3 Essential Dirt Bike Throttle Control Techniques To Prevent Crashes

Having trouble controlling the throttle on your dirt bike? Whether you’re brand new to dirt biking or just need some proper techniques to build your confidence, you’ve come to the right place. 

This article or video, should you choose to watch it, will show you 3 essential, but also basic techniques to have good throttle control on a dirt bike to prevent crashes that could end up hurting you. 

Why you need good throttle control on a dirt bike

Riding off-road on a motorcycle is like nothing else. Balance is key, but having good control with the throttle can be the difference between being a novice and skilled rider. 

Having good throttle control can prevent crashes from sliding out. You can also get up slippery hills more easily when traction is at a premium. 

How to prevent whiskey throttle

If you’re still a beginner, then you may have heard about or seen the infamous “whiskey throttle” that can happen when you give it too much gas. There’s a simple tip that I teach new riders to prevent this. 

It’s all about your sitting position on the bike, and that you simply need to move forward on the seat.

Why? Because when you twist the throttle, the bike will move forward and this will cause your body to move backward on the bike. When that happens, the natural tendency is for your wrist to spin on the handlebars, which ends up giving the bike even more gas, causing you to fall off the back even more. Too much throttle and you’ve got a classic whiskey throttle wheelie moment that can put you on your butt or in the brush. That’s also why I recommend starting on a less powerful dirt bike because they’re more forgiving. 

Wrist and arm position

How you hold the throttle is important for good control. I see many newbies with their wrists and/elbows in the wrong position; and that is that they’re too low. 

Your elbows should be up high enough so that you have the most leverage and range of motion to control the bike. Your hand should grip the throttle so that you can comfortably twist it all the way to wide open throttle. 

Throttle control – learning your bike

The last bit to having good throttle control is understanding what your dirt bike is doing. 

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What I mean by that is being able to twist the throttle the right amount to accelerate without spinning the rear tire and potentially washing out. This is what I like to call: being smooth on the throttle. 

Every dirt bike has a different power curve, which means that the power will come on softer or harder at different points in the RPM range. You have to practice and build your muscle memory to know how much gas you can give it without wasting energy – spinning out. 

Dirt bike throttle position

Dirt bikes have a ¼ turn throttle, but you’ll only use a portion of it the majority of the time. A ¼ turn throttle simply means that it rotates about 90 degrees around the handlebar to give you a “full throttle” position.

When just starting out, you should only use small inputs – ⅛-¼ of throttle. This looks very small when watching your hand turn the throttle, but it’s enough to accelerate at a moderate speed.

Dirt bike throttle adjustment

Does your dirt bike feel like the throttle response is jerky? There’s a chance that the throttle needs an adjustment. It’s a cable-operated throttle, so it should be adjusted to have the slightest amount of slack in the cable.

If there’s too much slack, then you’ll have a big delay from when you twist the throttle to when the bike accelerates. This can not only be annoying, but also dangerous. If you need to get over a log and you give it gas, that slight hesitation may be just enough to not allow you to get the wheel over the log. 

How to have complete control riding a dirt bike

Learning proper throttle control is key to being a safe and skilled rider, but that’s just one piece to the puzzle. There’s a whole collection of skills and knowledge that must be learned and practiced to have complete confidence and control riding off-road. 

I’d like to help you get started so that you can start building your confidence today. Tap here for lessons from my riding school on proper riding technique. 

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Kelley Fager

I help newer riders learn to safely ride with confidence by teaching basic techniques in a way that's easy to understand. Learn To Ride With Control Here

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