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Chinese vs Japanese dirt bikes in white text on black background

James Stewart

Chinese vs Japanese Dirt Bikes

If you search on the internet for dirt bikes, you’ll see seemingly similar bikes differing wildly in prices – that’s the difference between Chinese vs Japanese dirt bikes.

Without knowing better, the Chinese dirt bikes seem like a great option. But, once you’ve learned the difference, and even ridden both, as we have, the difference is clear.

In this article, we will help you understand the differences between Chinese vs Japanese dirt bikes.

Chinese vs Japanese Dirt Bikes

When you try to compare Chinese vs Japanese dirt bikes, it’s like comparing a t-shirt you can get at Walmart versus a t-shirt from Express, Nordstrom, or Banana Republic.

Generally, they’re the same product – they’re both t-shirts, or in our case, they’re both dirt bikes, they look the same, but the quality is just different. Walmart t-shirts, like Chinese dirt bikes, are not as high-quality as other name brands.

Years of experience

When we talk about experience, Japanese motorcycle manufacturers have several decades more experience than Chinese ones. This makes them more experienced in inventing, developing, and producing higher-quality products. 

For example, Honda started its motorcycle manufacturing journey in 1955, together with Yamaha. Kawasaki joined them five years later in 1960.

On the other hand, Chinese motorcycle manufacturers entered the market years later. Tao, one of China’s best-known dirt bike manufacturers, started producing motorcycles in 1985. That’s 30 years after some of the most renowned Japanese brands.

The manufacturing standards

You may wonder why Japanese dirt bikes are better when many of their parts are manufactured in China, Vietnam, or Thailand. This is because of the manufacturing methods and practices that Japanese companies require. 

Namely, a Japanese manufacturer will make parts in China because hand labor is cheaper there. However, the quality of the materials and the manufacturing approach will still be of Japanese origin. 

This is the key. Chinese dirt bike manufacturers are almost always using lower-quality materials for their dirt bikes to keep costs low. The founder of Kayo dirt bikes, which we wrote about, said his main goes was to provide an affordable dirt bike.

While that’s a noble cause, it almost always leads to lower-quality materials, and overall, dirt bike.

Chinese manufacturers use their manufacturing approach, which is generally poorer than the Japanese, and use cheaper materials for their parts. This makes their finished products less durable and cheaper looking. 

Affordability is a positive for Chinese dirt bikes

Chinese dirt bikes are all bad. For example, Chinese dirt bikes are less expensive, which makes them an option for beginners and riders who want to go for an occasional ride on the trail. They even make decent bikes for kids to just ride around your backyard.

What we’ve seen is that the Chinese bikes may be cheaper to purchase, but what you consider how much money you have to spend in repairs, maintenance, and spare parts to replace broken parts, the Japanese dirt bikes actually end up being cheaper.

Plus, many Chinese bikes are very, very difficult to get replacement parts for. This can be extremely frustrating when you just want to ride.

In our opinion, if you race motocross competitively, there is absolutely no way you can consider a Chinese vs Japanese dirt bike.

Even if you ride motocross just for fun or spend time in the woods on the weekends with your friends, Chinese dirt bikes are not recommended.

We have owned multiple Chinese dirt bikes, and many more Japanese dirt bikes, and the Japanese bikes have always served us better. The Chinese bikes have left us stranded, injured, or frustrated due to it breaking it not running properly.

If you are simply looking for a bike to ride around leisurely in your backyard, or you’re looking to get your child their first dirt bike and you’re not sure if they’ll stick with it, you may be able to get by with a Chinese dirt bike. Even then, when it comes to Chinese vs Japanese dirt bikes, you’re likely better off buying something a bit more reputable and high-quality.

We’ve written about two popular Chinese brands, Kayo dirt bikes (read the reviews included in that article…), and XPro dirt bikes, and we’ve also written about a bunch of Japanese dirt bikes, such as the KLX110, KLX140, YZ 125, TTR 230, TTR 110, CRF80, CRF 110, CRF230F, CR 85, and more.

Read through a few of these different articles and you’ll start to understand the difference between Chinese vs Japanese dirt bikes even better.

Frequently Asked Questions About Chinese vs Japanese Dirt Bikes

Are Chinese Dirtbikes any good?

No, generally, Chinese Dirtbikes are not any good. You’re must better off choosing a Japanese (or Austrian) made dirt bike.

Are Chinese made bikes any good?

Overall, Chinese made dirt bikes aren’t any good. You would enjoy riding much more with a well-built, Japanese dirt bike.

Are Apollo dirt bikes Chinese?

Yes, Apollo dirt bikes are Chinese, and they are one of the most popular Chinese dirt bike brands.