If you’re hunting for a dirt bike in the 80cc range, it’s most likely because your young racer is growing – both in size and in skill. This is an exciting time for riders and parents alike, as it shows the first steps into adulthood and the responsibility of commitment to a hobby they love.
Equipped with swift 2-stroke power that requires command, 80cc dirt bikes are the go-to dirt bike between kid riding and 125cc power. This energy allows youngsters to still learn a fair amount of control while preparing them for the consistency of a 4-stroke model.
As a result of this potential, 80cc dirt bikes offer more customization that other ages may not have to consider. Two tire sets appeal to riders that may or may not have hit a growth spurt in order to fit them more comfortably. The larger tire size is on par with some adult models while staying true to its rowdy roots. It’s safe to say that 80cc 2-stroke dirt bikes are ideal for those slightly beyond the beginner phase. Paying attention to your young rider’s skill level can go a long way in determining their needs, as certain seasoned 10-year-olds may be ready for the jump in power.
While we wish we had a Honda 80cc dirt bike to report on, their run has unfortunately been discontinued for years. Used 80cc dirt bikes for sale are also tempting, but it’s hard to know exactly what a used dirt bike has been through over time. Even without an 80cc Honda dirt bike to review, there are still a handful of solid 80cc dirt bike options that will fit your growing rider perfectly.
80cc Dirt Bike Wheel Sizing
While some riders will inevitably grow to be quite tall in adulthood, this transition doesn’t always happen overnight. It’s with this thought in mind that all the dirt bike brands below (except for Kawasaki) offer two different wheel sets to choose from when purchasing your 80cc dirt bike. For shorter riders, the standard 17/14 model comes with a 17 inch front and 14 inch rear tire to support your youngster on their quest for speed dominance.
In contrast, the 19/16 dirt bike model features a 19 inch front and 16 inch rear tire for taller riders that need a bit more legroom on the track. Yamaha’s large wheel (LW) dirt bike accomplishes the same task with slightly different branding. It’s safe to say that larger tires will most likely cost a bit more, but the investment is worth it for teens that are encountering their growth spurt during a heavy learning period.
With that learning lesson out of the way, it’s time to get to our top contenders for 80cc dirt bikes for kids. If your youngster has come to have a favorite brand, we won’t blame you if you stick to what’s familiar. However, sometimes a new take on an old approach doesn’t hurt.
Our Top Five 80cc Dirt Bikes for Kids
1. KTM 85 SX 2023 – Best 80cc Dirt Bike
Base Price: $6549 + $335 freight
Wheel Sizes: 17/14 & 19/16
Austrian-born KTM is one of the forerunners in our race for the best 80cc dirt bike. The brand KTM is synonymous with the best in motocross, and the 2023 85 SX is no exception. While many of KTM’s larger dirt bikes are 4-stroke heavyweights, the 85 SX is a 2-stroke monster scaled down into a package ideal for growing riders.
As with some smaller KTM models, the 85 SX utilizes an easily adjustable screw to control power depending on where and how your kiddo will be riding. For some riders, this will be their first step up to a 6-speed transmission, and we all know what an exciting benchmark that is in any MX career! We also found the optimized crankshaft on this 80cc dirt bike to be beneficial, since your young rider should feel as stable as possible as they get used to their new ride.
Even the standard grips are tricked out on the 85 SX, with lock-on grips for extra security. The no-dirt footpegs that we swear by are also included on the 85 SX so young riders won’t let the environment get the best of them. We always have a ton of features to highlight on KTM’s dirt bikes and gear, and their 80cc dirt bike is on par with the best.
Our young riders had nothing but impressive feedback based on their time with the 85 SX, regardless of which size fit them the best. The no-dirt footpegs were a big hit to avoid slippage, and our riders who had previously ridden KTM reported an easy transition to higher power. For any riders new to racing 80cc dirt bikes, we recommend trying out a 65cc before making the jump to this model so your youngster doesn’t get too overloaded.
As far as tire sizing, the smaller 17/14 model puts the seat height at about 850 millimeters (33.5 inches). Comparing the two, the 19/16 model scales the seat height up to 875 millimeters (34.5 inches). Either 80cc 2-stroke dirt bike will be a solid investment for your young rider, but you may have to do some measuring before your final decision is made!
2. 2022 Yamaha YZ85
Base Price: $4799 + destination & freight charges
Wheel Sizes: 17/14 & 19/16 (LW)
Yamaha’s 2022 YZ85 ensures you can still have your wheel choices even on a budget. It’s unclear as of June 2022 whether or not Yamaha will be releasing a 2023 version of the YZ85, but we’re happy to report on this year’s model until we know more. Even without an update, the larger 19/16 wheel variation is new for 2022 and offers growing riders a chance to stay with the same 80cc 2-stroke dirt bike for an extended period of time.
Your young rider will still have fast power to contend with considering the liquid-cooled 2-stroke engine that’s standard on the YZ85. However, they may need to brush up on how they harness that power since the YZ85 is a 6-speed dirt bike that requires steady familiarity with shifting. Yamaha knows the YZ85 will be used by riders that are still growing, so they’ve included adjustable handlebar mounts for extra customization. This allows any rider to feel safe and secure on their 80cc Yamaha dirt bike no matter where they’re racing.
Even with no 2023 model in sight, we noted some significant improvements to this year’s YZ85 that will help riders to be more comfortable from the jump. The fuel tank and paneling were both slimmed down for 2022 to allow young riders to more easily throw their weight around on the track. A flatter seat, increased brake control and an updated air intake are some of the other improvements that grace the YZ85. The frame and subframe have also been upgraded to reduce weight, which only makes this 80cc Yamaha dirt bike stronger and easier to handle. Both of these are major selling points for a kiddo breaking into the big leagues.
As a result of these improvements, our youngsters were pleased with how the YZ85 performed on their jaunts. The adjustable handlebars were a big selling point in making our riders feel comfortable with their posture as they served heat, and the flatter seat helped a couple of our riders narrowly avoid nasty situations on the track. While some of the other upgrades weren’t immediately obvious, it was clear performance was not compromised for price on this Yamaha 80cc dirt bike.
The standard version of the YZ85 with 17/14 tires brings the seat height to 33.1 inches (841 millimeters), while the LW (Large Wheel) version with 19/16 tires sits at about 34.8 inches (884 millimeters). The larger of the two Yamaha 80cc dirt bike options measures just above the KTM model, and the standard YZ85 is an excellent choice for average-sized riders looking to see how they fare. Make sure to measure your young rider accordingly so you’ll know which one is right for them!
3. 2023 Husqvarna TC 85
Base Price: $6749 + $335 freight
Wheel Sizes: 17/14, 19/16
Managed by the same firm that operates KTM, Husqvarna has made it to the top of their game with the choices they offer. Lauded by Husky as their bridge between kid’s dirt bikes and larger models, the 2023 TC 85 is arguably the most expensive and sophisticated of all the 80cc dirt bikes on our list.
We all know how important it is to pay attention to both your surroundings and your ride in the heat of the moment. Husky has optimized their 80cc dirt bike frame to be extra responsive so that any young rider can know exactly where they stand at all times. A silencer also comes standard on the built-in exhaust for riders who can’t be bothered with the distraction of extra noise.
If this is your kiddo’s first shot at a 6-speed transmission, the TC 85 is the best of both worlds. It offers a chance to familiarize young riders with the process while still packing the raw 2-stroke power that demands a no-frills approach. Like the KTM 85 SX, we love that this 80cc dirt bike also features included lock-on grips for extra security.
In our track tests, the TC 85 was a definite favorite among young, experienced riders. Many of them argued it was the closest to an adult dirt bike they had experienced thus far, and that it may have turned their heads from previous brands they’d ridden. As with KTM, the lock-on grips were a big hit, and the ultra-responsive capabilities went far in converting our young riders who may not have been convinced of the Husky hype.
Tire size can make all the difference on the TC 85. The 17/14 version features an 850 millimeter (33.5 inch) seat height, and this 80cc 2-stroke dirt bike is more suited for smaller riders looking to jump the gap to the big leagues. The larger, 19/16 package upgrades your kiddo to an 875 millimeter (34.5 inch) seat height, and may be more ideal for those unexpected growth spurts.
Brand loyalty can go a long way for Husky since dedicated riders know what feels right. If this 80cc dirt bike fits your kiddo’s style, right on. However, if you’re not committed and looking to save some cash, the KTM 85 SX or GasGas MC 85 boast many of the same characteristics for a slightly more affordable price point.
4. 2023 Kawasaki KX 85
Base Price: $4699 + destination & freight charges
Wheel Sizes: 17/14 only
Kawasaki may only offer one wheel size in their KX 85, but that discrepancy comes with a price reduction to match. This compromise makes the KX 85 the most affordable 80cc dirt bike on our list with not much indication that your kiddo is settling for less.
In addition to being the most affordable, the KX 85 also measures up as the shortest 80cc 2-stroke dirt bike on our list for 2023. This may not help riders who were blessed with tall genes, but smaller riders will be excited that there’s a Kawasaki 80cc dirt bike exclusively tailored for their height!
Kawasaki’s also made some improvements on their 2022 model, and they’re ready to help your kiddo rip off the starting line. A stronger transmission is always a selling point to ensure shifting is smooth and steady. The radiator’s also gotten an upgrade, both to help ergonomics that fit growing bodies, and to optimize cooling when the heat is on. Since size is the determining factor compared to other 80cc dirt bikes, it’s safe to say that smaller kiddos ready for more speed are most ideal for the KX 85.
With 17/14 being the only wheel size for the KX 85, some of our larger riders felt a bit clumsy on this Kawasaki 80cc dirt bike because of the size discrepancy. However, that’s not to say they didn’t have fun ripping around the track on what was more of a mini bike for their size. For our shorter riders, performance on the KX 85 was a selling point, not to mention knowing that their smaller size wouldn’t impact them being able to find a more powerful ride.
5. 2023 GASGAS MC 85
Base Price: $6249 + $335 freight
Wheel Sizes: 17/14, 19/16
Recently acquired by KTM’s firm in 2019, GasGas has undergone an overhaul that now sees their 80cc dirt bike offerings near the top of the list. Whether your youngster is stepping up from a 50cc or 65cc dirt bike, the 2023 MC 85 stands out as one of our best choices for an 80cc dirt bike for kids.
Right off the bat, the MC 85 is a force to be reckoned with. Described as a “stepping stone” for young riders, the 2023 MC 85 features a super grippy seat and high end graphics to match the larger dirt bikes that we know are in a young rider’s future. Like both Husqvarna and KTM, this 80cc dirt bike also features lock-on grips that will help boost a young rider’s coordination skills as they age.
KTM shares many similarities with GasGas, so we were pleased to find that no-dirt foot pegs are standard on the MC 85. Confidence is the name of the game on the MC 85, and that starts with a super flexible frame that works in-tandem with the suspension for a smooth ride. The standard 6-speed transmission on this 80cc dirt bike will help your kiddo get acclimated if this is their first time shifting, and swift 2-stroke power guarantees they’ll be one of the first off the line.
Our youth riders had nothing but positive feedback for the MC 85, and as with KTM, the no-dirt footpegs were a winner. Many of them were able to notice the fluid movement from the suspension & frame combo, even if they couldn’t quite figure out what was different in comparison to other brands. This report was all we needed to confirm GasGas’ standing in our latest guide.
While there are many options to choose from as a consumer, we’d recommend this 80cc dirt bike especially for growing kiddos of the taller variety. The smaller 17/14 version comes with a seat height that’s about 34.1 inches (865 millimeters) tall. Compare that with the taller 19/16 version, and your young rider will be sitting at just over 35 inches (890 millimeters). If you’re looking to explore European brands, GasGas is the ideal entry point since it is now the most affordable 80cc 2-stroke dirt bike offering from a Euro brand.
Whichever 80cc dirt bike you choose, make sure that it fits your kiddo for where they’re at and where they’re growing. We know they’ll have a blast no matter which model they decide on. Until next time, have fun out there!