Cross training is a popular way in just about every sport to improve your skills and fitness. Motorcycle cross training means simply to ride a different motorcycle occasionally either by borrowing, renting, or by attending one of the many riding schools that are available today. When it comes to riding motorcycles, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation says it best; “The more you know, the better it gets.”
All motorcycles have the same basic controls that you must learn how to use; throttle, clutch, and shifting of the engine, front and rear wheel brakes, handlebars for steering, and a seat and foot pegs to carry your body weight. All the experts agree that the best way to develop good riding skills is to begin by riding a smaller, more controllable bike, like a dirt bike. The skills you develop on a dirt bike are directly transferrable to help when riding most other motorcycles. The fact is that street bike riders with dirt bike experience are involved in far fewer street accidents than street riders without dirt bike experience.
To answer the question of whether cross training does any good or not, look no further than how motorcycle enthusiast and competitors use it to become better in their sport: Road Racers cross train by power sliding around dirt ovals on small dirt bikes, Hard Enduro riders cross train by riding trials bikes, and Adventure Bike riders cross train by riding dirt bikes.
The problem is many street riders only own one bike, but a bigger problem is that many riders don’t really understand the value and resist the notion of cross training. Even some professional street bike instructors avoid cross training. Maybe it’s because they don’t want to get hurt, maybe they don’t want to improve and are satisfied with their skills now, or maybe it’s because they don’t want anyone to know they aren’t very good at it. The good news is today you don’t need to own a dirt bike to get dirt bike training. There are companies with the dirt bikes who can teach you how to ride better then take you on an epic tour in places only accessible by a dirt bike.
Dirt bikes make great cross-training tools for motorcyclists because their small size is confidence inspiring. You can learn how to use all the controls properly, safely learn braking and turning skills and limits, speed and how to use it, critical visual habits so you are never surprised, good riding judgment, how to help your motorcycle and not just sit there, and how to select and stick to the best line.
Cross training isn’t just for competitors, it’s a good idea for all motorcycle riders. Take yourself out of your comfort zone occasionally and ride or buy a different bike. Today we enjoy a great diversity of bikes to ride and variety IS the spice of life. Besides, one more motorcycle in the garage won’t take up much space!