Buying a dirt bike is a big investment and you want to be sure that you get the right bike for your needs. There is nothing worse than buying a dirt bike and then finding out that you do not actually like it or do not actually have the features that you thought it would. Many dirt bike owners buy the wrong bike for their first purchase and become disenchanted due to this error.
Dirt bikes can be a lot of fun but there are some things that you need to know before you invest in one. If this will be your first dirt bike, you should make sure to examine all of these factors before you buy your first bike. You will be spared a lot of heartache by purchasing a bike that you enjoy right away and that will suit your needs perfectly.
If you are ready to learn more about buying a dirt bike, read on!
Key Factors to Consider Before Buying a Dirt Bike?
There are some key factors that you need to consider when you are contemplating buying a dirt bike. Not every dirt bike is made for the same functionality or for the same kind of rider. You might know that there are different sizes of dirt bike engines but there are actually many more features that you will need to think about before you buy your dirt bike.
Dirt bikes can be made for recreational riding, for racing, or for long-distance runs. You will need to consider which factors are the most important to you when you are buying the dirt bike that you will learn to ride on. If you are upgrading to a new bike that is higher performance than your learner bike, you will want to be sure that you get a bike that will hold up to some use that has the features that you need for your plans.
What Size Dirt Bike Do I Need?
The size of your bike can greatly impact your safety while you are riding it. You want to be positive that your dirt bike fits you perfectly before you buy it or take it for a ride. The size of bikes can vary based on their CC size. Beginner riders who are smaller in stature should consider a bike that is 125 or 150 CC to start with. This bike will be easy to control and will be easy for you to handle when you are getting on and off.
You always need to make sure that you can place the ball of your foot on the ground when you are seated on the bike. If your feet are completely flat on the ground or you can barely reach the ground, the bike you are considering is not the right size for your needs.
Intermediate riders and those who are more experienced will find that 250 up to 450 CC is a much better fit for their needs so long as they are able to place the balls of their feet on the ground when they are sitting on the seat.
Dirt Bikes for Kids
Little kids who are around 5 or 6 years of age will need a 50CC bike. These bikes have low seats and are made for riders who are around 90 pounds max. This is the perfect size bike for your kid to start out with as they will be able to handle the bike when they are riding it or when they are on the ground. This bike will also not go too fast or have too much torque for their skill level and weight.
Experience and Skill Level
Many people buy bikes that are far too powerful for their riding skills and this can lead to injuries or other issues. You want to be honest with yourself about your skill level and your ability to handle your bike. You should never buy a bike that is for an experienced rider if you are a beginner.
Make sure that you shy away from anything over 250 CC when you are just starting out. You will find that these bikes are much easier to handle, are more forgiving when you make mistakes, and are much cheaper to maintain. Being paired with a bike that is too much for your skill level will only lead you down the path of regret.
How do I Pick the Right Dirt Bike?
Picking the right dirt bike requires consideration of your skill, your height and weight, and your goals. You want to be practical about your expectations for the purchase and pair yourself up with a bike that you will love for a long time.
Can You Pick it Up if You Have Dropped it?
If you can’t then it is not the right bike for you in most cases. This might not be true if you are a very experienced rider or you are racing your dirt bike, but in most instances, if you can’t pick your bike back up if you have dropped it, then you probably need to look at another bike.
The size and weight of the rider are best paired up with the right engine size. Balancing the two items will make sure that you do not end up with a bike that is too heavy for you to control or to lift off the ground if need be.
Does it Actually Fit You?
As mentioned above, you need to be able to put the balls of your feet on the ground when you are straddling the bike. There are other considerations related to the length of your arms and your comfort with footpeg placement that can also come into play.
If you are not sure how to fit a bike to your height, you can head to a store that sells various makes and models of bikes and have one of the employees guide you toward the bikes that fit you the best. Being able to tell how the bike should fit can go a long way toward ending up with the right bike when you actually make a purchase.
Is the Bike Made For Your Needs?
You might like the looks of a certain bike, or find one that is a good deal, but you need to consider if the bike is made for the kind of riding that you want to do. Bikes that are geared for racing are not always very fun on trails or at the dunes, and likewise, bigger and heavier bikes are not always fast enough to be raced.
You will need to make sure that you think about the features of the bike that you are buying and consider if you are going to be fighting with the bike to turn it into a racing or a recreation bike the whole time you own it. Always consider as well if you are buying used, that you may not get the bike in original condition and it may have been altered to meet the needs of the current owner.
If the bike has been modified, make sure that you check that you will be able to change it back to its original condition or alter it to make it work for your needs before you buy it. There are some projects that are not worth the time and effort when you can just find another bike that is already set up for your planned activities.
Do You Want to Buy New or Used?
The answer to this might be hard to define. Many new bike riders are inclined to buy used bikes and this can be a very viable way to get the right learner bike for your needs. There are always lots of dirt bikes on the market in any given location, but you do need to be aware that this is not like buying a car that is for sale.
Dirt bikes are by definition made to be used hard, and any used dirt bike that you buy with some accumulated riding hours will have been used hard more than once. This is particularly true if you are buying a race bike.
Always do your research into the brands of bike that hold up the best over time and make sure that you get detailed information about the bike that you are thinking of buying. You will need to be willing to have someone experienced come with you to look at the bike or take the time to make a list of the things that you should check on when you go look at a used bike.
Buying a bike that does not run right or has lots of repairs to do right off the bat can be very disheartening.
How Much Should I Spend on a Dirt Bike?
How much can you actually afford to spend? Remember that you will need to buy registration stickers and you will have maintenance costs as well as potential storage costs for your bike. If you do not have riding gear yet, you will need to budget a couple of thousand dollars for good gear, boots, gloves, and a helmet.
Do you really want to spend money on a new bike if you are learning, or are you more interested in buying a used bike and then upgrading it when you have more experience? All of these considerations can affect your price point as well as considerations about if you are going to be using the bike for recreation or for racing.
If you are buying new, the value of bikes is fairly stable over time and you can look at the current NADA value for equivalent bikes or even the one that you are considering. New bikes will have the added benefit of being under warranty and not have had any riding hours put on them by other people.
If you are buying used, you can save a lot of money but there are some things that you will need to look into before you pull the trigger on a used bike purchase.
Check the Hours on the Bike
This can tell you a lot about the overall condition that the bike will be in. More hours almost always means more wear and tear as well as more repairs to come. Not all bikes are made with hour meters, but if the one you are looking at comes with one, make sure to check the time on the bike.
For a four-stroke engine, high hours are less risky. These engines can last for two to three times longer than four strokes. They might lose some power over time but they will not be likely to let you down overall.
For a two-stroke bike, you will need to be aware that these bikes need a top-end rebuild every 50 hours. The pistons can wear out in these motors without lots of care. Two-stroke bikes with high miles have usually been rebuilt, which can bring new challenges to your overall maintenance costs.
Check the Oil
This is one of the best ways to tell if the bike has been well-maintained. Always check the oil for signs of being dirty. You should look for shiny particles in it which can indicate that there is metal in the oil from a bearing or a transmission gear that has failed.
Look at the Rear Suspension, the Swing Arm, and the Linkage
The first thing to do is push down hard on the seat. The bike should rebound in a controlled way, not sharply. Look at the rear shock for oil leaks and dirt build-up. Rear shock rebuilds are around $100. Make sure the swing arm does not offer you a lot of excessive play.
You should also look at the linkage while you are examining this part of the bike. Any movement that is not small indicates worn bearings or bushings.
Check Front Suspension
This part of the bike takes a lot of abuse, and you want to be sure that you check this part of the bike. Look for oil leaks and make sure that there is no dirt buildup. This part requires new oil and sealing every 20-50 hours.
Wheels and Tires
Wheel condition matters. Make sure that there are no cracks or bends and that the tires have not been changed often. Check the spokes and make sure they are in good shape. Also, consider the cost of changing your tires out for knobby tires or to paddles if the bike does not have the kind of tires that you need for your chosen activities.
Listen to Engines and Shift Through the Gears
Always make sure that a two-stroke does not smoke excessively and that you do not hear any abnormal sounds. If you can take a ride, do so. Make sure the clutch seems to be working correctly. An engine rebuild is not cheap and you don’t want to buy a used bike if your bike has a damaged engine.
Are Dirt Bikes Expensive to Maintain?
The cost of a dirt bike is different if you have a two-stroke or a four-stroke bike. The average cost to maintain any dirt bike is $4500-$7500. These are estimated costs and you can have years where a lot of things need attention compared to normal years.
Tires: Around $600 a year
Safety Gear: $600 to $2,000 one-time purchase
Fuel for Towing: Anywhere from minimal to $5,000 a year
Parts: $400-$600 a year
Fuel: $400-$600 a year
Lube/Oil: $200 a year
Insurance: Variable but around $600-1,000 a year
The total for the maintenance of a bike is around $2,800-$5,000 depending on your hours of riding and what type of riding you do. This does not include fuel as that can vary significantly by state. Always plan to budget on the high end of the spectrum so that you have enough money saved up to enjoy your dirt bike all year.
Buying a Dirt Bike Can Offer You a Lot of Enjoyment
Dirt bikes are a ton of fun, and they can be a great investment toward your recreation hours if you get the right one. If you do your research and make sure that you are buying a quality bike, you will enjoy hours of entertainment and time spent outdoors that you would otherwise have missed out on. Just be sure not to cut corners during the buying process so that you get the bike that you want right out of the gate.
Whether you use your bike for racing or recreation, always make sure that you think about all of the features that you will want to make sure the bike is perfect for your needs. Consider taking a friend or an expert along with you to look at a used bike or to help you make sure you are the right height for the bike that you are looking at.
Always be honest with yourself during the buying process and consider what you want to do with your bike carefully, and you will end up picking the perfect dirt bike for your needs!
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