So, you're a great rider and look foward to every sunny day to get out on the bike to ride some awesome motorcycle roads. This is something all of us riders have in common but sadly some have limited their passion...
Put some incredible twisty aspahalt in front of a dirt rider and they'll have no trouble adapating to it and enjoying every minute but put dirt in front of many road riders is like asking them to jump off a cliff. It seems bikers around the world have divided road riding and dirt biking by placing a barrier between the two and choosing between the both, one or the other. But it shouldn't be this way!
We operate a busy motorbike tour company and since Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman made dual terrain motorbike touring hip we designed a motorbike holiday for road riders to get onto dirt. For six days these road riders sat on 250cc dirt bikes and experienced what dirt biking is all about. Many went home and bought a dirt bike to put alongside their sports bike with the only regret of "They wish they had done it years ago".
Here is our list of the top reasons a road rider should get out on the dirt. Do you know any friends or family who you think should get out on the trails but refuse to? Share this post with them and lets see if we can get more people into dirt biking.
5 Reasons Road riders Should Ride Dirt Bikes
#1. Your road riding skills will improve!
Most of the worlds best MotoGP riders started on dirt bikes! Dirt biking teaches you many new riding techniques that can be transferred onto the road. Riding on sand, wet clay, rocks, and gnarly trails on a forest trails will not only increase your awareness of the surroundings but you will learn the feel of the bike better and vastly improve the control you have and these new skills will transfer onto the street. When was the last time you seized up going around a bend and heading into a patch of sand or gravel? Once you get into dirt riding those moments when your arse starts snapping at the seat will become less scary and much easier to deal with as you will be experienced in dealing with moments of less traction or your back wheel slipping out from under you.
We made this the #1 reason why road riders should also ride dirt bikes as who wouldn't want to improve their riding skills? Motorcycle riding is a dangerous hobby and we all know that. Getting more skills is a no brainer but talking about "Dangerous" that leads us onto our #2 Reason why you should get onto the dirt.
#2. Its not as dangerous as you may have been told!
We've heard "You get hurt riding dirt bikes" so many times! Remove cars and other road users from the street we're sure you would agree street riding would be a much safer place without any other vehicles pulling out in front of you or cutting you up on the highway, it would be paradise wouldn't it? Well maybe, but the chances are, motorcycle accidents would still be high as your fear level will reduce and allowing speed to increase which automatically increases the danger and thats the point we are making here...
Other vehicles are almost non existant off road so third parties causing a danger to you has been drastically reduced. The only potential danger to you is pretty much just you! Ride like an idiot without awarness of the surroundings and your biggest danger is likely to be a tree but wear the correct dirt biking gear of quality boots and body protection etc and be aware of the inanimate objects around you such as trees etc and you're probably gonna be ok, after all you won't be hitting any tree on a dirt bike as fast as you could on a road bike!
Still not convinced to get out on the trails? Please, read on....
#3. Total Freedom
The word "freedom" in our opinion is used by all bikers and even the manufacturers selling the bikes but you haven't had "freedom" until the day you ride some fantastic twisties on road cut straight off the black top and into the forest and start "Wilderness Riding", this is where you find the true freedom of a bike getting lost in a forest or jungle without a care in the world.
In todays world you can't really get lost on road and if you do open up Google maps on your phone or glance at your GPS and get directed to the nearest hotel or restaurant. In the middle of Butt f**k nowhere" on unused single track trails and all on your own, that is freedom! Admittedly, you maybe lost, a little scared and there maybe a bear chasing you down the trail but that's freedom and a what a great story to tell your grandchildren.
Doing a huge bike trip circumnavigating the globe will give you a sense of freedom but hang on a minute...Your bike needs to be suitable for the worst terrain on the planet and you will need some off road riding skills! You don't have that yet and not everyone can afford the time or expense for a trip like that but you can have your own little sense of freedom every Sunday morning. Opening up your garage jump on your dirt bike and head out on a little adventure or just jump on your street bike like you have for decades turn on your GPS and let artificial intelligence take control of your "Freedom". Mmmn, the latter don't sound good to us!
Not everyone has the confidence or motivation to get on a dirt bike (or even a road bike) so we imagine many readers up to reason #3 above may have dropped off by the wayside but if you have made it to this point you're maybe the type of person who would adapt to dirt riding so lets read onto our #4 reason why you should ride dirt bikes and that is...
We are English born, a country famous for it's unpredictable weather. You may have heard an Englishman describe the weather as "Somedays it's torrential rain and gail force winds uprooting trees but on other days it can get quite bad". Unlike a street bike a dirt bike is an all seasons bike and totally versatile to take on anything each season brings obviously you need the skills to ride on ice or snow in the winter, hot dusty trails in the summer or mudplugging in the rain you just need the skills, so here is how to get those much needed off road riding skills...
Buy a dirt bike! It doesn't need to be a powerful KTM or Huqavarna in fact, don't even consider those bikes until you have your skill level up together. Grab yourself a bullet proof Kawasaki KLX 250s. It's cheap and robust and it will take you anywhere, not as fast as the other bikes mentioned but fast enough to get you learning some techniques. How long it takes you to become a great off road biker we can't say. Some adapat to it in days where others may take a little more time but how much time do you have to learn? Are you going to procastinate so long time flashes by and when you eventually do it you tell your mates "I wish I had done it years ago"? Grab the bull by the horns, get yourself a dirt bike you won't regret it!
Still here? Ok we maybe have some future dirt bikers on the way. Read on to our final reason...
#5. Why the Heck Not?
Motorbikes have two wheels, tyres, a seat, gears and a throttle they are "Motorbikes", Period! Why then do riders of these "Motorbikes" partition themselves to be street or dirt and only do one or the other? We all know people who don't have just one street bike, instead they own multiple street bikes for so called "different situations" where actually one street bike for certain situations is needed and a dirt bike for all situations! Stop labelling yourself and be an all round biker!
The only thing you may need to swap around on the dirt bike is maybe the tyres depending on the type of riding you are doing. If you are riding dual terrain in the summer (on and off road) buy a spare set of wheels fitted with all terrain tyres which will give good grip on road and good grip off road then another set with knobbly tyres fitted for the winter or rain. It will take a few minutes to swap the wheels then jump on and go and be proud of the fact you are a true biker and one that rides motorbikes, all kinds of motorbikes on any terrain.
This article was written by Motorbike Thailand one of the longest established Motorbike Tour Companies in Northern Thailand. Many years ago they introduced a "Rookie Dirt Bike Tour" designed for street riders with little or no off road skills to ride an adventure motorbike tour into the jungles of Northern Thailand. If you are keen to improve your riding skills but still have reservations of buying a dirt bike make a holiday out of it. They will supply you with the bike, tuition, knowledge and the support to help you get onto the dirt all packaged up into an amazing Adventure in Thailand. The only conditions is you must be a confident rider on the street and able to handle a street bike with ease. To see the 2019 version of the Rookie Dirt Biker tour take a look here.