Best 4 Stroke Dirt Bike of 2018 & Buying Guide
In the world of dirt bikes, a grand debate unfolds daily: what’s better to ride—bikes with 2-stroke engines, or 4-stroke? While it ultimately comes down to personal preferences, there are some advantages and disadvantages to both. 2-strokes, for instance, require a special mixture of oil and gas, while 4-stroke engines run on gas alone.
4-strokes have time on their side: they’ve been around longer, and (according to diehard fans) have a more straightforward mechanical approach when it comes to maintenance. Our buyer’s guide will answer some common questions about 4-stroke dirt bikes, and highlight a few of our favorite options in this category.
What’s the main difference between 2-stroke and 4-stroke engines? Are there advantages to one over the other?
2-stroke engines are simpler, because they don’t have valves; they’re also lighter, and usually cheaper—which means bikes with these engines tend to be cheaper, as well. That said, they don’t have the longevity of 4-stroke engines, which means you could be paying to replace parts (or the entire engine/bike) sooner.
The main difference, though, is in the type of fuel 2-stroke engines require. They don’t take straight gas; instead, they need a mixture of specialized oil and gas, at a ratio of 4 oz/gallon, on average. Their fuel efficiency is often lower than that of 4-strokes, as well.
Of course, 4-strokes have their disadvantages: they’re generally more expensive, and more complex—so inexperienced mechanics will have to learn, or pay an expert to fix and maintain their bike. 4-stroke engines sometimes have less speed capabilities in certain riding scenarios, as well.
Are 4-stroke engines better at certain activities than 2-strokes?
This is pretty objective between riders, but there is evidence that 2-strokes are best for motocross and stunt riding, partially because the engine is lighter and sometimes more powerful, so the bike can move faster and perform jumps and other stunts more easily.
4-strokes, by comparison, require less maintenance overall, and while they have lower maximum speeds, they’re often easier to ride and steer—which means they’re best for trails and endurance racing.
Is there a price difference between the two?
2-stroke engines (“strokers”) do tend to be cheaper than comparable bikes with 4-stroke engines (“thumpers”).
This is because they’re lighter, smaller, less complex, and therefore cost less to manufacture.
This is assuming you’re comparing models with the same power.
Can I use any old gasoline in 4-stroke dirt bikes?
Regular (unleaded) gasoline is fine for most 4-stroke dirt bikes, although some models might perform best with higher quality gasoline (note: your owner’s manual should specify this; some bikes require it for peak performance, while on others it makes no difference/worse performance).
The most important factor is consistency: if you use premium gas in your dirt bike, don’t suddenly switch to regular, just as you wouldn’t switch between the two in your car.
Also, keep in mind that you won’t be mixing oil into your fuel like you would have to on a 2-stroke engine—but you’ll still need to change your oil and filter regularly on your 4-stroke.
Why is the dirt bike community so split between the two engine types?
The ongoing debate between the two engine types is like most camps in other hobbies, passions, sports, and “fandoms.” People like what they like, and as humans we’re conditioned to think our preferences are the definitive “best” option.
Beyond that, the split has been going on for years. Early motocross racers in the late 1950s favoured 4-strokes, but a small group preferred 2-stroke engines, as well. There wasn’t much in the way of debate just yet, until Suzuki, the Japanese motor megabrand, introduced their 2-stroke racing bikes. Other manufacturers followed suit, and the trend turned into the new industry standard.
In 1993, rider Jacky Martens won the 500cc World Championship—with an old-fashioned 4-stroke engine. The motocross world took notice, and 4-strokes once again became the gold standard for racing. Today, higher class racers can only compete on 4-strokes; 2-strokes are permitted in lower-level races and certain niches.
In the field of Enduro (endurance-based racing with cross-country trails and obstacles) and off-road riding where lightness is preferred, 2-strokes remain the favorite. Today, it’s not uncommon to find riders of either preference racing, tearing up trails, and off-roading wherever they can.
All in all, it still comes down to preference—but each engine type has its strengths for certain activities. Riders will be biased towards the bike they use most, and the one most widely used in their sport of choice.
Best 4 Stroke Dirt Bike Reviews
1. Apollo AGB37 Review
The 5-speed (manual) AGB37 from Apollo Precision Tools has a large gas tank compared to other dirt bikes, which makes it ideal for long trips and Enduro rides. The tires have excellent traction, as well, to help tackle the roughest terrain you can imagine.
Some people might want to avoid the Apollo AGB37 if the thought of operating a clutch is overwhelming, but for riders eager to learn (or who already know how), this model is a fairly impressive option, given its price. As a mid-sized bike with a high weight capacity, this should suit older youth riders (16+) as well as adults, male or female, quite comfortably.
2. Apollo AGB36 Review
Another manual bike from Apollo Precision Tools, the AGB36 boasts dual disc brakes, an adjustable rear shock absorber, and thick, knobby tires to handle anything from Enduro to motocross with ease. It’s pricier than the other Apollo model we’ve featured, but more than makes up for it with its improved features and performance.
This bike packs a great punch for a very fair price, and will suit almost any adult rider perfectly. The main downside is its electric-only starter; two options (kickstart and electric) would be better, so riders can have a backup if one stops working. Other than that, there isn’t much not to love about the AGB36 from Apollo, especially as far as budget-friendly bikes are concerned.
3. Coolster 125cc Dirt Bike Review
While it’s not exactly a well-known (or even a little known) brand, Coolster has introduced a decent 4-stroke for a very decent price. With a 220 lbs. capacity and max speeds in the 40+ realm, this bike could promise some serious fun for teen and adult riders on a budget.
While this is best suited for pit use and youth motocross, this model from unknown Coolster is still a good 4-stroke bike—especially for its low price. We recommend it to youth and beginners who want to focus on the basics, such as balance, before moving into more advanced bikes and activities.
4. Roketa Dirt Bike Review
The most expensive bike featured in this buyer’s guide, this 250cc 4-stroke is still affordable when compared to similar bikes on the market. It’s fuel-efficient (with 90+ miles to the gallon), reliable with dual disk brakes, and lightweight at only 120 lbs.
Roketa’s 250cc dirt bike boasts some impressive features for its price. Our only caveat would be regarding customer service; we received no response from the brand itself, although the linked seller responded fairly quickly. Other than that, the bike itself has great speed, a high weight capacity, and the additional bonus of street-legal status; simply use the enclosed paperwork to register it with your local DMV.
The debate over 2- and 4-stroke engines might never be fully resolved; riders are partial to what they’ve used the longest, and some dirt bike activities benefit from one type more than the other. If you’ve decided a 4-stroke is the best option for you, we hope our buyer’s guide has been helpful in beginning your search.