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MX vs. Enduro (and others), what's the difference?

Discussion in 'What Bike Do I Get... ?' started by kabob983, Aug 2, 2007.

  1. kabob983

    kabob983 Rookie DRN Member

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    I'm new to dirt bikes and I see that there tend to be different...types of bikes. Motocross, Enduro, Offroad, Dual Sport (I can guess that)...what is the difference? Is Motocross only made for racing/courses?



    An lil' info would be wonderful, thanks!
  2. olderndirtmom

    olderndirtmom Rookie DRN Member

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    Welcome aboard kabob983.

    It's great to see someone standing at the bottom of what seems like a huge learning curve (hill). This way I get to look back and see how much I've learned. ;) I'll try to help for starters, just so ol89, oldguy and the guys/woman can give me either a thumbs up or whack me with a ruler for handing out ridiculous misinformation. There's a lot to learn. I just bought my first bikes not too long ago. You are gonna have a blast. :cool:

    Here's a short summary of my very crude understanding of the differences. Hopefully I'm not too incorrect with this information. It's one way to look at the differences. Possibly not the best way. I stand ready to learn with you.

    Offroad bikes- generally speaking- covers all the bikes you mentioned.
    From there one way you could break it into down is into three categories:
    1.) MX
    2.) Dualsport (which for some salesmen is another name for enduros, presumably?? because of the requirement of some enduro races for the bike to be street legal.) **correction**
    3.) Trail bikes/enduros

    MX bikes generally have much more rigorous suspensions than a trail bike and distribute their power differently when you apply the throttle. They are hard to "putt" around on as is common on trails and with much less aggressive drivers. (We'll talk about trials bikes and other exceptions to this later.)

    At the MX track you will see different race classes based on power (engine displacement) (as well as age, experience of rider and gender).

    However, you'll notice 125's running against 250's and 250s against 450s. Enter the next big subcategory of dirtbikes: 2 stroke versus 4 stroke. A 2 stroke bike is generally going to deliver a lot more power less subtlety per turn of the throttle. It's touchier. They are harder to learn on, but not impossible. A rough rule of thumb is a 2 stroke delivers twice as much power, so a 125 2 stroke=250 4 stroke. 2 stroke bikes require you to "premix" oil into your gasoline. This causes them to burn dirtier exhaust.

    Generally 4 strokes are heavier than 2 strokes. This will affect your ability to flick the bike, pick it up after you fall, or to keep it from falling using counterweight techniques etc.
    There are 85 cc-250 cc 2 strokes and 250-450 4 strokes.

    Freestyle motocross (FMX) is motocross where they do tricks, hot dogging etc. It has become a highly refined and beautiful artform. They ride MX bikes, but the suspension is lower for tricking. FMX grew out of BMX before you were born. BMXers do the same tricks as FMXers without the benefit of a throttle (on little bicycles).

    Dualsports are yes, operational both on and off road. Correction: On a street legal dualsport, you can ride to your favorite riding area, then ride some more on the dirt. I believe all "new" dualsports are 4 stroke. Aftermarket kits are available to convert trail bikes for street use, making them "dualsport". Laws dictating which bikes can be converted are state by state, but there are some general things required that are uniform. Dualsports have lights, mirrors, turns signals, horns, etc. You need to have a motorcycle license & registration & insurance to operate one on the street. The tires need to be street legal according to DOT standards in your state. The knobbies that make them great for off road riding will wear quickly on the road and are problematic in inclement weather. Non-knobby road tires or supermotard ties won't give you the traction you need off-road. (The solution is two sets of tires which you swap out.) You can buy anything from a 200 cc to 650cc. **Suzuki markets their V-stroms as dualsport, but again, more of a sport bike IMO. Heres' a great article though on the "adventure tourers" like the v-strom:
    http://www.motorcycle.com/shoot-outs/2005-adventure-touring-comparo-14285.html
    If you are new to bikes, I'd recommend you starts small. ;)

    To use a dual sport on most MX tracks you'd need to strip it of everything that makes it road worthy. The smaller dualsports have more rigorous suspensions than an equivalent trailbike.

    Trail bikes and enduros are made for trail riding, open fields, sand, mountain, etc. and encompass a wide wide variety of bikes. Bikes I would consider "trail" bikes are marketed as enduros. (**The crf-f hondas, for instance.) Hopefully someone will step in with a better explanation of the distinction here. Trailbikes can be four or two stroke. 2 strokes range from 50cc to 300cc. 4 strokes from either 100 or 125cc to 450 cc. Enduros from 250-950 cc.

    The small 4 stroke variety of trail bikes tend to be heavier than their 2 stroke cousins, but are a breeze to handle and learn on because of their gentle nature. Modifications can tame a two stroke to some degree for handling on the trails. My knowledge gets a bit sketchy from here on, but there are many varieties of bikes from the tame TTRs for old creeky moms like me to the 942 cc monster ktm 950 Super Enduro R for mountain/desert enduros & the manly men. Some handle better in single track and rocky terrain than others. Although the kickstand on a trail bike might be an issue, trailbikes like the ttr are not generally prohibited at family oriented open riding motocross tracks with several words of caution. 1.) They aren't truly designed to be jumped or launched. You and the bike will take a beating if you do. 2.) Know what the heck you are doing, how to hold your line, etc. There are going to be people going a lot faster than you and over your head and the like. This is not an experience for the feint of heart. If you aren't sure of the dangers you might impose on others with your presence, hold off a bit.

    Not to be confused with trail bikes are trials bike. These are neat special use bikes. Extremely lightweight, seatless or low seats, limited travel on the suspension (relative to enduro or mx bikes).

    One way to learn the differences between the bikes is to go to the websites of the major manufacturers and look at the specs for each model of their offroad bikes. I printed them out, and studied them. That's how I learned most of the beginning information. It limits you to comparing the different varieties of "new" models. Bikez.com is another resource which provides specs on new and old models. Or go to a bookstore and look for a book which will provide a better explanation than I am providing here. There's lots of neat histories out there.

    I'd strongly recommend you take a class for motorcycle training for road licensing. They are offered nationwide with great regularity. This will thoroughly teach you the basics of handling a motorcycle. Follow that up with a dirtbike school class which will teach you how to get yourself out of trouble when your bike falls or dies on a gravelly hill, etc. After that there are MX schools. Or you could just go ride. Lots of people do it that way too.

    I've left out several other categories of information that will interest you in choosing a bike, like how a bike is cooled (air or liquid), electric start, hot start, seat height, weight differences, spark arrester requirements, etc. I've also left out fun general knowledge mx things like supermoto and short track racing. But, that's a basic primer. Hopefully semi-accurate. Knuckles on the ready to be whapped. :)

    Last two things: the MOTOSPEAK button up top is pretty helpful.. as is the search function.

    And most of all: HAVE FUN! :ride:
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2007
  3. kabob983

    kabob983 Rookie DRN Member

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    Great info, thank you very much!

    I took the MSF course a while ago, but once again this is my first venture into dirt (well, my first "planned" venture into dirt, I found it once on my street bike...no fun!).

    I don't really plan on doing huge MX jumps, I think a 250cc 4 stroke enduro bike would be the way to go, as it covers most of what I'd be doing. Just bashing around a trail, etc.
  4. 2 strokes for life

    2 strokes for life Rookie DRN Member

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    olderndirtmom, i street ligalized my IT465 and my buddie did his RM125. Both 2 strokes.
  5. olderndirtmom

    olderndirtmom Rookie DRN Member

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    Thank you!! I modified the statement to US & streetbikes, but still have questions:

    1.) Are you legal in Canada or US?

    2.) Good point on questioning the factuality of the statement as I originally wrote it because of the presence of aftermarket kits which make bikes street legal. I was speaking in terms of bikes marketed as dualsports.

    How does this 2 stroke exception work in the US, then?

    I'll omit my statement completely above when I hear the answer.

    Further corrections to my murky knowledge are very welcome. I'll edit as they come in. I'm here to learn.

    And thanks to the mods for tolerating my whack at this. Hopefully this will help all of us beginners get a better understanding.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2007
  6. flyingfuzzball

    flyingfuzzball Rookie DRN Member

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    he lives in canada but i believe in the US it depends what state you live in. some states let you other dont the easiet way to know is to go to the DMV (right dmv?) and ask.
  7. kabob983

    kabob983 Rookie DRN Member

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    Well in the question of street legalization could I buy a 4 stroke enduro bike and make it "street legal" and if so what are the steps?

    Also, to start out with on a 4 stroker since it doesn't have the same power as a 2 stroker I'm assuming a 250 still has plenty of get up and go to move my mass? Wouldn't think horsepower would be as big of an issue in the dirt as on the street...
  8. 2 strokes for life

    2 strokes for life Rookie DRN Member

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    olderndirtmom, i was just checking but i see that you ment as in a production bike that qualifyes as a dualsport. Some states do have it so you can street legalize bikes that are 2 strokes. A person i know lives Georgia and has a street legal KX500, and another with a KDX220.

    To add to it.

    TRIALS: A sport of balance with very techinacle terrain. It has sections you compet in and each section has a higher or lower rating for difficulty. In these SECTIONs you can have points added to your score for putting a foot down, (stopping in some classes), stalling and much more. The lowest score you can have is a 0 to a section or competition. The lower score the better. The bikes can be 50cc 2 stroke to 300 2 strokes, and the 4 strokes ushally start in the 125cc and up to 300cc. These bikes are extreamly light(68KG), low geared, have special tries for lower air pressure, no seat(ushally), very little fule tanks, and mosly aluminum parts. It is a very different sport that takes many years of ridding to master. Fun sport for all ages that can walk 2-90.

    SUPERMOTO:
    SUPERMOTO
    by Ralph DiSanto

    Superbikers
    Supermoto began with a simple concept that was invented by promoter Marty Trippe back in the late 1970s and aired when the ABC TV-network commissioned the racing series "Superbikers." From this notion, a new type of motorcycle race was born. The premise of the series was to find the ultimate all-round best motorcycle racer in the world. The racing series was in conjunction with ABC Sports and its long running and epic Wide World of Sports television program.

    Superbikers was the first motorcycle competition to bring together the stars of various specialties of motorcycle racing to compete head to head. The "Superbiker" series ran until 1985, when the network show ended. This marked the demise of the sport in the USA until its resurrection in the early 2000's.

    Europe
    Supermoto found a home in Europe during the 80's, after it was discontinued in the US. The French were the first to adopt the sport, where it quickly gained popularity and spread to other parts of Europe. European Supermoto continued to prosper and grow throughout the 90's, this lead to the creation of several championship series. 2002 the FIM SuperMoto World Championship was launched, and is the current premier Supermoto championship in Europe.

    (Supermotard is the European term for early Supermoto events, and is the French translation of the word 'Superbiker'. )

    Course
    In order to find the ultimate racer a unique race course is used. The tracks are composed of both pavement and dirt, and are a combination of on- and off-road racing. The race tracks often have a combination of Motocross-type obstacles such as jumps, constructed of either dirt or steel. The course is typically 70 percent asphalt and 30 percent dirt, with both tight and twisting turns, as well as long high-speed turns and straight-aways. This type of course requires a rider to master all types of track surfaces where all-around skill matters far more than outright machine performance.

    Machines
    Supermoto racing bikes have to be able to reach high speeds on paved sections, as well as negotiate dirt sections and traverse both large and small jumps. The motorcycle that proved to be the best choice to handle the diversity of track conditions and terrain is a modified four-stroke Motocross bike.

    Several changes are required to transform an off-road Motocross bike into a Supermoto bike. The primary change is to fit the bike with short wide rims to accommodate the mounting of road-race tires or "slicks". The addition of a large front brake rotor is made and finally the suspension settings are stiffened and often lowered.

    Series
    In 2003 professional Supermoto racing returned to the USA when the American Motorcyclist Association announced an all-new national series called the AMA Supermoto Championship. This is the first new series the AMA has launched since Supercross more than twenty-five years ago. In 2004 the sport was added to the X-Games and was seen once again by millions of viewers on a worldwide broadcast.
    (this is not my discrpition of supermoto but better then mine)

    Pavment motocross: i dont know much but here is a vid of it.
    this is awsome.................. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZnW_UrulIc&mode=user&search=
  9. Steve St.Laurent

    Steve St.Laurent Rookie Mi. Trail Riders DRN Member

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    The ability to street legalize a 2 stroke (or any dirt bike for that matter) totally depends on the state your in. You need to check with your secretary of state or dmv. I searched online and was able to find a form for inspection of a motorcycle to make it street legal here in Michigan. I have my 2004 CR250 2 stroke fully street legal - did it this year for a little over $200 in parts plus the insurance and registration. That said it would make a HORRIBLE street bike!! I did it to be legal for enduro's and to ride short road sections between trails. I'd never use it as a regular street bike.
  10. rmc_olderthandirt

    rmc_olderthandirt Subscriber

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    I would like to chime in on "enduro" bikes....

    Enduros are a bit different in Europe so you will find that European made bikes may differ slightly from Japanese made bikes when it comes to a bike they call "Enduro".

    In the USA an "enduro" event is usually a longer event over varied terrain where the rider must maintain a specified speed. Arriving at a checkpoint too early will cost more penalty points than arriving too late. To maintain speed average an accurate and setable odometer is essential. These days you can buy aftermarket electronic odometers so you can do enduros on any bike but in the past you would buy a bike that had a suitable odometer.

    In Europe an enduro is often a VERY long race with checkpoints. Some events require you to maintain the exact speed while others allow you to arrive at a checkpoint early. Due to the duration of the event a headlight and tail light is required. Some events require a kickstand (the bikes may be impounded over night and they want the bikes to stand up on their own). Some events require that the bikes be fully street legal as portions of the course may be on a public road (these sections will often have a penalty for arriving early...).

    An enduro bike is likely to be more powerful and heavier than a MX bike but it will have a similar suspension.

    MX bikes are specialized for racing but they can be used for general riding as well. Since they are built for racing they won't have anything that doesn't help them go faster: no headlight, no battery, no kickstand (some races prohibit bikes with kickstands as they can come loose during a race and become a hazard). The engines are high performance, which makes them a bit quirky. Two stroke versions need to be ridden hard or they will tend to foul plugs.

    An "off road" bike usually refers to the cheaper, lower end bikes. Usually four stroke, low compression engines and shorter frame size. If you are going to "Putt", do it on an off road model.

    Rod
  11. kabob983

    kabob983 Rookie DRN Member

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    Rod,

    Would you consider bikes like the Honda CRF250X and Yamaha WR250F to be enduro bikes or off road bikes?
  12. rmc_olderthandirt

    rmc_olderthandirt Subscriber

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    I would consider the WR250F to be "enduro". It has the same high performance engine as the YZ, same suspension travel, similar seat height, etc. Primary difference is the lights, battery, electric start, and a wider ratio on the transmission.

    Rod
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