Top 5 Tips For Dirt Biking On A Budget New or Beginner Riders

Want to ride dirt bikes for as cheap as possible? You’ve come to the right place, because this article covers all the best tips for keeping your favorite hobby of dirt biking as cheap as possible.

Having fun these days can be quite the expense, especially if your hobbies include motorsports. Even though dirt biking isn’t nearly as expensive as road racing or aviation, it is still a “luxury” recreation that requires a fair amount of spending money to enjoy it. In this post we’ll cover 5 ways you can going dirt biking on a budget.

New dirt bikes have surpassed the 10k dollar mark here in the states, parts aren’t getting cheaper, and there’s so many different items of gear available to choose from that can add up quickly. Throw in the cost of maintaining a high-strung race machine, whether you do it yourself or pay someone to do it for you, your wallet (or bank account) can get thin in a hurry. That is, of course, unless you do a little research, and spend your hard-earned money wisely.

Buy Used

The difference between buying a used dirt bike and a new one can be thousands of dollars. That money could be used to buy some proper gear, tools, gas, oil, new tires, or simply saved for later use. Everyone knows that any new vehicle depreciates in value the instant it leaves the dealership with a new owner. If you’re not too keen on owning a 10-20 year old bike that has potential for more problems, buying a 1-2 year old bike can still save you hundreds, if not much more over retail while still being close to new in condition and model year.

Buying A Used Honda CRF230F
Bought a used CRF230F in good shape. These are great trail bikes.

However, depending on how the first owner maintained or didn’t maintain the bike and how many hours it has, 2 years could look like 10 years of use and you’ll have to put a lot of money back into the bike just to get it into good running and reliable condition.

That is why it’s important to buy a dirt bike that is known for it’s reliability and durability if you put on a lot of miles out in the wilderness, but more on that later… Searching for and buying a used bike can be quite the hassle. Not knowing the complete history of a specific bike is like jumping into the unknown. But it really isn’t that difficult to determine the general condition of a used bike. If you go through these things to look for when looking at a used dirt bike, you can get a much better idea on how much money it will take to get it up to par, or whether it will need a complete rebuild and restoration.

Now, I know that if no one buys new bikes then there will be no used bikes for sale in the future. I’m not against buying new bikes; if you have the money. Brand new motorcycles with zero hours are a wonderful thing. You have a clean slate and you will always know the history of it and there (shouldn’t) be any problems when go to pick it up. With that said, the whole purpose of this post is to help those that either want to get started in this awesome hobby, or are trying to figure out ways to make it more affordable. With that said, let’s move on.

Buy Reliable

Now this section can open a can of worms for some people because of their loyalty to certain brands or you may have heard from a friend’s cousin’s wife’s best friend’s dog that so and so has this bike and has had nothing but problems, therefore that bike is junk. Not all bikes are created equal, and there are a number of different categories of dirt bikes to choose from.

The type of riding you do the most of should determine what category of bike to buy. These categories include: motocross, enduro, trail, dual sport, supermoto, and trials bikes. Buying a high performance dirt bike that requires frequent maintenance is not a good choice if it’s your first bike and you want to start out cheap.

Motocross Bikes

Motocross bikes are generally the most high performance and fastest dirt bikes available. They also come with the stiffest suspension to soak up big jumps and landings, and usually have the least amount of options from the factory because they are built for one purpose: racing on a motocross track.

While mx racing can be extremely fun, it’s best to get some off-road riding experience and learn the basics of what it takes to efficiently ride a dirt bike before hopping on a track with intimidating obstacles and other competitive riders.

Used YZ125 motocross bike
Bought this YZ125 as a box of scraps and it turned out to be a fun mx bike.

Enduro Bikes

Next we have the Enduro type of bike. This category is somewhat controversial because back in the 60s and 70s an enduro bike was basically just a (generally) smaller motorcycle that had dirt knobby tires so you could go from riding on the highway to playing in the dirt or hitting an off-road trail on the way home. What I consider an enduro bike in the year 2020 to be is a dirt bike that’s meant for riding that is similar to an enduro or hard enduro type competition. These are more of a cross-breed between a motocross bike and trail bike.

They have a modern chassis, suspension, engine, and handling, but the suspension valving is set-up a little softer for riding and racing on trails. The engine is tuned a little different than an mx bike to smooth out the power and make it more rideable, as well as having a slightly different transmission gearing ratio to make each gear more wider and usable so you don’t have to be constantly shifting gears.

Enduro bikes may still be high-performance, but the way that they are tuned makes them more reliable as a general rule. However, if you ride it like a motocross bike at high RPM and abuse it, then its reliability and longevity will greatly decrease.

Trail Bikes

Trail Bikes are the next transition down from enduro bikes in that they are meant for trail and play riding and might have some similar technology, but they have key traits that make them a lower performance dirt bike, which often equates to higher reliability.

You can buy buy them with liquid-cooled or air-cooled engine platforms, and the suspension is usually older technology compared to the newest mx and enduro bikes. The spring rates and valving are much softer to accommodate beginner riders that want a comfortable ride and slower speeds.

I personally like simple and reliable bikes because when I’m miles away from my vehicle or camp on a trail or in a mountain valley, I don’t want to have to deal with a finicky and unreliable dirt bike. That totally sucks the fun out of riding.

You Don’t Need The Latest Technology

Air-cooled four-stroke engines are used in the simplest trail bikes because they provide enough power to have fun, are the most reliable, easiest to maintain, and are the cheapest to make. I really like my bikes that have outdated air-cooled engines because they are so easy to ride and are fun to modify!

While the remaining categories of off-road capable motorcycles dual-sport, supermoto, and trials bikes are very popular among enthusiast groups, we won’t go into depth of comparing them because we don’t foresee most visitors to this website using them as much as the other bikes.

However, if you feel that there should be content written about these other kinds of dirt bikes, feel free to email or send us a message on facebook by clicking on the social media link on this page.

Getting an awesome view of Pikes Peak on our “outdated” trail bikes

Buy Similar Bikes For Family

Yeah, you might look like “that family” when you roll up to the track or trails with the all the same or similar bikes just differing in size. But, we’re here to figure out how to be efficient with our money when it comes to dirt biking, and having a fleet of all Honda’s or all Kawasaki’s (just as an example) will not only help keep overall costs down, but working on the bikes will be a lot easier since the bikes will have a similar layout than mixing and matching brands.

With that said, owning multiple color (brand) bikes can still be done efficiently. If more than one person in the family is racing and happens to be in the same size class, owning two 250 four-stroke (or both two-stroke) bikes that are close in year gives you a better chance of more tools working properly on both when you have to wrench on them.

Wait For Closeouts

Buying the latest in gear and parts (bling or upgrading a part) may be a great way to look good and show off to your riding buddies, but the early bird pays for (literally) it in this case. When something new comes out, you can expect to pay full or near full retail prices.

If you just wait a few months, prices generally start to come down. But if you want to save even more money, look into buying the previous year’s gear. Jersey’s, pants, helmets, and more can be had for a fraction of retail prices if you buy closeouts from previous years that are still new on the shelf!

The same goes for buying tools and any kind of equipment. If I see a tool I know I will need to do suspension work in the future, a closeout deal on tie-down straps, or a great discount on 2-stroke oil, I really like snatching them up and setting them aside in a place where I know I won’t forgot them…

DIY Preventative Maintenance

Whether it’s a lawn mower, a daily driven car, or your precious dirt bike, they will all need maintenance done to them eventually. Some need more than others, which is another reason to choose a reliable bike, but a machine will only last so long before it needs the oil changed, chain adjusted, tires replaced, etc.

Paying a mechanic vs. Being your own mechanic

Paying a mechanic versus fixing/maintaining your own dirt bike can make it break your budget. I am definitely not against mechanics and their desire to fix things for a career choice. Once again, this is just another category to potentially keep a lot of money in your pocket if you are willing to spend some time and learn the ins-and-outs of your dirt bike(s).

Buying and reading an OEM service manual (if the bike didn’t come with one) is one of the best things you can do to learn how to work on your bike. They have detailed info, pictures, and tips for maintaining, repairing, inspect, and tuning your specific dirt bike.

Keeping your bike in good, reliable condition will potentially save you a lot of hard earned ‘dough’ in the long run, as well as keeping you and your family out on the trail or track without unexpected breakdowns.

This article is too long or I forgot what I read…

  • Buying a used dirt bike can save you thousands over new, but you must do your research and know what to look for in a bike.
  • A reliable bike is a cheaper bike in the long run. Again, doing your research and knowing what bike that suits you is important.
  • Getting the same/similar model or brand bikes for the whole family makes working on them easier and cheaper.
  • Buy closeout/new-old-stock gear and equipment whenever possible.
  • Learn how to maintain your own bike(s) versus paying a mechanic.

So, you have a plan to finally get into (or back into) dirt biking because you have the knowledge to do it for as cheap as possible. Now it’s time to go look for a used dirt bike to get some adrenaline pumping! But don’t forget to look at this list of 25 things you must look for when buying a used dirt bike so that you don’t end up with a lemon!

  1. Coolant – Pop the radiator cap off and check the coolant level. It should be at or near the top. If it’s low then the engine may have overheated and spit some coolant out the overflow tube.
  2. Radiators – After you look at the coolant, take a closer look at the radiators. Are they smashed or bent? How do the fins look? If it looks like it’s been poorly repaired or patched up, you can count on needing a new one, which can be expensive, depending on what you get.

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