TeamMA has been drooling over the best kids dirt bikes available. As well as getting all reminiscent over our junior riding days, we have been reminded of just how incredible kids motocross bikes are.
As always, we recommend buying kids dirt bikes by height, not age. This handy chart should help.
Dirt bikes for kids size guide
Kids dirt bikes come in all sorts of prices. We spent a few days looking around the internet to see how the market has changed. 2021 will be an exciting year for many young riders. TeamMA is seeing a significant rise in interest for dirt bikes for kids. Maybe families are spending more quality time together, and everyone is looking for things to do? Whatever the reason, now is the perfect time to consider motocross as a pastime for your juniors.
Why are dirt bikes a good idea for kids?
I remember my early days as a pee-wee motocross rider. I was just four years old. Hearing the motor roar on a small dirt bike brings back a lot of memories. The smell of gas on my dirt bike gloves, the little jumps that I swear were bigger than a triple on a Supercross track, the sounds of the engines revving. I would get butterflies with excitement.
Learning to ride a dirt bike at a young age builds a passion that kids will never forget. Riding any dirt bike, even a junior MX, will teach balance, coordination and discipline. Maintaining and cleaning any dirt bike provides an opportunity to grow. Mechanical skills, focus and commitment, are all required when keeping a small MX bike running.
Junior motocross is not all about competition, although for many kids this will become a significant part of the experience. Family ride outs, trail riding and adventure all play a role too. If your child is showing an interest in dirt bikes, encourage them and support hem as early as you can.
What to look for in a dirt bike for kids
The best kids dirt bikes provide choices such as tire size, type of throttle control, and engine size—an upgrade path within the brand family is also vital. Once your kids are set on a dirt bike brand, they will often stay loyal for life. TeamMA creator Martin Varrand rode Kawasaki bikes for many years. Only recently has he switched to KTM.
Beware the cheap import bikes that are advertised on the internet. There are so many dirt bikes for kids that are recommended by low quality motocross websites which are poorly built. The quality of suspension, brakes and components is essential if your kid is to ride safely. Although it looks tempting to buy a cheap dirt bike for kids, we suggest that it is a false economy.
Low resale value, (assuming the bike stays together), regular breakdowns, and poor handling are all reasons to avoid cheap dirt bikes altogether. Also, cheap imports are not competitive on the track. If your kid is continually losing, or getting dropped at the start, they will soon get tired of MX riding.
Buy as high in the range as you can afford. This is a golden rule for all MX purchases. With kids dirt bikes, it is even more critical. You can be assured of better resale values, fewer breakdowns, and better handling. A better bike will lead to more confidence, faster progress and ultimately; more fun!
Here are some qualities to keep in mind when selecting the best motocross bike for your junior MX star!
Kids Dirt Bikes – tire size
Tire size is going to one of the best ways to determine the right bike for a little dirt bike rider. Smaller tire size is best with kids dirt bikes. Bigger tire and wheel packages are going to place the seat of the dirt bike higher off the ground, putting the rider even higher. Having too big a wheel size/tire size will compromise the ability to control the dirt bike. Safe dirt bike riding is all about confidence.
One advantage with kids dirt bikes is their low centre of gravity. This feature means that a child can balance easier—the ability to put their foot down on the ground increases a child’s confidence no end. Quickly getting a foot down is essential when navigating obstacles, manoeuvring in tight spaces, or just getting it wrong!
Engine size and throttle control options for kids bikes
The amount of power your kid’s bike will deliver to the wheels depends on the CC of the engine. The higher the CC, the more power created by the dirt bike motor. The more power delivered, the more speed is available. Most kids will start off on a 50cc bike. From there, they will look at 65cc/80cc and 125cc as they progress to the adult class.
While a kid can ride any CC when riding purely for fun, competitive riding means rules and regulations. You don’t want to spend a fortune on a 125cc for your kid, only to find they can’t ride the bike in a competition. Do your homework when it comes to racing regulations if competitive riding is your kid’s goal. We will run a dedicated article on this subject soon.
Small dirt bikes often come with a safety device that restricts the amount of power/speed available. We call this device a throttle limiter screw; this device enables a parent to reign in the power when a kid is learning. It Works via a limiting screw within the throttle cable assembly. As a kid dirt bike rider becomes more capable in controlling the gas, the screw can be slowly backed out until it is completely removed.
Smaller motors on kids dirt bikes have a limited powerband. The powerband is not a physical part, instead, it is the ratio of power the engine creates power as the RPMs rise.
A two-stroke motor has a snappier powerband which creates power quickly and abruptly.
A four-stroke is more consistent in power creation as it climbs in RPM, making it more smooth and easier to control.
You can read about the two-stroke V four-stroke engines here.
The other major factor in a dirt bikes performance is the rider! What is your kid like in everyday life? Shy kids who are more risk-averse and less inclined to throw themselves into an experience will likely appreciate a smaller four-stroke engine. Bullish kids, who are into everything and throw themselves headlong into every new experience, will get bored with a tame dirt bike quickly.
Reliability of Kids Dirt Bikes
Reliability is going to be very subjective. If you are buying a branded model, then you can expect a certain about of reliability because of the brand’s commitment to the sport. A brand wants your kid to have a great experience, and to stick with their bikes. There is an excellent chapter on top dirt bike brands in Martins new Motocross handbook, which you can download for free here.
In the world of dirt bikes, you can find families that “Ride Red”, (Honda) “Race Orange” (KTM) or go”Team Green” (Kawasaki). This allegiance is often because of the upgrade path available and the reliability a brand provides.
We find the ability to upgrade within the same factory brand, is a significant plus. As a young dirt bike rider moves up in motor and tire size, a factory brand that offers the next model up makes sense. 50cc to 65cc, 80cc to 100/125cc are popular sizes. Trail riding to motocross racing; the more sizes available, the better chance young riders have to find a dirt bike that fits their riding needs.
Cost and Resale of Kids Dirt Bikes
There is a small chance that a child is not going to enjoy the sport of motocross. Beginner dirt bike riders can occasionally find a dirt bike intimidating, and for some kids that spells the end of their riding. As parents or guardians, we need to swallow our pride and accept that our pee-wee may be better suited to another sport.
Uncertainty will influence how much you want to spend on a kid dirt bike. A small dirt bike that is produced for racing is going to have better suspension, a more powerful motor, and a more robust frame. Components will be lightweight, likely because of more exotic materials. Trail riding dirt bikes are not necessarily built with a competitive edge. A trail bike will be no less reliable, but it might be slightly heavier, and more robust.
A brand-new kid’s dirt bike off the motorcycle dealers shop floor is going to set you back a couple thousand dollars. This price will be lower than a full adult dirt bike and is going to be relative to the type of sport once again; motocross racing or trail riding.
Resale is important to consider. Kids outgrow everything! The riding ability of a young dirt bike rider will determine when they can move up in motor size, creating more power to ride faster. As they grow in height, a smaller dirt bike could become more cramped. For all of these reasons, you should buy the best quality possible. The second-hand kid’s dirt bike market is strong.
Thankfully because many parents understand the importance of quality, you will have a choice. There are plenty of children-sized dirt bikes on the secondary market. A new-to-you dirt bike can be just as much fun as a brand new, off the showroom floor model; and it comes with a hefty price break.
Top Kids Dirt Bikes for 2021
Wow, that is a lot to consider. Thankfully the team at MA headquarters has done a lot of the hard work for you. We sat down and scoured the internet for the bikes we would buy for our kids.
The following list represents our top choices of kids dirt bike for the 2021 season. We have factored in all of the information we have shared above. We are making no money for these recommendations, so rest assured there is no bias here. Well, no bias other than our own preferences!
While you may find many other bikes which fit your size and budget needs, the following kid’s dirt bikes are our suggested shortlist. We have listed them in order of height, with the lowest first.
1. Honda CRF50F – Seat height: 548mm
The Honda dirt bike family is one of the most trusted in the industry. The Honda CRF50F has been around forever, primarily due to its robust design and ease of use. Even the smallest dirt bike riders will enjoy the CRF50 dirtbike.
The 50cc kid’s dirt bikes will always be a staple for the younger generations as it a class with the right level of power, control, and ease of riding; just the combination needed to ignite a young rider’s passion for motocross!
Honda CRF 50 Specifications:
Height: This dirt bike is mini in size, with ground clearance only at 5.8 inches. The small wheel size of 10-inches at the front and rear means there is plenty of manoeuvrability and control. Even the smallest pee-wee can put their foot down.
A four-stroke, 49cc motor generates a steady powerband that is easy to control.
The CRF50 has three gears and no clutch. Itty bitty riders can pop this bike into gear, and go. Simple controls allow your kid to develop other vital skills, like stopping and balance, with no need to worry about a clutch.
Honda CRF50 Throttle Limiter
The twist throttle comes with a throttle limiter screw so an adult can control how much gas their kid can grab. This feature means less stress for you and more control for your kid.
Honda CRF50 upgrade path
Honda is a great brand to start your young rider off with. The next sizes up include a 110cc, 125cc, 125cc big wheel, 150cc, and beyond. There is a gap in the Honda range at the 65cc and 8cc mark. Because the range has a hole around the mid-range engines, you may have to switch brands on the upgrade path. A switch could prove frustrating if your kid is looking to compete, and is used to their Honda.
2. Yamaha TTR-50 – Seat height: 556cm
The Yamaha TTR-50 is another outstanding option for kids looking for their first dirt bike. Low ground clearance and high-quality components abound with this popular model. With ground clearance at just 5.3 inches and weight at 126lb, the Yamaha is another dirt bike which is light on its feet.
Yamaha TTR50 Specifications
The motor can take the abuse of a beginner dirt bike rider. The TTR50 is robust too, with the ability to stay in just one gear and ride all day if they choose.
Yamaha TTR50 Throttle Limiter
A throttle limiter screw limits how much gas is delivered to the motor and is identical to Honda’s solution. No more whiskey throttle, resulting in a crash. You can restrict the TTR50 so that you can run alongside a pee-wee rider. Just pull the screw out a little more, allowing more throttle twist when they are ready to go faster.
Yamaha TRR50 Motor
The TTR has a four-stroke engine and three clutchless gears. This makes the Yamaha a solid choice when teaching a beginner how to learn throttle control, braking, and balance.
The Yamaha is easily sourced, especially on the secondary market. The TTR-50 stands apart from the Honda CRF50F because of its electric start button. A kickstart may be more authentic, but we feel the electric start button is best for smaller sized beginners.
Yamaha TTR50 upgrade path
Yamaha has a new range of finishes for 2021. The next sizes up include a 65cc, 85cc, 125cc and beyond.
Please note: UK rider will need to look at the Yamaha PW50 if blue is your colour.
3. KTM 50 SX – Seat Height: 684mm
Don’t be fooled by its size, these small kids dirt bikes are fast, fast, FAST! The KTM brand, and in particular this kid-sized model, has created a culture of little racers worldwide. If your child is showing a more aggressive riding technique, then this dirt bike is the champions choice.
KTM SX50 Specifications
One of the biggest draws to this pocket rocket is that it has no gears. That’s right, no gears to mess around with. Your kid can just twist and go. Because the SX50 is so much more competitive, your kid can forget about clutch changes, and concentrate on developing those all-important skills like braking, cornering and jumping.
We feel the psychology of riding faster earlier, and learning gears later makes a lot of sense. It is far easier to learn how to change gear, then it is to ride fast. Best get the race-winning lessons done early. The SX50 will likely give your dirt bike junior a competitive advantage that will stay with them as they grow.
Young dirt bike riders are going to come in all different sizes. The KTM 50 SX seat height flirts at 27 inches, great for our long-legged kids. This 50cc dirt bike sits much higher than its competition, and that is due to the aggressive nature of this competitive dirt bike. It allows for stiffer suspension and better weight distribution, sitting just under the young rider.
From its lightweight frame, limited gas tank capacity, and 12-inch front / 10-inch rear wheel size, this dirt bike is easy to handle, despite its racing heart. The SX50 has a two-stroke engine, and with only 100 pounds wet weight, this kind of power-to-weight ratio is something motocross racers dream about.
KTM SX50 Upgrade path
Orange Brigade! KTM has one of the most engaged racing communities. From model-specific classes at almost every motocross track to providing the perfect platform as your kid rider moves up in motor size, KTM is king.
Next sizes up include:
65cc / 85cc (two wheel sizes) / 125cc /150cc and the Electric E5
It is no secret that KTM own Husqvarna, and so if you need a KTM mini 50cc, you will find the the KTM mini on the KTM website and in the Husqvarna range.
Best Kids Dirt bikes 2021 – over 50cc
The next size up for 50cc in terms of a competitive upgrade path is the 65cc range. This level of dirt bike is a miniature version of an adult machine, with high-quality components, trick race parts, and some serious power.
4. KTM 65 SX – Seat height: 750mm
Stepping up from the small-wheeled KTM 50 SX, the 65cc brings the responsibility of six gears and a clutch. This is all for the greater good of becoming a dominant motocross racer. I say racer because KTM is associated with more competitive riders; especially in the 65cc class.
The KTM 65 SX is a great in-between model for youngsters who are ready for the challenge of riding faster and efficiently but not quite for the 125cc big dogs.
KTM 65 SX Specifications
The limitation of these kid dirt bikes is not based on the power but the size of the wheel. A step up from the KTM 50 SX, we now see 14 inches at the front and 12 inches at the rear. In MX terms, “those holes are getting smaller”, which means your junior champ can blaze right over them.
KTM Ready to Race Philosophy
KTM provides a motor, transmission, and suspension package that is ready to send your kid shredding around the track.
6-speed transmission with wet clutch allows the smallest dirt bike rider to learn to control the power of an impressive two-stroke powerband.
From the infamous KTM Junior Supercross challenge to an international motocross field at Loretta Lynn’s, the KTM 65 SX has created a demand for specific classes at every motocross track.
Young riders on this model will have plenty of competition.
KTM 65 SX Power to Weight Ratio
Roughly 122 pounds wet, (With fuel), and 65cc of two-stroke power, the KTM 65 SX is easily controlled, even by the smallest dirt bike riders. This model has a super light and slender frame to help with developing your kid’s racing ability.
KTM upgrade path
The upgrade path from the 65 SX includes every type of MX bike imaginable. The KTM ready to race philosophy is second to none. That is why the KTM range remains our top choice for 2021
5. Honda CRF125F – Seat Height: 740mm
This is one of Honda’s newest models. We were thoroughly impressed with the platform it provides for kid dirt bike riders looking for a more trail orientated bike. In comparison to a motocross bike, this model is great when you are looking for more speed, low ground clearance and a controllable powerband.
Honda CRF125F Specifications
Introducing a clutch lever to kids can be intimidating. With only four gears and an efficient powerband, the clutch lever won’t be so scary to control as some. This model’s long gear set up lets the rider stay in the same cog for longer, pull from lower revs, and still wind that grin up.
The CRF125F comes with both an electric start button and a kick start. We love the ability to kick the bike. It is convenient if the battery dies. We also like the fact that a kid gets used to both ways of starting. Traditionally trail bikes have push start, and MX have a kick start. If undecided on which way they want to go, your junior will learn both options.
14-inches in the rear and 17 inches on the front is the perfect combination for handling and manoeuvrability. Honda does offer the CRF125FB, the big wheel edition, which provides the same exact motor package and set up. The big wheel comes with a 16-inch wheel rear and 19-inch front. Perfect for the taller kids.
Honda provides a great platform to grow with the kid’s dirt bikes. There is a reason families choose to “ride red”, and many bikes end up handed down rather than sold on.
Have you heard about Electric Dirt bikes yet?
Electric is a great alternative to consider for kids, and we have a guide for kids electric dirt bikes and buying an adult Electric Dirt Bike here. You will find all the truth about their performance today, and we also listed our top three picks in the market. If your are looking for a 4-stroke dirt bike for your kid, then you might want to consider some of these mini motocross bikes.
If you are looking for kids dirt bikes, you should also know about the essential dirt bike gear that your kid needs! From choosing the best dirt bike gear to the safest motocross helmet possible; Motocross Advice makes your life easier by providing you with reliable reviews.
I hope you enjoyed the article.
Have fun out there!
Martin and the crew at TeamMA
Remember that when looking for a TOP kids dirt bikes, you should also know about the essential dirt bike gear that your kid needs! This all starts from choosing the best dirt bike gear on the market and finding the safest motocross helmet for your kid possible! Motocross Advice makes your life easier by providing best guides in all these subjects!