During my travels, I like to chat with dirt bike industry figures to learn new things.
I’m always interested to know the questions that are being asked by people looking to get into dirt bike riding.
I ask dirt bike mechanics, bike dealers and magazine writers and I always seem to get the same response.
The question that they get most asked is “what type of dirt bike should I buy?” or “Which dirt bike is right for me?”
When I think about it, it is a really good question, given that we have so much choice in the dirt bike world.
There are many bike makers jostling to get your attention these days.
If I were a newbie, I would also be asking this question and looking for expert advice. Because the choice these days for dirt bikes is pretty overwhelming.
Well lucky for you guys, I’ve decided to write this blog post about how to find the bike that’s right for you.
There’s a bunch of variables of course, because everyone has different budgets, needs and goals.
There’s quite a few paths to take in the dirt bike world!
This blog post is based on about 25 years of experience of my riding experience. Also from my friends in the industry that have some serious collective riding experience.
This way, you will be able to match your new found knowledge with a real model that matches what you are after.
There are 6 questions that you need to ask yourself to figure out which type of bike is right for you. I’m going to detail each question now.
6 Questions for Figuring out How to Choose a Bike That’s Right for You.
#1 Which Style of Riding do You Want to Try?
The first question you need to ask yourself is which type of riding style do you want to try?
This question has a really big answer so I wrote another article about riding all the different dirt bike riding styles.
I recommend that you read it before you move on.
The style of riding you want to get into will be the major factor in the type of dirt bike you should buy.
After you have figured out the style of riding you want to get into, then continue on with this article.
#2 Which Size of Bike Should You Get?
To answer this question, read my blog about the 6 types of dirt bikes available. I have described the suitable sizes in that article.
#3 Which Make of Bike is the Best?
Basically, whether it’s Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha, Husky etc. all the major brands are really awesome and will do the job.
Why? Because all the manufacturers have placed hundreds of millions of dollars into bike research.
They also received tons of feedback from riders over the last 50 years.
They are really, really good at building dirt bikes!
The manufacturers also know what their consumers want.
So don’t worry! There will most likely be a bike with your preferred brand to fit your needs,
#4 Do You start on a 2 Stroke or 4 Stroke?
This topic is the source of hot debate among riders and it’s been going since I was like 4 years old!
The debate still continues to rage on as manufacturers deliver better bikes in both 2 and 4 stroke, keeping the whole argument alive.
To describe the difference between the two engines briefly, a spark plug in a 2 stroke engine fires after every 2 strokes of the piston (up and down) to deliver power to the crankshaft.
A 4 stroke spark plug fires every 4 strokes (up and down twice). A 4 stroke also has 2 valves that controls the air/fuel mix and exhaust coming in and out of the engine.
Thankyou to mechstuff.com for the illustrations.
The differences in engine movements means that a 4 stroke delivers power more evenly through its revving range while a 2 stroke delivers more explosive power and has the powerband.
So What is Powerband?
Unlike a 4 stroke, a 2 stroke has a powerband.
A powerband is a naturally occurring action in a 2 stroke, where the power from the motor will accelerate at an explosive rate after you have revved past about 6,000 RPM (depending on your bike).
The powerband moves from 6000 rpm to 15000 rpm very quickly!
It is kind of like releasing nitrous oxide in a car. The bike will launch forward, the tail will start getting really light and your view from your goggles will start speeding up rapidly.
It’s a real heart starter and it gets the adrenaline pumping.
I know a lot of riders (including myself) that are in love with the feeling of powerband as it is really addictive.
After 25 years, I still remember the first time I hit powerband on my first bike, which was a 1984 RM125.
The front wheel went straight up in 3rd gear. It scared the shit out of me but I’ve been addicted to it ever since.
Aside from this, if you own a 2 stroke, then you will need to mix your fuel with some oil.
This is because a 2 stroke engine revs higher and needs more lubrication.
Although 2 strokes are lighter and easier to maintain, the explosive power features of a 2 stroke is why I recommend that beginners start on a 4 stroke,
4 strokes are smoother to ride and won’t rip your arms off when you are still building up your experience.
Also, it is a common misconception that 4 strokes are slower bikes. 4 strokes became really popular in the early 2000’s as manufacturers made them super competitive.
Many famous riders converted to them and won races against 2 strokes and never looked back.
It is only recently that 2 strokes are making a comeback as riders just can’t resist the explosive power and excitement of them.
Overall though, a 4 stroke is as fast, if not faster than a 2 stroke (for recreational use) and they definitely have more torque.
4 strokes are a little bit harder to maintain if there are engine problems but not by much.
Personally, I love 2s and 4s. They both have their advantages and disadvantages and rather than arguing about it, GET BOTH!
I guarantee that your riding will always be more exciting if you have 2 weapons ready to go in the garage!
#5 Do Colors Run Deep?
I find that people choose their preferred bike because somewhere in their family, someone was riding that same brand.
If your dad, or brother or aunt were riding team Yamaha, chances are that you are going to lean toward the color blue and carry on the proud family tradition.
This is a really good thing! Firstly, keeping the colors in the family will mean that you will usually have family members that will help you with maintenance and transport .
They will support your riding activities more.
Secondly, it will help you decide which make and model of bike to buy.
#6 Who is Your Local Dealer?
It really makes a difference if you buy a bike from your local bike dealer.
Especially if you live in regional areas, regardless of the brands they are selling.
Why? Well the dealer is going to support your riding.
They will help you source parts and quickly help you to diagnose issues over the phone.
They are also awesome at advising you on the different models of bikes available to suit your needs.
It also pays to have a reliable mechanic nearby that understands your machine. A dealer will provide reliable mechanical help every time.
Additionally, a good dealer will supply their good customers with discounts on gear, mechanical and new bikes.
And those savings can really add up in the dirt bike world. Try getting that from eBay! Nope.
Also, a dealer can maybe even also offer incentives if you ever wanted to go professional and represent their brand.
A good relationship with your local dealer can really go a long way.
#7 How Much Money do You Have to Spend?
If you have a budget ready to buy a bike, make sure you factor in all the extra equipment you will need with your dirt bike.
What I’m talking about here is protective gear, a bike trailer, tie down straps, tools, fuel cans etc.
There’s no point spending the entire amount on a bike if you don’t have the gear to back it up!
Make sure that you factor in all the costs of riding gear into your budget.
To help you figure out the costs of this gear, I have written a blog post about all the dirt bike gear you will need when you start riding including costs.
#8 Can You Take a Test Ride?
Last but not least is the good old test ride.
Searching for the right dirt bike is all theory until you actually jump on one and go for a ride.
Maybe the seat is too high or too low for you? Perhaps you won’t like feeling of the bike? You will never know until you jump on, start it up and take it for a spin.
But you won’t know until you take it for a test ride!
Don’t buy a bike without a test ride! All bikes feel different and there’s no point in buying something that you are going to hate.
For the investment, it’s just not worth it.