How to get your Kids Started in Dirt Bikes. 16 Tips for Success.
Dirt bike riding is a fantastic sport for kids! It teaches them a lot of great stuff and they also get to have fun, gain a lot of exercise and they learn all sorts of social skills from the sport as well.
No doubt you have watched some videos online and read a few dirt bike magazines and are keen to take it to the next step.
But you are not sure where to start or how to plan for it.
If so, then this article is for you! In this blog post I have assembled a bunch of ideas and tips that will help you to plan, make the right decisions and avoid the pitfalls.
And also this article will make sure that your kids are getting maximum fun out of the journey while being as safe as possible.
#1 Know the costs of getting your kids into dirt bike riding so you can avoid any unforeseen costs in the future.
#2 The right type of gear is absolutely necessary for protecting your kids from injury
#3 Make sure you can transport dirt bikes around with a trailer, van or utility vehicle.
#4 Buy a bike that is not too big but is also not too small.
#5 Go for an electric start wherever possible. Your kids will thank you for it one day.
#6 Stick with the main brands when looking at dirt bikes and avoid cheap Chinese rubbish.
#7 Buying a second hand bike is a really good idea to test the waters so you don’t waste money on a new bike.
#8 Do playful drills with your kids to get them familiar with the dirt bike. Asking them quick fire questions while they are sitting on the bike helps them to get familiar with the controls.
#9 Look at joining your local dirt bike club and get your kids involved in the planned activities
#10 Have a kit of gear ready to go on every ride so you are fully prepared for anything.
#12 If you are planning on taking your kids trail riding, make sure they have adult supervision at all times. Trails can be dangerous places.
#14 Buy a video camera and get that valuable footage for your YouTube channel and also for the memories.
#15 Read up about dirt bike schools in your area and seriously consider enrolling your kids in them.
#16 Don’t force it. A child will either love it or not care for dirt bike riding. Putting your kids under pressure at the track is a bad idea. If you want to know if your kid can make it as a racer, get feedback from a dirt bike school coach instead.
#1 Know the Costs.
Dirt bike riding is probably the cheapest out of all vehicle racing as gear and parts are affordable and dirt bikes don’t break the bank.
Dirt bike riding for kids is even cheaper as the gear is half the size of adult gear and so costs half as much.
Saying that though, it’s always good to know the upfront and ongoing costs.
This way you will know exactly what you are getting into and so there are no surprises halfway through.
Consider these costs for all the essential gear –
A Kids Dirt Bike:
|Yamaha PW 50 Dirt bike (smallest kids bike available)||$1500||$800|
|Kawasaki KLX 110 (largest kids bike available)||$2300||$1500|
A full set of gear for kids:
Extra gear you will need:
|Tool kit||$50 -100||$75|
|Gas can||$30 – $60||$45|
Ongoing Rough Costs:
|Club racing fees||$50|
|TOTAL||$150 per month|
|TOTAL||$3400||& $150 per month.|
This is a rough estimate but I think that it’s realistic and what you should expect to spend $3400 for all the kids gear including a bike and about $150 per month in ongoing costs.
#2 Don’t Skimp on the Dirt Bike Gear
Seriously, when it comes to dirt bike gear, go all out and buy the quality stuff and make sure it fits,
Don’t settle for just sneakers and welding gloves. If your kids ever have an accident and the injury is the result of not having the right gear or loose fitting gear, you will be in the hurt locker.
Avoid this altogether and use my above lists to buy the right gear for your junior racer.
#3 Make Sure you Can Transport the Bike
If you buy a bike for your kids but can’t take them anywhere, then that circuit around the garden in the backyard is going to wear thin really fast.
If you are buying a bike you will also need at least a Utility or a trailer on the back of your car to transport the bike(s).
I would recommend a trailer because they are low to the ground so it makes it easier to roll the bikes on and off.
Also you can place a couple of bikes on a trailer if you are going riding with your kids.
A van is the best in my opinion but not necessary. A trailer or utility will easily do the job.
#4 Buy the Right Sized Bike.
Size is really important when it comes to kids dirt bikes.
A mistake I see really often is that parents will buy a bike that is too large for the child, thinking that the child ‘will grow into it’.
This is a big mistake because kids will find the bike frustrating to use and not being able to properly touch the ground with their feet is very dangerous.
If you do this, your child will inevitably lose confidence, develop a fear of the bike and walk away from it all together.
The same goes for a bike that is too small. The child will just get bored with it really easily and not use it.
Take it from me. My first bike was a Suzuki RM125 and I needed a wooden box to be able to swing my leg over the saddle!
As long as I was moving forward everything was great but as soon as I needed to stop and I had nothing to lean the bike on then I would tip over and crash.
Not fun. I’ve still got the muffler burns to prove it 😉
Instead, choose a bike where the child can comfortably put their toes firmly on the ground and have full balance over the bike.
If their toes don’t or barely touch the ground then the bike is too big, if their feet are on the ground completely then the bike is a bit too small.
Take your child to a few local bike dealers and get them to sit on a variety of different kids bikes with their shoes on. This is the easiest way to find the right size bike and the kids will have fun along the way. When you’ve figured out the right bike, take note of the model so you can do some more research when you get home.
#5 Choose an Electric Start if Possible.
There is no greater fun killer on a dirt bike for a child than having to kick over a stubborn bike.
It can be a real de-motivator. To avoid this, an electric start with a backup kick start is the way to go and your kids will thank you for it.
#6 Avoid Chinese Made Bikes.
The mini bike market is full of all kinds of models of bikes that can be quite cheap to purchase.
The problem is that these cheap bikes are mechanically terrible, are not reliable, parts can be hard to get and some are just downright dangerous, especially the bikes that come out of China.
China are working at it but they still haven’t perfected the art of building a super tough, reliable dirt bike.
If you stay with the main brands then you can be guaranteed of reliability and strength, parts are easy to get and they are no problem to service. The big 5 are Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM and Suzuki and they are all equally great.
A rule that I live by is – Buy cheap, pay twice!
#7 Be Wary of Buying Used.
If it is your first time at buying a dirt bike for your kids and you are not loaded with cash, then I would be buying a used bike.
The reason for this is if your child’s interest peaks after only a week and then is no longer interested in dirt bikes, then you have wasted too much money.
Dirt bikes, like cars have a premium on their brand new models, so once you roll it off the showroom floor then you immediately lose a chunk of its value.
Just a warning though, the second hand market is loaded with sharks looking for a sucker to offload their piece of junk. To avoid buying a dud and to help you with negotiating the sale, have a read of my article about things to look for when buying a second hand bike.
#8 Get them Familiar with the Bike.
Okay, so you have bought the bike and all the gear and your child is ready to roll! Now what?
The first things a kid will want to do is gear up and tear around the backyard.
This is a good thing as they can get familiar with the bike in a safe and familiar setting.
Before you let them tear up your turf though, give them a few minutes of your time to get familiar with the controls.
To do this, I would suggest asking them some quick fire questions in a fun way when they are sitting on the bike and it’s not running.
I would go something like this –
Show me the rear brake?
Show me the front brake?
Show me the gas?
show me the gears?
Show me the kill switch?
Show me the clutch (if it has one)?
Your child will then place their hands and feet on the controls as you call them out and this will get them used to the controls.
Another way is to ask them questions –
What do you do when you want to slow down?
What do you do when you want to speed up?
What do you do when you want to change gears?
What do you do in an emergency?
Do this as a habit for the first few goes before letting them ride and you will find they will have the controls down in a week or so and will know what to do in any riding situation.
Also, teach your child how to pick up the bike un-assisted. Most crashes that occur will be minor ‘tip overs’ and so they need to have the ability to pick up the bike on their own and get moving again.
When you are doing this sort of training, make sure you have turned the fuel off first so it doesn’t flood the engine.
#9 Join a Dirt Bike Club.
Dirt bike clubs always have events for kids and it’s a great way for your kids to get involved in riding in a group and meeting new friends.
It’s also a safe environment as the kids have full supervision from the track attendants and parents have a full view of the action as well.
To join a club, you pay a small yearly fee and also a small fee every time you use the track.
To learn more about joining your local motocross club including some really handy ideas, read my tips for joining a motocross club here.
#10 Have a Kit of Gear Ready to Go on Every Ride.
When you take your kids out riding wherever it is, you are going to need to take a few things with you. Here is a basic list that you can use –
a. A toolkit is essential when you have anything to do with dirt bikes and a broken down bike may only take a few quick turns of the screwdriver to keep your kids having fun.
Make sure you carry a decent toolkit whenever you take your kids out riding.
To learn more about tool kits for dirt bikes, read my article here about the right tools to carry for dirt bikes.
b. Make sure to bring a whole can of gas with you and also make sure that the bike is full of gas as well.
c. Food and Drink. When kids are dirt bike riding, they turn get hungry really fast. Make sure you have packed a good lunch with plenty of water.
Avoid super high sugary drinks, bring heaps of water and get your hands on a lot of fruit, muesli bars, sandwiches, nuts and other easy foods.
d. First Aid Kit. Yes it does happen from time to time and having some fast antiseptic and bandages on hand to fix cuts and grazes will help to patch your kids up fast so they can get back to having fun.
e. Tent Cover and Seats. There’s nothing worse than trying to relax after riding when there is no shade.
A fold up shade tent and fold up chairs are a fast solution and your kids will thank you for it. You will also have somewhere to relax while your kids are out riding.
Take a look at the 5ft x 5ft pop up tent from ABCCanopy on amazon. It’s good quality and quite cheap. Mine has lived through a few storms and some really bad weather and it hasn’t torn or broken anywhere.
f. Towels and Seat Covers. After a big day of riding where your kids are covered in mud and dirt, the last thing you want is for your kids to jump in the back seat of your car and wreck your upholstery.
Save your car and your sanity and use a bed sheet to protect the seats of your car. They will also need towels to clean their hands and faces as well.
#11 Ride with your Kids on Trails.
If your child will be riding on trails into the forest or desert, it’s absolutely necessary that they have adult supervision at all times.
Trails are full of dangers and they are just too dangerous for children to be riding alone. Either gear up or send a trusted adult to accompany them if you plan to take them trail riding.
#12 Get a Dirt Bike Video Camera.
I’m not sure if you have noticed this, but kids on dirt bikes are really popular on YouTube and they get millions of views.
If you are going to take your kids out regularly, you might as well strap a video camera onto their helmet and get some footage.
Not only might you make a few dollars from it on your YouTube channel but you are also capturing awesome memories that your kids can laugh at when they get older and that you can share with the rest of the family.
#13 Consider a Dirt Bike School.
If your junior racer is really getting into it and loves dirt bike riding, maybe you should think about enrolling them into a dirt bike coaching school.
I’m a big advocate of dirt bike coaching and schools for a whole bunch of reasons.
Firstly, your kids will learn the right way to ride young and avoid bad riding habits.
Secondly, there is no better way to advance their riding skills.
Thirdly, if junior ever wanted to go racing in the future and meet some serious industry contacts then a riding school is the best way of going about it.
To learn more about dirt bike riding schools, I have an area on my website just for dirt bike training schools and coaches in the USA that you can read about here.
#14 Don’t Force it.
And last but not least, please don’t be one of those dickhead parents that yell at their kids for doing the wrong thing.
Dirt bike riding is a fun sport and your kids should be having the time of their lives.
If you are putting them under pressure and getting pissed at them like an angry pit boss, not only will all the fun go out of it for them but you might also wind up looking like the resident track asshole.
Also, kids are more likely to crash if they are panicking.
Kids will either love it or not. Yelling and carrying on like a pork chop will not change that.
So make it fun, not serious!
If you want to know if your child is the next Ricky Carmichael, seek out a coach from a dirt bike school to watch your child ride.
They will quickly tell you whether they should be pursuing a career in dirt bike riding or not.
If you are considering getting your kids into dirt bike riding, use my 16 points as a guide and you will be well on your way to dirt bike glory and winning Father/Mother of the year award.
Tell me if I’ve missed anything. Also, if you’ve had success from my pointers please let me know in the comments below. Also, if you liked this article, please share on social media.
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