While we all dream of walking into our local dealer and plonking down the cash for a brand new copy of our favorite dirtbike model, for some [read most] people that simply isn’t realistic.
For those of us with less disposable income, used machines are more often the way that we upgrade from one model to the next. The good news is that there is a wealth of great used bikes on the market. Knowing which ones make good investments can mean the difference between scooping up a bargain and throwing away your hard-earned bucks.
Just as a smart home purchase is often determined by “location, location, location,” buying a used dirtbike is all about “condition, condition, condition.” Buy a roached-out machine and you’re likely going to experience the frustration of having to rebuild the entire bike, costing you even more money, time and grief. Find a clean, well-cared-for example of the same model, and chances are good that you will spend more time enjoying it on the track or trail than wrenching on it in the garage. The old saying, “You get what you pay for” is true because, well, it’s true.
First things first: When purchasing a used dirbike, always make sure that the owner has a clean title or registration and that the numbers on the frame and engine match the numbers on the paperwork. That great deal may not turn out to be so great if you go to register or title your new purchase, only to find that the bike is stolen, has some kind of lien on it or the numbers don’t match. You could end up losing the bike, and your money will likely already be long gone.
Beyond that, do your best to ensure that your purchase is in good mechanical condition. Inspect it carefully, and if you’re not sure what you’re looking at, get an experienced friend or a mechanic to look at it with you. Press the owner to reveal exactly what maintenance has or hasn’t been done. Get him or her to provide receipts to back up any claims about “just rebuilt” engines, suspension mods, etc. If they can’t provide such details, walk away. Used bikes are like busses; another one comes around every day, especially if it made our list.
Speaking of our list, we’re pretty confident that it contains some of the best used bike models on the market today. We’ve selected them because they not only have a history of performing well and ben reliable, they are also either current models or they have been so prolific that obtaining parts isn’t going to be a problem. That said, you may be surprised that legendary dirtbikes such as Honda’s CR500 and Kawasaki’s KX500 are nowhere near our list of choices. Sure, both of these brawny two-strokes are reliable, and clean examples can be found, but parts supplies continue to dry up at a steady rate. There are better choices out there, ones for which you should have no trouble being able to locate things like engine cases, cylinders and cylinder heads if any of those parts should fail.
Check out our list and let us know what you think.
10. Yamaha YZ250F/WR250F (2008-2014)
Yamaha’s conventional-headed 250Fs had their day in the sun, but they are obsolete when compared to the amazingly quick and fun reverse incline-motored 250Fs that the company produces now. Still, we always liked the older models, and we could be perfectly happy to own one now. You should be able to find them for bargain prices, parts are still plentiful, and there are tons of them out there in both motocross [YZ] and enduro [WR] trim.
While the Yamaha engine is plenty stout, we suggest seeking out YZ and WR Fs that haven’t been heavily modified beyond the addition of an aftermarket pipe. We’d also stick to the aluminum-framed models, which have been around since 2008 [Yamaha also updated the engine, changing from a five-valve to a four-valve cylinder head]. They’re lighter and more up-to-date than the steel-framed models that precede them.