Jimmy Lewis Off-Road Riding School

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Pete950 turn
This is one of the easiest things to teach and talk about but the hardest to do in real life when riding. Why? Bad habits! Most riders learn a very scared or defensive riding technique and never fully learn to be in a comfortable balanced position. Or rely on the tight grip on the handlebars that is the root of most of this evil.
Step one, rule one is to check yourself to see if you are in a balanced riding position by doing one simple thing–simulating letting go of the handlebars! Don’t actually do it unless you are in control enough to try it, but if your body position is correct you should feel as if you can let go of the bars. The goal is to have a loose grip on the bars with your hands. There are times when you will need to tighten your grip and pull on the bars, however, for most riding situations you will be able to maintain a loose comfortable grip. If you are in balance you will not have to hold on to keep that balanced position, hence, you should be able to let go of the handle bars.

Factory Rally Bike or...

Factory Rally Bike or…


Want to be adventure bike, the riding position is always the same. Balanced and in control. Even in deep sand you do not "get over the back and gas it!"

Want-to-be adventure bike, the riding position is always the same. Balanced and in control. Even in deep sand you do not “get over the back and gas it!”


The next thing about body position is that you have to anticipate what the bike will do. For a beginner rider this is difficult but simple at the same time. If the rider does nothing the bike will do nothing, correct? If you turn the throttle the bike goes. If you hit the brakes the bike slows. Anticipate this with your body position and lean the proper way to make it so that you are not having to hold your body with your arms. This goes for whether are sitting or standing.

For advanced riders who have the basics down the next thing is to anticipate what the terrain will do to the bike and how the bike will react. This can be as simple as knowing when a rider should be standing on the pegs as opposed to sitting. Most of the time standing is the best option, especially when you want the bike to respond quickly and almost always on heavier bikes. It is more complicated knowing how the bike will bounce or track in different kinds of dirt or undulating terrain. This requires being loose on the bike and sometimes moving out of balance to catch the bike before it catches you off-guard.

One of the real keys we have found to starting out right with this technique is having a loose grip on the handlebar and regripping often and comfortably. Novice riders often death grip the handlebar and even in a simple motion like standing up will have their wrists lock them into a very awkward position so they can’t stand up properly.

So practice riding more relaxed and more in balance. Put all of your weight on your feet. And if you want to know if you are doing it right then ask yourself if you can let go of the bars? If you answer yes, then you are most likely in the proper riding position.