Tips For New Dirt Bike Riders To Prevent Bad Crashes

Just buy your first dirt bike or looking to get one? There’s a lot to learn when it comes to riding and wrenching on bikes, but this guide will give you the best tips for new dirt bike riders. 

From the basics of what a dirt bike is to proper riding technique, you’ll learn be able to use these tips today. 

Montana 2017 1 Tips For New Dirt Bike Riders To Prevent Bad Crashes
Riding trails in Montana on my sweet CRF230

Difference Between Riding A Dirt Bike and A Motorcycle

While a dirt bike is just an off-road type of motorcycle, there’s quite a few differences. 

Dirt Bike vs Motorcycle Features

A 2 wheeled bike that is powered by an engine. That’s the simplest way to classify a motorcycle. An off-road bike has many subtle differences compared to a street bike though. 

The biggest physical differences between a dirt bike and a motorcycle are:

  • Wheels/tires
  • Suspension
  • Frame geometry/handling
  • Engine characteristics
  • Lighting/accessories

Riding A Dirt Bike vs A Motorcycle

A dirt bike has knobby tires for better traction in dirt, rocks and off-road terrain. 

The wheels are spoked and generally narrower than a street bike wheel. 

Most dirt bikes have considerably more suspension travel to absorb bigger impacts from hitting obstacles or jumping. 

Dirt Bike vs Street Bike 2 1 Tips For New Dirt Bike Riders To Prevent Bad Crashes
Supermoto vs Street Bike

The handling of a dirt bike is designed to steer quicker at low speeds, while a street bike is slower/harder to steer until a higher cruising speed.

The biggest difference between riding a dirt bike and a motorcycle is that a dirt bike is much easier to ride at low speeds and on dirt or rough terrain. 

Benefits of Riding A Dirt Bike

The benefits of riding a dirt bike are huge if you ride a street bike or are considering riding a street motorcycle in the future. 

I always recommend new riders to get some practice on a dirt bike before riding a street bike. 

Learning how to ride a manual bike with a clutch is easier on a dirt bike. Practicing proper technique is also easier on a dirt bike. 

The skills of riding on dirt when you don’t have 100% traction is one of the biggest benefits. It will give you the muscle memory and transfer it over to riding on the street. 

What To Do With A New Dirt Bike

Did you just buy your first dirt bike? Congratulations! Hopping on a motorized bike is one of the most exciting things I’ve done. However, just riding it and not checking or doing anything on it may result in problems sooner than later. 

Bought A New Bike?

Buying a new dirt bike from a dealer is the safest starting point when it comes to having a reliable motorcycle. With that said, sometimes the dealer will miss or not get everything setup. 

After buying a new dirt bike, it’s best to check all of the fluids. This includes, oil, coolant, brake fluid, and even gas if it was already filled. 

Re-greasing all of the suspension and steering bearings is a good idea. Depending on who assembled your new bike, it may not have gotten a proper amount of grease. This will result in the bearings drying out and not lasting as long. 

Bought A Used Dirt Bike?

Don’t have enough money for a new dirt bike? You can save thousands buying a used bike, but you don’t always know what you’re getting. 

Whether the seller is dishonest or simply doesn’t know every little detail about the bike, there could be a lot of potential problems. That’s not what you want as a new rider.   Some careful inspection is required to spot how much repair work will be needed. A cheap dirt bike could turn into an expensive project if you don’t know what to look for. 

The top things to look for when buying a used dirt bike are:

  • Oil level and color
  • Coolant level
  • Air filter (dirty air filter – lack of maintenance)
  • Any external damage to the frame, engine, wheels, exhaust
  • Chain & sprockets
  • Tires
  • Engine noise while running
  • Proper clutch operation
  • Smooth shifting of gears up & down

Dirt Bike Basics

Knowing the basics is crucial to any new sport or hobby you do. Having knowledge of basic riding technique as well as basic understanding of how a dirt bike works will give you a huge advantage from starting on your own. 

So, what else does the basics include?

  • What type of dirt bike to buy
  • Best dirt bikes to start out on
  • How to start a dirt bike
  • How to ride a dirt bike with a clutch
  • Proper technique for stopping quickly and safely
  • How to prevent injuries

Dirt Bike Safety

I always teach specific safety tips and techniques to new dirt bike riders. You don’t know what you don’t know, and that might not end well when it comes to riding a dirt bike. 

Trail Riding On CRF230F 21 Tips For New Dirt Bike Riders To Prevent Bad Crashes
Did I hit the tree or go down?!

Wearing proper riding gear is one key factor to preventing Injuries, but there’s other areas that are often overlooked. 

Learning proper riding technique from the beginning is very important. Knowing what a comfortable speed is for you is also going to help prevent a lot of potential crashes. 

Riding with other skilled and wise riders is invaluable if you want to become a better rider. 

How To Ride A Manual Dirt Bike

Learning to ride a manual dirt bike requires understanding how to use the clutch and shift gears up and down. There’s more than one way to learn, but I always keep things as simple as possible when teaching new riders. 

Clutch, throttle, and front brake are the 3 things I first show a beginner how to use. 


Proper clutch control is not only necessary, but it will hold you back from becoming a better rider if you don’t learn how to use the clutch well. 


Throttle control is needed in combination with the clutch. If you’ve never ridden a dirt bike before, the throttle will feel really sensitive.

I always have my students practice twisting the throttle to get a good feel for how it will react with very little movement. 


Third is practicing using the brake. This is probably the easiest part because it’s similar to stopping on a bicycle. 

The front brake lever is in the right side of the handlebars, and you simply squeeze it when you want to slow down or stop. 

Trail Riding On CRF230F 14 Tips For New Dirt Bike Riders To Prevent Bad Crashes
Hard on the brakes compresses the forks

A couple of tips to keep in mind when braking:

Don’t stab at the brake; you must ease into pulling the brake lever in. Just squeezing it hard when you need to stop can easily lock up the front wheel and slide out. The front tire needs time to compress and “load up” from the extra weight transferring on it before you can really slam on the brake. 


Lastly is shifting gears. A manual dirt bike means it has multiple gears that you have to shift up and down while riding.

Shifting can be done with or without the clutch. You just have to let off the throttle slightly when you press up or down on the shift lever. 

Dirt Bike Trail Riding Tips

Trail riding a dirt bike is one of my all time favorite things to do for many reasons. There’s a lot of cool places you can go that are only possible on a dirt bike, such as out in the mountains. 

Not only that, but flowing through single track trails in the woods is just so exhilarating on 2 wheels in the dirt.

Challenging myself to a hardcore trail that is suited for enduro bikes is also enjoyable and rewarding when you finally conquer a technical trail or section. 

Riding 2005 Honda CRF230F Tips For New Dirt Bike Riders To Prevent Bad Crashes
Having fun in the woods on my CRF230F

The top tips for trail riding if you’re a new rider are:

  • Use the proper trail bike that suits your needs
  • Wear appropriate riding gear (you don’t have to spend a fortune)
  • Learn to confidently ride your dirt bike with a clutch before riding trails
  • Read and understand proper trail etiquette to prevent an accident
  • Ask fellow riders for advice
  • Try their advice and see if it works
  • Don’t ride faster than you can handle

How To Ride A Dirt Bike Faster

Everyone wants to ride faster. As soon as you learn how to ride a dirt bike for the first time, the competitive nature will naturally come out.

Even though I’ve been riding for over 20 years I still want to ride my dirt bike faster than I did yesterday. That’s easier said than done, especially if you don’t want to get hurt.

In order to become a skilled and fast rider, you must push yourself. However, I have figured out a good way to reduce the amount of injuries to near zero while still increasing my skill. I might do it at a slower rate than another rider, but I’m less likely to hurt myself. This is important because I have to go to work every Monday.

So, if you’re still new to dirt biking, my top tips on how to become a faster rider are as simple as this:

  • Start on a dirt bike that’s easy to ride
  • Wear necessary riding gear
  • Learn how to ride your bike in a way that builds confidence
  • Keep your dirt bike maintained (If your bike is broke, you can’t ride!)
  • Practice proper technique and build your skill one step at a time
  • Ride in new areas/trails/tracks
  • Practice or ride with someone faster than you

How Do You Ride A Dirt Bike For Beginners

So, how do you learn how to ride a dirt bike that builds confidence and promotes safety? You could take the way that I did, which was learning on my own. That route took many years of thinking I was becoming an expert rider only to realize I still sucked.

Or you could just take the shortcut and take my class. Want private-like lessons that you can watch over and over again? How about all of the shortcuts that I’ve learned over the years that so many new riders unfortunately miss? Don’t be that guy or gal!

My online course is designed to be a “complete kit” that is super easy to follow and understand. Click here to learn more!

Kelley Fager

I help riders learn to safely ride off-road with confidence so that you don't crash and get injured, even if you don't have a lot of time to practice. Learn To Ride With Confidence Here

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