Thinking about getting your kid their first dirt bike? If so, the Yamaha PW80 should be at the top of your list. The PW80 has been one of the best-selling starter motorcycles for over 30 years.
In this in-depth PW80 review, we’ll cover everything you need to know about this legendary kids’ dirt bike:
- PW80 engine, power and transmission
- Key specs and dimensions
- Handling, suspension, brakes
- New 2024 color options
- Pros and cons of the PW80
- 2024 pricing and resale value
- Expert reviews and owner impressions
- Common problems and fixes
- Top PW80 alternatives
After reading, you’ll know if the PW80 is the right choice as your child’s first dirt bike.
Table of Contents
Yamaha PW80 Specs
|79cc air-cooled 2-stroke single cylinder
|Bore x Stroke
|47mm x 45.6mm
|5 hp @ 5,500 RPM
|4.3 ft-lbs @ 4,500 RPM
|Mikuni VM12 carburetor
|Automatic centrifugal clutch
|5.0 inches travel
|4.1 inches travel
|30 Day Limited Warranty
Please note that these specifications might vary slightly depending on the exact model year of the Yamaha PW80.
Is The Yamaha PW80 A Good Starter Dirt Bike?
The Yamaha PW80 excels as a starter motorcycle for most kids ages 6-11. With its smooth, linear power delivery, ultra-low seat height and bulletproof reliability, the PW80 is ideal for young riders taking their first laps around the dirt.
The PW80’s smaller size and automatic clutch help new riders focus on improving their skills without getting overwhelmed. Once they master the PW80, they’ll have the experience and confidence to move up to a more powerful bike.
For three decades, parents have trusted the PW80 to safely introduce their kids to the exciting world of off-road riding. Of all the kids’ dirt bikes on the market, the Yamaha PW80 stands out as the gold standard.
Yamaha PW80 Engine And Transmission
At the heart of the PW80 lies its simple but proven 79cc 2-stroke engine. The air-cooled, single-cylinder motor provides smooth, linear power that’s easy for young riders to manage.
PW80 Engine Power And Torque
- Engine: 79cc 2-stroke, single cylinder
- Maximum Horsepower: 5 hp
- Maximum Torque: 4.3 ft-lbs
- Bore and Stroke: 47 mm x 45.6 mm
- Compression Ratio: 6.6 :1
- Carburetor: Mikuni VM12
With around 5 horsepower, the PW80 has just enough grunt for new riders to have fun without getting into trouble. The engine delivers its power in a very controllable way. Strong torque off the bottom gives it great drive out of corners.
The PW80 comes equipped with a 3-speed semi-automatic transmission that’s matched to an automatic clutch. Shifting through the gears is easy for small hands. And the auto clutch prevents stalls while teaching kids to develop clutch control.
- Transmission: 3-speed semi-automatic
- Clutch: Automatic centrifugal clutch
- Final Drive: Chain
Between the smooth motor and forgiving auto clutch, the PW80 transmission makes it simple for beginners to find their riding groove.
Yamaha PW80 Top Speed And Acceleration
While not designed as a racer, the PW80 provides decent acceleration for a play bike. Here are some key performance specs:
- Top Speed: 45 mph
- 0-30 MPH: 7 seconds
- 40-0 Braking Distance: 25 feet
The PW80 can hit speeds up to 45 mph when ridden flat out. But for most kids, it will cruise comfortably between 20-35 mph. Speeds in this range are ideal for learning proper throttle control.
Accelerating from 0 to 30 mph takes about 7 seconds. The low-end torque gives it solid drive off the line. Braking performance from the drum brakes is adequate for beginners.
Altogether, the PW80 has enough speed capability to keep up with mom or dad riding their own dirt bike. Yet it’s slow enough to be a safe kids’ bike.
Yamaha PW80 Dimensions, Weight And Capacity
A major reason the PW80 works so well for young riders is its unintimidating size and ergonomics. Here are the key specs:
- Seat height: 635mm (25 inches)
- Dry weight: 70 kg (154 lbs)
- Curb weight: 163 lbs
- Wheelbase: 41.7 inches
- Ground clearance: 7.1 inches
- Fuel tank capacity: 6.3L
With one of the lowest seat heights in the mini dirt bike class at just 25 inches, the PW80 fits most kids ages 6-10 very well. They can comfortably reach the ground and build confidence.
Weighing under 165 lbs fully fueled, the PW80 is reasonably light for a 6-11 year old to handle. The compact wheelbase enhances slow speed maneuverability.
6.3L of fuel capacity allows for lengthy trail rides before needing to refuel. Altogether, the PW80’s unintimidating size makes it less scary for mini riders.
Yamaha PW80 Suspension, Tires And Brakes
While not loaded with high-performance components, the PW80’s suspension, tires and brakes are appropriate for beginners:
- Front suspension: 5.0 inches travel
- Rear suspension: 4.1 inches travel
- Front tire: 2.50-10
- Rear tire: 2.50-10
The suspension provides a compliant, confidence-inspiring ride for youngsters still learning how to control the bike over various off-road conditions.
- Front brake: Drum
- Rear brake: Drum
The drum brakes deliver adequate stopping power for a child’s first dirt bike. They’re easy to modulate compared to more aggressive disc brakes.
New Yamaha PW80 Color Options For 2023
One of the PW80’s enduring qualities over the decades has been its durable, quality construction.
For 2023, Yamaha kept changes minimal, offering the PW80 in two color choices:
- Team Yamaha Blue
The classic Team Yamaha Blue pays homage to Yamaha’s racing heritage. Simple white gives the bike a clean, modern look.
Regardless of color, the PW80 retains Yamaha’s renowned build quality and ultra-reliable engine.
Weighing The Yamaha PW80’S Pros And Cons
In keeping with our balanced PW80 review, here’s an overview of the model’s pros and cons:
Yamaha PW80 Pros
- Proven reliability and durability
- Smooth, linear power delivery
- Low seat height fits most kids
- Lightweight and easy handling
- 3-speed semi-automatic transmission with auto clutch prevents stalls
- Holds value very well
- Inexpensive to maintain
- Huge aftermarket parts selection
Yamaha PW80 Cons
- 2-stroke engine with Yamaha Autolube system (no need for mixing oil and gas)
- Tall or heavy kids will eventually outgrow it
- No electric start
- Drum brakes less powerful than discs
- Too small for average kids over age 11
- No suspension adjustments
While not perfect, the PW80 still rates very highly when you consider how well it achieves its intended purpose. For decades, parents worldwide have trusted the PW80 to safely teach their kids to ride dirt bikes.
2023 Yamaha PW80 MSRP And Resale Value
Given the PW80’s reputation for quality, it’s no surprise that it holds value well on the used market. Here are some average price figures:
- New 2023 PW80 MSRP: $1,799
- Used PW80 Price: $900 – $1,200
- Resale Value: 50-60% of new MSRP
Not many kids’ toys retain their value as well as the PW80. Let your child learn and grow on it, then sell it for a good chunk of what you paid. It holds value because used PW80s are in constant demand.
Many families buy a used PW80 for their younger child after the older sibling has progressed to a larger motorcycle. The cycle continues as one generation of new riders after another learns on the trusty PW80.
Yamaha PW80 Expert Reviews And Owner Impressions
The PW80 has earned outstanding reviews over its long production run. Experts consistently praise its reliability, easy ergonomics for kids, and smooth power delivery.
Expert Review From DirtRider
“The Yamaha PW80’s small size, smooth powerband, and trick new technology make it the perfect choice as a first dirt bike.”
Expert Review From Motorcycle.Com
“The pure ease of use and quality construction of the PW80 make it the de facto kids’ bike against which all others are measured.”
In addition to expert testers, the PW80 has earned legions of devoted fans among parents. Here’s what some owners have to say:
“My son went from struggling on a 50cc dirt bike to immediately feeling comfortable on the PW80. Now he zips around the yard and can’t wait for our trail rides.” – John S.
“We bought a used PW80 for our daughter’s 6th birthday. She loves it and it’s the perfect size for her small stature. Yamaha really knows how to build a great kids bike.” – Jennifer T.
“I learned to ride dirt bikes on a PW80 when I was kid. Now 30 years later, my son is learning on the same bike. We fixed it up and it runs like new. The thing is bulletproof.” – Mike D.
Excited kids and smiling parents speak to the PW80’s enduring qualities. It’s still one of the best ways for young riders to start developing real motorcycle skills.
Common Yamaha PW80 Problems And How To Fix Them
While the PW80 is well-known for its reliability, it can still develop some issues after years of use:
Engine bogging or losing power
- Clogged carburetor: Clean the carburetor jets and passages
- Exhaust leak: Replace leaking gasket
- Fouled spark plug: Install new properly gapped plug
Hard to start
- Weak spark: Test coil output, replace if low
- Low compression: Worn piston rings likely, rebuild top end
- Blocked fuel lines: Clean fuel petcock, lines and filter
- Air filter clogged: Clean filter, inspect regularly
- Fan failure: Test fan operation, replace if not working
- Exhaust packed with carbon: Clean exhaust port and silencer
- Worn crank seals: Replace crankshaft seals
- Damaged gaskets: Replace leaking gasket
- Overfilled oil: Adjust to proper level
- Loose stem bearings: Adjust steering stem nut
- Damaged frame: inspect frame carefully for cracks
- Worn swingarm bearings: Replace bearings
While more complex engine rebuilds may require a shop, many common PW80 issues can be fixed with basic tools and mechanical skills. The online PW80 community is also very helpful for troubleshooting problems.
Best Yamaha PW80 Aftermarket Upgrades
One advantage of the PW80’s vast popularity is the huge range of aftermarket parts and accessories available. Here are some of the most useful PW80 performance upgrades:
- Big Bore Kit: Increase displacement to 100cc for added power
- Exhaust Pipe: Aftermarket pipe boosts power and reduces weight
- Carburetor: Larger carb improves throttle response
- Suspension: Lower and stiffen suspension for faster kids
- Tires: Stickier tires provide better grip
- Handlebars: Taller bars for better control
- Levers and Grips: Customizable for smaller hands
- Engine Guards: Protect engine case in a crash
- Skid Plate: Prevents rock damage to frame
While a stock PW80 is great for beginners, these upgrades allow skilled kids to keep stretching their abilities. The abundant mods ensure the bike can grow with your child.
Good Yamaha PW80 Alternatives To Consider
The PW80 isn’t the only quality starter dirt bike on the market. Here are a few other models that are also great for kids learning to ride:
- Air-cooled 4-stroke engine
- Electric start
- Larger than PW80
- Heavier at 181 lbs
- Taller seat height
- 4-stroke engine with electric start
- Larger 14″/12″ wheels
- Inverted fork
- Fits kids size 7-10 years
- More expensive
- 2-stroke engine
- Budget-friendly price
- Similar size and power
- Less refined than PW80
- Harder to find parts
KTM 50 SX Mini:
- Advanced 2-stroke engine
- Lightweight at 106 lbs
- No stall-preventing clutch
- More expensive
While other models have their pros, none match the PW80’s proven mix of beginner-friendly size, smooth power, and bulletproof reliability. The PW80 remains tough to beat as a starter bike.
Should You Buy A Yamaha PW80 For Your Child?
If you want to get your 6-11 year old started in dirt biking, few choices rival the legendary Yamaha PW80. Generations of parents worldwide have trusted the PW80 to safely teach their kids to ride.
The PW80 gets all the basics right for beginners. Its small size, smooth powerband, and 3-speed semi-automatic gearbox instill confidence in new riders. The bike is well-constructed to take abuse from inevitable drops. And the huge selection of aftermarket mods allow it to grow with your child.
Of course, the PW80 isn’t a good fit for every kid. Larger or more aggressive kids may benefit from a more powerful 110cc-125cc 4-stroke bike. But for average-sized 6-11 year olds of all abilities, the PW80 has proven itself time and again.
Yamaha has wisely chosen to keep changes minimal through the decades. Why mess with success? The 2023 PW80 carries on the legacy as one of the finest kids’ dirt bikes ever produced.
Few motorcycles can match the Yamaha PW80’s enduring reputation. For over 30 years, it’s been trusted to safely teach kids the riding skills and confidence they need to progress in motocross.
The PW80 continues to shine for new riders thanks to its unintimidating size, smooth linear power, and bulletproof reliability. Add the 3-speed semi-automatic gearbox and ultra-low seat, and the PW80 is the perfect package for most kids tackling their first dirt bike.
Given its proven track record, stellar resale value, and huge aftermarket support, the PW80 is a wise investment in your child’s riding journey. Of course, they will eventually move on to a more powerful bike. But the skills mastered on the PW80 will stay with them for a lifetime of motorcycle enjoyment. Few bikes can match that legacy.