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Why American-Made Dirt Bikes Don’t Exist (Yet…)

Buying a dirt bike Made in America is something that we would all welcome in the offroad motorcycling community. After all, some countries in Europe produce their own bikes.

The reason why you won’t find dirt bikes or just about any motorcycle manufactured in America very straight forward:

Making dirt bikes locally is expensive due to high labor costs and upfront capital in order to bring a new line of motorcycles to the marketplace. Expense R&D plus compliance testing also must be done in order to be permitted to sell dirt bikes locally. In most cases, it’s simply cheaper to have dirt bikes manufactured overseas and shipped to America via cargo ship.

It’s this unprofitability at least for the first 5 to 7 years that really stops local companies from starting up. We’re too used to the big brands that newer brands aren’t trusted and aren’t proven for reliability, nor do they have massive parts availability.

Made in America dirt bikes

You’ll find the odd pit bike which is made locally and we’ve even found some YouTubers creating one-off models in their garages through parts they have sourced from eBay, but this is a rarity. To have a dirt bike manufactured at scale locally will require large factories, established supply chains, hundreds of staff and extensive marketing across trade shows and dealerships.

It wouldn’t surprise us if it took more than 50 million US dollars to bring a dirt bike to the marketplace that was manufactured locally. We also need to consider that Americans don’t mind buying dirt bikes which are manufactured in Japan or Europe, and even now – they don’t mind China either.

You’ll also have to consider the massive market-share that Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki, Husqvarna and KTM have in the market. This share is extensive and hard to penetrate for many years to come, as they have proven themselves as rock-solid dirt bikes for the race track and weekend warrior.

Local vs Overseas Manufactured

When we consider the cost of imported dirt bikes which are between $5,000 and $16,000, it’s considered quite normal. If dirt bikes were Made in America, you can expect them to cost between $15,000 and $27,000 due to increased labor costs and marketing spend required to bring them to the marketplace.

Given the budget-conscious nature of most dirt bike riders, it’s understandable that this isn’t financially sustainable. Such high prices would last for a few years until the economies of scale take over and hard costs can be reduced while producing an excellent unit.

The low-cost nature of importing is one thing that keeps dirt bikes coming to North America by boat. It’s only about $150 to ship a dirt bike in a container when double-stacked from Europe, so this cost is very low and with established manufacturing plants in Europe and logistics in place, there isn’t much of a cost saving in this regard.

In Summary

American-Made dirt bikes don’t exist today though some manufacturers did attempt to come into the market in years gone by. Given the high setup costs, it’s just not financially sustainable unless someone has a large pool of investment behind them, and even so, the risks and payback period are too high.

Europe produces the very best motocross, adventure motorcycles and dirt bikes in the market and will continue to do so for many years to come. That said – China is coming out with some affordable yet high quality units that have attracted the attention of budget-conscious North American riders.

Should you want to support local manufacturers, spend your money in local dealerships for bikes, apparel, parts and servicing. This will help keep others in jobs and local economies flowing.

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