The excitement could get the better of you and you could just buy a dirt bike that first hits your sight. But you can’t do that in all honesty, there are a few variables that come into play first. You want to get on and just launch yourself straight off jumps and supposedly land perfectly, during that carve up a mud path maybe. The problem with that is you may not have the right bike for you to do that, you wouldn’t want a bike that will not react to your actions if you’re having to bin a corner after a bad landing from a jump. Here are some steps to help pick your ride the right way.
Skill and Experience
Okay so if you know your street bikes a little then understand that dirt bikes are not the same beasts. Street bikes around the city streets are a different feel and ride from dirt bikes. In perspective, if you think because you have ridden a 400cc on the road that an enduro motorcycle 250cc dirt bike wouldn’t be an issue, you would be wrong because the dirt bike is light, and that would make it as quick and nimble as a 650cc Kawasaki, so do take care of yourself if you attempt it. I recommend starting on a dirt bike that is under 180 lbs. and only getting a 125cc or just over. But make the choice of the engine also in terms of your size and ask the important questions of math to the experts already on these bikes, you don’t want your bike struggling to get you up a hill and strain the engine. This is a reality check of spending an hour on the bike and then the next few weeks in the hospital or riding every day of summer smiling and caked in mud, think about it well.
Size of the Beast
Engine size was our conversation above, this is about the size of the bike. In bike terms ‘if you can’t flatfoot it, you shouldn’t be riding it,’ this means that because of the bigger ground clearance than a street bike, you may think it is ok that your feet may not reach the ground, that is incorrect especially if you think that you need to tip-toe through a mud-pit and your wheels are struggling so you need to physically help then you’re in trouble. Size is important!
Try Before You Buy
Research learn-to-ride days, these are arranged by manufacturers to help them sell their bikes. The manufacturers are trying to sell to all types of skilled motorcyclists from novice to experienced, the bikes they offer you to ride are freely tested by you on different surfaces, this so you can feel if you are comfortable on them. The idea of trying out a bike before purchasing it is a good plan but if a friend has a bike for you to try then this can be dodgy, the friend may try to give you pointers that you are not ready for, just remember you can’t master the dirt bike overnight.
Basics of Riding
So let’s talk about riding your new ride, you should have been shown how to start your bike already but here’s a quick go-over. Find and turn on the battery, you may need to choke the bike if it’s a cold start, this can be found mostly on the left side of the bike by your leg when you are sitting on the bike. Braking is a massive deal on this bike, the hand brake is the right lever on the handlebar, this isn’t your common choice of brake straight away because it’s grabby and you need to start with your front brake just to find careful comfortable braking.
Your tank will last 6 hours normally from full to dry. Once you run out, find the button for the tank on the side of the tank, this is for safety so no gas can still leak out of the tank.
Learning to crash safely is a vital part of dirt biking, you won’t be able to avoid crashing forever on the dirt track. Most dirt bike injuries occur below the waist, and these are more often on the shin or foot. The trick is to protect yourself more against it, not stick out your foot if you think you’ll crash, for example, you are powering up a steep hill and your bike starts to tip right, you put your right foot down and this won’t work to control you from falling, instead you’re involving yourself in the twist that is going to happen no matter what, this will make you stuck and most likely hurt. Now it is perfectly fine to stick your foot down to control your balance, but you must be trained about when to not do it too, like learning that when you do stick out your foot it needs to be at 90 degrees to the bike and to the side of the foot peg. See it’s ok to be lying on your leg with your foot pointing alongside the bike because you aren’t crushing your body parts under the weight of the bike.
So you would be wrong instantly if you just hopped on the bike and sat on it naturally. When riding through the woods you need to sit lightly putting more weight on your feet, so when it comes to bumps or potholes you can straighten your legs up to let your legs act as springs to take the bumps. Try to keep your back straight to protect your back from shocks and impacts from rough terrain. Keep your elbows out parallel to your handlebars because this gives you the power and reaction time when turning. Your head is best above the handlebars, so your body is in prime position for the ups and downs of the track.
Riding a dirt bike is not the hardest thing to learn, after 5 rides you will have a little start of muscle memory that will give you a great start into this world of mud and fun. Learn hard and this will begin to be a great hobby and you’ll be a pro in no time.