Dirt Bike Riding Tips for Beginners

In this post, we will discuss dirt bike riding tips for beginners….intermediate riders may also find some of these tips useful, as we often pick up bad habits along the way. It may be a good idea to just remind yourself about the basics techniques every now and then.

Before learning to ride a dirt bike, you will have to make sure that you know what all the controls are for. This will definitely come in handy when you need to come to a stop.

  • Front brake – The front brake is the lever on the right-hand side of the handlebars
  • Back brake – The back brake is the pedal situated in front of the right-hand foot peg
  • Clutch – The clutch is the lever on the left-hand side of the handlebars
  • Gear shift – The gear shift is situated in front of the left foot peg.
  • Accelerator – You will notice that the grip on the right-hand side of the handlebars can move in a downwards motion, this is the throttle.

How the gears work

Before you start the bike, make sure that the bike is in neutral.

Gear shifting

Neutral is between 1st gear and 2nd gear. To shift the bike into neutral, hold the clutch in and shift the gear shift all the way down, this will be 1st gear. Now lightly tap the gear shift up. If you hear a click, you more than likely shifted too hard and put the bike in 2nd gear. To make sure it is in neutral, let go of the clutch and rock the bike back and forth. If it moves freely, it is in neutral.

The order of the gears are as follows:

  • 1st gear
  • Neutral
  • 2nd gear
  • 3rd gear
  • 4th gear
  • 5th gear
  • 6th gear (Not all dirt bikes have a 6th gear)

Safety first!

Make sure you are wearing appropriate safety gear before attempting to ride.

Dirt bike safety gear
Dirt bike safety gear

Remember the abbreviation ATGATT.

  • A – All
  • T – The
  • G – Gear
  • A – All
  • T – The
  • T  – Time

How to pull off

With the bike in neutral, start it up. Pull the clutch in & shift all the way down, into 1st gear. Slowly release the clutch, as you release the clutch, gently accelerate. Listen closely to the engine, if the engine revs too high and you release the clutch too fast, there is a good chance that you will flip the bike, so be sure to take it easy when you’re starting off.

Once you are going, slowly accelerate, once again, keep listening to the engine and don’t let it rev too high. Change to second, but make sure that you push the gear shift hard enough, so you don’t shift into neutral.

Learning perfect throttle and clutch control may be a bit tricky at first, but just keep practicing and you will eventually get the hang of it.

Body position

Body position is very important in dirt bike riding.

Position yourself in the center of the seat. If you sit too far back, it will be much easier for the front wheel to lift and as a beginner, this could make you lose control and crash. If you sit too far forward, it is more likely for the back wheel to spin, which once again, could make you lose control.

As you get more experienced and more confident, you should try to stand up on the bike more. You will have more control over the bike this way. When standing, bend your knees and grip the seat with your knees. A common mistake beginners make, is that they hang onto the handlebars like their lives depend on it. This is not the right way. If you do this, you will get bad arm pump and fatigue will set in very quickly. I also did this when I learned how to ride and my arms got so tired, that I could not open my hands and I almost had a few bad accidents because of that.

The right way is to use your legs to hold on to the bike and your hands should only be holding onto the handlebar tight enough to steer the bike.

Ride with your elbows out and pointing upwards. This will give you more leverage over the bike. Your knees should be bent (and gripping the seat) with your bum pushed out. This is known as the attack position.

Attack position
Attack position

Look ahead when riding. This will give you enough time to notice what is up ahead and will give you enough time to avoid obstacles in your way. If you look right in front of your front wheel, you will end up just going where you are looking. Often when people pay too much attention to what is right in front of them, they often end up hitting the object that they are trying to avoid. Therefore it is important to look ahead, scan the area properly and don’t pay too much attention to what is right in front of your front wheel.

Stand on the balls of your feet when riding. This way you will have more body travel, you won’t accidentally hit the gear shift or back brake pedal and you also won’t get your feet ripped off the foot pegs when your toe hits the dirt in a rut. If you are going to be jumping, it may, however, be a better idea to stand on the arches of your feet, so you don’t hurt your ankles.

Ride with one finger on the clutch and two fingers on the front brake. If you do this, you will be ready to pull the clutch in case you get to a situation where you may stall the bike. You will also be much quicker to pull the brake, should the need arise.

The only way to improve your riding is to practice as often as you can and do not pick up any bad habits that will take time to unlearn again.

Stick to these techniques and you will learn to ride like a pro in no time!


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