What is the Difference Between a Pit Bike and a Dirt Bike?
There is so much to look for when it comes to off-road vehicles. From ATVs, UTVs, SUVs, Dirt Bikes, Pit Bikes and so on. The last two are so similar in many ways from appearance to preference. As someone starting on a new hobby, you may be overwhelmed by the many options and style preferences available to suit you. If you are more into ATVs and the likes, I have a post that compares ATVs, UTVs, and SUVs as they are a different form of Dirt Bikes. (Click here to read the study.) However, if you love bikes more, we will go deeply into the differences and comparisons between dirt bikes and pit bikes. After you have read this post, you will have a better and more precise idea of what kind of bike is fitting for you.
So what is the difference between dirt bikes and pit bikes? Pit bikes are smaller than dirt bikes and have less energy. Dirt bikes are designed for off-road racing with a higher speed threshold whereas, and pit bikes are designed to help racers in pits. They are not initially designed for racing, but in recent times, more athletes are using pit bikes as they are around 20 to 150cc. Pit bikes require less maintenance, and they generally cost less than dirt bikes.
As I said, pit bikes have evolved and are now being used by many people on race tracks, and honestly, if you have seen where experts rock out on pit bikes, you might be dazzled. They are handy machines, but how do they compare to dirt bikes?
Dirt Bike VS Pit Bike – In-Depth Comparison
Most people confuse dirt bikes with pit bikes because they are similar in some ways. Please read this segment carefully. We will discuss each one individually and then talk about the significant features of each so that you would pick whichever suits you more. Granted, you can strike out on either of them and still get the high feeling.
When buying or riding either a dirt bike or a pit bike, these are some of the things you must consider.
#1 – Bike Height
The height of dirt bikes is one of the reasons why they are perfect for off-road racing. If a machine’s body is too low, the rider will not be able to maneuver obstacles on the trails. If the body of a bike is too small, riding on it in an average dirt trail will damage both the body and other mechanics of the bike, which can be expensive and time-consuming to replace and repair. So for those who would be riding on clear terrain or plain trails, bike height may make little or no difference. Buy a dirt bike if you are going to go offroad often. You may get a pit bike if you would be riding on the road too as pit bikes are generally shorter than dirt bikes.
Pit bikes are short, little, and small machines. Pit bikes (if you ask me) should be ridden by children, adolescents, and short adults. This doesn’t mean that average-sized adults cannot ride a pit bike without having a level of discomfort but to be realistic, why buy a short bike for a tall guy?
Pit bikes are not made for off-road racing. They are just going to get damaged why plying the rough trails. You don’t want to pay more for the repair of the engines after every ride. So don’t take a pit bike out on an off-road adventure.
#2 – Stroke
Stroke in engine or mechanics refers to the number of times the piston moves inside the cylinder of the engine to complete an engine cycle. You know that the movement of the piston is what makes the engine work. Dirt bike engines come in two types, there are dirt bikes with two-stroke engines, and there are bikes with four-stroke engines.
Two Stroke Dirt Bike
A two-stroke engine, as the name implies, takes two strokes, or two-piston movements to complete an engine cycle. Power is delivered on every stroke or piston move to propel the engine, and so, the two-stroke engine dirt bikes have a quick acceleration rate. This makes them harder to control for newbies. However, you would enjoy riding a two-stroke dirt bike around trails or rough, unpredictable tracks with tight corners.
Four Stroke Dirt Bike
A four-stroke engine, as the name implies and as you might have guessed, takes four strokes or piston movements to complete an engine cycle. As we have seen, each stroke delivers propelling energy, and thus the power delivered to the movement of the bike is more steady and reliable than the two-stroke engine bikes. This makes four-stroke dirt bikes less jumpy, more comfortable to control, and more manageable on average.
Dirt bikes with four-stroke engines have a wider powerband, and this means that it can be useful in the same gear for a broader range of speeds than a two-stroke bike does. It also means that four-stroke dirt bikes would have a higher top speed than the two-stroke bike, making it perfect for street riding, racing on more open tracks, and other scenarios where top speed is more important than a quick initial acceleration.
Pit bikes, on the other hand, only come with a four-stroke engine. We will come to whether or not this makes pit bikes better than dirt bikes in the next segment.
There are no pit bikes with an engine more powerful than 200cc, and we have seen that they are generally small. Although it may seem sensible that such a tiny low powered bike should come with a two-stroke engine, why then would they never make it so?
You see, a four-stroke engine will deliver a more reliable power output than a two-stroke engine. To me, I believe that pit bikes are made for teenagers and children, and only expert pit bike racers so due to the method of power delivery, a four-stroke engine is more manageable and controllable. Kids may find it hard to handle a powerful jumpy bike.
So depending again on you and your abilities, you may get a tiny bike with less power or a bigger bike with whichever power output suits you.
#3 – Terrain
The trails or terrain on which you would take your ride matters a lot. For one thing, dirt bikes generally designed for any off-road dirt trail or street roads. You can safely ride a dirt bike on the street (although sometimes illegal. See here on how to ride a dirt bike legally on the street.) The features of dirt bikes make them a better option between the two. With the machine higher off the ground, rugged tires, high-speed capabilities, and build, dirt bikes are the best bet when it comes to off-road racing or fun riding for anyone. Everyone can find a dirt bike that fits them. Kids, newbies, girls, boys, and even older persons.
Conversely, pit bikes are designed only for smooth trails, plain terrains, and express roads or cleared tracks. Pit bikes don’t have rugged tires that can make them overcome obstacles on rough trails. Their engines are very close to the ground, and this can be damaging, especially if the trail is very rough. The suspension too is not good enough for off-road racing.
If you have a pit bike that you love, you can pimp it up to have all the features and modifications to make it a little more capable of plying rougher terrains. However, that would cost you more than double the price of getting a standard new dirt bike.
#4 – Upkeep and Maintenance
Dirt bikes require maintenance services a lot, and the kind of upkeep your dirt bike needs varies depending on the type of dirt bike you have and the brand.
Generally, though, four-stroke engine dirt bikes require maintenance less often than two-stroke dirt bikes. This is because the engine works through all the parts. Therefore, all the pieces are up and running, unlike the two-stroke engines. So when you need maintenance or servicing, it will more likely be more expensive than repairs on a two-stroke engine, since there will be more repairs needed.
Dirt bikes with two-stroke engines need more upkeep than a dirt bike with a four-stroke engine since it works twice as hard, and the engine’s work is spread throughout fewer parts. Repairs and servicing a two-stroke engine dirt bike are generally less costly than that of a four-stroke engine. The engine of a two-stroke dirt bike is simple, and therefore the repairs are more straightforward and servicing the bikes is simple.
One of the reasons why most people like pit bikes is because they are easy to maintain. Servicing pit bikes are generally inexpensive, and you can even do everything yourself. All you may need to do is clean the filters, top the oil regularly. You would not have any problems with your pit bike unless you take it off the road and strike it against a stump!
#5 – Cost
This is one of the most contrasting things about both bikes. So dirt bikes usually are more expensive than pit bikes. Because there are many different manufacturers and brands out there, the prices of these bikes cannot be specific and would run in a wide range. For instance, you may find a used 250cc dirt bike on the market for $1000, and new ones may be around $2000 or even more depending on the brand.
However, you can find pit bikes at much lower prices than dirt bikes, which really, is fair, because they’re much more moderate in almost everything. If you’re looking for a used pit bike, you may sometimes find them for as low as $200, and no matter the brand, a new pit bike should not cost you more than $1500 no matter the brand.
Pit Bike VS Dirt Bike – Pros and Cons
You now understand what differentiates pit pikes from dirt bikes. Are there any advantages that pit bikes have on dirt bikes or the other way around? Let’s go over some pros and cons of each of the models.
Pro – Cost
One visible advantage pit bikes have over full-size dirt bikes is the low cost. Comparably, the most expensive pit bikes are priced at the range of $900 to $2000 or more, while the most costly dirt bikes would be around $5000 or more. Hence, you can say that pit bikes are way lower and less expensive than pit bikes. This can be a reason for buying pit bikes, you know.
Con – Power, Torque or Speed
Pit bikes cannot compare to dirt bikes when it comes to speed and power. Dirt bike engines are very much more powerful than that of pit bikes. I have heard of pit bikes with an engine capacity of 250cc, and that is invariably the highest. Pit bikes don’t usually go beyond 50cc to 150cc. On the same scale, it is very uncommon to find a dirt bike engine lower than 125cc. Dirt bikes have much power up to 750cc. In this respect, dirt bikes and pit bikes don’t compare.
Pit bikes have less torque or power because of their size and weight. This means that if you compare a dirt bike with 250cc and a pit bike of the same engine power, the dirt bike will still be more potent than the pit bike even though their engines are rated the same size. So we can’t compare the speed of dirt bikes to that of pit bikes as dirt bikes go at a faster speed than pit bikes. For most of us who are in love with speed, pit bikes might be a turn-off, especially if you have already used a dirt bike before.
Pro – Low Maintenance
For me, I like something that I can use with rest of mind. Dirt bikes don’t give all of that assurance, especially if you own a two-stroke dirt bike. You would worry about maintenance and regular servicing, which will not only be time-consuming but also become a significant drag if you want to get out of something to go off the road. It is even worse when it comes to replacing dirt bike parts. They are significantly more expensive than pit bikes, for instance, a new set of radiators can cost you a couple of hundred bucks every time with a dirt bike.
One sweet thing about pit bikes; however, is that they don’t need that much maintenance and servicing as do dirt bikes. This means less time spent on waiting for things to clear up. Even though I believe that the parts of pit bikes are less expensive than those of dirt bikes, this may not necessarily be true of more expensive models. But really, an average pit bike doesn’t need much for maintenance. All you have to do is change the oil and clean the air filter regularly, and you are good to go.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you would never need to do other essential things that bikes need like lubing your chains and adjusting your tire pressure. The advantage is that you get more time on the pit bike than in the garage fixing things up.
Con – Off-road Use
Even though pit bikes are classified as off-road vehicles, they can’t be used in the same conditions as dirt bikes. Dirt bikes can practically run anywhere on any trail. Cleared or uncleared. You can ride dirt bikes over rocks, branches, and stumps without any problems.
Conversely, you would not dare take your pit bike on such adventure unless you are trying to get revenge on the real owner of the pit bike. They will take a lot of damage if you ride them through any rough terrain and they probably won’t even get very far. The torque pit bikes will not allow them to go over significant obstacles and mud puddles.
Moreover, pit bikes don’t have as much protection over their engines as dirt bikes. The engines sit lower to the ground than full-size dirt bikes. That means that where a dirt bike would bounce off a rock and roll on, a pit bike will get badly beaten. Pit bikes are never designed for intense trails.
Now, if you have smooth trails where you want to enjoy riding, you may like to ride pit bikes. But if you’re going to do some serious off-road racing or travel, don’t buy a dirt bike.
Pro – Accessibility
Another advantage that pit bikes have over dirt bikes is their ease of entering anywhere intended (allow me to say it that way). I mean that if I had a pit bike, I would be able to play around my backyard, front yard, or even the sideway and the driveway on my bike. With dirt bikes, you can’t do that. You have to load your dirt bike unto another carrier to the dirt trail.
Many people have built tracks around their homes. If you love to have fun on bikes without leaving your home, you might find a good option in pit bikes. This is because as opposed to dirt bikes, pit bikes are small and compact. Plus, they don’t make a hell of a noise. So pit bikes are still environmentally friendly. Now let’s hit on the noise part.
Con – Noise
As I said, you would find that riding a dirt bike around the house is no fun if all your neighbors come out to yell at you to stop making noise! Every bike is noisy, including pit bikes. In fact, I don’t know which is noisier between the two. Although on trails, no one will care about how loud your bike is.
If you plan to ride your bike on the streets, though, it is required that you fit a silencer to the exhaust.
Pro – Easy Handling
One of the most comfortable vehicles to control on trails is pit bikes. Very much more comfortable than any dirt bike. Take, for instance, and when you start a dirt bike, you have to adjust or lay off the gas entirely in the middle of the turn. Many newbies spend days learning this skill, and it takes a lot of practice. On a pit bike, however, it is easier to start even if you keep the gas steady throughout the turn.
If you have learned how to ride bikes, power bikes, and scooters, riding a pit bike will be a piece of cake — but riding a dirt bike even with so much experience? Not so much. So pit bikes are becoming more popular because of this reason.
Con – Lower Performance
In comparison to dirt bikes, pit bikes have a vast limit to what they can do. There are limits to speeds and even trails. You can’t go as fast as you would on a dirt bike, you can only ride on straight and clear paths, so many limitations. It is a no brainer thinking of buying a pit bike after you have used a dirt bike.
It can be suitable for children, but adults and cool kids, get a dirt bike, and get the fun out of riding free!
Pro – Laid-back
One beautiful thing about pit bikes is that they make for a much more laid-back lifestyle. Dirt biking is pretty much a whole different world, and often, a very intense one. Even though the community is generally pretty fun and supportive, there’s sometimes a lot of pressure and competition within it. Plus, riding a dirt bike as a whole is just a generally intense experience.
Owning a pit bike is a bit of a different story, probably because there aren’t as severe many adult pit bike riders. Riding a pit bike is also a more relaxed, even leisurely, experience, especially if you’re messing around in your driveway. For a lot of people, the laid-back aspect of pit bikes is a major plus.
Con – Not As Aggressive
I don’t know whether to name this a con or a pro of pit bikes. Many people are against dirt bikes because of the aggressiveness, but many are really for it just because of that. If you are excited about all the competition that comes with dirt bike riding with friends on several trails and terrain, riding a pit bike would be disappointing. Pit bikes are not used in Motocross. However, many people prefer pit bikes because they lead a ‘lay back’ lifestyle and want it all nice and comfortable.
Riding a dirt bike will give the opposite of calm. More of an adrenaline rush is what you get riding a dirt bike, more risks and excitement.
Pro – Less Responsibility
When I got my new Honda CRF 750cc last couple of years, I could feel a tinge of jealousy in my girlfriend’s eyes. She is not jealous of me getting another dirt bike, and she is aware though that the dirt bike is a big commitment. Starting with the cost of getting a dirt bike to the cost of maintaining it. All the other accessories you have to add along the way. I would not forget to add, the time we leave to race (my girlfriend never joins us to ride. If your girlfriend is a believer, be glad, man.)
Yea, you would spend a lot of time with your dirt bike. Who would spend so much on a toy and end up keeping it in a garage for some reason? Yes. It is rewarding if you spend time and money that way. Having a pit bike is way different. You may not have a feel of so enormous a responsibility or commitment as you would with a dirt bike.
Con – Size
Pit bikes are relatively too small for most people. Especially people like me who are gifted with heights. So I mean that pit bikes are not that great for most people. If you want to get the best out of riding any bike, you want to be safe and comfortable. That means you must get the bike that is the right size for you. Aside from size, you must look at engine power and frame size when buying a bike. In this regard, pit bikes just don’t cut it.
Pro – Pit Bike Racing
I thought I mentioned that watching expert pit bike riders race with their machines is fun. One thing about this that you can never find in a Motocross racing event is the way they are racing in close quarters with other riders. This is very interesting because you can’t do that safely with a full-sized dirt bike.
Con – Fewer Available Options
There are so many brands of dirt bikes out there. Every one of them is great for everybody that wants to buy one. As for pit bikes, there aren’t that many different brands out there. There are a few popular pit bikes, but they don’t differ from each other very much. Each brand of dirt bikes has a significant edge over others. This makes choosing a little more complicated.
Pro – Safety
Generally, based on where pit bikes are meant to tread, they are considered safer than dirt bikes. This doesn’t mean that pit bike riders never crash, no. It only means that the chances of crashing are slim. If there is ever a chance of hitting, the injuries that may be sustained will merely be scrapes and bruises. Dirt bike crashes are worse. I have seen blood.
Con – Durability
Dirt bikes last longer than pit bikes. Pit bikes are small and the parts, because they are small, can easily get broken and need replacement. Well, on the sunny side, the cost is not that high, so it’s not hard to look on.
Now we have seen this. You have understood the differences between a pit bike and a dirt bike, and so no one can deceive you any longer. More still, you have seen the benefits of riding a dirt bike and the disadvantages. This article is not saying that pit bikes are not good; they are. Dirt bikes are also excellent. So now that you have read who both are made for, you decide which you want to buy for your hobby.
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