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Best Pit Bikes: Affordable Adrenaline on Tap

Some of the most affordable bikes for adrenaline junkies to get their thrills.

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BY/ LAST UPDATED ON November 22, 2021

Pit bikes are not exclusive to kids. They may not have the engine size and frame of your typical full-size motorcycle, but riding pit bikes are a ton of fun. Since they’re lightweight and easy to maneuver, you don’t need to be a seasoned rider to enjoy the thrill. Are you looking to get a new pit bike? Check out our top three picks in the buying guide below.

Best Overall

Pitster Pro FSE 190R

Summary
This is a race-ready piece of kit and best suited to experienced teenagers and adult riders.
Pros
  • 187-cc 18-hp engine
  • Progressive linkage rear suspension
  • Sports exhaust system
  • Fully adjustable suspension
  • 148 pounds
Cons
  • One of the highest priced bikes on the market
Best Value

X-Pro 140-cc Pit Bike

Summary
The 140-cc engine in this bike has enough power for anyone who’s looking for some cheap thrills but should be approachable for newer riders.
Pros
  • Great value for money
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • 140-cc engine
Cons
  • Basic suspension
  • Not as reliable as high-end models
Honorable Mention

Thumpstar TSR 140-C

Summary
It has all the trick parts of a race-ready pit bike but is much cheaper thanks to its 140-cc engine.
Pros
  • 140-cc 11-hp engine
  • Four-speed manual
  • Pipe Bomb 2.0 exhaust
  • Progressive linkage rear shock
  • Waterproof electrics
Cons
  • Relatively high price for a 140-cc bike
Best Pit Bikes: Affordable Adrenaline on Tap

It costs a lot of money if you want to have fun off-roading. You’d have to add many more zeros if you want to be competitive in a race series. Or would you? Pit bikes are one of the most affordable ways to have fun off-road and arguably the most cost-effective form of motorcycle racing. Better yet, pit bikes are accessible for novice and experienced riders alike. Of course, you can get a race-ready monster that wouldn’t be suitable for a novice rider, but you can also get a 70-cc semi-automatic that’ll create everlasting memories for the child who learns to ride on it. The pit bike market is vast, and there’s something for most riders, so let’s dive in.

Our Methodology

To choose the best pit bikes on the market, I employed The Drive’s comprehensive research methodology and evaluated dozens of bikes before choosing the top contenders. Although I haven’t personally tested these products, my selection is informed by consumer testimonials, expert reviews, discussions on relevant online forums, and my institutional knowledge of motorcycles. I also visited the Pitbike subreddit to get a more informed opinion of what riders felt about the bikes on the market.

Some brands are already well established in this niche, and priority was given to their products. However, other lesser-known brands were also evaluated. The main features taken into consideration were engine size, power output, suspension, chassis, brakes, extra features, price, reliability, and durability. Bikes I found to be unreliable were disregarded.

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Best Pit Bike Reviews & Recommendations

The competition is fiercely close at the top of the pit bike world, but the Pitster Pro FSE 190 takes my vote as the best overall. A sports exhaust, folding levers, Keihin PE 28-mm carburetor, and a skid plate are just some of the parts that come standard on this bike, which gives you an idea of how high end it is. The bike is a miniature monster thanks to its 187-cc four-valve single cylinder engine, which pumps out 18 horsepower at 9,500 rpm and makes 9.5 pound-feet of torque at 8,000 rpm. All of this is packed into a bike that has a curb weight of just 148 pounds. The power is sent through a five-speed manual transmission, and once you’ve hit the limiter in fifth gear, you’ll be doing around 70 miles per hour. The engine is oil cooled and has an electric and a kick start. At the front, there are Fast Ace inverted forks with compression and rebound adjustment. Keeping you cushioned at the rear is progressive link suspension that has 9.8 inches of travel and features compression and rebound adjustability. Bringing everything to a halt is a front 220-mm W-style rotor with a floating caliper and a rear 190-mm W-style rotor, also with a floating caliper. The only downside is that this top-tier bike comes with an adequately high price tag.

Specs

  • Make: Pitster Pro

  • Model: FSE 190R

  • Engine size: 187.2cc

Pros

  • 187-cc 18-horsepower engine

  • Progressive linkage rear suspension

  • Sports exhaust system

  • Fully adjustable suspension

  • 148 pounds

Cons

  • Pricey

In terms of bang for the buck, it’s hard to think of a model that's better than the X-Pro 140-cc Pit Bike. It’s powered by a 140-cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine that’s air cooled and works with a four-speed manual transmission. This powerplant gives it a top speed of around 52 mph, depending on rider weight and road conditions. The only option to start this model is with a kick, so people who want an electric starter need to look elsewhere. Front and rear hydraulic disc brakes bring the DB-X18 to a stop, but they aren't particularly special. This bike is slightly larger than the rest of the models on this list, thanks to its 17-inch front and 14-inch rear tires, which give it a 35-inch seat height. It’s also considerably heavier than the other models on the list, tipping the scales at 208 pounds (curb weight). So, if you’re looking for something slightly larger than a conventional pit bike, this should do the trick. Some assembly of the handlebar brackets, wheels, and brakes is required.

Specs

  • Make: X-Pro

  • Model: DB-T011

  • Engine size: 140 cc

Pros

  • Great value for money

  • Hydraulic disc brakes

  • 140-cc engine

Cons

  • Basic suspension

  • Not as reliable as high-end models

If 140cc is enough for you and you want a tricked-out pit bike, get the Thumpstar TSR 140-C. This model is powered by a 140-cc four-stroke single-cylinder engine that pumps out more than 11 horsepower. If you wring out all four of this bike’s gears, which work with a manual transmission, you’ll be doing about 55 miles per hour. Keeping everything stable is a new tri-bar chassis, which works with VS1 48-mm inverted forks and a VS1 linkage U shock. When it’s time to slow down, you’ll be thankful of the HSK dual pistons at the front and HSK single piston at the rear. This bike uses Thumpstar’s new Pipe Bomb 2.0 exhaust, which gives it better low-end response and a nice bark when you open the throttle. The TSR 14-C is built to tackle the toughest off-road tracks, and all of its electronics are waterproof. So, if you’ve just blasted through a waterlogged section of a trail, you won’t need to worry about the engine cutting out due to an issue with the CDI, rectifier, or coil. As with my best overall pick, this bike is loaded with premium features as standard, so it’s sold at a considerably higher price than the other 140-cc model on this list.

Specs

  • Make: Thumpstar

  • Model: TSR 140-C

  • Engine size: 140 cc

Pros

  • 140-cc 11-horsepower engine

  • Four-speed manual

  • Pipe Bomb 2.0 exhaust

  • Progressive linkage rear suspension

  • Waterproof electrics

Cons

  • Pricey

Best Value 125-cc Pit Bike
Apollo DB-X18 125cc
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If you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive bike that the whole family can enjoy, you need to consider the Apollo DB-X18 125 cc. The 125-cc four-stroke single-cylinder engine powering this bike is air cooled and produces 8.7 horsepower at 7,500 rpm, which is enough to give it a top speed of 55 mph. The engine works with a four-speed manual transmission, making this a good bike for those learning to use a clutch for the first time. This model is relatively heavy for a 125-cc bike and has a 181-pound curb weight. It's not just heavier than most of the bikes on this list, it's physically bigger, as it rides on a 17-inch front and a 14-inch rear tire. At 36.5 inches, the seat height will suit taller people but be accessible for smaller riders. The suspension setup is relatively simple: There are inverted non-adjustable 750-mm forks at the front and a 320-mm non-adjustable rear shock. Both the front and rear hydraulic brakes work with single pistons. Some assembly is required.

Specs

  • Make: Apollo

  • Model: DB-X18

  • Engine size: 125 cc

Pros

  • Great value for money

  • 55 miles per hour top speed

  • Hydraulic disc brakes

Cons

  • Basic suspension

  • Build quality could be better

When the 110-cc pit bike scene kicked off in the early 2000s, Kawasaki ruled the roost, but today Honda’s CRF 110F gets my vote. This is arguably the best bike for the whole family to enjoy, as children can learn to ride it, and adults can still have some fun on backyard tracks. It’s powered by a 110-cc four-stroke single-cylinder engine, which works with electronic fuel injection (EFI). This is the only model on the list with EFI, and it has one of the smoothest throttle responses as a result. The CRF 110F's electric starter and four-speed semi-automatic transmission make it a breeze to hop on and get you from A to B. Its powerplant makes 7.17 horsepower and 6.5 pound-feet of torque, which isn’t a lot for a bike that costs so much, but it's probably the most reliable model on the list. If you want more power, it’s easily attainable by adding some aftermarket parts, of which there's a huge selection. Anyone looking for a reliable bike that the whole family can enjoy, which is at home cutting across a field and tackling backyard tracks, should consider this model.

Specs

  • Make: Honda

  • Model: CRF110F

  • Engine size: 110 cc

Pros

  • Extremely reliable

  • Durable

  • Electronic fuel-injected engine

  • Lots of aftermarket parts available

Cons

  • Not a lot of power on tap

If you’re buying a pit bike to teach a child to ride, check out the SSR SR70C. The bike has a 72-cc four-stroke single-cylinder air-cooled engine that produces 4.69 horsepower at 7,500 RPM, so it won't be overly intimidating for a newbie. The engine is paired with a four-speed semi-automatic transmission, so youngsters can get used to shifting gears without worrying about using a clutch. There’s a fair chance that this bike will suffer some low-speed spills, so SSR has fitted it with a safety kill switch to reduce the risk of injury. There are conventional hydraulic forks at the front and a 265-mm shock at the rear, which should be fine for soaking up the kind of bumps you ride over while learning. There are front and rear hydraulic disc brakes, and the rear brake is operated by a brake pedal, just like most full-sized bikes. So when your child makes the jump from this bike to their next one, everything will feel much the same apart from the addition of a manual clutch.

Specs

  • Make: SSR

  • Model: SR70C

  • Engine size: 72 cc

Pros

  • Easy to learn on

  • Four-speed semi-automatic transmission

  • Safety kill switch

  • Front and rear hydraulic disc brakes

Cons

  • Not suitable for adults

Our Verdict

I’ve chosen the Pitster Pro FSE 190R as the best overall pit bike. Put simply, this is one of the most high-end and powerful pit bikes on the market and comes from one of the biggest names in the industry. If you’re on a tight budget and looking for relatively inexpensive thrills, check out my value pick, the X-Pro 140-cc Pit Bike.

Consider Secondhand

When we start shopping for tools and products, we never overlook the secondhand market. In fact, it’s usually the first place I look. Whether you’re scrolling through Amazon’s Renewed section, eBay for car parts or tools, or flipping through the pages of Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, you have hundreds of thousands of used tools, parts, and gear ready to be shipped to your doorstep. Refurbished to like-new status, they’ll be willing to give you many more years of faithful service all while saving you money. 

If those options don’t have what you need, your local salvage yard is great for parts, while swap meets are a great resource you should tap. Just Google either and head on down.  

Secondhand Tips

To make your secondhand search easier, here are two tips to finding the best deals and making sure your new-to-you stuff wasn’t destroyed by the previous owner. 

  • Before riding, make sure the chain has the right amount of slack, the forks aren’t leaking oil, there’s life left in the brake pads, the tires aren’t bald, and the bike doesn’t show any signs of major damage. 
  • If the bike is in good condition, it should start easily and idle smoothly once it has warmed up. Take it for a ride and shift up and down through the gears to make sure the transmission is in good working order.

What to Consider When Buying a Pit Bike

For a 140-cc pit bike, the price can vary by as much as $2,000, depending on what brand you choose. The engine, chassis, suspension, brakes, exhaust, and frame all play a part in determining a bike's overall cost. If you’re looking for something to mess around on in your backyard, there’s no point spending extra money on bikes that have premium parts. But, if you ride on pit-bike tracks or tricky trails with your friends, paying more for a high-end bike could be worth it.

Pit Bike Key Features

Powertrain

The first thing you’ll need to consider when choosing a pit bike is what size engine you want. You can get twist-and-go pit bikes with a 60-cc engine or a 190-cc bike with a five-speed manual transmission and everything in between. Consider who’ll use the bike and where it’ll be ridden. If you ride over relatively rough terrain and steep inclines, then you’ll need a bike that has at least a 110-cc engine. If you want to teach a child to ride, then a bike with a 70-cc engine and four-speed semi-automatic transmission is a great option. 

Suspension

Practically all pit bikes have front and rear suspension, but on the lower end of the price spectrum the components are basic and not adjustable. If you want to hit jumps and ride quickly over rough terrain, it’s worth investing in a bike with good suspension. Look for bikes that have inverted front forks and compression and rebound adjustability. If you want good rear suspension, make sure the spring is fully adjustable in terms of compression and rebound. At the highest end of the market, pit bikes will have a rear linkage system that you can use to maximize the progression ratio as the shock compresses.  

Extra Features

Premium pit bikes will have some features that come standard, and these are features that will make the difference for serious off-road enthusiasts but won’t be necessary for everyone. Look out for bikes that have upgraded carburetors and exhaust systems, as these are usually the first things people upgrade when they want more power and a more responsive engine. Folding levers and a skid plate are also worth considering if your bike will take a real trashing, but not a necessity on a small-engined bike for learners. 

Pricing 

You can pick up a pit bike for less than $1,000 with basic suspension and brakes but be fine for backyard antics. If you spend between $1,000 and $2,300, you can expect a bike with all the features you need to take it to a track and a maximum engine size of 160 cc. Spending between $2,500 to $3,800 can get you a race-ready bike with a 160-cc to 190-cc engine.

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

What is the difference between a pit bike and a motocross bike?

Pit bikes have much smaller frames than motocross bikes and often have 14-inch front and 12-inch rear wheels, although some have 17-inch front and 14-inch rear wheels. The engines of pit bikes range from 50 to 190 cc. These bikes were originally made for riding around the pits at motocross tracks, hence the name.

Are pit bikes street legal?

Pit bikes from the factory are not street legal. However, you can make a couple of alterations to make these bikes legal in certain states. Some of the things you need to add to make a pit bike street legal are lights, turn signals, a horn, a license plate, and DOT-approved tires.

Are pit bikes for adults?

Some pit bikes are intended for children, and some are made for teenagers and adults. Generally speaking, a 110-cc pit bike can be used by children who already know how to ride and still provide some fun for adults.

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