Globally, off-road motorcycles are primarily classified into nine categories. Among them are five classes of racing bikes not allowed on public roads, and four classes of models that we can legally purchase. Let’s dive into each of them.

1. Motocross: Off-road Racing

Motocross, an off-road racing competition, has been a part of motorcycle history since its inception. The first type of off-road motorcycle we’ll discuss is characterized by a large front wheel and a smaller rear wheel. In practice, these bikes are streamlined and lightweight. Take, for example, the CRF450R, a top-tier model with a race-oriented engine that lacks an electric starter. These bikes are designed for high-flying action, with a weight of around 100 kilograms.

2. Enduro: Trail Off-road Racing

In Enduro racing, there are lights and electronic controls suitable for long-distance off-road tracks. These bikes come with top-of-the-line suspension and race-oriented engines. Like Motocross bikes, they are not street-legal and excel in off-road capabilities. It’s worth noting that the term “trail” refers to roads resembling primitive forests with dense trees and abundant flora. The bikes used in these environments are called Enduro bikes, weighing slightly more at around 130 kilograms. While there are off-road civilian bikes with a trail-style design, there is a clear distinction between them and dedicated Enduro racing bikes.

3. Dualsport: Street-Legal Off-road Bike

This type of motorcycle is what we commonly see on the roads as “dual-sport bikes.” The Wuyang Honda DS series is also derived from this category. Street-legal off-road bikes can generally be registered for on-road use, equipped with all civilian features, dual-purpose tires, civilian engines, back-pressure mufflers, and offer long-distance comfort with a wide range of suspension configurations. It’s important to note that street-legal off-road bikes have significantly different engines and off-road capabilities compared to the two racing motorcycles mentioned earlier. However, they are not entirely without merit; the lifespan of civilian engines is often much longer than that of racing engines. If you want to ride an off-road bike on the road, this is the most straightforward option. The weight of these bikes is often around 160 kilograms.

4. Trials: Slow-Speed Obstacle Skill Bike

Trials motorcycles are designed for slow-speed technical competitions with no seat, a single-cylinder engine, and a torque-oriented engine. These bikes allow riders to perform intricate maneuvers. Due to the limited popularity of this type of competition in China, there are fewer models available. However, their distinctive features make them easily recognizable. Trials bikes cannot be registered for on-road use, and they are exceptionally lightweight.

5. SUPERMOTO: Supermoto Bike

The name “SUPERMOTO” comes from a type of race track that is 70% pavement and 30% unpaved surfaces. These bikes share a similar frame with off-road motorcycles but are equipped with 17-inch road tires and larger brake discs. However, it’s important to note that not all bikes with 17-inch wheels, such as the KTM Duke 390, are classified as supermoto bikes. The SMCR version of the KTM 690, for example, falls into the supermoto category. Supermoto bikes are not solely designed for racing; many models are available for civilian use due to their practicality.

6. Scrambler: Vintage/Off-road Style Bike

Originally, before the advent of dedicated off-road motorcycles, riders used street bikes modified to have some off-road capabilities. These bikes typically featured high-mounted exhausts but had limited actual off-road performance. In modern times, the term “Scrambler” has evolved into a stylized bike rather than a heavy-duty climbing vehicle. These bikes can be registered for on-road use.

7. Flat Tracker: Sand Racing Bike

This type of motorcycle evolved from racing events held in the United States on oval tracks made of sand and gravel. Corresponding to these racing events, Flat Tracker motorcycles are characterized by short-travel suspension, the absence of front brakes, and high-speed capabilities with tires designed for specific sandy conditions. These bikes cannot be registered for on-road use. Due to the rarity of such racing events in many regions, these motorcycles are not commonly seen.

8. Adventure: All-Purpose Adventure Bike

A popular type of motorcycle in China, the Adventure bike is designed for highway use with a durable engine, comfort features, and a windscreen. It features a longer suspension travel and a larger size, making it a roadworthy motorcycle with off-road capabilities, albeit with significant weight. While it can handle off-road trails, it might be tiring for extended off-road use. These bikes are well-suited for China’s rural roads and unpaved surfaces, making them practical for various terrains. The Adventure bike category has gained popularity in recent years, with many manufacturers producing models inspired by the success of BMW’s GS series, which was developed in the 1990s. These motorcycles inherit off-road genes but are more focused on on-road performance, serving as a distinct category from versatile street bikes. For example, the Benelli TRE 1130K Amazon, with its spoke wheels and off-road-tuned suspension, falls into the Adventure category, distinguishing it from the more street-focused TRE 1130K TnT with cast wheels, despite sharing the same frame and engine.

Rally: Long-Distance Off-Road Rally Racing Bike

Derived from rally racing, the Rally bike is designed for long-distance off-road rally events where riders must cover several thousand kilometers over consecutive days. These races often take place in remote and inhospitable wilderness areas with challenging terrains. Therefore, Rally bikes, besides having top-notch features, require exceptional durability to withstand the harsh conditions. The cost of manufacturing these bikes is extremely high, and they are typically not practical for regular motorcycle enthusiasts. However, recent releases like the Kayo KTM 450 Rally and the Lifan 300GY Rally demonstrate a growing interest in bringing rally-inspired models to a broader market.