There is an unmatched thrill in going off-roading on a far-off mountain range isolated from the bustle of crowds and basking in the serenity of nature in its rawest forms. If you, like the motocross champion Martin Varrand, enjoy exploring the untapped beauty of nature, riding your dirt bike through rugged terrains and jagged, craggy landscapes more than soaring across the smooth asphalt highways, then this guide is for you. Continue reading this article to learn everything from the best bike choices to safety and gear for your off-roading journey.
Selecting the Right Dirt Bike
Not every bike is suitable for riding through the dirt and gravel. You must consider bikes built for off-roading to handle the rutted tracks and water crossings. These can include:
Dirt bikes are specially designed for off-roading and are used in motocross races. They have a tight turning radius and features like high handlebars, tall suspensions, and knobby tires to navigate the rough tracks. Dirt bikes are further divided into different categories based on the type of track you choose:
- Lightweight trail dirt bikes are affordable, easy to maintain, and great for beginners. They are made for short trail pathways with two-stroke or four-stroke engines.
- Versatile dual-sports bikes suit both asphalt roads and gravel pathways. These reliable bikes have long maintenance intervals and are suitable for various skill levels because of their lightweight and good balance.
- The high-performance enduro motorbikes provide plenty of horsepower and speed. They have protective hardware and high-end suspensions suitable for the enduro course conditions.
2. Adventure Bikes (ADV)
These are versatile bikes with a similar chassis to sports and standard motorcycles, designed for comfort and long courses with features like windscreens and fairings to facilitate riding at highway speeds. They are lightweight with higher suspensions suitable for rough terrains and off-roading tracks. They also come with luggage options for comfortable and long rides. Some common examples of adventure bikes include the Suzuki V-Strom, Honda Africa Twin, and Ducati Multistrada.
Scramblers are rugged street-style motorcycles with teardrop-shaped tanks and round headlamps that give it a unique retro design. Their high-mounted exhaust pipes give good ground clearance for off-roading. Their dual sport tires provide adequate grip on different terrains. Additionally, they come with large displacement engines of 400cc to 1,200cc to give sufficient power to off-road riding. Examples include the BMW R nineT, Ducati Scrambler, and Triumph Scrambler.
Preparing for the Adventure
Before you embark on your off-roading quest, you must make the necessary pre-ride preparations, including taking your bike for a professional maintenance checkup to check:
- Tire pressure
- Bike electrics
- Throttle, Brake lever, clutch lever
- Oil, water, or any fluid leaks from the radiator
- Lever tension
- Chain tension
Make a checklist of what to bring for your adventure and research the terrain and weather conditions before the trip.
The unpredictable nature of off-road environments can lead to accidents and injuries, so safety should always be the topmost priority. Your essential safety gear should include a helmet, body armor, goggles, riding boots, gloves, and a protective suit.
Before you go off-roading, you should preferably undergo proper training from a certified program that teaches you the essential riding skills, including maneuvering, maintaining balance, and navigating different terrains. You must adhere to the safety guidelines that designate specific trails safe for off-road riding and avoid reckless speeding. Consider joining a biker’s community and going on group trips; this will help you learn from others’ experiences and effectively tackle any hostile conditions and emergencies.
Engaging in off-roading can provide an exciting and adventurous experience, but it’s essential to remember the associated risks and hazards. Choosing a bike that caters to your specific needs and experience level is crucial. You must consider factors such as your skill level, the type of terrain you plan to ride on, and your intended riding style. Safety is critical in off-roading, especially when using dirt bikes, ATVs, or scramblers.