The Very First Dirt Bike: 1914 BSA Scrambler

The history of the very first dirt bike dates back to the early 1900s, when adventurous riders began modifying their motorcycles for off-road use. But when was the first dirt bike ever made? In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the history of dirt biking, with the first known dirt bike.

The First Dirt Bike

Siegfried Bettmann, the founder of the Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA), produced the first dirt bike in 1914.

Recognizing the rising demand for off-road racing, Bettmann designed a motorcycle specifically for that purpose. This led to the creation of the BSA Scrambler, the first-ever purpose-built off-road motorcycle.

The first dirt bike: BSA Scrambler on a grass field next to a road.
1914 BSA Model K. The first dirt bike was very similar to this model K, which is on of the oldest dirt bikes.

Bettman was key in founding of the Triumph Motorcycle Company, which later designed several first motorized bicycles and motorcycles. Since then, Triumph has built several oldest dirt bikes and models paving the way to the modern off-road dirt riding.

The BSA Scrambler, known as the first dirt bike, boasted a lightweight frame, knobby tires, and a high-mounted exhaust designed for navigating muddy and rocky terrain with ease.

The Scrambler gained popularity among riders who sought to compete in off-road races. Thanks to its 500cc 3.5HP single-cylinder engine fueled by alcohol, it was the first attempt to popularize dirt racing. Although it wasn’t known as a “dirt bike” at the time, the BSA Scrambler was undeniably the first motorcycle designed specifically for off-road use. It laid the groundwork for the creation of other off-road machines.

In the next section of this post, we’ll take a closer look at the rise of motocross and the golden age of dirt bikes, which saw the development of some of the most iconic dirt bikes in history.

1922 Triumph H1 on a green grassy backyard.
1922 Triumph H1: One of the oldest dirt bikes. Photo: Yesterdays Antique Motorcycles en Classic Motorcycle Archive, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Golden Age of Dirt Bikes

The 1960s and 1970s saw the rise of motocross racing, which quickly became a wildly popular sport. Manufacturers such as Yamaha and Honda began developing bikes specifically designed for motocross racing.

The era of the first dirt bike, marked by the BSA Scrambler’s inception, gave birth to the golden age of off-road motorcycles. It was during this time that some of the most iconic dirt bikes in history were created. Bikes like the Yamaha YZ125, the Honda CR250, and the Husqvarna 400 Cross became legends in the sport, and riders like Bob Hannah and Roger DeCoster dominated the motocross circuit.

The Modern Era of Dirt Biking

Today, dirt biking is more popular than ever, with riders of all ages and skill levels taking to the track and the trail.

Modern dirt bikes are incredibly advanced machines, with features like fuel injection, advanced suspension systems, and traction control. These technologies have allowed riders to push the limits of what is possible on a dirt bike, with jumps and tricks that would have been unimaginable just a few decades ago.

The sport of dirt biking continues to evolve and grow, with new disciplines like freestyle motocross and supercross gaining popularity alongside traditional motocross and enduro racing. As technology continues to advance, it’s exciting to think about what the future of dirt biking might hold.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who invented the first dirt bike?

The first known dirt bike was produced by the Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) in 1914. The inventor Siegfried Bettmann, recognized the growing popularity of off-road racing and decided to create a motorcycle specifically designed for that purpose.

What was the first dirt bike ever made?

The BSA Scrambler, produced by the Birmingham Small Arms Company in 1914, is considered to be the first dirt bike ever made.

When was the first dirt bike made?

The BSA Scrambler, was produced in 1914 by the Birmingham Small Arms Company.

How did the first dirt bike differ from regular motorcycles?

The BSA Scrambler was specifically designed for off-road use with features like knobby tires, a lightweight frame, and a high-mounted exhaust.

Who were the first riders of dirt bikes?

The first riders of dirt bikes were actually during the Second World War. While dirt bikes were not used in a significant military capacity during the Second World War, they were used by some reconnaissance units and messengers due to their maneuverability and speed off-road. Additionally, some soldiers used dirt bikes for recreation during downtime.

What led to the development of motocross racing?

The popularity of off-road riding and racing in the 1950s and 1960s led to the development of motocross racing, which became a hugely popular sport in the 1970s.

Where was the first dirt bike invented?

The first known dirt bike was invented in Birmingham, England by the Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) in 1914.


In conclusion, the history of dirt biking has been shaped by innovation and passion for off-road racing. The BSA Scrambler was the first dirt bike and set the standard for off-road motorcycles.

Over the years, the sport has grown, and dirt biking has become more popular than ever. Today, there are various types of dirt bikes to choose from, each designed for a specific purpose.

From trail riding to motocross, dirt biking provides an exciting and challenging experience for riders of all skill levels. Thanks to the efforts of early pioneers and modern-day superstars, the sport will continue to evolve and captivate the hearts and minds of fans all around the world.

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