Those words from my oldest son were exciting to hear... and scary. This is the kid who rammed his Power Wheels into our fence repeatedly while aimlessly staring around and foot fully planted on the throttle.

It was no doubt the same thing my parents thought when I begged them for my own motorcycle. They probably wrestled with the idea of a bike that would be safe and fun, but not so fast that I could get into a lot of trouble.

READ MORE: The Best Motorcycles For New Riders | RideApart

At age 12, they decided on a Suzuki FA-50 moped. I think they figured that would be a slow and safe starter bike.  But little did they know that the bullet-style signal indicators made great slingshots for friends with skateboards and the bike did fairly well through fields even on slick tires.

The huge array of options nowadays could be seen as intimidating, but it’s really a good thing. There are a lot of great options to choose from and some great deals floating around on reliable older models that have kept their value and are just waiting for an excited 4-6 year old to swing a leg over.

Besides price, some consideration does need to be made regarding your child’s size and weight relative to the bike you’re about to buy.  If the bike is too big or too heavy, you may find your kid is reluctant to ride since it isn’t fun or it's tough to maneuver.  Likewise, if the bike is too small for your child or the suspension is limiting them, they’re less likely to keep with it.  So while you may find a good deal, make sure it’s a good fit for your kid.

How to Find the Right Motorcycle for Your Child
Honda XR50/CRF50

Starting things off is a bike that has probably been a first bike for thousands of first time riders, the Honda XR50/CRF50.

Even before those models, Honda had the Z50/QA50; finding one of those vintage models cheap and in good shape can be tough, so we’ll focus on the XR and CRF.  This is a 4-stroke, 3 speed, automatic shift, reliable little package that has been around for decades basically unchanged except for some alterations in plastics.

With a weight of 110 lbs, seat height of just under 22 inches, and a kick starter, this little bike has formed quite a following and with all the aftermarket add-ons, it’s not uncommon for them to become a permanent fixture in the garage even after your kids have moved on.

The Honda CRF50 sports a rear brake foot lever, helping young riders get used to using their right foot for breaking instead of a hand brake on the bars.  If you’re concerned about the power, the CRF has an adjustable throttle stop.

READ MORE: The Risks of Not Riding a Motorcycle | RideApart

Another good reason to consider the XR/CRF 50 is the price. These little gems can be found used for around $500 in the XR version and can be sold for about the same years later if you keep it in good shape.

Honda XR50/CRF50 specs at a glance:

  • 4 stroke, 3speed, auto
  • Manual Kick-start
  • 110 lbs
  • Seat Height under 22 inches
  • 3.5 inch front travel
  • 2.8 inch rear travel
  • Chain Drive

How to Find the Right Motorcycle for Your Child
Yamaha PW-50

Moving on to Yamaha, you have a couple different options depending on the type of bike and features that interest you. The first option is the venerable PW-50 (Pee-Wee). The PW-50 is a single speed, 2-stroke (oil injected) dirt bike best fit for smaller riders.

The 2-stroke engine is very predictable and has an adjustable throttle stop screw in case the little 50 is still too much for your young tike. With a shaft final drive, there isn’t any chain adjustment needed. The rear brake on the PW-50 is mounted on the handle bars much like a bicycle, but will be a change when they begin riding a larger bike.

Yamaha PW-50 specs at a glance:

  • 2-stroke, auto, oil injection (autolube)
  • Manual Kick-start
  • 86 lbs
  • Seat Height 19.1 inches
  • 2.4 inch front travel
  • 2.0 inch rear travel
  • Shaft Drive

How to Find the Right Motorcycle for Your Child
KTM 50 SX/
50 Mini Adventure

Not to be left out, KTM has an offering which ups the ante with higher grade components and suspension while still in a small package with a seat height of just 21.9 inches.  The KTM 50 Mini Adventure has been around for some time (2002-2008) and can be found with drum brakes and Marzocchi forks for around $600-$700.  The rear brake is found on the handle bar, but with a kit can be moved to the right foot.  Different year models offered a few changes, but for the most part come with greater capability for getting your child out on the MX track at an early age.

'02-'08 KTM 50 Mini Adventure specs at a glance:

  • 2-stroke, auto
  • Kick start
  • 83.3 lbs dry weight
  • Seat height 21.7 inches
  • Marzocchi front forks
  • Paoli monoshock rear
  • Chain drive

How to Find the Right Motorcycle for Your Child
2015 KTM 50 SX Mini specs at a glance:

  • 2-stroke, adjustable auto
  • Kick start
  • 85.9 lbs dry weight
  • Seat height 21.9 inches
  • Front WP suspension 3.9 inches travel
  • Rear WP suspension 6.7 inches travel
  • Chain drive
  • Disc Brakes


How to Find the Right Motorcycle for Your Child
Kawasaki KX 65

Kawasaki plays in this category by doing what they do often, bending the category and throwing a little extra displacement at it. Sporting 65 CC and a price tag just under the KTM at $3699 new it features the only 6 speed chain drive in the category. Not for the absolute beginner in our minds, but a heck of a nice step up for a rider who is riding well and ready for the next step into shifting their own gears.

Kawasaki KX 65 Specs: 

  • 4-stroke, 65cc
  • Chain drive
  • 6-speed 
  • Disc Brakes 




How to Find the Right Motorcycle for Your Child
Coleman CT200U Trail Mini Bike

Coleman Powersports is building nostalgia with the CT200U. An exact replica of that Rupp mini bike I had as a kid, it can be had for $499.99 new. It is big enough for an adult, easy enough to ride for a small child, and durable enough to ride in the woods. The CT200U is the ultimate in family fun and a trip back in time for those old enough to remember the original.

READ MORE: World's Best Beginner Bike? 2015 Honda CBR300R ...


How to Find the Right Motorcycle for Your Child
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