The Difference Between Automatic and Manual Dirt Bikes

Choosing the right dirt bike for your needs can make all the difference in your riding experience. Knowing all the details of the bike you are interested in can help you know what to expect, and buying a bike you don’t fully understand can significantly impact your happiness with the purchase. 

If you’re wondering what the differences between automatic and manual dirt bikes are, each has many aspects that make them stand out. Knowing these differences can help you gain insight into which may be best for you.

Here are some key differences between automatic and manual dirt bikes, the characteristics that define each, and what it means for your decision-making process.

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Classifying Manual Dirt Bikes

A manual dirt bike is a bike that has a manual transmission, meaning you have to change the gears yourself by pulling the clutch lever as you ride. New riders can struggle to learn how the clutch and throttle function together, causing the bike to stall and frustrating the rider.

Classifying Automatic Dirt Bikes

An Automatic dirt bike changes your gears as you ride, negating the need for a clutch. 

Some variations of automatic dirt bikes employ a dual-clutch transmission system, helping the rider get a strong sense of when gear shift changes occur.

Telling Automatic and Manual Dirt Bikes Apart

Knowing the differences between automatic and manual dirt bikes can challenge new riders and complicate selection. But, there are several characteristics you can look for that can help you tell them apart.

Price Differences

The price tag is one of the first signs your bike of interest is an automatic or a manual. Many dirt bike enthusiasts believe manual dirt bikes perform better; they generally cost less than their automatic transmission counterparts. 

Several factors contribute to the higher price tag that comes with automatic transmission dirt bikes, which can include

  • Expensive manufacturing costs
  • Requiring Additional testing
  • Having more essential parts
  • Lack of availability


Another characteristic that separates the two is the cost of maintenance. Dirt Bikes with automatic transmissions often come equipped with sophisticated systems to help them operate, which can include a computer-controlled clutch to change the gears. 

If something goes wrong, it can cost a lot. The computer that changes gears in an automatic dirt bike requires special tools to access and repair it. These components’ tools are generally only found in a repair shop. Contending with an automatic transmission can make repairs costly. 

But manual transmissions generally require less maintenance than automatic transmissions. Because their parts are far less sophisticated, manual transmission dirt bikes are more accessible for you to fix on your own if you wish. Standard household tools can help when your manual transmission bike is out of commission.

Some believe that having fewer components in the manual transmission makes it more reliable than its automatic counterpart because fewer parts lessen the chance of malfunctioning. But this depends on the make and model of your dirt bike and other factors such as wear and tear, riding conditions, vehicle age, etc.

Learning Curve

Another key difference between automatic and manual dirt bikes is how quickly riders can learn how to operate them. Adjusting to using a clutch on a manual dirt bike can be challenging for those who aren’t used to it. Understanding the intricacies of changing gears and knowing how and when to use the clutch takes time for inexperienced riders to grasp.

Automatic dirt bike enthusiasts have an advantage in this area because the learning curve is short, and it doesn’t take much to get used to riding an automatic dirt bike. In contrast, manual dirt bikes take time to learn and require several attempts before mastering the skill set.

However, the manual transmission can help navigate rough terrain. Some feel that the manual transmission allows for greater control while riding. The added control makes it essential for throttling down to hit tight corners or to kick it up to blast down straightaways.

Automatic and Manual Dirt Bike Sizes

Based on their size differences, you’ll tell manual and automatic dirt bikes apart. Manual dirt bikes have larger engines than their counterparts, so they must have a big frame to support the engine. The gearbox makes the manual dirt bike heavier than an automatic dirt bike.


Many people purchase a dirt bike because they want a transportation experience that offers some freedom from traditional constraints. That said, a dirt bike gives the rider a chance to get around as few other vehicles can. 

How fast you go depends on the transmission style you purchase. For instance, an automatic transmission can reach top speeds more quickly due to the automatic gear changes, but manual transmission dirt bikes need more time to hit their full gear.

For some people, quickly reaching the top speed on their bike is high on the priority list and can determine whether they buy it or not. 

Ride Quality

Some people can find it frustrating to have to constantly change gears throughout their ride with a manual dirt bike, which can ruin their experience. 

Other manual dirt bike riders enjoy the extra kick of adrenaline they get from changing gears. The answer to the question of ride quality for manual transmission dirt bike riders depends on who you ask. 

Many believe that automatic dirt bikes provide a better handling experience than manual dirt bikes, making them a better option for novice riders or children developing their skills.

Final Thoughts on Automatic and Manual Dirt Bikes

Searching for the best dirt bike depends on your needs, driving style, and budget. Although they offer a few more conveniences than manual dirt bikes, automatic dirt bikes come with extra maintenance considerations before purchasing. Higher price tags can come from a lack of availability and cost of production.

Whatever your taste is, it’s crucial to find a ride that suits you best. Factors to consider are the cost, your driving style, and if you have the patience to deal with a learning curve.

Opinions on Automatic and manual dirt bikes vary depending on how you ask. But noting their differences and how they can impact your decision may be what matters the most.

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