Dirt Bike vs Motorcycles: The Key Differences

Dirt Bike vs Motorcycles: The Key Differences

Dirt Bikes

The classic dirt bike has been around since the late 1950s when Soichiro Honda transformed the standard motorcycle into a racing machine. The sport known as motocross really took off in the 1980s and 90s when pro riders became overnight celebrities. This elevated the street bike into a mainstream recreational vehicle. 

Dirt bikes are made to get dirt and cruise through all kinds of terrain. It usually starts with the tires. Dirt bikes have narrower tires with thick treads for pushing away rocks, dirt, and other debris. 

They also tend to be smaller than motorcycles. The frame is lightweight for faster speeds with a narrower seat for shorter trips. Most bikes are made of plastic instead of metal. This makes the bike easy to handle and transport without eating up a lot of gas. 

Dirt bikes are designed to help you absorb shocks and bumps along the road, especially when landing a trick. The hydraulic suspension system is advanced with superior spring shocks for a smoother ride in off-road settings. These bikes were made to take a beating, so you can run over hills and bumps without wearing out the mechanics of your bike. You’ll be seated forward when riding with lower handlebars for absorbing the impact.

In terms of accessories, you won’t find any bells and whistles here. Most dirt bikes are pretty bare bones, so don’t expect to use a GPS or place a call while riding your bike. 

At the end of the day, dirt bikes serve one purpose: off-road riding and racing. Keep this in mind as you continue your search. 

a person riding a dirt bike down a forest trail


Unlike dirt bikes, motorcycles are used for all sorts of different purposes. You can race on the street, cruise to and from work, or take a long road trip, depending on which bike you choose. They’ve been around since the start of the 20th Century and remain the most popular choice among consumers.

Motorcycles tend to be much larger and heavier than your average dirt bike. The seat is wider and more comfortable, so you can take a long ride without getting sore. Most motorcycles are made of metal for a more stable ride. The handlebars aren’t as sensitive, which makes it feel more like a car than a racing bike. 

The tires are much wider with a smooth surface for clinging to the road. They won’t perform as well in the dirt, mud, or snow, so use caution when driving on non-paved surfaces. You will feel the bumps of the road more than you would on a dirt bike. That’s why most people stick to paved surfaces.

Expect to sit lower on a motorcycle than you would on a dirt bike. The handlebars are higher, so you can sit back and relax without having to constantly lean forward. 

Most people use their motorcycles every day for commuting to work or running errands. They come with most of the features you’d expect from a modern vehicle, including a built-in navigator, stereo, or speakers. Most people like to have the option of taking or making calls when riding a motorcycle. Use Bluetooth motorcycle speakers to stay connected during your trip. 

Hybrid Models 

Some auto manufacturers have started making hybrid motorcycles that lean a little towards dirt bikes. They usually come with all the same features of a motorcycle, except the tires have thicker treads for cruising through off-road settings. They also have superior hydraulic suspension systems with spring shocks for absorbing a rough landing. Think of a hybrid as more of an off-road motorcycle. 

a couple of motocross riders racing on a dirt track

Choosing Between a Dirt Bike vs Motorcycle

Find a vehicle that suits your specific lifestyle. If you love to race and explore off-road terrain, the dirt bike is for you. Just don’t expect to ride it to work every day.

If you’re looking for a more sensible option that will serve you well in a variety of situations, we recommend going with a classic motorcycle. Find a Bluetooth motorcycle helmet that keeps you safe while giving you the option to listen to audio. 

Regardless of which side of the debate you land on, invest in quality motorcycle riding gear that will help you stay in control on and off the road. 

Image Credits:


Aaron of L.A. Photography/Shutterstock.com

Artur Didyk/Shutterstock.com