As kids my younger brother and I grew up on dirt bikes, four-wheelers and 3-wheelers. My best friend down the street is the one that got me into dirt bikes and I begged my dad for months for one. My relentless pursuit of two wheel adventure payed off on Christmas of 1995. I got a new 1996 Honda XR100R and my brother got a 1996 Suzuki DS80.
Now my oldest son, who is nine at the time, is starting to show interest in dirt bikes. Even though he has four-wheelers to ride he likes the idea of hitting jumps like the guys do in Supercross. So that means I have to start considering what bike to get him and the main thing I’m concerned about is getting a bike he can swing his leg over and at the minimum plant the balls of his feet on the ground.
A Good Method for Measuring a Child for a Dirt Bike
A good way to determine this factor is to have your child stand on the balls of their feet with their feet shoulder width apart and measure from the ground to the crotch. This will give you an estimate for what seat height is appropriate for them.
It’s important to find a dirt bike that your kid will feel comfortable on and that’s accomplished by them being able to mount the dirt bike and having both feet firmly touch the ground. If they are forced to balance on their tiptoes or have to lean to one side or the other to get their foot to touch then that will lead to being insecure and frustration from you trying to coax them.
Take into consideration your child’s weight, because kids that are heavier are able to compress the suspension more which could make a bike that seems too tall at standing height end up fitting after the suspension sags when they get on. All bike’s suspension will sag with any size rider, it just compresses considerably more with heavier riders. My best friend had a KX80 in the 5th and 6th grade, I could barely touch the ground even though I was slightly taller than him, but he probably had 40 lbs on me and the bike fit him good.
Find the Dirt Bike that Fits Your Kid
Here’s a table to help you find the right dirt bike for your height. The dirt bikes stated height is with no rider. List is sorted by seat height.
|Make||Model||Seat Height (inches)||Shift Type||Engine|
|Honda||CRF50F||21.6||3 speed automatic clutch||4 stroke|
|Honda||XR50R||21.7||3 speed automatic clutch||4 stroke|
|Yamaha||TT-R50E||21.9||3 speed automatic clutch||4 stroke|
|KTM||50 SX Mini||21.9||automatic||2 stroke|
|Suzuki||DR-Z70||22||3 speed automatic clutch||4 stroke|
|Yamaha||TT-R90||24.6||3 speed automatic clutch||4 stroke|
|Yamaha||PW80||25||3 speed automatic clutch||2 stroke|
|Suzuki||DS80||25.6||5 speed clutch||2 stroke|
|Honda||XR70R||25.8||3 speed automatic clutch||4 stroke|
|Honda||CRF110F||26.3||4 speed automatic clutch||4 stroke|
|Yamaha||TT-R110E||26.4||4 speed clutch||4 stroke|
|Kawasaki||KLX110||26.8||4 speed automatic clutch||4 stroke|
|KTM||50 SX||26.9||automatic||2 stroke|
|Honda||XR80R||28.6||5 speed clutch||4 stroke|
|Kawasaki||KLX110L||28.7||4 speed clutch||4 stroke|
|Honda||CRF80F||28.9||5 speed clutch||4 stroke|
|Honda||CRF125F||28.9||4 speed clutch||4 stroke|
|KTM||65 SX||29.5||6 speed clutch||2 stroke|
|Kawasaki||KX65||29.9||6 speed clutch||2 stroke|
|Honda||XR100R||30.5||5 speed clutch||4 stroke|
|Kawasaki||KLX140||30.7||5 speed clutch||4 stroke|
|Honda||CRF100F||30.9||5 speed clutch||4 stroke|
|Kawasaki||KLX140L||31.5||5 speed clutch||4 stroke|
|Yamaha||TT-R125LE||31.7||5 speed clutch||4 stroke|
|Suzuki||DR-Z125||32||5 speed clutch||4 stroke|
|Honda||CR85||32.4||6 speed clutch||2 stroke|
|Kawasaki||KX85||32.7||6 speed clutch||2 stroke|
|Honda||CR80||32.8||6 speed clutch||2 stroke|
|Honda||CRF150F||32.8||5 speed clutch||4 stroke|
|Honda||CRF150R||32.8||5 speed clutch||4 stroke|
|Yamaha||YZ85||33.1||6 speed clutch||2 stroke|
|Suzuki||RM80||33.1||5 speed clutch||2 stroke|
|Kawasaki||KX80||33.1||6 speed clutch||2 stroke|
|Honda||XR200R||33.5||6 speed clutch||4 stroke|
|Suzuki||RM85||33.5||6 speed clutch||2 stroke|
|Yamaha||YZ80||33.6||6 speed clutch||2 stroke|
|KTM||85 SX||33.6||6 speed clutch||2 stroke|
|Kawasaki||KLX140G||33.9||5 speed clutch||4 stroke|
|Honda||CRF230F||34.1||6 speed clutch||4 stroke|
|Yamaha||TT-R230||34.3||6 speed clutch||4 stroke|
|Kawasaki||KX100||34.3||6 speed clutch||2 stroke|
Types of Dirt Bikes for Kids
2-Stroke Dirt Bikes for Kids
2-stroke dirt bikes come in two different applications when it comes to kids dirt bikes. One is mild mannered and great for little kids and the other is made for racing and hitting big jumps. Bikes such as the Yamaha PW50, KTM 50’s and the Suzuki DS80 all have mild mannered engines. The racing caliber bikes such as CR’s, RM’s, KX’s and YZ’s all pack a punch. They may only be 80cc bikes but they are really quick. If you’re considering a race caliber 2-stroke as a first bike I would recommend having someone in the family or a close friend that has considerable riding experience be available for coaching and demonstrating proper technique.
4-Stroke Dirt Bikes for Kids
4-stroke bikes are known for their dependability. Kids often push a motor to its limits until they understand the mechanics of an engine and how to shift gears and 4-strokes can manage it well. 4-strokes, no matter what size motor, are known for delivering evenly dispersed power through the RPM’s. This makes a consistent and predictable experience through the acceleration of each gear giving a new rider more confidence.
Electric Dirt Bikes for Kids
One of the coolest things to happen in the dirt bike market is the introduction of high capacity batteries that make electric motor dirt bikes feasible. While there may be a stigma associated with electric bikes not being as good as gas powered I think they serve a portion of the market really well. Families that live in close proximity to other houses and were turned off by the thoughts of annoying the neighbors with constant exhaust noise from their kid doing laps around the house for hours now have the option to let their kid ride all they want and not be a nuisance.
Reputable brands like Razor are really a great option for grade school kids who want their first dirt bike. They’re quite, therefore they’re less intimidating, easy to operate, because they’re automatic and dependable, because they have less moving parts and the steel frame is built to a similar quality as gas bikes.
Accessories for Kids Dirt Bikes
Dirt Bike Training Wheels
If your kid is starting out really young, 3-5 years old, I would consider training wheels and let them learn in stages just like with riding a bicycle.
Remote Engine Kill Switch
It’s a scary moment when a panicked kid grabs a handful of throttle and tears off through the yard and towards a tree, swingset or your car! One thing you can get to help avoid a trip to the ER or a claim on your insurance is to install a remote kill switch and get that run-away bike slowed down.
When a kid gets a dirt bike they immediately want their bike to look like the racers on TV and there’s no better way than with a decal sheet with all the big sponsors.
Some Tips and Reminders for First Timers
- Wear a helmet.
- Try to wear some type of boot and keep the laces short, avoid sneakers and definitely no open toe shoes or slip-ons.
- Goggles are nice to keep the dust and bugs out of your eyes.
- Practice letting off the throttle and hitting the rear brake. If you panik while riding do this.
- Pay attention to where you’re going, not to who’s watching you ride.
- Never grab a handful of the front brakes and lock up the front wheel. The front end will wash out on you.
- Remember, a dirt bike in motion will naturally balance itself. Don’t worry about the bike falling over once you get going. As long as you don’t turn the handlebars super sharp the bike will stay up on it’s own.
- When you slow down to make tight turns use your feet as you turn. During wide sweeping turns you don’t have to.
- Always focus on where you want to go, don’t let your eyes fixate on objects you want to avoid. You’ll just end up crashing into it, it’s called target fixation.
- Everyone crashes at some point. Usually it’s right from the beginning or a little later when you start to feel confident and start riding faster and faster, exploring new terrain…and then you experience something new you don’t know how to manage and then you crash. So be prepared every time you get on the bike, helmet on, make sure it’s secured correctly and don’t lose confidence when you do go down. Assuming it’s not a freak accident and you don’t hurt yourself bad, just get up, walk it off, let the nerves settle, recognize the mistake and get back on the bike. It will be another story to tell your friends.
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