This guide explores the many dirt bikes for kids under 12 that are available in the market today, from Hondas to KTMs and Yamahas.
Children are mesmerized by the fun that can be had on two wheels. Ripping up the dirt and racing their friends are memories that they will cherish for a lifetime.
Choosing the right size and type of dirt bike for a child can be tricky. You want to give them a bike that’s the right size but not too powerful just yet.
Best Dirt and MX Bikes for Kids
In writing this guide, I’ve taken on my industry experience and also conducted a lot of research on what other parents have bought already.
I’ve broken this down into age groups: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. I haven’t split this into gender as boys and girls can generally handle the same bikes at the same age.
Before that, I wanted to provide some insights on what parents should be looking for:
Children’s Dirt Bike Seat Height
More important than the power or manufacturer is the seat height. You’ll want your child to stand flat-footed from Day 1. Sure – they will outgrow the bike in a few years but confidence is key when riding. If they can’t touch the ground properly then this massively affects their confidence on the trails.
This children’s dirt bike sizing chart which takes into account their standing height will be helpful:
|Kid’s Standing Height
|20″ to 23″
|50cc dirt bike or
electric dirt bike or
electric balance bike
|100cm to 110cm
|23″ to 25″
|50cc to 80cc
|110cm to 120cm
|24″ to 26″
|50cc to 80cc
|120cm to 130cm
|26″ to 28″
|80cc to 110cc
|130cm to 140cm
|28″ to 30″
|80cc to 110cc
|140cm to 150cm
|29″ to 31″
|110cc to 125cc
|150cm to 160cm
|30 to 32″
|110cc to 125cc
Just remember that when measuring, your child will stand 20mm taller with boots on. We recommend boots highly and have written more on protective gear for kids who ride dirt bikes. Also, while this makes sense to many people, be sure to measure your children without their helmet off.
Weight of the Motorcycle
Another important factor is the weight of your child’s dirt bike. You won’t want anything super heavy, especially if they are smaller than normal.
Not only is it harder for them to control heavy dirt bikes, but it can pin them down in the event of an accident. Often dirt bikes are heavier than the child themselves.
This is yet another reason to get an electric dirt bike. Generally, these are half the weight and don’t have a hot engine which could cause 3rd-degree burns.
Brands and Dealers
There are many fancy companies with bling motorcycles, but you can get a cheap dirt bike for kids quite easily off Craigslist. This will potentially save you thousands of dollars.
But be warned! Stay away from the no-name brands. We only recommend the big 4: KTM, Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki. Buy these 2nd hand and you’ll save a fortune.
The no-name brands are plagued with issues and poor quality components. Finding parts for these are very difficult as well, paired with low resale value.
Often dealers actually have used dirt bikes. All you need to do is ask them since other families trade in their old dirt bikes at the end of each year.
Automatic vs Manual
Some dirt bikes for kids are automatic while others are manual with gears and a clutch. Which one do you choose? That’s quite simple actually.
If this is their 1st dirt bike, then get an automatic. We even recommend an electric dirt bike as they will be lighter and therefore easier to handle.
For children older than 10 years old, it’s a good time to introduce them to clutch control. For those who are younger, stick with the one-speed machines.
A great dirt bike for learning on in Australia is the Honda CT110. This is a farm favourite and virtually indestructible which is why Australia Post use them so much.
2-Stroke vs 4-Stroke for Kids
Lastly, a common question out there is whether children should have 4-stroke or 2-stroke dirt bikes. We can answer that question very easily.
For children who race motocross (MX), 2-stroke dirt bikes are very common. For those who just want to ride around the farm or some fire trails, 4-strokes are more popular.
In fact, the entire racing community has started moving away from 4-strokes. They are much faster nowadays and many people are sick of mixing fuels.
2-strokes are also very noisy. If you live near your neighbours, then make sure you get a 4-stroke. They will definitely praise you for it.
As you might have noted in this kids bike sizing comparison, we highly recommend electric dirt bikes. These have 1-stroke and have constant power.
Best Dirt Bikes for 5-Year Olds
There are some very good contenders on the market to help children get started with offroad motorcycling. Through our experience, we’ve rounded up these models:
The top 3 dirt bikes for 5-year-old children are the Kuberg Electric MX bike, Yamaha PeeWee 50 (PW50) and Honda CRF50F and the These can include training wheels for 5-year olds who are yet to balance proper balance and control.
You’ll find these dirt bikes easily available in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. Look out for offers from Craigslist and Gumtree and you’ll find parents upgrading because their son or daughter has outgrown their bike.
Best Dirt Bikes for 6-Year Olds
At 6 years old, most children know how to pedal a bicycle confidently. However, they might not be ready for a bigger dirt bike just yet.
The best dirt bikes available for 6-year-olds are the KTM 50SX Mini., Yamaha’s PW50 and the Honda CRF50F. Each of these children’s dirt bikes has a small petrol-driven motor similar to a chainsaw and automatic gearbox which is ideal for the 6-year-old who is learning to ride motocross and trails.
The KTM, in particular, is a more powerful beast than the Yamaha and Honda. For that reason, you can expect to pay twice as much.
Best Dirt Bikes for 7-Year Olds
At 7 years old, children are really starting to gain some awareness and agility when riding both bicycles and dirt bikes. They might even try some small jumps and enter races.
Children who are 7 years old will do well with a Yamaha TT-R50E, KTM 65MX and (depending on their height) the Suzuki JR80. These 2-stroke dirt bikes will give kids who are 7 a lot more fun than the entry-level bikes on the market, while being affordable for parents too.
Just remember that the weights for these dirt bikes are higher. If your child is underweight for their height, we would recommend an electric MX bike instead.
Best Dirt Bikes for 8-Year Olds
Children who reach 8 years old are very much now into the riding scene. They might ponder often about riding their bicycle or motorcycle on weekends while at school. There are some really good options out there now:
The KTM 85 SX is widely regarded to be a great dirt bike for boys and girls who are 8 years old. However, the power is quite excessive so it’s best for children who are quite experienced. The 2 best alternative recommendations are the Yamaha PeeWee 80 and the Honda CRF80F.
Keep in mind that at this stage, height differences really start to occur within children. So it’s best to head into a dealership and try a few dirt bikes before deciding.
Best Dirt Bikes for 9-Year Olds
At 9 years old, children will pretty much use the same dirt bikes as their 8-year old counterparts.
For 9-year-old children, the KTM 85 SX is the best dirt bike in the market. However, the price is high and the dirt bike itself suits experienced riders. Now, for 9-year-old kids who haven’t ridden before, the Yamaha PeeWee 80 and the Honda CRF80F are the most affordable and easy to learn.
If this happens to be their 1st dirt bike, then this is something they can certainly keep until their teenage years.
Best Dirt Bikes for 10-Year Olds
We’re now into double-digit years! Kids will have a heightened sense of ownership and will be very eager to get out on to the dirt trails on weekends.
We recommend Yamaha’s TT-R110E for 10-year olds as well as the Honda CRF110F and KTM’s 85SX. While the KTM has a smaller engine, it is more responsible and agile, and simply a lot more fun for kids at 10 years old.
At this stage, most kids will handle gear shifting and clutch control quite easily. This helps them in their teenage years when they finally get their motorcycle licence.
Best Dirt Bikes for 11-Year Olds
Children at this age will have a sense of what type of riding suits them. Whether it’s MX tracks and weekend racing, or simply hitting some local trails – they will be eager to leave the homework behind.
We can easily recommend the KTM 85 SX SW Minibike as the best dirt bike around for 11-years old, however, it’s really for children who are experienced riders. The next best recommendations are the Yamaha TT-R110E and Honda’s CRF110F which are more affordable.
As always, head into a dealership to get measured properly. Generally dealerships only stock one brand so plan a day where you visit multiple dealerships at once.
Best Dirt Bikes for 12-Year Olds
This is the last year before their teenage years so kids are really starting to rise in their maturity and their height. For this reason, we can really recommend some more powerful offroad motorcycles.
For downright reliability, Yamaha’s TT-R125LWE is the best dirt bike for a 12-year old while the KTM 125 SX wins for outright performance and race-ready attributes. Choose the Honda CRF125F for something in the middle ground with good value for money.
This is likely a dirt bike that will last until they are 15 or so. For that reason, choose something wisely. The KTM has both the looks and track-orientated agility, so while it might be a handful now, they are likely to get used to the power in a few months.
Tips For Buying
Once you’ve decided on the right dirt bikes for your children, it’s time to head out the front door.
If you’re buying new:
- Look at the warranty available and what it actually covers
- Shop around for finance options as dealerships could overcharge
- See if you can get a package deal including a dirt bike trailer
- Ask them if they can reduce the seat height through the suspension
If you’re buying used:
- Do your homework! The dirt bike could actually be stolen
- Check with your state’s registration body for finance owing
- Ask for a test-ride and run the engine for at least 10 minutes
- Look for any significant wear marks as evidence of excessive use
Often it’s better to buy used dirt bikes from dealerships. They have a reputation to maintain so they will ensure it has a clear title.
Buying your son or daughter their 1st dirt bike will be a moment to really cherish. Don’t rush in immediately but instead do your research and homework.
Stick with the main manufacturers who have decades of reputation with many parts available. The older dirt bikes shouldn’t be discounted either, especially as children are prone to crash. If they scratch up the plastics then you won’t be frustrated and neither will they.
Above all else, praise them for having the enthusiasm to enter this sport and enjoy this family time together.