Why Are Dirt Bikes So Tall?

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There are two main factors that result in dirt bikes being tall. It is important to know and understand these two factors so as to pick the right-sized dirt bike for you.

The reason dirt bikes are so tall is that they are designed for moving across rough terrain and therefore need increased ground clearance. Some dirt bikes are larger than others because they either need more power, larger tires, or greater suspension than other dirt bikes for different types of riding.

In order to learn more about the reasoning behind dirt bikes being so tall, keep reading!

Why a Dirt Bike Needs to Be Tall

As stated above, the reason dirt bikes need to be so tall is in order to clear any obstacles that may come up in any path a rider chooses to explore on. They come in the correct cc and size/height that is created for the age and power that is appropriate for the given rider.

When sitting on a dirt bike, it shouldn’t be easy for your feet to rest on the ground, that would mean the bike is too small for you. On the opposite side, your feet shouldn’t dangle or you have to shift feet when resting on your bike. Something to consider is whether your knees are in your chest or not. If leaning forward becomes uncomfortable because your legs are in your way, the bike may be too small for you.

It’s almost like thinking about riding a horse. When riding a horse, you are a few feet off of the ground, your feet never touch after getting into the saddle. You don’t want a horse, just like you wouldn’t walk your bike. A horse is built for ground clearance and durability, just like a dirt bike. Dirt bikes are designed to be able to go over rocks, shrubs, and power through anything.

The Higher the CC, The Bigger the Bike

If your ten-year-old son were to want a dirt bike, you may want to start off with something around 50cc up to 110cc. These dirt bikes aren’t outrageously tall and have a manageable power that is easier for a younger audience to ride.

The smaller the power the bike has, the smaller it will be. 50cc bikes are designed with children in mind, as the engine and frame of the dirt bike are mini versions, really, and perfect for young, new riders.

However, as the bike’s power goes up, so does the size of the bike, as they are designed with larger audiences in mind. Let’s say a rider was 5’9″, they would want to pick a dirt bike that had a little bit of power, but also something that incorporated their height so as to be able to comfortably sit on it. Dirt bikes that are 125cc and 150cc are great bikes for this height, as they are roughly three and a half feet tall, or forty-two inches.

But when considering a bike, also make sure that the power is manageable, as it would be unnecessary to get a 450cc dirt bike for your height, when 150cc is still acceptable for your height but also easily maneuverable because of experience levels and the power behind the 150cc. Consider all of the factors before purchasing something that doesn’t correspond to both of these concepts.

Raising or Lowering the Seat Height


When sitting on the dirt bike, your feet should touch the ground, but not so much that you are resting flat-footed. Sitting in the saddle of the bike comfortably should only warrant the balls of your feet to touch the ground, mainly for stability when resting. But, if your seat height is just a little too tall, there are ways to lower the seat height without going down in power, when necessary.

There are also ways of lowering the seat height, in case the power is perfect, but the seat height is just a little larger than necessary. One could simply take off the covering on the seat and trim down the foam of the seat about an inch to an inch and a half, so as to have a little less and be closer to the ground. Simply replace the covering by stretching it back over the foam, and voila! This is certainly the cheapest way to fix the seat height.

Another great way of lowering the seat height, especially if you’re a shorter rider but need a little higher cc, is to add a lowering link to the bike. It directly bolts onto the bike and can lower the backend of the bike a half an inch if not one and a half inches.

Both of these methods are not only very inexpensive but also effective ways of lowering the seat height so that riders will be able to sit more agile in the seat and still get the ground clearance they need with the power that is best for them.

Proper Sizing of a Dirt Bike

To use this chart, first, pick the corresponding age or height, and then look at the corresponding seat height. The seat height should be far enough off the ground that the rider can comfortably rest in the saddle, but have the balls of their feet touch for stability when resting/at a stop. After seeing how high or low that is, consider the cc range that is alongside the height. There are several options, based on whether someone is just starting out or have a great deal of experience.

Age/HeightSeat Heightcc
5-7 years old17″ – 21″50cc, 70cc, 80cc, 90cc
8-10 years old21″ – 28″50cc to 110cc
10-12 years old26″ – 32″110cc or 125cc
5’2″ – 5’8″ 32″ – 38″125cc, 150cc, or 250cc
5’9″ – 6′35″ – 39″250cc, 350cc, or 400cc

How to Pick the Right Sized Dirt Bike for Your Age

In order to pick a dirt bike that not only fits your height but also experience level, it would be important to know your size as well as how easy it would be to drive and maneuver the bike over difficult terrain due to the level of power.

With younger children, between the ages of five to nine, they need dirt bikes that are designed in a mini version and have less power because of lack of experience and how short their legs are. A 50cc bike is manageable for their age, with a seat height between seventeen inches and twenty inches, which is perfect at their age.

On the other hand, with adults, it is different. Height is something to consider, as someone who is six feet tall could pick a dirt bike that is up to 500cc, but that is a lot of power for someone who is not experienced on dirt bikes. So, consider your height, sit on the bike, seeing if the balls of your feet reach the ground, and then think about the power of the bike.

Someone between the heights of 5’2″ and 5’8″ could pick a dirt bike that is either 250cc, 350cc, or 500cc, with a seat height that is between thirty-five inches or thirty-nine inches. Not only are there options for their height, but also for how experienced they are, in which the lower cc ranges would be best and easily managed, but still a great size according to their height.

Jim Harmer

I'm the co-owner of Dirt Bike Planet. I live in Star, Idaho and enjoy dirt biking with my wife and two boys throughout the Idaho mountains.

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