Street to Dirt
Street to Dirt
Welcome back folks. Today I’m back with another hobbies and leisure installment, in particularly one of my favourite hobbies and pastimes and great passions: motorbikes. As I’ve ridden both streetbikes and dirtbikes before and have experienced first hand just how completely different both these adorable beasts are, I’d love to share with you a few of the differences between the two, just on the off chance that you might be thinking of getting into riding motorbikes in the future, and hopefully there may be one or two pointers you may find useful and keep with you.
One absolutely crucial thing I cannot stress enough at this point is just how important it is to wear protective clothing. I’ve had a pretty serious accident myself in the past and a good few near misses and I’ve been incredibly lucky. I’ve also witnessed some awfully tragic incidents too, and the people who generally come off worst are those without protective clothing. So, we’re looking at a good strong safety helmet (obviously), boots, jacket, riding pants and just as important as the rest: body armour. This is usually worn inside your outer gear and to protect your corners (shoulders, knees and elbows). ‘Always cover your corners!’ a good friend used to shout at me every time I went out for a ride. For dirtbike riders, body armour is usually worn over your clothing and usually consists of shoulder pads, knee pads, elbow pads as well as chest and back protectors. I can’t stress just how important this is folks. All I can say is when the brown stuff hits the fan this is the one thing that just might prevent you from spending the rest of your days propped up in a chair wit a bib around your neck. Please, trust me. They do cost a bit but if you are on a budget then just stay away from the dealerships. There are plenty of great second hand motocross body armour deals around online. You won’t regret it, I promise, it just means you get to ride a lot more.
After passing my motorcycle test back in the UK, I started out with a Yamaha 600 Fazer, and from that moment, from that first tug of the throttle in second gear that catapulted me well over 100ks an hour, all I can say is the passion was ignited. From there I went through to a 1000cc V-Twin – a huge torque-y rocket of a thing that gave me a whole new take on the joys of acceleration.
It took a lot of getting used to, but once I’d found a comfortable sweet spot as they say, I got more comfortable and relaxed, and from there, transferring my weight and leaning in to corners was a breeze, which opened up even more doors for fun and games.
When I finally arrived in Asia, especially the less developed countries, I was kind of forced to switch to dirtbikes, which was an absolute first for me. I bought my first second hand Honda XL Degree, a 250cc single cylinder, and I felt completely out of my depth. Not so much on the road as dirtbikes are a whole lot lighter and the riding position is a lot higher so you get to see a lot more of what’s around you (a very good thing), it was when I got off-road the problems started. It was all new to me: the stones, the grit, the gravel, the mud – everything that constitutes a slippery moveable surface that you don’t normally associate on the road.
This was a problem that lay entirely with me, not the bike. See, the point is the all bikes - not just streetbikes and dirtbikes - are built specifically for the task in hand. This level of incredible engineering has ben going on and has been evolving for decades and decades. This little 250 Honda was not going to let me down, not for a second. I just had to believe that. And that’s all it was: putting my trust in to a new kind of bike under a new set of circumstances. Bikes generally don’t make mistakes; it’s people that make mistakes. So for me it was like having to learn all over again.
It did take me a good while to be honest but these days I’m happy thrashing around the mountain trails on a tasty little Suzuki DRZ400 (in for repairs at the moment). If I had one piece of advice it would be that whether you’re planning to ride streetbikes or dirtbikes, learn on a dirtbike. Every time. They’re a whole lot more forgiving, they’re designed to crash, the lighter, more maneuverable, and you’ll learn so much more quickly and thoroughly. Anyway that’s all from me, thanks for stopping by folks, and I’ll catch you next time.