Try to avoid bad habits if you are new to dirt bike riding by following the advice set out below:
Tip – If you own a mountain bike get out on the dirt to get a feel for riding on terrain you will encounter on a dirt bike.
1. KNEES SQUEEZING THE FUEL TANK
Your knees should be squeezing the sides of the bike. This is very important when in a standing position. Squeezing the bike with your knees will help in aligning your body position and increase the riders overall body control of the bike.
2. ELBOWS SHOULD BE UP AND OUT AT A RIGHT ANGLE
Probably the most important body position to maintain when riding a dirt bike. If your elbows are by your side, you have no control over a dirt bike or the ability to navigate obstacles.
The over ninety-degree right angle is the strongest in the spectrum. When you extend your elbows allowing them to be vertical along with the handlebars, you have far greater control of a dirt bike.
This will allow your biceps, shoulders, and forearms to engage and have full control. Riding will build much greater stamina and strength over time but always remember, elbows up!
3. BALLS OF YOUR FEET ON FOOT PEGS
Keep the balls of your feet on the foot pegs and slide your feet forward only enough to reach the shift lever and the back-brake lever. The back brake can be very difficult for a new rider to get used to, especially if coming from a mountain bike background.
The right foot should be close enough so you do not have to pick up your foot and potentially catch the brake which can cause a skid.
Above the left foot peg your foot needs to be able to upshift and downshift through the gears. Try not to have your foot too far forward as this may cause you to upshift or downshift accidentally.
4. SIT FORWARD TOWARDS THE SEAT
The centre of gravity on a dirt bike is above the motor. This is where you can control your weight distribution and keep a dirt bikes front wheel grounded.
Good body position will greatly increase your control and reduce fatigue to your body caused by poor placement. Try to make a conscious effort to remember and work on all these points until they become second nature.
LEARNING TO CHOOSE THE CORRECT GEARS
New riders usually have difficulty finding and choosing the right gear to be in. It is important to learn how to use gears correctly so that the dirt bike’s power can be correctly utilized to attack and overcome corners and obstacles.
Learn the characteristics of your bike slowly, find the points where the bike revs out and needs to change up, and learn how to change to the correct gear especially going into and coming out of corners.
Most riders will be familiar with engine characteristics and when roughly to change gear. Listen to the engine to help guide you.
If you can’t accelerate in the gear you are in, you are in the wrong gear.
TAKE YOUR TIME
Learn to control your balance by slowly manoeuvring the bike in a figure eight. The centre of gravity is right below the seat where the frame sits around the engine. Practice this while remembering the body positioning previously discussed.
READ THE TERRAIN
Learning to read the terrain and judging the stopping distances required is something that requires experience and should be taken slowly. Terrain is not consistent, and a dirt bike will react and handle differently on sand and gravel or after rainfall for example.
YOU ARE GOING TO FALL OFF
Yes, you are going to drop your bike, slide off, lose your balance etc. Make sure you are wearing protective clothing and a helmet every time you take your bike out. Read our article on dirt bike clothing here.