If you want to ride the 2-stroke dirt bike popularity wave be ready to shell out big bucks for a new 2-stroke from Yamaha, KTM or Husqvarna take your chance on an older model from any of the big manufacturers sold by someone with or without good intentions.
You can find a used 2-stroke dirt bike pretty easily but if you have your heart set on a specific make, model and even year you may have to wait a while. For example, when MotoSport went on a hunt for a 1999 KX125 to rebuild and then giveaway, it took months to find one. Our search nearly came to a halt when we happened upon that specific Kawasaki. We did find others from the early 2000s and many were trashed beyond expected wear and tear.
The point being, if you want an older model 2-stroke dirt bike either plan to wait and search a lot or be open to various makes, models and years if you want one now.
Where to Find an Older 2-Stroke Dirt Bike
We live in the age of the internet but since so many precautionary trails exist you might lean towards a more reputable place to shop. Unfortunately, very little exist. Ideally, you want to buy from someone you know, even a friend of a friend. Relationships matter and with a small community such as ours, you can expect to get a better deal and some honesty about potential issues or recently replaced parts than someone you don't know and who doesn't know you.
Outside the friend zone check these places for finding a used 2-stroke dirt bike:
- Facebook Marketplace
- Local dealers (unlikely but worth a shot)
- Cycle Trader and similar sites
You might need to travel far to claim your prize so if you don't have the desire to potentially drive a long ways only to turn around empty handed then plan on an even longer wait time before finding the right 2-stroke dirt bike in your neck of the woods.
Once you have found a bike that keeps you up at night with excitement and anticipation, simmer down now, because you have more to do once you actually lay your hands on it and bring her home.
How to Buy a Used 2-Stroke Dirt Bike
1. Plan on spending more money than you budgeted
If you have a set budget in mind for how much you want to spend be flexible otherwise continue waiting. You might find that perfect 2-stroke dirt bike but with an asking price $1,000 more than you want to pay. You can probably get some relief through negotiation but don't expect the deal of the century.
2. Check the frame for cracks
Cracks in the frame look like small crooked lines. If you have ever seen an old tire with subtle cracking along the sidewall, transition those to the aluminum or steel frame of a dirt bike. If you see any cracks, don't buy it. Walk away. Or you might not walk away from a future ride day when the frame cracks in half after casing a jump.
3. What parts were used for the rebuild?
Almost all older model dirt bikes have been rebuilt to an extent. In fact, the ad for the dirt bike will probably indicate all the various replaced parts. Ideally, you want a rebuilt engine and bearings done with OEM parts. You get better quality parts and it shows the owner taking an interest and care into fine tuning the bike to sell.
4. Expect to replace some parts
Older bikes generally need new bearings - stem, linkage, swingarm, etc. - and most owners will probably leave that to you rather than replace themselves. A visual inspection will indicate whether you need new grips, seat, tires and plastic. So keep this in mind when deciding to buy and adding to your budget.
And regardless of what the seller says, change all the fluids if you end up buying.
5. Inspect the bolts
Look for non OEM bolts the owner used to keep the bike together. This helps determine how well the owner maintained the bike. If the owner used something from the garage "that fit" that gives you a clue to how well they took care of the bike and it probably means you have stripped threads.
6. Inspect air filter and air box
Another indication the owner invested in the bike comes from looking at the air filter and air box. If you see a dirty mess then the bike has probably sat a while. An owner not willing to clean these finer details before selling probably hasn't done much else to make the dirt bike ready to change owners, either.
7. Inspect suspension
Check for leaky seals and dings and scratches on the lower fork tubes and shock shaft. Replacing the suspension might cost as much as the dirt bike and could indicate why the owner wants to sell it.
8. Bring a friend
Bring a friend along especially someone mechanically inclined if you don't have the expertise. A friend doesn't wear rose colored glasses and can help point out deficiencies you don't want to see and a mechanic has an eye and an ear most people don't have.
9. Ride it!
Does the engine even start? Don't make a deal before test riding it. Give it a run and make sure the gears shift smoothly, the engine sounds normal and a forest fire of smoke doesn't come out the back.
10. Don't expect full honesty
You have probably met some people "honest to a fault." That might include the seller of the 2-stroke dirt bike you really want, just don't expect it. You probably will have someone honest about the obvious but not so forthright about a few underlying issues. If you can live with this and all else looks good, buy the bike.
Buying a used 2-stroke dirt bike comes with risks but lost of rewards. Many riders favor a certain era of 2-strokes and hunt for those bikes while some just prefer the overall look, sound and handling of the 2-stroke therefore any make and model suffices. When looking, temper your expectations, go in educated and don't fall in love with the first one you find.