If there’s one thing that separates an experienced rider from a learner, it’s the way they sit on a dirt bike.
The inexperienced rider almost always sits in a single position, with their elbows down by their thighs.
They hardly ever move backwards or forwards on the seat to manage the power of the bike.
Most of the time, rather than use their legs to steady the bike leading into a turn, they will simply dangle their lags in a fairly useless attempt to get the bike around a corner quickly.
In this article I will be describing exactly how to sit on a dirt bike. Also how to manouvre your arms, legs and body in the correct movements so you can keep full control of your dirt bike.
#1 How to Sit on A Dirt Bike – Always be Moving Your Body Around!
A good rider is continually moving around on their seat. Why? Because they know that where and how they position their weight will have a profound effect on the performance of a dirt bike.
If you want to be really good on a dirt bike, It is crucial to understand how to make the body and the bike work together as one unit.
You will never get a dirt bike to do what you want it to do if you sit rigidly in one position. Or you are sitting on the seat the entire time.
A dirt bike knows nothing about center of gravity and weight distribution and will not balance itself.
The bike doesn’t know if it’s in a flat turn or a berm. If you remain as unknowing as the bike, your skills will never improve on a dirt bike.
#2 Use your Legs and Bum for Balance.
The riding style of all professional riders is to stand when they need to and sit down on the seat whenever they get the chance to rest their legs.
That says a lot with only a few words and I’m going to break this down a bit more for you.
The reason a good rider stands on the foot pegs when they’re negotiating rough ground is that they have more control over the bike.
Think about it, if your bike is travelling over rough terrain and you’re sitting down, every time the bike goes up and down over rough terrain, you will move with the bike. You are connected to the suspension indirectly.
Combine this with the natural side to side movement of a bike traversing rough ground and you have a moving platform where it is very difficult to keep your balance.
You can’t control the bike if you can’t stay on it! And you can’t make the bike do what you need it to do if the bike is in control, not you.
#3 Use your Legs!
Your legs are the key here. The body’s biggest muscles are in the thighs and the legs are the body’s natural shock absorbers.
A good rider will use their legs to isolate their body from vertical and lateral movement of the suspension. And to absorb the shock transmitted by the suspension.
Good riders don’t worry too much about the position of the rear wheel. They’re much more concerned with the position of the front wheel because it determines the bikes direction of travel.
As long as the bike is travelling in the right direction, the rear wheel can jump all over the place without worrying the rider.
Unless the rear slides out under acceleration or loses traction on a loose surface, it will more or less follow the front wheel.
#4 Make Full Use the Seat.
When you look at the seat of your dirt bike it will tell you a lot about where the rider puts their weight.
The seat is more or less flat across the top and the front if it almost reaches the fuel tank filler cap.
The edges of the seat are squared off and flush with the sides of the bike and the fuel tank.
There are reasons for all of these features. The seat indicates the sort of movements a rider needs to make to keep their dirt bike under total control.
The Features of a Dirt Bike Seat.
The seat is flat across the top so the rider can move back and forth along it.
The edges are squared so a rider can position their body on the edge of the seat in flat turns.
The seat extends forward to the fuel filler cap because sometimes the rider needs to sit that far forward on the dirt bike to be most effective.
The edges of the seat are flush with the sides of the bike because the rider wants nothing to snag on their gear when they have to move quickly.
Influencing bike behavior with body weight is a matter of positioning that weight to maximum effect.
This is the key to bike control! And the most important thing you will ever learn about making a dirt bike do what you want it to.
#5 Learn the Basic Riding Positions.
What a rider wants more than anything else is stability. If the bike feels stable, you will be in complete control and you’ll ride faster.
Generally speaking, when you’re standing on the pegs your position on the bike remains fairly constant.
You are in a position over the bikes center of gravity. Which is a point slightly ahead of the foot pegs.
The bike is at its most stable when you are in this position.
Standing is very similar to the the ‘attack position’.
2. The Attack Position.
When you are in the attack position, your legs should be slightly bent so that when the bike moves underneath you, you can react by absorbing the movement with the large muscles in your upper legs.
Your legs shouldn’t feel stiff or rigid, but they should be acting like powerful springs.
They shouldn’t bend so much that you are moving up and down like a yo yo.
Rather they should absorb the impact so your body stays in the attack position with your weight over the center of the bike.
Everyone who rides a dirt bike knows that bikes jump around all over the place.
Sometimes they seem to have a mind of their own!
The best way to control the side to side movement is to hold the bike with your knees.
By gripping the bike tightly with your knees, you can control the side to side movement of the bike so it doesn’t get away form you.
I grip the bike as tightly as I can and I find it makes a big difference to my control over the bike.
In the attack position, your back is arched, your bum is over the seat and your head is over the handlebar cross-brace.
The arms play an important part as well. Good riders carry their elbows high, whether they are sitting or standing.
When you’re standing, your arms should be slightly bent and your forearms should be at an angle similar to the forks. In other words, almost in line with the forks.
It may look a bit strange, but this elbow angle will give you the most leverage on the handlebars when you want to exert or resist movement at the front of the bike.
Your arms are more effective shock absorbers at this angle as well.
There are variations to the basic attack position. If you want to lift the front wheel over an obstacle, a rut for example, you would move your weight back slightly so you can take the weight off the front wheel and power over the rut with the throttle.
The idea is to keep the front wheel out of any obstacle which can interfere with steering. You ride over rough ground, not through it.
Standing on the pegs when you’re riding fast over rough ground is a very physical business and can be extremely tiring. Especially in long moto races when the racing is close and the track is rough.
Your body takes an awful pounding so grab a rest whenever you can.
Some riders stand more than others. Maybe they’re more comfortable that way, but the general rule is that you sit whenever you get the chance to to give your legs a break.
There are three basic positions;
a. Sitting position for accelerating.
b. Sitting position for cornering
c. Sitting position for negotiating rough ground
The difference between the three is a matter of inches.
This is where a good rider really takes advantage of a dirt bikes shape!
Its deliberate narrowness, particularly at the front of the bike near the radiator shrouds is just so important.
It’s where the rider uses body position and body weight with the most effect.
a. Sitting and Accelerating.
What we’re trying to do here is maintain front end stability to make sure the front wheel stays on the ground.
In the sitting & accelerating position, you sit well forward on the seat.
Your back is arched so you can position your head over the handle bars cross-brace and you have most of your weight over the front half of your bike.
Your weight will push the front tire into the ground to maximize traction.
You grip the sides of the bike with your knees and your elbows are carried high.
his way you can exert more force on the handlebars while keeping your body well forward on the bike.
Standing on a bike under extreme acceleration is virtually impossible. The force of acceleration may well shoot you off the back of the bike. In majority of cases you always sit down when accelerating.
Placement of your body-weight while accelerating is really important!
If you’ve been riding for a while you will know that dirt bikes like to kick their front wheel in the air when you accelerate really hard.
If you have too much weight toward the rear of the bike you will find yourself sitting in dirt.
It’s important to sit in the forward position when you’re accelerating with your bum slightly off the seat.
When the front wheel is in the air you can’t steer the bike! So when you are accelerating hard, it’s really important to keep that front wheel on the ground.
b. Sitting & Rough Surfaces.
This third sitting position is with your weight positioned more toward the rear of the bike.
You should lean back but keep you bum more or less in the same position on the seat.
Try to move enough so that you take the weight off the front wheel slightly. This way you can blip the gas and lift the front of the bike over ruts and bumps.
You will be able to hit rough surfaces more easily with your weight toward the center or rear of the seat.
If you place your weight too far forward when you’re riding over broken ground the front wheel will be overly influenced by the track surface. This will make the front-end jittery.
Not only that but you’ll also get a really uncomfortable ride. If you’re sitting over moderately rough ground, get your weight toward the front of the bike. This way the bike can move around under you without upsetting your balance.
When you have to lift the front wheel over an obstacle on the track, lean back slightly, straighten your arms and use the throttle to lift the front wheel over the obstacle.
c. Sitting and Cornering.
Read my blog post for learning how to corner faster on a dirt bike.
The art of moving your weight up and down the seat will come with experience. The more you ride the more you’ll realize where your weight should be in any given situation.
After a while it will become second nature to you. So if you’re a learner, get out there and ride until you are making the right decisions with your balance without even thinking about it.
#1 Always be moving around on the bike for maximum control.
#2 Using your bum and legs for balance gives you greater control over the bike.
#3 Using your legs like shock absorbers will absorb the movement and vibration from the bike and will stop you from getting kicked off.
#4 Using the extremities of the seat will help you to keep the bike under control and will improve your riding abilities.
#5 Standing up on the pegs is one of the most stable positions you can be in.
#6 The attack position is the most common position and prepares the rider for anything coming up ahead on the track.
#7 Sitting and moving forward when accelerating will keep the front wheel on the ground.
#8 Stay sitting but shift your weight to the back slightly to get the front wheel over rough surfaces.
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