The Best Automatic Dirt Bikes [2022 Edition]
Electric is pushing the need for automatic transmissions!
Not even five years ago, automatic dirt bikes were relegated only to those motorcycles that were designed for kids to learn how to ride on. Flash forward those five years, and there are many mainstream, and quite a few non-mainstream, dirt bikes, trail bikes, and dual-sports out there that either have semi-automatic transmissions or fully automatic twist-and-go transmissions.
This is not to say that dirt bikes and the like are becoming boring or tame, far from it. The biggest push towards automatic transmissions in dirt bikes is the Rapid rise in popularity of electric bikes. In much the same way that Tesla revolutionized the electric car segment from boring econoboxes to performance vehicles through the 2010s, companies such as KTM, Zero, and even the big four from Japan are all either investing heavily into electric bikes or have production electric bikes already on the road.
While not all of these bikes will be electrically powered, for the largest part, that is the segment of off-road motorcycles that see the most use of automatic transmissions. In this list, which is not a ranking, simply a listing of the best, the only guideline we all agreed on here at BBM to follow is that they must either be in production or introduced in 2022.
22 Honda Trail 125 ABS
Yes indeed, we count the teeny tiny 2022 Honda Trail 125 ABS as a dirt bike, although it realistically belongs more in the dual-sport or even adventure sport categories. The only reason it’s here is because, well, it’s designed to be an off-road minimoto, that can ride to the trail, tackle the trail, and then ride home on.
Powered by a 125cc four-stroke single, it puts out nearly 10 HP and will not set any land speed records. It is geared with a 4-speed centrifugal clutch automatic, which almost makes it into an off-road scooter! What it will do, though, is allow you to have the fun of a street minimoto, adapted and applied for off-road adventures. And isn’t that what getting off-road is all about? Having fun and adventuring. You’ll never know what you’ll find at the end of the trail!
22 Zero FX
Zero has been one of the biggest proponents of electric motorcycles since their inception in 2006 as Electricross. The current 2022 FX dirt bike, probably the most “dirt” oriented of their dual-sports, is inspired by the DS and DSR bikes that came before. Those two bikes laid the groundwork for a tough off-road frame, sealing the battery and motor against dust and weather, and getting better and better at longer rides without increasing the weight of the bike overly much.
As such, the current 2022 Zero FX comes in at a respectable 247 lbs with the ZF7.2 high endurance battery power pack kit installed. It uses a clutchless direct drive from the brushless motor and can reach 85 MPH. The ZF7.2 pack also gives the bike the equivalent of 46 HP, and 78 lb-ft of torque from 0 RPM. The upgraded power pack should also last between 65 to 90 miles, depending on usage, and can charge back to full as slowly as 10 hours (overnight) or, with Zero accessory chargers, as fast as 2 hours.
22 KTM FreeRide E-XC
The 2022 KTM FreeRide E-XC is the second electric bike by the respected Austrian company. The first, the kid-oriented FreeRide SX-E 5, proved that an electric bike would work off-road. The E-XC is what came out of that, a powerful, rally-style dirt bike that is meant more for fast and furious riding over trail riding or lazily riding around the farm.
Powered by a brushless motor that puts out about 24 HP, with a 3.9 kWh power pack backing it up, it will ride hard and fast for 2 hours along a trail, or can last a round of motocross-e or supercross-e before needing a charge. Like the Zero FX, it uses a clutchless direct-drive transmission. Unlike other electric dirt bikes, though, where you need to purchase an accessory charger to speed up charging, the FreeRide EX-C comes with a charger that can be plugged into a 240V socket and charge the bike in under 2 hours to 100%
22 Electric Motion Escape R
The Electric Motion Escape R is potentially the hardest-core dirt bike on this list, built from the frame up to be both a pit bike and a trials bike with a decent seat. It is extremely lightweight at 188 lbs, and can reach speeds of 44 MPH on rough terrain. Above all, it is road legal (at least in France, where it is made) as a 125cc equivalent dual-sport.
What makes it the most hardcore bike here is that it comes fully competition-ready out of the factory. Morad Trial rims front and back, Michelin X11 competition tires standard, Tech Racing aluminum front and rear suspension, a 2.62 kWh battery powering a 50.4V DC brushless permanent magnet motor. That motor works nominally at 6 kW (8 HP), but if you demand peak power, it shoots up to nearly 20 HP.
All of that power, as this is a list about automatic transmission dirt bikes as is, goes through a hydraulically controlled diaphragm clutch that allows for limited-slip, the only bike on this list to do so. This means you can demand peak power for a jump in trials, then hit the rear brake and the clutch will let the power slip off instead of fighting the wheel.
22 Honda Africa Twin DCT
The Honda Africa Twin has always had a loyal following among Adventure riders, and in 2020 Honda upgraded the bike with a new 1084cc engine, as well as the optional DCT automatic transmission. The engine churns out 105hp which may seem like quite a lot for the beginner rider, this is where the DCT offers a compelling option.
Honda has taken advantage of the upgraded IMU and a plentiful suite of rider aids, to communicate with the DCT unit. The bike understands if it is in a downhill roll and will hold the lower gears, aiding rider control. The same is found during lean angles, the IMU works with the DCT shifting to keep the bike in a stable configuration. Is it going to perform as well as an experienced rider slipping the clutch? No, but for those still honing their skills, the automatic clutch opens up new riding possibilities when the rider FOCUS can stay fully on their surroundings.
Of all the bikes on the list, the Africa Twin with the DCT is the truest form of what many imagine when hearing about an off-road bike with an automatic gearbox.
Are Dirt Bikes Automatic or Manual? What To Look For
When shopping for dirtbikes, it is critical to know if they are automatic or manual. In the early days of the dirtbike, there were only manuals; finding one with an auto transmission was akin to finding the Holy Grail or the Fountain of Youth. So are dirt bikes automatic or manual?
Dirtbikes come in both automatic and manual models. Depending on the bike’s energy source, you can special order whichever model makes you most comfortable. Automatic dirtbikes are becoming more prominent as more companies begin to make electric dirtbikes and quads.
The automatic transmission bike is making huge strides into other markets of dirtbikes, like adventure bikes, that were usually strictly the domain of manual drive machines. Don’t sweat it! No matter your bike’s transmission, you can rip up the trails. So read on and learn if dirt bikes are automatic!
Are Dirt Bikes Automatic or Manual?
One of the recent trends in dirtbikes is the move to electric bikes. This is a fantastic way to break in new rides as most of them will be an automatic transmissions. An automatic makes it much easier for the young riders to learn how to ride and not worry about constant kicks to the pedals and pressing the clutch.
You can find a good selection of quality Automatic Dirt Bikes for Kids Here on Amazon.
You can still buy bikes that have manual transmissions. They come in small cc engines that are great for up-and-coming riders. They have the manual transmissions we know and remember from the old days.
A few ways to tell if your dirtbike is manual or automatic are:
- Pedals – One of the main ways to tell if your dirtbike is a manual is to check the pedals. A pedal on the left will allow you to move it up or down to change the gears. This pedal is not present in automatic transmission dirtbikes.
- Handles – The next place to check will be the handles of the dirtbike. The old school handles of the dirtbike will have a handle on the left that will work as the clutch. Newer dirtbikes do not have a clutch.
Determining what kind of transmission your dirtbike has is a cinch once you know what to look for and where. First, you should know that some bikes come with handles for the breaks on both borks in an electric bike. Be careful that you don’t mistake a brake handle for a clutch.
Do you Have to Shift Dirt Bikes?
It depends on the transmission type of your dirtbike. If you have an automatic dirtbike, there is no need to shift. Auto dirtbikes have a chip in the electrical system that changes the gears on the bike depending on the terrain and how you drive.
If your bike is manual, you will need to change the gears. This could be a hard-to-master process for the beginning rider and hamper their ability to learn how to ride. However, by following a few rules, the rider can quickly master the shifting of gears.
A few rules to follow when riding a manual dirtbike are:
- Listen to the Bike – One of the best ways to know when to change gears on a dirtbike is to listen to the engine. When it gets to a high RPM, the noise will be unmistakable. However, if you continue to wind the bike up, it could have a catastrophic failure that means you have to replace the engine and any collateral damage.
- Low Shifting – Don’t be afraid to shift the gears out too early. It is an excellent way to learn where the gears work best for you. Remember that shifting with low RPMs is a way to gauge the gears and get used to them. Follow the instructions of the bike, the tach number, or the indicator light to get the best results.
- Work the Pedals – Another great way to get used to having a bike with a manual transmission is to work the pedals when the cycle is off. You get familiar with changing gears by getting used to moving your foot around to shift up and down.
Learning to shift your manual bike could take time if you are a newbie. It is all in good fun, though, and by learning the ropes, you open yourself up to a new world for exploration and intrigue.
Do Dirt Bikes Have Gears?
Yes, dirtbikes have gears. They shift with automatic or manual transmissions that allow the bike to reach higher speeds or gain more traction on slick ground. In addition, these gear shifts allow more horsepower to be drawn to the rear wheel, which drives the bike forward.
Which Bikes are Automatic?
For the most part, dirt bikes come in either transmission type. Depending on the model and style you choose, the bike could only come in one kind or the other. By knowing which bikes come with automatic transmissions, you save yourself some time and effort.
You can find a good selection of quality Automatic Dirt Bikes for Kids Here on Amazon.
A few dirtbikes that have automatic transmissions are:
- Zero FX – One of the hottest new dirtbikes on the market is the Zero FX dirtbike. It has an automatic transmission and is 100% electric. There is no shifting required; all you need to do is strap on your helmet and have a blast.
- KTM Freeride – Another good auto transmission bike is the KTM Freeride. It is a state-of-the-art bike that has a powerful 18 kW motor. It comes with a hefty price tag but is as good a time as you can have on the trail while preserving the environment.
There are several bikes on the market that come in auto transmission. Take your time, and knowing what you want from a motorcycle can pare down all the models until you find what you are looking for. Then, find the right fit for you. Do your homework before buying.
Dirtbikes come in both automatic and manual. They come this way because it is often easier for younger riders to handle an auto before moving onto all the shifting and pedal mashing required to drive a manual.
Finding an automatic transmission dirtbike that is right for you will be lots of fun to find. Several models on the market are sure to fit your task and purpose. So enjoy your shopping but be aware of the price tag and the repercussions of ownership.
Automatic Dirt Bike: Working And Riding Method (Explained)
An automatic dirt bike is a type of motorcycle designed for off-road riding that features an automatic transmission. Unlike a manual or semi-automatic dirt bike, an automatic dirt bike does not require the rider to shift gears or use a clutch to change gears. Instead, the bike’s transmission automatically adjusts the gear ratio based on the engine’s speed and power output.
This makes automatic dirt bikes easier to ride than manual or semi-automatic dirt bikes, and they are often preferred by beginner or inexperienced riders. The lack of a clutch and gear shifter means that the rider can FOCUS more on controlling the bike and navigating the terrain.
However, experienced riders may find that automatic dirt bikes limit their ability to fine-tune the bike’s power output and gear selection for different riding conditions. Additionally, automatic dirt bikes can be less responsive and have less overall power compared to their manual or semi-automatic counterparts.
What is An Automatic Dirt bike?
Automatic dirt bikes are motorcycles designed for off-road use, with a transmission system that shifts gears automatically. Unlike manual dirt bikes, which require the rider to manually shift gears using a clutch and gear selector, automatic dirt bikes use a system that automatically shifts gears as the rider accelerates or decelerates.
Automatic dirt bikes are popular among beginners and riders who prefer a simpler, more user-friendly riding experience. They are also popular among younger riders, as they allow them to FOCUS on learning basic riding skills without the added complexity of shifting gears.
There are several different types of automatic dirt bikes available on the market, ranging from small, low-powered bikes suitable for children to larger, more powerful bikes designed for experienced riders.
Some automatic dirt bikes also come equipped with additional features such as electric starters, adjustable suspension systems, and advanced braking systems to enhance their performance and safety.
Overall, automatic dirt bikes are a great option for riders looking for a more accessible, user-friendly off-road riding experience.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that riding any type of dirt bike can be dangerous, and riders should always wear appropriate safety gear and follow basic safety guidelines when riding.
How Does An Automatic Dirt Bike Work?
An automatic dirt bike works by using an automatic transmission system to shift gears, which eliminates the need for the rider to manually shift gears using a clutch and gear selector.
The transmission system in an automatic dirt bike uses a centrifugal clutch that engages automatically when the engine reaches a certain RPM.
As the rider accelerates, the transmission system automatically shifts up to a higher gear as needed, depending on the speed and power required. When the rider slows down, the transmission system shifts down to a lower gear to maintain the engine RPM and power output.
The automatic transmission system in a dirt bike typically has two to four gears, depending on the model and manufacturer. Some dirt bikes also have a manual mode, which allows the rider to manually select gears using a switch or button on the handlebars.
This can be useful when riding in certain situations, such as steep hills or technical terrain, where the rider wants more control over the gears.
Overall, automatic dirt bikes provide a simpler, more user-friendly riding experience for beginners and riders who prefer a less complex riding style. However, it’s important to keep in mind that riding any type of dirt bike can be dangerous, and riders should always wear appropriate safety gear and follow basic safety guidelines when riding.
How To Ride An Automatic Dirt Bike?
Riding an automatic dirt bike is similar to riding a manual dirt bike, but without the need to shift gears manually.
Remember to always wear appropriate safety gear, including a helmet, gloves, boots, and protective clothing, when riding an automatic dirt bike.
Here are some basic steps for riding an automatic dirt bike:
Familiarize yourself with the controls
Sure! Here are the basic controls that you need to familiarize yourself with before riding an automatic dirt bike:
Throttle: The throttle is located on the right handlebar and controls the speed of the bike. Twist it towards yourself to increase the speed, and release it to slow down.
Brake lever: The front brake lever is located on the right handlebar, while the rear brake lever is located on the right side of the bike near the footpeg. Squeeze the levers to apply the brakes.
Gear shifter: The gear shifter is located on the left side of the bike near the footpeg. In an automatic dirt bike, it usually has two positions: “1” and “D” for “Drive” mode. “1” is used for slow-speed riding and off-road situations, while “D” is used for higher-speed riding on smooth terrain.
Centrifugal clutch: The centrifugal clutch is located inside the engine and automatically engages when the engine RPM reaches a certain level. It disengages when the RPM drops below a certain level.
Kill switch: The kill switch is usually located on the right handlebar and is used to turn off the engine in an emergency.
Ignition switch: The ignition switch is usually located near the handlebars and is used to turn the bike on and off.
Speedometer: Some automatic dirt bikes have a speedometer that displays the current speed of the bike.
Make sure you know where all the controls are and how to operate them before you start riding your automatic dirt bike. It’s also a good idea to read the owner’s manual for your specific model to get a better understanding of its features and controls.
Start the engine
To start the engine of an automatic dirt bike, follow these steps:
Make sure the bike is in neutral: Before starting the engine, make sure the bike is in neutral by pulling in the clutch lever (if your bike has one) and pushing down on the gear shifter until the neutral light on the instrument panel comes on.
Turn on the ignition switch: Insert the key into the ignition switch, turn it to the “on” position, and make sure the instrument panel lights up.
Check the fuel and choke: Make sure there is enough fuel in the tank and, if your bike has a choke, make sure it is in the “on” position.
Start the engine: If your bike has an electric starter, simply press the starter button to start the engine. If your bike has a kickstarter, put your foot on the kickstarter lever and give it a firm kick. Make sure to keep your balance and hold onto the handlebars while starting the engine.
Warm up the engine: Let the engine idle for a few minutes to warm up before riding. This will help prevent engine damage and improve performance.
Once the engine is running, you can shift into “1” or “D” and start riding your automatic dirt bike. Remember to always wear appropriate safety gear, including a helmet, gloves, boots, and protective clothing, when riding.
Apply the brakes
To apply the brakes on an automatic dirt bike, follow these steps:
Identify the brake levers: The front brake lever is located on the right handlebar, while the rear brake lever is located on the right side of the bike near the footpeg.
Squeeze the brake lever: To apply the front brake, squeeze the front brake lever with your right hand. To apply the rear brake, press down on the rear brake lever with your right foot.
Gradually apply the brakes: Avoid grabbing or slamming on the brakes, as this can cause the bike to skid or lose control. Instead, apply the brakes gradually and smoothly to slow down or stop the bike.
Use both brakes together: For maximum stopping power, use both brakes together. Squeeze the front brake lever with your right hand while pressing down on the rear brake lever with your right foot.
Release the brakes: Once you have slowed down or come to a complete stop, release the brake lever or pedal slowly to prevent the bike from lurching forward.
Remember to use the brakes carefully and avoid locking up the wheels, as this can cause the bike to slide or lose control. With practice, you will learn how to use the brakes effectively and safely on your automatic dirt bike.
Shift to gear
In an automatic dirt bike, shifting gears is not necessary, as the bike is designed to shift gears automatically based on the engine RPM and speed.
However, some automatic dirt bikes may have a gear shifter that allows you to manually select a lower gear (such as “1”) for slow-speed riding and off-road situations.
To shift to a lower gear on an automatic dirt bike with a gear shifter, follow these steps:
Slow down: Before shifting to a lower gear, slow down the bike to a safe speed.
Pull in the clutch lever: If your bike has a clutch lever, pull it in to disengage the clutch.
Downshift: Press down on the gear shifter with your left foot to shift to a lower gear. On most automatic dirt bikes, there will be a “1” or “L” position for low gear.
Release the clutch: Slowly release the clutch lever while giving the bike a little gas with the throttle. This will engage the clutch and allow the bike to move forward in the lower gear.
It’s important to note that in an automatic dirt bike, the bike will automatically shift to higher gears as you increase speed. You do not need to manually shift gears as you would on a manual dirt bike.
Release the clutch
In an automatic dirt bike, releasing the clutch is not necessary as the bike’s transmission system automatically engages and disengages the clutch.
However, some automatic dirt bikes may have a clutch lever that can be used to manually engage and disengage the clutch, which can be useful in certain off-road riding situations.
If your automatic dirt bike has a clutch lever and you need to release the clutch to start moving, follow these steps:
Shift into gear: If your bike has a gear shifter, shift into the appropriate gear for your speed and riding conditions. Some automatic dirt bikes may have a “D” mode for regular riding and a “1” or “L” mode for slow-speed and off-road riding.
Hold in the clutch lever: Pull in the clutch lever with your left hand to disengage the clutch.
Give the bike some gas: Twist the throttle with your right hand to give the bike some gas while holding in the clutch lever.
Release the clutch lever: Slowly release the clutch lever while continuing to give the bike gas. This will engage the clutch and allow the bike to start moving.
It’s important to practice releasing the clutch gradually and smoothly to prevent stalling or jerky movements. With practice, you will become more comfortable with using the clutch lever on your automatic dirt bike.
To accelerate on an automatic dirt bike, follow these steps:
Twist the throttle: The throttle is located on the right handlebar and is typically twisted forward to increase speed. Twist the throttle slowly and smoothly to increase your speed.
Shift your weight: As you accelerate, shift your weight forward slightly to maintain balance and control over the bike. Keep your arms and legs relaxed to absorb any bumps or jumps in the terrain.
Gradually increase speed: Avoid jerky movements or sudden bursts of speed, as this can cause the bike to lose traction or control. Instead, gradually increase your speed as you become more comfortable with the bike.
Monitor your speed: Keep an eye on your speedometer or gauge to monitor your speed and ensure that you are riding at a safe and appropriate speed for the terrain and conditions.
Remember to always wear protective gear, including a helmet, gloves, boots, and body armor, when riding your automatic dirt bike. Also, be aware of your surroundings and ride at a safe and appropriate speed for the terrain and conditions. With practice and experience, you will become more comfortable and confident with accelerating on your automatic dirt bike.
Control the bike
To control an automatic dirt bike, follow these tips:
Balance the bike: Balance is crucial for maintaining control over your dirt bike. Keep your weight centered over the bike and use your body to adjust your balance as needed. Keep your arms and legs relaxed to absorb any bumps or jumps in the terrain.
Use the handlebars: The handlebars are used to steer the bike. Turn the handlebars in the direction you want to go, but be careful not to oversteer or turn too sharply, as this can cause the bike to lose traction or control.
Use your feet: Your feet are important for maintaining balance and control over the bike. Keep your feet on the footpegs at all times, and use your feet to stabilize the bike in corners or on uneven terrain.
Brake effectively: Use the brakes smoothly and gradually to slow down or stop the bike. Avoid grabbing or slamming on the brakes, as this can cause the bike to skid or lose control. Use both brakes together for maximum stopping power.
Use your body position: Your body position can help you maintain control over the bike and handle different riding situations. Lean forward when accelerating or climbing hills, and lean back when descending or braking. Use your body weight to counterbalance the bike in turns and over obstacles.
Monitor your speed: Keep an eye on your speedometer or gauge to ensure that you are riding at a safe and appropriate speed for the terrain and conditions. Slow down or stop the bike if necessary to avoid hazards or obstacles in your path.
In an automatic dirt bike, you do not need to shift gears manually as the transmission system automatically changes gears based on the bike’s speed and riding conditions. However, some automatic dirt bikes may have different modes or settings that can affect how the transmission behaves.
If your automatic dirt bike has a manual mode or settings, you can use the buttons or switches on the handlebars to adjust the transmission behavior. For example, you may be able to select a “1” or “L” mode for slow-speed and off-road riding, or a “D” mode for regular riding.
If you’re not sure how to shift gears on your automatic dirt bike, consult the owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer for specific instructions. In general, you can follow these tips to adjust the transmission settings on your automatic dirt bike:
Locate the mode or settings buttons: The buttons or switches that control the transmission settings are typically located on the handlebars, near the throttle and brake levers.
Consult the owner’s manual: The owner’s manual should provide specific instructions for adjusting the transmission settings on your particular automatic dirt bike. Follow the instructions carefully to avoid damaging the bike or causing unsafe riding conditions.
Test the different settings: Once you have adjusted the transmission settings, test them out in a safe and controlled environment to see how they affect the bike’s performance. Make adjustments as needed until you find the settings that work best for your riding style and conditions.
Always wear a helmet, gloves, boots, and body armor when riding your motorized dirt bike.
Also, be aware of your surroundings and ride at a safe and appropriate speed for the terrain and conditions. With practice and experience, you will become more comfortable and confident with controlling your automatic dirt bike.
Practice is essential to improving your riding skills and becoming more comfortable and confident on your automatic dirt bike.
Here are some tips for practicing and improving your riding:
Find a safe and appropriate practice area: Look for a location with flat and open terrain, away from obstacles and hazards. This could be an empty field or a designated off-road riding area.
Start with basic maneuvers: Begin by practicing basic maneuvers such as starting and stopping, turning, and accelerating and decelerating smoothly. Focus on developing good balance and control over the bike.
Practice different riding techniques: As you become more comfortable with the basics, practice different riding techniques such as riding in different positions (standing, sitting, leaning forward or back), riding over obstacles, and cornering.
Gradually increase speed and difficulty: Once you have mastered the basics, gradually increase your speed and difficulty level by riding over more challenging terrain and practicing more advanced riding techniques.
Seek instruction or guidance: Consider taking a riding class or getting guidance from a more experienced rider. They can offer valuable tips and advice to help you improve your riding skills.
Stay safe: Always wear protective gear, including a helmet, gloves, boots, and body armor, when riding your automatic dirt bike. Be aware of your surroundings and ride at a safe and appropriate speed for the terrain and conditions.
Remember, learning to ride an automatic dirt bike takes time, patience, and practice. With consistent practice and dedication, you can become a skilled and confident rider.
Difference between manual dirt bike and automatic dirt bikeThe main difference between a manual dirt bike and an automatic dirt bike is how the rider changes gears.
In a manual dirt bike, the rider must use a clutch lever and shift gear with a foot pedal, while in an automatic dirt bike, the bike changes gears automatically.
Here are some of the main differences between manual and automatic dirt bikes:
Gearing: As mentioned, the main difference is how the bike changes gears. A manual dirt bike has a foot-operated gear shifter and a clutch lever on the handlebars, while an automatic dirt bike uses an internal mechanism to shift gears without any input from the rider.
Skill level: Because manual dirt bikes require the rider to use a clutch and shift gears manually, they require more skill and experience to operate. Automatic dirt bikes are generally considered easier to ride, making them a good choice for beginners or riders who prefer a more relaxed riding experience.
Price: Automatic dirt bikes tend to be more expensive than manual dirt bikes due to the added technology required for the automatic transmission.
Maintenance: Manual dirt bikes require more maintenance, as the clutch and transmission components will wear out over time and need to be replaced. Automatic dirt bikes have fewer moving parts and may require less maintenance.
Riding style: Manual dirt bikes are preferred by riders who enjoy more control over their riding experience, as they can manipulate the gears to suit the terrain and their riding style. Automatic dirt bikes are generally more suited to riders who prefer a more laid-back, casual riding experience.
Rider skill, riding style, and preferences will determine whether to ride a manual or automatic dirt bike.
While choosing a bike, examine its benefits and downsides.
Riding an automatic dirt bike can be a fun and rewarding experience for riders of all skill levels.
It’s important to start by familiarizing yourself with the controls and practicing basic maneuvers, gradually increasing speed and difficulty as you become more comfortable and confident on the bike.
Whether you choose a manual or automatic dirt bike, always prioritize safety by wearing protective gear and riding at a safe and appropriate speed for the terrain and conditions. With practice and dedication, you can become a skilled and confident rider on your automatic dirt bike.
My name is Wasim Akram and I love everything about dirt bikes, motorcycles and other automobiles. I have worked as a mechanical engineer for four years in an automobile company. I have made this website to share everything I have gained from my career. It makes me feel happy when I am able solve any automobile related issue.
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Manual vs Automatic Dirt Bikes: How To Choose Right
Old school dirt bike riders will say there is no choice; manual is the only way to go! However, the new generation of automatic dirt bikes brings a new aspect of dirt bike riding to the table and makes it more accessible to more people. If you are in a quandary as to whether a manual or automatic dirt bike is for you and how to make the choice, then we have some information for your consideration!
Choosing between a Manual or Automatic dirt bike comes down to some basic, and probably personal, choices like your skill level, and which transmission type will make your dirt bike riding more fun for you!
To assist you in making this decision, we will highlight the pros and cons of both manual and automatic dirt bikes, give you some examples of each type of bike, and draw some conclusions. This information will help you make the right choice for your dirt bike riding needs.
Before we jump into the discussion, some clarification on what is meant by a manual and automatic dirt bike is probably in order. When we talk about manual or automatic, we are referring to the transmission, or gearbox of the dirt bike, and the mechanism used to engage the various gears while riding.
What Is A Manual Dirt Bike?
A manual dirt bike is one that has a manual transmission or gearbox.
In its basic form, a transmission is made up of gears of various sizes, and a clutch to engage and disengage the gears. On a manual dirt bike, the clutch is operated via a lever on the left-hand handlebar of the dirt bike. Pulling the clutch lever in towards the handlebars disengages the gears and when released again, the gears are re-engaged. The clutch lever needs to be cycled in this manner every time a rider wants to go up or down a gear.
The actual gear change is achieved via a foot lever located in front of the rider’s left footpeg. This lever is operated by the rider’s left foot to select the gear to be engaged. Some dirt bikes can have as few as 3 gears, while others may have as many as 6 gears.
The gear selection position of the gear change lever varies with various dirt bike manufacturers, but the most common gear positions are to tap the gear lever down to engage first gear and then lift the gear lever up with your foot to change to the higher gears. Neutral is achieved by lightly tapping the gear lever down towards first gear, or up from first gear so that no gear is selected.
Operating a manual gearbox does take some practice, and for people who are unfamiliar with the mechanism, they often struggle to get the timing of the clutch and the throttle correct and end up stalling the bike. The gear selection is another aspect that people find difficult until they get used to the position of the gears on the bike.
Learning to ride a dirt bike with a manual transmission may seem like a challenging task for a beginner. Mastering the clutch and throttle coordination is well worth the effort and may take less time than you expect! With an hour or less of practice in an area with some space and free of obstacles, you should be able to master the basics of the clutch and throttle control.
What Is An Automatic Dirt Bike?
An automatic dirt bike is one that has an automatic transmission, or gearbox. An automatic transmission automates the process of engaging and disengaging the clutch and the process of gear selection.
Fully automatic transmission dirt bikes are not that common, and generally are the smaller dirt bikes that are designed for very young riders. There are some adult size dirt bikes with fully automatic transmissions, but they are not common at all. Most dirt bikes with automatic transmissions are not fully automatic as in the case of an automatic transmission in a car. These types of automatic dirt bike transmission are more correctly stated as a semi-automatic transmission.
The semi-automatic transmission takes care of the clutch operation for you, but you still need to make the gear selection with your left foot, and close and open the throttle during the gear changes.
This clutch mechanism you may hear being referred to as a DCT, which stands for dual-clutch transmission. These bikes will have no clutch lever on the left side of the handlebar. The operation of the clutch is all handled by a computer installed in the bike that is dedicated to this function. Not many dirt bikes are fitted with this type of clutch, but the Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin is one such bike that has a DCT system.
This bike is, however, more an enduro or rally style bike than a dirt track bike. This Honda is also an example of a crossover bike that is suitable for off-road use and on-road use and comes standard as street-legal.
Another technology you may hear of in the automatic transmission dirt bike sector is CVT, which stands for Continuously Variable Transmission. This system is unique in that it does not have traditional gears in a gearbox but rather uses a belt and pulley system to transmit the drive power to the wheels.
The pulleys vary in size and change according to the RPMs of the motor and speed required. The disadvantage of this system is that a lot of energy is lost in the form of friction in the belt and pulley system.
This belt and pulley type of transmission, however, gives a very weird feel to the performance of the vehicle and it often sounds like it is over-revving and the clutch is slipping. Needless to say, this technology has not proved to be very popular, and this type of transmission system is only used in very few small capacity engine dirt bikes for the very young riders.
The KTM 50 SX is one such dirt bike aimed at the younger rider and fitted with a CVT transmission system.
The automatic or semi-automatic transmission makes learning to ride a dirt bike easier, as you don’t need to worry about mastering or constantly thinking about the clutch, gear change, and throttle timing, but can concentrate on riding.
This makes the automatic transmission popular among beginner dirt bike riders, particularly those who are not familiar with the intricacies of a manual transmission.
Pros and Cons
As can be expected, there are pros and cons to each type of transmission for dirt bikes. The advantages come with associated disadvantages. You will have to determine if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages for your particular riding needs.
- The learning curve for a beginner dirt bike rider is not as steep.
- Automatic transmissions are great for kids.
- Dirt bikes with an automatic transmission are easier to control.
- Less likely to damage the transmission when learning to ride.
- Acceleration is not as good, although modern automatic transmissions are improving in this area.
- They are heavier than a manual transmission.
- There are more components; this means more that could potentially go wrong.
- Less control for the rider and some riders also will tell you that automatic transmission dirt bikes are much less fun and can become boring after a while.
- Automatic transmissions for dirt bikes are more expensive to manufacture than manual transmissions.
- Not as common or as many models to choose from as in manual dirt bikes.
- Not as fuel-efficient as a manual transmission.
- Faster acceleration, particularly on pull off.
- control over the bike’s performance in rough terrain.
- Fewer parts to go wrong in the transmission.
- A manual transmission is lightweight in comparison to the automatic transmission, making manual transmission bikes lighter overall.
- Manual transmissions are more fuel-efficient.
- Manual transmissions for dirt bikes are cheaper to manufacture and more common, hence easier to buy.
The cons for the manual transmission dirt bike are as follows.
- They are harder to learn to ride, particularly for beginners who are not familiar with manual transmissions.
- Usually not suitable for younger riders.
Most dirt bike riders who have started out on automatic transmission bikes will tell you that once they mastered riding them, they quickly became a boring ride. Most riders in this category have then transitioned to a manual transmission dirt bike.
Manual dirt bike riders will never change their manual dirt bike for an automatic dirt bike. Most would feel that this would be a downgrade. Manual dirt bike riders also consider the fun aspect of dirt bike riding to be greatly enhanced by the additional control that a manual transmission affords.
Most of the automatic transmission dirt bikes on the market are targeting young riders, so the bikes are mostly smaller frame machines. There are adult-sized automatic dirt bikes available, but they are not as common as the manual variety.
The popularity of the manual transmission is also reflected in the wide variety of choice available in different models and manufacturers of dirt bikes. Because of the popularity of manual transmission dirt bikes, some manufacturers don’t even offer an automatic dirt bike in their range. Their lack of popularity doesn’t warrant the effort to produce and market them.
Some bigger brands of dirt bike manufacturers will offer one or two models among the myriad of variations on offer in the manual transmission bikes. This makes automatic dirt bikes difficult to come by and may be a limiting factor in you being able to acquire one.
In my opinion, one of the attractions of a dirt bike is its simplicity, particularly the 2-stroke models. They are easy to maintain and service and because of their simplicity, fairly cheap to maintain. There are usually no specialist tools or machines needed to maintain your dirt bike, and you could even do most of it in your home garage!
Much of this simplicity changes with an automatic transmission dirt bike. The automatic transmission is much more complicated, with more moving parts and complicated engineering going into their design and operation. The clutch is controlled by an onboard computer which is another complication that is added to the mix.
These added complications to the structure and operation of the automatic transmission make it more complicated to service and maintain these transmissions. Specialized tools and computer interfaces are needed to diagnose problems or fine-tune the components. These items are usually out of the scope of backyard or home mechanics.
A specialist is normally required to work on these transmissions. This immediately increases the cost of maintenance and repair of these types of transmissions.
Manual transmission dirt bikes on the other hand can even, in some circumstances, be stripped down at the track and repairs completed on the fly, then bike put together again and you are on your way! The popularity of the manual transmission dirt bikes also makes the parts for these gearboxes cheaper and more readily available than those for the automatic transmissions.
Manual transmissions are more reliable than automatic transmissions. This is mostly due to the additional complications within the automatic transmission.
Another factor, however, is also the fact that that the automatic gearbox requires high-quality oils and lubricants and it is not wise to deviate from the recommended oil specifications.
The last difference between the two transmission types in our duel of the manual vs automatic dirt bike will be the price factor.
As we have noted previously, the automatic gearbox has many more components and is engineered with much finer tolerances than the manual gearbox. This additional design, testing, and manufacturing of the additional parts required for the automatic transmission have a direct effect on the final price for the consumer.
In short, automatic transmission dirt bikes are more expensive to manufacture than manual transmission dirt bikes. For this reason, automatic transmission dirt bikes are usually found in bikes designed for younger riders, where cost can be cut on other aspects of the bike production to compensate for the costly transmission.
The lack of availability of bikes in higher engine capacities manufactured with automatic or semi-automatic transmissions makes it a difficult task to draw price comparisons. The best price comparison, therefore, is in the bikes of 125cc or less, which is where the majority of the semi-automatic dirt bikes seem to abound.
While the difference in the purchase price is not that dramatic, usually a couple of hundred dollars, this is not the only cost factor to consider. The automatic transmission bikes are usually lacking in other features that are more common on manual dirt bikes to keep the costs down. Where the difference starts to become somewhat more substantial is in the ongoing maintenance of the machines.
Automatic or Semi-Automatic Dirt Bikes
If you are interested in automatic or semi-automatic dirt bikes then here are a few models that may be of interest to you.
The Kawasaki KLX110 is a great mid-range bike from a well-known manufacturer. Don’t be fooled by the 110cc engine, this bike is no slouch and packs quite a punch for its size. It is not only suitable for mid-teens but would even suit smaller sized adults, particularly beginners. The engine is a 4-stroke motor which gives a smooth reaction to the throttle, with no surprises. The engine is air-cooled, so no need to worry about additional liquid coolants!
The transmission is a 4-speed box with an automatic clutch, which puts this great off-road bike in the semi-automatic category. This makes the bike easy to ride for beginner dirt bike riders. There are many add-ons available for this model bike, which makes it customizable to some extent when it comes to adjusting the seat height of the dirt bike. This makes it possible for taller riders to enjoy this machine as well!
Many big manufacturers seem to have taken an interest in the 110cc range and as a result, there are many choices of automatic dirt bikes in this engine capacity. Others in this range include the Yamaha TT-R110E and the Honda CRF110F.
Due to most automatic or semi-automatic transmission dirt bikes being aimed at the younger riders, we must include a dirt bike model that is aimed at the under 10-years old group.
The Suzuki DR-Z70 fits right into this category and is ideally suited for this age group. The clutch is automatic on this model, with a 3-speed gearbox. The throttle can be adjusted to limit the speed at which the bike can be operated. This may give the parents of the young rider some peace of mind!
This model also comes in a 50cc variety, the DR-Z50, for the even younger riders. It has all the same features, only a smaller engine. Due to the small physical size of the DR-Z70 is not really practical for adults to ride, even though the motor is more than capable!
Manual Dirt Bikes
When beginning the search to purchase a manual transmission dirt bike for yourself, you will find that you are spoiled for choice. The wide range of choices between makes and models of dirt bikes in the manual-transmission category are too many to cover in detail in this post, so we will only highlight a few relevant models.
If your choice is to go for a manual transmission dirt bike, you need to be aware that there are other aspects to purchasing the right dirt bike that you will need to consider. It is important to take all these factors into account to make sure that the dirt bike best matches your physical size, riding ability, and budget.
For more on the things to consider when buying your first dirt bike, you can check out my article on it here.
As a beginner dirt bike rider, it may be tempting to go for the top of the range, pro-rider type dirt bike. The wise choice would be to rather go for a more modest dirt bike that better matches your skill level. Riding a bike that is too powerful and more complicated than your skillset is not only unnecessary, and potentially dangerous, but will also get expensive.
Manual dirt bikes can start in the range of just under 2000 and go all the way to 15000 and beyond. We will feature a couple of beginner style bikes, rather than the upper price range models.
One of the models mentioned in the automatic dirt bike section, the Kawasaki KLX110 has a manual transmission model, the KLX110L. This bike is a great beginner dirt bike which has all the features mentioned earlier, the only difference being the manual transmission. The manual version is priced at around the 2500 mark so, it is fairly affordable.
Many dirt bike riders will say that no more fun can be had than on a 125cc dirt bike! The 125cc dirt bikes are lightweight, highly maneuverable, and have plenty of power to make the off-road experience an adrenalin rush!
A very popular dirt bike that falls into this category is the Yamaha TT-R125LE. This little Yamaha is robust, easy to maintain, and has a fairly decent purchase price of about 3300. Another bike in the same price range is the Suzuki Z125L if you would like an alternative.
The higher engine capacity dirt bikes become increasingly more expensive. For example, the Yamaha YZ250F is a popular model that has a powerful 250cc motor but comes with a fairly hefty purchase price of around 7700.
The KTM 250SXF which has the same engine capacity comes in at a significantly higher purchase price of around 9000. But here you are paying for the many years of development and technology that has made KTM one of the best off-road dirt bike manufacturers in the market. This also means that these bikes are probably outside the scope of beginner riders!
Manual dirt bikes go much higher in engine capacity that the models mentioned here. The go up from the 400cc capacity all the way up to 600cc and in some cases beyond.
One such model is the ATK Intimidator 700 with a massive 700cc 2-stroke engine! These bikes however go for over 10 000 and should not even be considered by beginner riders. The power of these machines would be way more than what a beginner could handle and it would not be a wise or, indeed, a safe choice for someone starting out dirt bike riding!
Bigger engine capacity dirt bikes are available, but then you are venturing more into the world of enduro racing or rally bikes such as the KTM 950 Super enduro.
From all we have discussed regarding manual vs automatic dirt bikes, it would seem that manual dirt bikes have the advantage in the majority of areas. Other than the learning curve between the two transmission types, that is. While this is currently where things stand, what would be the likely future of manual transmission dirt bikes?
There is a move worldwide towards vehicles powered by electric motors, even for motorsports. Formula “E” as it is called in the Formula 1 world has taken off and is rapidly growing in development of the vehicles, the sport, and support amongst the motor racing fans.
While the electric dirt bike has not taken off yet, it is a matter of time before it will happen. These electric powered dirt bikes will more than likely have automatic transmissions rather than the manual variety due to the nature of the engines.
The bigger manufacturers are starting to take notice of this technology and are starting to bring out electric models. One of the biggest brand names in dirt bikes, KTM has an electric dirt bike out, called the KTM Freeride E-XC.
While these bikes may emerge as new technology, it is unlikely that they will make gas-powered dirt bikes obsolete in the short term.
Once again, for more on the things to consider when buying your first dirt bike, you can check out my article on it here.
As an amateur off-road enthusiast, I have always been drawn to outdoor adventure. I have decided to share all of my learning experiences with you as I dig a little deeper into my new-found passion and wonderful world of off-roading. My mission is to create the Ultimate Off-roading space on the internet in the process. Stay safe and happy Off-Roading! report this ad
Off-road riding is often considered a full-contact sport, not only with other riders but with nature itself. As with any sporting activity where there is potential for contact and collisions, a rider.
Off-road riding is often considered a full-contact sport, not only with other riders but with nature itself. As with any sporting activity where there is potential for contact and collisions, a rider.
As an amateur off-road enthusiast, I have always been drawn to outdoor adventure. I have decided to share all of my learning experiences with you as I dig a little deeper into my new-found passion and wonderful world of off-roading. My mission is to create the Ultimate Off-roading space on the internet in the process. Stay safe and happy Off-Roading!
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