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Top Dirt Bikes Worth Noting


We talked about choosing the best Motocross bike, and now let's talk about versatile dirt bikes that work on the track as well as on the trail.

Choosing the right dirt bike can be a tough call for someone new to the sport. There are even more variables to consider as compared with selecting an adventure bike or even a road bike. Because of the nature of dirt riding (whether that be motocross or enduro or dual sport), there are many factors to consider. The best bike for you depends on your ability, style and preferences.

Choosing a dirt bike

In our Motocross bikes post, we've already talked about how to choose a bike suited to your skill level and size (basically, don't buy a bigger bike than you can handle!). We also briefly went over why you would want to choose a 2-stroke engine over 4-stroke, or vice versa. To refrain from repeating information, we'll refer you over to that article.

There is one other big factor when thinking about what kind of dirt riding you want to do.

You want the right transmission for your specific type of riding. This is something that a lot of beginners fail to consider, but it's important as the gear ratio is different for the various types of off-road motorcycles.

If you're purely going to be riding MX, you want a close ratio gearing that is great in tight, technical terrain. MX bikes have close gears as you need acceleration to navigate the track, and NOT high speed riding over long distances.

If you're not going to ride mainly on the track, you can go more the enduro/dual sport route and you'll want a wider ratio of gears. This will be a lot more practical for varied riding in the real world. 1st and 2nd gear are usually lower than those on an MX bike, with 3rd and 4th about the same. 5th gear is definitely taller on the enduros and most come with a 6th gear that a lot of MX bikes don't have. This is great when the terrain is calling you to open the bike up. But this is probably best suited for another article.


We'll split our recommendations up into 2-strokes and 4-strokes. Let's get into it!

2-Strokes

The classic, tried-and-true 250 2-stroke has been a popular choice for a lot of technical off-road riders. 2-stroke bikes are more powerful and more nimble, which is great for navigating extreme riding conditions. But because of their power, they're best suited for more experienced riders.

KTM dominates the market of the 2-strokes. And there's none better than the 250XC.


The KTM250XC is a classic favorite for serious dirt riders. This fierce little machine features electric starter and a 6-speed transmission. At 222 pounds, the 250XC delivers awesome power-to-weight ratio for unrivaled performance. The modern frame is designed for maximum longitudinal stiffness and optimum torsional stiffness. And the WP Four Chamber System (4CS) upside-down fork and WP shock are specifically tuned for racing cross-country. 

If 250cc is not quite enough power, 2-stroke aficionados have even more options with 2-stroke 300cc MX bikes from KTM, Husky, Beta, and Sherco. Popular options include Beta 300RR, KTM300XC, Husky TE300, and Sherco 300SE.  Made popular by the world's best hard enduro riders, they put more power in lighter packages than most of us mere-mortals know what to do with.


Husky TE300 293cc 2-stroke

The Husqvarna TE300 is arguably the most powerful 2-stroke engine on the market with an output of 54 hp. Already a multiple championship winning bike, the 2016 version has many updates to make it even better. Most noticeably, the front-end geometry has been revised for improved handling. The 4CS fork and shock have been adjusted to improve damping, handling, and comfort. The lightweight 6-speed gearbox has been updated with enduro-specific gearing. This is a machine built to conquer every kind of terrain.

4-Strokes

4-stroke bikes, while not as powerful as their 2-stroke counterparts, are much more technologically advanced. This leads to smoother power delivery and a more comfortable ride. As such, it's a good choice for beginners.

Celebrated entries by Yamaha with the YZ450FX and more recently Honda's CRF450RX are moving from motocross-style machines to more of an off-road/enduro, GNCC type of discipline. This makes for a more practical performance machine in more natural terrain.


Yamaha YZ450FX 449cc 4-stroke

The Yamaha YZ450FX (MSRP $8,999) has a 449cc liquid cooled 4-stroke engine derived from the popular YZ450F, and 5-speed transmission that makes it versatile in different terrain. Yamaha's goal for this bike is something that would be durable and nimble enough to stand up to the harsh demands of cross-country/enduro riding.  It has become one of the top bikes to beat in competitions, and has helped Yamaha achieve notoriety for being one of the few brands to actually manage to gain relevance in both the 2-stroke & 4-stroke markets.

Honda CRF450RX 449cc 4-stroke

Honda birthed the CRF450RX to move the previous CRF450X forward for riders who needed a better long distance off-road experience. This GNCC bike is designed for cross-country competition with electric starting as standard (with manual backup starter), new Geomax AT81 tires, and fully adjustable Showa Spring Fork and suspension. The RX also has an 18" rear wheel and a larger plastic fuel tank.

What other dirt bikes do you like?

*photos courtesy of manufacturers

By Daniel Relich

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