Dirt bike riding is one of the most pleasurable forms of motorcycling because it allows you to ride freely on trails or in wooded areas with no traffic or pedestrians. Dirt bike racing, on the other hand, is a whole different activity as it requires a lot of physical effort, mental strength, technique, and guts. If you're thinking of getting into competitive motocross, follow this comprehensive guide to start off on the right foot.

Experience Riding in the Dirt on a Mountain Bike or BMX

A Beginner's Guide to Dirt Bike Racing

Image via Flickr by Manuel.L

Cycling on a local dirt trail is a great introduction to off-road riding. It's a good way to get your first taste of rubber-and-rough, so that you'll know if dirt biking is the right sport for you. While you're riding on a mountain bike or BMX, you can perform a few small jumps to sample some “air time.” Jumping requires the right combination of pace, timing, and confidence, which provides some insight into motocross riding. Many professional motocross bikers ride mountain bikes or BMXs as a form of training and a way to unwind.

Get a Motocross Bike

With the top motorcycle brands getting into the motocross industry, dirt bikes are now very advanced and capable machines. They come in many different forms, sizes, and designs, which makes choosing the right bike a somewhat daunting task.

If you lack physical strength, it's a good idea to get a two-stroke bike, which is lighter and easier to maneuver. However, it's more fragile and unsuitable for use on highly demanding terrain. On the other hand, if you're physically strong, you should opt for a four-stroke or enduro bike. These bikes are heavier, but they can handle most kinds of off-road conditions.

Also, you may want to consider the option of buying a used bike. As a beginner, you're more likely to cause damage to your machine. If you spend less on your first bike, you'll be less upset if you tip over or bang up your bike. Nonetheless, you have to make sure the secondhand bike you choose is in good working condition and has minimal wear and tear.

When you're working out your budget for your motocross bike, you may also have to include the cost of a trailer for transporting your bike. This expense is unnecessary if you have a truck or van with enough room for a motorcycle.

Buy the Necessary Motocross Gear

While it's a fun and thrilling activity, dirt bike riding can be dangerous. Every motocross racer has sustained some form of injury in their careers. As such, it's important that you have the necessary gear to protect yourself against the hazards that come with dirt bike racing.

First of all, you need to get a motocross suit. This type of suit is surprisingly light and made of highly resistant materials. As such, it offers good protection without making you feel uncomfortable or impeding your movements.

Underneath the suit, you should wear protection on your chest to prevent stones from peppering your torso like bullets, which often happens when you're tearing through the dirt at high speeds. A neck brace is also necessary to reduce the risk of neck injuries, while a knee brace can help you avoid painful and costly twists.

In addition, you need to have a helmet to protect against head injuries and a pair of gloves to improve your grip. Lastly, invest in a sturdy pair of boots to keep your feet safe. It isn't uncommon for bikes to land on or roll over the feet of riders, resulting in severe foot or ankle injuries. Such injuries can put your motocross career on hold or even end it.

Locate the Nearest Motocross Tracks

Look around your local area for good motocross tracks. Some well-established tracks have different layouts to cater to riders of different skill levels and even tracks for juniors. Riding on one of these tracks enables you to improve your skills quickly and gives you the opportunity to meet experienced riders who may be willing to impart some useful tips.

Some places with extreme winter weather have indoor motocross tracks. If you can't find an indoor track in your area, you can head south to a warmer clime during winter.

Enroll in a Motocross Riding School

Enrolling in a motocross school may be costly, but it offers a number of benefits. Firstly, some schools have a wide variety of motorcycles available, which allows you to try different models and determine which one is most suitable for you. Secondly, there are usually tracks and facilities for riders of all skill levels, so you'll be able to find a comfort zone more easily. Lastly, some schools hire former professional riders as instructors. This means that you'll receive competition-focused training and advice that can help you advance your motocross career more quickly.

There are also current and former professionals offering off-road riding courses and clinics throughout the country. These programs may be temporary or permanent, but they offer some of the best training available for aspiring motocross racers.

Find a Local Club and Start Competing

As you continue to ride regularly, you'll come across opportunities to take part in races. The best way to get into motocross racing is to join a local club. A club usually charges a membership fee and then entry fees for competitions.

As a new racer, you'll most likely start at the local level. The availability of local races depends on your location. If you live in or near a big city, you should have no shortage of events to compete in. After you've achieved some level of success in your local area, you can start signing up for regional, state, or national events.

Becoming a motocross racer is an exciting and rewarding career, but it also involves some risks. While you need to be confident and brave to become a top-level rider, you also have to be careful to avoid career-threatening injuries. Striking the right balance between caution and courage is the key to motocross success.