If you are interested in dirt biking, you’ve probably already been down to look at dirt bike equipment at a motorcycle dealer or possibly at an ATV dealer. You might have scoped out the place you want to try out dirt bikes, and maybe you’ve already ridden around a little bit on a buddy’s bike. Before you really launch out on your dirt biking career, though, here are a few mistakes it’s important to avoid.

Assuming Anyone Can Do It

Dirt biking is not simple. It can take weeks to get your feet under you and it will take years for you to truly master the sport of dirt biking. Perhaps it’s not quite fair to say that not everyone can do it, and better to say that not everyone is willing to do it. In order to master dirt biking, you have to be willing to fall off, lose control, crash, stall, and even blast right through some bushes. Dirt bikes can be difficult machines to control, and you need to be aware of that going in.

Balance Is Everything

If you’ve even sat on dirt bikes at the showroom, you probably know this in theory. In practice, it’s harder than it looks. If you already know how to ride a bike then you are a step ahead when it comes to dirt biking. But you might also be a step behind if you assume that the dirt bike will feel and move like that bike your dad helped you learn to ride. A dirtbike is a lot heavier and a lot faster, and this means the balance will feel quite different. If you want to get it right, spend some time standing on your dirt bike as you ride it. A lot of beginners start out sitting, but it’s actually easier to get the feel for the balance if you stand up.

Look Where You’re Going

When dirt biking, the natural reaction is to want to look down and in front of you. This is a really bad idea when riding something as fast as a dirtbike. That’s because of a little thing called “object fixation.” This is what happens when you see an object and, because you have seen it, you can’t not run into it. You fixated on it. This happens with bikes, as well, but the consequences when riding something is fast and heavy as a dirtbike can be a lot more serious. What you need to do instead is to look ahead at what’s coming. You need to be adjusting your throttle and your brakes according to what’s coming up down the road rather than what’s right in front of you. If you’re just applying the brakes when you see it right in front of you, it’s probably too late.

Expect to Move

Dirt biking is not for the lazy. The bike doesn’t do all the work by itself. Of course, balance is important, but it’s also very important where exactly you position yourself when you take a jump or take a corner. Where you position your body could mean everything in losing control of the bike, but it’s also a way to reduce your fatigue. The only way to learn body positioning is by practice, practice, and more practice. Start out slowly and don’t take things at speed until you feel confident in where your body should be at any given moment.

Learn Your Timings

Figuring how to use the clutch and the throttle is all about the perfect timing. This is especially the case when you have to use them together and do so while trying to balance on just two wheels. Again: practice, practice, and more practice. A lot of beginner riders think they haven’t mastered they really don’t and are in for a lot of unnecessary crashes simply because they haven’t played around and practiced as much as they should.

Dirt biking is amazing fun and is one of the best motorsports out there. Just be sure to put in the practice you need to do it right.