You don’t have to be a riding gun to gain maximum fun out of riding a dirt bike.
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced rider, dirt bike riding can be as challenging as you want it to be.
Maximizing pleasure out of your ride is simply a matter of applying a few tried and tested techniques.
These techniques will allow a rider to manage obstacles better and manage your energy better as well.
In this article I will be going over these dirt bike riding tips and techniques in detail.
I will also be talking about ways that you can increase your safety and minimize the chance of crashing or being stranded.
#1 Stand up more for greater stability and a smoother ride.
#2 Get your body forward on your bike when you are cornering.
#3 Lean the bike over and sit on the edge of your seat when cornering on flat turns.
#4 Shift your weight and blip the gas to get over obstacles.
#5 Look 20-30 meters ahead of you and don’t focus on the ground directly in front of you.
#6 Stay on the gas and lean back when riding in sand.
#7 Stay on the gas when riding up tough hills and choose the best line. Get a good run up.
#8 Take care when riding through water and check the water levels first.
#9 Spin turning can help in tight spots if you need to turn the bike around.
#10 Wear a hydration pack and take some food.
#11 Take your tools with you for the ride.
#12 Install the right accessories on your bike to protect the essentials.
#1 Stand up More.
Unless you are accelerating hard you should always be standing up over rough ground.
We all get lazy at times and sitting on the seat is the easy way out.
The problem with sitting down is that it does not give you total control over the bike. (unless you are riding on a road)
Sitting down also reduces your visibility to see hidden obstacles that may be in long grass or covered in dirt.
Additionally, when you are sitting down you are taking the full brunt of the shock from riding over rough surfaces and obstacles.
You will just end up bouncing up and down off the seat, which makes for an uncomfortable ride.
When you begin to stand up more you will find that you have greater visibility to what is in front of you.
You will be able to make better decisions and take better lines.
Also, when you stand up, your legs act like suspension and your legs will absorb the full impact of riding on bumpy ground.
This makes for not only a more comfortable ride but allows you to ride over obstacles a lot better than just riding through them.
At first, you will really feel it in your legs and back as you stand up more.
But over time, your muscles will develop in those areas and standing up will become like second nature to you.
The best position when standing up is called the ‘attack position’.
This is where your body weight is centered on the bike which is a position that is slightly ahead of the foot pegs.
Your head will be over the cross-brace of your handlebars and your arms and legs will be bent so you can absorb the impact of you hitting anything hard.
So when should you sit down? Well constantly standing up over rough ground can get tiring after a while so you need to sit down whenever you can.
This will usually be when the trail gets really flat or if you hit road.
You will also be sitting down when you are riding up a difficult hill or when you are accelerating hard.
#2 Get Your Body Forward When Cornering.
I wrote about cornering in detail here, so be sure to check it out.
When you are cornering, get as much weight onto that fuel tank as possible to push the front wheel into the ground.
Why? Well by doing this you are maximizing your grip to the front wheel when you steer the bike around the corner.
The back wheel will take care of itself and can even drift a little bit.
But make sure that the front wheel is firmly pushed into the dirt and you won’t wash out as you make your turn.
You can apply this principle in any type of turn whether it’s a berm, rut, flat or cambered turn. This technique won’t let you down.
It takes a bit to master but once you have it, your turning technique will be one of the most valuable riding skills to have under your belt.
#3 Sit on the Edge of Your Seat in Flat Turns.
Leading on from cornering, when you are hitting a flat turn at speed, always lean the bike over and keep your body weight forward.
But keep your body sitting straight up and sit on the edge of your seat.
Also, put as much weight as possible on the outside peg so you are driving the wheels down into the dirt for extra grip.
Additionally, keep your leg out and forward to steady the bike if it threatens to tip over too far.
Flat turns are difficult to master and if you lean with the bike, most likely the bike will wash out and you will crash.
#4 Getting Over Obstacles.
There is one thing that is common with trail riding and that is there will always be obstacles that you will need to ride over.
Whether it’s a log, a drop off, or a hole or a rut, the best way over them is to get your front wheel over it quickly.
The best way to do this is to get your weight to the back of the dirt bike while you are standing up.
Then blip the throttle to get the front wheel off the ground slightly or at least get it as light as possible.
Sarah Wipple demonstrating how to get over an obstacle properly.
Do this is so your front wheel doesn’t smash into the obstacle, causing you to stop or come off.
Start practicing this technique on small obstacles and the larger obstacles will become easy later on.
#5 Always Look Ahead.
It’s really hard to move at speed on a dirt bike when your gaze is fixed on the dirt in front of you.
A good rider can ride fast through trails because they are constantly scanning the trail 20 -30 meters in front of them.
There is nothing wrong with giving the trail directly in front of you a quick glance to detect obstacles.
But your gaze needs to be further ahead to keep your dirt bike moving at a fast speed.
#6 Riding in Sand.
Another obstacle that is common when you are out trail riding is sand.
Sand can be really tricky and the bike seems to have a mind of its own when riding through it.
I have written a detailed blog about riding your dirt bike in sand so check that out if you want more detailed tips.
The first trick to master in sand is to keep your weight to the back of the bike and keep that front wheel as light as possible.
By doing this you won’t let the front wheel find its own path in the sand and wash out, ending in a crash.
Secondly, stay on the gas! Riding in sand is all about momentum and so once you hit the sand you don’t want to stop.
If you stop or slow down you will bog down the engine and will lose all momentum and fall off.
Staying on the throttle will drive you straight through the sand.
Thirdly, keep your finger off the front brake. The front brake will force the front wheel down and leading you to wash out and crash.
Don’t be tempted to use that front brake. Try not to even brake at all for that matter, just keep powering over it.
#7 Riding up Tough Hills.
There is quite a bit to talk about around this topic so I’ve written an entire article about how to climb a hill on a dirt bike here.
#8 Riding Through Water.
There are all types of water obstacles when riding, from potholes and puddles to waterways and rivers.
The only real consideration here is safety and depth, and it’s important that you assess each obstacle individually.
A rut full of water is really fun to ride through but do you know how deep that rut is?
There is a short trail near my home that contains a lot of ruts and there is one particular rut that is 4 foot deep! from heavy 4×4 use.
It gets filled with water after it rains and it looks deceptively shallow.
Many riders have come to treachery in this little rut and have ended up waist deep in muddy water wondering how the hell they are going to drag their flooded bike out.
My point is if you don’t know how deep the hole is, it’s best to either avoid it or at least inspect it first.
Do this to make sure that you don’t flood your bike or end up having to get a 4 wheel drive to drag your bike out.
If you need to cross over a river, make sure that there are no obstacles submerged under the water.
Trying to restart a flooded bike is no fun so make sure you assess the risk properly before riding through it.
Video thanks to Trailkabutsalju
If the water hole is really deep and there’s no other way around , check out my guide for riding through deep water holes.
#9 Spin Turning.
This is a really handy trick I use all the time to turn the bike around in tight sections of a trail.
Spin turning allows you to get your bike back around quickly without having to make a standard turn.
To do a spin turn, lean the bike over and have one boot firmly on the ground when the bike is at rest.
Then, with the clutch in, rev the engine and release the clutch.
The rear tire will begin to spin and the entire bike will spin right around easily. It’s also the same principle for doing donuts.
#10 Wear a Hydration Pack and Take some Food.
I talk about hydration packs here. Basically though, dirt bike riding is thirsty work!
Even 20 minutes into a ride will dry you out and have you looking for the nearest river to drink from.
A hydration pack will let you take a drink as you are riding whenever you need.
A hydration pack is a must for long trails.
With food, keep it light and easy to eat on the go.
I really like energy bars as they are easy to carry and fast to eat.
#11 Take your Tools.
Like all vehicles, things can go wrong when you least expect them to.
Having your tools on hand will give you the ability to fix problems and keep you riding.
Without tools, even the most simple of problems can ruin your day of riding.
Take a look at my blog post about dirt bike tool kits and all the options that are available.
#12 Fit the Essential Accessories on Your Bike.
The right accessories will protect the essential parts of your bike from damage and breaking.
If any one of these crucial parts snap off during a ride then you will be pushing your bike home.
To learn more about these accessories, have a read of my article about making your dirt bike bullet proof.
What are your most essential tips for riding on long trail rides? If you liked this article, please give it a share and don’t forget to comment in the comments box below.
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