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Learning to Dirt Bike

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by TheMav, Jan 14, 2014.

  1. I've been riding (street riding) for about 18 months but have been driving for much longer. I want to learn a bit about off-road riding (not looking to compete or become proficient at it) but I only have a road bike being my GT650 Comet. What's the best way of going about this without blowing a huge hole in your wallet?

    Should I just hire a bike and some gear then go to a dirt track? Or pay for one or two offroad lessons?

    Where are some dirt tracks in or near Sydney?

    Can anyone recommend some service providers to teach and lend the bike/gear? I haven't been able to find one that does both.

  2. DIrt is very different to street, so unless you have access to a dirt bike, or plan to buy one, I'm not sure why you want to learn. I've seen Stay Upright advertising an off road course and heard that it's pretty good. I've ridden road and dirt over the past few years and recently sold my trail bike as I'm now more interested in road. Used to go trail biking with the nephews, but when they lost interest, so did I. You can google some off road tracks, there's one at Appin just outside Campbelltown, another called Pacific Park up at South Maroota, and there are a few more around the place, One near Nowra. DIrt is cerainly fun, lots of fun with a few mates, but you really need your own bike in my opinion.
  3. #3 Zim, Jan 14, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2014
    Even doing it on the cheap is expensive.There are places that hire bikes,you need a trailer and a place to go.Grimacing I hesitate to say Pacific Park.The only legal place if your thinking close to Sydney,eg under age.Its far from Ideal though.They purposely leave it wooped up to buggar to keep speeds down.There is a huge difference between proper trail riding and putting along a fire road.Check out Dirtbike World,they do beginner rides on occasion at the usual locations,Wadigans,near Wyong or Clarrance,near Lithgow.Pacific Park is out near Windsor.The usual way to get into it is hooking up with mates who do it.Off road is by far the best way to become a better rider.There is a reson why the vaste majority of top class racers start or train this way
  4. If you do end up giving it a try be prepared to Fall. Off . A Lot . to begin with !! If you're hiring , make sure you can hire good gear to go with it .
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. But , it is HUGE fun !!!!
  6. But one may also pick (or rather transfer) quite a few habits/techniques from the dirt to the road. Correct technique could be right for dirt but wrong for the road and vice versa.
    Is that right? Won't it spread your self development attention (unless you have unlimited time and can afford it)?
  7. I'd say road riding doesn't really develop good habits for the dirt. But a good dirt rider will make a very good road rider.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. The main thing you come to grips with,pun intended, is slide control at the edge of traction.The consequences of going beyond that control are also less drastic off road.Mostly.There are mainly 2 kinds of general techniques used off road.Slow speed single track usually in more difficult terrain and high speed fire trail type techniques.The later is more in line with on road riding.But you do use more body English,leaning bike or rider weight in either side of the bike off road.Getting a feel for what works and doesn't in any particular time is the fun and instructional bit.I prefer single track,if you watch The Dakar boys the ability to do what they do and not crash your brains out is impressive.When they get it wrong they get real hurt fast.
  9. ^^ to that I would add it teaches you to get a feel for and be comfortable with the bike moving around beneath you , to stay relaxed and not tense up when either end of the bike starts to get loose and slide .
  10. Thanks all, I have also read from numerous other sources that riding in the dirt will greatly improve your overall riding ability both on and off road - one of the main reasons I wanted to try it out. Don't really know anyone who rides off road though.

    It does seem like it is going to cost an arm and a leg. If I were to own a dirtbike it would probably be some sort of dual sport to avoid necessitating ownership of two bikes (one for the dirt, one for road) plus a car and trailer just to tow the dirt bike. I am a shorter rider at about 5'6 or 168cm so will probably struggle with the majority of real off road bikes, even if they can be registered for road use.

    Looks like it can't be done at this point in time...

  11. I don't think a dual sport will really work. A dual sport is the sort of bike you could ride on dirt roads or sand but they still weigh 230kg wet (yes I know there are people who around can ride them like a 110kg dirt bike). And you are going to drop it. The worse the track is, the more you will drop it. You won't be riding it properly as you will be afraid of dropping it.

    I had a short holiday in Cambodia and found a off road travel company and hired one of their guides to take me out on a dirt bike for a day. Then I had a bit more time on dirt bikes. My dirt bike experience is still minimal, but at least what I got was cheap. If you happen to be in SE Asia some time you could do the same.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. There's a huge range of bikes described as "dual sport". Plenty of them in the 130-160 kg range, eg DR650, DRZ400 or WR250. Hard core dirt bikers will no doubt still scoff at that kind of weight as being too heavy, but I'm leaning towards one as my next bike as a good way to learn off-road techniques, while still having something I can use on the road as my only bike.
  13. I have seen those DRZ 400 Suzuki's chug up and through some hard core trails.There no 300 KTM 2 stroke,they are heavy but as reliable as a stone axe and a great beginner bike.BTW make sure you get a bike with the magic button,electric start.Its hard enough physical work on BIG hills,kick starts after crashes will tip you over the heat exhaustion ledge.Fitness is critical especially for beginners with poor technical.Don't let me talk you out of this,its close to pants off fun
    • Like Like x 1
  14. ^^ yep , there's a reason a lot of off-road tour companies use DR-Z400's . Yes they're heavier compared to the proper enduro models which makes them harder work when the action is gnarly and technical , but the flip side is they'll still get you there and with nothing like the extreme maintenance requirements that a lot (most) of the proper enduro bikes require .
    And unless you're reasonably skilled at off road riding you're not gonna miss the extra performance (either engine or suspension) that the full on enduro bikes bring to the table .
  15. Nah that's rubbish. correct technique for a given discipline works and feels right, this is why you use it. I swap between all sorts of bikes often and it's never an issue. If anything swapping between different bikes often teaches you to open your mind and actually think about what your doing rather than just auto piloting around.

    If I haven't ridden my dirt bike in a while my lap times on my road race bike go backwards because I turn soft and become paranoid with the bike moving around underneath me.
  16. Husvarna's TE610, while discontinued, is another great option if you can find one. A frequent description is that it's like a DRZ400, only better :p. The six-speed gearbox makes a big difference if you want it to be truly dual sport, since it turns 110km/h from a bit of a thrashing session into a cruise.
  17. Couple of downsides with the TE.Just make sure you get the later model with a proper oil pump and right side kickstarter.Not sure the later ones even have a kickstarter,earlier models had an oddball reed valve oil transition system,worked OK as a high maintenance race bike but 500k oil changes get old.And long range tanks are very hard to find now.Loved my TE 350 1992 model.Still have 2 Huskys in the shed.Later models are much easier to live with.
  18. offroading is THE SHIT.

    other than being awesome fun and an entire discipline in its own right, it teaches you how to really man handle the machine to a high degree, and understand any feedback, which will transfer to big road bikes or bigger bore offroaders.

    for example (to ride on track with pace) a 600RR needs to be ridden on the edge to really get any reliable feedback from the bike, you can't even feel what it is doing until it is bucking and sliding, and learning to slide offroad is about the only way you gonna do it.

    the only other way to learn to that level is to ride intensively on the tar track, like the current spanish champions.

    you will need one of MANY different bikes made for offroading, that you should be able to pick up for around $3000+

    dual sports are a good place to start; want to know where that rocky trail goes? point the wheel and twist.

    tell me what you want the bike to do in detail for advice on models, because all bikes except for race vehicles are compromises between extremes

    if you want to know more ask
  19. I'm talking about the TE610E, so about years 2000+. They fixed a bunch of the issues the previous iteration had and changed to electric start. 17L tanks came standard in Australia, and they have 5000k service intervals (though there's obviously things you'd be wanting to check a bit sooner if you're taking it properly off road).

    Race models are a compromise, too -- the extreme in their case is this thing called maintenance :p. Insane performance is great and all, but having to rebuild the engine every few hours gets old fast :LOL:.
  20. I have a DRZ for exactly what you said. The option for both. I live a bit country and dirt biking is what everyone does around here but I still wanted to road ride. I have done a bit both on and off but am a definite beginner so the Drz works well and is enough at this stage for me both on and off.
    I am 5ft 8 and I couldn't have it any taller or it would've too tall so not sure how you would go.
    Still thinking I want to go road bike eventually but DRZ will likely stay in the shed :)