For those who enjoy dirt biking, there is nothing like the rush of adrenaline, the smell of the earth, bouncing over the terrain on your trusty bike. But those who love bikes – especially newcomers – might find the amount of competition amongst bikes and brands overwhelming.
If you’re looking for the ten major brands of dirt bikes, our personal list goes as follows:
But which one, you may be wondering, is the best? Like with all pieces of complex equipment, there’s really no answer for what you personally want from a bike. Speed? Handling? Style? Affordability? Whatever you want, there’s certainly something out there for you. Here is a rundown of the best bikes we’ve found and why they’re so great:
Yamaha has stood the test of time, being one of the oldest players in this game at a whopping 65 years of experience. An impressive history of victories shows they still have the touch, including Dylan Ferrandis winning both the Supercross and the National Championships in 2020. It produces bikes for newbies and veterans alike, with the WR-250, YZ-250, and YZ-125 solid contenders for any who want great balance on dirt and unsteady terrains, high power and torque combined with high suspension for a safe ride.
Possibly one of the most admired brands amongst dirt bike fans, KTM combines some of the fastest bikes in the biz with some sleek and whimsical designs. With some of their bikes reaching 123mph on the dirt, they are a serious contender for lovers of speed! Perhaps that is why KTM has over 200 dirt bike titles under their belt. Adding to that, some bikes at KTM dealers are some of the most affordable, and the dealer model is one of the most popular models for beginners.
An incredibly varied producer of dirt bikes, Kawasaki bikes are generally well known for their secure handling, good torque and suspension as well as a level of toughness that equates to a well-performing bike. Price is another advantage to this one, with often some of the cheapest bikes in their categories, which may make the difference to many. Some of the most recommended bikes we’ve found were the KX500, KE100, and the KLR650 Camo, but there are so many great bikes under this brand that if you’re new, or on a budget, it’s a good choice.
Although the name might bring images of cars to your head, it has a great reputation amongst dirt bike fans as well, overthrowing Harley Davidson in its own country in popularity. Naturally, such a juggernaut produces some of the most popular bikes globally, including the CRF-450R. Honda bikes are known for being some very smooth heavyweight rides, with the brand being best known for its power, sturdiness and durability. Most of their more sought-after bikes are for more experienced riders, but they have some for beginners in their arsenal as well, such as CRF-50F.
Husqvarna is another company that started elsewhere dipping into the dirt bike game – having sold everything from lawnmower parts to sewing machines to guns, how does its new business venture fare? Well, being conglomerated and getting some help from KTM certainly helps. But despite being made in the same factories, Husqvarna has definitely made some efforts to differentiate their bikes from KTM, such as the handlebars, brakes, and air-box. Each of these variations cause a little difference in the handling of the bike and how the ride feels. However, it has many of the same advantages as a KTM bike, such as going extremely fast, and the parts and maintenance not breaking the bank.
Another proud competitor in this game, Suzuki has a rich history in dirt bike production. One of its strongest aspects is its variety – whether veteran or newcomer, high-end or something reliable on a budget, chances are Suzuki dealers have something you’re looking for. Some of its more reputable bikes include the DR-650 and the DR-Z400, which are fabulous options if your desire for a bike is that it’s particularly hardy against unsteady terrain.
Beta is more of a newcomer to the dirt bike scene, even using KTM engines until 2004 before they started making their own, and yet they have still managed to take the industry by storm. These bikes are better known for being high-end and stylish, with incredible features and very unique designs that stand out visually amongst their competitors. This does however come at the cost of them being… Well, costly. Beta bikes are some of the most expensive on the market, but if you’re willing to shell out, the Beta Alp 200 is one of the most recommended.
Bultaco is another brand with the weight of many, many years behind them, and a reputation to match. Although some of their bikes might look a little old school, their bikes are built with the outdoors in mind and designed to handle any kind of terrain you could take it on. This means that they’re heavy and sturdy bikes, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less comfortable to ride! The company is also very well known for making riding clothing and repair tools. The thing to remember about Bultaco is that what it makes is meant to be durable.
We’re topping off our list with another veteran of this industry, launching in 1926. Maico bikes are a fantastic option for those concerned with an affordable price combined with a good fuel economy, with the Maico Motocross and the Maico Endura being standouts in this regard. The bikes also deliver amazing acceleration and boast top speed with no drag when it hits hot spots on the road.
For both experienced bikers and newcomers alike, there is a plethora of amazing choices of dirt bikes, with no one bike brand generally considered better than the other, but with each brand having standouts in each category. My advice to you is that you think carefully before you purchase your bike – make a list of pros and cons, set your budget, read reviews from many sources and accept the fact that just because your favorite brand makes a bike, that doesn’t mean that bike is necessarily the one for you.
Good luck and happy riding!
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