What’s the best dirt bike for my child?
We get this question a lot. At Christmas time it’s the number one gift our campers dream about. How to buy a motorcycle dirt bike for a child…?
It all starts with , where can you ride? This sometimes ends the whole conversation. There are places, but you may have to drive an hour plus to get to them . But if that’s no obstacle to you, the whole riding experience can (and I think should) be a family adventure! It will be one of the most rewarding things you do with your child and it can be done safely. In this article I will share what I know of on how to buy a motorcycle dirt bike for a child.
What Dirt Bike you buy is based on the size of land to ride and what your abilities are on the bike for trail or racing. Experience counts – you must buy the motorcycle that fits the rider today not the one to grow into… that’s dangerous. You will find that dirt bikes are like cash: you can buy and sell them easily . (UPDATED: Now ,after COVID, 10 /2021, it is very hard to find a motorcycle for sale and prices are twice as high as when this article was written 2 years ago… good luck on your hunting . Finding the right one, I think, is harder than selling them for now.)
We Love Honda’s
We are partial to Honda’s. They are the best , most durable motorcycle , always running! They are tanks. Everyone is always happy if their bike is running . Iron Horse Country Summer Camp has gone through hundreds of bikes over the years and the Honda’s are still here. Doesn’t matter if it’s the fastest model – if it’s broken, no one is having fun.
How to buy a motorcycle dirt bike for a child
Get Trained to Ride a Motorcycle First!
The FIRST thing to know about how to buy a motorcycle dirt bike for a child is that – everyone should know how to ride a bicycle…THEN you start with the motorcycle that fits you . At Iron Horse we start at 8 years of age with our motocross camps for kids. Many a parent has called us asking about their 5 year old. We know they are probably awesome, but you have to watch that age ALOT. It is far too early for your average 5 year old to be in control of a motorized vehicle without supervision. Once hurt, your child will be gun shy the rest of his or her years and may never ride again. You will feel really bad.
At age 8, childrens’ brains start developing to make better decisions than just memorizing what you tell them to do on the track or trail.
The Role of the Bicycle
In the beginning of a young rider’s journey into learning to ride, the bicycle is king to learning safely. We use them at camp to get kids started with balance drills and progress to “motorcycle calisthenics” drills that help kids learn the position of foot pegs , throttle control with hands , and the most important, squeezing legs to the tank.
Gone are the days of trial and error learning to ride…just hopping on and making it go like some of us parents did as children. There aren’t enough empty lots to do that anymore, or grandparents’ farms and ranches to ride around on. Lack of space plus the rising cost of medical treatment should there be an accident make it difficult for today’s parents to allow their children to learn this way.
Attending one of our summer camps will help your child or grandchild learn how to ride in a safe, supervised and trained environment. Nowhere else will they get so much “time in the saddle” to learn as they will at Iron Horse Country Ranch. For more info on this site with regard to our motorcycle summer camps go to:
How to buy a motorcycle dirt bike for a child
Learn The Sizes
(NOTE/UPDATE 2021 AND BEYOND: All prices below were quoted from 2019 sources, pre-COVID days. Since 2020, all prices have gone up dramatically.)
Dirt bikes are classed by motor size and start with the best little motorcycle ever made: the Honda CRF 50. The photo above shows from this smallest of Honda’s to the 70, 80 100 and 150 in back.
Honda CRF 50( Ages 8 and first time riders)
Price $1549 used from $800-$1200
The Beginner rider should be able to touch feet to ground (flat footed) when starting out riding. After a year or so of riding the fit is not based on feet touching ground but rather, do they have 6 inches between the crotch and seat while standing on pegs… Some Pros can’t touch their toes to ground on their bikes which keeps them from being bucked off the bike.
Honda CRF70 or newer model CRF110
Price $2,399 Used 110 $1500 – $2000 Used 70 $900-$1200
These bikes are for ages 9 and up to Adult to learn on … they’re the largest bikes made without a clutch but you still have to shift. (50’s and 70’s/110’s are clutchless) Both bikes are a blast….weight limit of about 160lbs. Families keep these forever. Note: the 70 is no longer made by Honda and was replaced by the 110 model.
Honda CRF 80 , 100 and 125
New 125’s – $30990, Used $1900-$2500
Used 80’s – $1200-$1800
& Used 100’s – $1400 – $2000
These bikes are for riders that have ridden the smaller bikes and are ready for the clutch . Age 12 is the normal age for children to gain wrist strength to pull the clutch in and who are tall enough to touch the ground. If they have a lot of experience, some 10 year olds can start on a CRF 80 . The 80 is smaller by 2 inches than the 100. The 125 is 2 in taller than the 100.
Next comes the…
Honda CRF 150 F
Price new $3799.00 Used from $1800-$3000
Its the Lexus of bikes. I recommend it for dads who want to ride with their kids, or for young riders that are big kids . It has a kick stand like all the CRF “F” series bikes and is quiet – it won’t scare young riders by you following them . The kick stand is key as you can’t help someone if you can’t let go of your motorcycle! Below, an advanced rider showing this bike does it all.
Now, for the Honda race bikes – the ” R” after the number
These bikes are WAY different than an F- type motorcycle.
The CRF 150R , CRF 250R and CRF 450R
( Ages 12 and up recommended after 2 years of experience) These bikes have completely different engines and shocks than F-type motorcycles and are for serious riding. Loud, Fast & Quick. No kick stand and lots of adrenaline rush!
If you have access to a race track or lots of land then get one. If not, you are just going to the hospital. You need experience to ride one safely, at least a couple of years or you are just going to get hurt. These bikes are quick…quick…quick and does not matter the model size.
“The Kids Dream Bike “. It comes in small wheel and big wheel versions – I suggest, when you’re good enough to ride one, the big wheel version is better . More balance over jumps. This is a fast bike. The lucky ones that get one, that I see, usually can’t control it…meaning they got it too soon. However, taken to a track regularly they will master it and have a blast!
Honda CRF 250R
It’s the bike for all good riders . It can do it all. Only move to the 450 if you are a racer with experience. 450R ‘s are crazy quick; most riders can’t control them. We have found average riders can go faster on 250’s because they have more forgiveness in the throttle. We have heard so many stories of first timers hurting themselves on the first day of riding 450R’s, ripping the throttle on jumps…it’s why I think you can find so many for sale vs. 250R’s.
Honda CRF 450R
This is the race bike for the veteran rider. If you’re reading this page to learn how to buy a motorcycle dirt bike for a child, don’t touch this bike. Or you can just call 911 now and have them waiting for you.
How to buy a motorcycle dirt bike for a child Where To Buy
If you want new, here is a link to Honda to find a dealer near you: https://powersports.honda.com/
If you want to save money or get one of the discontinued models, buy used. Craigslist is a good source – be prepared to go to nearby cities. Also, the Powersport’s dealers in all cities sell used as well.
Used is not a problem: asking for the title just ensures it’s legit.
Don’t be picky on scratched plastics as the average new rider falls over 3 times a ride… The Honda’s are tough. If the owner performed maintenance, the bike will be fine. Check out the person’s garage. If it is neat, the bike will be too. Is it out in a storage shed rusting?Leave it – it’s bad! You are getting a big discount from a new model. Most riders scratch up their new bikes with just a couple of rides. You can buy graphic stickers and fenders for any bike to make it look like new and have fun personalizing it!
Buying Honda CRF 50’s -100’s are easy. If they run and look ok to you, they are probably fine.
With the bigger CRF 125F’s and 150F ‘s – if they look new and run ok, then good. More wear? Then have someone with more experience help you.
With the CRF R bikes you will have to have a more experienced person look at them because of the type of motor in them …higher RPM and racing can lead to hidden engine problems. Owners are supposed to tune up their engines every 50 hrs. Hardly anyone does this as it costs about $500. So it’s usually too late when one breaks and then repaired: it runs but not the same as new. It will then require constant valve jobs and will back fire or break more often. Some motorcycles are good but there are some used up motors, so buyer beware. If it backfires when off the throttle it could be a sign. They are all hard to start when cold so it’s hard to tell.
You Will not Find many CRF 70 , 80 or 100’s motorcycles
A little tidbit on motorcycle history. I think that 2009 marked the end of an era of riding in the U.S. A toxic scare led to Chinese plastic products being recalled. Toys made with this type of plastic were appropriately banned by Congress, however the ban inadvertently included these Honda motorcycle models because they had plastic parts and because they were designed for young riders. Congress intended the ban to protect children who might be mouthing toxic toys. The motorcycle plastics posed no such problem! But all factories had to stop making these bikes. They then remade the plastic portions and used what was left of the bikes produced in 2008 over the next few years.
In 2010, Congress finally amended the law to exclude motorcycles but the damage was done. Motocross has slowed ever since. Honda discontinued the 70, 80 and 100 models in 2009 and 2010, gone forever…we still use them in camp today, however. In learning about how to buy a motorcycle dirt bike for a child, I have found that these models are great bikes. We drive the country finding as many as we can to teach kids how to ride. They are the best bikes to learn on.
How it used to be, getting a dirt bike
It was in Honda’s wisdom that you were supposed to start on a Honda CRF 50 for a year or so riding around in a neighborhood field by your house. And if a little late to the game , a Honda 70. Then it was clutch time…wheelies and jumps…enter the Honda 80 or 100. Learning the clutch . (These bikes are gone now and replaced by the larger 125). Now dad would take you to a race track to give it a go. You would catch the fever to race and after a few more years of riding, you got a race bike.
Today that doesn’t seem to happen as much…I think it’s mostly land access, but I also see a lot of kids go from only a year of trail bike riding straight to race bikes and then they have a bad crash and quit forever.
Take Away Lesson: Take it slow and let the good times roll….
And don’t forget the gear and clothing for safety. For beginners, always ride with a helmet, chest protector and gloves, closed toed shoes, long pants and long sleeved shirts. Racers use full motocross pants/jerseys and neck braces. We love O’Neal – they are a supporter of our camp and have great looking gear: https://www.oneal.com/
So, that’s my 2 cents worth. Riding a motorcycle is the most fun thing I think a kid will ever do. It was for me. Even just getting one and storing it in the garage is great for kids… you will never see a happier child, showing off or polishing their motorcycle, dreaming of what they can do on it. If you have any questions , just ask!
Good Luck and Happy Riding!
Director – Iron Horse Country Ranch
The Motorcycle Summer Camp for Kids, U.S.A.