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Tons of posts on here lately mentioning this topic. First of all, there are several different kinds of dirt riding, so let's be specific and clear when we discuss it.

Motocross is not flat track is not woods enduro is not desert racing is not trials is not supermoto is not hill climbing, etc...

Many riders start out at a young age riding on some kind of dirt. Many riders successfully transition from dirt to pavement. That doesn't mean that the skills and habits picked up in motocross carry over fully to the street. In fact, many of those skills and habits are counter-productive to effective and safe street riding. It just means you know where the controls are and what they do.

That doesn't mean that you can't learn how to do both proficiently, it just means that they are in fact very different disciplines. Riding a personal water craft is similar to riding a motorcycle, but you don't just hop off one and onto the other without adjusting your technique.

Some dirt skills can greatly enhance a pavement rider's abilities, in certain circumstances. Dirt track riding is one example. Again, very different technique from motocross.

So, just because you have prior 'dirt' experience doesn't mean you are immediately proficient on pavement as a new street rider. You are still a new street rider. But it also doesn't mean that you can't learn to master more than one discipline.

Discuss... :cheers
 

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I think that a few years of dirt experience will go a long way towards helping a first time street bike owner make the transition. I got my first minibike at 12, and went through 6 dirt bikes before I got my first road bike at 18. A Kawi 400 2 stroke triple. I definitely had to relearn cornering and learn street skills. But I wasn't worried about how to operate the bike. I definitely believe that starting on a smaller street bike is a good idea.
 

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Oh god, now I'm going to have to argue in two sub forums? You're killing me here.

No matter how good you are on dirt, you can not simply hop on a street bike and ride well. Starting small and going through all the steps of learning to ride a street bike are still necessary. Dirt riding does provide an excellent base to build street riding skills on, and dirt experience can be a huge help to riders of all skill levels. As the Hurt report tells us, riders with dirt experience are significantly under represented in fatal motorcycle accidents. Personally I find the idea of riding a motorcycle on public roads with no more experience than the MSF Basic Rider's Course terrifying and would encourage everyone to get dirt experience first if I thought anyone would listen.
 

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i dont think there is much to discuss. i think you nailed it perfectly jk750....

i for one started riding dirtbikes when i was 10.

and i dont care what people say, having prior motorcycle experience helps. even if it is just to get a better feel for the controls (throttle, clutch, hand brakes....)

but i agree, the dirt acts a lot different than the pavement.

i remember when i got onto the ninja 250 for the first time ever. i was test riding it at the owners house, and as i was pulling out of his driveway i almost ran it into my Camaro!

this was before i took MSF, and it was the very first time being on the street for me. just goes to show they dont necessarily turn the same way....but there are a million other disimilarities between dirt and pavement also.

the idea is the same tho = 2 wheels instead of 4. balance is still important regardless if it is the street or dirt, and being able to operate the controls of the bike is pretty much the same.

i noticed that when i road dirt, i used the back brake A LOT more! mostly cuz you can slide the rear out on turns without huge problems, unlike a streetbike. it took me a little bit to get used to using the front brake as my main mode of stopping....
 

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Though it may give a street rider a jump start, it seems to cause more harm than it does a lower learning curve. Things like a false sense of skill. I dun need no stinkin practice I been ridin durt bikes fer yearz! *back brake locks up*
 

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ZxHunteR said:
Though it may give a street rider a jump start, it seems to cause more harm than it does a lower learning curve. Things like a false sense of skill. I dun need no stinkin practice I been ridin durt bikes fer yearz! *back brake locks up*


Good example right there!

Ask Lightening McQueen...he can run fast and turn like a mofo on pavement...then see how he runs on dirt!


Joking aside, they are two different beasts.
 

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I came from a desert, enduro, hill climb background before I bought a street bike.

The one advantage I had over someone that had never ridden a bike was I had basic knowledge of bikes, and how they work. Also, shifting was "second nature" and since using front and rear brakes was already automatic, I could focus more on riding then where the controls are.

Now the bad. While my shifting style was automatic, it was also wrong. There's nothing wrong with banging through the gears in a dirt bike and I didn't find it necessary to match RPM's when downshifting, since I usually had the rear sliding anyway. I'm STILL learning to make my downshifts smoother (while braking). My braking habits fell mostly on the rear wheel. I had to stop that before I killed myself on the street. Lastly, I had a habit of keeping my body upright when cornering on my dirt bike, counter-productive on the street unless doing a U-turn in a 1 lane road.

In all I think the good and bad from my dirt experience even out, but tilts a bit to the "detrimental" side.

This is just me though.
 

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i noticed that when i road dirt, i used the back brake A LOT more! mostly cuz you can slide the rear out on turns without huge problems, unlike a streetbike. it took me a little bit to get used to using the front brake as my main mode of stopping


Using the rear brake is the best skill I brought with me from my dirt bikes. A lot of riders don't know how to use the rear brake properly on the street. I use it to settle the bike in turns, and for balance in slow speed maneuvers. I definitely am a more confident rider when things get squirrily because of what I learned in the dirt. YRMV. :eatpop
 

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jk750 said:
Tons of posts on here lately mentioning this topic. First of all, there are severak different kinds of dirt riding, so let's be specific and clear when we discuss it.

Motocross is not flat track is not woods enduro is not desert racing is not trials is not supermoto is not hill climbing, etc...

Many riders start out at a young age riding on some kind of dirt. Many riders successfully transition from dirt to pavement. That doesn't mean that the skills and habits picked up in motocross carry over fully to the street. In fact, many of those skills and habits are counter-productive to effective and safe street riding. It just means you know where the controls are and what they do.

That doesn't mean that you can't learn how to do both proficiently, it just means that they are in fact very different disciplines. Riding a personal water craft is similar to riding a motorcycle, but you don't just hop off one and onto the other without adjusting your technique.

Some dirt skills can greatly enhance a pavement rider's abilities, in certain circumstances. Dirt track riding is one example. Again, very different technique from motocross.

So, just because you have prior 'dirt' experience doesn't mean you are immediately proficient on pavement as a new street rider. You are still a new street rider. But it also doesn't mean that you can't learn to master more than one discipline.

Discuss... :cheers
I road dirt bikes from the age of 10 to the age of 19...and I guess you would equate the type of dirt riding I did as...outdoor, old-fashioned motocross.

I never competed formally, but had a great natural track about 1 block from my house. Vans, bikes, out there every weekend.

Also the old Flying P Ranch was a go to.

I don't know if it would make someone into a Wayne Rainey or Schwantz, but any type of two wheeled, motorized experience can not hurt. IMO.
 

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rbrsddn said:
i noticed that when i road dirt, i used the back brake A LOT more! mostly cuz you can slide the rear out on turns without huge problems, unlike a streetbike. it took me a little bit to get used to using the front brake as my main mode of stopping


Using the rear brake is the best skill I brought with me from my dirt bikes. A lot of riders don't know how to use the rear brake properly on the street. I use it to settle the bike in turns, and for balance in slow speed maneuvers. I definitely am a more confident rider when things get squirrily because of what I learned in the dirt. YRMV. :eatpop
+100
 

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Smooth7 said:
i dont think there is much to discuss. i think you nailed it perfectly jk750....

i for one started riding dirtbikes when i was 10.

and i dont care what people say, having prior motorcycle experience helps. even if it is just to get a better feel for the controls (throttle, clutch, hand brakes....)

but i agree, the dirt acts a lot different than the pavement.

i remember when i got onto the ninja 250 for the first time ever. i was test riding it at the owners house, and as i was pulling out of his driveway i almost ran it into my Camaro!

this was before i took MSF, and it was the very first time being on the street for me. just goes to show they dont necessarily turn the same way....but there are a million other disimilarities between dirt and pavement also.

the idea is the same tho = 2 wheels instead of 4. balance is still important regardless if it is the street or dirt, and being able to operate the controls of the bike is pretty much the same.

i noticed that when i road dirt, i used the back brake A LOT more! mostly cuz you can slide the rear out on turns without huge problems, unlike a streetbike. it took me a little bit to get used to using the front brake as my main mode of stopping....
+100 again...

People in general who think that riding of any sort is harmful...that's just silly.

Late comers...their mommy and daddy wouldn't let them have a dirt bike...most likely.

Some of the best road racers came from flat tracking...which is a form of dirt riding used in all kinds of other dirt riding.
 

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All right, I've had a couple of beers, but here's an example. I was 22, spending a weekend in Hyannis with some friends and was on my '74 Triumph Trident 750. Bearser's Way had recently been paved, and a buddy on his '73 Tiger 750 and I were heading to the house from main St., and there was this guy on a 450 honda putting along just before a sweeping right turn. It was about 90 degrees out, and I decided to just gas it past him. Well, in about 2 seconds, I looked like Gene Romero in a full lock powerslide! I was dragging my right foot and have no idea HTF I saved it. My adrenalin shot to about 200 %, and I slowed to ask the guy on the Honda if that was cool or what, as he'd seen the whole thing. He said" Man, that's why I'm goin so slow!" I would have bought the farm if I hadn't known what I was doing. AAHH, great memories... That had to have been one of the funnest summers ever.:)


Quote:Some of the best road racers came from flat tracking...which is a form of dirt riding used in all kinds of other dirt riding.Quote

Sorry had to throw that in. Riding is riding, and you can only get better as long as you keep practicing. Honk Shoo.
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Way back before some of you were even a gleam in your Dad's eye I was doing both dirt riding along with street riding which means back in '45 right after WWII though not legal till July of '46.

So just two houses from our home were the bushes & that is where I headed down the dirt road & into the bush to try & learn with hand shift & foot clutch on a very old & sick Harley 45SV.

Come July '46 I already had a 'used' Indian 45SV & '42 Harley 45SV for a song & dance. I would say 0nly 25% of the roads were paved while the other 75% were dirt, cinders, or gravel.

Now you know why I almost automatically went into flat tracking & dirt hill climbing in '47 to come '48 & also be in on Scrambling (MXing), Observed Trials, Enduros, Cross Country racing to even get into road racing. Plus the money into a bicycle shop that turned into also selling British bikes where I worked as a m/c wrencher & competitor.

So yes the experience in dirt helped an amazing lot, especially as I continued doing it for all of 42 yrs.
 

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Smitty said:
Way back before some of you were even a gleam in your Dad's eye I was doing both dirt riding along with street riding which means back in '45 right after WWII though not legal till July of '46.

So just two houses from our home were the bushes & that is where I headed down the dirt road & into the bush to try & learn with hand shift & foot clutch on a very old & sick Harley 45SV.

Come July '46 I already had a 'used' Indian 45SV & '42 Harley 45SV for a song & dance. I would say 0nly 25% of the roads were paved while the other 75% were dirt, cinders, or gravel.

Now you know why I almost automatically went into flat tracking & dirt hill climbing in '47 to come '48 & also be in on Scrambling (MXing), Observed Trials, Enduros, Cross Country racing to even get into road racing. Plus the money into a bicycle shop that turned into also selling British bikes where I worked as a m/c wrencher & competitor.

So yes the experience in dirt helped an amazing lot, especially as I continued doing it for all of 42 yrs.
:bowdown

A salute is in order here.

:phatyo
 

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Well you guys keep on saying "I got in the habit of just locking up the rear and sliding it all the way through turns." Sorry but that's not correct. You aren't even beginning to touch the capacity of your bike if your mainly using the rear brake.

I was never really rear brake heavy before but after I had a lesson with a local MX pro (Drew Askew) I hardly use it at all. Yes I do use it a little bit but I get all my braking done with the front brake. It's way more effective, even in dirt, and you can drive so much deeper into corners. Really I mainly use rear brakes to set up a brake slide and then I transition from that to a power slide.

Sure it takes a little more skill because you have to be ready to modulate if it locks up but other than that, keeping it hooked up is just a matter of good suspension set up and proper riding position.

From the mouth of the guy that is given 2 KXF's for free 3 times a year "In dirt front brake is 90% of your power and the rear brake is 10%"
 

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yamirider said:
Well you guys keep on saying "I got in the habit of just locking up the rear and sliding it all the way through turns." Sorry but that's not correct. You aren't even beginning to touch the capacity of your bike if your mainly using the rear brake.

I was never really rear brake heavy before but after I had a lesson with a local MX pro (Drew Askew) I hardly use it at all. Yes I do use it a little bit but I get all my braking done with the front brake. It's way more effective, even in dirt, and you can drive so much deeper into corners. Really I mainly use rear brakes to set up a brake slide and then I transition from that to a power slide.

Sure it takes a little more skill because you have to be ready to modulate if it locks up but other than that, keeping it hooked up is just a matter of good suspension set up and proper riding position.

From the mouth of the guy that is given 2 KXF's for free 3 times a year "In dirt front brake is 90% of your power and the rear brake is 10%"
Don't know if you were referring to me or the others who use the rear brake.

But...

The way I use the rear brake is when I am at the point, usually just after turn in, and any more front brake might either wash out...or itself lock, and I need just a bit more brake, but not the one I am already using.

Does that mean I entered the corner just a bit too hot?

Yes, sometimes it does. That's something I need to work on.

But...

I also use it on off-camber corners, and corners where the bike needs just a little correction suspension wise to go a little smoother through the turn.
Maybe to adjust my line, just a hair.

I use the rear....very very lightly.

It is also a must that any street rider learn how to use the rear when the pavement gets wet.

If you are riding in the rain, and some car pulls out in front of you, or a traffic light has a 3 second yellow, and there is a cop sitting right there in wait...

If you have to hit the front brake hard in the wet, you might as well get ready to take a good hard slide down the street...sans bike...as you will be down quicker than you have time to say "oh..sh...*

Using the rear brake in the wet causes the bike to brake from back to front, and since the rear doesn't steer left and right quite as much as the front does, this is a positive thing.

I learned that last lesson the hard way.

I am not a road racer...never claimed to be as good as one...that's why my first track day coming up...I knew to sign with the beginner group.

As a long time street and public road twisty's rider...I stand by what I said.
 

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As several people have said, ANY type of prior experience is invaluable when starting out on the road. The fewer basic skills you need to learn - balance, clutch, front/rear brakes, etc. the more you can focus on things like proper cornering, braking, traffic, etc.

I started riding when I was probably 7 or 8 years old, and spent the majority of my early teens on dirt bikes. I'm sure it was the combination of learning to ride at a very young age, and riding off-road that enabled me to jump into street riding on a big bike without incident.

As for dirt experience being especially useful, I think it absolutely is. Sure, you might use the rear brake more on dirt, you might intentionally slide the rear out around corners, etc. While these techniques could get you into trouble on the street, where they're invaluable is that they teach you to read what the bike is doing. I've had the rear tire lock up on both dry and wet pavement, I've had it break loose accelerating on wet pavement, I've had the front tire start to wash out in a corner. In all cases, I felt what was happening and immediately responded to keep and/or regain control. I honestly question whether I'd be as sensitive to the feedback the bike gives had I not had off-road experience.

A buddy of mine who learned to ride on the street with no prior experience has gone down twice, and in both cases, he can't really say what happened. Once time, he had to panic brake, and the next thing he recalls is sliding down the road. The other time, he started to accelerate, and bam! he's on the ground. In both cases, I've asked if he felt the rear lock or slide, or if it fishtailed, and in both cases, all he remembers was riding along one second, and sliding down the road the next. Bikes give a ton of feedback, and I'm sure his did in both cases, the problem was that he wasn't sensitive enough to read that feedback and react appropriately.

The often edge-of-control techniques used in off-road riding, even if dangerous if practiced on the street, teach you to read what the bike is telling you. The sooner you can detect a loss of control, or that you're approaching the edge of control, the quicker you'll be able to react and regain that control before it passes the point of no return.

Just my 2 cents...
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Riding any kind of bike since childhood is obviously a plus. Casual goofing off riding. :fiddy

Once you specialize and develop specific skills you run the risk of taking good habits from one type of riding and using them for another type of riding where they become bad habits.
 

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I went the opposite route. Started riding dirt a few years ago after riding on the street since 17. Found out very, very quickly that riding a dirtbike in the same manner as a streetbike often results in stellar low-sides.

I'm a decent street rider, in terms of skill, but on dirt I can't touch a guy who's been riding dirt for several years. I'll give everything I've got to go as fast as I can, absolutely manhandling that dirtbike, and I'll just watch as my buddy walks away from me as gracefully as a deer bounding through the woods. Kind of irritating, really.
 

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User Name said:
The often edge-of-control techniques used in off-road riding, even if dangerous if practiced on the street, teach you to read what the bike is telling you. The sooner you can detect a loss of control, or that you're approaching the edge of control, the quicker you'll be able to react and regain that control before it passes the point of no return.

Just my 2 cents...

Yep, Have to agree with User_Name here, had a CR-80 dirtbike as my first ride, I was 10 at the time and i recall noticing how easily some of the skills from riding mountain bikes translated over, especially relating to makin' those wheels slide. When I moved to pavement at 16 again I noticed again how some of the basic things are very similar, I can ride out a rear wheel slide to death, and I can always "feel" it. However I've realized that the transition from bike to dirtbike was relativley minor when compared from dirtbike to streetbike. I dunno, there seems to be more nuances to it than dirtbiking, I never worried about downshifting hard and trying to smooth it out, still trying too.:a2
 
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