Riding dirt bikes and motocross is a sport I started enjoying from a very young age. My first dirt bike was a Honda QR50 for kids and through all the tip-overs, crashes, and whiskey throttle twists, that little bike helped solidify my urge to become a better rider. With the variety of models available in the dirt bike market, this sport that can be enjoyed by riders of any capability. I want to teach you first basic dirt bike riding tips, that will help you massively in the beginning!
Learning how to ride a dirt bike develops skills in throttle control, gear selection, and always having a sense of awareness on the trail. The ability to execute turns, terrain, and jumps properly on a dirt bike will not only keep you safe but will increase your ability to ride faster and efficiently. If you are throwing your leg over a dirt bike for the first time, here are some dirt bike riding tips for beginners.
1.Brake and Throttle Coordination
A new concept when beginning to ride a dirt bike is controlling your acceleration through your right hand. The throttle is twisted to deliver gas to the motor by way of a throttle cable. Depending upon the model, dirt bikes are either fuel injected or have a carburetor to control how much fuel and air are delivered to the motor.
In a fuel injected motor, the cable is attached to a throttle body but an Engine Control Unit (ECU) calculates how much fuel to deliver to the motor based upon the twist of your throttle. ECU keeps the bike efficient in power. Carburetors traditionally can be more finicky as the throttle cable picks up a slide to let in air and fuel to the motor, giving the bike power.
Learn to Throttle Out
Throttle control is imperative to your acceleration safety. Properly executing throttle engagement requires strength in your hands and wrists. Gripping softly will lower your response time when approaching an obstacle that you need to gas over and cause the handlebars to over-power your grip. In comparison, a stronger grip on the throttle will fatigue your hands and forearms; known as arm pump.
Practice Your Acceleration
Controlling your acceleration is crucial in keeping you alert and in control of your dirt bike. Practice smooth acceleration and then deacceleration by slowing twisting away from the rider. The throttle can be used to slow down the bike without the use of the brake.
Hoping on your dirt bike and power the bike to make a figure eight. Practicing throttle control while you make a left and right turn to fashion the eight, will allow you to generate power in each turn. Keep your elbows up and use your wrists to turn the throttle instead of your entire arm.
Ride over some small obstacles to get familiar with the firm throttle control. This will be needed when your body will be moving around on the bike over the obstacle while still giving consistent power to the dirt bike. Standing up on the bike over obstacles is the next step in skill development but will require intermediate balance capability.
Learn to Brake The Right Way!
Gaining speed as a rider’s ability develops is a rewarding trial. However, it is not about how fast you can ride, it’s about how quickly you can stop. Found above the right-hand grip on the handlebars is the front wheel brake and down below on the right footpeg is the back-tire brake lever, controlled by your foot.
In most scenarios, a dirt bike rider will rely on the front brake over the back. The front tire needs to stop first in most riding situations and is your go-to braking system based upon the close proximity to your grip.
Applying too much pressure to the back brake or in softer terrain will cause the back tire to slide out from behind you. A beginner motocross rider initially can find this intimidating but as their skills progress, the slide can be optimized for faster cornering and sure stop.
Practice Your Braking
In the same figure eight pattern as your throttle training, use both the front and back brakes to help you around. To practice fast dual-brake stops, accelerate your dirt bike in a straight line and apply pressure by hand and foot. Do not slam on the brakes unless you are fully prepared!
2.Going Through the Gears
Every dirt bike will have a throttle grip to accelerate and front lever to brake. Depending upon the motor size of your dirt bike, a clutch lever is added to your bike’s handlebars above your left hand giving the rider decisions on what gear to be in.
A clutch lever controls clutch plates inside the transmission that engages the drivetrain to the motor, allowing the bike to accelerate. The shift will also need to be paired with a twist of the throttle, fueling the motor with gas and air. By listening to the motor of your dirt bike, you will need to shift through five gears, found on your left-foot peg lever, to allow your bike to speed up or slow down. Pulling the clutch towards your body will disengage the motor and the bike will slow down.
As you begin riding your dirt bike, you will be able to decide what gear you should be engaged in. A lower gear will have the motor rotate faster but higher gears will keep a load off the motor, letting it run more efficiently. Higher rotations will keep the bike in a responsive mode and this can be useful when a rider is trying to execute over a difficult object.
Practice Gearing With These Tips
Selecting each gear is an easier task than clutching through those gears. Most beginner riders will find the most trouble in starting their dirt bike off in first gear. Training can be accomplished by sitting on your dirt bike with feet planted, pull the clutch in, and select first gear. Apply a little throttle and ease the clutch lever out until the wheels start to move.
Do not dump the clutch or apply too much gas! This can cause the bike to wheelie or stall the motor. Start to feel the “catch” of the motor to the drivetrain and judge how much throttle needs to be paid with the clutch to get moving. To restart, simply pull the clutch all the way back in and start again.
My best advice for gear selection is to always know what gear you are in. Gears on a dirt bike are selected by pushing down for first and up to select second through fifth gear. Count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5; down two, up one, and so on.
Develop your clutch skills so that shifting becomes second nature. Understanding how a transmission engages and disengages is a tool you will never forget! Useful fact, if you can shift a dirt bike now, you can ride one internationally as this method never changes!
3.Keep Your Head on a Swivel
Now that you’re accelerating and shifting gears like a pro, it’s time to ride! These new coordination duties can be a lot to focus on but as a new dirt bike rider, you need to always expect that you are not the only rider out on the trail. Stay alert!
As you ride, make sure to always keep your “head on a swivel”. Look around you without allowing your handlebars to follow your gaze. Note upcoming trail obstructions, intersections, and how close you are to other rides. Instead of looking at what is just in front of your wheel, look for what is strides in front of you so are always prepared!
Intersections will be the cross of you and other vehicles. If you cannot see, come to a stop until you can safely make the judgement to cross freely. It is as simple as learning to cross the street as a child, look both ways before crossing.
Staying aware of what is around you can help save you and other riders’ lives.
4.Throw Your Weight Around
It is a misconception that all a dirt bike rider uses to turn their bikes is the handlebars. Turning the bars can be great to maneuver around a tight space but learning to throw your own weight around the bike can create precise movement.
Some great first maneuvers are achieved in riding your dirt bike up and down a hill. Moving your body towards the back of the seat on a descend will put the weight above your back tire, eliminating the possibility for it to slip out behind you while the front wheel is lifted and able to navigate over unexpected debris. On an uphill, putting your weight as close to the front tire as possible allows the back tire to have less mass and more power to accelerate.
One other movement is moving your weight to the front of the bike as you turn either left or right. This helps guide your front tire in the direction you’ve planned and the tire is planted into the terrain.
Your confidence on a dirt bike is built up from being able to balance the extra weight of the bike. Manipulating your weight plus the bike cannot be achieved without balance. Simple as when your first learned to ride a bicycle, staying atop the dirt bike will make it easier to navigate any terrain.
Practice Moving On Your Bike
A dirt bike beginner can sit on the bike with both feet planted on the ground. Keep your elbows high and square with your wrists that are gripping the handlebars and start your acceleration. As you take off, keep your feet slightly above the ground as you find your balance center on the bike. If you begin to fall, your feet will catch you but as you begin to find that balance point, work on pulling the feet up to the foot pegs.
5.Seat Time, Seat Time & Seat Time
All of these dirt bike riding tips for beginning dirt bike riders can be developed by seat time. The time you spend atop your dirt bike will only compound your abilities and progress towards becoming a faster and smoother dirt bike rider. A rider needs to be out on the trail in order to practice in real-riding situations.
Repetition on efficient braking, acceleration, and throwing your weight around the seat will also increase your confidence on the bike. A skill that took me longer to learn was operating the back brake as I was always nervous to use to much brake and swap out the back tire. Allowing yourself patience and to go at a slower pace is absolutely accepted in motocross. Don’t be ashamed if you mess up!
Another beginner’s resource is a motocross school with dirt bike lessons. Take an online class with experienced rider and learn from me how to execute all of these above dirt bike riding tips. I am currently working on my groundbreaking Motocross Online Course where I teach everything about Motocross from A-to-Z including skills like braking, accelerating, and shifting.
There is a waitlist where you can subscribe on the right side of this website, so you will be the first one to hear when my course is launching!
Following Up On All The Dirt Bike Riding Tips
No matter your age or the size of your motor, dirt bike riding is a sport that is rewarding in its challenges. The progression of a rider is all found atop the seat of their dirt bike and if you practice the dirt bike riding tips mentioned, brake-throttle control, balance, staying alert, you’ll be an established rider before you know it!
Bonus Tip: Proper Dirt Bike Gear
This is not much of a “TIP” rather than “goes without saying”, but I really feel an urge to touch this topic. Why? I see so many beginner riders with missing protection like proper motocross helmet, protective dirt bike boots or suitable motocross knee braces. When you are just learning to ride, it is extremely important to protect yourself before you are going to implement these tips above into your riding! You will crash and your health is something that should be the main priority to you! Now, let’s go and practice!