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Beginner’s Guide To Dirt Bikes And Off-Road Motorcycles
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Believe it or not, dirt-bike riding is one of Joburg's most popular sports. We've all seen those trailers stacked with muddy motorcycles on a Sunday afternoon. You have to admit, it looks like a lot of fun. So we've put together a beginner's guide to get you riding dirt bike without your training wheels on.    
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The first step? Get an off-road motorcycle. If you’ve never ridden a motorcycle before, it’s best to go for a lower cc bike — cc being the size of the engine. Have a look at 150cc bikes that fit your price range. These machines become fairly expensive very quickly. Use the Honda CRF 150RB as a comparative machine in your search. It’s the Ferrari of beginner cycles. As you become more comfortable with riding, you’ll want to kick the engine size up a notch. Besides, there are tons of parts and modifications available to improve performance.

When it comes to bike shopping, steer clear of unknown brands. These tend to break under pressure. You probably don’t want to slam face first into a rocky embankment because your front tyre fell off. With that said, try to buy a Japanese manufactured motorcycle. It’s been proven time and again that the Japanese have mastered the combustion engine.

Before we get to the theory and practice of how to make it to second gear, let’s suit up first. Because this is a dangerous sport, there are many tools to keep your bones intact. Standard gear consists of a helmet, motorcycle boots, goggles, gloves, body armour, jersey and pants. Pretty much all of these are essential — especially the boots, goggles and helmet. Another helpful piece of protection — covered by some medical aids — is an EVS knee brace. Click here to read more about the knee brace. Also, if you’re going to be riding for more than two hours at a time, be sure to wear a kidney belt which keeps your vital organs from jumping around too much.

beginners guide dirt bike

And where are the best places to ride in town? There are quite a few, actually. Joburg started out as a mining town so a lot of off-road guys hit the old mine dumps in Maraisburg. Then there are dedicated tracks such as Dirt Bronco in Krugersdorp and Erora MX Track in Kempton Park, to name a few. Just be careful when trying to ride in public parks — suburban folk aren’t fans.

So, it’s time to hop on that MX bike of yours and braaap all the way up the mountain. Slow your roll, tiger. We’re almost ready to fire her up. Balance is key. If you can ride a bicycle, half the battle is pretty much won. Because of the rules of physics, motorcycles can’t fall over if they keep moving. The faster you go, the harder it will be to fall over. Well, unless you crash, of course. Pop the bike into first gear, which is one step down on the gear lever, and get a feel for the clutch and throttle. Don’t be despondent if you keep stalling — you’ll get there soon enough. The second weapon in your arsenal is your stance. The key to riding motocross is to maintain a dynamic stance — flexibility in the knees and strong grip with the thighs. Flexed knees allow the body to absorb the lumps and bumps on the track and cushion landings from jumps.

Beyond that, we can’t tell you much more. You’d need to figure out the rest for yourself. Besides, practice makes perfect.

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By Shawn Greyling

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