Dirt Bike Riding Tips: Definitive Guide For Beginners

Want to learn how to ride faster?

Riding dirt bikes is fun, but it’s even more exciting when you can ride fast.

Riding fast takes time and experience, but with proper technique, you can become an expert level rider in less time by following these tips. 

Is It Hard To Learn How To Ride A Dirt Bike?

Just being able to ride a dirt bike is not very difficult. However, mastering basic riding technique and being able to comfortably ride fast on a trail or track takes many hours of riding experience. 

2 Stroke vs 4 Stroke Trail Riding
I started from nothing and now I am comfortable riding in the mountains.

Are you ready to begin your awesome journey of becoming a skilled dirt bike rider?!

Continue reading to get a head start. 

How To Ride A Dirt Bike For Beginners

If you don’t know how to ride a dirt bike, read this article first. It’s a step-by-step guide on how to use the basic controls to riding a dirt bike. This includes the clutch, throttle and brake. 

Being able to efficiently use the clutch, throttle and brakes while balancing are the first things you need to learn if you’re a beginner rider. 

The steps to ride a dirt bike with a clutch are:

  1. Hop on the bike
  2. Start the engine
  3. Scoot forward on the seat to prevent a loopout
  4. Pull in the clutch
  5. Shift down into first gear
  6. Slowly let out the clutch until the bike starts moving
  7. Apply a small amount of throttle and continue letting out the clutch slowly. 
  8. Put your legs up on the footpegs once you’re moving fast enough to balance. 

How To Be A Better & Faster Rider

Confidence is key. But you need to learn balance and clutch/throttle control to be confident.

Here are my top tips for riding a dirt bike to increase your skill and speed:

  • Dirt bike setup
  • Balance 
  • Clutch control
  • Throttle control
  • Brake control
  • Look ahead
  • Practice
  • Momentum

In the next section you’ll find out 3 simple ways to get started in growing your dirt bike riding skills.

Beginner Dirt Bike Lessons

Drills. Is that a word that grinds your teeth? Getting back to or starting with the basics is one of the best things you can do as a beginner or advanced level dirt bike rider. 

Here are some of my favorite lessons or drills that I still do to this day that help me ride, whether it be on a technical single track trail or riding on the street. 

Clutch Lesson For Beginners

The first riding tip drill is for increasing your clutch control. Being able to efficiently use the clutch is extremely important in all types of dirt bike riding. 

So, for the actual drill, find an open area or just a straight road where it’s legal to ride your dirt bike. 

Start in first gear and slowly let out the clutch until you’re moving. 

Once you’re moving fast enough to out your feet on the pegs, pull in the clutch and stop again. Try and repeat this until you can start and stop 10 times in a row without stalling. 

This drill will help you stall your dirt bike less and ride with more confidence, whether it’s on the track or trails. 

I used this drill when I first taught my wife how to ride a dirt bike with a clutch, and I still use it today on myself and anyone else that wants to be taught. 

Throttle & Clutch Lesson

Similar to the first drill, but drilling down the efficiency of your throttle control. 

Practice starting and stop with the clutch, but now try using as little throttle as possible. 

The goal is to slip the clutch as little as possible. This keeps the engine running cooler and puts traction to the ground using the torque of the engine. 

You can cheer and turn the idle RPM speed up, but lower it back down as you get better with your clutch and throttle control. 

Balance Drill

The most unique and spectacular thing about dirt biking is that you’re on two wheels. Riding a bike requires some skill to balance, and the better your balance is, the easier it will be to ride in technical terrain. 

It’s actually an add-on to your clutch and throttle control drill, so this riding tip will greatly increase your skill on a dirt bike.

Simply ride in an open area in first gear and ride as slowly as possible. Using the clutch to prevent the engine from stalling, you will eventually slow down to a stop.

Hold your position with the clutch in (disengaged) and then continue riding forwards once you start feeling a loss of balance.

Braking Drill

The last riding tip is a basic drill to practice your braking, both front and rear brakes.

As always, wear proper protective riding gear. This drill has a slightly higher risk of tipping over, but it’s important to find the capabilities and limits of your dirt bike’s brakes. 

Testing The Front Brake

You only need to be in first or second gear at the highest. 

Accelerate up to a slow cruising speed of about 10mph. Then slowly start to pull in the front brake and increase your braking power until your bike stops. 

Continue this drill and keep braking harder until it starts to be uncontrollable or the front wheel locks up. 

Locking Up The Rear Wheel

Basically the same as the front brake drill, but the rear wheel will lock up more easily. 

Practicing these drills and knowing how hard you can clamp on the brakes will get you more familiar with your dirt bike. This will make you more comfortable while riding, as well as being faster. In order to go fast, you must be able to stop fast. 

Why Are These Drills Important?

Also, knowing at what point the tires lock up or brake loose is extremely critical for building your muscle memory. That way when it does happen when you’re not trying to lock them up, your body will know how to react and keep the bike upright. 

This riding tip transfers directly over to riding on the street if you have a street legal dirt bike or motorcycle. 

Riding Techniques

Every sport has some basic “techniques”. For example, in baseball you need to learn the proper mechanics of throwing a baseball to get the best accuracy, power, and safety for your arm. 

In dirt biking, there’s certain techniques that will help you ride on specific terrain, hit certain obstacles, ride through different kinds of corners, and so on. 

Here’s the most common dirt bike riding techniques that will help you whether you’re a first time rider or an advanced level dirt biker. 

Where Should You Sit On A Dirt Bike?

You mean I can’t sit just anywhere on the seat? Dirt bike seats have changed a lot in shape and size over the years to be able to ride better. 

Seats used to be banana-shaped, so you’d sit in them, as opposed to today’s seats that are almost completely flat. This is so you can move forward or rearward easily to shift your body weight. 

When cornering, it’s almost always best to sit forward on your bike if you’re on the seat. This puts more weight on the front end and allows your bike to turn quicker and easier. 

On straight sections, being neutral on your bike is generally best. But this should be more an “attack position” neutral. Almost like you’re ready to tackle or bracing to be tackled by someone. 

You don’t need to sit towards the rear unless you’re going over whoops/obstacles, or need more traction while accelerating. 

Corning Tips

Going through rutted or bermed corners you should be towards the front of the seat; almost on the gas tank. Putting more weight on the front end helps you turn more easily. 

Also, especially on flat and off-camber corners, you need to weight the outside footpeg. 

How To Weight The Outside Footpeg

Weighting the outside footpeg simply means that if you’re going around a left-handed corner, your bike will be leaned left, but your butt will be on the right side of the seat. You will basically be sitting straight up over where the tires are contacting the ground. 

Putting more weight on the right (outside) footpeg gives the tires more traction to stay in control. 

Use your inside (left) leg to balance or stabilize your body by pointing it to the front of the bike. 

Look Ahead

You go where you look. If you’re trail riding and keep looking at the trees because you’re afraid of hitting them, you’re going to run into one sooner or later. 

Keep your focus on the trail or where you want to go. 

Looking ahead allows me to ride faster because I know what’s coming.

Also don’t look just past your front fender. It’s easy to get caught looking at what’s just in front of you on the ground. 

This is a bad habit to form because it really limits your potential to ride faster. If you’re only seeing what’s 10 feet in front of you and you’re going 20mph, a big log in the trail is going to throw you for a loop. 

The faster you ride, the further ahead you need to look, and the more that you can anticipate the next corner or obstacle. 

How Do I Get Better At Trail Riding?

It’s important to first get comfortable riding your dirt bike before heading to the woods or trails. Once you feel confident in your clutch and throttle control, as well as balance, start riding a trail that is beginner friendly. 

To get better at single track trail riding takes seat time. Starting on the right dirt bike and setting it up to fit you are important first steps to becoming a good trail rider. 

For a complete guide on tips for riding technical trails and single track click here

Kelley Fager

Kelley started riding a Honda 50 at the age of 6 years old. The passion for dirt bikes started there and grown into a lifelong pastime of riding and learning how they work. Motocross Hideout is the result of sharing his past, present, and future knowledge and experience.

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