If you’re new to the offroad motorcycling world, then it may not seem like there’s a difference between pit bikes and dirt bikes.
Yet there is a clear and concise difference between these two motorcycles. One that we can answer so clearly:
Dirt bikes are much more popular than pit bikes, with larger engines and more horsepower for the rider. Commonly, dirt bikes are used for recreational riding, enduro races, motocross and other competitive events with excellent performance specifications. Pit bikes are much smaller in their frame, with less power but they also cost 50% to 80% less than the equivalent dirt bike.
One motorbike is a stallion and one is a pony, yet the pony can be a heck of a lot of fun with the engine thumping along. We’ll cover the differences more acutely with the information below.
Manufacturers and Pricing
Pit bikes typically come from China and use inferior parts and build quality. They have created a reputation for not quite lasting past 5,000 miles while a dirt bike can rack up between 15,000 and 30,000 miles quite easily, depending on the rider and the routine maintenance performed.
Historically, dirt bikes have been made in Japan and Europe with mainstream manufacturers including Honda, Yamaha, KTM and Suzuki. An entire industry has stemed from this with off-shoots into racing, adventure motorcycling and stuntwork. In recent years, some Chinese dirt bikes have come into the market offering reasonably good performance for less than the price of a typical dirt bike.
You can get into pit bike riding for less than dirt bike riding, though the longevity and parts availability is questionable.
Engine and Performance
Dirt bikes are considered the standard-offering in the offroad motorcycling world. Their engines are between 250cc and 690cc for adults, with 250cc and 450cc being the most common. Typically you’ll choose a 250cc for forest trails because they’re light and nimble, while a 450cc is best for long sweeping trails at higher speeds, including some highway riding.
Pit bikes are just smaller motorcycles overall and you won’t really see anything past 250cc. In fact, they’re generally smaller than this. 150cc isn’t much of an engine and for an adult weighing 200 pounds, it’s going to be a struggle to get this up to speed fast.
A dirt bike will always accelerate faster than a pit bike. Further more, the top speed of a dirt bike is 2x to 3x of even the most powerful pit bike.
Body Shape and Design
Pit bikes are small. In fact, they’re so small that you can fit one into the back of some SUV’s. That is…if you fancy the smell of rubber and fuel while you’re hauling down the highway.
Because they’re small, they’re easy to throw around on the trails. This makes them an ideal choice for kids and teenagers who want to get into riding, but don’t quite want to become a superstar on the throttle just yet. They certainly make a great dirt bike for learning without the massive capital outlay.
Dirt bikes can feel quite large in comparison. This larger size is there to accommmodate a big engine with a large fuel tank and bigger tires. Even the suspension needs to be made larger to compensate for this additional weight.
Which One: Dirt Bike vs Pit Bike?
Essentially, which one do you want to choose? Each sounds like a good deal.
This often comes down to several points:
- How often you want to go riding
- What your budget is to buy a new motorcycle
- The terrain that you’re likely to be riding
If you’re committed towards riding on gnarly tracks, sand dunes and forest trails, then you’ll certainly want a dirt bike. Sure – these will cost you a few pennies but will reward you with many smiles for years to come.
For casually riding around in the backyard or relatively flat area, the pit bike would be a good segway into riding. For someone learning to ride and doesn’t want all that weight and power just yet, then they’re perfect for learning the ropes before upgrading down the road.