Starting out on a quest to find the best dirt bikes for trail riding is great but……
Where the hell do you start?
Don’t stress I’ve made this super easy to follow guide.
It has a chart you can filter with beginner dirt bikes.
Yep 29 dirt bikes for trail riding (mostly beginners).
Well at least the ones I think are worth considering.
Just jump down now if you don’t want to hear anymore from me, that’s cool.
Otherwise, stick around.
By the time you finish this article you will;
Most of the mainstream manufacturers all have trail bikes for beginner dirt bike riders.
Honda for example are well set up in this space and have a variety of bikes to choose from.
Before you go any further getting the height right for your bike is a good place to start.
I wrote an article on dirt bike sizing that you can access here that has a height guide.
Who hasn’t owned a Honda trail bike at some time?
For someone just starting on dirt bikes and wanting a good option for trail riding the Honda CRF-230F is a good place to start.
The seat height of 34.6 inches suits a wide variety of rider heights from adults to teens.
With a 230cc four-stroke engine, this makes for a well set up bike for the novice rider.
For a family this bike could cover a wide range of rider abilities.
The four-stroke engine delivers plenty of manageable power that makes for an awesome riding experience.
Also particularly good for a beginner dirt bike rider is having an electric starter.
This technology has been around for a while so there is no issue with reliability.
This size bike is particularly good for when you hit the trails as it is nimble enough for a range of trails from fire to gnarly goat tracks.
TIP: For bigger beginners the Honda CRF250F might also be a consideration. It has more power and a slightly higher seat height.
Dirt bike riders with an intermediate skill level of riding are probably the largest group of riders on the planet.
These are the guys (and girls) who have been riding for a while who love the sport and get out whenever they can and have built up their riding experience over time.
Fortunately, there are a lot of bikes for this category of rider and most manufacturers have a bike in this group.
You could potentially find a bike from any of the manufacturers but I strongly suggest testing out bikes from as many brands as you can.
From a trail riding perspective, I like the Honda 250 (CRF250X.)
The reason for this is that a 250 -300cc size engine is a good match for tight trail riding.
If you ride on more open trails you could easily step up to a 400-450cc engine.
The larger engine might also be a better option for bigger bodies.
Yeah thats me…
I picked up this Suzuki 400 DRZ from a young guy who was way to small physically to ride it properlly.
Paid about 4K absolute bargain.
Only had a few Miles on it.
Not everyone has the cash to splash on the trail bike of their dreams, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out if your finances are limited.
The Suzuki DRZ 400S is a value for money bike that has the benefit of road registration combined with trail riding.
What I like about these bikes having owned one previously is that they are low on maintenance (you can do most of it yourself) and are easy to ride.
This makes them one of the best 4 strokes for trail riding on a budget.
These bikes are particularly good for first time adult riders with a big frame.
I am a big unit and the 400cc engine easily pulled me along without being overly powerful.
If you don’t have an interest in riding the DRZ on the road then switch out the rear mudguard as it will eventually fall or break off.
Other upgrades would be removing the stock handlebars a good set of hand guards and some decent tires.
You should be able to get a good late model second-hand model for between $4500-$5500 USD.
Even if 4500 – 5500 is too high, drop back a few years as the basic engine for these bikes has barely changed over the past 10 years.
To be honest if you’ve been through my beginner bike chart above then there are plenty of options for kids.
What I would do is go try a few because they all have small differences that might impact riding comfort.
For example seat height varies between manufacturers.
I also think certain brands have a feel about them.
Take them for a ride if you are able this can also be super helpful.
For an all round versatile bike, the Honda CRF 110F is a great option.
It will cover an age range from 6 years to 10 depending on your child’s size.
If this bike is a little small then there is also a 150 model.
The new model is easy to manage with fuel injection for easier starting and automatic clutch for novice riders.
If you’re concerned about power output you can also adjust the throttle to reduce the output of the engine.
Speaking of engines, Honda’s are super reliable and easy to start which is exactly what you want as a newbie.
If the Honda is not the right fit then the Kawasaki 110 is worth considering.
It comes in a little higher but also has an L version that has larger wheels which can increase seat height and riding performance.
Like the Honda, the Kawasaki also has throttle control.
OK, I’m going to throw something a bit left field here, any of the bikes I’ve already talked about in this article would be OK for a female rider.
The Hondas are both excellent bikes and I know that many female riders like the Honda’s, particularly the CRF230F for its size and power combination.
My big prediction is that electric dirt bikes are going to be a favorable option in the future for female riders or anyone who loves the riding experience but not the maintenance associated with dirt bikes.
My wife falls into this category, she would love to ride but isn’t interested in the maintenance side.
I wrote an entire article on electric dirt bikes which you can access here, but a great example of these bikes is the Alta Redshift EXR.
This bike is aimed at a 250cc combustion engine equivalent in terms of power.
The big difference is significantly reduced running costs associated with its electric engine.
Alta’s website states major service intervals are at 1000 hours, which is significantly more than a gas equivalent which varies depending on how you ride but a good 5 hours of riding usually requires an oil change and air filter clean at least.
The only major maintenance to check on a regular basis is the tires, chain and sprockets for usage/damage (Oh and keep the battery charged!).
What is particularly appealing from a beginners point of view is that the bike has different map settings all adjustable whilst riding which means novice riders can set preferred map positions according to their riding style and conditions.
Tarah Giegher shares her experience of riding the Alta electric dirt bike.
If you are looking at buying a trail bike, the message is, take your time, do your research and try out as many bikes as you can.
For those riders not into a lot of maintenance, an electric dirt bike could be the answer.
Either way, trail riding is awesome fun and getting the right bike makes it that much better.
I hope you end up finding the best dirt bike for trail riding that suits your style.
All the best