Motorcycle vs Dirt Bike

Motorcycles and dirt bikes are two popular types of two-wheeled vehicles that offer unique riding experiences.

They have their own thrills and challenges, and the choice between the two depends on the type of riding experience you want.

Let’s discuss how these two bike types compare with each other to help you understand which one you should buy.

Motorcycle vs dirt bike | Things to consider when choosing

Motorcycle vs. Dirt Bike: Features Comparison

The following comparison of features will help you decide which type of bike will suit you better.


dirt bike frame

Dirt bikes come with a smaller form factor, with a focus on high-quality plastic parts. It allows riders to navigate rugged terrain and make jumps easily. The lightweight design of dirt bikes also makes them highly maneuverable, allowing riders to tackle obstacles with ease.

Motorcycles have a more aerodynamic construction, with heavy-duty frames. Their weight distribution is fine-tuned to handle gravity and improve overall wheel traction.


Motorcycles are designed for street riding, which requires them to have more gears and larger, more powerful engines. The capacity of most of these engines ranges from 400cc to 1,000cc (or even more), providing the power needed to reach high speeds on highways.

Dirt bikes are designed for off-road riding and have smaller engines, ranging from 50cc to 650cc. While they don’t have the same raw power as motorcycles, they can easily handle the rugged terrain of off-road riding.

Their engines are also equipped with dirt-repellent protection and liquid-cooled safety features to insulate the engine’s radiator.

Size & Weight

Dirt bikes are smaller and more compact than motorcycles, designed with maximum performance in mind. They’re made from lightweight materials such as aluminum, carbon fiber, and plastic, allowing quick and agile movement on off-road terrain.

In contrast, motorcycles have larger engines built with steel frames, making them heavier and less nimble than dirt bikes. However, their size and weight allow for a more comfortable and stable ride on paved roads, and they can easily carry two passengers.


The frame is another significant difference between these two bike types.

As mentioned, dirt bikes are designed to be agile and have lightweight frames to absorb jumps and handle bumpy terrain. It makes them ideal for off-road riding, where riders need maximum control at all times.

Street motorcycles, on the other hand, have chunky frames made of heavy material. They provide a smooth ride on paved roads, making them ideal for longer trips.

Related: Cafe racer vs Scrambler

Seating position

Dirt bikes have narrow, small seats that are positioned forward with low handlebars, allowing you to sit in a more upright position. It provides you with better control over the bike’s movement to navigate through rugged terrain easily.

Motorcycles have larger, softer, and heavier seats to absorb impacts. The seating position on these bikes is typically set farther back, and they also have higher handlebars.


The suspension systems of dirt bikes and motorcycles are designed differently.

Dirt bikes are built to handle rough terrain and absorb shocks, so their suspension system is more advanced, featuring hydraulic and spring shocks. It allows you to take on jumps and uneven surfaces with ease.

While street motorcycles sometimes also use hydraulics in their suspension systems, they’re not designed for the same level of abuse as dirt bikes. Instead, they have limited suspension that is better suited for cruising on flat surfaces.



Dirt bike tires are built for off-road use, with aggressive treads that provide maximum traction on loose dirt, gravel, and mud. These tires are also wider, allowing for greater stability and balance when maneuvering through rugged terrain.

Street motorcycles have tires with smoother treads and are much broader, making them ideal for paved roads.


Both types of bikes have their own unique safety features and concerns. Most modern motorcycles come with advanced safety features such as ABS (Anti-lock Braking Systems) and traction control. They also have big headlights, taillights, and turn signals to help riders navigate the streets safely.

Whereas, dirt bikes are built for rugged terrain and come with protective features such as handguards, skid plates, and braces. However, many dirt bikes don’t have lights and turn signals as they’re not meant to be ridden on streets or public roads.

Regardless of the bike you choose, make sure that you wear proper safety gear, including helmets, before riding it.


If you’re on a tight budget, a dirt bike is the way to go because they’re generally less expensive than street motorcycles. You can expect to pay anywhere from $2,000 to $13,000 for a new dirt bike.

A motorcycle, on the other hand, can cost you anywhere from $8,000 to $65,000, depending on the make and model. So, if you’re looking for a more affordable option, a dirt bike might be the right choice for you.


When it comes to comfort, street motorcycles are generally more comfortable than dirt bikes. They’re designed for long-distance rides and have larger seats and better wind protection.

Dirt bikes have smaller, harder seats and provide less wind protection. Additionally, they have a more aggressive riding position which can become uncomfortable over long rides.


Dirt bikes are designed for quick acceleration, tight turns, and fast maneuvering on dirt tracks and rugged terrains. They’re lightweight and have a powerful engine, which makes them capable of reaching high speeds relatively quickly. However, their top speed is usually lower.

Motorcycles have higher top speeds on paved roads because of their more powerful engines. With their aerodynamic design, they can easily cut through the air and maintain high speeds for longer periods.

However, their size and weight make them less maneuverable than dirt bikes, especially in tight turns or on rough terrain.

Street Legal

One key difference between the two bike types is their legality for street use. In most cases, dirt bikes are not street-legal and are designed specifically for off-road use only.

Motorcycles are designed for street use, and they meet the legal requirements to be registered and operated on public roads.

Things to Consider When Choosing Between Motorcycle vs. Dirt Bike

three dirt bike buddies

Here are some important factors to consider when choosing between a motorcycle and a dirt bike.

  • Intended Use: Consider how and where you will use the bike – off-road or street riding, short commutes or long trips, racing or leisurely cruising.
  • Experience Level: If you’re a beginner, dirt bikes may be easier to handle and less intimidating than motorcycles. Motorcycles may require more experience and skill to operate safely.
  • Budget: Dirt bikes tend to be less expensive than motorcycles, but both options have a range of prices depending on the type and brand.
  • Maintenance: Both bikes require maintenance, but dirt bikes typically require more frequent upkeep due to the rigors of off-road riding.
  • Personal Preferences: It’s also important to consider your personal preferences, such as style, comfort, and aesthetic appeal, when deciding between a motorcycle and a dirt bike.


Both dirt bikes and motorcycles are popular options, and choosing between the two depends on your personal preferences and intended use.

If you plan on mostly riding on pavement and want a comfortable, fast, and stylish ride, then a motorcycle is the best choice.

But if you are looking for a more affordable and versatile option that can handle off-road terrain, a dirt bike will then be a better option.