Beginner on Dirt


I have ridden on the street for about 5 years but now I want to begin riding off-road on trails. I am 22, 6' and 210 pounds. I plan on riding trails in the Shenandoah Valley of VA and possibly WV

After looking at numerous other threads, it seems like an XR400 would be a good fit for me but I was also wondering about the 2 strokes. Since 2 strokes require more mechanical skills, which I have very little of, would I be better off just going with a 4 stroke?

Also since I am a beginner and dont know anyone else that rides off-road, how is the best place to learn? I am not sure trail riding by yourself as a beginner is a very good idea so does anyone have any suggestions?


XR would prolly be a good choice, gonna be alot heavier than a 2-stroke, but the linear powerband will be much more forgiving than that of a 2-stoke. Maintenance wise you can't beat a 2-stoke, so simple and easy to work on. The fun factor is gonna about 100x better on the 2-stroke but anything too technical will be difficult if you don't have too much experience off-road. XR's are pretty much bulletproof and carry a pretty decent resale value so they would probibaly be the smart choice for a new rider.:thumbsup:

I would not say that you half to be a better mechanic to work on a two stroke, they are alot eaiser to work on than a four stroke trust me on that. My dad rode sport bikes and just bought a dirt bike he bought a 02 drz400e. It was a great bike very reliable like the xr's and has plenty of power, but what hurt that bike so much is the weight. The bike was hard to pick up from the ground and was just a bare to manuever it throw the trails like a lighter 250 four stroke or a 250 two stroke. If I was you I would probably be looking for 250 fourstroke alot of people say they require alot of maintaince but two of my friends has one and they have been good just clean your air filter, and change your oil regualr and it will be fine. Also another dirt bike to consider is the good old two stroke 250. I would be looking for a cr,yz, or a rm they are all good bikes and you would be stasified with the power of the bike. I would recommoned though on them bikes to gear it down and put full system pipe and some reeds and you will love it trust me. Now about riding by your self I would not worry about it, I use to ride all the time by my self just don't go no wear that is growed up or some were that you don't feel comfortable because you could run into something or get stuck and no one could see find you for awhile. If you have anymore questions be sure to ask man hopefully I can help you.

in my opinion you should get a ktm 300 doesnt matter what year as long as its within the 2000's its a great bike. very lightweight. easy to handle and im only 16

WR450F, CRF450X, or XR400

there all good

Thanks guys, I will definitely take a look at more 2 strokes now.

Can someone tell me how an XR4 will handle on singletrack stuff? I am guessing it wont be as nimble as a lighter 2 stroke but can it get the job done reasonably well?


2 strokes are easier to work on, without a doubt.

with that said, XR's will never need to be touched lol

those things are like hondas of the dirtbike world.

XR 400 would be great. No problem on single track, i ride a xr 650 L on single track, no problems. Plus as you skill improves on the xr and you want a more moderen light bike to up grade, you will be that much better rider coming off the xr and getting a " go fast bike" .

You really cant beat a XR400 for a beginner. As mentioned, they are very reliable and low maintenance. I kept a XR400 around for about 1.5 years for my newbie friends to ride until one of them bought it, so I know something about your question. Another cool thing about the XR is that its air cooled, so there is no chance of busting up your expensive radiators (WRs and CRFs have them) or replacing water pump seals.

On another topic...a KTM 300 is no beginner bike, that is a bad suggestion. I own a KTM 300 XC and there is no way in hell I would let one of my newbie friends on it. It gets my attention and Ive been riding on and off for 28 years.

I dont think you are ready to tackle a WR or CRF450, those are quite a bit more powerful than the XR...the snappier power isnt near as forgiving for a beginner. FYI - my second bike is a WR426.

Im curious Daniel, why the suggestion for a WR or CRF450 for a complete newbie who has never ridden offroad?

Hey guys,

I found a couple bikes that I am interested in and wondering if you could help me choose which one to pursue.

The first is an 99 XR 400. It is plated but it has been sitting in a garage since last month. Today they showed it to someone but it ends up whoever was interested wanted room for their girlfriend on back so they did not buy it even though it started right up. The guy said "The bike needs just an oil change, a new spark plug if you want and to clean the air filter." It does have new tires. He also has some extra parts:

2 wider foot pegs,

2 levers, the clutch lever and the front brake lever.

1 back rack

1 front sprocket 13 tooth

1 Kriega tool bag

and also a bigger gas tank Clarke 3.8 gallons

He is asking $2300 for it.

The other bike is a 2000 XR250 and the guy says it runs great. "It has a bigger gas tank, custom seat, headlights and white brothers exhaust." I know less about this bike but he is asking $1250.

Any help choosing one of these bikes would be greatly appreciated. Also, are there any questions or things to look for when looking at these bikes?


Ditto on the KTM 300. Not a good beginner bike. I learned on a used KTM 400. I sold it after a season for the same as I bought it, then bought a new 2 stroke. the 400 has Real smooth power delivery, good low end torque to pull you up anything. A little heavy but that would be a trade off I would take while I was learning. Once you get good. Sell it and step up to a 2 stroke.

I would look at the 200cc 2 stroke class (KTM EXCs, Kawasaki KDXs, etc). They are light, reliable trail bikes that are very easy to ride.

I rode an xr 200 for a while then moved to a XR600. The 400 and 600 are heavy bikes. maybe look for a used XR250? the 200s are small and for lighter riders.

The 1999 XR400 sounds very overpriced. Almost 2 years ago, I bought a 2001 XR400 for $1800 and the bike was almost mint was a hell of a deal and thats why I bought it. The bike had very little rotor or spocket wear, very little frame and engine cover marks, etc...the bike was clean. The guy only drove it down a paved rural road and it looked like it had never seen dirt. I bought a new rear tire and my friend still has it...we havent had one problem with the bike. I would expect a clean 1999 XR400 to go for around $1600-$1800 in my area.

I would look at a Kawasaki KDX 200. Its a good reliable 2 stroke TRAIL bike, that is good for adult beginners and it can easily be upgraded as your skills progress. Look for 96 to 06.

They can be had for about 1500-2000. Its also a low maintenance bike. There is If you want something more modern with a higher price tag look at the KTM 200 or 250 XCW.

Another suggestion is to look on craigslist and go test ride some bikes to get a feel for their power. Youll figure out which ones are too much.

KJ55 has the right idea.

My 1st bike choice was kind of similar to yours so I'll share my thoughts as I recently went through the same process.

I'm 6'1" 175 and and have a lot of experience on dirt though never with a throttle (20 years of riding and racing mountain bikes). I tried out a few MX bikes and quickly realized they weren't for me so I narrowed my search to the XR400, WR and CRF-X (in that order). XR's are great bikes but tough to find around here and I couldn't afford new enough of a CRF-X to avoid the bad years. I found such a great deal on a WR426 and couldn't pass it up.

Yeah, it was a handful the first couple rides. Yes, it goes really fast if you want....but I don't have to twist the throttle all the way and it sure is nice to be able to screw up a big climb and have plenty of power in 2nd gear to get your momentum going again. The power is pretty significant but it's not hard to put down on the trail like it is on the more high strung MX bikes. The difference to my buddies XR400 is pretty minimal in real world conditions though it is slightly faster in a straight line. That said, the XR (and the KTM 450 and CRF250 I've ridden) all feel a little quicker transitioning side to side in the tight stuff vs. the WR so that's something you need to consider.

kdx 200/220, or xr 400 for sure. You want something that is gentle and major maintenance free. Truth of the matter is you will only have this bike for 1-2 seasons tops and you'll move on

I found a 2002 KDX 200 for 1700 bucks. KX fork conversion with Race Tech gold valves and springs. Rear shock has been reworked by Race Tech. Acerbis handguards

The only thing that concerns me is there looks to be a fair bit of rust on the frame and kickstand. He says its just surface rust and that mechanically it has been cared for. He also has all the receipts to back it up.

Is this a good deal or not?



I am not too far from ya man and i am in the boat, looking to go off road. I live in Martinsburg WV

From what I can see in the picture, it looks like surface rust. When boots rub against a metal frame, the paint will eventually wear off....add moisture and you have surface rust. This is very common with steel framed bikes, as long as the rust is only on the surface...check carefully. If they guy has receipts, I would say it could be a decent deal. I like the KX fork friend has a 2002 KDX 220 (that I sold him) and those factory forks hang down so low that you can clip rocks easily. Have you ridden the bike? It looks to have an aftermarket pipe, what kind? The FMF Gnarly works really well on the KDXs. has a whole forum dedicated to the KDX...there is a ton of information in that forum.

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