A Guide to the 6 Different Types of Dirt Bikes Available.

different types of dirt bikes

The 6 Different Types of Dirt Bikes Summary:

#1 Motocross dirt bikes are built for racing on motocross/supercross tracks only. Not ideal for trails. Not road compliant. 2 stroke and 4 stroke.
#2 Enduro dirt bikes are built for long distance trail riding as well as difficult and technical riding conditions. Some can be used on motocross tracks. Not road compliant. 2 stroke and 4 stroke.
#3 Dual Sport dirt bikes are road compliant. Can be used on both dirt trails and street riding use. Excellent for trails. Bad for motocross track use. 2 stroke and 4 stroke. 
#4 Adventure dirt bikes are for long distance freeway use and easy dirt trails. Fully road compliant. Mainly big 4 stroke engines. Can carry a lot of gear. 
#5 Supermoto/Motard are dirt bikes that are modified for dedicated road use. Excellent for street riding. 2 and 4 stroke.
#6 Trials dirt bikes are for obstacle climbing only. Not road compliant. cannot be used for motocross or trails. 2 and 4 stroke.

#1 Motocross Dirt Bikes.

If you have the need to tear around a track hitting jumps, stutters and berms then a motocross bike is for you!

The most common sizes of motocross bikes are:

Kids: 50cc, 80cc, 110cc

Teens: 125cc, 250cc

Adults: 250cc, 300cc, 350cc, 450cc

Motocross bikes are built with both 2 stroke and 4 stroke engines.

Motocross bikes are high off the ground and have really stiff suspension with very long travel in the front and back.

This is so they can absorb the impact of landing big jumps, hitting stutters and handling obstacles.

2017 husqvarna TC125 is one of the most popular types of dirt bikes.
2017 husqvarna TC125 motocross.

They have narrower gear ratios to allow riders to take off at lightning speed.

Motos have a noisy exhaust system which lets the engine breathe to its fullest capacity to maximize power and speed.

They also have a minimal seat as you spend most of the standing up in the attack position.

Motocross bikes also have the deepest treads of all dirt bike tires.  They are built for digging deep into mud and dirt for maximum traction.

Motocross are used in dirt and they are also great in the sand with modified tires.

Motocross bikes are not road compliant. They are 100% offroad.

 If motocross is your thing, I suggest that teens start with 125cc and then work up to a 250cc.

 I suggest adults start on a 250cc as adults usually carry more weight than teens. Larger adults should look at the 350 range.

I also suggest that beginners start on a 4 stroke as the power is a lot more even and there’s no power-band to manage.

 Try a two stroke after you have ridden a four stroke for a while so you can appreciate the differences in power delivery.

 450s are super powerful motocross bikes so I would recommend riding one when you have a bit of riding experience under your belt first.

#2 Enduro Dirt Bikes.

If you want to ride on long, difficult dirt trails with plenty of technical obstacles, then an enduro bike is for you.

An enduro looks like a motocross, but they are built to be easier to ride long distances and at higher speeds.

The suspension is a bit softer and the tank is larger to go further distances.

Also the gear ratios are wider apart to give you more speed and a smoother ride in any gear range.

An enduro bike comes with a headlight so you can ride on trails at night.

The Gas Gas 350 Enduro dirt bike.
The Gas Gas 350 Enduro dirt bike.

An enduro bike can be made street legal but a lot of the time you will need to buy kits to do that. You will need indicator lights, number plate brackets and other road compliant stuff.

If you are looking for a road compliant dirt bike, its best to go with a dual sport (see next).

Enduro bike motor sizes start at 125cc and go all the way up to 600cc.

 If you want to give enduro a try, I would suggest that teens start on a 250cc and adults start on a 250cc-350cc depending on your weight and size.

 The extra power will help adults get through faster sections and up steep hills a lot easier.  You will be doing a lot less work than if you were riding a 125cc.

 Also, definitely choose a four stroke over a 2 stroke. You just don’t want that explosion of power delivery with so many obstacles around.

Leave the enduro two strokes for when you have more riding experience under your belt.

When you have more experience, try a 450cc! The power of a 450 is really awesome. They are best suited for long straight stretches where you can really open it up.

 I love 450’s but I find they are too much power for tighter sections of the track. I much prefer the 350’s (or around that size)for my weight (155 lbs).

Unless the trail is child friendly, I recommend that kids don’t do enduro, as most trails contain a lot of steep hills, deep ruts, deeper potholes, fallen trees and other dangerous obstacles.

 Trail/enduro riding is just too dangerous for kids, even with adult supervision.

#3 Dual Sport Dirt Bikes.

If you need a bike to hit the trails on but need to ride it on the road as well then the dual sport is the perfect bike for you.

A dual sport can be ridden in the dirt and it is 100% street compliant.

They meet all the EPA road compliant rules for pollution and noise and they are a much quieter bike.

Dual Sport Bikes typically sit lower to the ground for road use.

They have softer suspension and a way more comfortable seat than its cousins.

The dual sport is a really popular option for those that want to dip their toe in the dirt bike world.

They are easy to ride and require very low maintenance.

There are 2 Types of Dual Sport Dirt Bikes>>

1) Hardcore Dual Sport Bikes.

These are bikes that you would use if you are riding on the most difficult, hardcore trails but still needed road compliance.

Also, you would buy a hardcore dual sport if you wanted your bike to be built more like a motocross bike.

KTM-500-EXC-F Dual Sport dirt bike
The KTM EXC F 500 is a dual sport for the more hardcore enduro riders.


2) Moderate Dual Sport Bikes.

The moderate dual sports are built for riders that need road compliance and  ride on ‘not so hardcore’ trails. These riders aren’t interested in their bike looking like a hardcore motocross.

The 2018 Suzuki DRZ400 for riding on medium terrain.


 Dual Sport dirt bikes are really easy to ride, are low maintenance and they are as reliable as a dedicated road motorbike!

They are multipurpose, so you can use them as a daily transport vehicle to get to work and also use can use them to ride in the dirt on the weekend.

 A dual sport bike will keep their value really well and even the older dual sports retain a lot of value.

Why? because they are a reliable and cheap road vehicle option and you can throw them around in the dirt as well.

They also have a huge variety of engines ranging from 125cc all the way up to 700cc.

If you are interested in dual sport, you will definitely find a bike that suits your weight, age and skill level.

#4 Adventure Dirt Bikes.

The adventure bike market has exploded in the last 10 years as people  seek cross country adventures that include both road and dirt roads.

An adventure bike is designed for cross country riding for days, weeks and months on dirt, road and sand.

They are built for comfort and have a big comfortable seat for 2 people, a huge fuel tank and multi-purpose tires.

They can also have optional side saddle type carry bags to carry camping gear and other supplies for the adventure ahead.

Adventure bikes can also have windscreens to minimize the wind on the rider’s face when riding for many hours at a time.

BMW R1200 GS Adventure
BMW are the pioneers of the adventure bike world. (2018 BMW R1200 GS)

They contain a whole host of other features for communication and other comfort factors.

Adventure bikes come in lightweight, medium weight and heavy weight sizes, depending on how big of an adventure you will be embarking on.

 You can also easily use them as a dedicated road bike as they are designed for full highway use.

#5 Supermoto.

If you are looking to get a dirt bike for dedicated road use, then a supermoto is the way to go!

The gears are modified to take off quickly at the lights and they cruise at high speed just like a standard road bike. The tires are road slicks.

husqvarna 701 super moto
The Husqvarna 701 super moto is a dedicated road bike.

These modified dirt bikes have a strong fan base!

There are lots of enthusiasts that love supermotos (including myself)

There are also professional racing championships for this class of bike.

These bikes are popular because they are so much fun to ride around town with.

Enthusiasts are also big on buying enduro bikes and converting them into a supermoto. Modified bikes are total fire breathing monsters.

 If you are interested in a supermoto, I recommend going for a 4 stroke with at least a 600cc as the extra power will help you get around the streets better.

#6 Trials.

A trials bike is a very strange looking machine that is built to hop around on rocks, logs and other crazy obstacles at low speeds.

They have extremely low gear ratios and the motor sizes are between 250cc and 300cc. They come in both 2 and 4 stroke.

In competition, riders have to ride over really difficult obstacles without touching their feet on their ground.

2016 Sherco Trials bike

Balance is the biggest factor with trials bikes. They are really low to the ground and have over-sized wheels.

Start with a 250cc 4 stroke and start with some small obstacles in your backyard to get used to the feel of it before doing anything crazy.

Trials riding is more of an art than science and learning how to get your balance takes years of practice.



What type of riding do you do the most? Which bikes can you recommend that have suited you and have loved the most? Don’t forget to comment below and please share this article with your friends.

Happy riding!


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1 year ago

wow that video was sick

5 months ago

i have an 2019 ktm 85

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