What is Pit Bike Racing? Differences and Costs - Risk Racing

March 12, 2021 10 min read

You may have caught wind of this, but there are actually Pit Bike racing series popping up across the United States. This includes the Masters of Minis and 2-Up Minis race series in the Northeastern part of the country. This is also a popular sport in the UK and other places globally. So, what is pit bike racing? 

Pit Bike racing is very similar to Motocross and is a competitive motor-sport. This sport is especially popular with younger riders as these bikes are generally designed for smaller riders and are more affordable. They are also a lot easier to maintain than the typical motocross bikes, making them less intimidating to younger riders.

Pit Bike racing events have several classes designated by the type of Pit Bike. Then, there are a set number of laps on the track for 2 or more racing legs. The winner is the person who has the highest average position when the event ends. 

Minimotos, or Pit Bike Motocross, is the most commonly practiced type of Pit Bike Racing.




 

Why Do They Call it a Pit Bike?

They are called pit bikes because they are believed to have originated from the bikes that racing staff used as they drove around the MX racing track’s pit areas. This was the favored bike for this purpose because it was small, inexpensive, and practical. As a result, they were called “Pit Bikes.” 

Some people believe that the first Pit Bike was the Honda Z50 Monkey Bike, which was the preferred option for Pit Bikes. Eventually, people discovered that these little bikes were so much more than just something the event staff could use as they rode around the track pits. They would see that these bikes were capable of some great jumps and helped you to pull awesome stunts. 



 

What are Pit Bikes Made for?

Pit Bikes were made initially for the sole purpose of riding around the pits at the bike race tracks. These are generally much cheaper than the bikes used for racing and are the smaller and more practical choice for event staff to use as they ride around the pit. 

As people discovered just how fun these bikes were, companies started to make better versions of these bikes to profit off of them. Honda eventually started to upgrade their Pit Bike to turn it into something much more capable of handling more intensive riding than just riding around a pit during an event. The redesign was also needed to make it a more appealing option for a variety of riders. 

The redesign process started with the frame transforming into something that accommodated a mono-shock and plastic unit. These were just a few of the major changes that were made to the original Pit Bikes. Eventually, aftermarket options were available to purchase, offering a tougher suspension and big bore kits. These aftermarket options helped make these bikes even more popular. 

When the early 2000s hit, the popularity of the Pit Bikes really started to take off. The engines on these bikes naturally made riders want to race around in these speedy but affordable bikes. Around this time, the brand Kawasaki wanted to join in the Pit Bike fun, creating their own model called the “Kawasaki KLX110”. The Honda’s version was made for smaller riders, while the KLX110 was made more for adults. 

Other brands started to catch on just how desired these types of bikes were, which is why they began to create their own versions of the Pit Bike for users. Today, there are numerous options available for riders, even from brands you may not be familiar with. 



 

What is the Difference Between a Pit Bike and a Dirt Bike?

A major misconception is that dirt bikes and pit bikes are the same things. However, some distinct differences are important to know when talking about pit bikes versus dirt bikes. One of the most notable differences between the two options is the size. To properly answer this question, it’s important to break down the bikes’ different aspects to clearly see the distinction between them.


The Different Engines

When it comes to pit bikes, they will often have four-stroke motors that are primarily available within the 50-140cc range. You won’t typically see a pit bike that exceeds 250cc. It also uses a four-stroke motor because of its size. This type of motor means that it has four-piston motions that make up the total engine cycle. Each stroke is meant to propel energy while ensuring that the output is reliable and consistent. 

This reliability and ease of controlling the bike make this a perfect option for children and teens, giving them an easier bike to operate.

On the other hand, dirt bikes can either be a two-stroke or four-stroke motor. With the two-stroke motors, their piston will make 2 movements for the complete engine cycle rather than 4. This means that the bike will offer a higher rate of acceleration but won’t be as easy to control as a four-stroke motor. The four-stroke motors have higher max speeds than the two-stroke variety of dirt bikes. By choosing the two-stroke motor, you are opting for higher acceleration while the four-stroke gives you a faster bike.

Dirt bikes by their very nature are more powerful and faster than pit bikes, with some dirt bikes reaching up to 750cc.

Their Bodies

The next difference to address is the shape of the body. Pit bikes will generally have smaller frames, giving them a lightweight and compact shape that was made for riding around the pits of the race tracks. These are also lower, which can be disqualifying for most types of off-road trails. They can be used on trails that are clear of too many major obstacles. While they may not be able to handle terrain that is too rough, but you can have an easier time storing and moving them because of their smaller size.

Dirt bikes have a bigger body, which is why they work better for off-roading. Riding a pit bike on a track that was made for a dirt bike will likely break your pit bike and risk injury. Dirt bikes aren’t the best for narrow tracks because of their larger body size, but they can clear most obstacles. However, they aren’t as easy to move and store as the pit bikes are. But, you can get dirt bikes in a variety of body sizes to accommodate the size of the rider.


The Tires

The tires for these different bikes are made specifically for the terrain that these bikes are known for. With a pit bike, you are getting tires that are smaller but more suited for calmer trails without obstacles. Pit bikes have 12-14-inch tires, with the front tires at 14 inches and the back tires at 12 inches. This is a stark contrast from what you can expect from the major differences of the dirt bike and the pit bike.

Dirt bikes are generally used for track riding or off-roading, giving them knobby tires that are more suitable for this tougher terrain. These tires are made with an outer rubber surface that ensures that your bike can have a better grip on the terrain, including rocky surfaces. Dirt bike tires were made to easily ride on a variety of different types of terrain. The size of these tires is usually 18-inch. 

Their Suspensions

The suspension of the bikes is there to link the tires to the frame of the bike, which typically includes shock absorbers. The point of these systems, in addition to linking the tires to the frame, is to protect the users from those bumpier rides.

Pit bikes require a more advanced system for suspension than you would think, though it would not be as good as one that you would get with a dirt bike. You can have an inferior suspension with a pit bike because typically you don’t have the rough terrain as you would with a dirt bike. 


Speed Differences

You won’t get a lot of power with a pit bike as you would with a dirt bike. As previously mentioned, pit bikes usually range between 50cc to 150cc, whereas a full-size dirt bike will never be lower than 125cc and could get up to 750cc. Additionally, pit bikes don’t have the same torque as a dirt bike. 

Generally, pit bikes will hit about 15-25MPH with lower gears on shorter trails while they have the potential to hit 75MPH with a larger engine on longer sections. There are modifications that you can make to get a faster pit bike, such as replacing the sprocket and boring it out.

Dirt bikes are much faster, with potential speeds of around 87MPH when racing. The fact that dirt bikes are capable of reaching higher speeds more consistently is what makes them the popular option for bike racing.


Safety Considerations

Pit bikes are by far the safer option than a dirt bike. One reason for this is because they have much less power. The more power the machine has, the larger the crashing potential it has. Pit bikes are much safer because they are underpowered making them great options for kids and teenagers as well as adults who are just beginners. This doesn’t mean that you won’t end up with some bruising or cuts, but these injuries are less severe than the ones you could potentially receive riding a 500cc dirt bike.

Costs

The last difference to consider is the cost. Pit bikes are much less expensive than dirt bikes are, with new ones rarely costing more than $1200. However, dirt bikes can cost between $2000 and $5000, with some very high-end options costing beyond the $10,000 mark. Dirt bikes are also more expensive in the long-term when you consider maintenance and upkeep costs.

Now that you know the key differences, you should be able to know which option will best meet your needs. If you want more power and a faster bike, you will want to go with a dirt bike. If you are a beginner or buying an option for a child or teenager, you will be better off with the pit bike.





Why are Pit Bikes so Cheap?

After addressing the costs, you may be wondering why these bikes are far less expensive than dirt bikes. The primary reason why pit bikes are so cheap is that these were not designed to be as rugged as a dirt bike nor were they designed with competition in mind. These are very inexpensive to manufacture, with the focus of being more of a leisurely toy than a race vehicle. 

That being said, these can break very easily in comparison to a dirt bike. They won’t typically last a long time, but they do serve a purpose in the bike world. A lot of kids and teens that use these bikes end up having a passion for dirt biking as they get older. 

It’s important to note that just because these are cheaper, that doesn’t mean there they don’t have a place in the world. For one thing, these are excellent bikes for beginners whether they are children or adults. They are motorized like a dirt bike, so that you get the feel for riding a dirt bike without having to worry about having too much power or getting any serious injuries. 

If you don’t have the time or money to commit to a dirt bike, a pit bike is a perfect option to consider. 



 

What are the Best Pit Bikes?

So which pit bikes are the best pit bikes? This section will take a closer look at the top 3 pit bikes that you can choose from.

  • SYX MOTO Kids Mini-Dirt Bike

This bike is widely considered to be the best value pit bike available. This bike is quick and agile, with a two-stroke motor. It can peak at 30MPH, but there is a speed limiter that can be used to ensure that these bikes don’t go any faster than you are comfortable with. This is a lightweight bike that can be easy to move for most users, but it’s also designed to stop more easily and safely with the disc brakes on the front and rear of the bike. It’s important to know that this bike does have a max weight limit of 160lbs.

There are also some downsides to this bike. One downside is that you will need to assemble it prior to riding the bike, which can be a complicated process. This bike may also have more difficult maintenance than some other pit bikes, which can complicate matters for users.

  • X-Pro Bolt 50cc Dirt Bike

While this might be a more expensive pit bike, it’s because this brand has made a name for itself by creating quality pit bike options. The engine is an air-cooled 50cc engine, which may not be an impressively big engine, but one that can help this bike go as fast as 25MPH. This is another lightweight option, weighing only about 50lbs. so you can get that lightweight and agile experience that pit bike riders enjoy. The maximum weight for this bike is 132lbs.

You can get very responsive breaking with this option, as it also features both front and rear disc brakes. These bikes are also specifically designed to have better handling than some other bikes on the market. Even new riders can enjoy this bike on more difficult terrain because of how great the handling and power are. The construction of this bike features a rugged frame that is more resilient than other pit bikes.

  • X-Pro 40cc Mini Pit Bike

This is a sleek and stylish pit bike that may not offer a lot of power, but it does offer a smooth and responsive ride for kids and beginners alike. It has a two-stroke motor that isn’t too fast or loud but does handle well on grass and concrete surfaces. You can get this option in a variety of different colors, which is another great selling factor for this bike. This is easily one of the top choices for younger riders, though any beginner will love this bike.



 

Conclusion

Pit bike racing is growing in popularity since these bikes have a lower center of gravity and easier to handle, there are also fewer injuries and accidents associated with Pit Bike racing. Pit bikes are more affordable motorbikes that have gone through quite the evolution since their inception as a bike primarily used by event staffers at bike races. Pit racing has also grown in popularity as modifications and accessories for pit bikes have made them an excellent choice for people who want to participate in these competitive events. 


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