqvarna TE300
2021 KTM 150 XCW TPI The Best Dirt Bike Based On Your Needs [2024 Guide]
The KTM 150 XCW is light and snappy for “fun” trail riding

Best 4 stroke for trail riding

Speaking of trail riding, there’s even more bike options when it comes to 4 stroke dirt bikes. From beginner bikes that are super easy to ride, all the way to mega-torque and horsepower for highly competitive racing bikes.

Again, depending on your needs, here’s the best 4 stroke dirt bikes for riding trails:

The reverse-style engine Yamaha WR250F 4-stroke enduro bike for trail riding
The WR250F is a good enduro bike for technical trail riding

What is the fastest trail dirt bike?

Any 300cc 2 stroke is the fastest for trail riding, although a 450 would be close. The reason why a 300 would typically be faster is because it’s lighter and better handling. This makes it easier to ride off-road, especially in hard enduro type trail riding or racing. 

The KTM 300 XC has been the top rated enduro trail bike for many years because of it’s power, handling, and reliability. But, like I said, all of the new 300’s are very good these days.

Best dirt bike for hard enduro

Outgrow your trail bike and need something with higher performance? Enduro bikes have gotten popular with hard enduro racing and type of riding growing in the last 10 years, but there are certain bikes that are better than others.

Hard enduro riding is a technical version of trail riding. It’s generally on single-track trails, but the terrain is often very rocky, full of logs/roots/ruts/obstacles, and usually has lots of elevation change with steep up and downhills.

Colorado Trip 2018 Edit 16 The Best Dirt Bike Based On Your Needs [2024 Guide]
KTM 250 leading the way up this rocky single-track trail

Lightweight, smooth but powerful engine, good brakes, and high tech suspension are what you want. 2 strokes generally work better because they’re more resistant to stalling and overheating at slow speeds, which is often what hard enduro riding is.

The best dirt bikes for hard enduro are:

  • KTM 250XCW
  • Sherco 300 SE Factory
  • KTM 300XCW
  • Husqvarna TE300
  • Beta 300 RR

What is a cross-country dirt bike?

A cross-country dirt bike is either an enduro bike or adventure bike for long-distance trail or road riding. There’s actually no category or type of dirt bike that’s called “cross country”, but you can choose one of the two types I just listed based on your specific needs. 

For example, if you’re just trail riding or racing out in the country, mountains, or desert, then you want an enduro dirt bike (a trail bike is the beginner version). 

For long distance adventure riding that includes road, gravel, and easy trails, you’ll want a dual sport.

Best dirt bike for trail & track riding

Want to do a mixture of motocross and trail riding but can’t afford or keep two bikes? There didn’t used to be many good bikes that could do both well, but today there are some options if you can compromise certain characteristics.

For example, you can’t have good suspension for jumping and riding fast and still be plush and comfortable on slow and technical trails. So, you compromise and get something in the middle. That’s where the latest enduro bikes come in.

These are the best dirt bikes for trail and track riding:

  • Yamaha YZ125X (2 stroke)
  • KTM 150 XC (2 stroke)
  • Yamaha YZ250FX (4 stroke)
  • Honda CRF250RX (4 stroke)
  • Kawasaki KX250X (4 stroke)
  • Yamaha YZ250X (2 stroke)
  • KTM 250 XC (2 stroke)
  • KTM 350XCF (4 stroke)
  • Yamaha YZ450FX (4 stroke)
Yamaha YZ250X 2 stroke enduro bike for hardcore trail riding
Yamaha finally got into the enduro scene with their YZ250X

The best motocross bike for you

Looking for the best motocross bike? As of today, it’s hard to go wrong with any brand. As long as you properly maintain it, they’re all going to be pretty reliable.

With that said, these bikes have been known to be some of the best overall motocross bikes:

  • Yamaha YZ250F
  • KTM 350SXF
  • Honda CRF450R
  • KTM 450SXF
The Yamaha YZ250F is the best dirt bike for 250cc motocross racing
The wildly popular YZ250F with reverse-style engine

Best 125cc 2 stroke for MX

2 strokes are still alive and kicking, even in the motocross scene. Although Yamaha is the only Japanese brand selling new 125cc 2 stroke dirt bikes, they’re not the only one.

The best 125cc 2 stroke dirt bikes now are:

  • KTM 125SX
  • Husqvarna TC 125
  • Yamaha YZ125

The KTM is better in basically every category except suspension. But even the suspension has gotten pretty good over the last decade of improvements.

The YZ125 is the best dirt bike to start racing motocross
2006 YZ125; Yamaha set the standard for 125 2-strokes in ’06.

What’s the “Best dirt bike of all time”?

If I were to choose one dirt bike that is better than the rest, what would I choose?
Honestly, I’d have to ask a question before I give an answer…

What kind of riding will it be used for?
It’s hard to determine what is the best “all-around” dirt bike because there’s no “perfect bike” that is great at every type of riding.

With that said, if I had to choose one dirt bike for the rest of my life to do every kind of dirt bike riding, I would be hard pressed not to pick the Yamaha WR450F as the best dirt bike of all time.

2008 WR450F 1 The Best Dirt Bike Based On Your Needs [2024 Guide]
An old ’08 WR450F. Tried and true.

It’s changed somewhat over the years, but it’s always been an amazing package that is super reliable. I also would put the 2012+ KTM 500 right there with it because it’s even more powerful, handles well for such a big bike, and is just about as reliable.

Best all around dirt bike

As I mentioned earlier, there’s no “perfect dirt bike” for every type of riding or person. That’s why there are different models and aftermarket parts to modify your bike. 

With that said, depending on the types of riding you’ll be doing, these are the best all around dirt bikes:

  • KTM 500 EXC-F: street and dirt
  • Yamaha WR450F: all-around off-road 
  • Yamaha YZ250FX: track and trail

The 500cc KTM “Do-it-all” dirt bike?

The KTM 500 has been hard to beat since 2012 because it handles well for 500cc, has plenty of predictable power, and you can ride on the road and on the trails with confidence. The biggest factor will usually be the tires that you’re using. The stock tires are decent for street riding, but not good for trail riding. 

2020 KTM 500 EXC F The Best Dirt Bike Based On Your Needs [2024 Guide]

Yamaha 450 Enduro

Yamaha’s WR450F would be right next to the KTM 500 because it’s such a solid off-road motorcycle. The one major thing holding it back is that it’s not street legal – at least not in the United States of America. 

It’s still an amazing dirt bike that can ride well on all sorts of terrain because the engine, suspension and handling are so good. 

2022 Yamaha WR450F The Best Dirt Bike Based On Your Needs [2024 Guide]

Yamaha 250 for track & trail

Just want a lightweight 250 enduro that can handle the MX track and trails without changing your set-up? The YZ250FX is the best all-around dirt bike for track and trail riding with the best 250F engine and suspension. 

2023 Yamaha YZ250FX The Best Dirt Bike Based On Your Needs [2024 Guide]

Best Dirt Bike For Short Rider

Whether you’re just starting out or just want a bike that is short enough to touch the ground with your feet on, there’s smaller bikes available. 

The best full size dirt bikes for a short rider are:

  • Kawasaki KLX140L/G
  • Kawasaki KLX230R
  • Honda CRF250F
  • Beta 200RR
  • Beta XTrainer 300
2017 Beta XTrainer 300 The Best Dirt Bike Based On Your Needs [2024 Guide]
The Beta XTrainer 300 is a great enduro bike option if you’re short like me!

Best dirt bike For big & tall rider

Most full size dirt bikes are pretty close to the same height. The best thing you can do to make a dirt bike feel bigger is by opening up the cockpit. Simple adjustments and mods can be done to any bike. 

If you’re a larger rider that weighs more, you’ll want some extra torque and horsepower to make up for it.
These are the best if you’re big and heavier: 

  • Yamaha YZ450F (motocross bike)
  • Honda CRF450RX (enduro bike)
  • Yamaha WR450F (trail bike)
  • KTM 500 EXC-F (dual sport/trail bike)

Best trail motorcycle for older riders

Maybe you’re just an old timer that just wants to enjoy the ride and see the country, whether it be alone or with your family. As you get older, your bones and muscles slow down and don’t heal as quickly.

Therefore, older riders generally prefer a dirt bike that is easier to ride. In that case, a trail bike is your best choice because they’re comfortable, reliable, and easier to handle off-road – especially if you just a casual rider or want to ride slow. 

Depending on your size and preferences, these are the best dirt bikes if you’re an older rider:

  • Kawasaki KLX140G
  • Honda CRF250F
  • Kawasaki KLX230R
  • Kawasaki KLX300R
  • Beta 300 Xtrainer
2003 KLX300R 5 The Best Dirt Bike Based On Your Needs [2024 Guide]
The carbureted KLX300R is a great “putt-putt” trail bike with a slightly lower seat height

Top bikes for Casual & Fun riding

Whether you’re a beginner or just want another play bike to mess around with, you probably want something fun and reliable so that you can ride more and work on it less. 

These are the best dirt bikes for casual & fun riding and why:

  • Kawasaki KLX 110 – small dirt bike for kids, teens and short adults 
  • Yamaha TTR 125 – Midsize trail bike for teens, females and smaller adults
  • Yamaha YZ 125 – MX bike for experienced riders
  • Honda CRF250F – Adult trail bike 
  • Beta XTrainer 300

For farm or utility work, or hunting

Riding dirt bikes isn’t just for fun – maybe you need one to get around on your farm, do some utility work, or get back into some hunting land. In any case, you need something easy to ride, durable, and reliable. 

These are the top dirt bikes for farm work, utility, and hunting:

  • Honda CRF110F – EFI (2019+), no clutch
  • Yamaha TTR230 – simple, reliable
  • Kawasaki KLX230R – EFI, easy to ride
  • Honda CRF250F – EFI, durable, reliable

What’s the best dirt bike brand?

Over the last 40 years there’s been a number of dirt bike brands that have come and gone or have transferred ownership. A lot has changed between who offers the best dirt bikes and types of bikes. KTM and Yamaha are at the top of my list because they strive to make bikes that we, the consumer, want to buy and ride.

In my opinion, as of today, these are the best dirt bike brands ranked in order:

  1. KTM
  2. Yamaha
  3. Honda
  4. Husqvarna
  5. Kawasaki
  6. Beta
  7. GasGas
  8. Sherco
  9. Suzuki

How to become a better & safer off-road rider

Alright, so you should know what dirt bike is best for you to start on, but now it’s time to learn how to ride it so that you have fun without crashing hard. How do you do that though?

It’s starts with the fundamentals of off-road riding techniques. To get started with proper riding techniques to quickly improve your control and confidence tap here.