If you're considering buying a dirt bike, you may have noticed that a style of bike called "pit bikes" tends to run a whole lot cheaper. So, is it a good idea to buy one instead of a dirt bike? And what is a pit bike, exactly?
Pit bikes are small, lightweight motorcycles mainly used for pit racing and riding in pits. Though there are pit bikes that are made for adults, they are usually made for and used by children and teenagers. Because they are smaller and have less powerful engines, pit bikes are much cheaper than dirt bikes.
These little bikes are interesting, so lets talk about them.
What Is A Pit Bike?
Technically, both pit and dirt bikes are specific types of motorcycles. Their general structures are pretty similar, it's just that pit bikes are smaller and made to be used under different conditions.
Pit bikes were originally made for riding around the pit areas of a motocross race. Because they are small, easy to maintain, and comparatively cheap, they are becoming more and more popular. Nowadays, pit bike racing is a popular sport, much like Motocross, and there is an increasing number of pit bikes on the market that are specifically designed for racing.
Pit bikes and pit bike racing are especially popular among teenagers and older children. Though there are a lot of adult riders who enjoy pit bikes and some who even prefer them to full-size dirt bikes, most still consider pit bikes to be the training wheels of the dirt biking world.
Pit Bikes vs. Dirt Bikes
There are a few main differences between pit bikes and full-size dirt bikes. The first is that pit bikes are a lot slower; this is mostly because they simply have less powerful engines. Their engines usually range between only 50 and 150 ccs, while dirt bike engines rarely fall below 140 ccs and can be higher than 450 ccs. Pit bikes also have far less torque than a full-size dirt bike, which hampers their speed significantly.
Pit bikes also can't be ridden in the same kinds of conditions as standard dirt bikes. Though they are technically classified as off-road vehicles, you don't want to try riding a pit bike on a rocky trail or steep path. Pit bikes are meant to be ridden in actual pits, or the staging areas of races, and on smoother, gentler trails.
They don't have the heavy duty covering on their tires that dirt bikes do, so they don't have nearly the same amount of traction. Pit bikes also don't have as much protection for their engines as dirt bikes and sit lower to the ground. This means that they are far more easily damaged by large branches or rocks.
It's also possible to make a pit bike street legal, just like full-size dirt bikes, but it's usually somewhat easier.
Pit bikes require a lot less time and money to maintain than dirt bikes, and a pit bike owner doesn't need to buy as much extra gear, either.
Why are they so cheap?
Pit bikes are an interesting thing in the dirt bike world.
They are way cheaper than normal dirt bikes, but they really don't seem very different. Pit bikes are so cheap because they are not designed to be competitive or function at the level of a normal dirt bike. Generally, they are manufactured pretty cheaply and are focused on being more of a toy than a vehicle.
Pit bikes are toys, and will break quickly. Although they can be pretty quick, they are not going to last any significant period of time. Generally they even come half assembled.
They are cheap because they are made cheap. That being said, they are a great way to get a lot of people on something resembling dirt bikes quickly and cheaply. Many grandparents buy their grand-kids these bikes, and those grand-kids grow up to become dirt bike enthusiasts.
Should I Get A Pit Bike?
Even though a pit bike can't do the same things or handle the same conditions that a full-sized dirt bike can, there are a few reasons why you might want to buy one.
First of all, pit bikes are great beginner bikes, and that doesn't just apply to kids. If you've never ridden any kind of motorcycle before, a pit bike is a good way to get a feel for things.
Because you'll be riding at slower speeds and on gentler trails - or even around your backyard - you're less likely to hurt yourself while you're learning how to balance and turn. If you've ever been to a Motocross event or just gone on Youtube, you might have seen some pretty gnarly dirt bike crashes. While you can and almost certainly will still crash on a pit bike, your chances of doing so are slimmer and any resulting injuries will likely be less severe.
The price tag on a full-size dirt bike can be a turn-off, especially if you don't plan on having the time to go off-roading every weekend. The good news is that anyone who doesn't necessarily have the cash or time to commit to an actual dirt bike can have a lot of fun on a pit bike instead! You can still ride it on paved or beginner trails, but unlike a regular dirt bike, you can also just take it for a spin around your backyard.
Because a pit bike is also much easier to maintain than a full-size dirt bike, you might want to consider getting one if you don't want to spend a lot of time working in the garage.
Overall, a pit bike can be a great investment if you're new to riding or don't want to commit to a full-size dirt bike. The skills you learn on a pit bike will transfer over if you buy a dirt bike later on, and in the meantime, you'll have a lot of fun for less money and hassle.
Pit Bikes for Kids
If you want to get a pit bike for your kid, there are a couple of things you'll need to look for. If it's their first bike, you probably won't want anything with too powerful of an engine, maybe somewhere around 50 ccs. However, weight and height make a big difference, so if your child is older, you might need something a little more powerful.
Of course, safety is a big deal when it comes to motorcycles, so make sure you don't forget to get protective gear for your kid.
Pit Bikes For Adults
Even though there aren't as many pit bikes on the market that are designed for adults, there are still plenty to choose from. Before you purchase one, make sure you know if it will work for your weight and height.
You'll also want to avoid buying anything that's low-quality. Most riders recommend staying away from models manufactured in China and say that they've found that those pit bikes don't last very long and constantly need maintenance.
Just remember they are going to be really small, and some might even call them uncomfortable. Make sure you know what you are getting into. Try sitting on one before you buy it, and then turn the handlebars.