Riding dirt bikes provides enjoyment for all the family, getting kids away from devices and out into the environment. But if you haven’t done it before, where do you start?
Motorbike riding is a fun and exhilarating sport, whether it’s tackling a local trail ride on the weekend with your family or going racing and traveling to tracks all over the country. It’s a sport that brings families closer together and can take you on great adventures. But where do you start? Thankfully, when it comes to riding or racing dirt bikes, there really is no age limit. So if your kid is 4 years old or 12 and wants to start riding, they can get started whenever you or they want. So here are a few tips on what you need and where to go to get started.
One of the big things with riding dirt bikes is making sure your child has all the protection to keep them as safe as possible when they are out riding. A helmet, boots, riding gear, gloves, goggles, and body armour are the main pieces of protection all riders require. I prefer to wear knee braces and a neck brace to keep me extra safe, but it all comes down to how your child is going to be riding his bike and the budget you’ve got.
Most motorbike shops will stock all this gear from all the different brands, and by buying it from a bike shop you will know the gear is certified, fits correctly and there’s someone to offer advice. It might be tempting to buy online, but there are some dodgy brands out there, so it’s best to be safe. Plus, if you have any problems, then the people in the bike shop will be there to help you out.
There are so many different brands and types of motorbikes out there, so it’s about finding the right one for your child to start on and then for them to progress their way up. If your child is young, like 4-6 years old and you’re starting them out, you want to look at getting them something like a Yamaha PW50 or KTM 50 Mini Adventure. This is because they are small bikes that have no gears and are easy for them to start off with. The KTM is more of a racing bike, and if that’s what you’re getting your child into, then that is the best start. If your child is 8-10 years old and wants to be racing, then either a 65cc or 85cc two-stroke is the direction you want to go down. Most brands make these bike sizes, and they are the main bikes that are used in racing for that age group. Try and stick with the main manufacturers and avoid little-known Chinese makes, as they’ll likely lead to trouble with very little hope of back up.
But if your child was more wanting to go down the riding for fun trail riding path, you would look at either a 110F, 125F or 140F. The F stands for four-stroke, and these bikes are a lot more tamed down than a race bike. For someone that just wants to do trail rides and have fun, these models are great bikes to have and are a lot cheaper than a race bike.
Something else that helps is knowing where to ride. Most motorbike tracks can be accessed on the weekend and sometimes the weekdays too. Just find their website and see if they are opened or closed. A lot of the time you simply need to go to a store and purchase a key for the day. With most Sundays being club days at tracks, this is a good introduction into racing where there will be multiple classes racing. If you still can’t find anywhere, visit www.motoevents.nz where you’ll find a comprehensive list of events. If racing isn’t what you or your child is into, the website shows all of the trail rides around which are on most weekends and are easy to find. So have a look around and get amongst it.
A good way to give your child confidence and get them up and started is some rider coaching. There are quite a few people offering coaching services, but beware of some that can be pretty expensive and not that knowledgeable. Our recommendation would be Peter Broxholme (Broxy Rider Coaching), and Rhys Carter. Both these guys have great people skills and are able to talk to kids in a way for them to understand, which is crucial. They’ll teach junior how to ride and give them the skills that are required to ride a motorcycle well. You can find both of them on Facebook, or contact Broxy at www.broxy.co.nz.