How to Ride a Dirt Bike for Beginners

How to Ride a Dirt Bike for Beginners

Getting a dirt bike is an awesome decision, but if you’ve rarely been on one (or never ridden at all), you may wonder exactly how you’re supposed to ride it. Trust us when we say that riding a dirt bike is relatively easy once you know what you’re doing. Riding just takes practice and trust in your bike. You’ll be feeling the wind in your face in no time once you hop on your dirt bike and learn how to ride. Read on to learn everything you’ve ever wondered about riding a dirt bike.

Automatic Transmission

While automatic transmission dirt bikes are rare, they do exist. An automatic transmission takes all the guesswork out of changing gears and controlling the clutch. Your bike will shift to the right gear for you based on how much power you’re giving the throttle. All you’ll need to do is turn on the bike and ride. This is an excellent option for beginners getting used to the bike's weight and balancing. However, many who regularly ride prefer a manual transmission as they completely control the bike, and that’s where things become a little more complicated.

Manual Transmission

Dirt biking is a fun and exciting hobby and sport, but when starting out it can seem like more of a chore when learning. Operating the bike takes some finesse, but once you’re on the bike and know what you’re doing, it’s quite simple.

Put the Bike in Neutral to Get Started

When you get on your bike, pull the clutch lever in and move the gear to neutral. The clutch lever will need to be held in for the dirt bike to start. When the lever is being held, this means that the clutch is disengaged from the transmission.

Remember that, unlike a car’s transmission, neutral is usually located between first and second gear. This can be confusing at first; however, once you know what you’re doing, you’ll be able to change gears effortlessly.

Get a feel for the bike and remember that pushing down on the gear selector will put you in first gear. Slightly lifting your foot on the lever will slip it into neutral and moving it more will put your bike in second gear.

Electric ignition bikes will commonly feature a display that shows you are in neutral; however, most are based entirely on feel.

Start the Engine

Turn on your bike either with a kickstart or an electric starter.

Again, you will need to be in the neutral position and the clutch lever held in.

Getting Started

Get on the bike and make yourself comfortable. Before you ever turn on the bike, you need to ensure you feel secure. Panicking can result in serious injury.

Put both feet on the ground to ensure the dirt bike is balanced.

Pull in the clutch and start the bike in neutral.

Step down on the gear shifter while holding the clutch lever down.

Slowly Release the Clutch

Reminder: This is often the most difficult part to master, you will need to practice this next section a little bit.

Give the bike some gas with the throttle.

Slowly release the clutch.

Listen to the engine. If it is starting to quickly drop in rpm, give it more gas from the throttle to avoid stalling out. If it sounds like it is revving too fast, let off the gas slightly to avoid burning the clutch and a faster start off than expected.

Again, practice this step a lot to get the feel of the bike. You will quickly learn how much gas your bike needs and how to balance yourself on the bike. You will need to learn to control the clutch.

Shift the Bike

When in motion, pull in the clutch and ease off the throttle while lifting the gear lever up to second gear. Release the clutch when in second gear and maintain the throttle control.

Common Mistakes

Getting on the bike is great, but there are a few things to take into consideration as a beginner.

Dumping the Clutch

You may have heard the term “dumping the clutch” before when people talk about dirt bikes and motorcycle riding. This is a common thing that beginners do their first few times riding a dirt bike because they do not know how to control the clutch. While there are times when it would be necessary to dump the clutch, such as in motorsports like motocross, typically first-time riders do this by accident. This mistake is easily avoidable by learning how to control the clutch. The first time you hop on a dirt bike, remember that the clutch can be heavier than expected. Release the clutch slowly when going into first gear. If you fail to control the clutch and instead dump the clutch, two things can happen. One, the bike will stall because the clutch did not activate. The second is much worse, being the bike could take off from you or in some instances flip over and kick you off, potentially causing injury. We always recommend wearing proper safety equipment including a helmet when you operate any kind of motorbike.


You will need to take some time to figure out the throttle and clutch. Riding the clutch, pulling in the clutch when not intending to fully brake, is common. Unlike a car, dirt bikes are made for this treatment to an extent, but constantly doing it can wear down the clutch. You may also find your bike takes off faster than you’re expecting. Almost all of these accidents are caused by people being overly confident in their skills. Instead, take the time to get to know your bike without worrying about going full throttle the moment you get on it the first time.


We can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen someone who thinks they’re balanced on a bike only to discover they’re not. This often happens to people who are going to stand the first time they’re on a bike because they’ve seen their favorite motocross racers do it. Beginners should begin by sitting on the bike until they are fully confident in their balancing abilities on the bike.

Body Position

When you’re on your bike, it can be really tempting to lean heavily when cornering. Those riders you see on motocross have been doing those near-parallel leans for years. When you are first riding your bike, you need to go slowly on turns until you are comfortable with your positioning. You’ll be making those tight turns and awesome jumps in no time.

Going in Blind

One of the biggest things we try to explain to people is that most of your riding will depend on your memory. Motocross racers on the track are able to get a feel for the track before they ride. You’ll also know how your bike works as you get used to it. Before riding, make sure you get a feel for the road or path you’re riding on.

Looking Down

Beginners almost always fall into the pattern of looking down when riding a bike. Instead, they need to look straight in front of them to see what’s coming up. As you get more comfortable on your bike, you’ll be able to look straight ahead, but that can take a few rides before you fall into that habit.

Learning how to ride a dirt bike is not as difficult as you may think. The main thing to remember for those who wish to learn how to ride a dirt bike is to take their time and really get to know their bike before attempting something more advanced. To keep yourself on your ride, get the necessary safety equipment as well, including a helmet, goggles, gloves, and chest protection. Typhoon Helmets has all of this available and more in our shop. Remember to always wear your helmet when riding.