Executive summary about Dirt Bike Racing by Chuck Kent
Chances are, even if you live in a city or suburb, there are some good dirt bike courses within reasonable driving distance - which explains why I see so many people living in suburban areas with dirt bikes in their garage. Dirt bike racing is probably one of the most fun things you can do on a Saturday afternoon.
The last thing you'll want to do is make sure you have the right dirt bike riding gear.
First Time Dirt Bike Riding Tips
If you’ve chosen the right size bike, your feet should just be able to touch the ground. A dirt bike seat has a natural indentation where the seat meets the gas tank. If you are too far behind your feet, you will need to slide forward and pull on the handlebars.
The proper seated position will affect all aspects of your riding, especially turns. OK, I will stop talking about the seating position if you promise to CONSTANTLY remind yourself to move forward. Deal?
If you are used to a street bike, riding a dirt bike will be a bit disconcerting at first because the ground is irregular and the bike will “wiggle” a bit underneath you. As for seating position - MOVE FORWARD!
If you are looking a few feet in front of your tire, you will never get smooth. You need to look well down the trail. As you are riding, without moving your head, determine if you can see your front fender using your peripheral vision. If you can, you are probably looking too close to the front of the bike.
For the rest of the day you will work on Accelerating and Braking.
ACCELERATION: Remember our discussion about SEATING POSITION? If you are seated properly, your hips should be over the foot pegs and your upper body should have a forward lean to it.
BRAKING: Guess what? In the same way that accelerating forces push you backward, braking forces will push you forward. If you are seated properly when braking, the gas tank should be between your thighs. As you begin braking, SQUEEZE the gas tank with your legs. At first, simply accelerate to 3rd or 4th gear and then brake to a stop. Remember, as you are braking you should be downshifting so that when you stop, you will be able to immediately take off again. After 10 times, you will need to begin “testing” yourself. To do this, pick out 4 points.
POINT 1: The point that you start accelerating.
POINT 2: The point you stop accelerating.
POINT 3: The point you apply the brakes.
POINT 4: The point you are stopped.
When you do this test, be sure to accelerate to approximately the same speed. You probably don’t have a speedometer, so use your gears to tell you. In other words, accelerate hard from the same spot until you shift into 3rd gear. That will give you POINT 1 and 2. Mentally mark approximately where Spots 3 and 4 are during these test runs.
Each time, try to accelerate harder and brake harder. When braking, you might lock up one or both tires. When practicing, try to “feel” when a tire is about to lock up. If you do, don’t increase brake pressure any more. Ideally, you want to be right at that point, where maximum pressure is applied but the tire is not skidding.
Another thing to remember is how the condition of the trail affects accelerating and braking. For instance, if it is real bumpy, you cannot brake as hard before you start to skid.
Some other tips:
1. Do not try to use the back brake by rotating your ankle. Physically pick up your foot off the footpeg and press down on the brake pedal.
2. Use 1 or 2 fingers only on the front brake.
3. Use both brakes simultaneously.
If you just go out and play all day, you will improve a bit, but not as much as you would if you worked on these exercises.