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Learning on the Dirt vs Learning on the Road

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' at netrider.net.au started by Stubbsy, Mar 27, 2006.

  1. Hi to all on the Netrider boards!

    My name is Mark, I'm about to get my learner licence and I am in the process of choosing a bike.

    I am primarily interested in riding on the road, and in the long run I am very keen on getting on a Triumph Speed Triple or Ducati Monster.

    However while am just a learner with practically nil experience riding bikes, my question is this:

    Am I better off getting a dirt/trail bike or a road bike to learn on?

    Will going out and riding on trails, in the dirt and non-tarmac surfaces make me a better rider? Will it make me a safer rider on the road?

    I am very interested in hearing any opinions on the subject.

    Thanks to all for your time and effort. Have really enjoyed reading the posts on the board.
  2. I'm only a newbie myself, but from what I've gathered road and dirt bike riding are 2 very different things. If you want to ride on the road, buy a road bike. Unless you go for something that can do both of course. Dirt riding has entirely different obstacles than being on a road. I dont think anything can prepare someone for the road, all you can do is take it carefully, keep your head and your wits about you. Good luck whichever decision you make.
  3. if in the long run you want to get a road bike then perhaps getting a similar style bike in learner leagal size

    what state / city you in ?
  4. It won't hurt, that's for sure.

    If you take some time out to learn to ride on the dirt first you can learn all the controls in relative safety.

    How to brake, accellerate and corner is something, in my opinion, that you should be well practiced at before you hit the streets. If you stuff up out there and hit a truck you might not get another chance. Of course you can crash in the dirt too, but the obstacles usually aren't moving.
  5. yeah i want to go dirt riding as well
    i think it will make a better rider out of me.. :grin: :grin:
    plus ill learn how to do wheelies as well..
  6. Buy yourself any modern stroker motoX bike of about 125cc and above and you won't learn how to wheelie, it'll just be a way of life. Same can be said for most big bore 4 stroke dirt bikes like the XR400, 600, 650 etc. They just wheelie on command :grin: :grin:
  7. so a a 125 will enough for me??
    im kinda....fat :LOL: :grin: :grin:
  8. Yes - you can acquire an understanding of motorcycle dynamics at much slower speeds than you can on the road.

    Yes, in terms of bike control. However, you're not likely to learn much about traffic in the bush. :wink:
  9. Any race bred 125cc 2 stroker (CR, KX, RM, YZ etc) will definately have you in the 'shit i'm gonna die' stage for awhile until you get used to it anyway, especially if you haven't really done any dirt bike riding. They are really peaky and there's nothing like feeling the band kick in then your forearms tense up so you can hold on. If your worried about you physical size coming into play that getting something like an XR400 will definately have you covered. They are a GREAT bike with plenty of grunt and they are bloody bulletproof. Also YES they will wheelie very easily (i can wheelie a XR200 with ease) but will be great fun ripping up the trails, throwing dirt and rocks in the face of anyone behind you.
  10. sounds sweet .... i might just have to get one..
    been contemplating for a while but i dont have enough knowledge about them
    but i heard u can hire bikes and have day outings as well
    unless anyone in victoria wants to take me :wink: :LOL: :LOL:
  11. Strongly agree with N1GH7-R1D3R- high performance motocrossers are very hard to ride so if you want to acquire skills get a 4-stroke. Make sure the tyres are okay and suit the terrain- this makes a huge difference on a dirt bike. Ignore all the dyed-in-the-wool off roaders who will fly past you and be just as intimidating as anything at E Creek or P Island.

    I'd say they're good for getting some basic riding skills, but far from essential (I learnt on the road, spent 6 years at it, and bought a WR200 during a 'licence very thin' phase. It was fun but I didn't get much better as a rider- and it was very hard to wheelie).
  12. Mark I'm going to answer your question back to front, and doubtless upset some people in the process...

    Some have said that dirt riding will help with the basics but not make a huge difference to your road riding skills.
    I'm afraid that's not true mate.

    Take a guy who has only ridden a road bike on the road and put him on a dirt bike in the bush for the first time and he/she are useless.

    But: Put a guy or gal who rides trail bikes out on the road for the first time and they don't have any trouble at all.

    Off road riding requires many more skills than road riding.
    Anyone can go around a corner fairly fast on the road, not everyone can go around a corner fast on a sandy/gravel track.

    I do agree that four stroke trail bikes are the way to go.
    It all comes down to how much money you have to spend.
    If you decide on a trail bike you will need motorcross boots, kneeguards, elbow guards and obviously a helmet and gloves.
    I'll leave the chest and back armour up to you.
    I never felt the need for it unless I was in an actual off road race or rally.
    Then I had it all on.

    You will natrually be very cautious when you first ride off road,
    Cautious off road to start is good.
    The bike will seem like it's moving around all over the place. The main idea is to forget about the back wheel bouncing and sliding all over and just concentrate on keeping the front wheel in the direction you want to go. I would suggest watching some off road bike videos to see how riders control the bikes with body movement and the occassional foot down.

    The advantage of doing lots of off road miles is that when you hit an unexpected oil patch on the road you will react the same as you would if you rode thru a patch of mud on a dirt trail.
    Wet roads won't be a worry. Manovering around obstacles (or riding over them) won't bother you. Country touring down dirt roads will be a breeze, even on a Ducati. My girl and I often took our road bikes down dirt roads.
    Most road bikers will not.
    That's a shame because the most scenic places around the Blue Mountains outside Sydney are all at the end of dirt roads.

    Actually I'm hard pressed to think of one area where a road bike is more suitable to learn on than a trail bike.
    Except maybe wind resistance. You do tend to cop a lot of wind sitting up on a trail bike. I normally fitted small wind deflectors to my trail bikes.
    Even a small plastic screen about six inches high can make a difference.

    What ever you decide on, good luck mate. :grin:
  13. I agree with everyone, that road and dirt bike riding are two completely styles of riding.

    But I definately believe that learning to ride a bike would be safer in the dirt. The reason I say that, is that you are able to learn the controls of a bike without the danger of running into cars, buildings etc. Also, if you do something wrong and drop the bike, dirt bikes are designed to take that sort of treatment. Drop a road bike, especially a faired bike and you are looking at big dollars.

    In a nut shell, I believe learning the controls, acceleration etc would be a lot easier (and cheaper) on a dirt bike. :)
  14. yep agree riding in the dirt will help you with bike riding skills, it will NOT help you with how to read traffic etc.

    Most riding accidents are caused from over acceleration [ie coming off on a corner] but most fatals are caused when you hit a car. I know people will start quoting stats against this but fact is riding on the road helps you understand cars and they are your worst enemy.

    I learnt riding on a downhill mountain bike so understood how to place yourself for corners, using front brakes etc.

    Anyway bike riding is individual but like me you want a big road bike so get a road bike to start. If you want to go off road hire one I did and it was a blast.
  15. Thanks

    Thanks to everyone who posted a reply.

    I really appreciate your efforts and opinions. I've been convinced by the dirt bike side of the argument. Now the fun part - choosing a bike!

    Thanks again.
  16. HA HA HA :LOL:

    You are not ...unless I need glasses :p
  17. Re: Thanks

    just to throw my belated tuppenceworth in, i reckon you're on the right track. i wish to god i'd had a bit of dirt-biking under my belt before i got my licence and started hitting the roads. being in traffic, being taken up reefton within my first month on the bike, dealing with wind and rain and night riding and different road surfaces, not knowing much about how the bike handled or what to do if the rear tyre slid out all worked substantially against my confidence just when i reckon retrospectively i should've been out having some fun in a safe-ish environment to build up my confidence instead. i love it now, but it took me longer than necessary i reckon to get there.

    go forth, have fun on a dirtbike, i might join you and invest in one myself in the near future!
  18. I would never recommend dirt riding for learning instead of road riding, if you plan on riding on the road. You need as much road experience as you can get, and you won't be filling your pot of road experience while on the dirt.

    That said, if you can spend some extra time on the dirt without sacrificing road time, go for it! There's certainly some things to learn on the dirt (and some bad habits too - advanced rider courses will sort those out!)
  19. I got an email a while back (bc i asked) from Loulou4 - regarding the safety of trail bikes and if they are good on hwys.

    Very kind of him - I hope this information proves helpful for you aswell

    Thanks guys
    Oliver :cool:
  20. Yeah i think riding off the hard stuff is a great help.
    You learn not to make small poo's in your daks when the bike moves around underneath you.

    I rode dirt bikes since i was 6 years old, and riding on the road came real easy when i got my L's.

    If you have the opportunity to get some experiance on the dirt then take it.

    Having said that, a bike designed for off-road riding is going to be a pig on the road. Less grip and suspension will be way too soft. I woulodnt like to ride a dirt bike on hard stuff, same as i hate having to take my road bike onto the dirt.

    Just thought of another + for dirt experiance. Occasionly you may have to use the dirt shoulder of the road on your road bike, they squirm around like a b!tch in the dirt. So a bit of experiance in that area will definately help you keep it upright.