Have a question about riding techniques? Ask a coach!
We’re launching Riding Academy, a series of short articles where all your riding questions will be answered by professional instructors.
This week, your coach will be Dusty Wessels, adventure motorcycle off-road instructor and guide of West 38 Moto.
When riding off road as a beginner, how do you overcome your natural instinct to want to slow down when in fact you’re often better off throttling out?
We sometimes hear the term “when in doubt, throttle out”, but aren’t quite sure what that means until we get in a situation and realize a little more throttle would have helped. Sometimes the exact opposite is true, and we use too much throttle. It’s impossible to think of every situation and determine if more or less is better. That’s why I stress for people to understand throttle control. Keep the size of your bike in context. Imagine grabbing a handful of throttle on a Yamaha WR250 dual sport. Then imagine grabbing the same handful of throttle on a KTM 1190 adventure bike. The results of the same handful of throttle are completely different and one can have greater consequences.
Get comfortable with throttle control. There are classes that teach throttle control, but you only get comfortable by repetition so it’s important to practice on your own ride.
What is throttle control? Basically what this means is having control over how much power you are giving the bike. Having a smooth and delicate throttle hand is extremely important, especially when riding a larger dual sport or adventure bike. There are a few good ways to practice throttle control but I think one of the easiest ways is to find a small hill with not to steep an incline. Stand on the pegs and ride up the hill slipping the clutch or working the friction zone of the motorcycle. Friction zone is the point where engaging and disengaging the clutch shuts off power to the engine and engages the transmission, moving the bike. The friction zone is the spot where the clutch lever is not fully engaged or disengaged but right in between. When you add some incline while riding in the friction zone, it causes the friction zone to move and creates the need for more input or power from the throttle. However, too much and you’ll either spin the rear wheel or be out of control. The point of the exercise is to work on controlled input of the throttle. The incline forces the need for the throttle.
These things take time to master, so don’t be afraid to get your bike out there and start practicing.
Dusty Wessels co-founded West 38 Moto after logging over 200,000 miles on a wide array of big-bike Dual Sport and Adventure motorcycles over the last 10 years. West 38 Moto provides participants everything from foundational riding skills to ultra-advanced riding techniques.