Whether you’re a total n00b or consider yourself an expert, riding off-road is an incredible amount of fun. No cops, no speed limits and, if you fall down, there’s no pavement to hit. But still, here are 11 tips for riding off-road will help make you faster and safer.


  1. Adjust Your Clutch Lever For Two-Finger Operation
  • Adjusting the lever so you operate it both while standing (where your arm is angled more steeply) and using only your middle and index fingers. That allows you to operate the clutch without altering your grip on the bars, which makes your responses faster and smoother. It also facilitates a finer level of control than simply employing it as a blunt on/off switch. This is important at low speeds and while tackling challenging obstacles.


  1. In Sand/Silt/Deep Stuff, Speed Up And Lean Back
  • Moving your weight backwards has the combined effect of a) adding traction to the rear wheel, where the power is being applied and b) taking weight off the front, allowing it to deflect and ride over the stuff that it’s hitting.


  1. If You Think You Might Need Something, Take It With You
  • Gaining new hazards like rocks and trees that, if you hit them, can damage your motorcycle. So, you need to be prepared with the tools, parts and knowledge to perform common repairs like fixing a flat tire. You’ll always use more gas than you planned on, too, so packing a little extra is never a bad idea.


  1. To Turn, Push The Bike Down
  • Off-road, lean angle is your friend; to turn you want to push the bike down as far as possible, while keeping your body upright, on top of it. This makes full use of the knobs on dirt tires and allows you to easily control the slides that make off-road riding so much fun.

  1. Stay Off The Front Brake In Turns
  • Don’t try to trail brake, it’ll simply wash out the front because riding where there’s little traction (off-road) is totally different from riding where there is a ton of grip (the street). A dirt bike’s front brake can be used hard in a straight line, so slow down before the corner, push it down, then power out.


  1. Look Where You Want To Go, Not Where You Don’t
  • Consciously turn your head and focus on where you want the bike to be. Keep an observant eye on your surroundings and on the track especially for potential dangers like tree roots, stones, and other factors. Your body will follow your head and the bike will follow that. Practice this to the point where it doesn’t take deliberate effort.


  1. Stand Up
  • Most street riders are surprised to learn that standing up actually lowers their center of gravity; the body’s weight is directed through the pegs instead of the seat. Pinch the tank with your lower legs and knees and keep your legs bent; they make great shock absorbers.


  1. Weight The Inside Peg
  • When taking a right turn, push down on the inside (right) peg, while shifting your weight to the outside to aid traction and to keep your weight evenly distributed over the center mass of the bike. You actually steer a dirt bike this way, not by using the bars. Works equally well in left-hand corners, where you weight the left peg.

  1. In Corners, Sit As Far Forward As Possible
  • More weight equals more traction equals more corner speed. Shifting your weight off the rear also makes it easier to initiate a slide. Completely the opposite from tackling jumps, obstacles or deep sand, in corners you’re going to want to get as much of your bodyweight as possible over the front wheel.


  1. Lead The Person Behind You
  • When riding in a group, your responsibility is both to warn the person behind you of obstacles and to make sure they don’t get lost or separated from the group. If everyone follows this rule, then everyone gets warned about a water buffalo, or thousand-foot drop in plenty of time.


  1. Signal Your Group Number
  • It’s incredibly important to let them know how many bikes are coming up behind you, so they know when it’s safe to get back on the throttle. Hold your left hand up and raise the number of fingers of the number of guys behind you. The final rider in your group should hold up a closed fist to signal “all clear.” This way, there’s no head-on collision at speed.

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