dirt bikes, off road
DIRT BIKES / OFF ROAD BIKES
Dirt bike riding has never been more popular than it is today, and it is seen as one of the best ways to improve machine-handling and riding skills. Many professionals from other parts of the biking world use off-roading to brush up on their finer biking skills - balance, turning, throttle and brake control can all be honed off-road.
Trial V Motocross
Trial biking has had steady support in Britain and Spain for many years now. Competitors do not race against each other but compete individually on a timed course with an array of natural and manmade obstacles. Balance, braking, throttle control and turning are key as the riders are penalized if they touch the ground with any part of their body. This sport was brought to a wider audience in the TV programme Kick Start in the 1980s. Trial bikes are lightweight, often lack seating and have a short-travel suspension.
Motocross is now a hugely popular sport across Europe, the USA and also South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Motocross is racing on an enclosed track of harsh terrain which is usually characterized by large jumps. It has become so popular that it has spawned many derivatives such as Supercross, Supermoto and Freestyle Motocross. The bikes were originally made by mainly European manufacturers, but, as the sport’s popularity grew, the heavy-hitting Japanese companies got involved. Nowadays the competitive bikers ride four-strokes which deliver a smooth, powerful ride.
Buying and riding your own off road / Dirt bike
If you are thinking of buying an off-roader, look around as much as you can and don’t buy the first bike you see. It’s a good idea to start out with a four-stroke as they have a much smoother power transmission, and are easy and fun to learn on. On a two-stroke the power can cut in unexpectedly, sending you flying! A 100cc to 250cc bike is more than enough power for a beginner. Try and buy secondhand too as you will probably fall off, crash and drop your bike many times while you’re learning. When choosing a bike you need to check whether it is the correct height for you. Sit as far forward as you possibly can, then move forward a bit more. You should be virtually sitting on the fuel tank with your feet just able to touch the ground, and your hips should be directly above the pegs. Being this far forward is the correct way to ride otherwise all aspects of your riding will be affected.
Concentrate on accelerating and braking on the flat, and just getting the feel of your bike at first. Always correct your riding position as you will inevitably slide back to your usual place on the seat, so keep checking and moving forward. Don’t try anything more advanced until you feel comfortable. Don’t forget that as you’re riding off road, it will feel uneven and rough, although the ride will feel smoother as your speed increases. Be aware of arm fatigue - when off -roading your arms are doing a lot of the work and so may tire quickly, which can be dangerous.
Off Road Schools
There are many Off Road Schools around so think about attending one for the day. This is an ideal way to see if you really enjoy the sport before you invest in your own bike and gear as you should be able to hire it all from the school. The age limit can be as low as 10, and makes for a great fun, family day out. Also think about staying overnight nearby. By their very nature these schools are often in the middle of nowhere so after a long day trail riding you may be too tired to travel home.
Tips and safety
Wherever you’re off-roading always follow these simple safety rules:
Always ride with a bag containing water, mobile phone and some maintenance essentials e.g. spark plugs.
Wear proper motorcycle safety gear. Helmet (never secondhand as you don’t know it’s history), protective trousers and jacket, chest protector, and knee and elbow pads. This equipment could save your life. If you’re riding in Britain a set of waterproofs might also be a good idea!
Remember that cars and pedestrians may have the right of way so watch out at crossings.
Make sure it’s legal to ride where you are.
Know your limits don’t take silly risks or show off - it may be more than your pride that gets hurt.
Specialist dirt bike magazines can offer great tips on minor repairs or adjustments for your bike.
Equally, if you're a dirt bike / off road dealer, talk to us about a free listing - and extended advertising.
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