CRFs, YZs, and even KTMs and Huskys not getting you hot and bothered like they used to? Wish you could look at the world with a fresh set of eyes like when you were younger? It’s not Low-T or chronic depression you’re fighting, but a common condition known as boringbikeitis.
The only cure is a dose of what the rest of the world calls normal, dirt bikes rarely seen this side of the Atlantic that would kill the game if only we had the chance.
These are the Top 5 Dirt Bikes from the Rest of the World.
Our tour of the rest of the world begins in picture-perfect Italy, where wine flows like water and Ferraris roam free. Italy is the home of Fantic, a motorcycle company that’s been part of the enduro scene for 50 years now. They make a sexy 500 Scrambler that gives their neighbor Ducati a run for their money. But this is Dirt Legal, so we’re headed right for their dirt bikes – namely the Fantic 250 Casa, a factory street legal enduro.
And what a machine it is. Powered by a 249.6cc Piaggio-Zongshen four-stroke making 28 horsepower, the Casa sports an old-fashioned carburetor alongside modern water cooling and a 6-speed gearbox. Nearly 17 lb.-ft of torque propel the rider across nearly any terrain, and the superb 41mm forks and progressive link rear suspension are of Fantic’s own design. An 18”/21” wheel setup is standard.
Weighing just over 229 pounds, the Fantic 250 Casa would be an awesome supermoto to stand out in a sea of orange and blue at the local bike night. All you have to do is import one.
The French have done many things for motorsports. Renault, Peugeot, and Citroen are three of the most illustrious marques in history, known the world over for their flawless build quality and rugged reliability. You know what? Bugatti is technically French too. And in much the same way, so are Scorpa dirt bikes.
That’s because the beating heart of the popular Scorpa SY 250 trials bike is a liquid-cooled Yamaha two-stroke engine breathing through a good ol’ fashioned carburetor. There’s a Sachs monoshock out back and Paioli forks up front; at their base lies a four-piston caliper with a 182mm disc, and a two-piston 150mm brake setup at the rear rounds out the stopping power.
Trials riders will recognize this name even though it’s not a common brand in the United States. A smooth and torquey bike with great power delivery, the SY 250 is uber-nimble thanks to a super short turning radius courtesy of a steeper-than-most head tube angle. That quirk will become your greatest advantage in a few short hours.
The Spaniards know a thing or two about making a proper dirt bike. The first of two Spanish brands on our obscure dirt bike countdown is as European as they come, using mostly in-house parts along with engines from Minarelli across much of their lineup. But it’s the Yamaha-powered Marathon 125 Pro and Marathon 200 Pro models we love to see getting thrashed in stateside competitions.
The Rieju Marathon 200 is powered by a Keihin-carbureted 200cc 4-valve Yamaha mill with a 6-speed transmission. Its steel chassis features an easily detachable rear subframe. The Marathon stops courtesy of Galfer Wave rotors – 300mm front and 200mm rear – with a two-piston caliper riding at the base of 50mm inverted forks. Most other parts are designed in-house, leading to a total dry weight of around 267 pounds.
If you’re looking for European flair with a Japanese heart, follow the Spanish seashore north of Barcelona to the picturesque town of Figueres. Or maybe it’s easier to own a Rieju dirt bike by hopping online and having a Rieju delivered to your door. Whichever you prefer.
This Spanish company has been around for the better part of 100 years, and with over 75% of their bikes calling Europe home, Montesa is finally gaining some traction this side of the pond. A motorcycle brand with origins in classic hardtails and enduros, today’s Montesa is focused on trials bikes – and they’re technically Hondas.
Their most well-known model, the World Trials-winning Cota, has been rocking a Honda engine since the 1990s. But don’t let that fool you, the Montesa is a firm competitor to KTM, Beta, and other class-leading trials bikes of today. The modern Cota is offered in 260 and 300 variants, with the latter topping out just north of $10,000 USD. And damn, does it look good in black and red.
The Montesa Cota 300RR is powered by a 288cc four-stroke thumper mated to a 5-speed transmission, with 39mm forks and a Showa rear shock holding it up. With a curb weight of just 162 pounds, this Spaniard is much lighter than certain Austrian trials bikes on the market today. Not to point fingers or anything.
TM Racing Motorcycles was founded by two Italians whose sons were named Thomas and Mirko – hence, TM. Competitive racing was the goal, and as early as the late 1970s TM bikes were sitting atop podiums all across Europe. Production numbers rarely exceed 1300 bikes per year; that’s because family-owned TM believes in quality over quantity.
The street legal TM EN 450 enduro comes standard with Nissin brakes, a Brembo hydraulic clutch, Excel wheels, a full aluminum frame, and custom-made shocks and hubs which rival high-dollar aftermarket pieces. The fuel tank and airbox are reversed from where they’d usually be, giving the EN 450 a unique balance and center of gravity. That helps ensure this brawling 450 is nimble enough to tackle the technical stuff with ease.
The fine build quality and smooth power delivery of a TM make other US-market dirt bikes look like they skipped class in design school. With fewer than 200 TMs arriving in the US every year, TM dirt bikes are wielded by riders who have tasted those other brands and want a totally different flavor.
Not only do they have endless positive reviews, TM the only brand on our countdown that builds its own engines. That’s why TM is our pick for the Best Dirt Bike from the Rest of the World.
Did we miss your favorite obscure dirt bike? Let us know in the comments below!
And if you’re looking to make one of these beauties legal on American roads, give us a call at Dirt Legal. Better yet, have us call you: