Looking for the best Yamaha dirt bikes but not sure where to start when it comes to the right type and size of off-road motorcycle? Whether you’re looking for your first dirt bike or upgrading to a better model, you’re in the right place!
In this article, you’re going to learn how to choose the right type and size of dirt bike, what dirt bike models Yamaha makes (new & used), and how to pick the best dirt bike from Yamaha based on your specific needs and budget so that you save time and money!
Are Yamaha dirt bikes good?
In comparison to other dirt bike brands, Yamaha makes some of the best off-road motorcycles in the world. Although not every model is the best in its class, Yamaha is consistently known for making dirt bikes with great overall performance and reliability at a competitive price since the 90s.
I’ve owned over a dozen Yamaha dirt bikes throughout the years, so I’m not just spewing random information out on you.
How to pick the right dirt bike for you
Picking a dirt bike to start on can be fun but also intimidating because you might not know enough info on what types of dirt bikes are best for you. If you’re a beginner, then I’m glad you’re here, and I want to help you out so that you don’t get started dirt biking on the wrong bike.
- Trail bikes
- Enduro bikes
- Motocross bikes
- Dual Sport bikes (street legal dirt bike)
The biggest mistake I see new riders make is choosing a dirt bike that’s too big and powerful, whether it’s because they didn’t know any better, or their friend recommended it.
Don’t worry about “out growing” a beginner bike too quickly, especially if safety is a big concern. It’s much easier to learn proper riding technique and build your skill on a ‘slower’ and lower dirt bike rather than trying to control the ‘manly’ horsepower of a 300 or 450 enduro bike.
What’s the right size dirt bike for your height?
As a beginner, it’s best to start on a dirt bike that has a lower seat height, especially if you are a short rider like me. Being able to touch the ground will greatly boost your confidence as you’re learning to ride off-road.
Here’s a size chart that you can use as a guideline, but your inseam will make a difference as well.
|3-6 years old||18-21 inch (45-53cm)|
|6-8 years old||21-24 inch (53-61cm)|
|9-10 years old||24-27 inch (61-68.5cm)|
|4’10”-5’0″ (147-152cm)||27-30 inch (68.5-76cm)|
|5’0″-5’2″ (152-157.5cm)||29-31 inch (73.5-79cm)|
|5’2″-5’4″ (157.5-162.5cm)||30-33 inch (76-84cm)|
|5’4″-5’6″ (162.5-168cm)||33-35 inch (84-89cm)|
|5’6″-5’8″ (168-173cm)||34-36 inch (86-91.5cm)|
|5’8″-5’11” (173-180cm)||35-38 inch (89-96.5cm)|
|6’0″+ (183+cm)||37+ inch (94+cm)|
Yamaha trail bikes for beginners
Trail motorcycles are not only for beginners, but they’re great for casual trail riding or just putting around the farm. They’re super reliable, durable, easy to maintain, and just plain practical for teaching friends and family how to ride.
These are the current Yamaha trail bikes for kids and adults:
Yamaha 50cc Peewee Trail Bike
Why is this peewee 50 dirt bike so popular? Because it’s the smallest, lightest and easiest dirt bike to ride from one of the best quality motorcycle companies out there. It’s a good size bike for most 3-6 year olds.
50cc 4-Stroke Kids Dirt Bike
Need something a little taller for your son or daughter, or just want a 4 stroke with a semi-automatic transmission? The TTR 50 is the next best choice because it’s easy to ride, and the electric start gets rid of possible kickstart frustrations. It’s a great dirt bike for 5-7 year olds depending on how tall they are.
110cc Kids Trail Bike & Adult Pit Bike
The ‘pit bike’ model from Yamaha is their biggest dirt bike without a clutch, so that’s the biggest selling point. If your kid outgrew the 50, but isn’t ready for a dirt bike with a clutch, then the TTR110 is your best choice.
It has electric start, a 4 speed transmission, and it’s very easy to ride. The engine is smooth, quiet, and reliable, just like all of the Yamaha TTR models.
125cc 4-Stroke Dirt Bike
The only current model is the large wheel with electric start. There’s plenty of mods available as well if you plan to ride it for many years to come.
230cc Adult Off-Road Trail Motorcycle
The top full size dirt bike for beginners from Yamaha is the TTR230. It has a low seat height compared to a typical full size enduro bike, which is one of the reasons why it’s much easier to start riding off-road with.
With electric start and a smooth power curve, making it predictable and very forgiving.
Yamaha Motocross Bikes for racing
Yamaha has been making great motocross bikes since the 1990s (prior to that they were good, but not considered great). They’re the only Japanese dirt bike brand that still makes a 2 stroke dirt bike, and they’ve actually made some updates to them recently!
These are the new 2 stroke Yamaha motocross bikes:
Yamaha has been non-existent in the 65cc motocross bike class for kids since the early 80s – that is until they started making the YZ65 in 2018, which is great for kids ages 7-11 that are ready to start racing motocross.
It’s a good combination of performance, reliability, and affordability compared to the other brands. This is a race bike, so I do NOT recommend it if you’re a beginner (for your kid or grandkid).
The power is snappy, making it harder to control, especially since you have to learn how to use the clutch. The suspension is stiffer compared to a trail bike, so it won’t be as comfortable if you’re trail riding at slow speeds.
YZ85 (Small Wheel)
The next step up for MX racing is the YZ85 for 9-15 year olds. It’s the small wheel 85cc 2-stroke motocross bike for bigger kids and teens that have outgrown a 65cc MX bike.
The YZ 85 was essentially the same bike from 2002 until 2019 when Yamaha finally updated the engine with a new power valve. The engine got more power overall with smoother low-end torque, making it easier to ride because it’s less “snappy” when accelerating.
YZ85LW (Big Wheel)
Based on the same engine and chassis as the small wheel YZ85, the YZ85LW is the big wheel model built for taller teens for the supermini class in MX racing. The large wheel model has bigger wheels and a taller seat height with a slightly longer wheelbase.
The seat height is 1.7” taller on the YZ85LW and the wheelbase is 1.2” longer. Those specs, as well as the 19/16” wheels and tires vs the 17/14” on the small wheel, make the big wheel model more stable over bigger obstacles and rougher terrain – especially if you’re taller or have long legs.
The YZ125 has been rated one of the best 125cc 2-stroke motocross bikes since the late 90s due to its overall performance, suspension, handling, and reliability. It was virtually the same bike from 2006 on, until Yamaha finally made some updates for the 2022 model, including a revised engine with better overall power.
This is a perfect transitional bike jumping up from an 85cc before your kid jumps onto a 250F. It’s lighter and quite a bit easier to control than a modern YZ250F, and maintenance is also much easier with a simpler engine.
Moving up to the 250cc MX bike class, the YZ250 is also well known for its overall performance and reliability. Much like the 125, the YZ 250 hasn’t changed much since 2006, but it’s still competitive in amateur racing.If you’re an experienced 2-stroke rider, you can beat up on the 250F’s because it’s legal to race at most tracks in the 250cc class.
Here’s the 4 stroke Yamaha motocross bikes:
The YZ250F has always been one of the best 250F MX bikes you can buy. It has great torque and good horsepower with great suspension, and handling, and is usually very reliable if you do regular maintenance.
It’s changed quite a few times since it was first made in 2001, but the biggest changes were in 2006 with the aluminum frame and in 2014 with the reverse-style engine and EFI, which gave it class-leading power and great handling.
The YZ450F is another top motocross bike that’s gotten really good in the last 5 years. Yamaha has updated the YZ450F every few years, and with the power tuner app you can adjust the power from your phone (which works for the 250F as well) by altering the fueling and timing.
The Yamaha 450F is not to be messed around with because it’s the biggest Yamaha dirt bike when it comes to size and power – I highly recommend staying away from this model unless you’re an expert-level racer.
A common mistake that beginners or novice-level riders make is buying a 450. They end up losing control within the first few rides and realize it’s way too much bike for them to handle and then they end up selling it and losing money.
Yamaha Enduro Bikes
Once you have enough skill and confidence, you’ll probably want to upgrade to a dirt bike with more power and better suspension to start with. With more power you not only have more potential to ride faster, but you can ride more challenging trails more easily.
But, with more speed and power, you also have a greater risk of getting hurt because it’s easier to get out of control. That’s why it’s even more important to learn and master all the basic techniques.
Here are the 2-stroke Yamaha enduro bikes:
Based on the YZ125 MX bike, the YZ125X is their version of the 125cc 2-stroke enduro bike for off-road racing and aggressive trail riding. The power is a little smoother with better low-end compared to the motocross version, so it’s easier to control on narrow or technical trails with challenging obstacles.
I wouldn’t recommend it as a beginner trail bike, but it’s a great transition to a full-size enduro bike for teens, or if you’re an adult that wants a lightweight enduro bike that will help improve your technique. The 125X model has a kickstand, noticeably softer suspension, and a smoother power curve compared to the YZ125.
The YZ250X is also based on the YZ250 motocross bike. Not to be confused with the 250FX, the 250X is the 2-stroke enduro model.
It’s comparable to the KTM 250 XC enduro bike because it’s setup for aggressive trail riding and off-road racing. Compared to the YZ250, the 250X has slightly softer suspension, a smoother power curve, and a kickstand which are the biggest differences.
No E-start or 300 options?
The biggest complaint from owners and Yamaha enthusiasts is that they haven’t added an electric start option to the 250X or offered a 300cc 2-stroke version. Many people think they would sell very well, but Yamaha isn’t very quick to make big changes to the off-road motorcycle lineup.
Here are the 4-stroke Yamaha enduro motorcycles:
It’s been around since 2001, but the WR250F has been updated several times for higher performance. It takes after the YZ250F motocross bike, but the updates come later, and it’s detuned to be more comfortable for trail riding.
It has smoother power, a wide ratio transmission, lights, a kickstand, and softer suspension for a fun and fast trail bike.
Planning on racing or just want a really fun 250 4 stroke enduro bike for aggressive riding? The YZ250FX is even closer to the 250F MX bike than the WR with snappy power, slightly stiffer suspension, less weight, and a close ratio transmission.
It’s one of the best dirt bikes of all time. Yamaha’s WR450F has set the standard for performance combined with reliability. The whole bike has changed several times since 1999 as the WR400, but it’s always been versatile and practical.
I have trail ridden a WR450F as well as ridden one for years on the street with a supermoto kit. It makes good, usable power.
The ultimate 450 enduro bike is the YZ450FX. If you want a 450 dirt bike for track and trail riding, this is it. The power is similar to the YZ450F MX bike but it’s noticeably smoother to give you better tration and control riding off-road.
The suspension is just soft enough for some fun trail riding while being stiffer than the WR model for aggressive riding or racing at higher speeds. The 450FX also get a kickstand and a wider ratio transmission compared to the 450F model.
Yamaha Dual Sport Bikes
For the best beginner street legal dirt bike, look no further than the Yamaha TW200. With an ultra-low seat height and a very forgiving power curve, it’s the perfect first dual sport bike for adults.
With the wider tires, it’s well suited for off-road riding. I wouldn’t recommend it for adventure riding or putting a lot of highway miles on.
It’s not a huge upgrade in performance, but the XT250 is a little bit bigger and has better handling with the narrower wheels. With an electric start, this is a great dual sport bike for town and light adventure riding from Yamaha.
All of the current Yamaha dirt bikes
Here’s a list of all the new Yamaha dirt bike models according to their website:
|Yamaha Dirt Bike Model||Type of Dirt Bike|
|PW50||2-Stroke Trail Bike|
|TTR50E||4-Stroke Trail Bike|
|YZ65||2-Stroke MX Bike|
|YZ85 (Small Wheel)||2-Stroke MX Bike|
|YZ85LW (Big Wheel)||2-Stroke MX Bike|
|TTR110E||4-Stroke Trail Bike|
|TTR125LE||4-Stroke Trail Bike|
|YZ125||2-Stroke MX Bike|
|YZ125X||2-Stroke Enduro Bike|
|TW200||4-Stroke Dual Sport Bike|
|TTR230||4-Stroke Trail Bike|
|XT250||4-Stroke Dual Sport Bike|
|YZ250F||4-Stroke MX Bike|
|WR250F||4-Stroke Enduro Bike|
|YZ250FX||4-Stroke Enduro Bike|
|YZ250||2-Stroke MX Bike|
|YZ250X||2-Stroke Enduro Bike|
|WR450F||4-Stroke Enduro Bike|
|YZ450F||4-Stroke MX Bike|
|YZ450FX||4-Stroke Enduro Bike|
Best Yamaha dirt bike
The best Yamaha dirt bike for YOU depends on what kind of riding you’ll be doing, your size, as well as your preferences.
For example, the TTR230 and YZ250X are both great off-road bikes for trail riding, but if you’re just a casual trail rider that wants to cruise around on a comfortable trail bike at slower speeds then the TTR is a much better choice because of how it’s set up.
This list is simple – if you’re looking for your first dirt bike or you’re just getting back into riding after a long break, then you’ll want something that’s easy to ride, requires the least amount of maintenance, and is super reliable and affordable.
Best Yamaha kids dirt bikes for beginners:
Best Yamaha dirt bikes for adults that are beginners:
For trail riding
First, you need to determine your experience level, and then choose if you want a 2 stroke or 4 stroke dirt bike for trail riding.
Best Yamaha 2 for trail riding:
Best Yamaha 4 stroke for trail riding:
Best cheap used Yamaha dirt bikes
Looking for your first dirt bike but don’t have the budget for a new model. These are your best options for a cheap used Yamaha dirt bike:
- TTR125 – there’s 4 model options and they can be found relatively cheap since they’ve been around since 2000.
- TTR225 – this was the previous model to the TTR230. It looks a little older and the ergonomics are different, but it’s the same engine and platform.
- TTR250 – bigger and more powerful than the 225, it’s a great beginner bike if you’re a taller rider.
Best Used Yamaha Dirt Bikes That Have Been Discontinued
There have been a number of Yamaha dirt bikes discontinued over the years, but that doesn’t mean they’re “bad dirt bikes”.
These are the top used Yamaha dirt bike models that aren’t made anymore:
- TTR90 – kids trail bike
- TTR125/L/E – midsize trail bike models (Yamaha only makes the “LE” model now)
- TT225 – full-size trail bike
- TTR225 – full-size trail bike
- TTR250 – full-size trail bike
- WR250R – Dual sport bike
- WR250X – Supermoto (street legal dirt bike with street wheels & tires)
Learn to become a better & safer rider
Starting on the right dirt bike is important if you want to quickly increase your skill because a bike that’s too powerful will be hard to control and learn on as a beginner.
If you want to stay safe on a dirt bike, then you need to learn proper off-road riding techniques. I want to show you how with my free training, so tap here to get started.