Riding a bicycle for off road motorcycle fitness and skills

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by mikem9, Jan 26, 2014.

  1. mikem9

    mikem9 Wanderer

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,272
    Location:
    North Georgia
    I put this thread here, instead of sports, because the discussion is more about riding a bicycle for improving motorcycling.

    How many of you ride a bicycle for offroad or racing fitness? Do you feel like some of the bicycle skills also translate to the motorcycle?

    I trailer my offroad motorcycle to ride and probably average 1 - 5 rides a month depending on the season. It's typically an all day affair so I don't get to do it often enough.

    For fitness and some fun I ride either a mountain bike or rigid frame flat bar hybrid style bike with 700cc tires. I typically ride 3 - 4 days a week right from my garage. I cut across town riding through neighborhood streets, parts of unused sidewalks to avoid busy streets, through schools, churches, backs of businesses and through bits off road or through parks. I often stand on the pedals when weaving through tight sections or dropping off curbs etc. Often while standing on the pedals I feel like I'm on my motorcycle. Sometimes when bombing through a hilly and curvy neighborhood, I envision cornering on my motorcycle. I probably have even made engine noises at times! :)

    The bicycle definitely helps fitness for offroad motorcycling. I think it might also help keep the rust off some of the balance and line picking skills needed for motorcycling off road.

    Thoughts?
    #1
  2. Homey

    Homey Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2007
    Oddometer:
    596
    Location:
    California Central Coast
    No, not particularly. The fitness from the bicycle is awesome and very helpful on the motorcycle. Bike handling skills while generally the same are very different switching between the bicycle and race track or the off-road motorcycle. As an example, off road I stuff the bike in the corners and power out of them. On the bicycle it's more about momentum. Kind of like the difference between roadracing a 125cc two stroke vs a superbike. I suppose if anything my motorcycle skills transfer more to the bicycle.
    #2
  3. deutchman

    deutchman Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2013
    Oddometer:
    11
    Location:
    Cincinnati & Ft. Pierce, FL.
    Absolutely use my mtb for general all round fitness. For anyone that destroyed their knees back in their teens and twenties, the bike saves my knees and gives me the cardio that I need to maintain aerobic fitness.
    #3
  4. Ironman606

    Ironman606 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2013
    Oddometer:
    73
    Location:
    Newfoundland, Canada
    I'd have to disagree. Having road a MTB all through my teens (downhill trails and dabbled into trials riding) the skills I learn are very applicable to motorcycles. Body positioning at low speeds in tight trails help me keep the rubber side down! The sense of balance learned from riding the MTB have given me loads of confidence now that I have upgraded to two wheels and a motor. It is by no means the only way to improve riding but it is a big help IMO.
    #4
  5. justafurnaceman

    justafurnaceman Imaginary

    Joined:
    May 4, 2013
    Oddometer:
    1,797
    Location:
    Hanging out in VA for the time being...
    For fitness I'll say yes, although all of my experience is on a stationary bike. I do it for 15 - 20 min x3 a week and it has helped my endurance for being crunched up on the sportbike with my head up. Any activity that is strengthening your legs will help to some degree.

    Is it a surprise that at least a couple of the MotoGP riders ride bicycles as hobbies too?
    #5
  6. chippertheripper

    chippertheripper motorcycle junkie

    Joined:
    May 30, 2009
    Oddometer:
    4,156
    Location:
    s.e. mass
    I'm in agreement. The bigger advantage for me is line of sight line selection, as opposed to the bp side of it. I consciously am looking for the most efficient line through everything.
    #6
  7. joexr

    joexr Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2011
    Oddometer:
    5,022
    I do that in cars as well.
    #7
  8. Onederer

    Onederer Crunch Nugget

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2008
    Oddometer:
    898
    Location:
    At the bottom of your glass, staring back
    If you want to ride a motorcycle seriously off road, it is an excellent fitness and training tool.

    Too many peole far underestimate the physical fitness needed to ride a motorcycle off road at anything other than a trail ride pace. Myself, I get tired of the people who throw money at a motorcycle thinking that alone is all they need to ride fast even though they are completely out of shape.

    I grew up in a very rural area and rode a MTB everywhere until I got a dirt bike, then forgot about MTBs until my late twenties. I now enjoy riding a MTB more than ever.

    I have rode MTBs with a lot of people and very few ride motorcycles off road also. The people who also ride motorcycles off road are typically better MTB riders. I know I have rode MTB's with people younger and in better shape than me, but could'nt stay up with me because I have more experience with greater speeds off road from riding a motorcycle. With MTB's there is no faking fitness or skill. The current MTB trend is full suspension, because people think it will make them faster; it doesn't. Riding a full suspension MTB where it isn't a benefit actually makes riders slower, but hey, they cost more and look cool so they must be faster, everywhere. Obviously that doesn't apply to actual racers, but there are a lot of people who like to pretend.

    Riding both is a great compliment to either for enhancing your abilities. The MTB will increase your fitness level and the motorcycle will help with judging terrain at speed.

    I have acess to many more single track MTB trails than motorcycle single track.

    When I got back on a MTB, I started riding at a level I never considered and my technical skills have really grown. When on a motorcycle now, riding off road is much easier.

    Last year I even bought a trials unicycle. I bought it mainly for fitness because they are much more physically demadning than a MTB and strengthen core muscles. I have only been riding it on pavement, but I want to work up to riding single track with it.
    #8
  9. Earth Rider

    Earth Rider Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2013
    Oddometer:
    6,260
    Location:
    CNY
    riding a mountain bike definitely helped me with the low-speed maneuvering stuff and off road.
    #9
  10. freetors

    freetors Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,085
    Location:
    Collinsville, OK
    I try to ride bicycles everyso often just for personal fitness. I'm not trying to cross that over into motorcycling. IMO, the worst part about bicycling is it means less time for me to ride motorcycles.
    #10
  11. Sparrowhawk

    Sparrowhawk Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2005
    Oddometer:
    3,004
    Location:
    Eastern Washington, USA
    Cyril Despres: “I’ve covered more kilometres on a bicycle than on my motorbike"*

    Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk
    #11
  12. InsideThePerimeter

    InsideThePerimeter North GA bound

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2012
    Oddometer:
    140
    Location:
    Atlanta GA
    Absolutely riding a MTB helps with the balance and how fast do I dare try this on two wheels aspect of riding but here in the south it helps with the heat too.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Lots of people are out of shape and get dehydrated easily without realizing it. Dehydration slows your reflexes, weakens your muscles and can cause a loss of mental focus.
    #12
  13. Sparrowhawk

    Sparrowhawk Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2005
    Oddometer:
    3,004
    Location:
    Eastern Washington, USA
    The two are similar but different. Both will build cardiovascular fitness and coasting down a fast, rocky trail is very much like riding the same trail on a dirt bike. Upper body position at speed is another way they work together. Big drops and steep downhill - check. Obstacle avoidance - check.

    They are different experiences in turns because you just don't have the same horsepower on a mountain bike, weighting the front wheel is done different, and your feet are locked onto the pedals. Peddling and standing on the pegs is different for building leg strength. It's a different motion. A mountain bike doesn't work your upper body as much because a bicycle is so much lighter.

    Mountain biking is a great way to mix it up with dirt biking though. You don't need a green sticker on a bicycle either.
    #13
  14. Gummee!

    Gummee! That's MR. Toothless

    Joined:
    May 13, 2004
    Oddometer:
    30,571
    Location:
    NoVA for now...
    As a guy that's been cycling since his teens (that's about 30 years now :eek1) mtn biking has helped me transition to riding motorized on- and off-road bikes with the caveat that my brain is happiest at mtn biking speeds. The slower and more technical the better I like it. Faster and more WOT? Not my brain's happy spot.

    Its something I need to work on. :nod

    I know I've come back from rides in the desert outside Tucson as tired (or more so!) as if I'd gone mtn biking from absorbing all the bumps with my legs.

    Riding motos has made me realize that losing your front end mtn biking doesn't have to mean kissing the ground. :nah Put some power down like you do on the moto and chances are your front wheel will grab again. :ricky

    My new mtn frame will be here next week. :clap Bought it on a whim as I was calling Ritchey to get bearings for one of my wheelsets.
    [​IMG]

    :ricky

    M
    #14
  15. mikem9

    mikem9 Wanderer

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,272
    Location:
    North Georgia
    Cool bike Gummee! !

    I saw a friend tonight who is a racer. He just won a 40+ class regional series in both the Hare Scrambles and Enduro. I asked him about mountain biking and skills carry over. I'll see if I can get him to come here and comment.

    His feelings were that mountain biking definitely helped him skill wise in addition to the fitness for racing. He said that during his winning racing season, he increased the amount of mountain biking he was doing. He said that while riding a mountain bike and trying to push fast, he became better at picking the fastest lines because on a mountain bike momentum is everything. He said he definitely felt like this made him faster on the motorcycle in races.
    #15
  16. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2006
    Oddometer:
    13,860
    Location:
    chico,just below rag dump(nor-cal)
    The only bones I have really broke,like a big ol gap showing between each seperated piece......has been from riding fast and taking chances on bicycles.

    Raced flattrack for 10 years,some MX,much hairball motorized trailriding,but bicycles have flat jacked me up from time to time.

    So Yeah,I would say they're great for cross training.
    #16
  17. Southest US Thumper

    Southest US Thumper Extreme n00b

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,211
    Location:
    As Far South and West as you can get in the USA
    Learning how to pick the right line on a MTB or motorcycle is a similar skill set, naturally you compensate for what you're riding at the time. And of course the fitness gains from riding a bike will make your moto time more enjoyable.
    #17
  18. fullmonte

    fullmonte Reformed Kneedragger

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2005
    Oddometer:
    6,003
    Location:
    Chattanooga, Tennessee
    NO! Many top pro riders in roadracing, mx, and off road ride bicycles too for fitness. Some of them have become very competitive cyclists such as Spies, Bostrom, Bayliss. For me it has become a time thing. If there is a riding window of only 1-2 hours, I'd much rather spend that time on a bicycle than a moto. I've finally gotten my fitness to the point where I enjoy it all, climbing, descending, mtb or road. It's all good.
    #18
  19. Michael P.

    Michael P. Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2010
    Oddometer:
    10
    Absolutely the more frequent I was able to ride my mtn bike, the faster I got on my dirt bike. I tried to ride the mtn bike 2 or more times a week and the dirt bike as often as possible between races. The mtn bike training forced me to pick better lines and make momentum your friend. The training also kept your basic skills up like body positioning on the bike, looking through a turn, looking beyond the obstacles or ruts, etc. All of that translated into the dirt bikes whether I was trail riding or racing.
    Another side benefit was that at the peak of my mtn bike fitness my leg cramps and arm pump almost disappeared during races. I also noticed that this past winter as my mtn biking frequency slowed down, my dirt bike speed decreased a decent amount. With that decrease in training, my leg cramps and arm pump started coming back which can shut you down during a race.
    Not surprisingly, a decent number of the pros are training on mtn bikes to keep up their skills and up their cardio.
    #19
  20. Gummee!

    Gummee! That's MR. Toothless

    Joined:
    May 13, 2004
    Oddometer:
    30,571
    Location:
    NoVA for now...
    One of the first things you learn mtn biking is 'you hit what you're looking at.'

    If there's a big ole rock in the trail and an itty bitty path around it, if you focus on the rock, that's where you're going. Focus on the path around that rock and that's where you're going.

    You wanna get REAL good at picking a line? Ditch the suspension. Ride rigid. That'll learn ya real quick where the good lines are. :nod Rode rigig for more'n a few years in the late 80s before there was such a thing as bicycle suspension. :ricky

    M
    #20