Do you think you have what it takes to ride a street legal dirt bike? Are you an experienced rider on another kind of bike, but you’ve never ridden dirt?
Chances are you know more than you think. You might be ready for dirt bikes and not even know it. That, or you might fall flat on your face.
That all comes down to what you’ve ridden before. Let’s look at the riders who are most and least prepared to make the jump to supermoto and street legal dirt bikes.
Have your years of riding experience prepared you for riding a dirt bike or are you a Nun of Anarchy, a wannabe BRAPPer destined to hit the ground hard?
Time to find out.
Cruisers: The Nuns of Anarchy
Sadly, all the lives you saved with your loud pipes aren’t going to get you very far on a street legal dirt bike.
To your credit, you know the basics of riding – shifting, throttle control, countersteering, and watching traffic like a hawk – but chances are you’re less of a Hell’s Angel than you think.
You spend most of your time cruising backroads at 60 MPH with nobody else around and no reason to push the limits of grip and physics. And I’ll be the first to tell you, unless you’re on a muscle cruiser like a VROD or XDiavelS you don’t have good brakes or great acceleration.
That’s not your fault, though.
Bikes like the Honda Shadow, Kawasaki Vulcan, and almost any Harley-Davidson don’t reward going hard in the paint. You might break the rear tire loose off the line now and then, but in the corners these bikes want you to play it safe. Push a cruiser past the limit and you’ll be in the ditch faster than a Corvette in snow.
Which I suspect is why you want a taste of the wild side: the world of street legal dirt bikes, with high lean angles and gobs of agility.
Strengths: Your experience handling low-end torque will be helpful, and the very fact that you’re on two wheels means the brapping, hooning, dirt biking flame is burning within you.
ADV: Brought to you by ATGATT
For those of you who don’t meet at your local Starbucks at 6AM on Saturday mornings to shoot the sh*t with a bunch of grey-haired BMW riders, ATGATT stands for All the Gear All The Time, and it’s a staple of ADV or adventure riding culture.
There are two kinds of adventure rider: the die-hards who would love to ride to Mexico and back without touching pavement, and the weekenders who put 3 tanks of fuel through their bike every year.
You’ll find the latter riding mint condition BMW GS’s through California’s wine country or up and down the Florida coast. Their bikes see about 5000 miles and 50 washes a year, and their owners clean out the BMW accessories catalog like a frat guy clears a 12-pack.
That puts weekend ADVers just a step above cruisers in the Dirt Ready countdown, but it’s the down-and-dirty ones, the GS Trophy guys, who already have most of the skills necessary to ride a street legal dirt bike to its fullest potential. They are perhaps the most prepared riders of them all.
Strengths: Chances are you’re somewhere in between a weekender and ATGATT, and that’s fine – you’re familiar with the commanding seating position you’ll find on street legal dirt bikes, and you know what it’s like to handle torque.
Mopeds: Did someone order a pizza?
Yeah, I said mopeds. Scooters. Vespas. Faggios, if you play Grand Theft Auto.
Mopeds exist in a duality: they’re the stuff of memes in the countryside and the stuff of dreams in the city.
If you live in a dense metro like Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, or New York, a scooter is a godsend for navigating dense traffic like Moses parting the waters. That’s why most of the world has a love affair with scooters – in many countries they greatly outnumber cars.
In those places the rush hour traffic makes Grand Theft Auto look boring as hell.
The reason moped riders are Dirt Ready is because they’re masters of low-speed maneuvers. When it comes to riding street legal dirt bikes, learning how to handle more power often comes easier than learning to handle less.
Strengths: You’re already used to having very little power on tap, so the transition to bikes like the XT250 and CRF230L will be natural.
Crotch Rockets: What’s in a name?
That brings us to the speed demons. The big ballers. The guys who refuse to start on anything less than a 600 because small bikes are for girls. The guys who lay their bike over while they’re leaving the dealership.
It’s not impossible to learn to ride on a “big bike.” It just takes the right kind of person, someone who’s respectful of the machine and patiently learns the limits before trying to push them. The kind of rider who took the MSF course, who’s maybe been to a track day or two, and who knows a thing or two about body positioning and advanced throttle and braking techniques.
With that said, one critical aspect of being a good rider – or being good at anything – is pushing past the limit to see what’s on the other side. That’s some of what makes a sport bike rider Dirt Ready: you’ve ridden fast and you’ve had close calls.
If you ride a Japanese inline four, the torque of a dirt bike will surprise you. So will the suspension travel, the traction, the low redline, and the go-anywhere spirit. You’re probably the furthest from a dirt biker of anyone on this list, and that only makes you want it more 😉
Strengths: On a street legal dirt bike there’s no room for mistakes, and any fear you have of riding fast or hitting the ground won’t last a week off road. Good thing you already got that fear out of your system by pinning the throttle on your GSXR.
Dirt Bikers: BRAAAP!!!
Of course, dirt bikers are the most prepared for riding a street legal dirt bike.
You’ve already ridden dirt, so you know that thanks to their instant torque and high power-to-weight ratios, dirt bikes are livelier than most other motorcycles. You also know how to slide the tail out around corners and control the bike in rough terrain.
You’re familiar with the upright riding position that gives you precise control over the front wheel. You can fine-tune various aspects of a bike to make the most of the conditions, and you’re no stranger to jumps, wheelies, stoppies, and anything in between. You’ve been ready for a while now – the only thing left to do is get a street legal dirt bike.
There are lots of factory street legal supermotos out there, but it would be best if you could legalize a bike you already have. When you’re ready to take that step, give Dirt Legal a call. It’s cheaper, easier, and quicker than you think to make a dirt bike street legal and there are a million reasons why you should do it.
Everyone Else: Where You At??
We’ve thrown a lot of shade here, but the truth is dirt bikes are some of the most forgiving motorcycles out there. Even if you’ve never ridden before, dirt bikes are a great way to learn the ropes.
Dirt biking can also be some of the most technical riding in the world if you really get into it, and that makes mastering dirt bikes an incredibly rewarding experience.
It’s even more fun if you can ride that dirt bike legally on public roads. Of course, we’re a bit biased.
Click here to make your dirt bike street legal with the help of Dirt Legal.