As a parent, I understand the concern of getting your kid a 50cc dirt bike and being concerned about safety issues related to the fast speed they can go.
Most 50cc dirt bikes from any of the major manufacturers max out between 25 and 40 miles per hour. While this may seem dangerously fast for a young 4-7-year-old rider, in my experience, my kids never actually max out the bike's speed. Parents can limit their kid's speed by setting the throttle limiter, as well as keeping them in second gear. As a parent of two kids who ride dirt bikes, I can honestly say that I've never worried about them going too fast. I worry about them going off jumps or up steep hills, but the actual speed has never been an issue.
If you put appropriate limits on the dirt bike by controlling the speed for the kids, I believe dirt biking is a safe sport for children.
Example Speeds of 50cc Dirt Bikes
- The Honda CRF50 tops out at 25 mph
- The Yamaha TTR50 tops out at 32 mph
- The SSR 50cc tops out at 25 mph
- The KTM 50cc tops out at 37 mph
- The Suzuki DRZ50 tops out at 33 mph
What Is An Acceptable Speed for Kids to Ride?
No speed is acceptable if your kids aren't wearing all the protective gear. Read my post here about the best inexpensive dirt bike protective gear for kids that we've found
Although dirt bikes are capable of high speeds as mentioned above, my kids have never once hit the max speed on their dirt bikes. I like to keep my little 6-year-old 50cc rider in second gear all the time. He doesn't even know how to switch to third gear. This puts a firm limit on his speed. Frankly, he rarely goes to full throttle even on second gear.
However, there is a danger of having a bike capable of high speeds if the kid gets into the higher gear. New riders sometimes fall victim to what we call "Whiskey throttle." This is when you pull back on the throttle, then get scared because of the speed and freeze up. Sometimes the kid doesn't realize that they need to let go of the throttle to slow down, and they just go full speed until they hit something and fall. That's obviously extremely dangerous, so keeping your kid in second gear, or setting the throttle limiter on the bike will fix this.
To set the throttle limiter on a dirt bike (at least on a Yamaha TTR50), you simply screw in the bolt that sticks out under the throttle and it won't allow you to turn the throttle as wide open.
Is Dirt Biking for Kids Safe?
All activities have risk. Riding in a car is riskier than climbing the monkey bars. Yet, we encourage our kids to go play at the park because we want them to live life and be healthy. Is there a potential for a broken bone or sprained risk when dirt biking? Will your kids scrape their arms and get beat up a little? Yes. All of that is possible when dirt biking.
However, as a parent, I'm not willing to accept unnecessarily high risks of serious injury for my kids. I want a low risk of serious permanent injury or death. I certainly wouldn't want to put my kids in harm's way. For this reason, I delayed getting my kids started in dirt biking for a long time while I researched it out to see what the actual risks are.
I read tons of studies and research on the risks and found that, if you exercise certain cautions, dirt biking actually does NOT pose a significant risk of injury. I wrote a full article citing all of the fascinating statistics I found on dirt bike safety right here
. Each family will choose different ways to mitigate that risk, but our family rules for dirt biking are:
- Always wear all the safety gear--even for quick ride.
- Ride off-road and not at an official track. Although most dirt biking is done off-road, OVER 50% of serious dirt bike injuries were at an official track. Tracks have big jumps, and the big jumps are most likely to cause the big injuries.
- No four-wheelers. Some people erroneously think four-wheelers are safer, but the opposite is true.
- Kids stay in second gear until they are 10 years old.
Those are our family's choices for how we keep the kids safe. My boys LOVE going out dirt biking and I have found it to be really good for them. It's toughened them up because falling and getting bruises and scrapes is an inevitability when dirt biking. I love challenging my boys with new things like dirt biking that stretch them, but not too much so they stay motivated. I have more confident boys now that they've started dirt biking, and that means it's been a success for our family.
What 50cc Dirt Bike Should You Buy for Your Kid?
Good news for you is that I wrote a full breakdown on the best 50cc dirt bikes for kids right here
. Don't want to take the time to read it? Well the short version is that I recommend the Honda CRF50 as the best 50cc dirt bike for most kids who are new to dirt bikes. If your kid is more advanced and will be racing, then something like a KTM could be a good option for you, but they are extremely expensive--twice the price. The Yamaha TTR50 is a very solid option, but since the Honda offers both electric and kick start, it won me over.