How Riding Off-Road Will Make You Better and Safer Everywhere

Any sport or activity that requires you to wear a helmet is not a "safe" sport or activity. In fact, that's often part of the reason we become motorcyclists in the first place – for the thrill of it. And what thrill would there be if you were completely safe?

That being said, though, nobody likes to crash, nobody likes to hurt themselves, and nobody likes to damage their equipment. All of these downsides to motorcycling are real, especially in the Adventure segment, but they can also all be mitigated. And you'll have fun doing it!

You can do it by borrowing, renting or buying any full-sized off-road motorcycle and then putting in practice.

Riding off-road, or even motocross, seems to the outsider to be a completely different beast from riding on the street, or even riding adventure bikes in the dirt, but it's not. If you can manage to spend $1500 on a decent, used off-road machine from any era from the mid-1990s on through the new stuff and then take it out into the dirt, you're going to find some things out really quickly:

1) Traction is a myth.

2) It's a lot harder than it looks.

3) You crash a lot.

4) There's a reason you have front and rear brakes.

5) You have poor throttle control.

6) Body position – how your weight is distributed on the motorcycle – is absolutely everything.

These things will not only change your perspective completely on all motorcycling you do, whether it's commuting or adventure-touring, but it could save you thousands of dollars in motorcycle repairs and medical bills if you are ever unlucky enough to end up in a situation where most riders would go down.

Adventure rider controlling his bike while losing traction 
Adventure rider controlling his bike while losing traction
Adventure rider standing on the pegs to gain better control 
Adventure rider standing on the pegs to gain better control

We'll break each of these concepts down now:

1) Traction is a myth:  Dedicated street motorcyclists have a tendency to just "believe" their motorcycle tires will stick to the pavement when they accelerate, brake, or corner. And of course they believe that because that's basically always true – except for when it isn't.

As bikes of all classes and sizes become better and better, they inspire more and more confidence in their riders; confidence that your bike will stick as you go around this turn. After all, you've done it 100 times before and it has always worked. But what about that one time when you catch a patch of oil in the road? Or you have to dodge an animal? Or you get a flat tire? What do you do then?

If you are a decent off-road rider, you are much more likely to be perfectly fine at best, or greatly minimize the damage at worst. Why?  Because you literally never have traction when you're riding off-road. Your tires don't stick to the dirt. If you want your motorcycle to go a certain direction, you have to know how to ask it nicely to do so. That means you have to be going the right speed, in th

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