Are Dirt Bikes Manual or Automatic?

Dirt bikes are both manual and automatic. The choice of transmission type depends on the rider’s personal preferences, skill, and experience level. Though automatic dirt bikes are easy to ride and their learning curve is not steep, manual dirt bikes provide better control.

Experienced riders find manual dirt bikes more reliable in terms of both speed and control. These are the most yielded and popular types of dirt bikes and are all-time favorites of experienced and skilled riders.

On the contrary to this, beginner and inexperienced riders prefer their hands on an automatic dirt bike as it serves both easy learning and convenient ride.

What Is A Manual Dirt Bike?

Manual dirt bikes work with manual transmission. They require manually operating the clutch and gear shifter. These dirt bikes require more effort to learn, have hefty prices, and deliver strong performance. They differ from automatic dirt bikes in the following terms.

Gear System

Most full-size manual dirt bikes have 5-6 gears and to change them you have to grip the clutch and press down or lift the foot pedal simultaneously. You have to repeat this step to shift gears.


 In manual dirt bikes, the clutch lever is on the left handlebar instead of a clutch pedal and works by disengaging the engine from the drivetrain to shift gears smoothly. 

Squeezing this lever activates the clutch assembly. The clutch assembly comprises several components including

Clutch Plates

Further consists of metal plates connected to the engine’s transmission shaft, and friction plates connected to the clutch bucket. 

When you squeeze the clutch lever, it pulls the pressure plate away from the clutch plates, compressing the clutch springs. This action allows the clutch plates to separate, releasing the friction and allowing the engine power to flow through the transmission

Clutch Springs:

The clutch springs are designed to press the clutch plates together to create friction. When the clutch lever is released (not squeezed), the clutch is disengaged. The clutch springs push the clutch plates apart, disengaging the power transfer from the engine to the transmission

Pressure Plates:

When engaged by the clutch lever, the pressure plates push the clutch plates together against the clutch springs.

Gear Shifting 

To shift manual dirt bike gears, you have to pull the clutch lever towards the handlebar to disengage the gears and release it to re-engage the gears.

When shifting to a higher gear, you squeeze the clutch lever. This disengages the clutch while cutting the power from the engine. You then shift the gear lever with your foot.

   Foot Pedal

Manual dirt bikes have a foot pedal on their left foot peg. You operate it by the left foot and move it up and down to select gear engagement.

What Is An Automatic Dirt Bike?

The absence of a clutch and gear shifter makes these bikes easier to control and navigate on terrain. These bikes are easier to learn and ride making them a preferable choice for inexperienced or beginner riders.

These bikes do not have foot pedals to shift gears as gear shifts automatically.

Gear System

The automatic transmission system eliminates the rider’s need to manually shift gears. These bikes have two to four gears. 

When the rider accelerates, the gear automatically shifts to high, depending on the speed and power required.


Automatic dirt bikes do not have a manual clutch. They comprise a centrifugal clutch. When the bike’s engine reaches a certain RPM, the clutch engages automatically, making it easy and user-friendly.

Brief Comparison of Manual Vs Automatic Dirt Bike

Comparison in Terms ofManual Dirt BikeAutomatic Dirt Bike
Speed Powerful output and generates more speedLess powerful with less speed
Size and WeightLarger and heavierSmaller and lighter
MaintenanceDo not require special maintenance toolsRequires computer interference and special tools
Safety FactorsDangerousSafer 
Designed forAdults, experienced riders,Kids, beginners

Pros and Cons of Manual and Automatic Dirt Bikes

Bike TypeProsCons
ManualManual clutches enable more control over the bike’s power delivery.
Allow better acceleration and more precise gear shifting.
Tiring to operate during long rides.
Challenging to learn for beginners.
Dangerous for novice riders due to high power output.
AutomaticEasier and smoother riding experience.
Great for kids and inexperienced riders.
Limit the rider’s ability to fine-tune the bike’s power output and gear shifting during different riding conditions.These bikes are less powerful and less responsive.


Regular maintenance is always necessary to keep your bike in good condition and their upkeep includes;

  • Oil Changes

Inspect your oil. Especially when the oil color is darker, with the bumping and grinding noise of engine parts. This means that an oil change is due.

Chain lubrication and adjustment

The bike’s chain becomes loose causing damage to the sprocket. Loose chains also lead to spontaneous snapping, thus endangering your ride.

To adjust your bike’s chain, loosen the locknuts and the nut on the axel by using a large crescent wrench. After that turn the tensions bolt out to tight it properly. Do the same process on the other side.

Don’t forget to clean the chain with a brush, apply a degreaser, and lubricate it with chain lube.

  • Brake Pad Replacement

Brake pads wear out after some time and the front brake needs a regular inspection as it is responsible for 70% of dirt bike braking systems. Once you spot damage on the brake pad fix it right away.

Tire Pressure Checks

Do regular tire pressure checks. It should be an average of 8 to 16 psi with 12 psi as the average.

Any damage to the tire will affect the traction. That’s why alter your bike’s tire pressure every so often.


Manual dirt bikes are expensive as they deliver high speeds, require a better skill level to operate, and are equipped with less expensive yet highly available parts and tools. Therefore, regardless of being expensive, they are cost-effective in terms of maintenance and tools.

Automatic dirt bikes are budget friendly and easily affordable for both kids and inexperienced riders. However, since they require computer interference and special parts and tools, their upkeep is more expensive than manual dirt bikes.

What’s the Difference Between Automatic And Semi-Automatic Dirt Bikes?

A semi-automatic transmission combines features of both automatic and manual transmission and it does not require you to shift gears manually by using a clutch. These bikes work with a semi-automatic transmission of gear when riders accelerate or decelerate.

Difference between semi-automatic and automatic dirt bikes

Unlike automatic dirt bikes, these bikes have a foot-operated gear shifter to change gears just by pressing them down or lifting them up. Also, these bikes have a clutch system to start and stop the engine. 

Automatic dirt bikes have less power and speed output. While semi-automatic bikes allow better control and response like manual dirt bikes.

Semi-automatic dirt bikes are also preferred by experienced riders as they allow the convenience of automatic transmission and enjoy the control and response of a manual gearbox.

Which Bikes Are Automatic or Manual? 

Given below is a table showing top manual and automatic dirt bikes with their specs.

Manual dirt bikes

Bike’s ModelStrokeEngine CCHPTorqueTop SpeedFuel CapacityMPGPrice 
Honda CRF250X4-stroke249.00 CC2924.2 NM75 mph1.90 gallons30 $7,599
Yamaha YZ125 2-stroke124 CC33.5316.29 lb-ft70 mph7.9 Lts76.9N/A
KTM Freeride E-XCN/AN/A21 bhp42 NM50 mphN/A25-35$11,299
Beta RR 125 2T2-stroke124.8 CCN/AN/A75 mph8.5 Ltrs71.28$9,999
Kawasaki KX 1122-stroke112 CC24.96N/A80 mph1.3 gallonsN/A$5,399
Yamaha TT-R125LE 4-stroke125 CC77.3 lb-ft40-50 mph6.58 LtrsN/A$3,399
Honda CRF 250 R4-stroke249.4 cc3918.8 lb-ft60 mph1.7 gallons94.1$10,099

Automatic Dirt Bikes

Bike’s ModelStrokeEngineCCHPTorqueTop SpeedFuel CapacityMPGPrice
Kawasaki KLX110R4-stroke112 CC78.0 NM50 mph3.8 ltrs97.9$2,349
Honda CRF50F4-stroke109 CC3.135 lb-ft35 mph2.6 ltrs20-25$2,599
Suzuki DR-Z504-stroke49 CCN/AN/A30 mph3.0 ltrs70.0$2,209
KTM 50 SX2-stroke49 CC5.5 3 lb-ft45 mph2.3 ltrsN/A$4,699
Honda Trail 125 ABS4-stroke125 CC107.4 lb-ft55 mph1.4 gal98.29$4,000
KTM Freeride E-XC2-strokeN/A24.531 lb-ft50 mphN/AN/A$10,699
Yamaha TT-R110 E4-stroke110 CC65.8 lb-ft40 mph3.79 Ltrs82.9$2,299


Getting your hands on a manual or automatic dirt bike depends on your preference and skill level. Riders who love traditional riding with better speed and control go for manual dirt bikes. While for those who opt for automatic bikes, have easier learning, with a smoother, and more relaxed riding experience.

Reference Links:

Brief Comparison of Manual Vs Automatic Dirt Bike

Best Automatic Dirt Bikes 

Automatic Dirt Bikes 



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