close up of man o nbike and his tires

Getting Started: Off-Road Riding

For so many of us, our dreams of riding a motorcycle are coated in a thin layer of dirt and dust.

Our favorite two-wheeled fantasies center on winding around cactuses in wide-open desert, dodging trees on an approved trail system, or even sailing across a perfectly sculpted triple jump. The combination of freedom and challenge that comes with tackling off-road terrain, and the desolate beauty of backcountry environments that are only accessible by off-road motorcycle, mean that when many of us dream of motorcycling we dream of riding off-road. So that’s where we start. 

At the same time, even if you never ride off-road again, learning to ride on a dirt bike is one of the best decisions you could make when learning to ride a motorcycle. Dirt bikes are significantly smaller, lighter and easier to handle than a streetbike, making it easier to drill and master basic skills. Also, because dirt bikes are built for rugged off-road riding and made to crash, they typically survive slow-speed tip-overs with zero damage—making the learning curve less stressful and allowing you the freedom to concentrate on building skills without worrying about protecting fragile and expensive plastic bodywork. Finally, learning to be comfortable and confident in a low-traction off-road environment will make you much better prepared to respond appropriately and without panicking when you encounter gravel, wet pavement, or any other reduced-traction conditions on the street. 

MSF DirtBike School

One of the best ways to get acquainted with off-road riding is by attending the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s DirtBike School. The MSF DirtBike School is a fun, one-day, hands-on, off-road training session available to anyone six years old or older. Hosted at dedicated off-road training sites, MSF-certified DBS Coaches teach basic riding skills and responsible riding practices, including risk management and environmental awareness.

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