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Allan's Off-Road Riding Tips - Riding Position

Written by: Allan L
Photos by: Jen Allan

About the Author: Allan has worked as an instructor/guide for Trail Tours and Dirt Bike School in the Ganaraska Forest for the last 12 years and has introduced more than 5000 people to the sport. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and lives in Peterborough Ontario.

Off-Road Riding Tips - Riding Position

When people get hurt riding a dirt bike it is usually due to a general misunderstanding of basic riding technique. In my time training beginning to advanced riders my students have all benefitted from training and sometimes re-training in the fundamentals. For my first column I would like to take a closer look at the foundation from which we all ride- the sitting attack position.

One of the most common mistakes people make when sitting on a dirt bike is sitting on the back of the bike, i.e. the rear portion of the seat. This is poor technique because the bike will inherently be more difficult to control, for example, the bike will not turn as well because all your weight is on the back of the bike and it will want to go in a straight line.

We want to sit at the low point in the seat (where my hands are in the picture) so that we are in balance with the bike. This is the balance point of the bike and you will be able to more effectively control the bike from this position.

Next, let's see what it looks like on the bike. Notice that I’m sitting in the middle of the bike, not crowding the tank, but nowhere near the rear portion of the seat either. My butt will never move backwards from this position when I am sitting on the bike. To move weight backwards, when going down a hill for example, I simply lean backwards.

Another benefit of sitting forward is that I am within easy reach of the hand controls; if I did happen to pop the clutch and opened the throttle at the same (as beginners tend to do) the bike is not as likely to get away from me.

If sitting too far back on the seat was the number one error in riding technique, riding with drooping toes is a close second. Frankly there is no good excuse to ride this way, it is just plain lazy, not to mention extremely dangerous.

In this picture we can see how NOT to position our feet when riding. Any time you are riding with your feet below the level of the foot pegs you are asking for trouble.

In the woods there are many different hazards that could catch you toe and possibly break your ankle, ranging from rocks, roots, and the most dangerous of all, stumps.

Here the foot is properly positioned, not only to protect my foot from hazards on the forest floor but to allow ease of use of the foot controls. Because I am sitting forward and my toes are up on the pegs, sliding my foot under the gear selector will be far easier, even with big clunky motocross boots.

Operating the rear brake is a simple matter as well. Simply bring your foot forward, hit the side of the engine, and gently press downwards with the side of your foot and you will never miss the rear brake again.

Once you are done with the rear brake be sure to return your foot to the proper toe up position in order to protect your foot and not accidently ride your rear brake until the next time you need it.

In Allan's next column we will take a closer look at the legs and arms and their role in the sitting attack position. Until then sit forward on that seat and for heaven’s sake keep your toes up on those pegs!