6. Know how to ride

Off-Road Motorcycle Skills

(Photo courtesy of Richoliver.net)

Track days are fantastic for learning your motorcycle’s capabilities, but they don’t have to be lavish affairs on expensive road circuits. See the videos from Colin Edwards’ TTBC, Danny Walker’s Supercamp, and Rich Oliver’s Mystery Schools. Two or three old tires or cones in a vacant lot and an old XR100 or two are all you need to boost your bike-control skills tremendously, or even a couple of cones in the big parking lot where you practice braking on the bike you already own.

If you live where it’s easy to go off-roading, even better. Learning bike control by dodging cacti, rocks and trees is the best way to make your motorcycle an extension of yourself, which is essentially the goal, to give your bike the right inputs without thinking. If there’s a motocross track near you, there’s probably a Vet Track – meaning no giant jumps or insane whoops sections. Find an old dirtbike and have at it; you’ll be amazed how many people will give you free advice at the MX park, how many kids’ dads will help you fix your bike and had one just like it, and will give you a cold domestic brew when it’s time to pack it in for the day.