Modern dirt bikes?

I don’t think having a newer modern dirt bike would be as much fun as an old shitty dirt bike.
Hear me out on this one…

I’ve been going back and forth with my friend Kevin about this. He likes to disagree with me for the sake of disagreeing. He thinks (and I’m paraphrasing here) having an older dirt bike; even a yz250 from 80s or early 90s would not be his thing… Specifically he said “cool but not for him”, and modern (newer than mid 2000) is the only way to go…

I completely disagree.
Unless you’re full-on doing modern dirt bike racing and actually competing on a real dirt bike track, I see no need for a modern dirt bike.

Here is why:

Dirt bikes from the 70s and 80s are fast as shit.
A 80s yz250 has mid 40hp, which is equivelant to what a 2015 yz250 2stroke has.
Ok, yes, a 2015 yz450f four stroke has about 52hp I think? But whatever… an early 80s yz490 2stroke has same power if not more.

Ok, modern dirt bikes have better suspensions so they’re faster for that reason alone. Yes, no argument about it, but 80s – 90s suspensions def aren’t bad or horrible at all. They have upside-down forks and mono shocks. Lots of travel. Seem pretty damn similar to modern shit, just not as advanced.

Older dirt bikes make everything feel more fun because its partially more of a challenge. Especially the really old dirt bikes / enduros.

Last point, is if you had a modern dirt bike I guess you’d have to wear the ugly modern dirt bike gear? That would suck. Shit is gross looking.

Look at these pics below.
The older stuff is badass and those dudes are ripping.
So much cooler.

Who the hell wants a modern dirt bike with fuel injection? Or where the entire bike is perfect as is. Does not sound fun to tinker with at all.


Love my 79 IT250. Def trying to go race on some real tracks this year.


4 responses to “Modern dirt bikes?”

  1. Christian says:

    Very cool pictures in this article. Particularly the Datsun 4×4 one.

    Assuming the old shitty dirt bike is in tip top condition mechanically. How often is basic maintenance needed compared to a modern dirt bike? Is it the same?

    4 strokes need that regular Val e maintenance every 4K miles or so. Not sure if that applies to the old school dirt bikes also.

    As far as the 2 strokes, how many miles or hours can you reliably place on the engine before it starts to tire out?

    Just curious because I too feel that an older dirt bike may be worth the investment.

  2. Ed says:

    Sorry man I def can’t accurately answer your question. I would say a 2 stroke requires less maintenance overall. Just keep it nice and oily and not lean.

  3. mattp says:

    someone may have posted this vid before, but if not it’s awesome and relevant and makes me want to ride

  4. Mike Ashleigh says:

    Ok, so the takeaway is that vintage motocross gear is totally sweet. I agree. I couldnt make heads or tails of any of the performance points that you were speaking on, but about maintenance:

    The first dirtbike that comes to mind that would fall into your modern category (Not designed in the 80s or 90s, not all out race bike, fuel injected, 4 stroke) is the WR250. I just looked up the service interval for the valves on that machine and its 26,000 miles. Thats just to check em out, you might have to adjust them with a $2 shim. That probably more miles than 99% of the old enduros have even racked up in the last 40 years.

    What this service interval doesn’t really account for is hard riding and if you ride hard or in more difficult conditions, you will have to service things more frequently. This is true for all bikes. Oil changes will be more frequent on 2 strokes generally.

    Pistons and rings on 2 strokes need replacement sometimes and will run you around $100. Timing depends on the bike, how you ride and maintain it, but some offer a figure of about 20 hours before you need a top end. Keep the air filter clean, and use good 2 stoke oil at the proper mixture and your cylinder should fare well.

    Power delivery can be a matter of choice when you exclude racing from the conversation, so pick what suits your needs there.

    When it comes to suspensions, the 80s were a critical time for swingarms, with the introduction of the monoshock. Twin shock bikes and some of the earlier non-linkage monoshock bikes are kinda limited to lower travel, but the real important change to rear suspension is when linkages were added. Its a rising rate linkage, so you get the benefits of plush suspension for the stuff on the trail and you can also land big jumps and not bottom out. The only other thing that advanced as far as rear suspension goes is adjustable damping which happened in the 80s too for the most part.

    Beyond that, yeah, it seems like dirtbikes have pretty much only gotten lighter and stiffer and the plastics got more aggro and ridiculous.

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Published - May 2, 2010

CB500T Cafe Racer

The 500T is back in action! Thanks to everyone who helped out with parts, advice, and just the whole process.