How to Ride a Motorcycle in the Dirt
Whether you want to become a motocross rider or go off-roading and try some trial bike riding, there are certain skills and equipment you will need that differ greatly than riding a motorcycle on the road. In this blog we look at how to prepare your bike, what equipment you need and of course the differences of riding on the dirt to tarmac.
Get Your Bike Ready
Prepare your bike to hit the dirt, sometimes a good tip is to let some air out of your tires, not too much roughly 20 lbs. or so. This lets the rubber of the tire to be more flexible on the harsh terrain. Next is to take off anything that adds unnecessary weight for your sport, such as saddlebags etc. Lastly take off items such as wing mirrors and windscreens and tuck in turning lights, as all these items will definitely take a hammering.
Wear the Right Clothes
During dirt riding the riders often take a spill, so you will need protective gear. Trial riding gear is different to that of road protection, boots are higher and the areas around the knees, shoulders and chest will have more padding. Gloves however, are lighter and more flexible as often the dirt rider has to move around his machine a lot more than ordinary road motorcycling.
Often the standing position is best suited to dirt riding, this is not to pose but to move the center of gravity of the bike. When you stand on the foot rests the center of gravity lowers, since now all the weight is centered on the pegs. It is estimated that seventy five percent of dirt riding involves standing up, as moving the machine around tight sports is far easier doing this.
Don’t Fear the Terrain
Do not panic if you see a huge log in your way, dirt bikes are designed for negotiating all types of terrain, the most important thing is to get your angles correct. Navigating obstacles at 90 degrees is the best rule of thumb, and remember trial bikes have the balance to lift their front wheel really easily. Don’t hesitate when something is in your way as you risk getting bogged down, take it slow but keep the engine revving so you have enough power.
Take a Break
Breaking on a dirt bike is also very different, on the road you generally hit the front brakes first and then the rear. But it is the reverse on dirt riding, sliding the rear wheel is often the best way to lose speed when you are off-roading. You need to practice sliding and get proficient at it.
Finally turning on a dirt bike is very different to that of the road, on the road you lean into a curve, but on the dirt, it is the opposite. Instead of leaning towards the bend you should put your weight on the outside footrest and shift your trunk away from the inside of the turn, this put maximum weight on the tires and you almost take the bend upright. Try practicing these skills on easy terrain at first then build up to something more difficult. Remember all dirt bike riders take a spill, just dust yourself down and remember your mistake.