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KIDS BIKE TEST | 2023 YAMAHA PW50 | Bike Reviews

When Jax first twisted the throttle on this Yamaha PW50 I could see a new level of joy and excitement. Here’s our Yamaha PW50 test by our resident three-year-old tester.

You’ll be pleased to know, not much has changed since the Yamaha PW50 was first built in 1980. Apparently, over 400,000 have been sold in over 150 countries in that time. In 1979 Yamaha built what was known as a YZ50G. It had nine-horsepower and a five-speed gearbox but the little ripper was too much bike for its size so they set about building a more toddler-friendly machine.

A year later the Yamaha PW50 was born and it didn’t have parents on the edge of their seat every tine Tommy went for a squirt. It was, and still is, a bike aimed at beginners, and not just beginner riders but beginner moto-parents too.

What makes the PW50 so unique is its size and simplicity. There are no other well-respected motorcycle brands making a dirtbike like the PW50, everything else is bigger and more complex. You can adjust the bike’s power with a throttle limiting screw and the shaft drive is durable and chainless while the two-stroke engine has oil injection, so parents new to the sport don’t have to do the math on premix go-juice. With a seat height of 475mm and a wet weight of 41kg, the PW50 is not much bigger than a balance bike meaning kids can get their feet on the ground easily.

In over four decades of production, the PW50 is still manufactured from the same moulds, and outside of colours and a few bodywork adjustments, only the suspension has changed. The fuel cell and mudguards got slimmer in the mid-1980s and in 1997 the front and rear suspension switched from grease to oil-dampened. 20 years after that, the forks got bigger inner tubes and aluminium outer tubes while the rear suspension got a bigger cylinder rod. The colour is about the only other thing that has changed over the years with blue, yellow and white varieties.


You’ve probably forgotten how the PW50 performs. Chances are, it was too many decades ago. Don’t worry our 3.5-year-old has you covered. In his words, everything is “Good”. What do they say about working with kids and animals?!

Fortunately for you, Jax is my son and that means I can probe a little deeper and read between the lines with his feedback. The air-cooled, 49cc, two-stroke motor is a docile little thing. As discussed you can adjust how far the throttle can be pulled via a screw in the throttle housing. Jax is pretty confident on a 12-inch, electric balance bike so we had the screw almost all the way out (which is only about 50 per cent power).

When Jax opened the throttle it wasn’t jerky and it actually started to rev up before moving making taking off a smooth transition. It’s kickstart-only but there are no gears so there’s less to worry about. The power lacked a little torque. With the throttle screw in too far he didn’t have the power to get up, and roll over, some jump faces. Jax wasn’t confident approaching them at speed and using momentum so when he came in slowly, he couldn’t just open the throttle at the last minute to crawl up.

If I adjusted the throttle limiter screw out more he could get up the jump faces but then the top-speed was too fast for my liking. Essentially I was after a little more torque with less top-speed. After a few rides, I left the throttle limiter screw almost out and Jax had learned to roll off the throttle when I thought he was going too fast. It’s also quiet, we rode it in a suburban backyard without pissing off the neighbours. Thankfully, a two-stroke leaf blower makes more noise!

The motor isn’t the only thing on this bike that’s unique. The size is perfect for a three-to-six-year-old. Jax could get one foot down and hold the bike up no problem to go through gates and when he crashed he could pick it up on his own.

It has 95mm of ground clearance which is plenty and the overall size was in proportion for Jax. The size of this bike is its biggest asset, the 50cc four-stroke bikes are bigger and heavier, making them harder for a 3.5-year-old to ride and more intimidating.

Hopping off a plethora of electric balance bikes, Jax was pumped on having suspension. He was able to attack rocks and bumps with more confidence knowing the little fork and shock would absorb it. That being said, the shock only has 50mm of travel and because Jax is a little small to be riding a PW50 he ended up getting bucked hard and being spat over the ‘bars one time. The shock unloaded after hitting a bump when he was pinned in a paddock and he had a big crash. A softer spring with slower rebound would be better.


Jax absolutely loved living with the Yamaha PW50 for a few months. If I wasn’t such a tight-arse journo, at $2549, I would have bought him one because they’re excellent value for money. They’re low on maintenance thanks to the shaft drive, drum brakes and two-stroke motor and the size is perfect for someone Jaxon’s age. The motor was incredibly easy for Jax to use and not having to worry about gears or a clutch meant he could focus on throttle application, brakes and balance.

Electric dirtbikes are already here and it seems kids bikes are the models manufacturers are targeting. But there’s something about the smell of two-stroke and the sound it makes when you open the throttle that I think all kids should get the chance to taste!

2023 YAMAHA PW50

Engine Type             Air-cooled, two-stroke, reed-valve

Displacement            49.0cc

Bore x Stroke            40.0m x 39.2mm

Compression Ratio 6.0 : 1

Lubrication System Autolube

Starter System         Kick

Fuel Tank Capacity Two-litres

Final Transmission Shaft

Transmission            Automatic

Frame Type              Steel tube backbone

Suspension Front    Telescopic forks, 60mm travel

Suspension Rear     Unit swing, 50mm travel

Brakes Front             Drum

Brakes Rear              Drum

Tyres Front               10-inch Tube type

Tyres Rear                10-inch Tube type

Seat Height               475mm

Wheelbase                855mm

Ground Clearance   95mm

Wet Weight               41kg

RRP $2549

Warranty None