Call it a sport or art, dirt biking has been a primary hobby for many people. The enthusiasm surrounding this industry continues to grow.
As more people come to explore the sport, they realize they’ve been missing out on a lot. I mean, who wouldn’t?
Speed racing and high-powered jumps are what adrenaline junkies live for. Racing around on mud-ridden tracks, combined with growing viewership, seem to have taken the fancy of budding bike enthusiasts. And the rising support for the sport of dirt biking is what has led to the growth of many new brands in the market.
But which brands are the best? Which companies are reliable and trustworthy? These are perhaps the kinds of questions you’d ask yourself if you’re in search of your first dirt bike. Worry not! We’ve got you covered.
In this article, we’ve listed the 20 Best Dirt Bike Brands.
Not only have we included the most obvious, popular ones. We’ve also included some small, unknown companies with illustrious history and credible names.
Of course, it’d be easier just to get a bike manufactured by the biggest name in the industry. But sometimes, the most prominent brands aren’t necessarily the best.
20 Best Dirt Bike Brands:
A relatively new brand in the industry, Thumpstar is an Australian company that began operating in 2004. The brand is well known for manufacturing quality products with affordable price tags.
Initially, Thumpstar’s focus was on producing pit-bikes alone. However, with time they’ve evolved into making dirt bikes as well.
One feature that distinguishes Thumpstar from other brands is that it manufactures bikes of all kinds. They have models specifically meant for kids and professional racers, and amateurs. Their most common range includes bikes from 50-250cc.
Especially in the aftermath of their rebranding in 2015, they’ve gone on to overhaul most of their models. The TSX 125 and TSB 110-C are the most popular ones.
The name Ducati is world-renowned for manufacturing sports bikes.
Making use of their rich industry expertise and combining it with the latest technology, they’ve crafted an exciting line of dirt bikes.
Because Ducati essentially produces sportbikes, most of their off-road models have similar features incorporated in them. That’s evident in the stylish and elegant Scrambler and Multistrada lineups.
The 2018 Desert Sled is the most prominent among the Scrambler models. As for the Multistrada models, Enduro is their primary dirt-focused motorcycle.
Ducati’s Scrambler and Multistrada lineups are the company’s on-road/off-road standard and adventure models. Its Scrambler model comes in a variety of trims, the Desert Sled being its more dirt-focused model.
Alberto Beggio is the founder of this Noale-based Italian motorcycle company that started immediately post World War 2.
Gradually, the company moved onto scooters manufacturing before finally producing motorbikes. Although a small company in terms of reach and popularity, Aprilia is a well-known name within the motorcycle sports industry.
Most recently, it has produced sportbikes such as the V4 RSV4. And as for dirt bikes, some of the models include the recently released MXV450 and the Aprilia RX 125R.
The former features the first-ever production of the V-Twin engine in a motocross bike in history. It boasts of being able to generate around 60 horsepower.
Another popular name in the motorsports industry, Vertemati, is a company that traces its origin in the history of another company. Alvaro and Guido Vertemati, two Italian brothers, were originally part of the Husqvarna brand.
After that, they switched their allegiance to Husaberg, another famous brand. They eventually decided to build their own bikes in the late 70s.
As one would expect, early Vertemati models were heavily modeled on Husaberg bikes. These models were built in-house at Vertemati brother’s humble shop in Truggio.
Some of Vertemati’s most popular models include the 1999 Vertemati 495 and the 2000 VOR/Vertemati. The latter was well-known to be among the best four-stroke engine dirt bikes of its time. Besides the flashy design, it had a robust engine and exceptional output.
16. Fantic Motor
Fantic Motor is an Italian-based manufacturer. Founded by Mario Agrati and Henry Keppel-Hesselikis, it began operations as far back as 1968.
The company began with the intention of creating Enduro bikes. But since then, the company has broadened its scope and now manufactures bikes of most kinds.
Throughout the 80s and early 90s, Frantic Motors succeeded in establishing its name. Throughout this time, they managed to export their models all over the world. The company was also a popular entrant in motocross events during those times.
Having stood the test of time, Frantic Motors continue to specialize in Enduro and dirt machines. The 250E Casa was a popular option when it arrived.
Recently, Frantic XX125 and XE125 models came into the market.
Another brand with an interesting backstory, Scorpa, is Ales, a France-based company that began operations in 1993. Their initial focus was solely on the production of Trial bikes, the WORKS 294 being their first prominent model.
During the course of their production, they’ve also partnered with Yamaha and have used their engines in some of their models.
In 2009 the company went into liquidation. And had it not been for Sherco, another famous brand, who purchased the company, Scorpa would’ve long ceased to exist.
As of now, Scorpa produces a wide variety of two and four-stroke engine dirt bikes. In particular, if you’re a trial bike enthusiast, we recommend you check out Scorpa Twenty 125/250/300 range models.
14. Gas Gas
Narcis Casas and Josep Pibernat are the founders of this Catalonia-based motorcycle manufacturer.
Beginning in 1985, the company produces a range of quality and affordable off-road motorcycles. They are particularly famous for bikes which are predominantly handmade.
Besides being a prominent name in Spain and Europe in general, Gas Gas has also carved an identity in the North American market. This they achieved thanks to US importers who converted their brand name into the slogan “Gas Gas = Fast Fast” for advertising purposes.
The Enduro and Motocross are common models available worldwide. But the XC Cross Country and the Dealer Edition are some of the specialized models customized for the US market.
Another Spanish company on our list, Montesa, started in 1944 thanks to Pedro Permanyer and Francisco Xavier Bulto. Soon after its establishment, the company grew into a major player in the motorsport industry.
They built machines for both road racing and Enduro events.
A disagreement between the two founders led to the split of Montesa. Bulto left and formed a new company in Bultaco, while Permanyer continued with his work for Montesa.
The company survived an economic downturn during the 80s when Honda saved the company from the brink of closure.
Since then, Montesa went on to build some of the most durable dirt bikes around. A few of the prominent models include the COTA 3000RR and the 4RT260R.
One of Asia’s biggest motorsports brands, Hyosung, is a South Korean-based company that began operations around the late 70s.
They produce a variety of motorcycles, scooters, and Enduro bikes known best for their affordable price tag. Besides that, the models are lightweight and easy to maintain.
Recently, the company began the production of large-sized bikes without compromising on their price tags. That’s one reason for their widening appeal. The RX125 is perhaps the most famous model to come out of Hyosung.
Because they are a new entrant in the off-road segment, they have a long way to go. Regardless, Hyosung offers great models for beginners.
Perhaps one of the oldest and most trusted brands, Maico began operations in Germany in 1926. The company produced their first dirt bike that year, and since then, they have gone on to produce a range of Enduro bikes, scooters, and even microcars.
The brand is famous for having revolutionized the industry through its innovative designs of fuel tanks and rear shocks. Their models are also known for their fuel efficiency, durable quality, and reasonable price tags.
Despite being on the brink of bankruptcy during the 80s, the company has successfully maintained its brand name. Their best contemporary models include the Enduro 685 and 620.
Another distinguished Spanish brand on our list, Reiju, is a motorcycle manufacturing firm that began in 1934. But Reiju began manufacturing bikes much later in 1947 when they launched a 40cc bike with a mere total of one horsepower.
Since that time, the company’s made great strides and established itself in the industry. Production kept increasing during the 60s and 70s, especially in the aftermath of the launch of the JACA model.
In 2011, Reiju partnered with Yamaha, meaning current Reiju’s models would come with Yamaha engines. Best among the contemporary models include the Marathon 125 and 200 Pro.
Built in the aftermath of Bultaco’s demise, Sherco derives its name as an amalgamation of the words “Bultaco” and its renowned “Sherpa” model.
Although the process of amalgamation came into being during the 80s, the company wasn’t formally established until 1998.
A year after the official formation, they began making dirt bikes in 1999. Since then, the brand has become popular for its trial and Enduro bikes.
Sherco is famous for manufacturing bikes that use remarkable chassis and well-designed engines. Some of them include the 125 TY LONG RIDE and the 450 SEF FACTORY.
Husqvarna began as a company known for making lawnmowers.
Recently, they’ve ventured into motorbike manufacturing with much success. Interestingly, the company began by producing bicycles before branching out to dirt bikes.
And what makes the Husqvarna models different is their lightweight and powerful engine. Besides, they also have an elegant and cool-looking exterior.
Now, Husqvarna has found takers among young riders, lured by the bikes’ sleek design and great traction.
Also, Husqvarna spare parts are quite inexpensive, which is why it’s preferred by young, armature riders. Some popular models include the FC 250 and EE 5.
Beta is a small Italian company that began operations in 1948.
Initially, Beta made bikes for domestic consumption. And despite not being a global powerhouse, the company has a distinct identity of its own. That’s attributable to their models, which feature unique designs and superior suspension.
Beta has the distinction of being one of the few companies to have never faced closure in its more than 100 years of existence.
Nowadays, the company is in collaborations with KTM and uses its engines on most of its models. Beta 430 RR-S and the RR Racing 2T 250 are arguably the better contemporary models.
This Spanish company began operating as far back as 1958. During those days, it specialized in manufacturing air-cooled, single-cylinder, two-stroke bikes.
Their first dirt bike was famously launched in 1959, known as the Tralla 101, which had a 125cc engine. It was a success, and the brand’s popularity soared until the company closed down in 1983.
After its revival 30 years later, in 2014, the company decided to focus more on developing electric-based off-road models.
The first such example is the Brinco R, which combines features of both electric motorbike and Enduro machines.
When it comes to style and suave design, look no further than KTM.
This Austrian brand came into existence in 1992. And since then has established itself as the fastest manufacturers globally.
Besides bikes, KTM has also forayed into producing world-class sports cars in the form of X-bow.
What sets KTM apart is its continuous production of the humble two-stroke engine bikes. While other brands moved on to the four-stroke successor, KTM continues to produce 2-stroke bikes.
They do so without compromising on the emission standards and production costs. Some of KTM’s most famous dirt bike models include the 150 XC-W and the 690 Enduro R.
A legendary name in the motorsport industry, Kawasaki is an option one can never go wrong with.
Although renowned for its racing motorcycles, the company has also manufactured a decent line of off-road bikes. That includes both 2-stroke and 4-stroke dirt bikes.
And as with any product branded with the Kawasaki name, the company’s collection of dirt bikes is also known for their durability and quality.
Some of the brand’s classic models include the KX500 and KE100. As for contemporary models, KX450F is the undisputed king of all Kawasaki dirt bikes.
This Tokyo-based corporation is among the biggest names around. They’re known not only for automobiles but also for producing heavy equipment.
Honda started producing dirt bikes around the 60s and has continued since. They manufacture bikes in all ranges for professional bikers and amateurs alike.
What distinguishes the Honda brand is its reliability. Their products are well-known for stability, power and good pick-up, features which they offer at reasonable prices.
Models like the Honda CR 110 F and 50F are great for beginners and kids. Likewise, the Honda CRF 250/450 R is a model apt for professional racers.
Another top Japanese brand, Suzuki, is a world-renowned auto manufacturer. Unlike Honda, which is the biggest automobile manufacturer, Suzuki’s staple is motorcycles.
And although the company started producing bikes as early as the 50s, they weren’t able to make a mark until the 70s. The company’s agenda since then has been to produce all makes and models of motorcycles, including dirt bikes. The first entrant in this respect was the K15 Hill-Billy launched in 1965.
Since then, the company went on to manufacture some great, economical dirt bikes, requiring little maintenance. Some of the well-known off-road models include the DR-Z 125 for beginners and DR-650 for professionals.
There’s simply no better name than Yamaha when it comes to dirt bikes.
Since its inception in 1955, Yamaha’s produced a formidable range of dirt bikes. That includes the YZ 125/ 250 and the WR 250F.
The Yamaha brand of bikes is in a class of its own.
What sets them apart is an exceptional stock suspension and innovation. Yamaha was the first to incorporate mono-shock absorbers in the 70s.
The company has one of the longest-running, consistent reputations in the industry for quality products. Suffice to say; it’s hard to look beyond Yamaha when talking about the best.
With new brands and models flooding the market day in, day out, it’s essential to do a comprehensive research before buying a dirt bike. It’s also equally important to know your requirements.
Once you’ve done that, it becomes easier to filter through the options. Some of the main aspects to keep in mind while researching include your budget, engine type, power, and size.
The lure of brand name and reputation can often be quite tempting, but doing proper research before buying is always recommended.
Brands that aren’t necessarily global powerhouses just might have specific models that could well strike your fancy.
So, emphasize more on features and performance, and then on the brand. And lastly, don’t rush through the process of evaluation.