“I’ve been riding my whole life; I can certainly teach my kid how to ride.” All too often the bottom line to such a statement is: Not! Just because a parent may be a skilled rider, that doesn’t automatically translate into being a good teacher with an appropriately progressive approach to developing proper riding skills.
Today, there is a wealth of resources available in the form of riding schools and training materials. As a parent, you can try to locate and collect as much rider training information as you can, study up and absorb all this info, and then try to pass that along systematically and effectively to your children who are just beginning to ride. Or you can simply tap into some help from specially trained professionals who teach children how to ride and are very, very good at what they do.
Honda recommends enrolling new riders in an off-road training course such as the DirtBike School (DBS), sponsored by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF). There are plenty of DBS programs spread throughout the country, but naturally, we’re most familiar with the DBS located at the Honda Colton Rider Education Center in Colton, California. (http://powersports.honda.com/experience/colton-rider-education-center.aspx or 909-430-3000)
Here, children as young as age 6 can learn how to ride in a controlled environment. Honda was the first motorcycle manufacturer to have created unique sites specifically designed for motorcycle and ATV training and instruction. All coaches are MSF-certified instructors. There are male and female coaches on hand who are experienced, fun and enthusiastic.
The DirtBike School is a fun, one-day, hands-on training session available to anyone six years old or above. The DBS coaches teach budding riders basic riding skills and responsible riding practices, including risk management and environmental awareness.
The Closed Range Exercise (CRE) provides basic hands-on riding training with an emphasis on safety and skill development. For more advanced learning, the Introduction to Trail Riding is the next-level DirtBike School course designed to familiarize riders with riding off-road on actual trails.
As a starting point, the Closed Range Exercises teach students basic techniques for safely riding off-highway motorcycles. There are 19 lessons that encompass more than 60 objectives along the way. As an example, some lessons cover: use of controls; starting/stopping; correct riding posture; shifting; turning; riding over obstacles, and much more.
It's important to remember that riding is a very skill-intensive activity, and new riders, especially youngsters, should be taught in a systematic, step-by-step process that includes rules, knowledge of skills, practical hands-on training, and lots of practice. The DirtBike School experience at the Colton Rider Education Center goes a long way towards getting this all in place. Once you leave and continue this process on your own, remember that immediate supervision from the parent is essential in helping the child to extend and expand this learning process. When a child starts riding in a real-world environment, it's best for a parent to take on the role of the coach rather than focus on his or her own riding for the first few family outings.
Done properly, learning to ride an off-road motorcycle is the most fun just about any youngster—and many adults!—will ever experience. So set about this process wisely and with care.
Below, we’ve added a few basic tips to help you make your family's entry into off-road riding a positive experience.
Dirt Bike Riding Tips
1. Always wear a DOT-compliant helmet, goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots, and gloves.
2. Except for dual-purpose models, never ride on paved surfaces except to cross when done safely and permitted by law. Dirt bikes are designed to be operated off-highway.
3. Never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
4. Supervise riders younger than 16; dirt bikes are not toys.
5. Never permit youngsters to ride dirt bikes that are too tall or too powerful for their capabilities.
6. Don’t ride alone on remote trails. Use the buddy system.
7. Ride only on designated trails and at a safe speed.
8. Take a hands-on riding course.