In this guide, I will provide you with an in-depth look at electric dirt bikes.
Additionally, we’ll cover everything from the latest features to performance, design, and pricing. You will also learn all the information you need to know before making a purchase.
This guide is a must-read for anyone who is interested in purchasing an electric dirt motorcycle or otherwise interested in this exciting and rapidly-evolving industry.
If you are in the market for one, check our handpicked 5 best electric dirt bikes for adults.
Let’s get started.
Introduction to Electric Dirt Bikes
In brief, the dirt bike market is showing interest in all things electric.
Especially, as gas prices are soaring, electric vehicles are becoming the next big thing for road vehicles and motorcycles. In any case, it seems the major dirt bike manufacturers and startups are betting this trend will include dirt bikes.
KTM and Husqvarna are already offering electric models for some of their 2023 and 2024 lineup. We have also seen plenty of new startups enter the market in the recent few years. Also, we already lost some startups such as Alta Motors.
What Is an Electric Off Road Bike?
So, in a traditional dirt bike, the power is generated by a traditional 2-stroke or 4-stroke gas combustion engine. The engine transfers the power to a gearbox. The gearbox then connects to the rear wheel using sprockets and a chain as a final drive.
In short, the electric dirt bikes are powered by an electric motor. The dirt bike chassis incorporates a rechargeable battery, which then powers the electric motor. The motor typically uses a single speed gearbox. So, no gear shifting or clutch use is needed thanks to the high revolution range of an electric motor.
Electric vs Gas Models Compared
Unquestionably, the use of an electric motor and a rechargeable battery changes several things on a dirt bike. The major differences are:
- Chassis design and suspension components
- Overall weight and weight distribution
- Power, speed, and powertrain
- Range and operation
Next, we are going to discuss each area in more detail.
1. Chassis Design and Suspension Components
Surprisingly, the first major difference between electric and gas dirt bikes is quite obvious. Also, the manufacturers are not sticking to the current gas powered dirt bike chassis and form factors anymore.
Instead, these new models are designed from the ground up. As a result, they are designed with the capabilities of an electric motor and the rechargeable batteries. Furthermore, the current trends in chassis and suspension design are innovative and experimental.
Startups Are Innovating Chassis Design From Ground up
Some early models, like the Alta Motors models, were using comparable dirt bike chassis and suspension setup. This return resulted into higher overall weight and poor range compared to the gas models.
In 2023, manufacturers were experimenting with more lightweight frame and suspension design. Another key point is that the trend with many startups seem to be more towards lightweight frames and suspension. Additionally, many of these models resemble a combination of a mountain bike and a dirt bike. For example these experimental, lighter frame designs include such models as Sur-Ron X, Cake Kalk, and Segway X260.
Major Dirt Bike Manufacturers Still Use More Traditional Frame Designs
The major brands, such as KTM and Husqvarna are using their current frame designs from gas powered models. In fact, the 2023 KTM Freeride E-XC uses similar frame designs as the older gas powered models.
Indeed, it remains to be seen which route is the crowd favorite. Personally, I believe both form factors will be popular. Both serve a purpose.
2. Overall Weight and Weight Distribution
An electric motor is lighter than a comparable gas engine. The challenge dirt bike manufacturers face is the overall dirt bike weight. Another key point is, that the current battery technology is not quite up to par yet. Meanwhile, the battery technology is not able to store enough energy to match a gas engine.
All things considered, the weight savings from removing the gas engine are outweighed by the weight of the battery. So far, the comparable full size electric models are heavier. However, manufacturers have solved this in various different ways.
In summary, most innovations seem to relate around lighter chassis and suspension design and lowered range or power. However, the combination of all these things are making the electric models an attractive option for many riders.
Due to the placement of the battery and the motor, the electric models have a lower center of gravity. As a result, this helps with performance and handling of these dirt bikes. As a matter of fact, the lighter hybrid dirt bike manufacturers are already innovating with battery placement and motor designs. Furthermore, the goal is to rapidly match the weight and power characteristics of gas engines.
Moreover, the 2023 model lineups are becoming competitive in the 250/300cc 2-stroke gas engine and 450cc 4-stroke engine category. At this time, one example of this development is Stark VARG, to be released in 2024. In brief, they boast great specs and it remains to be seen how well they are able to execute.
Overall Weight Drives Chassis and Suspension Design
The operational weight of a traditional gas dirt bike is around 250 lbs. Currently, there are no directly comparable full size models in the same power range category to directly compare overall weight. That being said, most electric models are lighter but may lack in overall power or range.
The KTM 2023 Freeride model is said to weight around 250 lbs, which is similar to gas powered models. Overall, the weight savings are countered with a heavy battery. Surprisingly, KTM has achieved the same weight by using a lighter chassis and suspension elements.
In short, the electric power source effectively eliminates the need for oil, gas, gas tank, exhaust and moving engine parts. The electric motor alone is much lighter compared to a gas engine and produces similar levels of comparable power.
Electric Dirt Bikes Use Lighter Chassis and Smaller Suspension Components
In reality, the added weight in electric models come from a rechargeable lithium ion battery.
Traditional gas dirt bikes are generally using 45–48mm front fork diameter, while electric models favor much smaller, 35–38mm in diameter. The suspension travel is also shorter in these more lightweight electric chassis designs.
3. Power, Top Speed, and Powertrain
In 2023, manufacturers are balancing between maximum power, total range, and overall weight. Change one and the others are affected.
Do Electric Models Offer Less Power?
Yes and no. Power is relative. In short, the electric models do offer the same range of performance. In part, because of their much lighter weight and excellent power delivery characteristics of the electric motor and gearbox.
Today, the 2023 and 2024 full size electric model lineup offer very similar performance numbers as the comparable gas models. It is important to notice that these models are not meant to replace the gas models. The most powerful 300cc two-stroke or 450cc four-stroke engine models will still have their place.
The more comparable model range is in the 150cc range. Many stock 150cc two-strokes produce around 20hp, whereas the electric models range around 12–15hp rated continuous power.
It’s likely that in few years, electric models are starting to be very comparable to gas powered dirt bikes. This is also evident in the adult, full size dirt bike categories. Kids model range are already very close and realistically are bound to sell more than the gas models in 2023.
How About Top Speed?
Electric motor itself can produce much more power than the gas engine in the same weight category. All in all, the challenge is in the battery size, capacity, and weight. Basically, top speeds range anywhere from 40 to 60mph depending on the dirt bike model.
By comparison, one of the major differences in power delivery on electric dirtbikes is the gear box. In brief, gas dirt bikes use a user selectable gear box, with a hand operated clutch. In contrast, electric models typically have only one speed, no gears, or automatic gears and no clutch.
Gearbox Usually Limits Maximum Speed
The gearbox and the single speed is typically the limiting factor for maximum speed. Most models are limited to a maximum speed of 40mph and under when stock. However, this doesn’t necessarily affect riding characteristics since most single track and trail riding happens under these speeds.
It’s also important to notice that gas engines benefit from having several gears. Gas engine produces variable torque in different engine revolution range. In order to have enough power at a large speed range, gears are needed.
In summary, electric motor produces stable power at any revolution range. Therefore, it eliminates the gearbox as the engine power can be used in a much more wider RPM range.
What About Powertrain?
Most electric models use similar sprocket and chain components as the final drive to deliver power to the rear wheel. This is a proven lightweight design, however, they benefit from using slightly lighter component for added weight savings.
Wheels and tires are also another weight saving component. The lower overall power and different chassis design enable using more narrow wheels and tires.
4. Range and Operation
Up until recently, the range has been a major limiting factor to popularity of these models. However, things are rapidly caching up as the new lithium ion battery technologies are getting more efficient at storing energy.
The size and weight are the primary limiting factors to the overall range. In fact, to increase performance, the dirt bike needs to be lighter or produce more power. In general, if you add more power, range is affected. Also, adding more range, more weight is added in battery weight. You catch my drift.
How Does Range Compare to Gas Dirt Bikes?
So, for all day riding, electric models may not be the choice to replace your current dirt bike just yet.
However, many mountain bikers and dirt bikers like to mix it up. Therefore, adding an electric adult dirt bike can help you cross train and hit the trails more often and nearby. As a result, they can supplement your dirt riding hobby, and not necessarily replace the gas dirt bike.
As a result, manufacturers have designed the electric versions to be lighter and smaller. And it seems to work well.
Back to range; it varies a lot. It all depends on how you ride. The Sur-Ron X, the model offers a range of 20–60 miles and Seg way X260 bluntly tells us 75 miles. Other models talk about 1–2 hours of riding.
You Have Options in Increasing Overall Range
It’s safe to say that these models are designed to be taken out to one full session. And many offer just that. The full charge would allow you to spend a few hours hitting the trails as hard as you like. Then take a break, grab lunch or rest while it charges for few hours and repeat.
If you’re planning ride the entire day, be prepared to sit next to a charger while others ride. Most models will take between 2–4 hours to fully charge, with KTM Freeride being the exception around 75 minutes. You do have the option to buy an extra battery and many models offer a replaceable battery feature.
My Experiences Riding Electric Models
Riding anything electric for the first time is definitely an eye opening experience. The power delivery is just amazing. This is mainly because it offers a smooth endless torque throughout the time you’re on the gas. This is similar whether you’re in a train, car, truck, street motorcycle, or a dirt bike.
My first experience with an electric dirt bike was with the Alta Motors Redshift EX enduro model. After some short adjustment period, I quickly started liking the experience more and more. It was well suited for any trail riding and typical enduro dirt biking.
However, I did feel the weight difference to my then 2-stroke. I would describe the Alta as best e motocross bike for traditional moto, mainly because of the raw power and weight it offers.
Since, I have tested several enduro models and also few street bikes, such as the Harley-Davidson LiveWire.
The main differences to a gas bike is that you need to prepare for the charging process. Or get a replacement battery. If you plan to recharge the battery, make sure you have means to do so. Either find a plug or get a generator. Most cars or trucks do not have an outlet that can run the charger to recharge the battery.
Next, let’s talk about how riding is different with the battery powered dirt bikes.
How Riding Electric Models Differ From Gas Models
Riding these electrified hybrid dirt bikes is different. Not only on the trails, but at camp and preparing for the ride days. Most noticeable areas are:
- They use no clutch or gears which affects technical riding
- You need to re-learn controls
- Less preparing and packing
- Have a plan for charging time
- You may want to use a lighter gear
Let’s discuss these topics more next.
1. Get Used To Riding Without a Clutch or Gears
The very first thing you will notice on an e dirt bike is the lack of clutch and gears. This also means that the left lever is rear brake and there is no rear brake pedal.
In fact, in many conditions and riding styles, this may not be a problem. Furthermore, if you are an avid mountain bike rider, the lever configuration is familiar.
In truth, for hard enduro and technical single track riders, the lack of clutch and gears may be an issue. Especially many of the obstacles and techniques require the use of clutch. The clutch helps to modulate the power to gain traction and execute the maneuvers to overcome these obstacles. In reality, this means that most of those learned techniques fly out the window with going electric. Furthermore, you will need to relearn how to apply power and how to maneuver in slow and difficult terrain.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is worth mentioning. At the same time, don’t forget that these lightweight dirt bikes are not meant to replace your gas dirt bike. They are still the best trail dirt bike for very technical trail riding or hard enduro.
Remarkably, all your existing skills still transfer very well to riding these models.
2. Preparing for the Ride Day Is Easier
Overall, the biggest advantage is the simplicity. The lack of combustion engine and all that comes with it makes them fun and easy to ride and maintain.
In short, getting ready for the ride day means charging the battery and performing the normal technical checkup. For instance, no need to tune, adjust, gas up, test, or warmup the engine. Instead, you can focus on the suspension and tires and be ready much quicker by turning the power switch on.
Overall, you can pack less tools and leave gas cans, oils, and fluids home. Additionally, these versions are easier and lighter to load up and get ready to ride.
3. Plan for Charging Time and Availability
These electric models are getting better each year. Furthermore, we are already getting closer to all-day riding battery capacity on some high-end models. However, in 2023, you still need to plan for charging the dirt bike on longer ride days.
Based on our experience, the current models offer a great one session battery life span. This means that you can easily ride a full 2 to 3-hour loop without holding back or charging.
If you plan to ride all day, you need to be able to charge the battery to continue riding.
Most locations do not offer a charging plug. Unless you’re hooked up to a trailer outlet, you need to plan how to charge it. Currently most trucks or cars do not have a charging plug you can use to charge the battery.
Luckily some models offer a replaceable battery so you can buy another one and quickly hot swap it trailside.
4. Few Words About Electric Models and Riding Gear
The electric models are smaller and lighter and may seem slower. It may be tempting to use lighter riding gear. It is a similar trend than in mountain bikes.
While the electric bikes may feel safer, they are still very comparable to full size dirt bikes. This calls for protective gear same as any dirt bike. Consider using the same or similar essential dirt bike gear when you ride these things. Crashing or falling on trails will hurt the same regardless what you ride with.
That being said, many riders choose to opt for lighter mountain bike helmets, boots, and other protective gear. I would approach the gear similarly as with dirt bikes; decide based on the trail difficulty and you skills.
The periodic maintenance is generally more simple than in gas powered models. The electric motor is practically maintenance free.
The areas needing regular maintenance are; suspension components, chain and sprockets, brakes and bearings, plus wheels and tires. This drastically changes the time it takes to keep these e dirt bikes performing well.
In addition to the usual components, some models use a belt as the primary drive. The belt transfers the power to the gear box. Keeping the belt clean and protected does require some maintenance and checkups.
Maintenance and tuning are generally easier since they use more lightweight components and most areas are very well accessible. Make sure to read our general guide for setting up the dirt bike suspension for trail riding.
It’s also worth mentioning that parts availability is quickly getting better. The industry is already picking up on the opportunity to tune, modify, personalize, and replace worn out parts. The manufacturers in some cases have also used parts that are interchangeable. They use either dirt bike or mountain bike components, which increases available options for maintenance and tuners out there.
Things to Consider When Buying
As the market is still fairly new, there are some areas to think about when buying an electric dirt motorcycle. Cover these areas before buying:
- Aftermarket value
- Parts availability
- Purpose and where you plan to ride
- Available modifications
- Battery options
1. Aftermarket Value
Used second hand bikes are also starting to appear in the market. Check how many are available around you and what they go for. This can be used to indicate how easily you can sell the model when needed.
You can also see how easily they sell and why people are selling them. If you see a lot of models being sold as fairly new, you can ask why people are selling. Do they dislike the model and if so, test it first to make sure you like it.
The battery is expensive in all models. The lifespan in real life use is still a question mark for most models. This should be considered when buying used.
2. Parts Availability
As with any dirt bike, you are going to want to tune and adjust the dirt bike. This means modifying it to your weight, height, reach, and riding style. For this reason, check if it is compatible with aftermarket parts and how well.
In particular, if you buy all parts from the manufacturer, chances are you will have to stick with stock parts. You may also be subject to long wait times and poor selection.
3. Purpose and Where To Ride
In summary, they are a lot of fun. They are also dead silent, which makes it easier to hit local mountain bike tracks and trails, if allowed.
When you are in the market, think about where you plan to ride. After all, this helps in defining the required range and riding styles for locations that you regularly visit. If you plan to ride shorter, nearby trails, the lighter models with less range can be ideal.
4. Available Modifications and Tuning
In general, the factory battery and controller units are usually closed, canned systems, where there is only limited tuning available. At this time, some models have an extensive third party parts and tuning community behind them. This makes tuning and modding very easy. Adjusting simple things, such as throttle response or free play can be impossible for some models and easy in others. Choose wisely based on what your plans are.
5. Battery Options
Firstly, many of the models out there offer few battery capacities to choose from. Additionally, if you plan to ride longer trails, buy the extended range models.
Secondly, some models are equipped with easy battery changing capabilities. This can be a very easy solution to extend your total range and ride time.
Also, check how quickly you can charge the battery to 80% and what type of charger is used. This will give you a good idea how long you need to wait between rides.
What’s the best electric dirt bike out there?
How much is an electric dirt bike?
The price can vary significantly, ranging from around $2,000 to $15,000 or more, depending on the brand, model, and features. You can find affordable options from Amazon.com.
How fast does the dirt ebike X260 go?
The Segway X260 electric dirt motorcycle has a top speed of around 46 mph (74 km/h).
Is A Segway X260 Street legal?
No, the Segway X260 electric dirt bike is not street legal and is designed for off-road use only. But it can be converted to a street legal dirt bike with little work.
Are e dirt bikes any good?
Yes, they have gained popularity due to their eco-friendly nature, low maintenance, and instant torque, providing a fun and efficient off-road riding experience.
How fast is an electric dirt bike?
They have varying speeds depending on the model and specifications, with some reaching top speeds of 60 mph (96 km/h) or more.
The electric dirt bikes are here to stay. We are especially excited to see big full size dirt bike manufacturers like KTM, BETA and others challenge their gas powered models. They are offering professional level performance and affordable price ranges for most consumers.
If you got excited, take a look at our recent hands-on reviews of the popular electric models below and choose your next trail tool.