So you want to go off-road riding and get the most considerable freedom of your life with some friends on dirt bikes. Is this going to be your first time? Push the brakes and brace yourself because now, you are about to learn the eight hidden essential tips that will boost your skills turn you into a speck of dirt biking super rock star or dirt star (whatever that is)! Learn how to be more competent on a dirt bike before you start.
Seriously though, every rider or human who wants to try out on a dirt bike must already know and use these tips because one overall tip that governs dirt biking is that dirt bikes are different from every other automobile. Never look at a dirt bike as you would a standard BMX bike or a scooter. That’s one mistake that newbies make and it can lead to the death of your passion, or worse, end of some of your bones! Now, see these tips and be more of a dirt bike riding legend than a newbie:
Tips #1| Cheap Gear also Mean Death Gear.
Please, do not go cheap on your protective gear. Of all the most essential gears you must get the best of, your biker boots and the helmets are most crucial. If you get something cheap, you would hate both yourself and the cheap gears you bought. You know that if you want to keep your head and your legs after a ride, you must have them protected, right? Good.
Before you start on a dirt bike, avoid buying any cheap dirt bike boots. Trust me, and they have nothing good to offer you than the fact that they are affordable. Avoid any boot on sale for a price below $100. Follow my advice and do not buy them. All those cheap dirt bike boots that come in your face from those cheap Fly biking boots to the cheap O’neal biking boots, I have tried them all. They do not have enough flex in them that would make your feet free, and They feel like wellington boots and sneakers come together. When you ride with one of those cheap boots on, you would not be able to handle the gear shifter nor the foot brake when, which automatically means that you have to look down each time you want to shift gears or stop. Imagine how hard and how frequent you would crash.
You may notice that many professional dirt bikers wear Fox Comp 5 boots. I recommend these boots if you want to start dirt biking on the right foot. They are usually sold for about $200. I mean if you’re going to pay an arm and a literal leg for dirt biking, it is fine but if not, spend so much to keep your legs and your whole body safe on a dirt bike. Fox Comp 5 dirt bike boots are an excellent pair of biking boots with enough aeration for comfort.
Securing your head is even more important or as important as securing your leg. Do not go for cheap helmets too. Also though they look cool, they certainly don’t feel relaxed. You can never be too careful when your head is involved. For one, cheap helmets feel uncomfortable to use, and they don’t give any ventilation. You may be fooled by the holes they usually have outside them and think that they are vents, but these holes lead the air into the helmets. Instead, the helmets’ inner lining blocks them off, and that makes you feel hot and scratchy in the head. You would feel the urge of removing your helmet every minute for fresh air.
Moreso, good helmets are equipped with modern safety technology like MIPS that stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System, which is a leading slip-plane technology inside the helmet designed to prevent any severe injuries to the brain in case of a serious crash like in this Giro Vanquish Aero Bike Helmet. Other technology like GPS navigation and so on are not found in cheap helmets.
Therefore before you start, get yourself a good helmet and an excellent pair of boots. Once you do that you are good to go. It is more reasonable and rational than buying cheap ones first and then having to buy the better ones after the cheap ones give out.
Tips #2| Let A Bike Choose You
I know that sounds a little bit like that wand seller in Harry Potter, but like a wand, a dirt bike chooses its rider. One mistake that most newbie dirt bike riders make when they start is to rush into Craigslist or Amazon or a nearby store to buy the bike “everyone’s talking about”. They don’t get very far though. I am adding this to this list of tips because riding on a ‘wrong’ dirt bike can make the whole experience of dirt biking boring, and that will take the fun out of dirt biking entirely.
Do not think that dirt bikes are like regular road bikes where you are happy to buy yourself a power bike, and you would be looking to get higher than a 500cc motorcycle. As a newbie, buying a dirt bike with so much power as 450cc will drain out all the flair you have for dirt bikes at every ride. My point is, do not rush out to get a Yamaha WR 450 F or KTM 450 EXC but no matter how excellent these bikes are, their awesomeness is limited to the pros. I mean expert riders may have no problem riding these bikes. However, as a newbie, you would find them exasperatingly maddening.
I recommend that you buy yourself a Yamaha TTR250 as a newbie. It is lightweight and will be very easy for you to control. Once you get the necessary gear and a good bike that suits you, you’re good to go.
Tips #3 | Get Your Bike From Your House To The Trail
My dear newbie dirt biker, dirt bikes are not made for the streets. Hence, you have to carry your dirt bike to the trail where you would be riding. You choose whichever you suits. If you have a ute or a pick-up van, moving your bike will be very easy with it. I mean a utility vehicle is suitable to carry anything around including a dirt bike.
However, because you cannot carry your dirt bike and dump it in your ute, you need to find a way to load and unload it. You may need to buy yourself a ramp. Talking about ramps, I recommend the popular this Black Widow loading ramp from Amazon which is not too expensive to get your dirt bike easily crawl its ways into your truck and out of it any time you like.
Well like me, you too may on the long run or ride find that using a ramp to pull up and pull your dirt bike unto your ute stressful. How much more stressful is having to strap and unstrap your bike every time you want to go off road? If you find these stressfully annoying, you should get yourself one cheap Drop-Tail Trailers from Amazon. That is what I attach my bike to and go on. This makes loading and unloading less stressful and super comfortable.
Tips #4 | How To Sit Like A Dirt Bike Rider Not A Biker
The first mistake that throws many newbie riders off the trail is that they try to ride a dirt bike as they would a standard bike. However, you would find out in the long run that they are not in the least similar. For instance, it is somewhat refreshing to sit back up on a regular bike, but that would topple you over on a dirt bike. So here are some tips you should learn about your sitting and riding posture:
- Don’t push your butt too far away from the tank on your dirt bike no matter how lightweight it is. If you’re sitting too far back, your front wheels might pop up and that would surely catch you unawares and look who’s in the dirt now. The better posture or sitting position is forward. If you want to start, show your dirt bike that you are in charge. Show it in an aggressive sitting posture that shows that you’re ready to soak up bumps and take greater control of your dirt bike on the trail.
- Bury your knees on both sides of the bike. This way, your legs are doing half the work. You will not want to put any pressure on your arms. Many newbies put all the weight of controlling a dirt bike on their arms, and this results in the arm pump. In case you don’t know, arm pump is a dangerous thing to happen to any dirt bike rider on the trail. It is that awful situation where your arms feel like an overblown balloon, and they go numb. You can’t feel anything, and you struggle to hold the handlebars. Just imagine what that can cause! However, when you squeeze your bike with both your knees, you can from there use your legs to tilt and turn your dirt bike relieving the arms of that tiresome duty and reducing your risk of getting arm pump.
- Don’t sit all your weight on the rear. Another noob mistake is sitting all your weight on your butt. A lazy man cannot be a dirt bike rider. If you sit with all the weight of your body on your butt, you might be caught off guard when you run into a pothole or over a large stone. The vibrations can shake your balls literally and give you stomach cramps. So take my advice and rest your weight on the foot pegs by both sides of the bike and slightly sit up while keeping a straight back. You should not sit like an ordinary biker that bends forward. That way, the pressure is put on your arms and your butt. Sit straight and expect the unexpected.
- Place your elbows in position. A dirt bike rider with his elbow close to his sides will sooner or later lose himself to a crash. If you don’t want to be that newbie dirt bike rider, make sure to place your elbows correctly away from the body. They should go high up in the air. Your elbows are your power points in the movement. Holding them high not only reduces pressure but also allows you to have much more power to make quick turns and give you control over the bike especially when you start to lose traction.
Tips #5 | How to handle the Dirt Bike Clutch
For one thing, the clutch on the dirt bike is not the same as the clutch in your car. You would need the clutch on your dirt bike more than anything because the whole experience depends on it. You should use it more often until it becomes second nature. You need the clutch when you are moving and shifting gears, to slow down before a bend, or to move faster. You would have to pull your clutch into the handlebar and release it slowly to start your dirt bike, and you can also pull the clutch in a little if you want to slow down before a turn. That’s how to do it. However, pulling the clutch half way all the time can ruin your dirt bike or your riding experience.
Additionally, you would not need the clutch to downshift gears. You only need it to start the bike up or move up gears.
Tips #6 | Always Be Honest With Yourself
Dirt biking skills are not inborn, all of us on the trail have been a noob once, but we all got better, and we are still learning. Never feel shy to admit what you do not know or understand. It’s okay to ask for help to manoeuvre very steep inclines, rocks, sand, ruts, water crossings and so on.
That is why it is always advisable that no matter how experienced you are, you should never go off-road alone. Always have someone with you just in case. Two heads are better than one. Always be ready to accept help to get through a tricky trail.
Tips #7 | Start on a Dirt Road
I understand that your new hobby might feel a little too exciting and you may want to get on some new track or that dirt bike track your friends have been talking about. One thing you should be very wary of is tracks or hill areas. From my experience, your first few rides on a dirt bike should be at a place where you would get all the exhilarating expertise first hand. So the best way to learn and practice dirt biking is on an old dirt road.
I mean, if you want to enjoy your learning experience, look for a flat trail where there aren’t (if possible) any rocks. There, you can practice without any obstacles. You still have to learn a whole lot of basics before you begin to do little rocks manoeuvres. You must learn how to use the clutch, the brakes, and you must still learn how to do the short turns. You know, all these necessary skills are needed if you don’t want to go and die.
On a flat out old dirt trail, you would get all the freedom you need to speed up a little and feel the wind. Your first few rides should not be hard.
After you have learned how to successfully speed up, go, turn and stop without crashing, congratulations. You can now move on to another level with little hills where you can learn to balance.
Tips #8 | Maintain Your Dirt Bike
Every engine needs regular servicing and maintenance. These tips are what you need to learn to do it yourself to keep your bike from taking too much from you. I mean if I do not already know these tips, I wonder how much those handymen would be made out of me. I’m not a mechanic myself, and I don’t know about engines, but when I started dirt biking, I learned them the hard way. So take them for free:
- Changing the oil. Like every engine, changing your dirt bike engine oil is one of the most important things you should do if you don’t want to buy a new bike engine regularly. Depending on how frequently you ride, most dirt bikes need you to change the oil every day. My mechanic even says I should change mine every 8 hours of riding. You need to remove the bolt that covers the engine oil vial and drain the old oil out for replacement.
- Cleaning the air filter. Another part of the engine you need to check on very frequently is the air filter which is the interface between your engine and the outside. All you have to do is remove the air filter, wash out all the dirt with some petrol, dab some oil around it, and put it back in.
- Checking your tire pressure. If you can, buy yourself a tire pressure gauge to check your dirt bike tires before you take it out. This is very crucial to your safety. On the gauge, it is normal at 15 pounds of pressure or less. If it is a kid dirt bike, you must get enough pressure in the tires. Otherwise, the valve stem can easily rip off.
- Keeping your chain lubricated. It is also very crucial to lubricate the chains on your dirt bike. A couple of cans of chain lube would do the trick. You have to spray your dirt bikes chains periodically.
Dirt bikes are straightforward to maintain when you have the right materials and tools. If you’re smart enough, you can do all the bike maintenance yourself. However, if you feel intimidated by engines, you should feel discouraged. Learning to practice these tips regularly will keep your bike running just fine without any technical problems all year round. However, it is advisable that you get a certified mechanic to check out your dirt bike after a long time of rest.