Before starting out in any sport, learning the basics and the rules is a must-do. In dirt bike riding, first, you have to pass the instructions, the essential things you need to ride your dirt bike properly. It’s sort of like when you first start riding a bike, but more enhanced in some ways.
You need to familiarize yourself with the dirt bike, see how fast can it go, how fuel-efficient it is, are the brakes strong enough, and so on. Once you familiarize yourself with these parts, you can start practicing the basics which I am going to mention in this article below.
No matter how small some things might be, they still have a great impact on how you learn to ride your dirt bike, and how much time you’re willing to spend to practice on them. First, you have to learn how to not lose focus, that’s crucial because dirt bike trail riding terrains can be rough, one little peak-away from the trail ahead and you might fall. You have to learn what is the perfect body position for your style of riding, throttle, clutch control, balance, and all the other aspects which will help you become a better rider.
Let’s point out some of the basic tips for dirt bike riding:
Practice standing while riding: When I first started dirt biking, I’d feel more comfortable riding while seated, but that’s not how you want to do it. You have to find a neutral standing position because that improves your riding exponentially. That way your body weight falls all over the bike but balanced since you’re keeping your head up, knees slightly bent, elbows in proportion with your wrists, and that’s how you put light pressure on the bike.
You should pull your head out up-front just enough so it’s in the same alignment with the handlebars, the position is correct if you’re able to look down on the number plate while riding. Centrally positioned riding will help you greatly because it offers better control and it lets your body react quickly to unpredicted situations, thus, preventing injuries as well.
Brakes: The way how you use your brakes is crucial to the overall performance of your dirt bike. If you’re using a new dirt bike model, you should know that its brakes are very sensitive to the touch, so you won’t need to grab them with force. If you happen to be riding fast, grabbing too much front brake might result in a bad scenario where the bike flips rear over front. Apart from that, when you apply too much rear brake, that can also cause the rear tire to wash out and slide sideways, so don’t do that.
The mistakes that I’ve made when I first started riding a dirt bike is use four fingers to control the brake and throttle levers, but that’s not what you want to do, try using three fingers or less to achieve shifting and braking quick. As you progress and elevate your riding experience, you will also learn how to use the clutch in conjunction with the brakes for controlling the speed, but first, you just have to focus on learning how to use the brakes properly.
Keeping the head up: This is probably the most important aspect to learn because if you want to become a faster and better rider, you have to learn how to look ahead. Even though this sounds easy, it’s very difficult to do, and you’ll see once you try to do it on your own. It’s a skill you have to master in order to gain more experience in riding like a pro. While keeping your head up, you will be able to scan what comes ahead, and you will have more time to react if there’s an unpredicted object in front of you.
Keeping your head up is even more crucial if you plan on racing, because that way you are going to be able to find opportunities on how to pass the other riders. As you keep your head up, the whole body will follow your eyes, so that proportions perfectly with your instincts, and it’s one of the most efficient skills to master to improve safety and increase speed. The chances of you hitting a tree trunk or worse than that are huge if you can’t learn how to keep your head up while riding, and that can cause serious injuries to you, and unrepairable damage to your dirt bike.
Get to know your dirt bike: What you have to do is to picture yourself on the dirt bike, what’s are the most efficient techniques for me, what can I do better next time, and so on. Going some years back, what used to help me imprint a picture in my mind of how I could ride better is watching dirt bike movies, and other motocross racing videos on youtube. But there’s also something better than that, try to convince a friend to shoot a video of how you’re riding, that way you can see what you’re doing wrong and correct that mistake during your next ride. These are truly the most efficient methods to improve your riding skills, and trust me when I say, nothing else won’t help if you’re not interested in doing this first.
Repeat the drills: Assuming that you’ve done all of the above-mentioned drills, what’s can help you keep going now is to practice the same things over and over again to improve and elevate your riding skills to a whole new level. Eventually, you’re going to feel like you don’t need to do those things anymore, and that’s because you’re already at your max level, which means that all the hard work paid off.
Controlling a dirt bike the proper way without risking impact takes a lot of skills and specific training for your style of riding. Dirt bikes have a weight of its own, and the heavier the weight the harder it is to control your dirt bike, especially when it comes to cornering.
Every new rider finds cornering hard, and it’s because it is really hard, but once you get the proper instructions for doing it, there’s going to be nothing standing in your way of mastering those skills. With cornering, what you’ll have to do is to shift your weight, and if you can’t manage to do that, you’ll probably end up falling with your dirt bike flat on your face.
Types of Cornering
There a wide range of methods to use for cornering your dirt bike, and you will have to practice whichever suits your riding style the most. Either way, each of these cornering techniques are effective and unique in their own way.
Stand-up Cornering: I’m listing this type of cornering first because it’s the most popular one among serious dirt bike riders. To perform this type of cornering accurately, what you have to do is stand up, and once you do that in a decent position with your head up, you take the weight off the bike which makes it easier to maneuver the bike around. It’s one of the easiest methods that you can practice, and it’s yet one of the most effective ones. Just try to balance your body the way that we explained above, and you will be good to go.
Flat Corners: To perform this type of cornering requires the correct technique and a true bond between you and your dirt bike. You don’t want to lose control of your dirt bike while performing this type of cornering, because it requires you to lean your dirt bike while keeping your balance intact. I’m not really a fan of this technique, but from what I’ve tried and heard from professionals is to keep your outer pedal down while you corner your bike. In doing so, you keep the center of gravity constant which results in a better balance as you lean the bike.
Sit-down cornering: This is a motocross-style type of cornering which seems easy, and it is actually easy to learn. With motocross it’s different because they are lighter than most other dirt bikes, so all you need to do is to grab the handles firmly and keep them in control while you corner the bike. As you move on, you will have to use the knees to save balance and point them towards the direction that you want to go, and make sure that there’s no gap between your legs and the bike.
Since you’re reading this article, I take it that you’re a beginner, either you just bought your dirt bike, or you’re planning on buying one. There are dozens of other cornering techniques, but considering your skill level, these three cornering techniques are the ones that I’d recommend for your skill level. See which one suits your riding style the most, and practice that type of cornering until you improve your skill level.
Wear your safety gear
I don’t think that I really need to mention this, but wear your safety gear the whole time. Safety should be your primary concern, one small injury will reduce your confidence a lot, and you’re going to be afraid of taking chances and practicing your skills.
An accident doesn’t happen until the moment you forget to wear your helmet, or your chest protector, or you didn’t have time to find your dirt bike boots, and so on. Choose your gear carefully, and make sure everything fits properly, because if it doesn’t that gear doesn’t serve you for nothing, especially the helmet.
You have to accept the fact that crashes are normal, and you’re most likely to crash during your first days of riding, but that’s normal and try to keep your confidence up. If you wear your safety gear, nothing will go wrong, just learn how to prepare your body and mind for the worse.
Dirt biking is an adventurous sport that gives you every reason to continue doing it, it’s fun, enjoyable, and the trails that you’ll be riding with speed will give you adrenaline. Isn’t that what all of us are looking for?
Do as much research as you can, and the fact that you’re reading this article tells me that you want to know more about dirt bikes which is good. As you continue reading and finding new techniques for your riding style, your skills will eventually reach the max level, just like in a game, and in no time you’ll be riding like a pro.