Motocross is without doubt one of the coolest forms of motorsport on the face of the Earth. An adrenaline rush like no other, launching through the air onboard a dirt bike is unparalleled in its awesomeness.
But if you didn’t get started spinning laps around your local motocross track before you’d even entered primary school, then fro=m the outside, this off-road spectacle may seem a little daunting – and perhaps a little inaccessible.
However, you’d be surprised to learn just how easy it is to get started. These days you can get a heck of a lot of bike for your money. So without further ado, we’re going to take a quick look at a selection of bikes just right for someone who wants to dip their toe into the wonderful world of moto.
Two-strokes vs. Four-strokes
Before we dive right in, for the uninitiated here’s a short summary of the differences between two-stroke and four-stroke machines.
In the main, two-stroke bikes are cheaper to buy, run and maintain. They are simple to work on and they sound very cool. It is often said that two-stroke machines are more fun to ride, too. However, a two-stroke bike will need servicing more frequently and will also be more difficult to ride fast.
Four-stroke bikes, on the other hand, are easier to ride due to their smooth power delivery and are more competitive in race situations. But four-strokes are more expensive to maintain, a lot heavier and harder to kickstart if you don’t have the luxury of an electric starter.
Here’s our pick of the five best motocross starter bikes (scroll down for our pick of the best kids’ bikes… )
KTM 250 SX-F
KTM 150 SX
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1. KTM 250 SX-F
Why do we like it? Competitive straight out of the box, lots of power, easy to ride fast
If you’re looking to jump straight onto the start line, the KTM 250 SX-F is your best bet. This bike is regarded by many as the most competitive 250 four stroke on the market. KTM have claimed eight of the last nine MX2 world championship titles with this machine – and you just can’t argue with those numbers! In 2011, the 250 SX-F changed from a carburettor to the more modern and preferred EFI (electronic fuel injection) system. Our advice is to go for a 2012-model onwards. In 2012, electric starters were also fitted as standard – and trust us, you’ll be wanting one of those! With a boat load of smooth and usable power, the KTM 250 SX-F is very easy to ride at pace. You can find pre-2012 machines for under £3k and a 2016 model for under £5k.
2. Yamaha YZ125
Why do we like it? Reliable, good handling, great standard spec, top build quality
The YZ125 is a two-stroke machine perfect for those just getting started in the sport. This bike is known to be insanely reliable, thanks to Yamaha’s awesome build quality. Renowned for its great handling capabilities, the YZ125 boasts arguably the best standard suspension setup of any motocross bike. The YZ125 may not be the fastest bike in its engine class, but it might well be the most fun for your buck. Yamaha haven’t developed this machine much since 2005 – but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it right? You should be able to find a 2005+ model YZ125 for under £2k.
3. Honda CRF450R
Why do we like it? Super powerful, great build quality and reliability, easy to ride
So far we’ve only talked about the smaller capacity MX2 machines, but if you are looking for outright power, the Honda CRF450R may be the bike for you. Honda are famed for their build quality and reliability, and without doubt the CRF450R lives up to those standards.
In 2013 Honda updated this bike to include twin pipes, air forks and significant engine changes. For 2017, Honda made further improvements to the engine characteristics of the machine. If you’re a sucker for power, the CRF450R is a great choice for an open-class racer just getting started. She’s got tons of power, whilst still being usable and easy to ride for a beginner. You’re looking at prices starting from £3k for a 2013 model.
4. KTM 150 SX
Why do we like it? Factory bike feel, light, powerful
KTM are one of very few manufacturers to make a 150cc two-stroke motocross machine – and the 150 SX might just be our favourite dirt bike of all time. It’s as light as a feather, whilst having more torque and more power than a 125, so it really does feel special. It’s like riding a full factory 125 for a fraction of the price. Trust us on this one: if you swing your leg over a 150 SX, you will not be able to stop smiling. A 2009 model will cost you around £2k, or you can pick up a brand new one for around £6k.
5. Honda CR250
Why do we like it? Cheap to run, powerful, investment potential (seriously!)
So this one is a bit of a curveball. Honda actually halted production of their CR250 two-stroke back in 2007. But despite that, the CR250 most definitely has a place in the Dirt Bike Hall of Fame. The CR250 was made famous by the ‘Greatest of All Time’ Ricky Carmichael during his first undefeated season.
Being the last two-stroke machine that Honda produced and the almost legendary status of the bike, the CR250 has built a cult following. If you do it right, owning a CR250 could be the cheapest way to get started in motocross – and it could even make you a bit of money in the end; if you find the right bike, these machines are, in fact, going up in value. Once again these bikes are amazingly reliable, and beautiful to gaze upon to boot. With awesome power, the CR250 provides a great feeling whilst riding. You’ll have a blast aboard one of these, and when it comes time to retire or move on, you’ll probably get your money back! The models to go for are from 2001-2007. If you do enough searching, you’ll find a good one from £2k upwards.
And the three best bikes for kids getting into motocross…
KTM 65 SX
90% of motocross racers across the world most likely got their start on a Pee Wee. These twist-and-go bikes are designed for the real youngsters aged between 4-6. These bikes are incredibly safe, not too fast, and the best way to learn the basics of the sport.
KTM 65 SX
The ultimate race machine for 9-12-year-olds. The KTM 65 SX is the first step onto a geared bike. Unlike the days of old, kids these days get to race fully-fledged, top-of-the-line race bikes. And that’s all thanks to KTM and the 65 SX.
The Husky TC85 is perfect for kids aged between 12-16. Out of the box, the TC85 is as competitive as they come. These bikes are quite literally just mini versions of the adult equivalents – the perfect steed to get your racing career started.