Dirt Bikes for 12 Year Olds (The Best Gas Powered Options for Beginners)

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After researching this for hours (and based off of past experiences) I think I’ve put together a list of the best dirt bikes for 12 year olds on the market, based on what is out there for new and used options.

My daughter turned 12 just two weeks ago. She already has a cool little quad that her grandpa bought her, so I don’t have to worry about any upgrades this year. But what if she didn’t?

The following list of dirt bikes (not quads), are all my picks for 12 year old beginners. I feel like a lot of kids get into riding around this age, and that a “beginner” bike is a good type of bike for a pre-teen to learn to ride on… even if he/she has some experience riding already.


Best New Dirt Bikes for 12 Year Olds

Honda CRF125F

The Honda CRF125F is great beginner dirt bike for 12 year olds and even small adults and teens. Honda produced this bike with young, somewhat rough, riders in mind… they even designed the plastics and tank to show less-than-normal damage and wear.

Honda CRF125F on white background

While this kids dirt bike is no motocross bike, it is a great trail bike for kids to learn on. It’s got sufficient power and handling, while also some great features like fuel injection and electric start.

When it comes to Honda dirt bikes, they’re one of the most reliable and durable dirt bike brands that you can find. Whether you’re looking at a 125cc dirt bike, a 250cc trail bike, or a 450cc enduro, Honda delivers on just about every level.

Positives

  • Four-speed transmission is great for learning on
  • Decent suspension for smaller riders (<125 lbs)
  • Honda reliability
  • Affordable
  • Designed for minor spills (strong, well designed tank, plastics, etc.)
  • Fuel injected
  • Low seat height (29″)
  • Electric start

Negatives

  • The suspension isn’t great for heavier riders
  • Not designed to be ridden aggressively
  • Not a “high-performance” machine (this is also a good thing)

NOTE: Based on the sizing chart below, this bike’s seat height of 29.1 inches makes it a good sized bike for anyone who is about 4’11” and taller. Of course, circumstances and rider’s ability are unique, so this is just a good ballpark estimation.


Yamaha TTR125LE

The Yamaha TTR125 is a 125cc 4 stroke dirt bike made for trail riding. Yamaha started making these in 2000 when the popularity of the Honda XR100 dirt bikes became too much to ignore. As this beginner dirt bike quickly gained popularity, it formed a cult-like following of fans.

Review of Yamaha TTR 125 on white background

The TTR125 is great for cruising around your property, going on adventures in the woods, and squeezing through tight, tough trails. Overall, it is a solid option and one of the dirt bikes for 12 year olds that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.

Positives

  • Proven reliability
  • Beginner-friendly power and handling
  • Good power and torque for beginner to intermediate riders
  • Simple to work on and maintain
  • Smooth, controllable power from the Yamaha 125cc engine
  • Electric start (the “E” models)
  • Seat height is only 31.7″

Negatives

  • Suspension isn’t great for big or aggressive riders
  • Many used TTR’s have been neglected (because they run forever)

For a more detailed look at the bike, check out this Yamaha TTR 125 review for all of the specs, characteristics, handling, and more.

NOTE: Based on the sizing chart below, this bike’s seat height of 31.7 inches makes it a good sized bike for anyone who is about 5′ and taller. Of course, circumstances and rider’s ability are unique case-by-case, so this is just a good ballpark estimation.


Best Used Dirt Bikes for 12 Year Olds

Honda XR100

Overall, the Honda XR 100 is a great trail riding dirt bike for kids. If you want to start your child on a strong, reliable, low-maintenance dirt bike for learning on, this is a fantastic choice. These aren’t just smaller versions of a XR400 or XR650 either. They’re quite a bit different, but still SOLID bikes with just as good of a reputation.

Honda XR100R dirt bike

The XR100 is one of the best used four stroke dirt bikes for small 12 year olds because of the low seat and easy to use power. Eventually, this bike was discontinued because it lacked the superior suspension, performance, and lightweight handling and appeal the younger generation is looking for.

Positives

  • Honda’s proven reliability
  • Beginner-friendly power, handling, and size
  • Good power and torque for beginners and small riders
  • Easy to find used
  • Fairly inexpensive
  • Simple to work on and maintain
  • Smooth, controllable power from the Honda 100cc engine
  • Fairly easy to find parts
  • Low seat height (30.5″)

Negatives

  • Does not have electric start
  • Not race-ready
  • Discontinued in 2003

NOTE: Based on the sizing chart below, the XR100’s seat height of 30.5 inches makes it a good sized bike for anyone who is about 5’1″ and taller. Of course, circumstances and rider’s ability are unique, so this is just a good ballpark estimation.


Yamaha TTR110

While this kids dirt bike could go under the “new” category as well, I figured I’d stick it in the “used” category since you can find a decent amount of these used dirt bikes for sale.

The Yamaha TTR 110 was first released in 2008 as the new-and-improved replacement for the TTR 90. Yamaha said they were going to make this bike “all-new” and they did. Compared to the 90cc dirt bike, this 110cc dirt bike came with an updated motor, body work, and chassis.

Yamaha TT-R110E on white background

Overall, this is a great little trail bike for 12 year olds. It’s got an electric start, low seat height, and a smooth and controllable power. However, if you’re pre-teen is quite tall or has experience riding, you may want to check out this Yamaha TTR225 review for an older, used option. Also, I put together a full Yamaha TTR 230 review that shows the specs, pricing, characteristics, and more.

Positives

  • Proven to be reliable
  • Beginner-friendly power and handling
  • Simple to work on and maintain
  • Electric start
  • Low seat height (26.4″)

Negatives

  • Suspension is “not too great” for bigger riders
  • Many used TTR’s have been neglected (because they run forever)
  • Not the lightest for it’s size
  • Not great for tracks, jumping, or aggressive riding

NOTE: Based on the sizing chart below, TTR110’s seat height of 26.4 inches makes it a good sized bike for anyone who is about 4’6″ and taller. Circumstances and rider’s ability are unique, so this is just a good ballpark estimation.


What is a Good Dirt Bike for a 12 Year Old?

While the dirt bikes above made the list as the “best” choices, that certainly doesn’t mean they’re the only dirt bikes for 12 year olds to ride. There are quite a few others that are worth considering… if you’re looking for something more high-performance, or something designed for a more experienced youngster.

For example, the Kawasaki KLX140 or 110 are good choices, as well as a KTM 85 SX… again, depending on the size of the rider as well as the style of riding.

What Size Dirt Bikes for 12 Year Olds?

Your height (or your child’s), as well as rider experience and ability, is what will ultimately determine which size dirt bikes is best. However, here’s a good place to start:

  • 3-6 year olds: 50cc
  • 6-8 year olds: 50-80cc
  • 8-10 year olds: 80-110cc
  • 10-12 year olds: 110-150cc
  • 12-14 year olds: 125-200cc
  • 15-18 year olds: 125-250cc
  • 18 and over: 125cc-500cc

Of course, these are just ballpark figures. For more exact sizing information, check out the dirt bike sizing guide below… once you have the height of your 12 year old, or whoever you’re planning on buying a bike for.

Average Height of 12 Year Olds

Here’s a chart showing the average height of children based on how old they are. I think it’s worth noting that each child is going to be different based on genetics (and whatever other factors) and these numbers are just averages that the CDC has put together.

AgeHeight of FemalesHeight of Males
127 – 31″28 – 32″
231.5 – 36″32 – 37″
334.5 – 40″35.5 – 40.5″
437 – 42.5″37.5 – 43″
642 – 49″42 – 49″
847 – 54″47 – 54″
1050 – 59″50.5 – 59″
1255 – 64″54 – 63.5″
1459 – 67.5″59 – 69.5″
1660 – 68″63 – 73″
1860 – 68.5″65 – 74″

The average 12 year old boy is anywhere between 54 inches and 63.5 inches (4’5″ – 5’3″) tall.

The average 12 year old girl is slightly taller than a boy, averaging between 55 inches and 64 inches (4’7″ – 5’4″) tall.

Dirt Bike Sizing Guide

Based of your child’s height, we can now look at this dirt bike sizing chart to determine a good starting point for your child.

Rider HeightSeat Height
4’6″-4’10” (56-58″)26-29″
4’10”-5’0″ (58-60″)27-30″
5’0″-5’2″ (60-62″)29-31″
5’2″-5’4″ (62-64″)30-33″
5’4″-5’6″ (64-68″)33-35″
5’6″-5’8″ (66-68″)34-36″
5’8″-5’11” (68-71″)35-38″
6’0″+ (72″+)37″+

Can a 12 year old ride a 125cc dirt bike?

Yes, but of course, this does depend on the 12-year-old as well as the dirt bike.

While an average sized 12 year old could probably fit on almost any 125cc, you wouldn’t want to start them off on a race bike. For example, a CR125R or YZ125 would be too much of a bike for a true beginner… although one might be able to fit on it.

It’s good to take into consideration the type of bike, as well as the height of the bike.

Can a 12 year old ride a 250cc dirt bike?

While this answer is almost the same as the answer to the question about a 125cc, there are more caveats to a 12 year old riding a 250cc.

For example, a CR250R is going to be too much motor for a 12 year old, while a XR250 might be okay… again, depending on the height of kid.

In general, a 250cc may be too big for most 12 year olds, but the right bike for the right kid makes all the difference.

Buying Dirt Bikes for 12 a Year Old

Even though I almost always buy used, buying one of these kids dirt bikes is a bit different. These smaller CC dirt bikes tend to keep their resale value up much better than the bigger, adult bikes. Maybe it’s because our kids aren’t pushing the bikes as hard and we’re hoping they’re going to last a long time… which they usually do.

Having said that, I’d first check out pricing on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. They tend to be similar, and you can get a good idea of what the bikes are going for around your area.

Since we can’t go out and buy a new XR100R, we’ll have to settle for putting together our own price range. With this in mind, I searched for an XR100 on Facebook and found a few decent bikes, all with different prices.

Dirt Bike Pricing

Why not just rely on KBB or JD Power (used to be NADA) to tell us what an XR100 is worth? These online services do give us a good idea of what we can expect to pay, however searching local (and semi-local) ads will give us a more exact price range.

For example, here are the bikes I found on FB Marketplace with the year and price:

  • 2003 Honda XR100R – $2,000 OBO
    “Fully stock. Runs perfect and has a brand new rear shock. I have title and registration has been out since 2010.”
  • 2003 Honda XR100 – $1,650
    “Great condition, BBR upgrades, big bore kit, suspension. New front and rear tire. Super fun to ride. TITLE IN HAND… LOCALS ONLY…”
  • 2004 Honda XR100 – $485
    “Great beginner or wife bike- my 3 boys all learned on this. Ran great last year; didn’t get ridden for 16-18 months and now carb won’t stay lit; needs more adjustment than I’m able to do myself; therefore selling cheap as is. I can deliver in Jackson County if you don’t have a pickup. Thanks for reading, but no low ball offers; I’m just cleaning out garage and not desperate for money. This was just my oldest sons most memorable Christmas gift so if another parents wants to give a kid what he really wants, well….”

That last one would have been a good one to get… but it’s already sold! Other than that, the other two were VERY similar in condition.

With these examples, as well as some from Craigslist and the $2,099 value provided by JD Power, we can see that these dirt bikes for 12 year olds will range from about $1,500-$2,000, depending on the seller, location, and condition of the bike.