Are Dirt Bikes Hard to Ride and is it Easy to Learn? - Risk Racing

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Are Dirt Bikes Hard to Ride and is it Easy to Learn?

April 19, 2022

Are Dirt Bikes Hard to Ride and is it Easy to Learn?

So you want to learn how to ride a dirt bike. Welcome! The world of dirt biking and motocross is filled with adventure, adrenaline, and opportunities. However, you’ve perhaps been intimidated by the professionals, and now you’re wondering whether they’re difficult to ride.

It’s relatively easy to ride a dirt bike and it normally takes just a few sessions to grasp the basics. However, it can take much longer to master your skills and to move to other related sports like motocross. Additionally, it’s vital that you learn to ride a dirt bike safely and with the proper technique.

Luckily, there are dirt bikes that are specifically made for beginners which allow you to safely develop your skills. We’re going to take you through the process of learning to ride a dirt bike, so read on to start your journey of learning an exciting new hobby.

Young dirt bike rider learning the basics of riding a dirt bike under the guidance of an older and more experienced motocross rider. The young rider is sitting on the bike in a ready position as the trainer holds the bike up and balanced.

Is It Hard to Ride a Dirt Bike?

Riding a dirt bike is remarkably similar to a standard bicycle, but with the simple addition of an engine (which isn’t that difficult to control). To make the process easier, you should first familiarize yourself with how a dirt bike operates and its different features.

Clutch Lever 

Most dirt bikes have a clutch, which is used to shift gears; when pressed, the clutch lever disengages the transmission so you can change gears without the engine stalling.

The clutch lever is located on the left handlebar – be careful because the brake is to your right. You don’t want to get these mixed up!

Clutch lever on a dirt bike

Gear Shifter

The gear shifter is just in front of the left footpeg and is pushed up and down with your left foot (mostly your left toes) to shift up or down a gear. You will be changing gears fairly frequently, especially on motocross trails or particularly rough terrain. Therefore, you need to make yourself familiar with the location of the gear shift (as well as how it operates) before you hit the trail.

Gear shifter on dirt bike, located on the left side of the the motorcycle in front of the footpeg.


The handlebars have grips on each end, but the right grip is movable and when you twist the right grip it feeds the engine more fuel. One of the best things you can learn is how to coordinate twisting the throttle with releasing the clutch handle as that is how you start moving from a stopped position. Do it too chaotically and you either kill the engine or take off so violently you lose control of the bike.

Motocross rider hitting a berm applying throttle. This motocross rider uses our Fusion 2.0 Grips.

Foot brake

As a beginner, you will want to familiarize yourself with the foot brake just under your right toes. This lever controls the back brake, and at first, we advise you to use the rear brake until you get more comfortable riding. This will avoid any confusion between the clutch and the brakes and hopefully keep you from accidentally throwing yourself off the bike by just grabbing the front brakes.

View of the rear brake located on the right or AKA throttle side of the motorcycle in front of the foot peg.


Again, this is a tool usually seen on older dirt bike models and it’s used to manually start your bike (in contrast to modern bikes which start electronically). The kickstarter is normally on the lower right side of your dirt bike.

rebuilt and modernized bike but still has a kickstarter as seen on the right side of the motorcycle above the footpeg.

When you’re familiar with your dirt bike’s anatomy, it should be a lot easier to operate it when you start riding. After a few sessions, knowing where the essentials are located will be muscle memory. 

Is It Easy to Learn How to Ride a Dirt Bike?  

The short answer: yes. The long answer: yes, but it’s not a quick process, especially when you’re dedicated to safety and learning the proper technique. When you start to learn how to ride a dirt bike, you should know that it can be fiddly and time-consuming to develop good riding habits.

We understand that it can be nerve-wracking to go out on the track for the first time, especially if you’re a total newbie to anything involving bikes. We all have to start somewhere! 

Here are a few tips to make the learning process go a bit more smoothly.

Watch Some YouTube Videos 

We often learn by watching others practice a skill, so you may feel more confident about learning to ride if you watch videos of some experienced dirt bikers beforehand. You’ll be able to see how to utilize the correct riding posture as well as how experts react to their environment. 

However, you shouldn’t spend too long watching others; the best way to learn how to ride a dirt bike is to simply get out and do it!When you’re learning to ride a dirt bike you must push aside any fear and, when you’re free of apprehension, the learning process will be a lot easier. 

Book a Private Tour

These are usually pretty affordable and they provide you with the opportunity to explore dirt bike riding in a safe, controlled environment. 

If you’re a total beginner,  you should opt for the easiest trail availableand let the tour operator know that this is your first time on a dirt bike. They will be able to adapt the tour accordingly,  accommodate your lack of experience, and generally provide you with an initial orientation. 

Try to Meet Other Local Riders

The dirt biking and motocross community are among the friendliest, and we’re always happy when someone wants to start our much-loved hobby! You might be able to find local dirt biking groups on Facebook or dedicated forums, so take some time to browse. 

Local riders will be able to offer you advice and tips while you’re riding together, giving you invaluable practical experience. Additionally, if you injure yourself (which is more likely as a beginner) you will have others to look after you. 

Two experienced riders assisting and instructing a younger rider.

How Long Does it Take to Learn to Ride a Dirt Bike? 

The answer to this depends on several factors such as your desired skill level and previous experience. Indeed, the time it takes until you feel truly comfortable riding a dirt bike will vary from person to person. 

If you’re planning to simply pick up a fun new hobby, you’ll start to feel comfortable on the dirt bike after just a few sessions. However, it takes a lot longer to become a skilled rider and to be able to tackle rough terrains, like steep hills and rocky ground. 

In general, it should take at least a couple of months to master the basic skill of dirt bike riding. If you want to become an expert or professional, you should expect to be riding for a good few years beforehand. 

What Should I Know Before Riding a Dirt Bike?

As with any hobby, you’ll want to do your research and know some essential things before you learn to ride a dirt bike. Here are some important points to remember, which will help to ensure your safety and that you’re learning the proper riding techniques.

RISK Racing rider Logan Karnow racing the 2022 Atlanta Supercross. Karnow is mid turn in the red dirt soil of georgia on his kawasaki.

It Can Be Dangerous

Like most high-adrenaline sports, dirt biking carries its risks. Not only are you usually riding at very high speeds, but the rough terrain of many dirt bike trails makes it easy to be flung to the ground. Some common injuries from dirt bike riding include:

  • Torn ACL 
  • Fractures (especially in the wrist, ankle/leg, and collarbone) 
  • Dislocated shoulder

If you’re a beginner, you should be aware that you’re likely to suffer one of these common injuries during your time riding a dirt bike. 

Thankfully, these injuries are not too severe and can be recovered from; however, there are more serious injuries that you are also at risk of which can be life-threatening. This leads us to our next thing to remember:

You Must Invest in Proper Safety Gear

You can significantly reduce your risk of serious life-threatening injuries by buying the correct safety gear. The following are some items that we consider essential when you’re dirt bike riding, although some gear is more important than others for your safety!


This is, single-handedly, the most important piece of safety gear for riding a dirt bike. You must wear a helmet every single time you go dirt bike ridingand, in many places, this is even a legal requirement. Helmets prevent you from receiving a serious head injury in the event of an accident; in fact, over 60% of motocross-related deaths happen as a result of the rider not wearing a helmet. 

When you’re looking for the perfect dirt bike helmet you should consider some major factors, such as the following: 

  • Comfort:even if it’s the safest helmet in the world, you won’t want to wear it if it’s not comfortable! You might be wearing it for hours on end so comfort is key.
  • Breathability:particularly important if you’ll frequently be riding in hot weather.
  • Lightweight: this is another issue of comfort; if your helmet is weighing down your head, it could affect your riding skills.
  • Price: a helmet is something you don’t want to cheap out on unless you feel like risking your life.  Take some time to browse different helmets in the $100-$500 price range.


This is another essential part of your dirt bike safety gear. On rough trails, you will likely encounter a lot of flying debris such as rocks and dirt. Wearing goggles stops these pieces from hitting your eye, which could cause infection, injury, or even sight loss.

J.A.C. V3 Motocross Goggle, chartreuse goggle frames with your choice of clear roll-off/tear-off lenses or mirrored tint tear off lenses. These goggles are designed to enable ultra wide vision, comfort, and protection. J.A.C. V2 Motocross Goggles white & red with the choice of three tear-off lens colors; clear, mirrored tint, and revo tint.


Wearing gloves that are specifically designed for dirt bike riding will protect your hands from friction burns and other injuries from the handlebars. Additionally, they help to protect your hands from the vibrations of the bike since this can cause numbness.

risk racing white/red motocross gloves, ultra durable with padded palms and reinforced thumbs risk written across the top of the glove in white lettering. Risk racing motocross gloves with silicone on the palm for grip and risk written across one finger in neon green lettering.

Knee Braces

This one’s a no-brainer since knee injuries are incredibly common among dirt bikers. Wearing high-quality knee braces will prevent hyperextension and/or hyperflexion of the joints, meaning you can save on costly hospital bills and continue to ride safely.

Motocross rider gearing up for a ride putting on their knee braces to protect their knee externally and internally.

You Need the Proper Riding Stance

We mentioned earlier that riding a dirt bike is as simple as a standard bicycle; don’t take this too literally, though! The rider’s positioning on a dirt bike vs a bicycle is drastically different. On a dirt bike, you need to brace the body to prepare itself for the uncertain terrain of the dirt bike trail. 

Here are some tips for maintaining the proper stance while riding a dirt bike.

  • Sit further forward on the seat:this prevents any accidental wheelies!
  • Put your weight into your legsrather than your rear, and try to sit up slightly off the seat.
  • Squeeze the bike between your kneesto take some pressure off your arms and make turning easier.
  • Keep your elbows high and pointed away from the bodyas this gives you optimum control for quick turns. 

Keeping good posture while riding a dirt bike can not only prevent crashes but will also help you to improve your riding skills.

Learn How To Maintain Your Dirt Bike

To keep your dirt bike in premium condition and in good working order, you need to learn basic maintenance. This includes changing the oil, cleaning the air filter, checking the tire pressure, and more. 

The last thing you want is for your dirt bike to tap out in the middle of a ride, so you should take some time to learn how to carry out maintenance on it. 

Checking dirt bike tire pressure before a ride to ensure the tire pressure isn't too low or too high so the rider can have a safe and enjoyable ride.

Is Learning Motocross Hard?

Perhaps you want to learn how to ride a dirt bike to later specialize in motocross (a type of dirt biking that involves riding on a man-made circuit/track full of jumps, obstacles, etc). 

Theoretically, learning motocross is exactly the same as riding a dirt bike. After all, they’re both done on the same bike! In practice, however, motocross is far more physically demanding than standard dirt bike riding.

When taking part in a motocross race, the entire body is engaged in preventing you from being flung off your bike as you navigate the challenging course. To be a successful motocross rider you need:

  • Good cardiovascular health: the heart rate can reach as high as 190bpm in the throes of a race
  • Excellent core strength: you will spend a lot of time standing on your bike, and using your body to turn
  • Good leg muscles: your legs will grip the bike to keep you stable

Therefore, you could say that motocross is significantly more difficult than regular dirt bike ridingdue to the level of fitness and commitment required. However, if you’re willing to put the work into training, the adrenaline rush of completing a motocross race is its own reward. 

 RISK Racing Europe Team Pics. Entire European team sitting on their yamaha dirt bikes on A.T.S. Stands & Factory Pit Mats, in front of a 10x20 risk racing canopy. All riders are wearing risk racing gear.

What is the Easiest Dirt Bike to Ride?

As a beginner, trying to find the right dirt bike for you will probably be an overwhelming process. To help you through it, we’re going to help you figure out which type of dirt bike you need and provide you with some beginner-friendly examples.

What Kind of Dirt Bike Do You Need?

This will depend on what type of riding you intend to do:

  • Play bikes -are designed for the more casual rider and are often the easiest and best option for beginners.
  • Motocross bikes– as the name suggests, these bikes are designed for motocross riding. They are much more powerful than play bikes, but they also require more maintenance. 
  • Competitive trail bikes– unlike motocross bikes, these are designed for navigating rough terrain off the road. Again, they’re more powerful than play bikes and are designed for experienced riders who want to do off-trail riding.

As a beginner, you will likely be best suited to a play bike.These allow you more control and they’re also delightfully low-maintenance, giving you the opportunity to develop your riding skills safely.

Examples of Beginner-Friendly Dirt Bikes

Here, we’ll provide you with some examples of dirt bikes and explain a few features that make them so good for beginners.

Honda CRF250X


  • Electric start (so you won’t have to fiddle with a kickstarter while riding)
  • Four-stroke 250cc engine (gives the rider more control)
  • Lightweight with a low center of gravity
  • Big-name brand: makes it easy to order replacement parts

Base Price: $8,399

2022 Honda CRF250RX out on the trail.

Honda CRF230F


  • An air-cooled four-stroke engine is incredibly reliable and can withstand difficult conditions
  • Lightweight (249 pounds)
  • Low center of gravity (yet the tire size makes it well able to tackle obstacles)
  • A comfortable seat makes it easier for beginners to ride long distances

Base Price: $6,598

2022 Honda CRF230F

Kawasaki KLX140G


  • Keyless electric start (avoids the hassle of a kickstarter)
  • 21-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels (perfect for navigating obstacles)
  • 33.9-inch seat height (easy for beginners to put their feet on the ground when they’re still learning)
  • Five-speed transmission with manual clutch (using the clutch is something that every dirt bike rider must learn, and this gives you a chance to do it on a beginner-friendly bike)

Base Price: $3,699

2022 Kawasaki KLX140G

Kawasaki KLX110 


  • Beginner-friendly tire size (14-inch front, 12-inch rear)
  • Large engine (110cc) gives it a low center of gravity
  • Lightweight (168 pounds) – will be easy to lift in the event of a crash
  • Highly customizable, and fairly easy to find replacement parts
  • Automatic clutch

Base Price: $3,243

Kawasaki KLX110

Yamaha YZ125


  • Renowned model – has been continually remade since the 1970s 
  • Lightweight (207 pounds) in comparison to the two-stroke engine (125cc)
  • Can reach speeds of up to 60mph while still allowing the rider to stay in control
  • A good long-term investment (you’ll likely be able to continue to ride this bike even after you’ve developed your riding skills)

Base Price: $6,599

YZ 125


Hopefully we have answered your questions about learning how to ride a dirt bike, and put your mind at ease that it’s actually not difficult at all! By learning this wonderful new sport you’re opening yourself up to adrenaline-filled fun, and it won’t be long until you start to reap the benefits of dirt bike riding. Good luck!

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