Motocross is not necessarily for everyone. It can be quite a dangerous pursuit; however it is also a tremendously exciting one. For those of you reading this and thinking about having a go, you don’t have to jump straight into buying all the equipment. There are ways to find out if Motocross is really your thing. For example there are places throughout the UK that offer ‘taster sessions’, which involve a small number of beginners riding with an experienced trainer and learning the basic skills. This should set you back around £150 but that’s cheaper than buying yourself a bike and all the accessories before finding out it wasn’t what you hoped for. If you are set on taking up Motocross then you’d better start by getting yourself a bike.
Even if you’re lucky enough to have plenty of money, it’s not a good idea to go out and purchase the most powerful bike in the shop. You need to boost your confidence by mastering the basic handling skills first, which you can do just as well on a cheaper, second hand bike. So, spare yourself the unnecessary expense and pick up an ex race bike for about £700. For adults, a two stroke 125cc bike is more than enough to get started with. You may be tempted to get a bike with a larger engine but remember that it’s more important to feel comfortable getting the basics right. You should also bear in mind that Motocross bikes are not road legal so you will need some form of vehicle in which to transport it.
Once you have yourself a bike, the next thing to ponder is what to wear whilst riding it. Motocross can be dangerous so it is vitally important to wear all the correct protective kit at all times, (even if you are one of life’s more careful riders). The most important piece of kit you need to have is your crash helmet, which unlike your bike has to be brand new. A second hand helmet could have been damaged in a previous crash and be susceptible to further damage so brand new is always best. On top of this you also need to buy Goggles, (to avoid dirt and stones being kicked up into your eyes from other bikes), body armour, kneepads and boots. Wearing all of this equipment is essential in order to ensure your safety at all times.
Now that you have all your equipment you can get out there on your bike and start riding. Here are a few of the basics of Motocross riding that once mastered, will enable you to become a better, more confident rider.
From push bikes to the most powerful of motorbikes, balance is the most important thing to achieve when riding any bike. This is doubly important in Motocross, where you are constantly dealing with many different types of rough terrains.
Having control over the bike’s engine is known as ‘throttle control’. The throttle is operated by twisting the grip with your right hand on the handlebar, which you use to accelerate and regulate the speed of the engine. If you apply too much throttle too quickly, the rear wheel will spin and you will lose all traction, leading to the loss of control of the bike. When you learn to control the throttle, the bike will do just what you tell it.
The clutch is used when going from a standing start to accelerating once the bike is in gear. Once you are moving, your bike no longer needs the clutch to change gear. More experienced riders also use the clutch to get more revs from the engine and pick up more speed; however this is not something that you need to know as a beginner.
As you ride over different terrains the bike needs to be in its optimum gear in order to perform at its best. Different parts of the track will mean you will need to be in different gears in order to maximise your bike’s performance. This comes only with practice so that the more you ride, the more you will know what gear your bike should be in so that it feels smooth at all times. If the bike is in the wrong gear you will hear the engine start to struggle, leading to a loss of revs and therefore performance.
Don’t make the mistake of getting on your bike and tearing off around the track until you know exactly how the breaks on your bike operate. For your safety and that of other riders, make sure you understand where the breaks are and how to use them correctly before you even get on the bike.
Like any bike, cornering is done simply by turning the handlebars in the direction you want to go. However, Motocross riding also requires that you use your body by leaning into the corners and using your balance to keep the bike stable. It may sound simple but remember that you are dealing with powerful engines so this is something you will need to practice before you can feel completely comfortable.
So that’s the basics covered. Always remember to stay safe by wearing your equipment at all times and that practice makes perfect. You’ll get there in no time.