Top 5: Reasons Everyone Should Ride Off-Road

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If you’ve ever taken your bike off-road or, even better, someone else’s, then you’ll appreciate how different it is to riding on tarmac. But that doesn’t mean it’s not as good; in fact, it’s fucking brilliant. If you’ve never done it, you really need to, and there is no time like the present. There are plenty of ways to have a dabble –  motocross, trials, enduro or just a bit of green-laning, all have their own list of merits, and there’s plenty of opportunities to dip your toe in the water. Honda, Yamaha, Triumph, KTM and BMW all have official off-road centres, where you can ride one of their bikes, and there are MX tracks and off-road parks scattered across the length and breadth of the British Isles, should you get the bug and fancy getting balls-deep in dirt. If you’re not convinced, here are five good reasons why everyone should get dirty. 

5 – It’s safer than you think 

Anything can happen on a bike, we all know that, and sometimes it can have painful consequences. It’s usually when dickhead car drivers do something stupid, causing us to part company with our bikes, that it hurts the most. The great thing about riding a bike off-road is that you see virtually zero cars, lorries and busses so you can enjoy your bike without the fear of being wiped out. Don’t get me wrong; off-road riding isn’t without its hazards but in my experience (and I’ve had a lot of it), when you take a tumble off-road, you can usually pick yourself and your bike back up off the floor, with minimal (if any) damage caused to either. Unless you are a Dakar rider, break-neck speeds aren’t necessary on an off-road bike, and some of the most fun off-roading you’ll find, is the most technical, and therefore the slowest stuff – some of the most fun I’ve ever had off-road has been on a trials bike, and that’s probably the slowest form of motorcycle sport going!  

4 – It’s the only way to have a proper adventure 

Most places on the map can be reached via roads. Lovely smooth tarmac roads. And it’s true that if all you’re interested in doing is getting from A to B in the quickest, most unadventurous way possible, then that lovely smooth tarmac road is probably your best bet. But an adventure isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey, and when you start riding off-road you’ll see things that ‘road users’ simply never will. Every leg of your journey can be a challenge – one that’s as challenging as you make it, and when you reach your destination, wherever that may be, it’s an achievement, not an eventuality. When you start to get more adventurous with your off-road riding, you’ll soon realise that the sights and sounds you soak up, whilst lost in the middle of nowhere, are more often than not far more interesting than the ones you thought you were going to enjoy. Before long, your adventures won’t have a destination, they’ll be whatever they’ll be, and you’ll love every minute of them.  

3 – It’s a great way to stay in shape 

You could go to the gym and stare at yourself in those big mirrors they have at most gyms, or dig-out that Davina exercise DVD that you bought before you discovered internet porn and have session of star jumps in the living room. But no-one actually enjoys doing that stuff, and if they tell you they do, they’re either full of shit or need to get a life. Getting out in the fresh air and upping your heart rate by doing something you enjoy has got to be a much better option. If you’ve never done any off-road riding before, you may well wonder how on earth it can be that hard, I mean, the bike does all the work, right? 10 minutes on any off-road bike, be it a little 125cc trials bike, or a 1250 GSA, will have you blowing out of your arse, your ears and any other orifice you might have. Controlling a bike as it bucks, weaves and slides about is a full body workout and if you can manage a full day on the motocross track, you’ll certainly know about it in the morning.  

2 – You’ll learn loads… 

Every road rider can learn something by riding on dirt, whether it’s just building the confidence to control a bike or honing the art of power sliding your way into, literally, any woman’s knickers. We’ve all encountered gravel, diesel, horse shit and all sorts getting between our tyres and the tarmac, and it’s usually when we least expect it. What do most people do when that happens? They panic, then crash… unless they’re seasoned off-road riders; they won’t panic, they’ll just style it out. Almost every skill that you learn when riding off-road, from body position to throttle control, would benefit a road rider, especially when conditions are less than ideal. Having the confidence to ‘go with the flow’ and let the bike do its thing beneath you without grabbing a handful of front brake, or just panicking and throwing the thing on the floor will, without a shadow of a doubt, make you a safer rider – and one that enjoys his (or her) bike a lot more, too. It’s simple; if you want to become a better rider, get yourself booked in for some off-road training. 

1 – It’s a right laugh… 

There’s no a better way of spending your Sunday, or Saturday, or any day of the week for that matter, riding your bike. But in the UK, from about November to March, the weather tends to be fairly wank. The roads are cold, damp and covered in salt and grime, which isn’t going to do your Panigale any good at all. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy getting out on a bike. A bit of rain, snow, or even ice isn’t going to ruin your day when your in the middle of a forest with your mates, or sweating your nads off at the MX track. With the right bunch of lads, or ladies, or both, you can, and will, have hours of laugh-a-minute bike riding, all year round. And you don’t even have to be any good at it to enjoy it; unless you’re racing in an MXGP or something, no one really cares how fast you are, or whether or not you can get to the top of that big hill. If you really are up for a good time, and you have gone through all the numbers scribbled on the telephone box wall, your best bet is to take up a bit of off-road riding. You’ll thank me one day. 

Junior Fagan, sur le dirt…

4 Responses

  1. Similar to your “How much does it really cost to go bike racing?” article, I’d love to see an article or video on how to get into off-roading. I have zero experience or idea how to have my first crack at it

    1. Hi Jack, me and 3 other full bike license holders have booked with Steve at Trail Riding Uk in May. Turn up the night before free accommodation for 4 free breakfast £200pp start at 8am till 4pm. Cover an array of riding styles and terrains. Check him out i can’t wait

  2. There is no argument with your topic. No matter how good of a rider you are, there’s always something waiting around the bend. What is one of the most scarring things that has happened to you while riding off-road? Share some memories about your favorite off-roading experience!

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