The 9 Best Dirt Bike Brands – The Ultimate Guide

Dirt bike riding is a sport that is constantly growing in popularity. When it comes to dirt bike racing, not only do the riders enjoy it, but the spectators do as well. There are a lot of dirt bike brands out there, and it might be a bit difficult to choose the best one for you.

The 9 best dirt bike brands are:

  1. Yamaha
  2. Suzuki
  3. Honda
  4. KTM
  5. Kawasaki
  6. Beta
  7. Maico
  8. Bultaco
  9. Husqvarna

These are some of the best dirt bike brands you can choose from. Plus, we will provide you with 2 most popular dirt bikes of each brand and with their history as well. At the end, we will discuss how important is the brand when buying a dirt bike.

The 9 Best Dirt Bike Brands

1. Yamaha

The Yamaha Corporation was founded by Torakusu Yamaha back in 1887 and they originally built only pianos. Over the years they branched out and started manufacturing all types of electronics, computer products, instruments, and even robotics. Because of their musical roots, the logo consists of 3 interlocking tuning forks.

The current CEO of Yamaha, Genichi Kawakami, made the decision to expand into motorized devices. In 1954 they builtthe 2-stroke road bike, called the Yamaha YA-1, with an engine displacement of 125cc. However, the first dirt bike Yamaha produced was back in 1968.

The DT-1 enduro dirt bike with a 2-stroke, 250cc engine claimed to be the first true off-road motorcycle. It was a huge success for Yamaha. In 1997, Yamaha produced the YZ400F. Doug Henry won an AMA Supercross event with the YZ400F in Las Vegas.

Today, Yamaha is a leader in the motorcycle industry and is producing new bikes that win consistently. Some of the best and definitelythe most popular choicesamong dirt bike riders are the Yamaha YZ125 and the Yamaha WR450F.

Yamaha YZ125

The YZ125 model is well-known for being quite agile and lightweight. It features a great power-to-weight ratio and has the engine displacement of 125cc. The engine is 2-stroke and liquid-cooled. The Yamaha YZ125 is race-ready, featuring an aluminum handlebar, gripper seats, and titanium footpegs.

Yamaha WR450F

The engine displacement of this dirt bike is 450cc and is also liquid-cooled. Unlike the YZ125, this one features a 4-stroke engine. This dirt bike is designed for advanced riders who need aggressive performance. Plus, it also features a class-leading suspension system.

2. Suzuki

Suzuki produced their first motorized bike back in 1952 and called it “Power Free”. It was a standard bicycle powered by a 2-stroke engine. Before Suzuki started in the motor industry, they produced looms for weaving cotton and silk.

The Suzuki Motor Company was originally called the Suzuki Loom Company as they had been producing looms since 1909. However, they officially changed the name in 1954 and brought their first car to market in 1955. In 1955, Suzuki also produced the Colleda 125cc Motorbike.

After opening the US Suzuki Motor Corporation, a subsidiary of the Suzuki Motor Company, they released the T20 motorbike. It was also known as the “fastest 250cc bike in the world”. The TM400 was their first motocross bike, released in 1971.

Nowadays, Suzuki is known all over the world for manufacturing a wide range of products, from motorbikes and cars to the motors in boats. The Suzuki RM125 and Suzuki RM-Z250 are their most successful dirt bikes and very common choices among both novice and advanced riders.

Suzuki RM125

The RM125 first arrived in 1981 and today it is the most successful Suzuki 125cc dirt bike. The engine of this dirt bike is 2-stroke and liquid-cooled, offering outstanding performance. This dirt bike is not only ridden by beginners, but by advanced riders as well.

Suzuki RM-Z250

This model was released in 1979 and has become known as one of the best 250cc dirt bikes. It features a 250cc, 4-stroke engine that is liquid-cooled. The RM-Z250 comes with a wet-clutch and a 5-speed transmission.

3. Honda

The Honda Motor Company was officially founded in 1948. They originally produced standard bicycles with small engines attached to them. The Dream D-Type was their first “complete” motorcycle,and it was produced in 1949.

In 1959, Honda opened a small shop in Los Angeles as well. When Honda first arrived in the USA, nobody wanted to set foot in their shops. However, that changed due to their massive advertising campaigns, and in the early 1960s Honda achieved great success in the USA.

In the late 1960s a popular range of dirt bikes started appearing. After a couple of years, in 1972, Honda released a motocross bike called CR250 Elsinore and it was one of the best motocross bikes back in its day.

Honda is now a very popular company that is constantly producing new, high-quality motorcycles. The Honda CRF250X and Honda CRF230F are a great choice if you are looking for high-quality dirt bikes that offer a good performance-to-price ratio.

Honda CRF250X

This dirt bike, aside from offering great and controllable power, also offers some very useful features. The electric starter makes starting the bike smooth and hassle-free. It also offers a wide powerband. The Honda CRF250X is very comfortable and provides a smooth riding experience.

Honda CRF230F

The CRF230F is a 4-stroke, air-cooled dirt bike that is well-known for being very reliable. Just like the CRF250X, it also features a push start button. The seat is super cushy, making the bike very comfortable. It’s also very light, weighing just 249 pounds.

4. KTM

Any racer or dirt bike rider is most likely familiar with the KTM brand. It is one of the leading motorcycle manufacturers in the world. The company was founded in 1934 by Hans Trunkenpolz. In their humble beginnings, they occupied a single repair shop in Mattighofen.

However, after the war they started producing their own motorcycles. The first prototype they ever created was the R100 and it was manufactured in 1951. The first KTM motorcycle that was imported in America was the GS125.

They started the production of enduro bikes as well as their 250cc MX bikes in 1973. Eight years later, in 1981, they produced their first liquid-cooled, 125cc MX, 2-stroke bike. Another feature KTM started adding to their dirt bikes was the hydraulic clutch.

In the 2000s, KTM won dozens of World Championship titles and became one of the most popular motorcycle companies. Some of the most desirable KTM dirt bikes nowadays are the 450 SX-F and the 350 SX-F.

KTM 450 SX-F

The engine on this dirt bike is quite lightweight and compact, but it offers a huge amount of power and has a wide powerband. The battery is also quite lightweight and powerful. The frame is quite stiff, which makes handling easy and offers great comfort and high-speed stability.

KTM 350 SX-F

The KTM 350 SX-F features a lightweight 4-stroke engine. Plus, you can easily fire up the engine with an electric starter. The stiff frame, along with the high-quality suspension of the 350 SX-F makes this dirt bike very comfortable. KTM 350 SX-F comes with a 5-speed transmission.

5. Kawasaki

Kawasaki was founded in 1896 and their primary focuses were electrical generating plants, shipbuilding, and railroad rolling stock. However, they turned their attention to the motorcycle industry in 1949 and began making engines for motorcycles.

The first engine they produced was a 150cc OHV, air-cooled 4-stroke and it could produce 3.9 hp at 4000 rpm. Their first complete motorcycle was called the Meihatsu, and it was produced in 1954.

The logo they used from 1961 to 1967 can be described as a flag inside a wing. In 1963 Meguro and Kawasaki were united into Kawasaki Motorcycle Co. Ltd. The first Kawasaki bike was produced in 1963 and it was called the B8-M. This motorcycle became a huge success very quickly.

Ever since, Kawasaki has been producing high-quality motorcycles, including dirt bikes. If you are looking for a powerful and reliable Kawasaki dirt bike, the KFX 450 is a great choice. Still, if you want something less powerful but still high-quality, you can’t go wrong with the KFX 250.

Kawasaki KFX 450

The KFX 450 has a great fuel capacity of 6.2 liters and is quite reliable. It features an electric starter as well.The seat height of the KFX 450 is 37.8 inches. The engine is 4-stroke, single-cylinder. Plus, it weighs just 247 pounds, so it’s fairly light.

Kawasaki KFX 250

As this one has a smaller engine displacement, the fuel capacity of 6 liters is very good. With the seat height of 37.2 it is great for beginners as well. Still, it is often a favorite choice of advanced riders as well. The 4-stroke engine offers a lot of reliable and controllable power.

6. Beta

Beta is an Italian motorcycle manufacturer that has been producing high-quality dirt bikes for decades. The company started producing motorcycles back in 1948. Through the 1950s and 1960s they were mostly focused on 2-stroke street bikes.

They started developing dirt bikes in the 1970s. Initially, the off-road models were enduro and motocross and in the 80s they started producing trials bikes as well. In 2005 they launched a series of enduro off-road bikes that had KTM engines in them.

By the 2010s Beta was producing both 2-stroke and 4-stroke dirt bikes using their own engines. Their most successful and most popular dirt bikes you can get at an affordable price are the Beta 300RR and the Beta 200RR.

Beta 300RR

The Beta 300RR features a counter-balancer, which reduces vibrations. This feature also improves the power delivery throughout the rpm range. This dirt bike is also quite stylish and modern looking. It has a new water pump system that improves the efficiency and the flowrate too.

Beta 200RR

This dirt bike is ideal for beginners as it is quite easy to ride and control. The 2-stroke 200cc engine is liquid-cooled. Another huge plus is that it features an electric starter. The 200RR is also very efficient and offers great performance.

7. Maico

Maico was founded by Ulrich Maisch in 1926. Originally, this company manufactured 123cc and 98cc 2-stroke engines. After World War II they began the production of their own complete motorcycles. In 1953 they produced their first motorcycle with a 4-speed transmission.

In the mid-1950s, Maico began making 2-stroke scooters. In 1981, Maico released the 490. It was one of the greatest motocross bikes back in its day. What’s more, Maico was the world leader in 500cc motorcycle sales at that time.

Maico dirt bikes have been known for their great fuel economy, high-quality construction, and affordable prices. The Maico dirt bikes riders most commonly choose are the Maico 700 and the Maico 501.

Maico 700

This model offers great performance, as well as decent fuel economy. The engine is liquid-cooled and keeps cool even on the toughest tracks. Maico did a magnificent job when it comes to the comfort factor of the 700 as well. Another huge plus of the Maico 700 are the high-quality Brembo brakes.

Maico 501

The Maico 501 is well-known for being quite lightweight. What’s more, it weighs just a few pounds more than the Maico 400. This dirt bike is very reliable and easy to handle. When it comes to Maico dirt bikes, this one is a very popular choice among advanced riders.

8. Bultaco

Bultaco was a Spanish manufacturer, specializing in 2-stroke motorcycles. This company was active from 1958 to 1983. It was formed by Francesc “Paco” Bulto, director of the Montesa motorcycle company. In 1957, Bulto decided to leave the Montesa company and a year later formed his own brand.

After Bulto set up his shop, things started developing very quickly. In 1959 Bultaco launched their first bike. It was a road-going 125cc Bultaco Tralla 101. Two months later, the company entered the Spanish Grand Prix and took 7 of the first 10 places.

Bultaco 360 El Bandido

This Spanish dirt bike arrived on the scene back in 1967. Back then it was just a 350cc model. However, they later increased the displacement to 362cc which offered 43.5 horsepower. The bike is easy to handle and offers great performance.

Bultaco MK360 Pursang

The MK360 is an ideal choice for beginners as it isn’t too powerful and has a low seat height. This model is a bit old and so the design may appear a bit odd, but definitely interesting. It provides you with a smooth and comfortable feel while riding.

9. Husqvarna

The Husqvarna company has the longest history with dirt bikes of all the companies on this list. Their dirt bikes went into production in 1903 in a place called Husqvarna in Sweden. Before that, and since 1689, this company had been producing rifles for the Swedish Army.

In the 1920s, Husqvarna started focusing more on international competitions. This resulted in a huge increase of popularity and boosted sales of their dirt bikes. In the 1970s, Husqvarna was dominating the off-road riding scene.

In 1986, an Italian company called Cagiva Group bought the motorcycle division. If you want to buy a reliable and powerful Husqvarna dirt bike, the TE 300i and the FE 501s make for really good choices.

Husqvarna TE 300i

The Husqvarna TE 300i, due to the WP XPLOR fork and the WP XACT shock, provides one of the highest quality, most comfortable rides in all conditions. Another huge plus of this dirt bike is the fact that it is street legal. The frame is very durable yet lightweight, making it a good choice for beginners.

Husqvarna FE 501s

This model is powered by a 510cc engine and uses a 6-speed transmission. The subframe of this dirt bike is made out of carbon, while the main frame is made out of chrome-moly steel. Due to the carbon construction of the subframe, this dirt bike is quite lightweight.

How Important Is The Brand When Choosing A Dirt Bike?

Buying a dirt bike from a popular brand, such as Yamaha or Suzuki, is often a great decision. They offer high-quality motorcycles with great performance, fuel efficiency, and longevity. Still, more popular brands often have higher prices. So, you need to think about whether or not your budget allows you to consider buying from one of the top brands.

Therefore, if you are looking for a dirt bike that is powerful, reliable and affordable, you should aim for less popular brands such as Husqvarna or Bultaco. While they’re cheaper than some of the others, they still produce high-quality dirt bikes. The key thing is to always do your research and consider buying secondhand if a specific bike is just outside your budget when brand-new.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for reliable, high-quality dirt bikes that offer great performance and longevity, you can’t go wrong with a Yamaha. It is currently one of the most popular motorcycle brands in the world, offering plenty of great dirt bikes. KTM and Kawasaki are also very common choices, as they are a bit more affordable, while still offering some very high-quality dirt bikes.