Dirt biking is a mass sensation. This sport or hobby, however you see it; is popular because of the thrill and adrenaline pumping action it offers to its riders. Sadly, not every bike is for all the bikers. There is a dirt bike weight limit that ties down a rider to a set of bikes, and only those can bring out their maximum enjoyment.
In general a dirt bike can carry up to 320 lbs. Someone who weighs more than 250 lbs should try riding a 250-450cc dirt bike, while a rider in 150-250 lbs would be okay riding a 250cc one.
But, there are more factors to this than just raw numbers. Have a sneak peek below to see what I’m talking about:
Why Is Weight So Important?
Weight is directly related to your bike’s performance. Meaning, if you choose a bike that is not well suited for your weight, you’re not gonna enjoy it. Thrill and enjoyment are vital reasons for dirt bikes, isn’t it?
A bike that isn’t proper for your weight class will move slowly because it simply isn’t strong enough. Bigger bikes with better engines and high-quality springs are able to take on heavier loads.
As of now, it is possible for people up to 320 lbs to ride a dirt bike; but people who are in that weight class should modify their suspension just in case.
If you weigh less than 150 lbs, then 250 cc is an excellent place to start. For people who are heavier than that, 250-450 cc should be the ideal range. However, a 450 cc bike would be too much to handle for an inexperienced biker.
But someone heavy and experienced should go for the most powerful bike.
A certain number of things dictate how much a bike can carry. In the future, when upgraded versions of these factors are available, it’ll be possible for bikes to carry even bigger loads.
For now, let’s look at what actually matters when you’re looking for your ideal bike:
Factors Behind Dirt Bike Weight Limits
I’m sure different people will have conflicting opinions on what exactly matters when it comes to the weight capacity of a dirt bike. If you’re new to this, then you’ll definitely have headaches figuring out what to believe.
Let me throw you a straight ball, there are 3 major factors that define the dirt bike weight limit for a rider:
- Type of engine [2 or 4 stroke]?
- Engine volume [cc]
- Bike’s size.
How about we take a closer look into these:
Dirt bikes have engines that use internal combustion to create power for operation purposes. The key player here is the piston that moves all the way from the top to the bottom, a.k.a crankshaft revolution.
Now, the engines that complete the entire process in one crankshaft revolution are called 2-stroke engines, and the ones that take two revolutions are called 4-stroke.
If you read my piece on 2-stroke vs 4-stroke engines, you’d know that a 2-stroke engine is quicker on looser tracks while 4-stroke engines have the advantage on smoother terrains due to their heavier weight.
I will suggest that bikers on the heavier side of the weight scale should opt for a 4-stroke engine because they are better at supporting heavy loads. You just have to be mindful of the slow acceleration compared to a 2-stroke; we can’t have everything in life, can we?
Engine volume [cc]
A 2-stroke engine needs one cubic centimeter[cc] for each lb you weigh to move you around. But when it comes to weight, it’s always better to leave some extra room.
So, here’s my tip: choose a bike with 10-25% extra cc with respect to your weight if you’re going for a 2-stroke. For example: a 200 lbs rider should get a dirt bike with a 220-250cc engine.
It isn’t the same for a 4-stroke engine, and they need twice the power as a 2-stroke. That’s why, if you weigh 250 lbs, the engine has to be close to 500cc.
This is very important, as you will be riding rough terrains, hills, trails a lot more than smooth straight pitches. You’d want your motorcycle to support you easily so that you can be in control all the time.
When it comes to choosing a dirt bike that is appropriate for your weight class, size does matter! Mainly, how much does it weigh and that kind of frame it has will matter significantly.
I’ve even heard of motocross bikes that can support even 250-300 lbs of weight, and those are pretty big bikes because a heavy bike can withstand more weight.
The average adult dirt bike usually weighs around 215 lbs. But, that also lightly depends on manufacturers. Like, KTM has lighter bikes than Yamaha.
Weight, however, isn’t the only factor.
The frame of a bike is just as important. How well a bike will support you depends on this because weight capacity alone won’t be the decider, weight distribution is also necessary. The motorcycle should carry all the load in a manner that doesn’t put a burden on it. For that, you need a strong frame.
You’ll notice that most bikes are either made of aluminum or steel. Between the two, I’ll vouch for steel for a heavy person. A steel frame is very reliable and wouldn’t give you any trouble.
So, these are the 3 significant factors that will play a part in choosing the correct dirt bike for you. Be sure to consider all of them when you’re out hunting for bikes.
Adjusting The Suspension For Your Weight
The suspension that is exactly right for you won’t come to you overnight, nor will it come to you in dreams. You can only acquire it by trial and error. So, you have to play around with your bike [responsibly].
You will be experimenting with the front fork, mostly. There is an important thing to notice here. You’ll see some marking on the fork, like H and S. Here, H stands for “hard”, and S means “soft”.
It’ll be better for you to adjust the fork towards “hard” if you’ll be riding on trails because of the larger bumps. Alternatively, you should set the fork towards “soft” for small bumps on rough surfaces.
I’m just rambling here, aren’t I? My bad, I should at least explain what makes hard and soft different. Let me make it a bit easier:
Sadly, I can’t give you a textbook answer. It is better if you adjust it totally on one side and take your bike for a ride; this way, the results will be totally visible to you; without any input from me.
You’d be surprised knowing how much difference a suspension makes. It can totally make or break the performance of the ride. And, performance is essential. Bikes that perform well are good bikes, but bikes that perform superbly are quality.
Anyways, back to the topic- after you find out how much of a difference there is between soft and hard on your front fork, the wise thing to do would be to adjust slowly according to your preferences.
If you’re as lazy as me and just want to get it done, consulting a bike mechanic is a pretty nice alternative. They’ll suggest how much you should adjust to get the most optimum output.
What Effect Does The Rider’s Weight Have On The Bike’s Performance?
There is a huge correlation between a rider’s weight and how a bike would operate under the said biker. Lightweight riders will ride a bike faster than heavier riders in general [I’m not factoring in experience level or skill here, just the regular way things work]
An average-sized biker should have no trouble as long as they’re riding the appropriate bike for them, as mentioned in my dirt bike size chart. Heavy riders, however, will face some difficulties with engine performance; therefore, I’ll always suggest to do a test ride before purchase.
Inexperienced heavy dirt bike enthusiasts will face the biggest inconvenience because they’d need a powerful bike that can support their weight, but it might be too strong for them. To get out of such a tricky situation, such a person needs to choose a bike meticulously.
I’ve gone ahead and did the research for you. Suzuki DRZ400 is one of the best beginner dirt bikes for heavy people. From there, you can move to others as you’ve racked up expertise.
In the rare case that there isn’t an appropriate bike, there’s no need to worry; custom orders are a thing. While they might cost a few extra bucks, you’ll feel really comfy riding one of these.
No, I haven’t forgotten about my other friends! I have a dedicated section describing my top picks for dirt bikes for every weight range, and you’ll just have to scroll down a bit below to see:
Best dirt bikes for different weight
Don’t you love it when the heading tells you what you wanna know? Here I’ll be showcasing some dirt bikes that I feel are appropriate for each weight class:
Ideally, someone in this range would be better off with a bike that has a 250-450 cc engine. Now here’s a catch, if you’re on the lighter side of this spectrum, it is better to go for a 2-stroke, while the heavier ones should prefer a 4-stroke.
3 most popular bikes in this weight range are: Yamaha WR250R, Honda CRF250X, and KTM 250XC.
Between the 3, KTM 250XC is the lightest bike, weighing 219 lbs. KTM is known for its lightweight bikes, so there is no surprise there. It is more suited for lighter riders who’ll love the 58.5″ wheelbase.
250 lbs and beyond
For heavier riders who are over the 250 lbs threshold, I have another set of suggestions. If you fall into this category, you need heavier bikes with bigger engines [450cc or more]. High cc 4-stroke engines, heavier bikes, are a must in this case.
I’ll suggest going for Honda CRF450R and Suzuki RM-Z450, these larger bikes with powerful engines will handle heavier loads splendidly.
The Suzuki RM-Z450 is a powerful dirt bike you can trust to carry out heavy-duty work without breaking a sweat. It weighs 247 lbs and has a wheelbase of 58.3″ with a 37.8″ seat. It is taller than Yamaha WR250R, Honda CRF250X, and can support bigger and larger people.
Honda CRF450R has the same seat height as the Suzuki one, but it has a wet weight of 250 lbs. In fact, it is one of the heaviest bikes in the 450cc range. I personally like this model a lot; however, it has an expensive price tag.
But, it’ll be a reliable companion on thousands of incredible adventures, so you’ll feel like the investment was justified.
Tips for heavy dirt bikers
Heavy loads will put a lot of burden on the bike, and over time your gear gets worn out, especially the rear wheels. You would have to keep an eye out for it. Also, your suspension will need adjustment due to all the strain that the bike endures over time.
Or, you could get good quality gear built for heavy dirt bikers.
Modern bike engines are stronger than their predecessors, but bikers don’t have too many options due to the dirt bike weight limit. Right now, it is best for heavy riders to choose a 250 cc bike or a bigger one to ride without a worry of the world.
Eventually, technology will progress, and more powerful bikes with better builds will be manufactured. So, I’m hopeful that there will be bikes that can support even bigger loads in the future.