In this review, I’ll show you what kind of dirt bike the PW 50 is, why it may or may not be the perfect bike for you, and how it compares to other similar motorcycles.
What is the Yamaha PW50?
It’s a 50cc Yamaha dirt bike that has an air-cooled 2-stroke engine with a 1-speed transmission and a shaft drive. But what does that mean for you?
What does “PW” mean?
It’s the name Yamaha uses for their little kid’s dirt bikes, and although it isn’t used much today, PW stands for “Peewee” – it was also nicknamed the “YZinger”. It basically means it’s a tiny dirt bike because the seat height is really low.
Who’s it for?
The Yamaha PW50 is a great dirt bike for little kids that are ready for their ‘first gas dirt bike’. Since it’s the lightest and smallest youth model available, it’s usually the first and most popular beginner bike for 2-6 year-old age range, depending on your height.
If you’re not ready for your child or toddler to get on a gas dirt bike, then I recommend starting them on an electric balance bike, which is much lighter and easier to handle. They’ll be able to practice their balance skills, as well as throttle control, which will make transitioning to riding a dirt bike much easier.
Engine – what to expect
The 50cc air-cooled PW engine is simple, lightweight, and very smooth. This makes it easy to ride, maintain, and rebuild if needed – but that won’t be necessary if you properly maintain it.
It doesn’t have a lot of power, but that’s not important when you’re a beginner. What’s important is having a smooth power curve that’s easy to control.
Control the power & speed for safety
Not only is the PW50 easy to control, but you can adjust the throttle to limit how much power it makes and how fast it goes. This is a really nice feature if your son or daughter (or grandkid) is new to dirt biking.
Think about it… You just bought them their first dirt bike and they want to ride it right away, but you only have a small yard. To help control their speed to prevent hitting a tree, the fence, or your car, limiting the throttle greatly reduces those odds – especially if you point them away from everything!
Maybe you’re in a noise-conscience area where having a loud dirt bike would be an issue. No worries – as long as you keep the stock exhaust on and intact!
The stock PW50 pipe and silencer might not make the most power (it’s not a race bike anyway), but they’re extremely quiet for a gas dirt bike so you shouldn’t bother your neighbors if you have some close by.
With a whopping 2 horsepower, the PW50 gets the job done as long as you or your kid isn’t too big for the bike. With a lightweight bike and rider, you don’t need much power to have fun and ride off-road.
Besides, if you need more power, you’re probably ready for a bigger bike. The PW50 tires and suspension can’t handle riding fast on rough terrain anyway.
With an estimated max speed of 26 MPH, that’s more than fast enough to have fun on such a small Yamaha dirt bike. Going back to the throttle limiter – you can reduce this top speed by 5-10 MPH when you adjust it.
The stock suspension is nothing special – there are less than 2.5 inches of travel front and rear. This is to lower the seat height, but it’s not a big deal for first-time riders.
Ideally, it’s made for 40-60 pound riders, but there’s no technical weight limit. You’ll just bottom out the suspension if you’re much heavier or are jumping with it.
The stock forks are simple and reliable. They’re soft enough for little kids, but since there isn’t much travel, they’re a little bouncy. There are no external adjustments, which is fine if you just want to ride and not work on anything.
The stock rear suspension has dual rear shocks, which is not common on new dirt bikes today. Why doesn’t Yamaha update it? Because it works and saves them and your money but not investing in developing a new dirt bike.
With a short wheelbase, low seat height, and lightweight setup, it’s the best-handling gas dirt bike at low speeds and tight areas. It can lean and turn easily, making it perfect for learning how to ride a dirt bike.
It’s not very stable at higher speeds or on rough terrain, but that’s not what this off-road motorcycle is made for. Picking it up is easy for most kids because it’s light and very close to the ground.
While that weight doesn’t make as much difference when actually riding, it’s less exhausting and easier to pick up if your little guy or girl tips over – not much is more frustrating than falling and not being able to pick up your own dirt bike!
PW50 Seat height – what size rider is it for?
With an 18.7-inch tall seat height, the Yamaha PW50 is the shortest dirt bike with the lowest seat height. It’s about 3 inches lower than the CRF50 and TTR50 4-stroke dirt bikes, which is a big difference!
The low seat height will make a bigger difference than weight for your kid because it’s easier to handle. When you can touch the ground with a foot more easily, that builds your confidence quicker because you can relax and focus on practicing the proper techniques.
Model year history & changes
The Yamaha PW 50 was first made in 1981 in North America, and since then it hasn’t changed that much! Yes, even after 40+ years, there haven’t been any major changes.
The plastics, colors, and graphics have been updated over the years, but this model has largely stayed the same. That’s great for you because it doesn’t matter what year you get because an older year is just as good as a newer year if it’s in good shape. Parts are also affordable and easy to find.
Reliability – how long will it last?
A stock PW50 is very reliable if you’re using it for what it’s meant for and properly maintaining it. This means using it as a little kids’ dirt bike and using proper gas, oil, and doing preventative maintenance.
When you start jumping it or put a heavier rider on it, the frame and engine get abused and can bend or break, causing major issues. Using fresh gas and proper 2-stroke oil will keep it running well, along with changing the oil and air filter when they get dirty.
Any common problems?
The PW50 hasn’t had any major common issues – that’s why it’s basically stayed the same for so many decades. However, if you’re abusing it, not running the right gas and oil, and not riding or maintaining it enough, it will start having problems.
Letting it sit too long will cause the carb to get dirty and not start. It can also cause the oil-injection system to gum up and stop working – it’s a good idea to regularly check if it’s working or the engine will seize from lack of oil.
Pro Tip for the oil-injection system: Some owners get frustrated when the oil-injection stops working, but that’s usually caused by lack of use or incorrect oil.
Make sure you use oil that’s designed for an ‘oil-injector system’. It generally has a lower flashpoint, so it burns more efficiently and is less likely to ‘gum up’ and make the parts fail by sticking.
PW50 Specs & dimensions
These specifications are taken from Yamaha’s site:
|Engine||49cc air-cooled 2-stroke|
|Transmission||1-speed centrifugal clutch|
|Seat Height||18.7” (47.5cm)|
|Weight||90 lbs (41kg)|
|Top Speed||26 MPH|
|Price (New MSRP)||$1,699|
How much does the PW50 cost?
The MSRP on a new Yamaha PW 50 is $1,699, but you can find a used one for considerably less if you look hard enough. A used model can be in the $500-1400 price range depending on the condition, age, and your local dirt bike market value.
PW50 vs PW80
While the PW80 isn’t made anymore, they’re very similar 2-stroke dirt bikes. The main difference is that the PW 80 has more power and is physically bigger, making it the better bike if you’re too tall for the 50.
PW50 vs CRF50
A common dirt bike comparison since they’re both 50cc, but they actually don’t have much in common other than that they’re small. The PW50 is smaller, lighter, and has a 2-stroke engine with only 1 gear. The CRF50 has a 4-stroke engine with 3 gears and is noticeably bigger and heavier.
PW50 vs TTR50
Yamaha’s 50cc dirt bikes are both good for beginners, but the PW50 is smaller and lighter in comparison to the TTR50E, making it the best choice for the smallest children just starting out.
Is the PW50 the right dirt bike for you?
Still can’t decide if this little Peewee 50cc dirt bike is right for you or your kid?
- Lowest seat height
- Lightest gas dirt bike available
- Smooth & predictable power
- Power and speed are adjustable if you want to limit them
- Very quiet for a gas dirt bike
- Simplicity of a 2-stroke with oil injection (no pre-mix)
- Shaft-drive is reliable and requires less maintenance compared to chain-drive
- Great first dirt bike for 2-6 year-olds
- 2 stroke requires oil added to oil tank
- Very little suspension performance
- Low on power in stock form
Best PW50 mods
There are many modifications you can do to make your PW50 faster, but they can only do so much. For your money, you’d be better off buying a bigger dirt bike.
With that said, these are the best affordable upgrades for your PW 50:
- Removed restrictor out of the silencer
- Clutch mod
- Primary gear reduction
Learn how to trail ride with confidence
Whether you’re brand new to riding dirt bikes or you just want to make your kid as safe as possible, it’s important to learn how to properly ride so that you don’t form bad habits that can cause you to ride out of control. I want to give you a head start with my basic techniques guide for FREE – click or tap here to download it now!