We are reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn More…

Battle of the Best Dirt Bike Brands 2021

Editor's choice

KTM 450 SX-F 2021 best dirt bike brands
KTM 450 SX-F 2021

Premium Pick

Husqvarna FC450 2021 best dirt bike brands
Husqvarna FC450 2021

Best value

Kawasaki KX450 2021 dirt bike brands
Kawasaki KX450 2021

Here at Motocross advice, we spend a lot of time looking at which gear to buy. We thought it was about time to talk about dirt bikes. The first decision any rider needs to make is what dirt bike brand they will be riding. Motorcyclists are passionate people, whether they are riding off-road, or on the road. We will often remain faithful to a brand for many years once we have decided which colours we will be wearing. So which are the best dirt bike brands for dirt bike riders in 2021?

In this article, we will break down the top 5 best dirt bike brands. You will find out a little about each brands history. You will see an overview of each manufacturers range, and how each brand compares in our dirt bike battle table. You will also see which second-hand bike is the most sought after for each brand. If you are a seasoned rider, this article is an opportunity to see how your favourite brand stacks up. If you are new to motocross, you may be a little clearer on which colors you will wear by the end of the article. Whatever your situation…

Welcome to the Motocross Advice, “Battle of the Best Dirt Bike Brands 2021” – dirt bike edition.


1. Best Dirt Bike Brands – KTM

KTM 450 SX-F 2021 best dirt bike brandsKTM is one of the big players in off-road motorcycle manufacturing. Their brand is at the forefront of motocross, enduro and adventure riding. The company was founded back in 1954 in Austria.

Success is the benchmark of competitive sport. If you are regularly winning, you are doing something right. KTM has seen its products winning races consistently. There was a period where reliability came under scrutiny, however in 1992 the company took steps to re-evaluate. With significant changes in the board room, and on the factory floor, KTM reimagined its place on the world stage.

KTM has over 200 dirt bike titles to its name. KTM also has 18 consecutive wins at the Paris Dakar, with two hundred and twenty two stage wins. KTM has over twice the number of stage wins than it’s nearest rival Yamaha. It would be fair to say that reliability is no longer an issue.


Why we chose KTM

From the fiercely orange brand colour to the “Ready to race” slogan it champions, KTM means business. For that reason KTM remains one of our favourite dirt bike manufacturers. The bikes look aggressive, ride superbly, and scream “dirt bike” from every nut and bolt. The whole range is designed with competitive riding in mind. If you start learning on a KTM, you will likely be a convert for many years to come.


Motocross Advice Battle of the brand’s table KTM:

Company slogan: Ready to Race

Primary Colour: Orange

Number of AMA wins (1999 to 2020): 8

Paris Dakar Wins (total): 18 | (Consecutive) 2001 to 2019 / 222 Stage Wins

Bikes available four stroke (by cc): 250cc / 350cc / 450cc / 500cc

Bikes available two stroke (by cc): 50cc / 65cc / 85cc /125cc / 150cc / 250cc / 300cc

Junior size dirt bikes available: 4 to 10-year-olds / 8 to 12-year-olds / Junior motocross

Electric dirt bike models: Two – KTM Freeride E Electric Dirt Bike

2. Battle of the (dirt bike) Brands 2021 – Honda

Honda CRF450 2021 best dirt bike brandSoichiro Honda learned all about two wheels in the workshop of his families bicycle repair business. He was a genuine petrol-head, fascinated by machinery and performance. In the early 1930s, he founded a company making piston rings for Toyota. Still, the massive bombing from allied forces during the second world war, and a severe earthquake in 1945 took a heavy toll. Honda rose from the ashes. Selling what was left of his company to Toyota for $450,000 he founded the Honda Motor Company that we now know.

The first competitive Honda Dirt Bike was launched in the early 1970s. Always the master of innovation, Honda came at the four-stroke competition with a two-stroke dirt bike. Passion and complete focus have seen Honda dirt bikes innovate and win races since their debut machine.


Why we chose Honda

Honda has always stood for excellence and innovation. What other manufacturers could have overturned Triumph and Harley Davidson in their home countries? Honda paved the way for all of the other Japanese manufacturers to follow. Their distinctive red livery, which represents excitement, passion and action, adorn all of their highly advanced dirt bikes. Honda set out to change the world and succeeded. Honda also came out with our winning 4 Stroke Trail Dirt Bike – CRF450RX.


Motocross Advice Battle of the brand’s table Honda:

Company slogan: The Power Of Dreams

Colour: Red

Number of AMA wins (1999 to 2020): 7

Paris Dakar Wins (total): 6 Wins / 87 Stage Wins

New bikes available four stroke (by cc): 50cc / 110cc / 125cc / 250cc / 450cc

New bikes available two-stroke (by cc): No Two-Stroke Bikes Available

Junior size dirt bikes available: 4 to 10-year-olds / 8 to 12-year-olds / Junior motocross

Electric dirt bike models In Development (CR Electric)


3. TOP Dirt Bike Brands 2021 – Yamaha

Yamaha YZ450F 2021 motocross brandYamaha Motorcycles are a subsidiary of the original Yamaha corporation. Company founder Torakusu Yamaha was obsessed with the technology of the time. He took up watchmaking and ended up inventing the tuning fork as a way of tuning the western instruments his company was building for the Japanese market. The tuning forks remain in the companies logo to this day.

They may have started out with musical instruments in mind, however, when it comes to tuning engines, Yamaha is no slouch either. The very first bike off of the Yamaha Motorcycles production line was the 125cc YA-1. The bike was heavy influence by the German DKW 125 cc. The Yamaha proved competitive right from the word go. The YA-1won, the 125cc class of the Japanese endurance road race in it,’s debut year taking first, second and third place.

It then went on to win in international competitions too. Yamaha hit the mass-produced off-road market in 1968 with its revolutionary two-stroke DT-1. Although Honda re-introduced two-stroke engines much later, the Yamaha DT1 brought dirt bikes to a whole new audience.


Why we chose Yamaha

The early days of the Japanese powerhouse are littered with copies of other bikes and a host of machines which didn’t make the cut. Despite this, Yamaha persevered. The companies dedication to developing new and exciting products has never faltered. Who can possibly forget the Yamaha FS1E, DT125, RD250 and RD350 power valve?

This perseverance has paid off, with the Yamaha Racing company dominating across many extreme sports. As well as championship titles in MotoGP, powerboating and Road racing, Yamaha has also made its mark in the world of dirt bikes. In fact, the numbers may surprise you.


Motocross Advice Battle of the brand’s table Yamaha:

Company slogan: Revs Your Heart

Colour: Blue for intelligence, Design and loyalty

(Although we prefer the Yellow and Black dirt bike design from past decades, this probably caused confusion with Suzuki Racing)

Number of AMA wins (1999 to 2020): 12 (Dylan Ferrandis wins both Supercross and National championship in 2020)

Paris Dakar Wins (total): 9 Wins / 140 Stage Wins

New bikes available four-stroke (by cc): 250cc / 450cc

New bikes available two stroke (by cc): 50cc / 65cc / 85cc / 125cc / 250cc /

Junior size dirt bikes available: 4 to 10-year-olds / 8 to 12-year-olds / Junior motocross

Electric dirt bike models In Development


4. Battle of the (dirt bike) Brands 2021 – Kawasaki

Kawasaki KX450 2021 dirt bike brandsKawasaki is yet another story of drive and determination. The Kawasaki Heavy Machinery company was formed in the late 1800s after shipping company owner Shozo Kawasaki lost his only cargo ship! Having relied on western boats for many decades, Shozo decided the best way forward was to build his own ships. Fair play Shozo.

Kawasaki Motorcycles was formed in the early sixties as a partnership with Meguro, and the first bike built was a 250cc four-stroke model. In 1963 Kawasaki produced its first dirt bike, the 125cc B8M. By the 1970s the KX racing brand was becoming a winning combination. As a point of interest, the KX250F was a partnership between Suzuki and Kawasaki, and both versions ran identical running gear. The Kawasaki won the hearts of riders and fans alike.


Why we chose Kawasaki

Kawasaki has always been the bad boy of the big Japanese manufacturers. On the road, the world-famous Ninja was the hooligan. When it comes to dirt bikes, the KX is the Ninja’s twin. With Insane power bands, ridiculously aggressive performance, and with a host of wins to its name, the KX Racing brand got stuck in and held on tight. (Ironically, the perfect riders manual footnote for any Kawasaki dirt bike).

Kawasaki’s are not the most reliable of the Japanese bikes, nor are they the best finish. They are badass though, and that’s why they feature here. Besides, Any bike that Ricky Carmichael can take to the finish line consistently deserves a place.


Motocross Advice Battle of the brand’s table Kawasaki:

Company slogan: Let the good times roll (not really fitting for such a lunatic machine)

Colour: Kawasaki green.

(Like it, or loathe it, Kawasaki Green = intimidation. The Green was explicitly chosen to divide! We love that).

Number of AMA wins (1999 to 2020): 26

Paris Dakar Wins (total): 1 Wins / 0 Stage Wins

New bikes available four stroke (by cc): 112cc/125cc L / 140cc / 230cc / 250cc / 300cc / 450cc

New bikes available two stroke (by cc): 65cc / 85cc / 100cc /

Junior size dirt bikes available: 4 to 10-year-olds / 8 to 12-year-olds / Junior motocross

Electric dirt bike models In Development


5. Best Brands of Dirt Bike 2021 – Husqvarna

Husqvarna FC450 2021 best dirt bike brandsThe final brand to make our top five battle of the (dirt bike) brands shoot-out used to make rifles. So how do they fare against the big guns of the dirt bike world?

Husqvarna has a fascinating back story. First, the Swedish company built rifles. Then they switched to sewing machines as the demand for guns slowed. It would appear that some of the machinery and techniques for each industry are similar. By 1903, the company had diversified further, with motorcycles making an appearance. Having strong links to the Swedish armed forces drove development also, and Husqvarna became involved in cross country races. It wasn’t long before they started winning.

Husqvarna was eventually absorbed into the KTM group after a complex series of takeovers that included Italy’s Cagiva, and even BMW.


Why we chose Husqvarna

Although the new Husqvarna range is made in the same factory as KTM motorcycles, there are fundamental differences between the two bikes. The air-box and other components such as handlebars and brakes are completely different. These subtle changes do make some variation in ride and handling. “Husky” is back in the AMA championships, and their racing strategies and team tactics are handled by a completely separate team. These legends of off-road riding hold a special place in motocross and our collective history.


Motocross Advice Battle of the brand’s table Husqvarna:

Company slogan: Ready to race (which was actually adopted by KTM after the takeover).

Primary Colour: White

Number of AMA wins 1999 to 2020: 3 (Zach Osborne wins his first 450 National title in 2020)

Paris Dakar Wins (total): 0 Wins / 11 Stage Wins

New bikes available four stroke (by cc): 250cc / 300cc / 450cc / 501 cc

New bikes available two stroke (by cc): 50cc/ 65cc/ 85cc/ 125cc/ 150cc/ 250cc / 300 cc / 450 cc

Junior size dirt bikes available: 4 to 10-year-olds / 8 to 12-year-olds / Junior motocross

Electric dirt bike models EE5 Fully adjustable for Junior and Adult use.

What dirt bike brands are up and coming?

This is really a wild card section for us to share with you the dirt bike brands that may make our 2022 Battle of the Brands list. There are some seriously competitive bikes in our top five. We have left out Suzuki, which may be a controversial decision for many riders.

The reason we have left out Suzuki is the general consistency of both their product and performance. As with their road bikes, Suzuki is very hit and miss when it comes to the quality of finish. The number of times across the finish line may look impressive; however, wins were with the predominantly Kawasaki developed engine. Maybe 2022 will see that change?

Another brand which we feel could hit the top five next year is off-road legend Gas Gas. The old school manufacturer is making a welcome return to competitive motocross in 2020. The 2021 Gas Gas range is better known for its trials bike range. The new 2021 MX bike is now available to the public and Justin Barcia is in Gas Gas colours in 2021.

Over the coming months, we are going to drill down deeper into the dirt bikes that the top five brands sell. This will include more detailed dirt bike reviews. Until next time, have fun out there!


Motocross Advice.

This Article Has 2 Comments
  1. J0802 Reply

    Seems like basing the championship section on Dakar only is a bit misleading. I’m not sure Dakar is a moto focused event with true factory support for all brands. Seems like having stats from Enduro, Harescrambles, Motocross and Supercross would be more telling. Just Dakar feels a bit specialized.

    • Martin

      Thank you for your comment!
      Main thing we are basing the championship section is still AMA wins in the past 21 years (1999 – 2020).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *