There are many differences between dirt or motocross bikes and road bikes. Two of the biggest differences we have already explored and that is the tires and the suspension, but there are still many other variations that need highlighting also.
Braking puts a great deal of strain on a bike’s suspension, and the most common factor is that the front suspension tends to get compressed when the brakes are applied. When riding on roads motorbikes tend to travel at high speeds so they tend to need powerful brakes, more so than lighter dirt bikes. But because of the incredible grip that road tires can give, it makes for an overall better braking force of the machine.
Dirt bikes are lighter machines and do not travel as fast and therefore tend to have smaller brakes, some dirt bikes only have a front disc brake. But many dirt bike riders prefer to use their rear brakes when off-road as they feel they have more control with their seating position. In a way the front wheel acts like a rudder steering the bike through mud and dirt, it would immediately become ineffective if the brakes were jammed on.
Perhaps the biggest difference between a dirt bike and road bike is the seating position. And this is because the way you ride a dirt bike is completely different. The correct position for a dirt bike is sitting upright with your feet directly below, and this is because you will find yourself standing up a lot for different weight balance.
Road bikes tend to point the rider into the wind and the legs are pushed behind, this is to give the rider better lean angles when steering into bends and the like. But if you ride such as bike for long periods of time they are very uncomfortable.
Cruiser bikes are a different animal, and although they are also road bikes the seating position is completely different to sports bikes. The rider sits back almost like an armchair and the legs are pushed slightly forward.
You will find that most road bikes do not have a very large turning space with the handlebars as they tend to bang into the sides of the petrol tank. This is because there is relatively little steering needed to get the bike to go in the direction you need. Corners are taken by leaning into them and by not steering excessively.
Dirt bikes have wider handlebars so they can slide and handle ruts, the wider handles give the rider more leverage and the wheel can be turned pretty much from side to side. It is common during riding off-road that the rider gets the bike crossed-up, and this is when the bike is sliding one way and the front wheel is pointed in the other direction.
There are other major differences between dirt bikes and road bikes that include, the gearing, weight of the respective machines, and electronics. When looking to buy a dirt bike perhaps start off with a low powered machine until you get used to how it handles differently to your road bike.