Best Pit Bikes of 2018 & Buying Guide
Pit bikes are a relatively new addition to the motorcycle world. Originally, they were meant exclusively for pit use, so riders and crews could use them in pits and staging areas of motocross racetracks to get around quickly. By the early 2000s, word had spread that these bikes were capable of much more—including jumps and stunts comparable to full-sized dirt bikes—and the trend quickly grew.
Finding a pit bike, whether it’s for a child, teen, or adult, can be tricky. How are they different from dirt bikes? Can they be used in motocross? How helpful are they for beginners just learning the sport?
Fortunately, our buyer’s guide is here to help. We’ll answer some common questions about pit bikes, and feature some of our favorite pit models (and a few closely-related alternatives) for shoppers to consider.
What is a pit bike? How is it different from mountain bikes, or BMX models?
A pit bike is a small motorcycle meant to be ridden both on- and off-road. Unlike mountain and BMX bikes, pit bikes have engines, require fuel (rather than pedaling) to move, boast much thicker frames, and more closely resemble motorcycles than bikes.
Like mountain bikes and BMX models, though, pit bikes have very thick tires and excellent shock absorption, so riders can handle jumps and rough terrains more easily.
How is a pit bike different from a motocross bike?
While pit bikes can certainly be used in motocross (in fact, they’re a favorite bike for beginners and children just getting into motocross), motocross bikes have better shock absorption and are designed specifically for the incredibly high jumps one encounters on motocross courses.
Our buyer’s guide will be looking at pit bikes, not motocross-optimized ones. Keep in mind, however, that you can always upgrade your stock parts on a pit bike so it’s suitable for motocross.
Are pit bikes and dirt bikes the same thing?
No—pit bikes are meant for just that, riding and doing stunts in pits. Dirt bikes are larger, and meant to drive on regular roads, as well.
Both bikes can perform stunts and tricks, but how well depends on their size, the rider’s size and skill, and the terrain.
In very basic terms, pit bikes are smaller versions of dirt bikes (although each has unique qualities that distinguish them from the other). They don’t go as fast, and are usually cheaper than dirt bikes.
I’m interested in this sport, but not sure I’ll like it and stick with it. Should I get a cheaper bike, first?
Yes, but within reason: too-cheap bikes have lackluster performance, and might turn you off the sport before you have a real chance to experience it.
That said, pit bikes are also excellent for anyone looking at dirt bikes. The small size makes them good for kids, and the cheaper price tag makes them a suitable predecessor to a dirt or motocross bike.
A cheap bike doesn’t have to skimp on quality, though. Look for models with good reviews, from reputable manufacturers. Do diligent research before looking, so you know which specs you need, and which you can skip to save some money.
Are pit bikes street legal?
Generally speaking, no: it depends on your state and local laws. Stock models (straight from the manufacturer or store, with no upgrades) usually aren’t legal for use on public roads, because they lack features like rear-view mirrors, headlights and taillights, turn signals, and special tires approved by your local Department of Transportation.
Further complicating matters is the fact pit bikes are smaller than dirt bikes, which limits the upgrades you can add on; some areas won’t even allow vehicles of that size on the road. They also rarely meet the minimum speed requirement in most states, unless you’re willing to add some massive upgrades.
To find out if your bike is/can be made street legal, visit your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles website. Another point to consider: street-legal bikes will almost always require you to have a motorcycle license, or “M-Class” certification, which is obtained with a special course and driver’s test through your DMV.
What should I look for in a pit bike? Is there a minimum I should spend?
First, consider your needs: automatic or manual transmission? Pull-start, or kick-start ignition? Weight capacity, fuel type, and maximum speed capability are also important factors to mull over.
As for price, that’s a bit subjective—what’s cheap to one person might be extravagant to another. In general, it’s unlikely you’ll find an unused, high-quality pit bike for less than $350.
Top 4 Best Pit Bikes Reviews
1. 49cc 50cc 2-Stroke Pit Bike from Flying Horse Review
This model from Flying Horse is a standard pit bike, and very suitable for beginners and kids. Its air-cooled engine is designed to be relatively low-maintenance, and some users will prefer the pull-start ignition to kicking or key systems.
Other than its low weight limit and pull-start ignition, we think this option will work for most buyers. Its price is fair for pit bikes, and it offers all the basic needs one should look for in this category.
2. DB10 Dirt Bike from Tao Tao Review
While sellers officially classify this as a youth bike, the DB10 from Tao Tao is designed well, and can accommodate riders of various weights and heights. It’s a solid choice for kids, teens, and adult beginners.
The only reason we can find not to buy the DB10 is if you’d feel more comfortable on a taller model, like the DB14. This is built well, has impressive features, and offers a higher weight capacity than similarly priced models. While its mixed-brake system (disc and drum) won’t be quite as strong as a double-disc one, it still has good stopping power overall, and should be able to handle most terrain conditions without a problem.
3. Classic Mini Bike from Monster Moto Review
This almost didn’t make the cut, since it’s not a “true” pit bike—more of an all-terrain two-wheeler, to be honest. However, it’s ideal for beginners who’ve never ridden an off-road vehicle in their life, especially young kids eager to hone their skills before moving to a proper pit or dirt bike.
We’ll give this one to the kids; its weight capacity will suit teens and some adults, but its lack of versatility will quickly bore anyone over a certain age. It’s best for trails and level off-road terrains, but not pits, jumps, etc. The design is stable and comfortable, so it’s worth considering for anyone who’s brand new to the world of motorized bikes.
4. MX650 Rocket Electric Motocross Bike from Razor Review
This is another not-technically-a-pit-bike model. While it’s taller than most pit bikes, it’s smaller than standard motocross ones—which can be perfect for youth or beginning riders who hope to transition to motocross soon, or who want to tackle larger jumps than standard suspension on pit bikes will allow.
This one isn’t recommended for youth riders under the age of 16, but is perfect for teens and adults who need a transitional bike: it offers the easy maneuverability of a pit bike, but already has the suspension needed for motocross courses. Its speed leaves something to be desired, but then again, that might be ideal for nervous riders still navigating the learning curve.
A pit bike is a fun and versatile ride, whether you plan on graduating to motocross or other bikes down the line, or just using the pit bike indefinitely for fun. The best part about most pit bikes, in our opinion, is that virtually anyone can ride them, from kids to adults. We hope our buyer’s guide has been helpful in starting your search for the best pit bike for you or your child—or both.