Keeping your Balance is the key to happiness on a Dirtbike

I’m guessing you are starting to get the idea that balance on a bike, especially a dirt bike is essential if you are going to master the skills you need too!! Yet it seems to me that I never see newer riders, or even more experienced riders practicing this particular skill.

When I got into Road racing I sort of had a mentor that would drift by my pits from time to time and offer, mostly one liners as advise. His advise ranged from mind blowing things like “Learn to counter steer, tonight on the way home give your left hand handle bar a shove forward, you’ll be convinced” which transformed my racing but also nearly put me in the ditch.

One day he dropped by and said, you need to buy a unicycle!!! I thought he was trying to wind me up about my rather dodgy riding style, but he was serious, he had noted I was using the bike too much to keep my balance and knew learning to ride a unicycle would help me alot.

Since then I have seen dozen of top riders encouraging young riders to ride a unicycle and it really does help.

You don’t need to ride a unicycle, although it will help you, there are other ways to improve your riding balance. But you really should work on this skill as a priority.

So here’s some suggestions and my recommendation would be you work on as many as you can as frequently as you can. They are all things I have personally done to improve my balance.

A balance board, in your living room or bedroom that you can drag out and do some balance work on whilst watching TV or such like is a great thing. They are small enough to fit behind a couch or door and so can be in easy access for 5mins of balance training when the mood strikes you.

A unicycle. is great fun and probably the best practice you can get. I never managed to master the whole juggle whilst unicycling but it is far more than just a parlour trick, it teaches you to separate your hand and arms from your lower body at the same time balance through you core. IT IS EXACTLY what you want on a dirtbike.

standing on our bikes pegs, motionless balancing, is something you can practice every ride multiple times a ride. Stop when you arrive with you mates and see how long you can last before you need to put your feet down, trying NOT to use the bars for that balance. Stop the other side of a log and balance cooly… showing off how you’re in control NOT gravity, stop in front of a hill before a seat bounce and drive up it…. so many chances to practice you balance.

Don’t forget to try this uphill, downhill, on the side of slopes etc.

You also want to practice dynamic balance. By this I mean moving from one position to another stopping before and after. A simple example would be stand stationary, balance, quickly drive up onto a steepish hill, stop and balance there, reverse by allowing yourself to roll backwards (if you can) and stop again.

Being able to move from one stable, balanced position to the next, is the key you are looking for. Static balance will help enormously, but when you get that sorted, work on those transitions.

So you want to be a great off road rider…. learn to balance at low speed first.

BTW, I have ridden a unicycle for years and these days one of my favourite modes of casual transport is my Electric Unicycle (EUC). Love it.

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