If you’re a road rider preparing for your first off-road adventure, you’re in for a treat. Off-road riding is a completely new territory that can be very fun to conquer. Taking your bike over unpredictable terrain and through extreme weather requires knowledge, experience, and patience. While many bikers learn from their own mistakes, you don’t have to do so. Here are some off-road riding tips for beginner adventure riders.
If you’re new to adventure riding, you might be tempted to install plenty of gadgets and other things on your bike and overpack your ride. Extra seven or ten kilograms might not sound like much, but things can quickly add up and overburden your bike. When you grab a ten-kilogram weight, it will feel light, but try holding it for five minutes and wagging it back and forth. This is what your bike will need to endure for days! In order to prevent overpacking, look into some packing guides that will ensure you have everything you need and nothing more.
Adjust your tire pressure
This is something many street riders overlook when transitioning to varied terrain riding. Make sure that your tire pressure matches the type of riding you’ll be doing. If you’re a beginner, try dropping your tire pressure by 10 PSI—this will do wonders for your riding confidence. When in deep sand or mud, you can get away with 22, 18, or even 13 pounds of pressure. When having a low tire pressure, keep in mind that punctures and bent rims are more likely to happen, so adjust your speed and avoid harsh bumps and deep holes.
Find the right riding position
Off-road riding can be super fun and relaxing, but also physically challenging, so proper ergonomics of the components such as clutch and brake perch, handlebars, and foot controls can play an important role when it comes to comfort, confidence, and riding performance. Unfortunately, there are no rules written in stone when it comes to your riding position since all people have different heights, weights, limb lengths, and position preferences.
However, you want to make sure your hand and foot levers are easy to reach and comfortable to use both when standing and sitting. If you notice you have issues when it comes to riding standing up, you can invest in new steg pegs that will allow a better grip and control your legs and arm and reduce arm fatigue. Do some research and don’t hesitate to experiment with the best ergonomic adjustment. Start your preparation about two weeks before your trip, so you have time to get used to things.
Find your pace
Don’t race through your off-road ride—they are not meant to be rushed. Instead, set a pace where you can actually enjoy the nature and freedom your ride provides. Rushing thing also leads to riding mistakes like forgetting to properly secure your gas cap or close the pannier. Wasting your energy on rushing is counterproductive since it might leave you exhausted after you hit your first obstacle. If you slow down, you will save a lot of energy and prevent premature fatigue. Additionally, when you come across especially tricky terrain, take your time to assess the situation and find the best route to overcome your obstacle.
Prepare for unexpected
It can be hard to prepare for something you don’t expect, but one thing is for sure—things will break, so pack for all the tricky situations that require improvising. Some of the most useful things in a pinch are spare inner tubes (can be used as rescue bags, tourniquets), bailing wires, and used oil cans (can be used as oil funnels, gas transfer containers, or tool holders). A file can turn a bold shaft into a slotted drive screw head, while an emery cloth can bring old corroded fuses back to life. Watching MacGyver episodes from the 80s will give you a lot of great ideas, but even though improvisation is great, make sure to bring some proper tools as well.
Keep in mind that off-road riding is a skill and an art form, so you’ll need to experiment and learn as you go. However, it’s always best to come prepared and avoid some major mistakes that can ruin your trip and even leave you injured. Keep these tips in mind and you’re guaranteed to have a fun and safe off-road adventure.