In this post I’m going to talk about how to get your kids started in dirt biking. I started my boy when he was around 4 on his little Honda CRF 50 and my daughter was a little bit older, she was around 7. In this article I’ll go over some of the very basics that we did and that you should think about, when getting your kid into dirt biking.
|How to Get Started in Dirt Biking|
|Which Dirt Bike Should You Buy Your Kid?|
|What Gear to Get Your Kids|
|How to Teach Your Kid to Dirt Bike|
Ultimately as a parent I want to share in the same passions with my kids and go have fun and have adventures while dirt biking but at the same time I want to make sure my kids are confident and safe. The last thing I wanted was to get my child on a bike and they become afraid of it because they’re not confident or they don’t have the skills. For me if that happened, that was my fault.
I’ve written this article to show you the basics of how I did things, obviously you don’t need to follow word for word and you can do things however you like but this is some of the tips and tricks that I found most helpful while getting my kids started in dirt biking.
How to Get Started in Dirt Biking
The first thing if your kid is a little bit younger, maybe hasn’t started riding a pedal bike yet would be to start them on a Strider bike. The reason for that is Strider bikes teach them the balance that you need for forward momentum.
Using the Strider bike, they become confident in that it’s under their own power with their legs, they don’t feel insecure about lifting their legs up from to the ground and trying to hit some pedals. The balance bike I used with my kids can be found here at amazon.
Once they get confident on the Strider bike, I would move them to a pedal bike with no training wheels. When they jump on the pedal bike, they’ll be able to paddle to get them going and then with a little help eventually get on the bike and ride it.
We’ve written a whole article on the helpful techniques I used to teach my children to ride. From balance bikes to learning to pedal. You can read the post here.
In my experience those kids who have been on a Strider bike move to a pedal bike with much more ease than someone that hasn’t been on a Strider bike or a bike with training wheels. When they’re on a pedal bike, understanding your instructions and they’re also very confident, in my opinion they’re ready for a dirt bike.
At this point there are a couple things to consider, like which dirt bike should you get being the main one. With my son and contrary to most recommendations I actually skipped over the PW50. The reason for that was I felt like it was going to be too small for him. Now don’t mistake what I say here, the PW50 is a great starter bike, in fact we’ve written a whole article about it here. It didn’t suit my son on this occasion as I’m sure it might not a lot of other folk.
I also did something else a little bit different. With my son, the steps I took were, strider bike, pedal bike and then I went and got a little kid’s electric bike. The bike I got was a razor electric bike. It was fantastic in that it taught him throttle control, but it also allowed him to ride the bike whenever he wanted. You can view our complete review on the razor bike I bought here
He could go in our yard without me having to go out also. I wanted him to get confident on that little razor electric bike and because it wasn’t super expensive, I felt less stressed in needing to get him on it before he grew out of it, like I might have done with the PW50.
Doing it this way I saved a little money and when I was eventually ready to make the dirt bike purchase, i’ll look at the choices in the next section but for my kid I chose to move him to the Honda CRF 50. Another option I looked at was the Yamaha TTR50 which comes with electric start. Both bikes are a solid choice at this stage. You can find a comparison article on both these bikes here.
Which Dirt Bike Should You Buy Your Kid?
If you’re now at the point where your kids been on the Strider bike, they can ride the pedal bike and they can understand instructions, you’ll want to go buy them a dirt bike and it’s hard to know which one you should buy. You’ve got to think about size and use, you could go and buy a Yamaha PW50, which is a great bike, a little bit smaller than the TTR 50 or a Honda 50.
My boy is a little taller than average, so I skipped the PW50 and went straight to a CRF50. The CRF50 or the TTR50 to me are both solid bikes. You’re not going to go wrong with either of them. They are trail bikes, meaning they’re heavier and they don’t have as much suspension and a little bit underpowered.
They are not motocross bikes. So, if like us and you’re just wanting to go have fun and ride the trails with your kid these are the bikes. You can ride a little bit of motocross with the TGR 50 or the CRF 50 or even the PW50 but their not necessarily built for that.
It’s important to know these are the kind of the bikes that I’d recommend and that we’ve used, there are other brands you could look at like, Kawasaki and Suzuki, for me though the only real options are the Honda CRF 50 , the Yamaha TTR 50, the Yamaha PW50 or the KTM 50 mini which is a mini two-stroke. If your kid’s going to get into a motocross the KTM 50 mini is probably a better bet than the Honda and Yamaha models.
Another option is an electric bike. There are some really nice electric bikes by lots of manufacturers and that’s definitely something to think about if you don’t have the ability to go to a track or a trail nearby and you don’t want your kids making a lot of noise. If you want to know more about electric bikes take a look at this article we wrote here.
So now it’s come to the time to buy the bike, which do you go for? Do you buy a CRF50, a TTR50 or a KTM50 mini? It really all depends on what you’re going to do with the bike. Like I said before if it’s going to be motocross, go with the KTM. If you mostly want to ride trails go with the Honda or the Yamaha.
Now it comes down to, should I buy a new one or should I buy used? Well that decision ultimately is up to you and your own personal finances but for me I decided to buy used. The reason for that is typically these are little bikes and just like you would with clothes or anything like that your kid’s going to grow out of it pretty quickly.
You can usually find a pretty good used dirt bike on the local classifieds or even at a local dealer. What I would recommend if buying second hand is to know what you’re looking out for.
I bought the CRF 50 for my kids and it was in good shape. It had some scratches and dings, just like anything used but it’s a Honda and they’re pretty simple and straight forward. They’re also very reliable. I bought ours for around a thousand bucks and we’ve rode it for almost four years now. A lot of the time, kids grow out of the bike or get disinterested in it. I’m lucky as I had it for my daughter, then my son and now my other daughter.
The other great thing about this these little TTR50s and the CRF50 are these little Honda trail bikes hold their value really well. So, if we sold it now, we’d still get around 850 for it. We’ve basically rolled the bike for a couple hundred bucks. That’s something to think about when buying, if you buy new, no matter what as soon as you drive off, you’re going to lose money.
The other thing to consider is your kid’s going to dump the bike and they’re going to break and scratch things. It’s normal and that’s okay, so if you’re just getting started, I’d say go buy a used bike. Once you have the bike picked up the next step before anyone rides it is to get the right gear.
What Gear to Get Your Kids
- Dirt Bike Helmet
- Shoulder Pads
- Chest Protectors
- Knee Pads
- Wrist Protectors
What gear do you absolutely need before your kid should be riding a dirt bike? This topic is important because we want to keep our kids safe, we want them to have fun and continue to have a lifelong memory in dirt biking.
My first purchase would be a helmet. A helmet in my opinion is the best and the most crucial investment you need to make when getting your kids started into biking. It’s really important to know that a bicycle helmet won’t work, and you need a full faced motocross DOT approved, Snell approved helmet.
My rule with this is to spend as much money as you can afford on a quality helmet because the last thing you want is to have your kid have issues with their face or head and that makes buying a quality helmet instead of a cheap helmet a very good idea.
You may not be able to afford a really nice helmet at the time because you just bought a dirt bike. If that is the case, I would suggest buying the best one that you can afford and then upgrade as and when needed. The other thing to think about is size. Every kids head is different, you want it to be snug, but you don’t want it to be so snug that it hurts their head and gives them a headache. You also don’t want it to be too loose where it moves around and could fall where they can’t see anything.
We’ve a complete guide on buying the correct size for a dirt bike helmet here
The other things that I highly recommend as a must have are boots. The reason for that is boots will save your ankles and toes. With kids they tend to want to kick their feet out, put their feet on the ground sit on the seat and walk a lot, they kick routes and kick rocks and so forth. The boots are steel toed, they’re really high quality and durable. This would be another must-have in my eyes for your kid.
The next thing would get them is some gloves. This allows them to be protected if stuff hits their arms or hands. It also helps protect them if they fall over. Anything that can give them that little bit more protection for me are a must purchase for your kid before he even gets on a dirt bike.
You can get away with not having gloves or a set of boots but not without a helmet! They need to have a helmet. You must NOT let your kid ride without a helmet
The other suggested equipment you could get is shoulder pads, chest protectors, knee pads, wrist protectors and full kit uniforms. If your kids like mine, the full kit uniforms will help the kid feel good about themselves. It also helps them enjoy the experience even more.
Take a look at these full dirt bike uniforms on amazon. We found my sons on here for a great price. If you shop around there are some great bargains to be had.
Whilst you don’t need to spend a ton of money, they can have fun safely with the bare minimum of having the boots, gloves and helmet.
How to Teach Your Kid to Dirt Bike
You’ve purchased the bike you want to get for your kid, you have all the gear, the helmet, the boots, the gloves and any of the other riding gear that you feel your kid needs. Then now it’s time to go get some experience on the bike.
Like I said before if your kids ridden a strider bike onto a pedal bike, then in my opinion they can ride a dirt bike. I started my son on a Honda CRF 50 four-stroke and that’s kind of how I started. I wish my parents had learned what I know now to help me gain confidence on the bike.
The first thing to do or the first thing to teach your kid is where the brakes are. You want to make sure that they know how to stop. If they know how to stop, it’ll help a ton with their confidence, and their overall enjoyment when riding.
With a Honda or Yamaha little 50, they will have a front and a rear brake, one on the rear and then one up on the handlebars as well. Once you’ve shown your kid where these are what I would recommend is with two adults go to a place where it’s wide open there’s no rocks, it’s just kind of a flat spot, maybe like your backyard or a park and pace out about 50 yards no more.
You’ll have one adult stand on one side and the other adult on the other side. What you’re going to do is try to get them to practice braking. Tell your child to essentially go straight using the throttle, straight to the other parent or a person and stop right in front of them. Tell them to do this using both brakes, the rear and the front brake.
Tell your kid not to just jam on the front brake, so they don’t cause the back of the bike to lift, but also teach them that all of the stopping power is in your front brake and to prevent this tip they should use both brakes at the same time. If they’re not getting that just tell them to stomp on the rear brake at first and bring in the front brake.
Have them do this multiple times and stop right in front of that person. Then the adult at each end could help them turn around and repeat until they feel comfortable and confident with the braking. Continue with this and when they’re ready you can have them start turning the bike around themselves.
Another little tip or trick with these little Honda and Yamaha 50s is, there are three speeds on semi-automatic transmission and the first gear is a little bit snappy. They tend to get the throttle stuck or what they call whiskey throttle a lot easier. What you can do is click it into second gear. Second gear has a more tame but broader power band, it’s going to be able to pull a little bit longer and not make them feel uncomfortable.
Once they learn how to stop then you should teach them how to basically turn and keep their feet on the pegs. You can set up cones or little obstacles to help them turn and keep practicing the braking and so forth. Then try and find an uphill and a downhill and teach them what to do going to do in both circumstances. I’d again set up the 50-yard line and repeat the first steps but this time on inclines.
One of the best things your kid can do is stand up but with these little Honda and Yamaha 50s they can be harder to stand up on, as they have a lower center of gravity and it’s a little bit more difficult but standing up is the best technique. Standing is a way that helps keep the right balance on the bike, so if you can teach them to stand up and break in the 50 yards then you should defiantly practice that also.
Typically with my kids we would go to do a fun ride and then whilst out we would make time to practice. We’d practice standing up whilst doing different things. Doing this slowly allows your kids to stand up confidently and helps grow strength in their legs and lower back.
Ultimately the goal is for your kid to have fun and enjoy themselves. One thing to remember when you’re teaching your kids to go up and down hills is that a lot of kids, especially when going downhill, will get nervous. When nerves kick in, I find they tend to take their legs off the pegs.
Watch out for this, as what happens is a lot of them don’t know how to use the front brake well enough. They don’t know how to use it correctly to be able to get the bike to stop efficiently without tipping it over or grabbing it to tight and wrecking the bike.
Once they have their feet off the pegs, they can’t cover the rear brake. What I’ve seen when this happens is they then start to paddle and the bike just gets going faster and faster and it gets scarier and scarier for them. This is why I recommend teaching them how to break down hill where they apply the rear brake first and then slowly pull in the front brake and see how it feels.
Doing all these drills gets them used to the bike. You also need to teach them how to turn it off. With the little Honda’s and Yamahas they will have a kill switch. Tell your kids it’s okay to tip over and that everyone tips over lot of times. The main problem here is if they don’t know what to do when it does happen.
So instead of it scaring them just teach them if they do tip, to reach over and hit the kill switch until you can go over and help them pick the bike up. This is a perfect opportunity to also teach them how to pick the bike up.
I started my boy when he was around four on his little Honda CRF 50, my daughter was a little bit older, she was around seven. They both have ridden the CRF50 and then they’ve progressed now. We’ve had this bike for a long time, and I’ve had two of them use it and another about too. My boy loves it, he begs to go all the time and so we spent a lot of time riding together and that kind of leads onto what bike should we progress to next?