Dirt bike riding may not be rocket science, but you will need to observe some essential steps when getting started. You will have to master the mix of mental and physical strength and balance and technique required to excel in the sport.
Professional dirt bikers adhere to a training regimen and have access to professional help. Do not expect to pull the stunts you see on YouTube early on in your journey. Enjoy the learning curve, and you will soon hold your own out on the trail.
Below is a simple guide you can use to venture into the sport:
1. Use a Mountain Bike
Riding a mountain bike demands the same basic principles as used on a dirt bike in relation to control and balance. A mountain bike is a much slower introduction to off-road riding, and it will give you a feel of the rough terrain. The goal here is to get a preview of the off-road experience in a less overwhelming way.
One skill you will need to muster is how to ride in a straight line. You will uncover how important precision is to mountain bike riding. Cornering is another technique which will come in handy when you get a dirt bike.
Many motocross riders make use of mountain bikes to boost their stamina and their upper arm and leg strength.
2. Buy a Motocross Bike
Four-stroke engines are now dominating the market, from brands like Suzuki, Yamaha, KTM, Honda, and Kawasaki. There is not much distinction between various brands when it comes to dirt bikes, and the difference often boils down to aesthetics.
A rider’s height and size also matter when buying a dirt bike. A powerful machine is a bit harder to control, and you might not enjoy trail-riding when you are getting overwhelmed. Your feet should ideally touch the ground when you are mounted on the dirt bike. This will become useful when taking corners.
Dirt bikes do not come cheap, and most beginners opt for used ones as they are more affordable. You can get one from a private sale or a dealer. Riders also post their used bikes on Craigslist and the Facebook marketplace so you can activate alerts to be notified of listings. Another place to look is the bulletin board of the local club. The dirt bike community is typically close-knit, so you can interact with people and ask around for anyone selling their bikes. Be vigilant when looking for models on online forums.
A used bike needs to be thoroughly checked because you do not want to end up with models that are poorly maintained or that are unroadworthy. Check various components including chains and sprockets, engine, brakes, wheels and tires, and engine oil. Ride the bike too, and go through the bike’s gears. Do not be so hung up on the brand.
Buy a dirt bike for your skill level as it is dangerous to ride a bike that you cannot control.
3. Find a Nearby Motocross Track
Motocross tracks typically have off-road courses where riders can practice, either for fun or for races. Motocross tracks have adopted strict rules, because of the noise pollution complaints they have been dealt with recently. If you have a lot of land and your neighbors are more accommodating, you can build your own track.
Established circuits are suitable because they will often have various levels of difficulty, which will help your dirt bike riding skills. You can practice cornering, holeshot starting and jumping and how to use brakes, throttle, and gears. Practice in varying weather conditions. Riding in the rain will, for example, improve your balance.
4. Go to a Motocross Riding School
Dirt bike professionals are made, and it might seem a little pricey to get training, but you will benefit in the long term. Training schools have excellent instructors who will give guidance as you learn more skills and technique. Pro racers do not necessarily make good coaches, especially if they have not undergone any education program.
Riding schools typically have fleets of motorcycles, and you can, therefore, train on various models to get a range of skills. Their facilities cater to every class of rider so you can upgrade along with your skills. You can also observe professional riders for more tips.
5. Find Local Competitions
After a period of regular riding, the next challenge will be local races and events. Clubs typically require an entry fee for events to organize a race that meets safety regulations.
In the US, amateurs covet the AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships, which also awards a rider who has exhibited the most promise to reach the professional level. Most US pro riders have passed through these amateur championships.
Regional races unfold over terrain courses with hills, sharp turns, and jumps. You will get to employ your techniques and skills.
In the UK, there is a national junior and youth system for a range of age groups. Talented riders can proceed to the European Championship competition for 65, 85, and 125cc bikes. There are also one-make series like Honda’s European 150s.
6. Purchase Protective Gear
Rider safety is vital, and you need to invest in proper protective gear. These essentials include:
The ideal helmet is light-weight. Heavy models make you strain and sweat more. A light helmet is more comfortable and will let you enjoy riding. A high-quality shell is the initial point of contact in the case of an accident. It should be made from light and durable materials like carbon. A helmet is fashioned to absorb impact, and it will generally have layers of foam. Dirt bike riding is quite physical, and you will inevitably sweat a lot. A good helmet has a sound ventilation system to keep you cool and to avoid the fogging up of googles. A helmet should fit snugly while not being too tight that you are uncomfortable.
Googles safeguard your eyes from various elements, including low branches, rain, mud, and debris. They can easily steam up and hinder your vision, which is why you need a ventilated pair. Ensure they properly fit your helmet so that they feel tight and secure.
Tear-offs are ideal for muddy courses, as you can pull away the thin film that is laid on your lens to absorb mud. Googles should generally have an excellent field of vision, available replacement parts, and build quality.
Your hands will be in prolonged contact with grips and levels while out on the road, and you need to safeguard them from this friction. A cheap pair leads to a situation where your fingers tear through the material. An ideal pair should be lightweight and durable and should offer breathability. Gloves with a leather palm offer the best protection.
Riding Jersey and Pants
A good jersey will keep your skin from accumulating bruises due to branches and roost as well as sunburns.
A dirt bike jersey is well-designed for off-road biking, and it offers an added layer of protection. It should not be very baggy to avoid getting caught on things. Some jerseys feature pads around the forearms and elbows. Jerseys are also well vented for breathability.
Normal pants will get ripped instantly when exposed to off-road driving. Most dirt bike pants are made of a polyester blend, as it is breathable, easily washable, and durable. Leather will typically be used inside the knees as it provides grip and protects from the constant friction with the plastics of the bike. Good pants will additionally offer ventilation.
Knees are commonly exposed to injuries on dirt bikes. Most knee braces provide adjustments for comfort and so that they are securely fitted. The brace should be lightweight and strong from such materials as carbon fiber. Bulky knee braces can be quite uncomfortable when riding.
Your foot is quite vulnerable during riding, and you need a quality make for protection and comfort. A poor fitting pair will not offer adequate protection. You are safer with a proper fit. Boots typically take a while to bed in so they might get more comfortable as you go on rides. Most boots feature strong materials on the knee and a sturdy sole for support. A dirt bike boot will not feel as light as your regular shoe but do not buy a pair that feels like cement blocks.
Elbow guards will protect your elbows, as it is natural to use one’s hands to lessen the impacts of a fall. Other gear you can consider purchasing include a neck brace, hand guards, and body armor.
As with any sport, you will only get better at dirt biking if you practice often. Aim to ride in a diverse range of trail courses to work on your weaknesses. In addition to races, seek out buddies you can join for tours and organized events. These experiences will keep you on your toes when it comes to training.
Professional riders are always on the road, in addition to a strict training regimen. With the right practice, you will be doing incredible stunts in no time.
Dirt bike riding has the promise of an exhilarating experience, and you are right to be eager to get into the sport. After selecting a dirt bike to buy, you can check into a training school and get involved in the events of the local motocross track. Equip yourself with the necessary gear and start practicing regularly.