There comes a point in every motorcyclist’s riding when he or she reaches a plateau with their riding skills. This is a place where the rider feels comfortable with what they have learned in the past, but they recognize that with the further training they could improve both their riding skills and safety performance while riding motorcycles. This is the perfect time to hop on an off-road bike and take a class learning skills on this type of machine.
TRACTION IS KEY
Riding a motorcycle off-road gives a rider a whole different perspective on traction. Without the stickiness of rubber on asphalt, there is more variability in traction availability. Once you learn to be comfortable with it, this variable traction is actually a good thing and you can use it to your advantage because. You’ll react more instinctively when encountering different types of road surfaces whether you are riding on-road or off-road.
When stopping roadside, you’ll also be a lot more likely to pull further off the shoulder when comfortable with two wheels on terra firma. This opens up more possibilities for stopping and well as being further away from the path of travel. You’ll also have a higher level of safety with better instinctive reaction should one of your wheels exit the pavement. Construction zones and steel-decked bridges will no longer be a problem, either. Riding through those knowing that the wobble of your wheels on gravel is perfectly normal and you’ll just ride it through.
When you develop your off-road skills you’ll not only learn about traction but also learn much more about handling a motorcycle. By practicing these skills on a smaller, more dirt oriented bike, you can learn the finesse of control and the limits of what the bike can do without risking your larger, more expensive street machine as well. Dirt bikes are very responsive machines and give immediate feedback, so you’ll actually feel what you are doing to a heightened degree.
Standing up on the pegs (on certain models) gives you more control over the machine, and teaches better balance and motorcycle handling skills. Using your weight in combination with your accelerator and brake will teach you the more finite points of control of a motorcycle. Plus, since while riding in dirt it’s so important to be constantly scanning the horizon for obstacles, you’ll develop a better sense of looking further ahead.
Developing a wider zone of comfort will help you in all aspects of your riding. There are generally fewer distractions in a dirt riding environment, which means that you can put 100% of your concentration into learning how to control the machine. When you learn to be comfortable on the widest variety of surfaces possible, that translates to being a better rider on the street.
Riding off-road also teaches riders about riding better lines. With less traction off-road, it’s important to ride the best line possible through curves and obstacles, something we don’t get to practice a whole lot riding on-road. When a rider learns to ride better lines off-road, those skills automatically translate to on-road riding. It’s better to learn those shills riding off-road at slow speeds rather than at high speed on the road.
When wearing the proper protective gear and riding the appropriate bike, off-road riding is very safe and fun. Starting with a training course gives riders an immediate sense of confidence, and then those skills can be practiced outside of the classroom setting. The skills that a rider learns on the street don’t necessarily translate to making him or her a better rider, yet those skills learned while off-road riding without fail help makes them better street riders. Just give it a try.