If you’re reading this, you’ve probably gained an interest in dirt bikes and would like to know if riding a dirt bike is hard or not.
Perhaps you want to upgrade your mountain bike to something as thrilling as a dirt bike or maybe you’ve watched a few dirt bike racers, and they’ve piqued your interest in this adrenaline-filled sport.
Riding a dirt bike isn’t difficult. It’s similar to riding a bicycle – only a dirt bike uses an engine instead of pedals. Learning to ride a dirt bike only takes a few sessions, where you have to learn braking, cornering, accelerating and other basic riding techniques.
The different parts of a dirt bike
Knowing your dirt bike’s parts is vital, so you’ll know what each does and how to control them while riding.
There are many parts to a dirt bike, but here are the essential ones you need to learn for now:
A dirt bike’s engine uses pistons to move inside its cylinders to provide power.
Here, you’ll find essential components such as transmission gears, connecting rods, valves, and springs.
Dirt bike levers
The lever on the left side of the dirt bike’s handlebar is the clutch lever.
This lever engages the transmission gears to prevent your engine from stalling while you shift gears.
On the right portion of the handlebar, you’ll find the brake lever, which enables the brake on your front wheels and slows your speed.
A dirt bike’s throttle is the right-hand grip that you twist to accelerate.
It is responsible for controlling the air-fuel mixture that flows in the engine and determining the speed and acceleration of your dirt bike.
The gear shifter is the lever on the left side of the bike, in front of the left foot peg that you step on when you want to change gears.
Rear brakes (a.k.a. foot brakes)
The rear brake is the lever on the right side of your bike adjacent to the gear shifter that enables the brakes on your rear wheels.
Is riding a dirt bike hard?
Riding a dirt bike is easy.
Generally, your mastery of dirt bike riding relies heavily on your riding skills and prior experience.
You already have an advantage if you know how to ride a bicycle.
If you know how to maintain your balance and control your speed on a bike, you won’t have a hard time handling a dirt bike.
How fast you master your stability, cornering, and gear-shifting skills will also determine how fast you can master riding a dirt bike.
When we talk about motocross racing, that’s a different scenario.
The challenge of motocross riding is keeping your bike going fast while being stable on the uneven terrain of motocross tracks.
If you have a lighter dirt bike like a two-stroke model, it might take you a bit longer to get comfortable with (learn why in this article).
How to learn how to ride a dirt bike
Whether it’s your first time riding a two-wheel vehicle or you’re upgrading from a mountain bike to a dirt bike, here are ideal ways to master the exhilarating way of dirt bikes:
1. Learn from an experienced rider
Dirt bike riders are a fun community, and we love sharing tips and guides with those who want to learn about the highs and thrills of dirt bike riding.
Don’t be shy to ask your friend, family, or your local dirt bike riding community for guidance with your dirt bike!
You can also find dirt bike experts on YouTube that cover the basics of riding a dirt bike, how each part of the bike works, and tips to master dirt bikes as fast as possible.
2. Enroll in a dirt bike riding course
Riding courses have qualified, experienced instructors that will teach you:
- The mechanics of a dirt bike
- The proper body position when riding a dirt bike
- How to use clutch, brakes, and gear shifters
- How to turn corners safely
- How to ride uphill and downhill
- And much more
3. Search for riding trails/tracks in your area and practice
Once you get the basics covered, search for a suitable track or trail to practice on.
You can book a private tour of a racing/riding trail and choose a beginner-friendly course to get a feel for what it’s like to ride a dirt bike on your own.
Five tips to master riding a dirt bike
Whatever path you decide to take to learn how to ride a dirt bike, I want to share these five tips for riding a dirt bike:
1. Practice the proper riding position
The appropriate riding position on a dirt bike is called the attack stance.
Imagine a tennis player waiting to hit the ball – knees and elbows bent, the body crouched slightly towards the handlebar, and your sight 200m across the trail.
With your knees and elbows bent, you’re decreasing the pressure of your weight on your entire body, allowing you to enjoy longer and less straining rides.
The angle of the elbows also enables you to make quick turns more efficiently and get a better grip on the handlebars if you lose traction.
Attack stance is generally used in motocross racing or while handling tougher terrain like hill climbs, tight corners or muddy patches.
It ensures you have the best reaction to changes in the track.
Sitting down on the seat is perfectly fine during even parts of the track or if you want to take a break on a long trail ride.
2. Practice throttle control
Knowing how to throttle allows proper acceleration in different situations and maximizes the optimum rev range for your current gear.
Just don’t twist your throttle too much to avoid whiskey throttle.
If you open up the throttle too much, the bike will rapidly accelerate, throwing you off the dirt bike.
This video explains the what whiskey throttle is very well.
3. Master gear ratios
You should know the recommended RPM for each gear (see your bike’s user manual) before shifting to maintain your speed even when changing gears.
You should also master how to shift gears smoothly.
Using the clutch and the gear shifter lever can be confusing at first.
However, once you master how to use both, it will dramatically improve your dirt bike riding experience.
4. Invest in safety gear
Invest in the highest quality riding gear on the market – riding pants and jersey, gloves, proper riding boots, a solid motocross helmet, and some body armor just in case.
When you learn how to ride your dirt bike, your safety gear should be able to protect you from falls and crashes (which are an essential part of learning).
5. Maintain your dirt bike regularly
Maintenance is essential if you want your dirt bike to last a long time.
Dirt bikes usually come with a manual checklist, but the following are the regular maintenance duties you’ll usually perform:
- Changing oil
- Checking tire pressure
- Cleaning air filter
- Lubricating bike chain
You can install a dirt bike hour meter to stay on top of your maintenance routines.
Riding a dirt bike isn’t difficult. It all comes down to your adaptability to learn and previous riding experience (like riding a mountain bike).
But with enough practice and proper guidance, you’ll develop competent riding skills in no time.
If you’re planning to learn how to ride a dirt bike, you can enlist the help of a friend or family member who also rides dirt bikes.
You can also watch YouTube videos or enroll in a dirt bike riding course.
When learning how to ride a dirt bike, you should practice the “attack stance” riding position and wear the proper safety gear.
Mastering gear ratios and throttle control are also important.
In addition, learn how each part of your dirt bike works, so you know what part performs what function and how to maintain each one properly.