Lifting a dirt bike up is serious business and you might even need a hydraulic jack mechanism to pull it off. If you also like to think about safety, check out our recent post to make sure your equipment is exactly what you need.
That being said, how can you know exactly what size of a dirt bike is a good fit? Luckily for you, we just happened to be thinking about the same thing so here’s a guide on choosing one for your own size.
Choosing the Best Fit
Picking the perfect sized dirt bike is really an art form of its own. To be able to ride your bike in an enjoyable way, there are a lot of different factors you have to put into the equation. Your main goal when you are on the road should be to be able to stay comfortable and secure, so going for something too large or too small can have serious repercussions later on.
Keep in mind that even if you are getting your first bike at 18 years of age or at 50 years of age, there are still several important things you have to take into consideration. Even if you are a grown-up, your health and well-being can be seriously jeopardized if you get on a dirt bike without preparing yourself beforehand.
The Experience Level
Experience is a critical factor that weighs heavily on the “What bike should I buy?” decision. First off, if you are buying a bike for a new rider who is less than 5 feet tall and 10 years of age, you will most definitely want one that is under the 110cc range. From that stock, there are plenty of options that come with three-speed transmissions and automatic clutches that are great for helping the young one learn before getting used to riding bikes with a clutch system.
However, if you are an adult just learning the ropes, you will want to get something more appropriately sized for you. Keep in mind that you should still keep the cc’s under 250 to get used to the feeling of a dirt bike. As long as you’re over 15, you need to get used to the clutch system even for your first bike. If you are already good with that, size is the next factor to go for.
Your size is essential for your overall safety, stability, and comfort on a new bike. Never choose one that looks “cool” but fails to meet your size criteria, since you likely won’t be using it for very long. One of the best ways to know a dirt bike fits you is to get on it, sit forward and see if your feet touch the ground.
If you are flat-footed on the ground while doing this, the ride is likely too small for you and you should not get it. With this size, you will have more weight on the suspension which will really translate into you feeling every bump or rock on the trail. However, if you are barely able to stand up straight and using your toes to find balance, the bike is probably too large.
Ideally, you want to be able to put one-third of your foot on the ground to find your best-sized bike. This way, you’re neither flat footed nor unbalanced, so if any big bump comes your way you can control the bike by putting your feet down.
Like we said before, the amount of suspension you need will change dramatically according to your size so you should really plan ahead for this. For beginner riders who weigh less than 100 or 150 pounds, it might be smart to work with something under 250cc to get accustomed to the bike’s height, weight and feeling.
If you go the other way, a tenured rider who weighs 200 pounds will, of course, need something a little sturdier. You will want to choose a ride that has enough suspension to take you down any dirt path comfortably so go for something in the 250-450cc range. Once again, beginner riders should not start with a bike that is too small because their weight could affect the suspension.
Once people get more experienced, they often learn how to ride much faster on smaller bikes instead of taller ones, so you can see how tenure again plays an important role even if you are heavier or taller. A 450cc bike might be a little bit too powerful for the novice rider, but going for one beneath 250cc for a motorcycling veteran is nothing short of wasting the ride.
The Finer Points of Choosing a Bike
First of all, it’s common knowledge that people usually see a larger dirt bike, get intimidated and instead opt for a smaller version just because it feels safer. That is not the attitude you should bring to the table while doing this. Some would-be riders also erroneously think that the taller you are, the higher CC of engine you should get. As we have just shown you, this is wrong.
Builders will sometimes put higher CC engines on shorter bikes to accommodate riders who are shorter but want more power. Again, we stress the importance of not getting a bike which allows you to stand flat-footed as it increases the likelihood of a foot injury. Don’t forget that 65% of all broken bones while riding dirt bikes are below the waist.
Since some people have longer legs and some people have taller upper bodies, it’s hard to give you an indication for your best seat height with a fine-tuned precision. We’ll try to show you a few values as a starting point, but don’t obsess over them and go with what feels good.
If you’re 6 feet or taller, you will want to go for a 37.5” or taller seat height. A person who is 5’10 will need something between 35-39” while people between 5’6-5’8 will go for heights between 34-38”. After this, you simply scale it down and look for the best size specifically for you by trial and error.