If you're new to riding, save the tricks for the experienced riders.
Riding through the woods on a dirt bike may be one of your life's greatest pleasures -- but it can also end your life if you're not careful about how you ride and how you prepare. Ensuring your safety on an off-road motorcycle means making sure you know to operate your bike, doing some safety inspections before you ride, and wearing the proper safety gear. In some states, you'll be required to take a training course before you ride on public lands. If your state has no requirements, it's still a good idea for bikers to train, prepare and take precautions.1.
Wear a helmet that fits snug on your head. No matter what your level of expertise, collisions and falls do happen, and a helmet protects your most precious commodity: your brain. Look for a helmet with the "DOT" label on it, indicating it's been crafted to U.S. Department of Transportation standards.2.
Wear long pants and shirts, close-toed shoes and gloves -- at the very least -- as well as knee, shoulder and chest pads. Make sure none of your clothing is loose or ill-fitting, as it could interfere with the operation of the bike. If your helmet doesn't have its own eye protection or face shield, wear a pair of goggles.3.
Read the owner's manual for your bike, cover to cover. If you don't have the owner's manual for the bike you're riding, check the manufacturer's website.4.
Take a safety course to learn proper bike handling, steering, stopping and general maintenance of the bike. Your state's Department of Motor Vehicles or Parks and Recreation Department is a good place to start to find motorcycle and dirt bike safety courses. You may have private off-road motorcycle training programs in your area or access to the "Dirt Bike School" courses offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.5.
Avoid riding on the road, unless you're going to cross a road to get to another trail. Your dirt bike is not meant to be ridden on streets, roads or highways, and may not have the proper lighting or safety features to do so.6.
Choose a bike that is the right size for you, so you'll stay in control of the bike at all times. Riding a bike that is too large -- or even too small -- may mean it's harder to control the brakes and steer the bike. Your state may not have any regulations about the size and type of bike you're allowed to ride, but generally, you should be able to reach all the controls.7.
Inspect the bike before every ride. Check its tire pressure to make sure the tires are properly inflated. Test the brakes to make sure they're working. Give all other controls a quick test to make sure they're in working order and not loose or broken. If so, get the bike repaired before riding.8.
Ride in control at all times, and avoid riding in conditions and on terrains that seem beyond your abilities or that pose risks. These include mud, standing water, snow, rain and steep hills -- which may not be appropriate for any rider.
- Long pants
- Long shirt
- Closed-toe shoes
- If you're riding with kids, make sure they also have taken any safety courses offered in your state. Children don't have the experience of riding motorcycles or driving other types of vehicles, and safety tips that may seem second-nature to you won't be as obvious to them. Never let a child operate a dirt bike and follow all laws regarding riding with kids.
- Never ride your dirt bike under the influence of drugs or alcohol -- and don't ride with people who have been doing so either.