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Chinese Dirt Bikes: Are They Worth Buying?

Chinese dirt bikes are starting to really flood the market, and yet some people are questioning if they are any good.

Should you buy one? Are they reliable? Can you get parts? All good questions to ask.

Chinese dirt bikes are considered to be second-rate versions of their Japanese and European counterparts. Parts are harder to source and with limited dealerships stocking Chinese-made dirt bikes, they are only valuable for those who are on tight budgets to buy a new motorcycle. Even then, their engines don’t quite have the power or reliability as proven MX and trail bikes.

Buying one does seem like a great proposition. After all, you can pick one up new for often less the price of a used (yet well maintained) KTM or Yamaha of the same engine size.

The Value of Chinese Dirt Bikes

Where such dirt bikes are winning are those who demand new motorcycles, yet can’t afford the pricing. Even something reasonable from Honda or Suzuki is still going to set back individuals $7,000 for a decent trail bike. For the MX rider, add in a couple of thousand.

What makes them better is merely the price. Parts availability? More difficult. Power on tap? Reduced. Sound? Mild.

Yet Chinese bikes are improving in their build quality often. In fact, most of their customers have very few complaints and warranties are quite generous. While the ‘Made in China’ feelings do come across dirt bike riders, there isn’t generally an issue here.

If riders do save themselves a few bucks on the new price, this means they can spend more on quality riding gear. Likewise, that’s a lot of tanks of gas before they need to call it a day.

For parents trying to get their kids into dirt bikes on the cheap, then Chinese models represent great value. After all, the kids are likely to outgrow their motorcycles within a couple of years and this constant upgrading can be an expensive process.

As for racing, they’re not the type of bike that will win any medals yet. The industry is still developing and the technology and budgets for engine enhancements belong with the existing brands.

Popular Models

There are popular models out there and some you can even buy on Amazon which is surprising. They’ll actually arrive in a small crate which you unbox and then you’ll just need to add fuel, oil and throw on your riding gear.

Currently, the best brands are:

  1. Zongshen
  2. GPX
  3. CSC
  4. TAO
  5. Apollo
  6. Razor
  7. XTremepowerUS
  8. Coolster

These are mostly kids dirt bikes which are Made in China which come in numerous variants from 50cc to 125cc and even some 250cc models. That said, there is a rise in dual-sport and adventure motorcycles coming from China.

Yep – you’re probably going to be quite surprised at the power of a Chinese dirt bike, but don’t expect it to win any time trials or races yet. That’s reserved for the electric equilavents and the Japanese/Euro contenders.

Also, consider that these bikes generally don’t come with eStart (and so you’ll have to spend time kick-starting your dirt bike) but with the price you pay, you shouldn’t expect too much. Also, the quality just isn’t there nor is there any proper MX inspiration. Those that make Chinese dirt bikes generally aren’t those who actually ride these. They are simply built to a price to serve a segment of the market who wants to get into the sport, yet can’t afford to.

Final thoughts

For a very long time, the bulk of the parts and riding gear has actually come from China. If you’re against China, then unfortunately you’ve actually been using their gear for most of your rides. Think of your jersey, gloves, kick stand, handlebar grips and even the tank.

Now – China has realized that they could build the dirt bikes themselves and offer them at a fraction of the price of Japanese and Euro equilavents. However, their Research and Developing is lacking and with little inspiration given that the manufacturers don’t really ride bikes, and instead copy others.

Yet we’re excited to see the development of the Chinese motorcycling industry over this decade. If they built a bike that was both excellent to ride and at an affordable price point, then consider ourselves converted.

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