Whatever your weight and height, whether you be a big or small guy/girl, dirt biking is for everyone to enjoy if they want to. Dirt bikes are powerful beasts, and different kinds have different engine levels and sizes that can support more or less weight. But here are the big concepts to consider:
Riders who weigh as much as 320 lbs are still able to ride dirt bikes comfortably and well. But if you're around that weight or above, you'll want to modify your bike's suspension to support you. How much weight a bike can support depends on its overall build and power.
What factors of a dirt bike contribute to how much weight they can support?
The three main factors that determine how much weight a dirt bike can support include 1) the cubic centimeters (cc) of the engine, 2) if the engine is a two-stroke or a four-stroke engine, 3) the actual dirt bike's weight and frame.
Cubic Centimeters (cc):
Each pound you weigh needs one cubic centimeter (cc) of power to move you around if you are looking at a two-stroke. So, if you're around 200 lbs, you're probably better off picking a 2-stroke bike that has a 210 to 250cc.
As a rule of thumb, 4 strokes are a little more than half the power of a 2 stroke, so if you are around 200 pounds, you will want a 4 stroke bike that is 400cc.
You want a bike with enough power to support you across trails and up hills without being too difficult to control.
Two-Stroke vs. Four-Stroke Engine:
The main differences between a two-stroke engine and a four-stroke engine include the following:
Two-stroke engines do a lot better on looser track than four-stroke engines. They are also lighter and quicker to accelerate.
Four-stroke engines are heavier and don't accelerate as fast as two-strokes, but their weight gives them the advantage on smoother tracks/trails where they gain speed.
If you're a heavier rider, I would suggest getting a bike with a four-stroke engine, because these engines are better able to support weight. It just takes them a little longer than a two-stroke engine to gain speed.
Bike Weight & Frame:
The heavier the bike, the more weight it can support. Some motocross bikes are up to 240 lbs in weight. However, weight isn't the only contributing factor to how strong the bike is.
The frame of the dirt bike is a major factor in how well it will support you while riding. As such, it's important that you find a dirt bike with a strong frame. Most dirt bikes are made of either steel or aluminum. If you're a heavier rider, however, I would suggest steel over aluminum so you don't have to worry about the frame giving you problems.
How should your bike's suspension be adjusted to support your weight?
Getting your bike's suspension just right for you is something that will come with plenty of test runs. The major step to taking with adjusting your bike's suspension is to mess around (in a responsible and good way) with your bike's front fork.
On the fork, you will see an "H", which stands for hard, and an "S" which stands for soft. Adjusting the fork toward hard is better for larger bumps on trails. Adjusting the fork toward soft is better for small rough bumps.
But the best way to understand the difference between the hard and soft is to temporarily adjust your bike all the way, one way or the other, and take your bike out for a ride. Adjusting anything with your bike's suspension will make a huge difference in your bike's performance and the quality of the ride.
Once you can tell the difference between hard and soft on your front fork, the best course of action is to slowly adjust, as you need to, to figure out how hard are soft you want the fork to be tuned for your biking needs.
If you don't feel comfortable playing around with your bike's suspension, the best course of action would be to talk with a bike mechanic to see what they suggest to accommodate your needs.
What effect does the rider's weight have on the bike's performance?
Generally speaking, lighter riders, are able to ride faster on their bikes, heavier riders ride slower. This, however, doesn't account for skill and experience which comes into play with lighter and heavier riders.
However, the heavier weight on a dirt bike can cause more strain on the machine. As such, over time, you may need to replace your rear wheel shocks and adjust the suspension of the bike.
How to choose the right bike for you:
Weight is an important contributor to the performance of the bike.
The heavier the load on a bike, the slower the bike will go than with a lighter load. But this also depends on the rider's skill and experience.
A bigger bike with stronger springs and a more powerful engine can carry more weight (while still performing well) than a smaller bike can.
So, if you're a heavier rider, a 250cc 2 stroke, 450cc 4 stroke or even higher bike might be the best choice for you. But you'll also want to gauge how powerful the bike is and if you're comfortable riding it at your experience level.
Whether you're short or tall, your height has an enormous effect on what bike you buy and how you further adjust it.
The biggest thing to consider for your height is how high the seat sits. How to best tell if the seat is too high or low for you is to take a sit on it. You want your feet to be able to touch the ground for stability when you need to stop riding.
You don't necessarily want to be flat-footed, because that could indicate that the bike is too short, but you also don't want to be straining to touch the ground at all (which would mean the bike's too tall). I would say go for the happy medium of having most of your foot on the ground, but not all the way to your heel.
Here is another one of our articles that talks all about this: What Dirt Bike Size Should You Get For Your Height?
Length of Bike:
The length of the bike, related to the general size, can also have a big impact on where strain is put on the bike from any rider's size and riding style.
A longer bike, with the seat further from the handlebars, may benefit you if you are a taller individual or just want extra space while riding. Just make sure that you don't have to strain to reach the bars. That's not only unsafe but also uncomfortable while steering and going for longer rides.
If needed, you can adjust the height of the seat of your bike by trimming the seat foam so it's shorter (or adding a new seat so it's higher off the ground), switch to a smaller rear tire, or adjust the forks up into the triple clamps. Make sure you take note of the original setting the bike was on, in case you want to re-do what you modify and to adjust things a little bit at a time.
If you're a heavier rider, the biggest thing to consider is just making sure your suspension is set up the right way. Bike length is up to your preference as to what is most comfortable for you and what fits you best.
Your experience level definitely is a major factor that you need to consider before buying a dirt bike. If you're a newbie like we all were when we started out, lighter bikes are easier to control, but you also want to make sure that the bike isn't too small for you.
Good beginner bikes have between 250cc and 450cc. However, as you get up into the higher cubic centimeters (cc) just be aware that these are more powerful bikes which may make them harder to control, especially if you're new to biking. The best rule of thumb is to go and try out the bike, where possible, to see how it feels and how it carries you.
Some of the best dirt bikes for different weights:
Heavier dirt bikes with a higher cubic centimeter (cc) engine are better for heavier riders. Generally speaking, each pound you weight is equivalent to each cc of the bike.
Keeping that in mind, you don't want to get a bike with a lower cc than your weight in pounds, because it won't have enough power to perform at its best and help you have a positive dirt bike riding experience.
Here are some dirt bikes that I would suggest for different weight ranges:
Generally, if you're between these weight ranges, you're going to want a bike that has a 200-450cc, two-stroke (if you're on the lighter side of this weight range) or four-stroke engine (for the heavier since it carries better). Some great bikes that fit in this range include the Honda CRF250X, Yamaha WR250R, and the KTM 250 XC.
Honda, in general, has produced some very reliable dirt bikes over the years. The Honda CRF250X is one of the most popular for sure. This bike has dimensions of 85.5 in x 32.5 in x 49.6 in, so it's definitely one of the bigger bikes. It weights 224.8 lbs dry weight and 253 lbs wet weight. This bike has a max power of 28.5 hp.
I'd say this is one of the best bikes out there for heavier riders who are also taller (because of the height and length of this bike).
Yamaha is another good brand for dirt bikes, and the company has produced many of good quality. The Yamaha WR250R has dimensions of 85.6 in x 31.9 in x 48.4 in, making it about the same size as the Honda CRF250X. This makes it another good choice for you riders who are in this weight range.
This bike also has a max power of 30.3 hp, which is higher than the Honda CRF250X, which is definitely something to keep in mind depending on what you're looking for in a bike.
KTM 250 XC:
KTM bikes are also popular bikes out in the motocross world right now. This particular bike has a wheelbase (distances between the enter of the rear tire and the center of the front tire) of 58.5 inches. It's factory recorded weight is 219lbs.
This bike is definitely a lot lighter than the Honda CRF250X; as such, this bike would be great for someone on the lighter side of the weight range and also taller because of the longer wheelbase.
If you're over 250 lbs, the bikes that will perform the best for you will have higher cc (in the 450 or higher range), four-stroke engines and will be heavier bikes. The Suzuki RM-Z450, Honda CRF450R, and the Husqvarna FC450 are some good examples of heavy duty, high cc engine bikes that perform well.
The Suzuki RM-Z450 has a wheelbase of 58.3 inches and a wet weight of 247 lbs, so it's definitely another great, heavy bike. Its seat height is 37.8 inches.
This bike is a powerful machine that can support weight and height as it is taller than even the Honda CRF250X and Yamaha WR250R by 5-6 inches!
Back to Honda, the Honda CRF450R is one of the heaviest dirt bikes at 250 lbs wet weight. It has a seat height of 37.8 inches like the Suzuki RM-Z450.
This is definitely one of the spendier dirt bikes (about $9,300), but, if you're looking for a good quality bike that will support your weight and carry you on some awesome adventures, this bike would fulfill your expectations.
The Husqvarna FC450 is one of the more popular bikes in the recent motocross races. It has a dry weight of 223.1 lbs and a max power of 63 hp.
Being that this bike is a lighter 450cc bike that has a lot of power, I would suggest this bike for someone who is more experienced with dirt biking and who doesn't who wants the lightest bike available that performs well.
What gear is best for heavier riders?
While you're out riding, it's important that you wear the proper gear, not only for your comfort and style but also for your protection.
Some of the major gear that you'll need includes a helmet that covers your whole head and chin, goggles, boots, pants, long sleeved shirt, gloves, protective elbow, and knee pads, and maybe even a chest guard.
That may seem like a long and lengthy list, but getting the proper gear is a worthy investment toward your safety, comfort and overall enjoyment when you go out riding.
Some bulkier riders have said that "fancier" dirt bike gear brands tend to have their clothing run a little small. Companies such as TLD and Moose have size ranges between small and XXL for pants and shirts and tend to be a little more generous in size.
When you're considering buying gear, however, it might be a good idea to go to a local store if there's one nearby to try on the gear and make sure it fits properly; then you would at least know what size fits best from certain brands.
From there, you could order them online if they're cheaper or just buy them in the store knowing they will fit okay instead of guessing.
Tips for riding if you're a heavier rider:
The jumps and landings that you experience while dirt biking can definitely take a toll on your joints no matter your size. So, here are some tips to take care of your body so you can continue to have a good experience with dirt biking.
First things first, we'll talk about the right way to control your throttle and clutch. Why? Well, to make it simple, not having the proper control of your throttle and clutch can lead to unnecessary wrecks. And that's no fun at all.
The biggest part of starting out with this process is just to practice, practice, practice. Many folks find it best to practice on the same track over and over again to get used to the throttle and to practice going around at different speeds.
This will not only ensure you can properly control the throttle but will also help you become more comfortable and confident in your ability to control your dirt bike.
Balance and body positioning play key roles together.
With balance, most riders find it easier to start out sitting down, but you'll eventually want to practice standing up in order to hone in your balance. In general, you'll want to stand while going over tough bumps so you're knees absorb most of the strain. Sitting down is better for turns.
Your positioning is crucial when you're turning and going through all kinds of obstacles. Practice turning on a track in order to get the balance and positioning down. Practice will help you build up the resilience and balance you need in order to avoid crashes and soreness.
Whatever sport you activity you participate in, you want to make sure that you're taking care of your body. Dirt biking isn't any different.
Dirt biking is a fast and fun sport that everyone who wants to should be able to enjoy. No matter you're weight, there are dirt bikes out there that will make the experience a fun one for you. Whether you want to do motocross racing or just enjoy the back trails of your home town or vacation zone, you can adjust your bike to be however you need it to be. Dirt biking is a sport for everyone.