While dirt jump bikes do work on trails, mountain bikes perform on rough terrain. It is harder and less safe to use a dirt bike on a trail.
If you only have a dirt bike and not a mountain bike, you may have considered using it for trail rides. Is that a good idea? How well or poorly will a dirt jump bike perform on a trail?
There are many differences between mountain bikes and dirt jump bikes that make mountain bikes better for trails. The frame, gears, seat tube, chainstays, brakes, and more are different. You may or may not find your dirt bike performs reasonably well anyway.
It is not entirely safe to take a dirt jump bike on a trail because dirt jump bikes are not as stable as mountain bikes, and there is no front brake. However, if you know a little about the differences between dirt bikes and mountain bikes, you may be able to use your dirt bike on trails.
I have taken a dirt bike out on trails before, and one of the biggest differences is that it is more tiring to use than a mountain bike. While dirt bikes do not perform all that poorly, a mountain bike is significantly better.
Dirt Jump Bikes are Multi-Purpose
Sometimes, you can use a dirt jump bike for many things, not only jumps and dirt track races. You can use a dirt jump bike to go around town, along a country road, and sometimes even along an off-road trail.
A dirt jump bike might be the only bike you need. A good dirt jump bike is a joy to ride and performs well in many different situations. Even if you go off-road, you can do reasonably well on a dirt trail with a good dirt bike.
However, dirtbikes do have their disadvantages and limitations. Sometimes, an off-road trail is too difficult for a good dirt jump bike to handle. If the terrain is rough enough, a mountain bike is much better.
The Advantages of Mountain Bikes
Unlike dirt jump bikes, mountain bikes are specifically designed to handle rough terrain. Mountain bikes are big, sturdy, and have excellent suspension. You can take a mountain bike down a rough trail without it being excessively bumpy or damaging your bike.
Dirt jump bikes also have suspension, but they are not specifically designed to handle the roughest terrain a bike can handle. While a dirt jump bike can handle somewhat rough terrain, it has its limits. There are a lot of trails that you can take a mountain bike down but shouldn't attempt with a dirt jump bike.
What are the Differences Between the Two Types of Bikes?
Mountain bikes are designed for long, off-road journeys; dirt bikes are for doing tricks. While using a mountain bike for tricks is not a good idea, you might be able to use a dirt bike for trails. The two types of bikes are shaped and designed differently and have different capabilities.
Some of the big differences between the two are:
- Dirt bikes are better for flat, hard ground. They don't perform as well on bumpy dirt as mountain bikes do. Sometimes, you will tire out quickly if you use a dirt bike on a trail.
- You can use a dirt bike on a hard dirt track, but it won't work as well if you take it out on the softer and bumpier ground.
- Dirt bikes are a bit harder to use. If you can ride any bike, you can ride a mountain bike, but dirt bikes take some practice to get good with.
- Dirt bikes are smaller, faster, and cheaper than mountain bikes.
The most obvious reason why dirt bikes don't belong on trails is the lack of gears. Dirt bikes cannot be too heavy, so they sacrifice gears to keep the weight down. Most of the time, a dirt bike only has a single gear - they are for doing tricks, not for climbing steep hills or going fast on a paved road.
If you are on a dirt and grass trail and have to go uphill, it's not going to be easy with a single gear. Mountain bikes are much better - if you face a steep hill, you can switch to a lower gear and climb it easily.
Another problem with taking a dirt bike on a trail is the lack of a front brake. With two brakes, you can stop right away if there is suddenly anything in your way. A single rear brake on a dirt bike isn't always enough to keep you safe.
If you are using a jump bike on a trail where there are obstacles to watch out for, be reasonably careful and go reasonably slow. Test your brakes and become familiar with how fast you can stop. Don't ride the same way as you would with a mountain bike that has a front brake.
A chainstay is a tube that is part of a bike's frame and connects the bottom bracket shell (near the pedals and front gears) and the center of the back wheel. Dirt jump bikes have much shorter chainstays than mountain bikes do.
Shorter chainstays are good for dirt bikes because they help you lift the front wheel and land tricks. Longer chainstays are good for mountain bikes because they keep you stable while you are riding fast.
The shorter chainstay makes a dirt bike somewhat harder to control on a trail if you go fast.
Bottom Bracket Drop
Dirt jump bikes also have shorter bottom bracket drops. This has the same effect as shorter chainstays. It makes dirt bikes better for tricks but less stable at high speeds.
Try riding off-road in a safe area with a dirt bike to see how stable it is. If you are comfortable, you can take the dirt bike on a trail as long as you are reasonably careful.
Seat Tube Angle and Length
Mountain bikes have a steeper seat tube angle than dirt bikes. This makes pedaling the bike easier, especially if you are going uphill.
Your center of gravity is farther forward with a steeper seat tube angle. Dirt bikes are, therefore, not as good on trails, especially not when climbing hills. The point of the shorter and less steep seat tube on a dirt bike is that it keeps it out of your way when doing tricks.
Head Tube Angle
Dirt bikes have steeper rather than slacker head tube angles than mountain bikes. This improves the dirt bike's maneuverability. It shifts your weight forward, making the bike easier to control.
In many ways, dirt bikes are easier to control when doing tricks and mountain bikes are easier to control when moving fast. If you are using a dirt bike on a trail, be careful when traveling downhill. Going downhill off-road is one situation where the stability of a mountain bike really matters.
While mountain bike frames vary a lot in size and design, dirt bike frames usually do not. Therefore, it is hard to find an unusually designed dirt jump bike that performs well on trails.
Dirt bike frames have to be able to handle the impact of repeatedly landing without damage. This means dirt bike frames have to be heavier than necessary for trail riding. A mountain bike of roughly the same size will have a lighter frame than a dirt bike.
Dirt bikes have smaller wheels than mountain bikes do. These smaller wheels make it easier to do tricks and make it easier to land your bike without damage.
These smaller wheels, thankfully, aren't much of a disadvantage if you take the bike off-road. A mountain bike's larger wheels make it more stable, but you won't fall that easily with a dirt bike. The size of the wheels doesn't make a huge difference in my experience.
Mountain bikes are made for long biking expeditions; dirt bikes are made for much shorter outings. If you need somewhere to put a water bottle, a warmer shirt to put on if it gets cold, or anything else, there isn't room on a dirt bike. Mountain bikes have cage mounts and water bottle holders for whatever you need to bring on a long biking trip.
The lack of accessories isn't always a big deal. If you want to take a dirt bike out on a trail all day, you can bring a backpack to carry your stuff with you.
Can You Modify a Dirt Jump Bike to Work Better on Rough Trails?
Yes, but it would be a lot of work. You would have to heavily modify the bike just to make it somewhere between a dirt bike's performance and a mountain bike's performance.
If you made significant changes to the frame, suspension, wheels, and more, your dirt jump bike would be more suitable for long trips and rough trials. However, these modifications would be difficult or expensive to make. It is much cheaper and easier to get a mountain bike for long off-road rides.
About THE AUTHOR
Mountain biking is more than just a hobby for me - it's a way of life. I love the challenge and excitement that comes with it, and I'm always pushing myself to go faster and ride harder. Some people might think that mountain biking is dangerous, but I see it as the only way to live.Read More About Danny Lawson