Best and Most Expensive Dirt Bikes
You gotta pay to play when it comes to riding the best dirt bikes out there. From exotic Italian motorcycles to top-performing and up-spec 450cc motocross and a powerful electric motorcycle there’s a off-road shredder for anyone who’s willing to cough up the cash.
This editorial is complete with insights from our sister brand Dirt Rider’s in-depth reviews and comments from Off-Road Editor Andrew Oldar. After the research and deliberating was done this is the list of the seven best and most expensive dirt bikes we’ve put together.
Beta 480 RR Race Edition: $11,299
The 480 RR Race Edition not only looks awesome with the striking red and blue bodywork/graphics, but it has a big-bore engine, great suspension, and on-demand traction control tech. At $11,299, it’s the most expensive off-road Race Edition Beta offers.
Dirt Rider’s Andrew Oldar commented, “Beta’s top-of-the-line four-stroke off-road model is the 480 RR Race Edition, which features high-quality suspension components in the form of a KYB Air-Oil Separate (AOS) 48mm closed-cartridge coil-spring fork and KYB shock. This big-bore thumper is an ideal choice for Beta riders competing in high-speed off-road racing series such as the AMA National Grand Prix Championship (NGPC) and AMA Hare & Hound National Championship.”
The engine is a 477cc liquid-cooled four-stroke that has, as Dirt Rider said in its coverage on Joe Wasson’s Beta 480 RR Race Edition, “good grunt, and with the six-speed gearbox it’s got plenty of top speed for hare & hounds.”
“Our Race Edition models are designed for the serious racer as well as the casual rider who is looking for a more aggressive bike. The rideability ethos of Beta Motorcycles is definitely evident in the 480 RR Race Edition,” Beta’s Marketing Manager Bryan Wunsch said. “Not only does the bike feature a very smooth four-stroke power delivery, but it also has an extremely light feel which allows for effortless maneuverability. An exciting addition to the 2023 Race Edition is the introduction of the KYB rear shock to match the KYB front forks. The 480 RR Race Edition has been the platform for several AMA championships won by our factory race team over the years which further illustrates the capabilities of this machine.”
The KYB suspension Wunsch is referring to is adjustable for compression and rebound up front and spring preload, low/high-speed compression damping, and rebound damping out back.
A quick-release front axle lever helps ease the chore of front tire swaps (plus it adds a little pizazz to the front end with its red anodized finish).
Honda CRF450RWE: $12,399
If you want the most tricked-out motocrosser from Honda, then the 2023 CRF450RWE is what you’re looking for.
Per Honda’s press release, the 2023 CRF450RWE “features an extensive list of premium upgrades inspired by the factory Team Honda HRC machines of Ken Roczen [Author’s note: who at the time the press release was published was riding for Honda] and Chase Sexton, including a stainless steel Yoshimura exhaust, hand-polished cylinder ports, Hinson clutch basket and cover, Throttle Jockey seat cover and graphics, D.I.D DirtStar LT-X rims and DM2 gold chain, coated fork tubes, fork legs and 18mm shock shaft, gray metallic triple clamps, Renthal Kevlar grips and dedicated ignition mapping.”
In addition to all that, the RWE also has a potent powerplant with its 450cc liquid-cooled four-stroke engine. Our dyno recorded the power figures of the 2021 CRF450RWE as 56.7 hp at 9,600 rpm and 34.8 lb.-ft. at 7,100 rpm, which is more powerful than the CRF450R from which it’s based and the current crop of standard 450 motocross bikes for that matter.
To absorb any harshness, the Honda uses a 49mm fully adjustable Showa fork and fully adjustable shock. The fork tubes have a Kashima coating (to “enhance the Works Edition aesthetic”) and the fork legs have a titanium-nitride coating (to “minimize stiction and improve ride quality,” says Honda).
“The CRF450RWE is the closest you can get to a Formula 1–level machine,” DR test rider Allan Brown said in his 2021 review. “The standard 2021 CRF450R is good, but it needs a few tweaks to elevate it closer to the top of the class. The CRF450RWE certainly runs better than the CRF450R. The engine’s new ECU mapping makes the bike smoother and more predictable through corners, the improved suspension is more responsive and more in sync with the chassis, and the combination gives riders something to really smile about. It cuts in and out of corners like a switchblade.”
Kawasaki KX450SR: $12,699
Seeing as it has won a number of Dirt Rider’s 450 Motocross comparisons, the KX450 is a top performer from Kawasaki, but Team Green takes its stock flagship a step further with the “Special Racer” edition, the KX450SR. Kawasaki says in its press release that the KX450SR “features elite-level racing components, special tuning and design elements inspired by the Monster Energy Kawasaki race team to further elevate its performance and factory racer looks.”
The 449cc liquid-cooled four-stroke engine of the SR is claimed to have increased performance from the standard KX450 (the latter produces 51.9 hp at 9,400 rpm and 32.6 lb.-ft. at 6,600 rpm on our dyno) due to engine and ECU upgrades as well as a Pro Circuit Ti-6 full titanium exhaust system. Benefiting from its more powerful, yet manageable engine, the SR has the “fastest and easiest to ride powerplant I have ever had the pleasure of testing,” Dirt Rider’s test rider Casey Casper said. The new Showa suspension and aluminum chassis combined with the Xtrig ROCS triple clamps are well paired with the punchier power too.
Related: 2023 Kawasaki KX450SR First Look Preview
With the Ergo-Fit components, ergonomics of the SR can be adjusted to a variety of rider dimensions. The Renthal handlebar can be set to one of 12 positions and the footpeg height can be adjusted by 5mm with the two footpeg bracket positions available.
“The KX450SR is a bike that is 98 percent of the way to perfection. Where the stock KX450 may be considered a 90 percent package,” Casper concluded. “The KX450SR is valuable for those looking into the best that Kawasaki has to offer.”
KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition: $12,099
Want the KTM 450 SX-F on steroids? Take a gander at the KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition. Like the Honda and Kawasaki, the factory-edition model is the crème de la crème from the manufacturer. It’s fully loaded with features that the base SX-F doesn’t have.
“The 2023 KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition is a fully optimized and race-ready sculpture of the current KTM 450 SX-F that created a fresh standard in the industry for handling, power, engineering, and competitiveness upon its presentation during the summer of 2022,” KTM said in its press release.
“The 2023 KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition is the chance to get as close as possible to Red Bull KTM Factory Racing equipment, prestige, and race-winning potential,” KTM’s product marketing and group media manager Tom Moen added. “The latest limited edition is forming the base of the factory machines Cooper Webb and Aaron Plessinger will contest the 450SX season on. Others riding and racing this incredible machine might not reach the speed or fly as high as Webb or Plessinger, but they can look the part and enjoy the right performance specs to nudge them nearer to the dream.”
Dirt Rider didn’t let this tricked-out machine pass ‘em by. The gang tested and dyno’d this machine. Some of DR test rider Casey Casper’s overall impressions highlight the 450 SX-F Factory Edition’s phenomenal engine, top-notch tech, and amazing looks, adding, “This is one extremely usable 450cc motocrosser.”
The engine has a displacement of 450cc with an oversquare bore and stroke (95mm x 63.4mm), and produces 54.4 hp at 9,400 rpm and 34.3 lb.-ft. of torque at 7,200 rpm on our dyno. An Akrapovič exhaust comes standard to belt out the four-stroke song. KTM claims that the engine weighs 59 pounds (that’s 26 percent of the claimed 228-pound dry weight).
Orange factory triple clamps hold the 48mm WP Xact USD fork to the orange chromoly steel frame, and a linkage-type WP Xact shock serves bump absorption duties on the back end. Travel is 12.2 inches and 11.8 inches, respectively.
At $12,099, the Factory Edition is $1,200 more than the base 450 SX-F ($10,899).
Stark Varg: $13,900
Electric motorcycles and electric bikes are increasingly gaining traction in the motorcycle market, so it should come as no surprise that a bike like the Stark Varg is making its way onto lists like this. Stark Future founder and CEO Anton Wass said, “We aimed to challenge and inspire the motorcycle industry with the creation of the Stark Varg and by bringing our electric technology from the drawing board to reality.”
So what are the pros of the Stark Varg? First, there’s the sustainable, no emissions/no noise aspect that’s coupled with power that rockets the electric dirt bike around the track. The 360V carbon fiber sleeve engine has a claimed 80 hp (!) and 938 Nm (an insane triple-digit figure of about 691 lb.-ft.) of torque on tap. Power delivery can be tuned with the 100 ride modes available on the Android Stark dash, so this bike can copy the power of anything from a 125cc two-stroke to 450cc motocross bikes or 650cc dual sports. According to Stark, the bike has the battery capacity to provide up to six hours of trail riding or a full moto at MXGP intensity from one charge and recharging takes one to two hours (depending on charger and outlet).
The Stark Varg competes well with the well-established internal combustion dirt bikes as noted during the Strong but Silent: Stark Varg Electric MX Bike Review article.
There’s no hiding the fact that the Stark Varg is pricey. MSRP for the 80 hp version is $13,900, but there is also a standard 60 hp version that comes in at $1,000 less. Our Stark Varg Electric Motocross Motorcycle First Look Preview is a worthy resource for more information.
TM EN 300 Fi 4T: $12,745
The TM EN 300 Fi 4T is a rare and exotic enduro that’s the most expensive dirt bike from Italy-based TM Racing.
“Riders wanting to stand out from the crowd in terms of bike manufacturer and four-stroke engine displacement should look no further than the TM MX 300 Fi ES 4T,” DR’s Oldar said.
Its fuel-injected 299cc four-stroke engine is unique because it slides in under the popular 350cc displacement. According to findings from past Dirt Rider coverage, this was because the manufacturer found that during its testing the smaller engine size worked best. The model’s engine received a few updates in 2023, the first being that the kickstarter has been removed which helped reduce weight by 2.2 pounds (it’s now a claimed 233.6 pounds without fuel). The engine mapping has also been updated and exhaust noise has been toned down with a new quieter dual “Racing” exhaust.
The orientation of the airbox and fuel tank is also unique. You may notice there’s a gas cap above the right-side number plate. That’s because the fuel tank and airbox have swapped positions compared to traditional four-stroke designs (and motorcycle designs in general) that have the airbox under the seat and the tank between the knees.
The engine has “a lot of character, and it lets you know it isn’t a Japanese or Austrian machine. The throttle response is very good, but it is a slower-revving motor,” Dirt Rider wrote in a 2017 test of the EN 300 Fi. “For a slower-revving bike, its top-end is awesome and it just keeps pulling.”
In regard to chassis/handling, the EN uses a self-tempering aluminum deltabox-type single beam frame with a KYB 48mm coil-spring fork and TM Racing shock. The 2017 review stated, “The bike is balanced and, perhaps because the rear gas tank keeps that fuel weight lower, it can carve a tight line through the trees and be stable at a decent clip.”
“The TM 300Fi EN four-stroke is probably as close as you can get to a real factory bike.
Developed by world champion Enduro riders and winning the world championship multiple times, the 300cc dominated that class for years,” TM said. “Compare the retail price to the factory editions of the competition and you will see it’s cheaper!”
The MSRP is $12,745 for this Italian enduro.
Yamaha YZ450F Monster Energy Yamaha Racing Edition: $10,099
Yamaha’s YZ450F Monster Energy Yamaha Racing Edition, which only differs from the standard model in price and plastics/graphics, is also an MVP in the dirt bike realm. In fact, it was crowned the 2023 victor of the Dirt Rider 450 Motocross Bike Comparison Test because it “boasts the most powerful engine, top-notch suspension, a nimble chassis, 5-pound weight loss, and mostly agreeable ergonomics. Plus, its updated Power Tuner app continues to be the benchmark of dirt bike EFI tunability.”
More on the engine: It’s a 450cc liquid-cooled four-stroke with a dual-overhead camshaft working four titanium valves. This mill sends an impressive 54.4 hp at 9,500 rpm and 32.7 lb.-ft. of torque at 7,200 rpm to its Dunlop Geomax MX33-shod rear wheel, which means it’s the most powerful when compared to other 450 flagships that were run on our dyno like the GasGas MC 450F, Husqvarna FC 450, Kawasaki KX450, KTM 450 SX-F, and Honda CRF450R. According to the DR test, the YZ has the strongest low-end power in its class, making it the easiest to ride a gear high.
More on the chassis and suspension: The YZ450F has a new aluminum bilateral beam frame that Yamaha says strikes a balance of cornering performance and handling stability. Dirt Rider said that the 2023 bike’s 5-pound weight reduction (to the measured 242-pound wet weight) makes it “more maneuverable than ever and corners with less rider input.” High-spec and fully adjustable KYB Speed Sensitive System 48mm coil spring fork and fully adjustable KYB shock are the best components around because “the harder you ride, the better it works,” DR added.
The YZ’s updated ergonomics also gained praise from our sister brand’s test riders, who said these are much improved in 2023. Yamaha says the current YZ has a new slimmer, flatter, more compact body, seamless, rounded features, and increased legroom and revised handlebar position.
The Yamaha YZ450F Monster Energy Yamaha Racing Edition is not the most expensive in this grouping (and is priced lower than others not listed), but it is the most expensive in Yamaha’s motocross lineup at $10,099. The standard YZ450F in Team Yamaha Blue has a lower MSRP of $9,899.