Riding a dirt bike on sand comes with its own challenges, and some thoughts need to be put in the choice of a motorcycle that can perform greatly on desert trails and sand dunes. Adventure bikes that area meant for off-roading are most suitable for sandy terrains, and many of them are customizable enough to become a well-rounded desert bike. Let’s dig deeper into how to choose the best dirt bike for desert.

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2 Stroke or 4 Stroke for Desert Racing

Is a 2-stroke or 4-stroke engine better for desert racing? The choice of a dirt bike engine is influenced by many factors, obviously including the type of motorcycle and the type of use for which it is designed. There are advantages and disadvantages for both architectures, but the 2-stroke tends to perform better on sand.

The main advantage of a 2-stroke engine is its simplicity of construction which translates into greater lightness and maneuverability: a 2-stroke motorcycle will be more agile and easier to manage, which is especially crucial when you are off-roading on a soft sand terrain.

The 4-stroke is a technically more complex engine, with cycles taking place over four phases (intake, compression, combustion and exhaust). Compared to 2-stroke dirt bike engines, these are known for their high efficiency in fuel combustion, making the consumption from 4-stroke engine much lower and more eco-friendly. They are a bit bulkier than 2-strokes, which means they will not go as fast on sand dunes, but they will still perform just fine on most types of desert terrain.

Best 2 Stroke Desert Dirt Bike

Yamaha YZ250
Yamaha YZ250
Photo: Rainmaker47
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KTM 300 XC-W
Photo: Cdw1952
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Honda CR250
Photo: Rainmaker47

Yamaha YZ250

The 2-stroke Yamaha YZ250 are extremely versatile bikes that can easily be turned into a pretty great off-road desert bike. The customization options are endless which means you can essentially build your own bike according to your needs and the kind of terrain you want to race on. It is also one of the few 2-stroke engine bikes still in production, with the latest model released in 2021.

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KTM 300 XC-W

The KTM 300 XC-W is easily one of the most accomplished, top performing 2-stroke dirt bikes for desert and soft sand terrains. This is one of the best enduro motorbikes in the market, desert racing becomes a breeze thanks to its refined bodywork and ergonomics, and the frame helps the rider to pick a line with pinpoint accuracy.

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Honda CR250

The Honda CR250R is a 2-stroke Honda racing dirt bike last produced in 2007. It still makes one of the most reliable dirt bikes on desert trails and sand dunes. If you are looking for a vintage second hand bike to become your desert rider, look no further.

[Browse Honda CR250 Bikes for Sale]


Best 4 Stroke Desert Dirt Bike

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-4-1024x768.jpegYamaha YZ450F
Photo: Peprovira
KTM 450 XC-W
KTM 450 XC-W
Photo: M I K E M O R R I S
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Honda CRF450X
Photo: Dbratland

Yamaha YZ450F

The Yamaha YZ450F is a four-stroke motocross bike designed for racing on any kind of terrain. The Cycle World and Dirt Rider magazines both deemed it as the dirt bike which started the four-stroke engine revolution, which is kind of a big deal!

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KTM 450 XC-W

The 450 XC-W is one of the top performing desert bikes on the market. High-tech SOHC 4-stroke technology, which combines low weight and high displacement, is the right option for anyone looking for optimum output. KTM’s most capable desert racer, it has won the most National Hare & Hounds of any dirt bike in recent history.

[Browse KTM 450 XC-W Bikes for Sale]

Honda CRF450X

The Honda CRF450X is an off-road motorcycle with a 450 cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine. From tight trails to soft sands, nothing delivers off-road excellence like this dirt bike. The wide-ratio transmission has the perfect gear for any type of terrain and situation, from slow-speed rock crawling to open-desert racing.

[Browse Honda CRF450X Bikes for Sale]


Converting your dirt bike to a desert bike

Here are some gear modifications which you can do to your bike for increasing its performance on sand:


Best Chains for Sand Dunes

Best Dirt Bike Chain for Sand Dunes - Regina Gold-X
Regina Gold-X
Best Dirt Bike Chain for Sand Dunes - Regina Gold-Z
Regina Gold-Z
Best Dirt Bike Chain for Sand Dunes - EK MVXZ X-Ring
EK MVXZ X-Ring

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