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What is a Dirt Bike? | Types of Dirt Bikes and Motorcycles

To understand dirt bikes, we have to understand the motorcycles, first.


What is a Motorcycle?

A motorcycle, also known as, motorbike, bike or a cycle is, “an automotive vehicle with two in-line wheels”. [Merriam-Webster]

"Daimler-Reitwagen" was the first motorcycle in history developed by two Germans, Gottlieb Daimler and Welhelm Maybach in 1885. According to one source, there are around 200 million motorcycles in the world right now. That makes 33 motorcycles per 1000 persons. The top 3 producers (by volume) in the world are; Honda, Yamaha and Hero MotorCorp.

How many types of motorcycles are there?

Although there are no universal classification made for motorcycle classification however, there are strict measures put in place for legal purposes for the purpose of motorcyclist licensing, road traffic safety, etc. Apart from that motorcycles can be classified on two basis:

1. Intent of use

2. Design

There are six (06) broad variations of motorcycles such as; Cruiser, Sport, Touring, Dual-purpose, Standard and Dirt Bikes.

Dual Sports are motorcycles that are combination of two segments of motorcycles. For example; sport touring motorcycles serve the purpose of both sporting motorcycle and long distance touring purposes.

What is a Dirt Bike?

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary a Dirt Bike is, “a usually smaller motorcycle designed for operation on unpaved surfaces”.

As a rider, do you recall when a moment, passing by a landscape, and itching to take the car to the top of the hill and do a stunt, or two, with few flips in the air to feel the adrenaline rush yourself or give a heart attack to your girlfriend? The only reason that you never tried that is because you are afraid your car/motorcycle is not made for all those hills and mud, right? If you have every felt like that then, I suppose you need to get a dirt bike for yourself!

Dirt bike is not in the league of legal street bikes, however, like many off road wheelers you know. It comes with no brake lights, no headlights and mirrors that usually come with street-legal wheelers. You, however, do not require a special license to ride them.

On the mechanical side, dirt bike comes with smaller fuel tank, smaller engine however, a better suspension that protects the back bone or spine during the jumps over the hills and/or moving through the dirt trails.

Types of Dirt Bikes

Dirt bikes comes in different sizes, shapes, horsepower, purpose and stage of learning. Some of the common dirt bikes that are available are;

1. Recreational Bikes

2. Trail Bikes

3. Motocross Bikes

4. Dual Sport Bikes

5. Little People Bikes


1. Recreational Bikes

If you want to feel how the dirt bikes feel then, recreational bikes are best for you. These are easy-to-learn, comfortable and “forgiving”. Also, they are not very pricey and maintenance, too is not very expensive.


2. Trail Bikes


Trail bikes are built for long distance trails rather than quick laps in the corners. They keep the rider clear of the ground with higher seats, have softer compression, high performance and well in to the competition. The seats are designed

Trail bikes have larger fuel tanks, bigger radiators and [some] also, have headlights. Mostly trail bikes come with e-starts that comes handy on steeper hill side.

Trail bikes are little difficult and unforgiving for early stage bikers.

3. Motocross Bikes

If trail bikes are designed for cross country adventures then motocross is for sprinters. They are designed in a way that can absorb intense bursts of brakes and acceleration. Motocross bikes are lightweight with suspension suited for the many jumps on MX track.

Motocross bikes are extremely unforgiving to the careless bikers. However, they give the fun of adrenaline rush and heart attacks once you master this bike.


4. Dual Sport bikes

Dual sport and adventure bikes are the broader categories of dirt bikes. They come in street legal category with lesser to more off road capabilities. While some variations may come as Trail Bikes but made street-legal with little modification others are more street bikes adjusted for off-roading and thus, marketed as dual sport.

Dual Sport bikes can be registered and licensed as there are headlights, brake lights, mirrors, speedometer, and other parts. The variations comes by the intend of use and weight; there are lightweight, middle weight and heavy weight categories in the Dual Sport bikes with the lightweight bikes closest to the pure form the dirt bikes. Heavyweight, at other extreme, are known as long distance adventure touring bikes.

5. Pit Bikes, or Bikes for Shorter Riders

These bikes are more recreational in nature however, there are some varieties that are head in to competitions. These are fairly low in prices and ease of mobility make them good fit for racing events. They are more popular among young and, also adults with shorter heights.

Pit Bike racing is a similar competition to that of Motocross however, it is more popular with among young riders. Thanks to its design these bikes are considered safer for younger generation. The bikes come with lower center of gravity, shorter wheel base and a linear power supply make these best for the younger and new riders.

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