Can You Ride A Dirt Bike In The Woods? Are ATVs Better?

If you are reading this, you are probably a huge fan of dirt bikes or maybe even have a dirt bike of your own. However, regardless of how experienced you are, you may be wondering if you can or should ride your dirt bike in the woods, or if you should stick to designated trails.

You can ride your dirt bike in the woods. The advantage of this is that it makes you far faster and more agile across long stretches of rough terrain than using an ATV. However, there are many rules and regulations that you need to be aware of before taking your dirt bike through the woods.

Below we will discuss all the things you need to know before you even consider taking your dirt bike through the woods. We will also cover some of the most common questions about this topic and help you decide whether a dirt bike or ATV is better for forested areas.

Should You Ride Your Dirt Bike In The Woods?

Whether or not you should ride your dirt bike in the woods depends on where you live and the kind of woods you’re planning to ride, but it can be extremely fun. However, you should always check the regulations and rules of the place where you are planning to ride.

As using a dirt bike in specific areas violates the rules, you could easily end up with a big financial penalty if you go against the laws of your area. Another question that you may also hear people asking is whether it is better to use a dirt bike or ATV in the woods, and both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Dirt Bike Or ATV?

First off, both of these vehicles come with certain advantages and disadvantages when it comes to riding in the woods. Dirt bikes, for instance, are much more fuel-efficient and faster than ATVs. Not only that but, due to their size, they can easily take you into smaller, tight areas that ATVs can’t reach.

Not to forget that dirt bikes are often much more affordable than ATVs. Still, if you are looking for a vehicle that provides maximum comfort, ATVs make a better choice. ATVs are also bigger, allowing you to carry passengers or store more things than you could with a dirt bike.

Is It Legal To Ride A Dirt Bike In The Woods?

Whether or not it is legal to ride your dirt bike in the woods depends on where you live and where you plan to ride. Some woodland areas will have a strict no-vehicle policy, while others may allow dirt bike riding in certain areas, so you need to do your research before you ride.

Your dirt bike is likely classified as an ‘Off Highway Vehicle,’ or OHV. This means the relevant authorities will usually treat your dirt bike differently to other vehicles like cars and motorcycles. This sometimes means you can ride in areas cars and other bikes can’t, but this is not always the case.

A general rule in wooded areas is that, if you’re allowed to ride your dirt bike at all, you’ll need to stick to designated paths or even specific areas. You’ll likely not be able to create your own trails or travel off-road, as this can cause major damage to the surrounding environment and the habitats of woodland animals.

It’s not always easy to find out information on whether you can or can’t ride your dirt bike in a specific woodland area, but that doesn’t mean you should just go ahead anyway. Always reach out to the relevant authorities if you can’t easily find the information you need elsewhere.

Advantages Of Riding Your Dirt Bike In The Woods


Comfort and weight are among the most important things when it comes to riding your dirt bike. As an average dirt bike weighs around 200 pounds, they can be ideal for riding in hard to reach areas. This includes dense forests or tight trails in the woods that might be too tough to maneuver an ATV in, for example.

Great Agility

If you are looking for an easy and fast woods riding experience, you can’t go wrong with a dirt bike. They are much more agile and faster than ATVs, and while their smaller size makes it easier to fit into tighter spaces, their speed and agility are great for taking on steep slopes and rough terrain.


When compared to ATVs, dirt bikes are often very affordable. Dirt bikes can save you thousands of dollars and, due to fuel efficiency, will save you even more over time. This makes them preferable for many that want to ride in the woods.

Disadvantages Of Riding Your Dirt Bike In The Woods

Not As Effective In Mud

Riding a dirt bike on rough terrains that have mud or in the snow can be quite challenging. You could easily get stuck in the snow or the mud and have a lot of difficulties getting the bike out of it. Because wooded areas are often damp and the ground receives little sunlight, mud and snow can linger in woods longer than they do in the open air.

Not Much Storage Space

While ATVs allow you to store and carry equipment and other items, dirt bikes are pretty limited. Because wooded areas are often quite secluded, you might need to bring more supplies with you (such as food and water) than you would to a trail that you might drive up to in your car with your bike in tow. This can make long riding sessions in the woods less achievable.  

Is Riding Your Dirt Bike In The Woods Safe?

Riding your dirt bike in the woods is safe as long as you know what you’re doing. While you’ll likely come across plenty of obstacles when riding your dirt bike in the woods, as long as you don’t push yourself too far and are mindful of your environment, you can stay safe.

Ideal Dirt Bike Setup For Riding In The Woods

The Right Bike

Not all types of dirt bikes are suitable for riding in the woods. Ideally, you should aim for dirt bikes that are lightweight, up to 200 pounds. Larger, heavier dirt bikes are going to offer less maneuverability, and while the extra power might be useful for some sections, they’re going to be harder to use in very wet or muddy areas where a lighter dirt bike is better.

Proper Safety Gear

No matter where you ride your dirt bike, having the right safety gear is key. Nowhere is this more important than in the woods, where you won’t be riding in clear air as much as on dedicated trails, and uneven terrain and obstacles present unique challenges. A helmet, knee pads, goggles, chest protector and good dirt bike boots are all absolutely essential.

Setting Up Your Bike

Because you’re likely to come across a lot of debris and mud when riding your dirt bike in the woods, it’s often a good idea to invest in some radiator guards and brake rotor guards. These will protect against debris and impacts should you come off the bike or hit a low hanging tree, for example. Invest in a sealed chain too if you don’t already have one.

Tuning your suspension for woods riding is also key, as you’re going to come across a lot of varied terrain. How best to do this will depend on the actual terrain you expect to encounter, and your own experience level and riding style.

Other small tweaks you might want to consider are bumping up your idle RPM to help avoid stalling on the rough terrain at slow speeds, and using thick side walled tires to protect against punctures and give you confidence that you can take on the toughest sections of the woods.

4 Best Dirt Bikes For Riding In The Woods

1. Kawasaki KLR650

This liquid-cooled, 5-speed dirt bike makes a great choice for riders who already have a decent amount of experience. The Kawasaki KLR650 has an engine displacement of 652cc and a seat height of over 34 inches.

The main reason we don’t recommend beginners to take to the woods with this dirt bike is that it weighs almost 400 pounds. This can make tighter wooded sections more difficult to handle, and it may be tougher to take on extremely wet sections.

2. Royal Enfield Himalayan

With around 24 horsepower and 411c engine displacement, the Royal Enfield Himalayan is an option that offers decent fuel efficiency. It is also more suitable for slightly shorter people as it has a seat height of 31.5 inches. The suspension of this dirt bike is also quite soft, making it great for rough terrain, but it is another heavier option.

3. BMW R 1200 GS

The BMW R 1200 GS makes a great choice for people who are looking for a very powerful dirt bike. The 4-stroke, 2-cylinder, air-cooled engine can deliver up to 98 horsepower. Plus, unlike the previous models, this dirt bike has a 6-speed transmission and can reach a speed of 213 kph, or 132 mph, great for cruising more open wooded areas at high speed.

4. Honda Trail 125

The Honda Trail 125 is a good choice for beginners who don’t have much experience riding dirt bikes. This air-cooled, 4-stroke, single-cylinder dirt bike makes a great choice for shorter people as it has a seat height of 31.5 inches. It weighs just 260 lbs, making it a very agile and nimble dirt bike, exactly what you need for riding in tight wooded areas.

Final Thoughts

Using a dirt bike for hunting can really come in handy. You will be able to hunt animals in dense areas with a lot of trees and obstacles. Dirt bikes are probably the most efficient way to hunt as their fuel consumption is lower than that of ATVs. Just check for restrictions before setting out.