Off-road biking can be incredibly fun, but it can also be dangerous if riders don’t familiarise themselves with potential challenges and choose the right motorcycle to meet them head-on. A standard cruiser or a super-powered street bike may be fun to ride down well-maintained streets, but they won’t get very far off-road. Before starting off on an adventure biking tour, riders should read up on five of the most common challenges of off-road biking and carefully consider whether their current bikes are up to the task.
Navigating Sandy Soils
Large, heavy bikes may be safer on highways and paved roads, but they’re a recipe for disaster on unstable, sandy or deep soils. That’s because the best way to tackle these obstacles isn’t to slow down, but to speed up. A lighter bike will be better up to the task, especially given how important it is that riders shift their weight backwards while traversing deep or unsteady soils.
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When taking corners off-road, riders need to shift their body weight forward. More weight means more traction, which allows riders to take corners faster without risking a painful fall. The right bike makes it much easier to take corners off-road by featuring a balanced weight and a comfortable seat that doesn’t impede forward motion.
Turning off-road can feel a little counter-intuitive for street riders at first because it requires learner angles. Instead of leaning into the turn, riders should push their bikes down to the side but keep their bodies upright on top of them. This makes it easier to control slides and provides a natural counterweight as the rider’s center of gravity shifts toward the inside of the turn radius.
As with riding through loose soils, a lighter bike will make it easier to take turns safely off-road without sacrificing speed. Just make sure to readjust riding style when heading back onto the clean pavement.
Street riders don’t generally worry much about clearance because they don’t have to. The roads they ride are typically well-maintained, so there’s nothing to clear. Adventure riding is different, though, as off-road tracks often come with more than their fair share of rocks and debris.
It’s often possible to avoid large branches and boulders, but riders shouldn’t have to worry about damaging their bikes on smaller obstacles. Look for a bike with decent clearance and make sure it has high-quality, off-road tires that offer plenty of grip and puncture resistance.
Ease of Repairs
No matter how careful adventure riders are, chances are, their bikes will eventually wind up needing repairs. It’s unwise to head out on an off-road trail in an expensive bike that requires speciality parts. Instead, choose on that is easy and affordable to repair.
The Bottom Line
With the right motorcycle, there’s no need for a dirt bike. Not all motorcycles are designed for off-roading, though. Make sure to choose a durable but lightweight bike that will corner well and won’t get stuck in the sand.