A Peek into Dirt Bike’s Evolution and History
There is no one name you can pinpoint as the inventor of off-road motorcycles. Dirt bikes developed as part of the evolution process and from the adventurous minds of street bikers. However, the first proper dirt bike design that gained success and recognition in the market was from Honda.
Soichiro Honda introduced the first most potent models of dirt bikes in 1959 when he opened his shop in Los Angeles. At that time, a mixed bag of Harleys, Triumphs and some British models dominated the market.
At that time, there was no such thing as trail biking. All bikes designed and sold were conventional street bikes, which were then used as a mode of transportation, or customized for racing.
By the time the dirt bike boom happened in America (1968), Honda’s brand was very well known. From the Trail 50s to Super Cubs, these street-legal, lightweight, trendy, dragonflies were everywhere. The Z50 Mini-Trail in 1968 was the first real bike made for dirt and terrain riding.
With a three-speed unit and long handles, the bike could easily pack into the trunk of a car. With sales over 450,000, the Z50 Mini-Trail still holds the record for American Honda’s all-time best-selling motorbike.
The arrival of YZ250 by Yamaha in 1975 followed a never-ending series of innovation and technology in the sport. Today, there are hundreds of various brands and variants available.
What is a dirt bike anyway?
Dirt bikes, or off-road motorcycles, are intended to be driven on rough, off-road terrains. These come with different variations and names, such as the motocross bike, trail bike, or enduro bike.
The inception of these bikes started when some bikers started modifying the suspension systems on their street motorbikes for adventure purposes. Rough terrains meant that the bikes needed to be lightweight. Hence, the modifiers would take off unnecessary items to reduce weight for their adventurous runs.
Today, dirt bikes are everywhere. You can find them in a variety of forms, sizes, and price ranges. These include standard features, such as lightweight, simplistic designs, and knobby tires that help to dig into the dirt and maintain balance.
The little list of important questions!
As a parent, you probably have several questions on how to find the perfect first dirt bike for your kid. We have researched and listed down some thoughts that you may encounter:
- What size will fit my kid?
- Is my kid too young to drive a dirt bike?
- Should I allow him to compete with other bikers of his age?
- Can my child comprehend the safety aspects of this vehicle?
You, as a parent, can only answer these questions. We recommend not spending too much on your child’s first bike. Kids tend to be temperamental and flighty and they may find another interest pretty quickly.
Similarly, if your neighbor’s five-year-old is driving a dirt bike, it does not necessarily mean that your six-year-old is ready too. Some kids have natural abilities, while others may require enrollment in a riding class.
Additionally, all these above questions go beyond buying the right bike. Other factors, such as dirt bike tracks in your area, state laws, safety gear as well as your financial capacity also impact you decision making process.
A few tips on how to choose the best dirt bike for your kid!
According to Stuart Wickes of the Family Adventure Project, 85% of children age six to 12 in the UK wants more adventure. We all think a little adventure is a good idea, but mostly it just remains a thought and never really happens. So, it may come as a surprise to many parents when a child requests an off-road motorbike.
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Many parents will never be comfortable letting their kids ride a motorcycle. However, do consider that there are bikes and tracks specially designed for kids of a younger age. Therefore, they can get into this sport as soon as you are ready.
A few points to consider while buying a dirt bike are:
- The posture of your kid while sitting on the bike.
- Bike size
- Suspension system
- Automatic or manual clutch
- Price range and affordability
Secondly, going big does not always mean going right. A big bike will be difficult for your kid to handle. Ideally, a 50cc engine and a small frame size are ideal for smaller children.
Thirdly, looking for a used dirt bike can also be a good idea. Not only will this save you money from buying new, but kids change their minds about things for a myriad of reasons. If they change their minds you won’t be out a lot of money. There are plenty of websites the list used bikes such as Craigslist, Bike Trader, etc.
Lastly, a test drive is always a good idea before making the final purchase. You can only check the features thoroughly after a test drive.
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Big names such as Suzuki and Kawasaki make 100cc versions of heavier bikes in smaller sizes and in an economical range. You will see a variety of other features as well. These features include automatic liquid-cooled transmissions, automatic as well as a manual clutch systems, and foot-pedal gear shift. Keep in mind that more features also means more expensive.
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When you go on a bike hunt for your kid, you will come across many different variations and models. The best dirt bike for your kid is always the one that your child can safely handle and drive himself.
A 50cc engine is the smallest engine available in the market. If, however, during the test drive, your child finds it too slow, you can always look for other options such as 65cc, 80cc, 100cc, and 125cc. However, a 250cc engine is too big for most children to manage. It will be better to save it for their teen years.
Compare All Dirt Bikes
In the market for a Dirt Bike? Check out this guide comparing the features of some of the best ones in our opinion.
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