First time off-road can be intimidating. What do you do if you’re on your own?
Good question! First time off-road can be a challenge, so here’s what you need to keep in mind. First off, ride your bike standing up. You have more control and balance while standing on your bike when there is less traction than you do sitting. Think about it, when we are sitting in a chair we adjust based on comfort and soreness, not balance. When we are standing, we are constantly shifting to keep our balance. In this situation, our brain is communicating with the thousands of nerve receptors in our feet naturally to keep us balanced. There are no balance receptors in our butts!
Next, make sure your bike is comfortable ergonomically. What this means is you can stand up and not have to hunch over or bend at the waist to grab the handlebars. If you are hunched or are bending too much, you may need handlebar risers. You also want to be able to operate the clutch lever, brake lever and throttle delicately. Also make sure your foot pegs are wide enough so the are comfortable to stand on for short to medium distances. If you stand and notice the foot pegs are digging into the bottom of your foot, you may want to get some wider foot pegs.
Take It Easy
Relax at the shoulders, keep your eyes on the horizon and not all the objects that are directly in front of you. I promise you will go where you look so if you are focusing on that big rock, you are probably going to hit it! I can’t stress enough how important it is to relax your grip on the handlebars…one of the single most important things you can do. It is definitely easier said than done but it is very important.
When you are going around tight or sweeping corners keep your weight to the outside of the corner. Contradictory to turning on the street (where there is traction) when we are off road, we want to shift our weight to the outside, or counter balance, to make up for the loss of traction. Keeping your weight centered or to the outside will balance the bike and allow you to get the most out of the traction point on the tires making contact with the dirt road.
Last but not least…slow down. In the end, it is much more about enjoying where you are and being comfortable than trying to win the Dakar!
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 riders everything from foundation riding skills to ultra-advanced riding techniques. Book a lesson now!