Dirt Bikes vs Street Bikes

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Sure, both dirt bikes and street bikes have two wheels, but this doesn’t mean that they are the same things. Both are classified as bikes or motorcycles, but when it comes down to it, they are vastly different machines.

They look different, they sound different, and they have different intended purposes too. Let’s take a look at the main differences between dirt bikes and street bikes right now.

Dirt Bikes vs Street Bikes

1. The Tires

One of the main differences that you will notice between these two machines has to do with their tires. On one hand, dirt bike tires are made fairly narrow, and they have plenty of nubs and space in between the rubber.

Dirt bikes have tire patterns designed to maximize traction on dirt and mud, with all of that space in between the rubber nubs being able to really claw into dirt and mud.

On the other hand, street bike tires are a bit wider and larger, with much less space in between the rubber.

Street bike tires are flatter and smoother, with the aim being to allow for as much rubber to road contact as possible. Their traction patterns are ideal for directing water away from the tires, but not for clawing into dirt or mud, making them suitable for paved roads.

2. Weight & Size

The next notable difference between the two has to do with their weight and size. Dirt bikes are made small, compact, and lightweight.

They are made to allow for maximum maneuverability on dirt tracks, to allow for fast turning in tight corners, and to allow for maximum acceleration, speed, and height for that big motocross jump.

On the other hand, street bikes have to contend with cars and big trucks on high paced and packed roads, even freeways too, and that drag that an 18 wheeler creates is no laughing matter.

Street bikes need to be a bit heavier and sturdier so they don’t get blown away when a semi passes them on the highway.

Dirt Bikes vs Street Bikes

3. Fuel Tank & Capacity

Another difference between these two machines is that dirt bikes have much smaller gas tanks than street bikes, and therefore cannot go as far.

Dirt bikes are designed for relatively short bursts of riding some trails in the woods or for high speed motocross events. They aren’t designed to travel long distances, or realistically, they really aren’t designed for travel at all.

However, street bikes are designed for travel, for travel and speed. While a street bike shouldn’t be your first choice for a cross country trip from Seattle to new York, a single tank of gas will get you a lot further in a street bike than with a dirt bike.

Simply put, one of these is suitable for travel, whereas the other is not.

4. Suspension Systems

Yet another big difference between dirt bikes and street bikes has to do with their suspension systems. Dirt bikes are made with a system of hydraulic tubes and spring shocks, some really heavy duty stuff designed to absorb a whole lot of shock and impact.

This is because dirt bikes are designed to maneuver very bumpy terrain and to make those huge jumps. Dirt bikes need to have a very high ability to absorb that shock and impact, or else it would get transferred to the rider.

On the other hand, street bikes have much lighter suspension. Street bikes are not designed to ride over bumps and to do jumps, and therefore they don’t need as much shock absorption.

Moreover, a street bike riding at high speeds, if it had the same suspension as a dirt bike, would actually be quite dangerous, and it would be uncomfortable too.

5. Frame & Material

The next difference between the two is that dirt bikes are very lightweight for one, so they can easily fly maximum distances through the air, and moreover, this usually means that they are made of hard and flexible plastics.

Those dirt bike frames need to be flexible so they can absorb impact.

Street bikes on the other hand need to be heavier, sturdier, and less flexible, which is why street bike frames are usually made out of metal. Street bikes also have a fashion aspect to them, and metal always looks better than plastic.

6. Seat Position

The other notable difference between the two is that with dirt bikes, a lot of the time riding is spent standing up to allow the legs to absorb some of the shock created when a bump is hit or a jump is landed.

Dirt bike riders need to be able to stand up, which is they dirt bikes feature a seating position with the legs directly underneath the body.

On the other hand, street bikes are designed for speed and comfort, which is why the feature a much sleeker and more ergonomically designed, and a more aerodynamically design seating position.


There you have it folks, the six main differences between dirt bikes and street bikes. As you can see, while they both have two wheels, that is where the similarities end.

Special offer for our visitors

Get your Free Bike Guide

We will never send you spam. By signing up for this you agree with our privacy policy and to receive regular updates via email in regards to industry news and promotions