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Lots of us dirt bike riders have an intense need for speed and we’re always looking for a machine that can really get up and move. Engine output is one of the biggest determining factors, so if speed is your top priority, you’ll want to know how fast 500cc dirt bikes can go.
The average 500cc dirt bike has a top speed of about 100 mph. Certain models can reach speeds as high as 120 mph, while others are limited to the low 90s.
In most circumstances, riders won’t be able to safely reach the maximum speed if they are using bikes for off-road riding.
500cc bikes are larger, heavier, and more powerful than 125cc, 150cc, 250cc, or other bikes with less displacement. But power and engine size aren’t everything and some people may even find that these bikes are too fast for their needs. Check out the table below for some comparisons between a few 500cc models.
|Make and Model||Top Speed||Acceleration (0-60 mph)||Engine Size||Horsepower||Torque|
|Kawasaki KX500||120 mph||Unknown||499cc||63.5 hp||48.4 lb-ft|
|SWM RS500||109 mph||Unknown||501cc||26.8 hp||18.44 lb-ft|
|Husqvarna FE 501S||101 mph||4.4 seconds||510.9cc||44.5 hp||31.6 lb-ft|
|Honda CR500R||92 mph||3.8 seconds||491cc||67.5 hp||55.7 lb-ft|
|KTM 500 EXC-F||90 mph||3.9 seconds||510.9cc||58 hp||27.7 lb-ft|
|Beta 500 RR-S||90 mph||Unknown||477.5cc||47 hp||32.6 lb-ft|
500cc bikes are less common than many other types, so it’s good to learn a bit more about them before making a commitment. Below, we’ll cover how these dirt bikes compare to other models with less displacement, in terms of speed.
How the Speed of 500cc Dirt Bikes Compare
You probably have figured out that 500cc dirt bikes are fast, But without a point of comparison, it’s hard to put this all into context. Obviously, there is a wide range of specifications and measurements to look at when comparing dirt bikes, so we’re just going to look at overall averages.
|Engine Size||Average Top Speed||Horsepower|
|125cc||45 mph||8 hp|
|150cc||50 mph||12 hp|
|250cc||70 mph||30 hp|
|450cc||90 mph||55 hp|
|500cc||100 mph||51 hp|
As you can see, there’s a fairly linear progression from one engine size to the next. As the engine size increases, so does the top speed and horsepower. Interestingly, you’ll notice that 450cc bikes have slightly higher horsepower than 500cc models do.
There are some 500cc models that have horsepower measurements that are higher than 55, but generally speaking, the next smallest engine size has a higher horsepower rating. As mentioned above, horsepower isn’t the only determining factor though. Overall, 500cc dirt bikes are still faster than the smaller models due to engine torque and other factors.
If you want a bike that balances speed and agility though, you may want to explore a smaller model. 250cc bikes are very popular nowadays and they still have a decent amount of horsepower. They can also reach average top speeds of about 70 mph, which is usually more than enough for most riders.
Two Fastest Stock 500cc Dirt Bike Models
If you really just want the fastest 500cc dirt bike you can get your hands on, there are a few great options out there. We’ve explored some of these above, but let’s dive into deeper detail on a couple of the fastest bikes ever made.
#1 – Kawasaki KX500
First of all, there’s the Kawasaki KX500. Dirtbikemagazine.com went as far as to call this bike “The one bike to ride before you die”. That’s high praise and it speaks to the power and quality of this machine.
With a top speed of 120 mph and 48.4 pound-feet of torque, this bike was insanely fast and powerful. To some degree, this power was its own undoing though! Most people just couldn’t handle a Kawasaki KX500 because it was too difficult to control. For those who wanted to push their limits though, this was an amazing and formidable bike.
#2 – Husqvarna FE 501S
The Husqvarna FE 501S is another high-speed bike that’s worth a look. This one ranks a little bit above the average with a top speed of 101.5 mph. This is a dual-sport bike that is still in production today! The 2022 model has one of the largest and most powerful engines that Husqvarna has ever created.
Although its acceleration is a tiny bit slower than some of its competitors, this bike will usually take the win when it comes to top speed! It has a great suspension that keeps the rider stable and comfortable. This quality makes it perfect for a trail bike.
If desired, the Husqvarna FE510S can also be used as a street-legal bike. This makes it convenient for people who want to use them for transportation instead of just recreation. As a dual-sport bike, you get the best of both worlds.
If you’re new to the dirt bike world, you may have seen this term before but don’t know what “cc” actually refers to. This metric is used to describe an engine’s size. Essentially, it’s how many cubic centimeters (cc’s) the engine’s piston displaces as it rotates. The bigger the piston or longer the stroke, the more CC’s of volume the engine displaces.
So an engine that is 125cc is much smaller than an engine that is 500cc. The bigger the number, the bigger (and generally the more powerful) the engine is.
As far as engine sizes go, 500cc is pretty big. Most dirt bike engines are closer to the range of 250cc-450cc and not many of them go beyond those limits nowadays. Bikes that are designed for children or inexperienced riders will be on the lower end of the spectrum and will usually be between 50cc-125cc.
Most bikes won’t have exactly the same cc measurement that appears on their label. If you look at the list of example bikes above, you’ll notice that most of their engine sizes are between 470-510cc’s. The “cc” classifications are mostly used as a way to separate the bikes into different size classes. It’s not a rigid separation method, so you’ll usually find groups that are separated by differences of 50-100cc’s.
Not many average dirt bikes can reach speeds of 100 mph, but this is par for the course for most 500cc bikes. However, it’s not a 1-1 comparison. Look at the KTM 500 EXC-F for example. It has a 510cc engine, but its top speed is only 90 mph. This is slower than some bikes with smaller engines. Generally speaking though, when it comes to speed, larger engines usually mean faster bikes.
Because of the additional weight that comes along with it though, these bikes tend to be less agile on the course. If a bike is too fast to handle or control, it’s not usually a top choice for competitive dirt biking. 250cc models overtook 500cc models in performance several years ago and these have become more standard in competitions.
This is why 500cc bikes are less common now. Many people are looking for something lighter and more maneuverable, even if they lose a bit of speed in the process. These bikes are still great options for trail riding or street bikes though because they can easily keep up with highway speeds.
One of the biggest appeals of 500cc dirt bikes is their impressive top speeds. If you consult the chart above, you’ll notice that all of the examples can hit at least 90 mph. Standard highways speed limits are usually between 65-80 mph, so even the slowest 500cc bike can easily keep up with traffic.
For this reason, 500cc bikes are ideal for people who are looking for a nice dual-sport bike or street bike. Many riders will take a 500cc dirt bike and cheaply convert it to a street-legal dirt bike.
These models aren’t always the best for off-roading though because hitting a pothole or tree branch at these speeds could be deadly. If riders use them for trail riding, they probably won’t be able to hit maximum speed, but the option is still available to them.
On the upper end of the spectrum, there are a few 500cc bikes that can travel up to 120 mph! The Kawasaki KX500 is a good example of a bike that can reach these speeds. It’s difficult to imagine going that fast in a car, let alone on a dirt bike.
500cc bikes are faster than the majority of dirt bike models, but there are still bikes that can go even faster, believe it or not. There are a few bikes on the market that are equipped with 600 or 700cc engines and these will be able to hit even higher top speeds.
Again, there are fewer of these on the market because most of the dirt bike community is looking for power and agility above all else. Speed is certainly nice, but yes, there can be too much of a good thing.
When it comes to acceleration, dirt bikes are usually pretty similar regardless of their engine size. That’s part of the appeal of these vehicles after all! They are punchy, powerful, and can get up to speed quickly.
By averaging the measurements from our example bikes, most 500cc dirt bikes can accelerate from 0-60 mph in about 6.5 seconds. Lots of models can accelerate even faster though! For example, the Honda CR500R can go from 0-60 in 3.8 seconds. That’s a lot of speed, so you’d better hold on tight!
Although these acceleration speeds are considerable, they don’t change much as engine size increases or decreases. Many riders who have bikes in the 125cc to 250cc range have reported similar acceleration times (source). This is because these bikes have lighter frames and different gearing ratios that can make up for the lack of power.
Horsepower (also referred to as hp or power) simply refers to the amount of power that an engine can produce. This measurement is calculated by measuring how much power it takes to move 550 pounds one foot in one second (source). This measured rate is then called the horsepower of the specific engine.
Basically, horsepower is a term that refers to the amount of force that is required for movement as well as the rate of time that it takes to achieve the goal. It’s a multi-faceted measurement, but it’s important to keep in mind when you’re comparing the specs of different dirt bikes.
Bikes with high horsepower measurements tend to accelerate faster, but they may not feel very powerful depending on how much torque they have. Horsepower tends to have peak levels of performance as well at certain engine speeds or RPMs (engine revolutions per minute).
As the bike speeds up, the closer you get to the maximum horsepower. Most 500cc bikes will hit their maximum horsepower somewhere between 6,000-8,000 RPM. Once the bike passes a certain RPM or goes over it, some horsepower will be lost. Inertia and gravity do part of the job because a bike can continue to speed up even once the peak engine performance has been reached.
So a dirt bike’s horsepower can help you accelerate and reach high speeds, but once you have reached them, its overall performance may dip.
There is a pretty decent range of horsepower for 500cc dirt bikes. In the examples above, the lowest measurement is 33.5 hp while the highest is 63.5 hp. Again, it isn’t a perfect 1-1 comparison, but bikes with the higher horsepower measurements tended to have higher top speeds as well.
Look at the Kawasaki KX500 as an example. This bike has 63.5 horsepower and its top speed is 120 mph (one of the highest on the list). It’s considered to be a beast and is one of the fastest and most powerful 500cc bikes in the world. So even though horsepower is not the only determining factor when it comes to speed, a bike with very high horsepower rating is likely to be quite fast.
Torque and horsepower are often confused, but these two play different roles when it comes to dirt bike speed. Torque is a rotational force that is often measured in pound-feet. It simply refers to force and doesn’t factor in time as part of the equation.
In practical terms, this measurement refers to how easily the bike can overcome obstacles and tackle steep inclines. If your bike has high torque that means it’s capable of generating a lot of rotational force, even if it doesn’t move very fast.
Picture yourself riding a bicycle for example. When you’re struggling to go up steep hills, you move more slowly, but you put more power into each rotation of the wheel. That’s torque in action! Except when you’re on a dirt bike, the engine is what provides the torque, not your leg muscles.
Torque and horsepower are both ways to measure a bike’s power, but they operate in different ways. Horsepower is highest and most powerful when a bike is traveling at a high RPM. On the other hand, torque is the strongest and easiest to feel when a bike is operating at a low RPM.
Dirt bikes with high torque capabilities will be better equipped to handle off-road conditions and inclines, but they won’t necessarily be faster or slower as a result.
For instance, the Honda CR500R has a torque of 55.7 pound-feet. When you compare it to a bike like the Kawasaki KX500 which has a torque of 48.4, you’ll note that they are quite close in their torque capabilities. However, the Kawasaki has a top speed of 120 mph while the Honda can only reach 92 mph.
Even though both of their torque measurements are fairly high, their maximum speeds have a wide gap. Torque is great for a dirt bike, but it doesn’t play a huge role when it comes to increasing the top speed.
If you were unfamiliar with 500cc dirt bikes, hopefully, you understand their capabilities a bit better now! These are fairly large and powerful bikes that can usually reach top speeds of 100 mph or higher.
This level of speed isn’t for everyone though, and 500cc bikes are less common to see in the dirt biking world nowadays. A greater call for agility rather than speed has led to this decline. However, some brands are still releasing models to this day and there are both old and new 500cc bikes available for those who are interested.
If speed is your number one goal, then a 500cc bike might be the perfect fit for you! Open up the throttle on the test track or take a street-legal model out for a spin on the road and you’ll have no trouble keeping up with traffic.
- What’s the Fastest Dirt Bike? (A List of the Max Speeds of 27 Models) – This is a really cool resource that’ll show you a long list of some of the fastest dirt bikes of all time. If you’re looking for some cool dirt bikes to check out (and maybe buy someday), you NEED to see these!
- Which Stock Dirt Bikes Are the Most Powerful? Horsepower and Top Speed – To see some of the most powerful stock dirt bikes (of all engine sizes), check out this article!