Dirt training

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by Keithert, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. Keithert

    Keithert Been here awhile

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    I've been riding on the street for 22 years and have been an MSF instructor in the past. I think I know how to ride on the street pretty well. But I'm new to riding offroad. I'm considering taking the MSF dirt bike school in the spring. What are some other good ways to learn to ride offroad? The area I'll be riding is ATV two tracks through the woods and gravel roads mostly.

    On the street I have a good idea of how much traction there is in a curve and how far the bike can be leaned. On the grass or gravel though I have no idea. How do these differ from the street? I've seen videos of class exercices riding the figure 8 on grass and they look just like the street classes exercises. But I wouldn't think grass would have as much traction as pavement.
    #1
  2. scottrnelson

    scottrnelson Team Orange

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    Some of us just went out and rode in the dirt and figured it out. Reading about how to ride in the dirt becomes more meaningful after you've tried things and noticed something that might be difficult to do. It's not like you'll get run over by a truck if you make a mistake in the dirt, you just dump the bike, pick it up, and keep riding. You occasionally have to replace broken levers, but that's part of the learning experience.

    A lot of the enjoyment I've received from riding in the dirt was learning how to handle steep hills, sand, whoops, water crossings, and other challenging things. But I learned to ride on the street without official training as well and managed to survive. I don't think the MSF had been invented yet when I started riding.

    :gerg
    #2
  3. acesandeights

    acesandeights Asperger

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    I had ridden dirt early on and then street. I thought I knew a lot about riding (thought I was pretty good) until I took a basic (street) rider class a couple years ago and it was eye-opening, even after decades of riding. It wasn't that it taught me everything there was to know about riding, but there were a couple of "aha!" moments where some things that I think held me back from being a better rider just clicked during the instruction. So, what I'm getting at is you should probably ride a lot of dirt, with dirt riders if you know some, AND taking a basic dirt class is probably a great way to learn some things you may or may not learn otherwise. You may learn a couple of small things that make a big difference in the learning curve.
    #3
  4. crofrog

    crofrog Long timer

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    The wheels slide the same on pavement as they do in the dirt it just happens sooner. So why not just keep working up until you find the limits of traction...
    #4
  5. Keithert

    Keithert Been here awhile

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    Are you saying that traction is lost sooner on pavement than in the dirt? Or the opposite? I would think that it would be lost sooner on dirt.
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  6. crofrog

    crofrog Long timer

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    Yes, you loose traction at lower force levels on the dirt. The act of managing the slide is the same on pavement or dirt.
    #6
  7. Trl Rdr

    Trl Rdr Big Red Bird

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    Not all dirt is created equal!

    Sent from my DROIDX using Tapatalk 2
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  8. PMC

    PMC riding rider

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    It's easier to learn on a small and light bike. The bigger the bike and more top heavy the bike the harder it is to learn on.
    If your ATV trails are anything like ours in MN and WI practice in sand and then more sand and then a little more deep sand.
    #8
  9. eatpasta

    eatpasta Lawnmower Target

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    find a local race series and a small bike and enter. Doesnt matter what you ride, you will be astonished how much you will learn and how quickly. The best way to get better at anything is to surround yourself with people with talent.
    You dont have to go faster than your comfort zone, but you will notice your comfort zone start to shift....

    I highly recommend it. I was transformed as a rider.
    #9
  10. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    Dirt is a LOT more fun.
    Get a small light crappy bike and practice locking up the back wheel, power slides around turns, falling, etc.
    Its one of those things that is fun while you learn, and fun after you learn.

    The more fun you have, the more you fall down, or is it the other way around?
    #10
  11. BanjoBoy

    BanjoBoy Been here awhile

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    ^THIS^
    Get you a small, light, cheap bike, so it's easier to control, and when you bail, you won't cry like the BMW crowd. :cry
    #11
  12. Keithert

    Keithert Been here awhile

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    I have an 05 XT225. It is small and light, but not a beater.
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  13. el queso

    el queso toda su base

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    Unless you have an experienced group to ride with, I would suggest you get some real dirt training. The basic concepts (like brake before the turn, look through the turn, etc) are the same, but the techniques are totally different. In the dirt you have to learn to shift weight fore and aft, when to weight the seat and when to weight the pegs, when to stand, when to use power to position the back end, and it goes on and on.

    That said, if you just plan on cruising down some dirt roads, watch some vids on youtube, go slow and you'll be fine.
    #13
  14. eatpasta

    eatpasta Lawnmower Target

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    find good riders and ride with them. bottom line.
    they will teach you what is possible..... and you wont believe what is possible on a dirt bike. Just ask Graham Jarvis

    incidentally, best way to keep your boots dry in a creek crossing, EVER

    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/K4qzh6YBW1Q" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
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  15. Kommando

    Kommando Long timer

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    Wide open 'til you see Beelzebubba. I'll hold your beer and watch. :1drink :D
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  16. corndog67

    corndog67 Banned

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    You made a statement about how far you can lean over compared to the street. I think you are looking at it in a funny, different way than most dirt riders. In the dirt, you are feeling for traction, you are making it hook up, you are making it slide to help change direction, it's not a matter of "how far I can lean it over", you are weighting and unweighting the foot pegs, moving forward and moving back to get the tires to hook up. After a while, you get so you are real comfortable sliding both wheels all the time.

    There are guys on here, that show their inexperience when they make statements about how dirt doesn't help you on the street. They are absolutely wrong. Nothing helps your street riding more than becoming an accomplished dirt rider. It will get to the point where nothing unnerves you on the street any more, tires sliding, riding up or down stairs, wheelies, jumps, no matter what you are riding.

    In the end, I'd say, just go do it. Find some riding buddies. I grew up with some flattrack racers, and some motocross guys, and a couple of Enduro specialists too, and they all taught me a lot. And don't be surprised at the speed they go in the dirt. After a while, maybe you'll be keeping up with them, mixing it up with them and having the time of your life.

    Good luck.
    #16
  17. acesandeights

    acesandeights Asperger

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    I think the issue for most riders new to dirt is that dirt conditions are more variable. The co-efficient of friction has a much wider range in the dirt than possible street conditions. I think that a BRT type class (based on dirt riding) to reinforce the basics is the best start. It will probably give you better confidence riding slow over varied terrain as well with some key practice drills that will influence your riding over time as you get better.
    #17
  18. Kommando

    Kommando Long timer

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    So true. I just started riding dirt last autumn. I'm not even a good dirt rider yet, but I don't get unnerved anymore when the bike breaks loose over paint on the road when riding in the rain. Swerving obstacles and clearing rough pavement on road is nothing now.

    As far as leaning...the bike may lean quite a bit in the dirt, but a lot of times the rider is going to be staying on top of it, rather than hanging off. I've low-sided many times in the dirt, and just stepped off the bike as it slid out from under me. You probably wouldn't do that very much on pavement.
    #18
  19. tokyoklahoma

    tokyoklahoma 75%has been 25%wanabe

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    I grew up riding dirt, but if I were starting from scratch now I would try these guys.
    http://trialstrainingcenter.com/

    I can't tell how close you may be to them, since you haven't filled in your profile.:scratch
    #19
  20. Keithert

    Keithert Been here awhile

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    It's 572 miles from where I am in Northern Illinois.
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