Buying Guide to the Best Street-Legal Dirt Bikes

If you’ve been window-shopping for new or used dirt bikes recently, you’re not alone. These off-road motorcycles form one of the most popular segments on the market today. With rising sales, though, comes a rising number of choices, not to mention bigger battles for showroom models. That’s especially true for those seeking street-legal dirt bikes. So, to streamline your searching, MotorBiscuit presents the guide below on the best dirt bikes you can ride on the road today.

Best 300cc-and-below street-legal dirt bike: 2021 Honda CRF300L

The rear 3/4 view of a black-clad rider on a white-red-and-blue 2021 Honda CRF300L riding through the desert
2021 Honda CRF300L dual-sport street-legal dirt bike rear 3/4 view | Honda
Spec2021 Honda CRF300L
Engine286cc liquid-cooled fuel-injected single-cylinder
Power (rear-wheel)23 hp (Dirt Rider)
Torque (rear-wheel)17 lb-ft (Dirt Rider)
TransmissionSix-speed manual with slipper-assist clutch
Front suspension and travel43mm Showa inverted fork; 10.2”
Rear suspension and travelShow Pro-Link preload-adjustable mono-shock; 10.2”
Seat height34.7″
Curb weight309 lbs (non-ABS)
311 lbs (ABS)
Price$5249 (non-ABS)
$5549 (ABS)

Honda is a major name in off-road vehicles in the US and abroad, especially in the two-wheeler category. Its current lineup includes everything from the Africa Twin ADV to the modest Trail 125. And if you’re looking for a street-legal dirt bike in the 300cc category, look no further than the 2021 Honda CRF300L.

The successor to the CRF250L, the 2021 Honda CRF300L has a bigger fuel-injected engine, more suspension travel, tweaked ergonomics, and a new rear brake master cylinder. Plus, while the CRF300L’s frame is less rigid, the dual-sport bike also has more ground clearance. And it weighs 11 pounds less than the CRF250L, Cycle World says.

In addition, the 2021 Honda CRF300L also has a Rally trim with some ADV-like features. They include a taller seat with more padding, a larger fuel tank, rubber footpeg inserts, and a standard windshield. Both bikes, though, have the same suspension, brakes, and IRC Trails GP dual-sport tires. ABS is optional on both bikes.

However, when the rubber hits the dirt, the CRF300L Rally’s stiffer suspension settings and extra weight make it a worse dirt bike, Cycle World says. So, we’re giving the regular 2021 Honda CRF300L the nod for the best street-legal dirt bike in this engine-capacity category.

  • Official classification: dual-sport
  • Factory warranty: 1 year/unlimited miles
  • Alternative choice: $5799 2021 Kawasaki KLX 300; slightly better dirt bike, but less refined and old-feeling, Dirt Rider says
  • Interesting feature: there’s a closable storage box on the left side

Best 301cc-400cc street-legal dirt bike: 2022 Husqvarna FE 350s

A white-blue-and-yellow 2022 Husqvarna FE 350s street-legal dual-sport dirt bike
2022 Husqvarna FE 350s street-legal dual-sport dirt bike | Husqvarna

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Spec2022 Husqvarna FE 350s
Engine350cc liquid-cooled fuel-injected single-cylinder
Power (rear-wheel)37 hp (2020 model, Dirt Rider)
Torque (rear-wheel)22 lb-ft (2020 model, Dirt Rider)
TransmissionSix-speed manual
Front suspension and travel48mm WP XPLOR fully-adjustable inverted fork; 11.8”
Rear suspension and travelWP XACT fully-adjustable mono-shock; 11.8”
Seat height37.4″
Curb weight259 lbs (Dirt Rider)
Price$11,499

While Husqvarna doesn’t make ATVs or side-by-sides, like Honda, it makes both motorcycles and lawnmowers. The Swedish company is owned by KTM these days, meaning some of the two brands’ bikes have similar specs and features. But in the 301cc-400cc street-legal dirt bike category, the FE 350s takes the edge over its KTM equivalent.

While roughly $11.5K for a 350cc motorcycle might seem expensive, the Husqvarna FE 350s’s features go some way to justifying it. For one, it has a carbon-fiber-composite rear subframe and airbox to save weight. True, it has hydraulic Magura discs, rater than the KTM 350 EXC-F’s Brembo brakes. But unlike the KTM, the FE 350s has rear suspension linkage. So, while the two street-legal dirt bikes have the same suspension components, the Husqvarna has a better ride, Dirt Bike Magazine reports. That rear linkage also gives the FE 350s a lower seat height.

Add it all up, and you have a street-legal dirt bike that’s both lightweight and easy to ride for long periods of time. The “brakes, tires, and controls are competition-ready level,” Dirt Rider says. And DBM calls it “one of the most versatile of the dirt-worthy dual-sport machines.”

  • Official classification: enduro/dual-sport
  • Factory warranty: 2-year/unlimited miles
  • Alternative choice: $11,399 2022 KTM 350 EXC-F; similar specs and features at a slight discount
  • Interesting feature: You can access and change the air filter without tools

Best 401cc-500cc option: 2022 Beta 500 RR-S

A red-and-white 2022 Beta 500 RR-S street-legal dirt bike
2022 Beta 500 RR-S street-legal dirt bike | Beta

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Spec2022 Beta 500 RR-S
Engine478cc liquid-cooled fuel-injected single-cylinder
Power (rear-wheel)47 hp (2020 model, Cycle World)
Torque (rear-wheel)33 lb-ft (2020 model, Cycle World)
TransmissionSix-speed manual
Front suspension and travel48mm ZF Sachs fully-adjustable inverted fork; 11.6”
Rear suspension and travelZF Sachs fully-adjustable mono-shock; 11.4”
Seat height37″
Curb weight without fuel243 lbs
Price$11,299

Casual off-road fans might not have heard of Italian brand Beta. However, the company’s been in business for well over 100 years. And its dirt bikes consistently rank amongst the best. To quote DBM in 2019, “Beta has…the best full line of serious dual-sport bikes in America right now.” Plus, in 2020, Dirt Rider named the 500 RR-S one of its best street-legal dirt bikes. Cycle World named it to its ‘Ten Best List’ that same year for its “single-minded desire to shred.”

All of Beta’s road bikes are built on the same platform, with variations in engine capacity, suspension specs, and brake sizes. And for 2022, the company has updated all of them, including the 500 RR-S. The tweaks include a new clutch, different suspension settings and coatings, and a new LED headlight.

Apart from these upgrades, the 2022 Beta 500 RR-S is virtually identical to the 2021 model. That means it has the same torquey, “aggressive engine character,” Cycle World reports. Plus, the 500 RR-S comes standard with fold-away mirrors, a plastic skid plate, and handguards. Also, Beta uses a Trail Tech Voyager as a digital display. That means the 500 RR-S has built-in GPS.

  • Official classification: dual-sport
  • Factory warranty: 1-year/unlimited miles
  • Alternative choice: $9999 2022 Honda CRF450RL; with a new ECU and more features than the CRF400L, it’s a genuine all-around street-legal dirt bike, though a bit heavy and stiff, Dirt Rider says
  • Interesting feature: Beta offers three different spring options for the clutch

Best 501cc-600cc option: 2022 Husqvarna FE 501s

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Spec2022 Husqvarna FE 501s
Engine511cc liquid-cooled fuel-injected single-cylinder
Power (rear-wheel)40 hp (2020 model, Cycle World)
Torque (rear-wheel)28 lb-ft (2020 model, Cycle World)
TransmissionSix-speed manual
Front suspension and travel48mm WP XPLOR fully-adjustable inverted fork; 11.8”
Rear suspension and travelWP XACT fully-adjustable mono-shock; 11.8”
Seat height37.4″
Curb weight246 lbs
Price$11,899

As noted earlier, Husqvarna is part of KTM, meaning the two brands’ bikes are often fairly similar. And just like the FE 350s is slightly ahead of the 350 EXC-F, the FE 501s is arguably slightly better than the 500 EXC-F for street-legal dirt bike duty.

The differences between the Husqvarna FE 501s and KTM EXC-F are roughly the same as the ones between their 350cc counterparts. While the ‘Husky’ is slightly more expensive, it has that carbon-fiber-composite subframe and rear-suspension linkage. Plus, it has a different seat and handlebar as well as standard frame protectors. Also, Husqvarna installs a skid plate as standard equipment, while it’s optional on the KTM.

  • Official classification: enduro/dual-sport
  • Factory warranty: 2-year/unlimited miles
  • Alternative choice: $11,799 2022 KTM 500 EXC-F; it ditches the rear linkage, but cuts $100 and gets Brembo brakes
  • Interesting feature: The Husqvarna FE 501s has a powder-coated frame, which the 500 EXC-F appears to lack

Best 601+cc street-legal dirt bike: 2021 KTM 690 Enduro R

Spec2021 KTM 690 Enduro R
Engine693cc liquid-cooled fuel-injected single-cylinder
Power (rear-wheel)59 hp (2020 model, Cycle World)
Torque (rear-wheel)43 lb-ft (2020 model, Cycle World)
TransmissionSix-speed manual with slipper-assist clutch
Front suspension and travel48mm WP XPLOR fully-adjustable inverted fork; 9.8”
Rear suspension and travelWP XACT fully-adjustable mono-shock; 9.8”
Seat height35.8″
Curb weight346 lbs
Price$11,999

In contrast to the previous street-legal dirt bike entries, here the KTM motorcycle has the edge over the Husqvarna. While the Husqvarna 701 Enduro is a fast and capable dual-sport, the 690 Enduro R holds several advantages for road users.

Unlike the other KTM street-legal dirt bikes on this list, the 690 Enduro R has a rear linkage. Also, while both the 690 Enduro R and 701 Enduro use their fuel tanks as load-bearing frame members, the KTM’s tank is bigger. And while both bikes have digital displays, only the KTM has a standard USB charging port.

The KTM 690 Enduro R arguably straddles the line between a ‘true’ dual-sport and an adventure bike. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It offers helpful electronics, such as lean-sensitive traction control and ABS, an electronic quickshifter, and two riding modes. Yet it can also disable the rear ABS for off-roading. And with its reasonably curb weight, solid suspension, and off-road-rated tires, the 690 Enduro R can slay miles on and off the pavement, even with luggage, Dirt Rider says.

  • Official classification: dual-sport/adventure
  • Factory warranty: 2-year/unlimited mileage
  • Alternative choice: $6699-$7999 2022 Kawasaki KLR650; it’s noticeably simpler than the KTM, but the reborn dual-sport is a stalwart icon for a reason
  • Interesting feature: While many street-legal dirt bikes have relatively short maintenance schedules, the 690 Enduro R has a 6200-mile interval

Best electric street-legal dirt bike option: 2022 Zero DSR

A black-and-gold 2022 Zero DSR in a garage
2022 Zero DSR | Zero Motorcycles

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Spec2022 Zero DSR ZF 14.4
MotorAir-cooled permanent-magnet electric motor
Power (rear-wheel)70 hp
Torque (rear-wheel)116 lb-ft
Usable battery capacityStandard: 12.6 kWh
With Power Tank: 15.8 kWh
Claimed city rangeStandard: 163 miles
With Power Tank: 204 miles
Front suspension and travel41mm Showa fully-adjustable inverted forks; 7”
Rear suspension and travelShowa piggy-back fully-adjustable mono-shock; 7.03”
Seat height33.2″
Curb weightStandard: 419 lbs
With Power Tank: 463 lbs
PriceStandard: $15,695
With Power Tank: $18,590

Electric dirt bikes offer several advantages over their gasoline-powered equivalents. Besides reduced maintenance needs, they’re also quieter and quicker off the line. That last benefit comes from the ‘max torque at 0 RPM’ feature of electric motors. However, while a few manufacturers, including KTM, have off-road dirt bikes, there aren’t many street-legal options.

Zero Motorcycles offers several electric dual-sports, but the DSR gets the nod for ‘best electric street-legal dirt bike.’ While the DS is cheaper, as is the FX, the DSR has twice the range—and that’s without the Power Tank. Plus, it has roughly 50% more horsepower and torque than the DS. As such, it’s worth the upcharge, Jalopnik says.

Zero updated the DSR, S, and DS for 2022. The electric dual-sport now has a 5” full-color TFT display with Bluetooth smartphone connectivity. And using Zero’s dedicated app, the owner can tweak different settings, including riding modes and regenerative braking, and remotely monitor their motorcycle. Plus, the DSR has ABS, carbon belt drive, Pirelli MT-60 AT tires, and a swappable battery pack. But if you want to get the optional Charge Tank for Level 2 charging, you can’t have the Power Tank.

  • Official classification: dual-sport
  • Factory warranty: 5-years/unlimited miles for the battery, 2-years/unlimited miles for the rest
  • Alternative choice: $14,000 Cake Kalk&; it’s slower, less powerful, and only has 51 miles of range, but it weighs less than 200 lbs and has Ohlins suspension
  • Interesting feature: If you don’t get the Charge Tank, the 2022 Zero DSR keeps its built-in lockable storage compartment

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