Automatic vs Manual Dirt Bikes: The 6 Differences

Old school riders usually say that riding with a manual transmission is the only way to go. However, being affordable, lightweight, and safe for children, automatic dirt bikes are becoming more and more popular. But there are other differences between automatic and manual dirt bikes to consider.

The 6 differences between automatic and manual dirt bikes are:

  1. Prices
  2. Size and weight
  3. Handling
  4. Fun Factor
  5. Safety aspect
  6. Maintenance requirements

This article will explain everything you need to know when it comes to the differences between automatic and manual dirt bikes. We’ll also go through some of the main advantages and disadvantages of each one, so you can make the right buying decision.

6 Differences Between Automatic And Manual Dirt Bikes

1. Prices

One of the main differences between manual and automatic dirt bikes is their price. Manual dirt bikes are more expensive than automatic bikes, but they also provide much better performance. While an automatic gearbox costs more to produce than a manual one, automatic dirt bikes tend to be designed for kids, so the costs balance out with reduced size and performance capabilities.

Automatic dirt bikes are much more affordable since they are usually designed for kids and don’t offer as good performance as manual dirt bikes.

2. Size And Weight

Manual dirt bikes are very large since they have big engines and are suited for adults. There are also manual dirt bikes that are smaller and suited for kids, but you’ll rarely see an automatic dirt bike exclusively for adults. Automatic dirt bikes are smaller, and therefore suited to children. While some are marketed towards adults, the lower seat heights usually restrict this to shorter riders.

Note that manual dirt bikes are much heavier than automatic dirt bikes. One of the things that make manual dirt bikes heavier is the gearbox, which can be quite heavy itself. However, the larger overall size also contributes to the heavier weight.

3. Handling

As you might have guessed, automatic dirt bikes are much easier to ride than manual dirt bikes. If you’ve never ridden a dirt bike before, it might take a long time to get used to using the clutch properly and switching gears.

It’s one of the main reasons why automatic dirt bikes are designed primarily for kids or beginner riders. They are also good for long rides, especially if you ride off the road. Switching gears all the time can make the ride exhausting if you are not used to the manual transmission.

4. Fun Factor

Many riders that have tried both automatic and manual dirt bikes find the manual transmission provides much more fun. This is also a common viewpoint for cars, with many people insisting manual is the only way to really drive a car.Manual dirt bikes provide better speed and acceleration, which makes them much better for racing too.

5. Safety Aspect

When it comes to safety, manual dirt bikes are technically more dangerous. While automatic dirt bikes are very safe to ride, manual bikes provide better performance and can reach high speeds. This can itself lead to more danger, but the combination of high speeds and the extra control required for the clutch and gears make manual dirt bikes a bit more dangerous for beginners.

6. Maintenance Requirements

When it comes to maintenance, manual dirt bikes are much easier to maintain, especially those with 2-stroke engines. You don’t need any special tools or machines to maintain a manual dirt bike, and you can even do it in your garage.

Automatic dirt bikes, on the other hand, have more moving parts and complicated engineering inside the gearbox.Also, the clutch is controlled by a computer, which is another complication added to the mix.

For example, if you happen to have issues with the computer, you can’t fix it in your garage. In that case, you would need specialized tools and computer interfaces, even to find out what is the problem. Since you would need to hire a specialist, it directly affects the cost as well. However, these transmissions are built to last, so you shouldn’t encounter too many problems.

Automatic Dirt Bikes

As the name suggests, an automatic dirt bike is a dirt bike with automatic transmission. This kind of transmission automates the process of engaging and disengaging the gears, and also the process of gear selection.

However, fully automatic dirt bikes are not very common and are usually designed for kids. Unlike cars with automatic transmissions, automatic dirt bikes are more correctly stated as semi-automatic bikes.

Dual-Clutch Transmission

Semi-automatic dirt bikes take care of the clutch operation, you still need to shift gears with your left foot. Also, you need to open and close the throttle during gear changes. This clutch mechanism is commonly referred to as DCT or dual-clutch transmission.

Dirt bikes with a DCT mechanism have no clutch lever on the left side of the handlebar, and the operation of the clutch is handled by the computer. Not many bikes have this type of clutch, but one of the most popular is Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin.

Another mechanism that is used in automatic dirt bikes is CVT, which stands for continuously variable transmission. Instead of having traditional gears in the gearbox, this system uses a belt and a pulley system. The pulleys vary in size and change according to the current RPM.

However, this technology loses lots of energy through friction, and can also give the rider a weird feeling and make some strange noises. Although it has not proved to be very popular, this technology is still used in some dirt bikes designed for kids.

Main Advantage Of Automatic Dirt Bikes

The main advantage of an automatic bike is that the learning curve for a beginner is not very steep. Also, they are much easier to control, which makes them suitable for kids. However, the acceleration and overall performance are not as good as that of manual dirt bikes.

Who Are Automatic Dirt Bikes For?

Automatic dirt bikes are designed primarily for children and people who are new to riding a dirt bike.Since the computer takes care of the clutch and gears, a beginner rider can easily concentrate on riding. However, most riders switch to a manual transmission when they learn to ride properly.

Manual Dirt Bikes

A manual dirt bike is a bike that has a manual transmission. The transmission is made up of gears of different sizes and a clutch that is used to engage and disengage the gears. Without the clutch, the gears would crack and break in no time!

On manual transmission bikes, the clutch is operated by a lever on the left side. Pulling the lever in disengages the gears, while releasing the lever does the opposite. The gear change is performed with a foot lever located on the left side of the bike.

Harder To Learn

Operating a manual transmission in bikes and cars takes some time and effort to master for people who are unfamiliar with the mechanism. The real struggle is getting the timing right when pulling the throttle and releasing the clutch.

Learning to ride a manual transmission dirt bike might seem like a tough task for a beginner. However, it takes much less time than you might expect.With an hour of practice on a terrain free from obstacles, you should learn the basics of riding a manual transmission bike fairly easily.

Manual dirt bikes provide much better performance than automatic dirt bikes, and being able to change the gears manually allows the rider to have more control over their riding. With fewer parts in the gearbox too and less reliance on computers, you shouldn’t have to worry about too many expensive repairs!

Final Words

There are quite a few key differences between automatic and manual dirt bikes, but the main one is the fact that automatic dirt bikes tend to be designed for kids. They’re typically cheaper and easier to ride, but they’re usually much smaller and offer poorer performance than manual dirt bikes.