who invented the dirt bike in white text on a red background with image of an old dirt bike

James Stewart

Who Invented The Dirt Bike?

I was watching the debut of World Supercross the other day and they talked about how motocross racing got its start in the countryside of England when people started racing their street motorcycles. Hearing them talk about that got me wondering, who invented the dirt bike? When was the first dirt bike made? When were dirt bikes invented?

I’m a curious person, so I dove into some research to find the answers. In this article, you will find the answers to who invented the dirt bike, when was the first dirt bike made, when were dirt bikes invented, and more.

Who Invented the Dirt Bike? 

The first dirt bike was invented in 1914 by Siegfried Bettmann.

Bettman went on to start what is known today as Triumph Motorcycles. He also received funding for his early business ventures from the company known today as Dunlop.

Bettmann was the first person who invented dirt bikes by customizing already existing motorcycles. However, he did this all in silence, and Honda made the motorcycles popular in 1950 by manufacturing and advertising them.

Before Bettmann’s invention, bikes were strictly reserved for what we know today as paved roads.

Headshot of Siegfried Bettmann who invented the dirt bike

The First Motorized Bikes 

Motorized bikes were first introduced to the world in France in 1860. The first one was attached to the steam engine of Guillaume Perreaux and Pierre Michaux’s bicycle. It was called Michaux-Perreaux steam velocipede. This “bike” was fueled by alcohol and had a single cylinder. 

Above the front wheel was a steam gauge that allowed the riders to regulate and engage the steam engine with a hand controller. The one big downside of the invention was that it had no brakes, making it hard (and dangerous) to ride.

To compete for the title of “First Motorcycle”, another individual came into the picture and invented the Roper steam velocipede. Named after its creator, this machine was created by Sylvester H. Roper in Boston, Massachusetts. The exact production date of this steam velocipede is unknown, but according to a study, it was around 1869. 

Daimler Reitwagen also entered the competition, the machine created by two German inventors, Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach (recognize the names Daimler and Maybach?). Inarguably the most advanced invention was powered by gasoline. 

Dirt Bike Era in the Early 1900s

Through the late 1800 and early 1900, people progressively developed a machine known as a motorcycle. What now became the dirt bike was previously modeled after Bettmann’s invention and was adopted for dirt roads, trails, and other rough terrains. 

The dirt bike Bettmann invented had a semi-automatic lubricator and dropped the frame for a lower riding position. These features give the bike a much wider range of ridable terrains but not enough. The machine was just too similar to what people previously had ridden on paved and main roads. 

Mid-20th Century Bikes 

Since Bettmann’s invention, there has been a blank in the history of dirt bikes, and no one knows for sure how the evolution expanded. The second beginning of the dirt bakes came somewhere between 1940 and 1960. In this time frame, the bikes became extremely popular due to Soichiro Honda. 

Truthfully, Honda is a brand that is truly responsible for the influence that dirt bikes had and still have on people’s lives. There are other popular companies, like Suzuki, Kawasaki, Yamaha, KTM, GasGas, etc. But we can confidently say that Honda created the first revolutionary dirt bikes. 


As we mentioned, Soichiro Honda played the largest and most important role in popularizing dirt bikes. This was in the 1950s when riding a motorcycle was not a mainstream activity and was only an experience in which the “bad boys” could participate. 

The goal of Honda was to convince people that everyone could feel the adrenaline, even folks with quiet desk jobs.

The dirt bikes were successfully accepted by society, and everyone was eager to try them on back roads, grass, or trails. The first real dirt bike from this brand had strong suspension, large tires, and better tread patterns; all the improvements increased the bike’s rideability on rough terrain.

Honda man who invented one of the first dirt bikes standing with a dirt bike


This company also had a rich history before dirt bikes appeared on the market. However, the brand worked on musical instruments and later on expanded the brand. Yamaha manufactured their first off-road dirt bike in the mid-1950s. 


The idea of dirt bikes struck Kawasaki after they had been in business for more than 60 years. What started as an aircraft manufacturing company after the end of WWII, the brand needed to give another goal to its engineers.

Introducing the dirt bike.

A crew of aircraft engineers created Kawasaki’s first motorcycle in the late 1940s.

Frequently Asked Questions About Who Invented The Dirt Bike

Where was dirt bikes invented?

The first dirt bike was invented in England/Brittain.

When did dirt bikes get invented?

Dirt bikes got invented in 1914.

Who invented the dirt bike?

The dirt bike was invented by Siegfried Bettmann.

Who invented Yamaha dirt bikes?

Yamaha had already been a successful manufacturer of many other products when it introduced its first dirt bike in the mid-1950s.

When were dirt bikes invented?

Dirt bikes were invented in 1914 by Siegfried Bettman in England/Brittain. Dirt bikes were later popularized by Honda in the 1950s.

What is the oldest dirt bike brand?

The oldest dirt bike brand is Maico, but an honorable mention includes Triumph Motorcycles. Of the main brands that are known today in America, Honda is the oldest.

What is the first brand of dirt bike?

The first dirt bike invented technically didn’t have a brand, but the inventor’s company later became Triumph Motorcycles. The first brand of dirt bike to become popular was Hondna.

What is dirt bike racing called?

There are many different types of dirt bike racing, but dirt bike racing can be called motocross, supercross, supermoto, and more.

Who invented the first dirt bike?

Siegfried Bettmann invented the first dirt bike in 1914.

When was the first dirt bike made?

The first dirt bike was made in 1914 by Siegfried Bettmann.