Riding your bike on the highway is one thing, but it’s totally a different beast than taking your bike off the road and into the dirt. If you’re a beginner to adventure riding, it’s important to know that you need to come prepared. If you find yourself in the middle of nowhere stuck in deep mud or experiencing a flat tire, knowing a few tricks and tips can literally save your entire trip. So how can a total beginner get into adventure riding? Here’s what to keep in mind.
First things first, you need the right bike for your trip—a street bike or a cruiser won’t take you very far. Adventure bikes are equipped with special suspension and handling that allows the rider to cross any type of extreme terrain from rocks to sand, water and mud. Generally, adventure bikes also need a bigger engine, around 1000cc or more. And don’t worry about speed. These bikes can be quick, but that’s not their intended purpose. All in all, if this is your first meeting with a bike with a bigger displacement engine, it’s best to start smaller and work your way up to a big-boy Adventure Bike.
Both you and your bike need special gear for adventure riding. You will need a dirt bike helmet with a built-in shield and a jacket with plenty of pockets to accommodate all your essentials. Additionally, some special adventure boots will allow you to walk around comfortably when you dismount. Once you equip yourself, it’s time to give your bike something special. Start with protection and check out some quality bash plates that will give your frame rails and engine casings some added protection. Your engine casings can easily be damaged by sticks, logs and other debris while riding, so keep it safe and snug. If you’re planning some longer trips, consider investing in carry racks and luggage plates.
Before you get your adventure bike, it’s smart to work on your balance. You can try balancing on one foot on a plank of wood and closing your eyes—it might look silly but it will do wonders for your balance. You can also practice on your bike. Get into the stand-up adventure riding position, kick your stand up and see how long you can balance without putting your foot down. Once you’re on the trail and need to maneuver through tight track trails, your new skills will come in handy.
When riding, always keep your eyes further down the trail. By looking ahead instead of right at the ground in front of you, you can adjust your riding in time and avoid any risky situations. This will also give you time to make correct decisions instead of making sudden adjustments—these often lead to crashes.
Make sure to bring plenty of tools with you on your adventure. Having a tire iron and spoons is especially important because flats happen all the time. Bring along one or two spare 21-inch tubes, so you can handle both front and rear tire failures. Of course, having extra nuts and bolts is always a good idea. There are a lot of nuts and bolts that can shake loose, so having tools and spare parts to keep your bike in top shape is crucial. If you have some space in your luggage, keep an extra master link for your chain—this can also make or break your ride.
When adventure riding, expect to find yourself in remote areas without cellphone coverage, so it’s best to always have another rider by your side. If you have a friend that enjoys your hobby, you’re in luck, but you can also join an Adventure riding club and make lifelong riding buddies who enjoy the great outdoors just as much as you do. Other riders can also offer great advice, especially the seasoned riders, so you can shorten your learning curve and avoid some common rookie mistakes. Plus, riding with friends is simply more fun.
Adventure biking is one of the best ways to feel the freedom and connect with nature. When you know what you’re doing, it can be truly magical, so study these tips for a safe, fun and exciting adventure ride.