If you are new to dirt biking, and you want to get started on the right foot, here are some non-obvious tips to help you ride safely and have more fun.
Dirt Bike Clutches Are Different Than The Clutch On A Car
All adult dirt bikes have a clutch, and you will need to practice using the clutch every time you change gears until it becomes second nature to you.
A dirt bike clitch is not like the clutch in a car. A dirt bike’s clutch is multi-plated and sits in a pool of oil. You can ride a dirt bike clutch a little bit. You can grab the clutch and pull it in a little to slow down before you make a turn, and you’re not in any real danger of ruining your bike. You don’t want to half-press over the clutch all the time, but you can use it more than you would if you were driving an old truck. As you get more experienced, Tokyomods has lots of great guides for riding safely.
The other big difference is that you don’t need the clutch to shift down gears. When you switch up gears, you need the clutch every time.
Don’t Cheap Out Your Boots Or Helmet
The two most expensive pieces of protective gear you will buy are your helmet and boots. These are also the pieces of gear that you will hate the most if you get something cheap.
There are several brands out there that offer dirt bikes for under $100, but you should avoid them. Cheap boots don’t usually have enough flex in them, so you won’t be able to feel the shifter or the foot brake when you are riding. You will end up leading to look down every time, causing you to crash more often. Most of the bone breaks while dirt biking are in bones below the waist, so a good set of boots are very important. There are some good-quality boots out there for more affordable prices, so do your research, read reviews, and try on lots of pairs to find the best ones for you. Buy the same size boot as you do street shoes. Don’t go up a size.
Cheap helmets are also a problem. They might look the same on the outside, but they will not be the same at all on the inside. In most cases, the cheaper helmets won’t have good ventilation. It’s common for cheap helmets to have vents on the outside of the helmet that don’t actually go anywhere. These faux vents are just blocked off with lining, so they don’t actually do anything to keep you cool. Cheap helmets also won’t have the best technology available to keep you safe. Dirt biking deaths have fallen in recent years, in part due to advances in safety gear.
Buy a good helmet and boots first, or you will make the common beginner’s mistakes of needing to buy your boots twice, spending even more.
It’s Not Like Riding A Bike
One thing that can cause a lot of crashes and can keep newer rides from being able to progress more quickly is sitting on a dirt bike in the same way that they would sit on a bicycle. Beginners often sit down on the bike with all their weight on their bum, and their elbows down. More experienced dirt bikers will sit in a more aggressive stance to soak up bumps and give them more control over the bike.
Here’s the proper way to sit on a dirt bike for more control:
- Don’t sit far too back on the bike or you will accidentally pop a wheelie. Sit forward on the bike.
- Squeeze the bike with your knees. You will get arm pump if you use your arms for all turning and control. If you squeeze with your knees, you can use the power of your legs to tilt and turn the bike.
- All your weight should not be on your behind. Put your weight on the foot pegs and slightly sit up, with your back straight. You should be in an aggressive stance like a tennis player waiting for the ball, or a football linebacker waiting to see where the play will develop.
- Put out your elbows away from the body and high up in the air. This will give you much more power to make quick turns and control the bike if you lose traction while you are riding.