Good morning, class! Today we are going to learn how to ride dirt bikes!
Yea, I’ve never heard a teacher say anything remotely that cool; however, I am going to (verbally) teach you some of the basics and tell you a little bit about what I like so much about riding dirt bikes.
Yea :) that’s me (left) and my awesome husband (right)
its all his fault I even started this mess…
…mom isn’t very happy about that…
BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING make sure you have all of your safety gear! It doesn’t matter if this is your first, 10th or 1000000000th time on a dirt bike. All it takes is one small mistake and you could be injured if you haven’t properly protected yourself. (helmet, goggles, gloves, jersey (long sleeve shirt), pants, knee/shin guards, riding boots) depending on your riding level I would also recommend a neck brace and chest protector.
The major things you need to worry about when you’re beginning is clutch (left hand), front brake (right hand), the shifter (left foot) and the rear brake (right foot).
(clutch lever, brake lever is mirrored on right side)
First you have to ensure the bike is in neutral. You do this by pushing down on the shifter until you cannot anymore. This means that you are in first gear. Then you pull until it clicks once. That means you’re in neutral. If it clicks twice and all that way up, that means you’re in second.
Secondly, you kickstart the bike. There is a retractable lever on the right side of the bike. Push down on this hard and fat with your right foot while simultaneously giving the bike gas (right grip rotating backwards). It might take a few times, especially if your bike is cold. Once you get it started, you’ll want to rev the engine for a minute or two until it gets warmed up.
After kick starting the bike, the next step is to pull in the clutch lever (left hand) and shift into first gear (left foot). Push down on the shifter once until it clicks. This means you’re in first gear. Ensure you hold down the clutch until you’re ready to move forward.
In order to get going you make sure you are properly situated on the bike and slowly release the clutch while simultaneously giving it gas. Depending on how sensitive the clutch is will determine when your bike starts to actually move forward.
Once you start going you might want to shift to higher gears. You can tell it is time to shift to a higher gear when your engine gets really high pitched and sounds “stressed”. Shift up by pulling up with your foot on the shifter. This is one of those times where you can choose to use the clutch or not. I prefer to use the clutch to save the transmission some grief, but some people prefer to use the clutch as little as possible. Try both ways and see what works for you in certain situations.
Now you’re heading into a turn so you have to slow down (which means using a brake) and shifting down. If you have to slow down very quickly, refrain from using the front brake (right hand). That could lead to flipping over the front of the bike. However, it is the easiest one to use and allows you the most control. Some people also use shifting down as a means to slowing down. It isn’t very time efficient, so would not be appropriate for racing, but for casual riding it is easiest on the bike.
Now that you’ve slowed down, you need to turn. There is one key difference you should know between street bikes and dirt bikes. With street bikes you lean into the turn. With dirt bikes you lean against the turn. This means you will almost feel like you are pushing up on your bike to keep yourself upright while the bike leans sideways. If you understand a little bit about physics and the different types of ground, it makes sense. On the street, the tires grip to the road. On the dirt, the bike pushes against the ground. Dirt bikes are usually lighter as well, so your weight pushing the bike into the dirt will keep it from sliding out from underneath you.
**note** the exception to leaning into the turn is when you’re using a berm (wall) to run the bike up the side or push off against. then you want to lean into the turn
I won’t bother teaching about jumping because I’M still learning how to do it! If you ever want to try, let me know and I’ll see what I can do for you!