How to avoid common ‘rookie’ mistakes when mastering the moves of a Dirt Bike... 

 

You remember when you were 6 years old and how challenging it was to learn to ride a pushbike? Multiply that by a thousand and you’ll be close to the mark of how difficult it is to learn to ride a dirt bike. Understand that falling off the bike or even losing control is all part of the learning process. It doesn’t just happen over night and can take months of practice to master the skill and even then the odd crash, scrape or stall is almost inevitable. That said, a lot of first-time riders do tend to fall unnecessarily due to a number of avoidable mistakes. Here are some common errors that learners make and advice on how to get past them to help speed up the exhilarating fun of dirt bike riding.

  1. Balance: If you can ride a bicycle then you’re already one step ahead as you have mastered the skill to balance. A dirt bike is however much heavier and its weight combined with the speed is what throws people. Sitting down on the saddle is the position that most learners opt for as it is easier and it feels safer however if you can build up the confidence to stand up this will help with balancing. You can also feel the motion of the bike better, allowing the rider to work in unison with the bike rather than against it as a lot of the time with dirt bike riding you have to hand the control over to the bike.

  2. Throttle and Clutch Control: It takes patience and practice to figure out the throttle – how far to roll it? When to let it up? It is all about timing. Similarly with the clutch. You need to get used to them both individually before you start trying to use them simultaneously. Many beginners think they have this skill mastered too soon, which results in them, zooming off at a speed of knots and ending up in a heap on the floor. The old saying ‘don’t try to run before you can walk’ is very fitting here. Practice your technique slowly around the track, speeding up ever so slightly each time. Play around with the throttle at different speeds, the clutch at different speeds and then both together. Then come back the next day and do it all again pushing yourself a little bit more each time.

  3. Positioning: Where to position your body when taking jumps, cornering and hitting berms is of paramount importance to avoid losing control and hitting the dirt. Balance is key here as well as strength, judgment and respect for your bike. If you've watched Motocross for a season, you'll notice how the rider and bike are nearly parallel with the ground on sharp turns without the rider leaning in any direction. This comes with practice and good knowledge of your bike so spend time getting to know it and how it moves around the track.

  4. Memory: Dirt Bike riding is just as much about using the brain as it is about brute strength. Being able to memorise the winds and turns in the track will help you hugely when racing but also in the early stages when you’re learning. So be a quick thinker and take note of all elements of the track from the ground texture to the depth of the chicane. Mental coaching and foreseeing potential risks on the track will significantly reduce your chances of crashing whilst practicing your technique.

  5. Vision: Don’t look down, is the biggest tip we can give you! This is difficult as its natural to look at the object immediately in front of you. Instead you need to look ahead at all times, taking note of your whole perimeter so you know what's coming. Looking down prevents you from correctly adjusting your throttle and brake controls, balance and positioning and will result in you driving into the object you have been fixating on.

So there you have it! A few tips to help reduce the fear factor and the number of injuries you’ll suffer. Mistakes happen, that’s all part of the learning process of anything new we do. The important thing is to learn from them and use them to your advantage to succeed.

Enjoy the ride…