Driving off-road motorcycles, we will encounter various road conditions in the wilderness, including bumpy sections, slippery sections, uphill and downhill sections, jumps, and fast cornering, among others. In this issue, We will briefly discuss: how to ride a dirt bike?.

Riding Positions in Off-Roading

There are two types of riding positions: seated position and standing position.

  1. Riding on Straight or Slippery Surfaces

The seated position helps conserve energy, especially when riding on slippery surfaces. The key is to control the bike’s center of gravity. Keep your legs ready to extend to prevent the bike from slipping. At the same time, choose the appropriate gear and throttle opening to avoid sliding due to operational errors.

  1. Riding on Bumpy or Rocky Surfaces

In this case, a semi-crouched position is necessary. Relax the upper body while gripping the bike tightly with your legs on both sides. Lift your buttocks slightly off the seat and let your legs bend naturally. This position allows the upper body to maintain balance despite the bike’s bumps and ensures control over the vehicle.

  1. Riding on Uphill and Downhill Sections

Off-roading inevitably involves encountering uphill and downhill sections. Never underestimate the driving skills required for these terrains!

When riding uphill, shift your body weight forward to move the center of gravity ahead, preventing the front wheel from lifting. Control the throttle and clutch to provide sufficient power while avoiding rear wheel slippage.

When approaching a downhill section, reduce speed and extend your arms while leaning back your body, simultaneously pulling your waist backward. When descending, mainly use the rear brake for deceleration, with the front brake playing a supporting role. This helps avoid locking the brakes and causing the bike to flip.

During off-roading, there are three steering techniques to adapt to different road conditions: “leaning steering,” “brake steering,” and “throttle acceleration steering.”

  1. Leaning Steering

This technique is mostly used in closed off-road tracks where the track design involves the outer side being higher than the inner side. This allows riders to take corners at higher speeds. The closer the rider is to the outer edge, the higher the cornering speed can be. However, this technique is limited to racing tracks and does not apply to general off-roading. Therefore, it will not be further elaborated here. This is also one of the difficulties in how to ride a dirt bike.

Please refer to the diagram below:

  1. Brake Steering

This technique is mainly used in off-road driving situations. It is employed when you have a certain amount of speed. When entering a turn, pull the clutch lever with your left hand and push down on the handlebars in the direction of the turn to lean the bike. Apply strong braking force to the rear wheel to induce a sideways slide. When sliding reaches the desired exit angle, release the brakes and add throttle to exit the turn.

  1. Throttle Acceleration Steering

This technique can be applied in both racing tracks and jungle environments. Engage a lower gear and hold the clutch lever while extending the foot on the inner side of the bend towards the ground, allowing the bike to naturally lean. By quickly accelerating and inducing a “power slide” at the rear wheel, the bike will slide sideways with the rear wheel spinning.

Countersteer to keep the front wheel pointing towards the desired path through the turn. As the bike approaches the exit of the turn, reduce throttle to stop the slide and smoothly exit the turn. This type of turning requires a high level of bike control and overcoming the fear factor to execute successfully.

Jumping in Off-Roading

First, let’s talk about jumping in off-roading. In fact, jumping can also be called “launching” or “taking flight,” but those terms may sound less professional. This maneuver is very common in off-road competitions, but in casual recreational off-roading, opportunities for true “airborne” jumps are limited due to terrain constraints.

When practicing jumps, there are two key things we must understand, this is important in how to ride a dirt bike:

  1. Terrain, such as single or double humps, distance between the humps, condition of the landing area, and so on.

The choice of the jumping terrain is crucial. In off-road tracks, there are usually designated jump ramps or obstacles designed for safety and competition purposes. In outdoor off-roading, it is important to carefully observe the terrain and look for suitable slopes, bumps, or other specific features that are suitable for jumping. Ensure that the jump design matches your skill level, vehicle performance, and assess the landing area in advance.

  1. Personal Skills

When jumping, it’s not necessarily about jumping high but rather landing at the right spot. As you approach the takeoff point, adopt a standing position with slightly bent legs and maintain an appropriate approach speed. When approaching the crest, be prepared to roll off the throttle. Rolling off the throttle requires skill. If you roll off the throttle before the front wheel leaves the ground, the engine braking effect will shift the weight forward, possibly causing the front fork to compress and resulting in an imbalanced position in the air, with the front wheel landing first or even causing a crash. If you roll off the throttle too late, the weight distribution will be relatively rearward, resembling a rocket, and you will lose balance upon landing. Therefore, the timing of rolling off the throttle depends on the terrain and speed and requires judgment and adjustment.

In addition to throttle control, adjusting the rider’s center of gravity is crucial. The main goal is to have the rear wheel touch down first upon landing, followed closely by the front wheel. The rider’s actions involve pulling the handlebars backward at the moment of takeoff, squeezing the legs against the bike, moving the waist forward, and adjusting the unfavorable takeoff position with the rider’s center of gravity. It is important to be prepared for the impact upon landing.

During the jumping process, it is important to remember not to use the brakes and to control the center of gravity solely through the throttle. This skill requires practice and repetition. For riders new to off-roading, it is essential to start with small jump ramps and gradually increase the height based on progress. When able to control the posture, practice with single humps, consecutive humps, and other variations according to the situation.

Lifting the front wheel

Lifting the front wheel is a fundamental technique in how to ride a dirt bike that allows riders to traverse obstacles such as ditches, rocks, and steps.

There are two specific methods:

  1. Using body positioning and throttle coordination:

When using this method to lift the front wheel, it is important to maintain balance and control the vehicle’s speed. First, lean the body forward to compress the front suspension. Then, quickly shift the body weight backward while utilizing the rebound force of the suspension to lift the handlebars. Increase the throttle appropriately to lift the front wheel.

  1. Using throttle and clutch coordination:

In this method, while maintaining balance, partially engage the clutch and increase the throttle to an appropriate RPM. Then, quickly release the clutch to transfer significant driving force to the rear wheel, allowing the front wheel to lift naturally.

Regarding the mention of “appropriate RPM” and “appropriate throttle,” it can be confusing for beginners because different vehicles have varying power, torque, RPM ranges, and throttle response. There is no universal recommendation for the exact RPM or throttle opening to lift the front wheel. As riders become more familiar with their own motorcycles and develop a sense of control, they can practice and refine their technique accordingly.

Lifting the rear wheel

Lifting the rear wheel in off-roading may not have practical applications, as the friction between the tire and the unpaved surface is typically lower, making it difficult to lift the rear wheel. However, in motorcycle stunts or freestyle riding, lifting the rear wheel can add excitement to the overall performance.

When practicing lifting the rear wheel, it is recommended to start on a high-friction asphalt surface and choose a motorcycle without ABS or with the ability to manually disable ABS.

To lift the rear wheel, the motorcycle should be kept in a straight line and at a certain speed, with the rider’s legs gripping the bike tightly. In the moment of braking, grip the handlebars firmly and shift the weight forward to lock the front wheel, causing the rear wheel to lift. After lifting the rear wheel, it is important to release the front brake gradually based on the angle of the motorcycle. This prevents the bike from flipping forward due to excessive speed. Ideally, the rear wheel should be partially lifted while continuing to slide forward.

It’s worth noting that lifting the rear wheel requires advanced skills and control. Riders should prioritize safety, practice in controlled environments, and gradually develop their technique under the guidance of professionals.

If you have more suggestions on how to ride a dirt bike, welcome to discuss with us.