There are a lot of mini dirt bikes on the market, and you want to make sure your kids enjoy themselves as much as possible while staying safe. There are a lot of factors to take into account when choosing the right mini dirt bike for your specific needs. Below we have answered most of our frequently asked questions.
Mini dirt bikes fall into two broad categories: gas-powered and electric. If you would like to find out more about the differences and which would suit your more we have an article the pros and cons which you can find here.
Mini dirt bikes are designed to be ridden through moderately tough terrain. Most are operated on sidewalks, in backyards and around suburban neighborhoods. They are designed to take a bit of punishment since it is assumed that kids will be operating them. Depending on the make and model, some come with in-track suspension while others go without. This impacts the rider more than it does the dirt bike. However, it should be noted that in our tests, the bikes with suspension systems were more prone to failure simply because of the extra parts they featured. This was particularly true for mini dirt bikes with riders that eclipsed the maximum weight threshold the bike was designed for. While a mini dirt bike without a suspension system may be a bit rougher on the rider, it also makes the bike more sturdy and this results in less failures, maintenance and replacement parts.
If your child is planning to ride the dirt bike regularly, a suspension system is a good idea since any impacts (say from airborne acrobatics or jumps) will be mitigated and the health of the rider is prioritized. We found there was a trade-off between mini dirt bikes that protected the riders from impacts and those without suspension systems. While the suspension-equipped bikes were more comfortable to ride, they also failed more frequently. From a durability perspective, most bikes will fall in the same category. The deciding factor is how much your child will be operating the bike. If they will be using it regularly, expect to be spending a lot on maintenance and repairs. If not, a bike without a suspension system is adequate and will keep your secondary costs lower.
The speeds a mini dirt bike can reach are impacted by 2 factors: the output of the engine and the weight of the rider. Most mini dirt bike models feature a 49cc or 50cc 2-stroke engine. This is roughly the same size as a motor you might find on a chainsaw. Generally speaking, gas-powered dirt bikes reach 22 to 25 miles per hour while electric dirt bikes top out between 12 and 17 miles per hour. This makes electric ideal for beginners since the speeds they reach are controllable and easy to handle. We suggest some experience operating dirt bikes before moving on to gas-powered machines, although our tests showed that beginners were generally comfortable with the speeds they reached.
In general, as long as protective gear is worn, riders will not reach a velocity that poses a threat to their health. Keep in mind that larger riders will slow down the top velocity of any dirt bike, so finding a mini dirt bike that is properly sized for your child is very important. We suggest finding a bike that has a maximum weight limit about 25% higher than your child’s weight. For example, a bike that can handle 100 pounds is ideally suited to a child that weighs 75 pounds. This will allow them to grow into the bike and will allow you to retain the machine longer.
Operating times are directly affected by the type of mini dirt bike you are operating. With gas-powered bikes, the limiting factor is the size of the gas tank. Generally speaking, the bikes we tested had an operational time of approximately 20 minutes for a full tank of gas. Tank sizes can vary, but most feature a 0.2 gallon tank. This makes gas-powered bikes ideal for experienced, long-term dirt bike riders who do not want to take a break and intend to spend hours on the machine. Simply top up the fuel tank and your child is off to the races again. This is very different from electric mini dirt bikes.
Electric dirt bikes function on a charged battery that is charged through a standard 120V power outlet. Charge times differ, but tend to range between 9 and 12 hours for a full battery. This battery can be operated at full speed for up to an hour, but requires a full recharge cycle before the bike is ready to go again. This makes electric dirt bikes great for beginners who intend to use the bike every once in awhile for an hour or so. If your child wants to spend more time than this on their dirt bike, electric bikes may not be the best choice since they will be forced to wait for the machine to recharge.
The costs of a mini dirt bike will differ based on the model you purchase. A general rule to follow is that electric is more expensive up front, but require less maintenance and fuelling costs. In contrast, gas-powered are relatively cheap off the shelf, but will require more maintenance work, more assembly and will have fuel costs every time they are operated.
For these reasons, we suggest electric bikes for beginners or if you have relatively little technical or mechanical experience. Although the cost is higher in terms of money, the cost in time and maintenance is practically non-existent. Electric are basically a “plug-and-play” mini dirt bike solution. They can also sustain more weight than most gas-powered dirt bikes, allowing them to run longer without needing replacement. They are a long-term, cost-effective solution for kids that want the experience of riding a dirt bike without the long-term aspirations of racing competitively or putting the bike through rigorous rides.
Gas-powered on the other hand, are better suited to gear-heads and parents who want to increase their kids’s knowledge of the operation of a motorcycle engine. Although the 2-stroke engines found in most gas-powered bikes are relatively simple to understand and maintain, these machines will require far more attention to detail to keep in shape when compared to their electric counterparts. It is also important to remember that gas-powered dirt bikes require a specially-mixed gasoline/oil mixture to run properly. This means there will be a lot more time spent taking care of the bike, and the additional cost of assembly and maintenance may be more than some parents are willing to spend for their kids to have a dirt bike for regular use. However, these machines are capable of higher speeds and are ideal for kids that are taking an interest in motorcycles.
The assembly of a mini dirt bike is directly proportional to the type of machine you are purchasing. A gas-powered machine will naturally require more assembly and maintenance out of the box since there are more operating parts required. We found that assembly times varied from machine to machine, but typically gas-powered units took between 1 and 3 hours to put together. They also required much more maintenance and tuning than their electric counterparts. A small amount of mechanical and technical knowledge was required in order to assemble these gas-powered bikes. They were not complicated to put together, and each machine came with a set of instructions. However, this is not a simple plug-and-play joyride in a box. You will need to spend some time working on any gas-powered mini dirt bike. That being said, gas-powered machines perform at a higher level than electric mini dirt bikes, which makes the assembly time worth it in our minds.
On the flipside, electric bikes require very little assembly time or regular maintenance. We found that most models we tested could be assembled in less than 30 minutes since most adjustments were made on an aesthetic basis. In other words, electric bikes merely needed to have plastic add-ons attached and basic touch ups for wheel alignment - nothing a basic tool set can’t handle. In addition, the lack of motorized gas parts meant that we did not need any significant mechanical knowledge to put the bikes together. Electric bikes are the way to go if you don’t have the time to spend making adjustments to your child’s mini dirt bike.
The level of experience required to ride a mini dirt bike is less than you might expect. In our tests, we found young kids (ages 6 to 10) easily capable of operating any machine we reviewed fairly easily. These machines are designed for easy use and to be fairly durable under normal conditions (light to moderate terrain). We discovered that the level of experience was a factor when it came to the type of dirt bike being tested. In general, electric mini dirt bikes could be used by just about any age group since there was no complications when it came to mixing fuel or tuning up engines. There was also no need for a startup process that most 2-strokes required.
When it came to gas-powered machines, we found that higher levels of experience and older kids were better able to operate them. This was more a reflection of the ability to start and maintain the machines rather than the ability to ride them. We found that once a mini dirt bike was started, they could be easily ridden by kids of all ages. The primary consideration came from whether or not the user could properly maintain or start up the machine. Nonetheless, we strongly suggest using electric bikes as a beginner’s tool to learn the ropes of riding a dirt bike before graduating to gas-powered machines. They are easier to maintain, operate long enough for a full hour of riding, and give your kids a chance to experience the general rules of riding dirt bikes.
The weight limit of a mini dirt bike is directly proportional to the power of its engine and its own operating weight. As a general rule, we discovered that electric dirt bikes were capable of sustaining heavier loads over the long term and of operating for longer on a single charge than gas-powered dirt bikes. Each mini dirt bike we tested provided a weight limit for safe operation. We tested the extremes for each machine and found that most bikes operated just fine even when overloaded by as much as 20% of their intended weight limit. That being said, we suggest purchasing a mini dirt bike which features a weight limit that is 25% higher than your child’s weight to allow them to grow into the bike and enjoy it for as long as possible.
Like shoes, kids will outgrow their bikes fairly quickly so getting one that is slightly large for them to start is not a bad idea if you want to get maximum use out of your purchase. In general, gas-powered dirt bikes will feature lower weight limits because a significant portion of the bike is dedicated to engine parts and not to weight-bearing pieces. Electric bikes, on the other hand, are more flexible and able to handle larger weight loads. There are consumer reports that show adults riding these machines, although we do not suggest prolonged use since these products are not designed to handle such loads. This is especially true if the mini dirt bike does not feature a suspension system, or it is being handled through rough terrain.
In short, most mini dirt bikes can comfortably handle a weight load between 90 and 160 pounds, but terrain, handling and maintenance must play a factor when considering how hard to drive these machines.
The technical requirements of owning a mini dirt bike can be considerable depending on the type of bike you are purchasing and what use you are getting out of it. As mentioned above, electric bikes are particularly easy to manage and maintain because they feature very few moving parts and do not require specialized gas/oil mixtures to be able to run smoothly. They operate on electricity alone and this makes them extremely easy to assemble, operate and maintain. In many cases during our tests, it was as simple as putting some aesthetic touches on an electric dirt bike, charging it overnight and operating it. When it came to maintenance, we spent very little time ensuring that the dirt bikes were in working order. The only issues that arose were excessive water in electrical compartments (something that required new electrical components) or loose electrical connections which required basic reconnects. Long story short, electric mini dirt bikes require practically no technical or mechanical skills.
On the other hand, gas-powered machines required a significant amount of maintenance for proper operation. Assembly was significantly longer and more complex for these products (sometimes 10 times more time) and regular touch ups, cleaning and tuning were necessary. Additionally, it is imperative that proper gas/oil mixtures are used when operating these mini dirt bikes. We found that rough terrain, tough riding and excessive weight on gas-powered mini dirt bikes were the primary reasons for breakdowns and repairs. It is worth taking into consideration what your kids will put these machines through since this will have a direct impact on the longevity of their functionality and how much maintenance work you will have to invest to keep them running.
When it comes to finding the best mini dirt bike for your kids, it is important to take into account what you need the bike to do. Is your child an experienced rider that wants the thrill of a fast dirt bike to cut through muddy corners every day or do they simply want a joyride down your street’s sidewalks every now and then? How much maintenance time will you have to invest in making the dirt bike operate? How often will your kids be riding the bike? The answers to these questions will determine what kind of mini dirt bike you will want to research.
When it comes to how long your dirt bike will function at peak performance, the general rule is that a gas-powered dirt bike will always beat an electric bike, assuming it is properly maintained. Big factors in this decision will revolve on the weight of your child and the terrain they will be driving over. Tough terrain and higher weights will result in more maintenance, repairs and replacements. If you have the time to invest in maintenance and want your kids to have the full dirt bike experience, a gas-powered machine is probably your best choice. If not, then an electric dirt bike might be better for your household.
Electric dirt bikes tend to be more expensive off the shelf, but gas-powered dirt bikes will cost you more over the long term due to their regular need for maintenance and the need to refuel them regularly. They are also more likely to fail if not properly maintained, which adds replacement parts and assembly into the equation. This is why we feel electric dirt bikes are a better investment if your kids are not planning to use the machine every day. However, if they are serious about dirt biking, a gas-powered dirt bike is definitely the preferred choice.
Choosing the right mini dirt bike for your kids largely depends on what they want to get out of it. If they want to be speed demons tearing through muddy terrain, a gas-powered dirt bike is definitely the right choice for them. However, if they just want the experience of operating a dirt bike without any tough terrain (sidewalks and asphalt, for example), an electric dirt bike is the way to go. They last longer on a single charge and are designed for long-distance rides rather than cornering and peak performance.
These are the primary factors to consider when looking into purchasing a mini dirt bike for kids. By taking into consideration the cost of operating the vehicle, the amount of time required to maintain it and how well it will perform, you will have a better understanding of what kind of mini dirt bike will best suit the needs of your kids. Feel free to check out some of our mini dirt bike reviews to find the right combination of cost, performance and durability for your needs.
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