When it comes to off-roading, speed generally isn’t the most important factor. Sure, it’s fun when you can rip around a tight corner on a dirt trail, but speed is hardly the dirt biker’s main priority. Powerful gears, responsive handling, excellent suspension, and a strong clutch are far more important, but like anything with an engine, it’s always important to test how fast you can push it and what top speed can be achieved.
If straightforward speed is more your thing, then even the fastest dirt bike in the world isn’t going to please you and you’re probably better off sticking to the asphalt and buying yourself a sports bike. However, if you prefer kicking up dirt as your wring your throttle, then this list of the world’s fastest dirt bike models should interest you. But before we get started, there are a few things you need to know about dirt bikes. Not all dirt bikes are created equal, you see.
Two-Stroke Vs. Four Stroke
Dirt bikes come in two rather distinct flavors, two-stroke and four-stroke. Now, the argument about which one is better is as old as time and there’s never going to be a clear winner (*though the answer is clearly two-stroke*). Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, with both styles appealing to different riders who require different performance, and in the end it’s all down to the rider’s personal preference.
Is it important within the context of this article though? Well, kind of.
Top lists are generally there to inform you about what options are available and what product might suit you best. So, if you’re thinking about investing in fast dirt bike then you’re going to want to know a bit more about it than a blunt miles-per-hour figure. The fastest dirt bike on the list might take a five mile long run up to get to that top speed, whereas another model might have a smaller top speed but it can reach that speed in a heartbeat. That’s why it’s worth knowing a bit more about the different engine configurations, how they work, and how else they influence the rest of your ride experience.
Two-Stroke Dirt Bikes
Two-stroke engines are relatively simple contraptions which basically compress and combust. They fire and ignite for every single full revolution of the crankshaft. In essence, you get a two strokes of the piston (up and down) in one complete power cycle or crankshaft revolution. What does that really mean though? Well, you literally get more bang, or more power, thanks to the sparkplug igniting more regularly than on a four-stroke engine, which takes four strokes instead. But that’s not all. Since two-stroke engines are very simple, they don’t require any fancy technology or engineering to keep them going. Because of this, they are generally lighter, and when it comes to going fast, lightness is key. However, they’re not necessarily easy to ride. Two-stroke motorcycles require a bit more of a hands-on attitude, with gear changes being more regular…but that’s a small price to pay for a lighter, faster, and more powerful motor. Or is it?
Four-Stroke Dirt Bikes
Unlike the above mentioned two-strokes, four-stroke engine has far more processes involved. It begins with intake, and then comes the compression and combustion, before finishing with the exhaust. It’s called a four-stroke because the engine fires after two full revolutions of the crankshaft, or after four strokes. It fires less often and ultimately delivers less power, but it does deliver more consistent power and in a smoother fashion, which makes it more usable. If nothing else, they’re definitely much easier to ride since you can rely on the power being where you want it when you need it, and that reliability and consistency allows you to relax a little more and enjoy your ride, or spend your energy pushing yourself and harder and faster along the trail.
But they are more complicated engines, with valves and other moving parts, and all of those parts make for a heavier weight between your legs, and of course, when they break they’re usually more expensive to repair. Fortunately, they’re not as prone to breaking down as their two-stroke counterparts. And yeah, they generally enjoy slower acceleration and a lower top speed overall but when it comes down to it, they’re more consistent. Top speed doesn’t win races but consistency usually does.
There is no right or wrong decision when you’re buying a fast dirt bike, because it depends on how you ride it and what you want that speed for. It’s not often that you’re going to be out on the trails and come across a deserted quarter mile of pristine asphalt, and if that’s what you dream of when you fantasize about a day of riding, a dirt bike is quite obviously not the right type of motorcycle for you. However, if you want to tackle the trails hard and enter competitions where speed is important, you should focus less on the top speed and more about where you want what power and speed you have to be delivered.
What About An Electric Dirt Bike?
The argument used to be about whether a two of a four-stroke motorcycle was better, and now we’ve got a third category weighing in and upsetting the balance. Yup, electric dirt bikes are a thing and they’re actually surprisingly popular. We’ve covered the best electric bike models and covered all the relevant points before, but when it comes to the fastest electric bike, that’s a different story altogether. Since they’re not as popular (and not nearly as cheap) as conventional internal combustion engine models, we’ll give you a quick top 3 of our favorites that deliver impressive battery powered speed before we move on to the fastest dirt bike models with regular gasoline engines.
KTM Freeride E-XC
KTM’s debut electric motorcycle is a formidable dirt bike model. In terms of road legality, that depends on your local laws, but for those looking to tackle the trails in a slightly greener way you can enjoy this little offering. It’s a long way from being the fastest dirt bike out there, but it has a powerful electric motor that produces a modest 21.5 hp, 31 lb-ft of torque, and it can hit 60 mph but prefers cruising at around 50 mph. It’s not the fastest in terms of straightforward speed, but it does have a very fast charging time – and that’s important for modern electric bicycles.
To charge to 100%, the KTM only requires a ridiculously fast 80 minutes! That’s very fast when compared with other electric motorcycles. The downside is that each charge only translates to about an hour of serious ride time. That’s a big downside, but the fast charge time does make up for it. The price isn’t awful either, with an attractive MSRP of $8,299. Still, it’s not the fastest dirt bike out there, or even close to being the fastest electric bike either.
Alta Motors Redshift MX
Next up, we’ve got the Alta Motors Redshift MX. This up and coming electric motorcycle company is a 100% American venture, with the factory and headquarters located in California. The cool thing about Alta is their different approach to the electric market: they favor supermoto and dirt bike style motorcycles rather than conventional street bikes, which gives them a nice niche in the industry. The MX dirt bike model is built to have the same kind of performance and feel as a conventional 250cc dirt bike, accompanied with some excellent equipment from WP suspension and Brembo.
In terms of performance, the Alta Motors Redshift produces a total of 42 horsepower and a massive 120 lb-ft of torque through its lithium-ion powered high-speed PMAC motor. But how does translate into real miles per hour? Well, the word on the street is that 80 mph is achievable, with a comfortable cruising speed of 65. Not bad for an electric motorcycle with a charging speed of 4 hours (or 2 with the fast charge package). The downside is the range, which is about 50 miles per charge. The price is $10,495 for the base model.
The fastest dirt bike from the electric category is currently the Zero FX. When it comes to electric motorcycles, Zero know what they’re doing. The Zero FX is an off-road variant from their line-up of impressive battery powered machinery. The FX uses the latest electric technology to deliver a powerful punch right into the heart of the dirt bike market. Styled and formed like a modern supermoto motorcycle, underneath the dirt bike silhouette is a powerful powertrain that uses cutting edge EV technology to produce a dirt bike that can easily rival and best some of its internal combustion engine powered competitors.
Zero’s secret weapon is their Z-force powertrain, which can propel the motor to achieve some impressive statistics. How does 78 lb-ft of torque and 46 horsepower sound? And as for the most important number, the top speed of the Zero FX is a heady 85 miles per hour. Not bad at all for an electric motorcycle. Prices for the Zero FX start at $8,495 for the basest of base models and packages – but don’t forget that most EVs come with nice tax breaks and incentives, especially for Californian riders.
The Fastest Dirt Bikes With Conventional Engines!
There are plenty of conventional internal combustion engine motorcycles that can perform admirably off-road. However, for the purposes of this list we’re going to limit our choices to motorcycles are real dirt bikes – not huge touring beasts with knobbly tires, or heavy machines that are better suited at asphalt adventuring rather than mud-flinging good times. We haven’t set a specific weight limit, but if it’s heavy, it ain’t on the list. No big BMWs or continent-traversing KTMs, for example, but smaller lightweight machines that won’t make you cry if it accidentally falls over.
#10. Honda CRF 450R – Top Speed: 87 MPH
Powered by a punchy 449cc liquid-cooled engine, the Honda CRF450R has a top speed of 87 miles per hour. Thanks to a barrage of updates, including a new exhaust, narrower valves, new transmission ratios and general overall weight loss, the latest iteration of the CRF 450R can go plenty fast. Still, the CRF was already a great bike famed for its fearsome agility, responsive handling and ability to win races. Having a highly respectable top speed only makes it a more appealing package. But can it go faster?
Generally, the agreed top speed is 87 mph, however, some riders have been able to push above that. With a slight slope and the right wind behind them, early 90s have been claimed. For the sake of this article though, a top speed of 87 mph is what we’re going with. Check out this guy’s top speed run for a good look at what that one mile an hour more than our claim looks like. It’s pretty wild.
#09. Yamaha WR 250R – Top Speed: 89 MPH
The stunning Yamaha WR250R has always been a firm favorite among off-road enthusiasts – we know that it has all the right credentials as a blast to ride in the dirt, but how does it fair on asphalt when you’re really pushing that engine to the limit? Well, for a bike weighing a surprisingly heavy 295.5 lbs wet, it can produce a rather admirable top speed. In stock trim and in good conditions, the Yamaha WR 250R has been clocked with a top speed of 88.8 miles per hour. It should also be noted that it can also hit 60 mph from zero in a respectable 8.71 seconds. When it comes to sprinting, dirt bikes aren’t usually the weapon of choice, but this is surprisingly speedy.
In fact, there are riders who have claimed to get a few more miles per hour out of the 250, no doubt by removing mirrors, dropping a dress size, and crunching up into an incredibly uncomfortable by aerodynamically pleasing position. Rumors of top speeds in the early 90s have happened, but not regularly, so the 89 mph marker is the one we’re sticking with.
#08. Suzuki DR-Z400SM – Top Speed: 94 MPH
Next up on our list of fastest dirt bikes is the Suzuki DR-Z400SM. Now, the supermoto variant of the Suzuki’s DR-Z line is a bit of a cheat because it’s definitely more suited to road use than actual off-roading but if you’re prepared to swap your tires over then it will definitely a blast to ride in the mud. However, that’s not really the point of this supermoto model. But then again, hitting the top speed of a dirt bike isn’t really the point of owning a dirt bike either. Using some bizarre logic, we’re going to say that two wrongs make a right and include it on our list. And what is the top speed? A cool 94 MPH.
Achieving 0 to 60 mph in an eye-watering 4.54 seconds is no hassle for this supermoto, thanks to the sheer power of its 398cc single-cylinder engine, which produces a tidy 39 horsepower and 25 lb-ft of peak torque. The top speed isn’t bad for a bike with a dry weight of 302 lbs. Some riders have claimed to push the DR-Z400 to speeds of up to 114 miles per hour, but whether mods were used or not isn’t clear. We’re going with 94 mph because Suzuki says so, and we’ve seen it done.
#07. Honda XR650L – Top Speed: 98 MPH
There’s no denying that the Honda XR650L is an absolute legend; it’s has been a crucial part of the Honda off-road line up for many years (since the early 90s, in fact) and for good reason. It offers excellent versatility being both a demon on and off-road, they’re as reliable as sin, virtually indestructible, and what’s more, they offer excellent value for money. So, it’s definitely a dirt bike, with long travel suspension, proper off-road tires, enormous ground clearance, but how fast can it go on the roads?
Again, it’s another one that’s up for discussion. Some folks have claimed that the might XR650L can hit a top speed of 105 mph – but that seems a little optimistic. The 644cc air-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke engine produces about 40 horsepower and 47.2 lb-ft or torque, which is pretty admirable, but not quite 105mph territory. In reality, and thanks to numerous tests, we think 98 mph is much more of an acceptable top speed marker for the venerable XR650L. Add in the decent 0 to 60 time of 5.83 seconds, and you’ve got yourself a respectable ride that will tear up the trails and put a smile on your face on the roads too.
#06. Husqvarna FE 501 S – Top Speed: 101.5 MPH
Husqvarna is one of the most recognizable and world renowned dirt bike brands, so it’s no wonder that one of their models makes this list. In 2013, the Husqvarna name was bought by KTM and since then the two brands have shared technology. For example, all new Husqvarna models share the same DNA with their KTM stablemates, such as the engines, WP suspension, Brembo brakes and more. This street legal enduro bike packs some excellent standard equipment and lightweight components, making it quite the firecracker, all wrapped up in a lightweight 250.2 lbs dry package. But what about that top speed?
The top speed is a heady 101.5 miles per hour. This one has been verified countless times. Curiously, the smaller FE 501 actually goes faster than the older, pre-KTM era, TR650 which had a much larger engine. This modern enduro boasts 58 horsepower of peak power and very respectable acceleration times, with a 0 – 60 time of 4.5 seconds. Considering this is a real off-road motorcycle, though fitted with all-important street-legal essentials, the top speed is pretty impressive. But this is an impressive motorcycle in general, so you shouldn’t expect anything less!
#05. BMW G650 XChallenge – Top Speed: 104 MPH
This one is an oldie but a goodie – if you can find one, that is. The BMW G650 XChallenge was a cool single-cylinder off-roader, based on the XCountry model. Designed specifically for bridging the gap between on-road and off-road performance, the XChallenge could tackle the rough with relative ease, and roll along the asphalt just as well as other road-focused variants. Equipped with tough suspension, air damping technology, and other cool enduro accoutrements, was a very potent machine – which was sadly brought to an end in 2009.
In terms of top speed, the 652cc four stoke single cylinder engine could propel the G650 XChallenge to an excellent top speed of 104 miles per hour. The XChallenge’s other vital statistics include a maximum power output of 53 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and maximum torque of 44..3 lb-ft at 5,250 rpm. What’s more, the BMW could achieve 0 to 60 mph in a fairly respectable 4.78 seconds. Not bad for a BMW built enduro motorcycle with a dry weight of 317 lbs dry – which is considerably heavier than the KTM listed above!
#04. ATK 700 Intimidator – Top Speed: 110 MPH
You’d be forgiven for not knowing much about ATK. Unlike the big Japanese brands, and the likes of KTM and Husqvarna, ATK often goes under the radar. Established in the 80s in Utah, ATK manufactured small batches of potent off-road motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles. Nowadays, the brand mainly manufacturers parts services their older models, but back in 2009 the company unleashed a model on the world which would go to leave a lasting legacy in the motorcycle industry: the ATK Intimidator, a powerful 650cc two-stroke engine dirt bike.
The ATK 700 Eliminator drew power from a fearsome 78 horsepower two-stroke engine from Maico, which in turn managed to propel the Intimidator to a top speed of 110 miles per hour. It’s a giant of a dirt bike with a top speed that reflects it. A two-stroke engine capable of that speed and power is just crazy; 78 horses to power a bike weighing 238 lbs dry is mental when you think about it.
#03. Beta 450RS – Top Speed: 110.9 MPH
Ever so slightly faster than the ATK, we have the Beta 450 RS. Beta is another brand that most enthusiasts overlook, which is a great shame. This Italian company has a long and illustrious history in the dirt bike category, ever since it was founded by Giuseppe Bianchi and Arrigo Tosi back in 1904. The brand has seen it all, competing in enduro championships, trials competitions, and more. More recently, the company used KTM engines to help fuel their success, but in the last 10 years, the brand has been using their own in-house engines to power their models. And it’s their own 450cc unit that gives the 450RS such a potent top speed.
This awesome dirt bike is powered by a four stroke, single cylinder 449cc engine capable of producing 43.71 horsepower and 29.59 lb-ft of peak torque, delivering top speed of 110.9 miles per hour. What’s more, the Beta 450 RS can do 0 to 60 in an impressive 5.25 seconds, which is not bad at all. Overall, the bike has a dry weight of 246 lbs, kept down by its cool and lightweight molybdenum steel frame and other featherlight parts. If you want something fast on the roads and more than ready to destroy the off-road trails, then consider getting yourself a Beta. You won’t regret it.
#02. Aprilia RXV 5.5 – Top Speed: 113 MPH
This one is a renegade choice. Unlike everything else on the list, this offering from Aprilia boasts a v-twin engine rather than the more conventional single-cylinder arrangement that is generally more accepted as the dirt-biker’s weapon of choice. Still, we’re not here to debate which engine is better, we’re here to look at which ones go faster, and in this instance, the Aprilia RXV 550, or RXV 5.5 as it’s also known, has a pretty potent top speed. Aprilia know a thing or two about making fast motorcycles, and it seems that their knowledge has translated across into this dirt bike offering.
The RXV’s 77-degree v-twin offers some impressive performance statistics. For example, the RXV 5.5 boasts an impressive power output of 70 horsepower at 13,000 rpm, a further 48.6 lb-ft of peak torque at 10,900 rpm, a very handsome 0 to 60 time of 4.16 seconds, and an overall top speed of 113 miles per hour. Weighing in at 284 lbs dry, the RXV was quite light considering its power, but despite being an exceptionally fun (if not unorthodox) off-road, it wasn’t a sales success at all, and was eventually axed from the line-up.
#01. KTM 450 SX-F – Top Speed: 123 MPH
It should come as no surprise that a KTM comes in at number one, but of all the KTM 450 bikes out there, it’s the KTM 450 SX-F that steals the show. This model is a championship winner. KTM rider Ryan Dungey once piloted this model into Motocross history when he won the championship on it back in 2012, and continued the feat again and again in 2015, 2016, and 2017. While Dungey is undoubtedly one of the most talented riders in the world, his KTM 450 SX-F also played an important part in those victories, chiefly thanks to its unparalleled top speed.
Powered by a slick and compact 449cc KTM engine, the 450 SX-F is essentially an off-road racing machine that us mere mortals can just go and buy. Boasting a small, lightweight design, the engine is capable of delivering up to 63 horses of peak torque that can propel this off-roader to speeds of up to 123 miles per hour. As KTM themselves are fond of saying: “the KTM 450 SX-F is simply the fastest Motocross bike out on the track,” and they are not at all wrong. So, if anyone asks you what the fastest dirt bike is that you can go and buy off of the shelf, the KTM 450 SX-F would be the correct answer to give them.