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Dirt Bikes Riding on Water: Myth or Magic?

Have you seen those crazy YouTube videos of dirt bikes riding on water? It seems like an urban legend but the reality might shock you.

It’s possible to ride a dirt bike on lake water at high speeds and this is called water skipping. To water skip, the rider must start and finish on flat land while travelling very fast. To successfully ride on water, dirt bike riders fit a special ‘paddle wheel’ on their dirt bikes and remain in one gear (typically 5th) while keeping their revs very high.

Through this article, we’ll share with you everything on how they make this magic trick actually happen in those cool YouTube videos.

Getting Started with Riding on Water

In order to get riding on water, it’s certainly no easy task. Any rider needs to be up to the physical abilities including years of riding on dirt bike tracks. Most riders have likely come up riding MX as kids to pull of tricks like this.

Riders cannot simply start and finish from the water. They actually need to start on land, hit the water, then move back to land. The bikes themselves can’t float by themselves and must maintain a very high degree of speed. We’re talking north of 70 miles per hour.

If they were to start in the water, they would simply sink. Instead, starting on land is necessary.

You’ll expect riders to be riding in a straight line for about 500m before reaching the water, at which point they must stay in a straight line. Dirt bike riders can’t steer when riding on the water as balance is critical.

Keeping the Momentum

Keeping the momentum up is crucial. Dirt bike riders will generally keep the same speed, the same gear and the same line from start to finish. You won’t see them playing around or trying out any other tricks, as the nature of riding a dirt bike on the water is a hard enough trick already.

Easily the most important factor is the transition between water and land on both sides. The transition should be almost flat. Thus, the motorcycle shouldn’t simply drop into the water too sharply otherwise the show will be over pretty quickly.

Not only is the entrance and departure important, but so is the water itself. There can’t be any wind which could cause a chance to the rider’s direction. Nor can there be any waves which could reduce momentum. It has to be glassy out there.

A genuine pro-tip is to keep the throttle very stable. There can’t be variances between RPM as this creates a risk of the front end dipping down.

Equipment Needed

You certainly can’t just take your ordinary dirt bike and ride it across the water. In addition to the experience you’ll already need, there is some equipment you’ll need to fit.

We recommend the following to ride your dirt bike across the water:

  • A 2-stroke engine. It’s much easier to ride a 2-stroke across the water then 4-strokes.
  • A rear paddle tyre. This will propel you faster across the water much like a paddle steamer boat.
  • Front water skis. The front tyre will need to stay floated despite having most the weight in the rear.

You won’t really find this gear in your typical dealership and will need to order it online. That said – most of these professional riders going across lakes are having their modifications custom-made.

Genuine Dangers

While it looks good on YouTube, it’s much harder to do in the real world. Many of these stunt riders who have ridden their dirt bikes across water actually had significant modifications to make it all happen, as well as crafty and professional video shots at the right angle to make it all real. Essentially, their bikes were made for the task.

For the everyday rider, there are real dangers that you need to be aware of:

  1. You could very well lose your dirt bike in the water and it sinks right away. That’s the obvious risk, but there’s more.
  2. The riskiest part is the transition between land and water. This change in physics is where most riders mess up.
  3. You’ll need to wear a life jacket as you essentially are turning your dirt bike into a jetski. This will also provide some impact protection if you suddenly get a slow-down on the water.
  4. Any mechanical issues will have an immediate impact on performance and could lead to you crashing. This is why you’ll need skis and the rear tyre professionally fitted.

Not just this, but plenty of training and run-ups. If you’re not at a professional-calibre yet, then invest time into heading out and trying out on water that is only say 20cm deep. Look for salt pans though there is a risk of getting bogged.

A Real Experience

There are dozens of people who have genuinely ridden their dirt bike across the water. Some of them have even ridden in waves! Kids, definitely don’t try this at home.

Some riders have done water skipping across short sections of water while others have done entire lakes. These genuine experiences didn’t come easy but certainly yieled millions of views online.

As for getting started, start studying the videos on how they did it and what equpment they had. Then start out on small stretches of water before trying ton conquer the big stuff.

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What Do They Mean by Trail Braking with a Motorcycle?

Just about everyone wants to have motorcycle trail braking explained to them, so we’ll share the most simplistic meaning.

In short, motorcycle trail braking means to continue using the brakes while you’re on a lean in the corner. You’ll be progressively letting off the brakes as you continue through the corner and down to the maximum lean angle. The main advantage towards using trail braking is to maximize lap times through being faster through each corner.

When most people go into a corner, all of their braking use is done before the corner. It’s a smart strategy for beginners, this is the recommended approach. On the other hand, trail braking draws out the braking time and you’re still on the brakes while leaned right over.

This is a skill generally learned later in the development of each rider’s talents. Some advanced motorcycle schools do teach these concepts and we can recommend you enrol in one so you can enhanced your skills behind the handlebars.

Why use Motorcycle Trail Braking?

If you want faster cornering, then you’ll need to start learning and applying the skills behind trail braking. It’s that simple.

Once you learn effective motorbike trail braking, the advantages will help you to:

  • Transfer more force and weight on to your front tyre.
  • Compress the forks leading to easier turning.
  • Have the ability to continue slowing down if needed.
  • Reduce your reaction times on both tracks and public roads.

This isn’t just helpful to racers but also riders who are blasting through the hills. On roads you aren’t familiar with, you’ll be able to flow through much easier while still having a whole lot of fun.

Risks and Dangers with Trail Braking

As with any type of motorcycle skills development training, there are some cautionary tales associated with trail braking. Therefore, you shouldn’t be quick to try out these skills without keeping the following in mind:

  1. It’s hard to practice. You’ll need yourself and a quiet road or open track without any hazards, obstructions and certainly no other traffic that could distract you.
  2. It’s difficult to learn and master. Going back to that first point, you’ll need to keep trying again and again before you eventually master this. We’d recommend quite a few practice sessions first.
  3. Your front tire may slip with too much heavy braking force. This is why you’ll need to try and balance the load and not over-reach through the corners. Trying to recover from a front-wheel slip is very challenging compared to a rear wheel slip.
  4. You’ll fatigue more often. Given that you’ve not exhausted your braking capacity before the corner, you’ll be trying to corner, brake and line yourself up for acceleration all at the same time. This takes greater focus and attunement to get right.

So is it worth the risk? Well, that demands on the type of rider and the type of riding you’ll be doing.

If fast-flowing cornering is your thing, then this will shave off crucial seconds from each lap time. For the casual rider or the non-competitive person, then learning trail braking isn’t something we’d rank highly.

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What Is Motorcycle Countersteering? Is It A Myth?

Countersteering on a motorcycle is often misunderstood and it’s even a bit controversial among riders of all of styles and race groups.

While so contested in its definition, the actual meaning is quite straight forward:

Motorcycle countersteering is the process of turning in an opposite direction than perceived in the conscious mind of the rider. In reality, we must turn LEFT if we want to steer RIGHT and vice-versa, based on the centripetal force that is needed to actually turn a motorcycle at moderate and high speeds. In essence, a motorcycle steers in the direction that a rider leans, and not in the direction that one turns their handlebar.

It can be harder for newer riders to understand this concept, yet even some experienced riders get it wrong. Some even claim that this is a myth which is bizarre. These sceptics even search online for information to better discount this concept as simply blasphemy.

Motorcycle Countersteering Defined

This is an important element to learn if you want to become a safe and efficient rider out there on the trails. Even if you’re riding on the road, this is very important to actualize in your mind.

By fully understanding the dynamics of countersteering on a motorcycle, you can prepare yourself to avoid accidents like this:

So what happened here? Clearly he turned in the direction that he didn’t want to go. In fact, there were 4 attempts to correct his direction before his subsequent crash.

Note: The rider in this instance survived this crash but others aren’t so lucky.

Steering is used at slower speeds in residential areas. Once you’re up to moderate and high speeds, you’ll need to keep countersteering in mind if you want to avoid serious accidents like this.

The Counter Steering Myth

Yes – we have to raise this. There are some people that literally search for information to debunk such claims.

Motorcycle countersteering isn’t a myth. Many experienced riders understand this concept of steering in the OPPOSITE direction if where you wish to travel, yet beginners often ignore this concept until later in their motorcycling life.

Given the amont of explanations given in YouTube videos, it’s clear that this is not just a true concept, but one that has saved many lives. Quite simply: Steer in the opposite direct of where you want to turn, as this isn’t like driving a car or a truck.

The only exception to this rule is at very low speeds where yes, you would actually steer normally.

Why Training is Necessary

We’re big on motorcycle training here at Frontaer. It’s our belief that with the right training, riders can greatly minimize the likelihood of being involved in serious accident. Most riding schools to get your licence doesn’t really cover this well unfortunately, with a focus more-so on the physical aspects of gear selection and traffic awareness.

If you haven’t already done so, we recommend enrolling into an advanced motorcycle skills training course. This will help you develop those skills necessary towards safe motorcycle handling and where you can actually learn counter-steering in a controlled environment.

Just remember – push right and you go right. It’s really that simple.

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12 Tips for Riding Dirt Bikes in Winter & Keeping Warm

If you live in a cold climate, you can still ride your dirt bike during the colder winter months. There ain’t no excuse to store your bike away.

Sure – it’s demanding and you’re going to have to outlay some dollars on gear and modifications, but let’s us allow you in on some secrets.

You can certainly ride a dirt bike in the snow and cold weather conditions as long as you are prepared in advance. This includes layering up and making some potential modifications to your dirt bike so you’re equipped for the colder conditions. Unless you’re below freezing, then most dirt bike engines will still perform relatively well.

Altitude does have some effect on performance. In other words, the higher you go, the less your motorcycle can breathe but for most riders, then will be just fine.

Winter Dirt Bike Riding Tips

The challenges are certainly worth the risks. You’ll find the trails and tracks to be much quieter and you’ll be building up skills when it’s otherwise the off-season for other riders.

You really have no excuse with our tips to help you get through the colder months with your dirt bike.

Here’s what we can share:

1. Invest in some cold-weather riding gear

Get yourself a good jacket and riding pants. You may wish to wear thermals under each which will help to block the wind chill quite considerably. Also get yourself some cold weather ADV riding gloves instead of your typical MX gloves.

2. Be mindful that cold dirt bike tyres offer less grip

Just like racing motorcycles or street cruisers, you’ll need to warm your tyres up before each ride. This will enhance the grip quite considerably. If you can (and if you’ve got a registered dirt bike), then find a quiet bitumen road in which to pre-heat your tyres by swaying side to side.

3. Install some hand guards

If you haven’t already fitted a set, then dirt bike handguards are massively helpful to block a considerable amount of wind from chilling your knuckles and affecting your grip strength. You can buy either the wide square-style guards or a full wrap-around handlebar guard.

4. Watch for windburnt skin

It’s actually true that you can develop windburnt skin from riding a dirt bike in winter, especially on your hands and face. Keep this in mind and aim to layer up where possible. This is an effect of continuous wind being struck against the skin causing intense dryness among other issues.

5. Invest in a heated winter riding jacket

Did you know that you can get 12v heated winter jackets? These are one of the best investments money can buy. Adventure riders commonly use these when covering large stretches in colder months and these are certainly helpful to keep you riding for long out there on the trails. The only downside is that they’re heavier and yes, you’ll need a 12v outlet installed.

Riding dirt bikes in winter and keeping warm is a lot of fun

6. Buy some dirt bike winter tyres

Not all dirt bike tyres are created the same, with some offering more channel and grip for winter riding though these same tyres will wear out faster in the warmer months. Consider having 2 sets of tyres – one for winter and one for summer. For snow riding, we can recommend studded tyres which are easily sourced online for most dirt bike makes and models.

7. Be mindful of internal sweating

While you are layering up with clothes to stay warm when riding your dirt bike, you can inadvertently take things too far. If you start mildly sweating under your clothes, then this moisture could lead to you becoming colder and unable to retain heat so easily. Essentially, take off layers as you need.

8. Invest in some heated grips

Again, we’re using the word ‘investment’ here. These are relatively cheap and can make a real difference in your enjoyment when riding offroad in the colder months. They’ll allow your grip to stop being so tight and slow to respond and the power comes from the engine, though much less than a heated vest or jacket.

9. Consider a better helmet or goggles

Just like having winter and summer riding tyres, you should consider a seperate helmet just for winter riding which has less front-end ventilation. A pair of goggles that perfectly fits and minimizes air inflow will be very helpful. Some riders also wear a neck guard between their jersey/jacket and the helmet.

10. Consider an adventure fairing

Now we’re moving slightly into adventure-riding territory, but an adventure fairing will help deflect a lot of wind when riding at higher speeds. Think of the Dakar Rally, only those large fairings help riders to reduce fatigue over many hours of riding at higher speeds. You’ll be more away from the low-budget essence of dirt bike riding but will help reduce the wind effects as well as opening up the way for riding on highways.

11. Monitor the weather

There’s winter and then there’s harsh winter. By monitoring the weather with many of the riding apps available, you can look for opportunistic windows where rain is unlikely and where you can make the most of a good day. Then again – don’t just rely on technology but learn to read the weather including cloud directions and wind speeds.

12. Keep the boots dry

We’ve left one of the best until last on this list of dirt bike riding tips for winter riders. Keeping those boots dry will help you ride for longer, so do try to avoid those creek/river crossings and use goretex where possible. This also includes replacing your boots when they get too worn out since boot technology has risen quite considerably over these recent years, with both summer and winter versions available for some makes and models.

In Summary

If winter is coming, then don’t let snow or simply cold whether discourage you from heading out on your dirt bike. You can certainly have a lot of fun out there if you come prepared for the battle!

When others are at home relaxing on the couch, you can be improving your skills and generally having much more fun. This time without the crowds or the harsh heat of the summer months.

So there’s Frontaer’s top 12 tips, so it’s time to make it happen!

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Schools For Dirt Bike Riders: 4 Reasons To Go

Heading along to a dirt bike school is a very wise choice if you’re a total beginner and want to improve your skills.

After all, when you buy your first dirt bike, chances are that you aren’t going to be the most skilled professor on 2 wheels. The same is very true for adventure bike riders whose bikes typically weight 2 to 3 times more with all their gear loaded up.

So if you need a reason to go and learn from the pros, we’ve got you covered.

1. You Won’t Be Judged As A Beginner

Everyone who attends as a student to a dirt bike school is in the same situation as you. They realize that their skills aren’t sharp or refined and want to simply improve their experience on the tracks.

No one is judging your mishaps or accidents. And yes, you will have accidents but this is encouraged. It’s through these controlled crashes that you can learn what you did wrong on the grass with direct input from an instructor.

2. You Won’t Trash Your Own Bike

Instead of trashing your bike and having to replace the plastics, you’re often able to get a dirt bike included with the lesson. They might provide something cheap like the Yamaha TTR250 or something more powerful such as KTM, depending on the resources of the school.

Some of them double-up as tour places. So you can go for a dirt bike lesson on Day 1 and on Day 2, head out for an organized group tour with others. Again – without the fear of damaging your own dirt bike out there.

3. Learning Becomes More Accessible

You might not be convinced just yet if dirt biking is your thing and may not have a bike already. Instead of watching countless YouTube videos, you’ll only spend a few hundred dollars for a day of real tutorials behind the handlebars.

Through this, you’ll discover if riding offroad is for you or if you simply prefer the bitumen. Some people actually spend their life hiring dirt bikes and going on organized group rides which makes it often cheaper if you plan on riding once per month, so reaching out to a dirt bike school is a great starting point.

4. You’ll Be Able To Make Friends Who Ride

One of the biggest challenges is finding those who are at the same place on the journey as you. Most dirt bike riders are already well experienced and are reluctant to bring beginnings along for their rides because they’ll be waiting at every crossroads.

Through enrolling with a dirt bike school, you’ll find people who have just started out and like you, are probably looking for others to ride with regularly. You might go dirt bike camping or even a local trail ride without feeling like you’re dragging people who simply want to ride so much faster through the trails.

How to Find a Dirt Bike School

There are various ways to find a place near you where you can improve your dirt bike and adventure riding skills. Obviously Google is helpful, but consider YouTube and Facebook groups especially.

These Facebook groups are a treasure trove of people who enjoy riding and will provide their personal insights into the experience of a riding school. They might even welcome you out on a group ride once you’ve finished the course too.

When you do find a school you like, consider:

  • Do they provide bikes or do you have to bring your own?
  • What types of bikes do they provide? Adventure motorcycles, enduro bikes or MX bikes? (Big difference in weights and performance between the three)
  • Is the terrain well suited to a beginner and is there an open grass area?
  • Will they cancel if it starts raining heavily?

These dirt bike schools are found throughout North America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Consider their reviews and ratings from riders, and ask around within dirt bike Facebook groups for strong recommendations.

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🔥 21 Awesome Dirt Bike Riding Tips ('Cause We Want You Safe Out There!)

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🔧 7 Tools Every Dirt Bike Rider Must Carry (To Avoid Those Awkward Rescue Calls)

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