How Do You Get Started?

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1/20/2013 4:18 PM

I pretty much admit I haven't got much knowledge on where to even begin. I don't own a bike and haven't ridden. I would love any information on how I can go about learning, preferably in the Central Florida area. Where should I go? And around how much should I be willing to spend? I'm willing to read whatever resource you recommend and work hard, I just need someone to point me in the right direction.

As a kid I really wanted to try riding, but was never allowed. I figure there's no time like the present. Thanks in advance for any help you can give me!

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1/20/2013 7:30 PM

If your looking for a bike to learn on, I recommend getting a two stroke 85 or 125 depending on size. For training, I believe there's a facility down there(don't remember the name.) that can teach you more stuff. For gear, a helmet, goggles, boots, and gloves are recommended. Jerseys, pants, and chest protectors can come later if you aren't too cautious about falling and thinking your chest will implode if you do(it won't ). Those are the basics.
Are you looking into racing or more trail/recreational riding?

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If you're not mixing gas, you're not haulin ass.

1/20/2013 7:50 PM

I'm thinking trail/recreational riding, but I mean it's always nice to work toward a goal and see yourself improving. I'm exactly 5 feet and weigh about 115 pounds so I'm thinking lighter and littler is better for me? I've seen Dirt Bike Courses--it's recommended to take that and then what should I do--be ready to invest in a bike?

I am curious. Are dual sport bikes a no for beginners or it doesn't really matter? Curious if I decide to invest and don't have the means to transport to a track/trail.

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1/20/2013 9:34 PM

If you're old enough for a license and have money to invest money in a dual sport(good ones are sorta expensive along with many bikes.)
A dirt bike course would be good or if you are on a budget and know someone that rides often, I'm sure they can show you. It isn't hard to get the hang of, but if you're racing and such, learning a course is nice. You'll need to practice clutch control and such.
Do you have any bikes in mind?
Also, how old are you if you don't mind me asking?

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If you're not mixing gas, you're not haulin ass.

1/21/2013 8:48 AM

I'm 21, so yup, old enough! Unfortunately, I don't know anyone who rides often. Well, my half sister's family may so I'm looking into that. But I think them and my uncle are more into motorcycles than dirt bikes. Curious, is it better to start with one over the other? I don't mind reaching out to family friends or friend's of friend's to learn. I'm gunna do it.

I've done some reading and figure a used bike is the way to go, but not sure what kind. From what I've read used bikes are fine if you buy a model within the last 4 years? I was looking up the ones you mentioned. You said something about depending on size. Is the two stroke 85 the more powerful of the two? I'm on a budget. Last semester of college so yeah. But I've already decided I'm going to do this, so whatever it takes I'll make it work. You mentioned two strokes, but aren't four recommended for recreational use? But you figure a 2 stroke if I decide I want more?

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1/21/2013 9:34 AM
Edited Date/Time: 1/21/2013 9:36 AM

TrailDigger wrote:

If your looking for a bike to learn on, I recommend getting a two stroke 85 or 125 depending on size. For training, I believe there's a facility down there(don't remember the name.) that can teach you more stuff. For gear, a helmet, goggles, boots, and gloves are recommended. Jerseys, pants, and chest protectors can come later if you aren't too cautious about falling and thinking your chest will implode if you do(it won't ). Those are the basics.
Are you looking into racing or more trail/recreational riding?

I'll have to disagree with this. The hit of those 85's is absolutely brutal. A 125 (if it's an MX machine) isn't much better. We still have my son's YZ85 (he's on a 250 now), and I've tried to teach three people to ride using that bike simply because it's small. No matter how much I warned each one of those riders, they'd get a little too much throttle, let the engine rpm get high enough to get ahold of the lower end of the power hit, and that bike put all three on the ground....hard.

Personally, I'd recommend a KX200. It's light, the power is extremely manageable, you can find later models with good brakes and suspension for a very good price, and they perform great whether you're loafing around or trying to go fast. And, what's nice is if you like riding, you'll find yourself keeping that bike regardless if you move into more track-racing-oriented machines. About the only drawback is you'll probably have to learn to mix your own oil/gas. A bike shop would walk you through that.

Yes, you can find a recreational four stroke. But, the entry level 4-strokes tend to be relatively heavy, and both their power and handling is a bit anemic. If you really enjoy the sport and become a more aggressive rider, you might outgrow it quicker than the KX.

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1/21/2013 10:06 AM

Thank you jtomasik! Knowing me, I'd be one of those who'd end up on the ground. I've never learned so anything that can make the transition easier is great in my book. I'm also quite small, so yeah heavy is a no. When you say later models--how old of bikes should I look at?

Also, I've read about dirt bike schools. Do most insist you provide your own bike?

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1/21/2013 10:22 AM
Edited Date/Time: 1/21/2013 1:09 PM

You're welcome.

I have no clue about beginner riding schools. My riding days started back when we were still painting on cave walls, so learning was more about survival than technique. Sorry I can't provide any useful info regarding that.

Not sure what you can afford, and since there can be deals to be 'had', I can't give you a model year to start from. If you have somewhere around $1500, I'm sure you could find a 2000 or later model in good shape, easily. Snoop around Craigslist, and just search and observe. You'll get a feel for what's available to you. Then, come back on here with more detailed questions about a certain year bike. Oh, KTM offers good two stroke bikes that could be a good started bike. Make sure they're designed more for enduro riding. Usually they have small lights on them....that's one giveaway.

Head down to your local MX tracks and talk to the owners. Check out your local dealers (but don't let the sales guys sell you until you're well informed and can recognize a deal, most importantly, on a good bike for you, not just what a sales guy wants to unload on you!!!). Ask around about riding schools and particularly riding clubs. Head over to the regional area of this site, and see if you can meet a few riders that are local to you. They might take you riding, or you could just hang out and I'm sure some will help you with your search. Make sure you use a lot of different resources to educate yourself...if you're not doing that already. Boards like this are ok, but more information is always good.


Above all, don't go 'cheap' on your helmet (search our main board for helmet discussions). Always wear ALL protective gear. And, it's good you're asking before you're trying.


Best of luck!!!!

KX200:

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1/21/2013 8:15 PM

jtomasik speaks truth. I learned to ride long after my teens from a military buddy and he was safety crazy. Great example that I still follow today. FWIW, 2 stroke hits can be surprising in any size (my opinion only). One bike to look up alongside jtomasik's recommendation is a CRF150. I'd liken it to 85 size and speed, but without the hit of the 2 stroke. They may be hard to find in your area, espcially on craigslist. Though I have never ridden a 150, I did get into moto in my mid 20s and compare it to my start on a 125...even with me being near 200lbs at the time, it was plenty and more for me to learn on. Upon moving to a 250f, the hit is far less and throttle is much more predictable. Good luck!

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"Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting." - Steve McQueen

1/22/2013 1:38 AM
Edited Date/Time: 1/22/2013 7:02 AM

motophx wrote:

jtomasik speaks truth. I learned to ride long after my teens from a military buddy and he was safety crazy. Great example that I still follow today. FWIW, 2 stroke hits can be surprising in any size (my opinion only). One bike to look up alongside jtomasik's recommendation is a CRF150. I'd liken it to 85 size and speed, but without the hit of the 2 stroke. They may be hard to find in your area, espcially on craigslist. Though I have never ridden a 150, I did get into moto in my mid 20s and compare it to my start on a 125...even with me being near 200lbs at the time, it was plenty and more for me to learn on. Upon moving to a 250f, the hit is far less and throttle is much more predictable. Good luck!

I thought about suggesting the CRF150, but decided not to because of the dependability issues associated with its valves. I didn't want to suggest that bike fearing she might get stuck with a costly repair. Also, when buying used, it's tough to identify where a 4 stroke might be in its life when it comes to those valve issues. The KDX200 doesn't have that hanging over it. And, although it's a 2-stroke, the KDX has essentially none of that 'hit' we 2-stroke riders are familiar with. It's almost electric-smooth in power delivery.

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1/22/2013 9:20 PM

jtomasik wrote:

I thought about suggesting the CRF150, but decided not to because of the dependability issues associated with its valves. I didn't want to suggest that bike fearing she might get stuck with a costly repair. Also, when buying used, it's tough to identify where a 4 stroke might be in its life when it comes to those valve issues. The KDX200 doesn't have that hanging over it. And, although it's a 2-stroke, the KDX has essentially none of that 'hit' we 2-stroke riders are familiar with. It's almost electric-smooth in power delivery.

Can't argue your reasoning. Guess I was only viewing through the motox prism v good intro bike. I was ignorant of the valve issue too. I consider myself pretty lucky to have zero engine issues with both yz250f's I have owned. Thanks for the education!

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"Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting." - Steve McQueen

1/23/2013 8:15 AM

I think a Yamaha TTR125 would be a good bike to start on also. I have one for sale, too bad I am so far away. Electric start and a low seat height. You did say your 5' tall. Also a DRZ125 Suzuki . You can also check and see if there are any local dirt bike clubs. We've had ladies join our club and someone led them through the entire process.

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1/23/2013 9:56 AM

I teach the MSF Dirt Bike School, so I may be a little biased, but for a rank beginner such as yourself, you can't go wrong introducing yourself to the sport via the Dirt Bike School. Dirt Bike School website

You'll get taught fundamentals in a safe environment, and all the coaches I've been around are experienced riders that are ready and willing to share what they've learned over the years. Don't be afraid to pick the coach's brain over lunch, after class, etc.

As for a starter bike, any of the entry level 4-strokes from Yamaha, (TTR), Kawasaki, (KLX), or Honda, (CRF) are great trail machines. Keep your eyes open for one a couple years old that has been gathering dust in a garage. Alot of guys buy these for the g/f or wife, and she never really rides it much, so they are still low hours and can be a reliable mount. Take someone with you to look at it who knows what they're looking for- loose spokes or wheel/suspension bearings, dirty air filter/oil, undercarriage damage, fresh plastic on an otherwise beat bike, etc. All signs of misuse and/or abuse. Stay away from those.

You can always get started that way, and get most of your investment back if you want to upgrade a year or two later.

Dual sports are compromise machines that don't either street or dirt particularly well, but not particularly bad either. They're alot better than they used to be. I just don't like the idea of a new rider on the street.

Ride On!

H

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1/23/2013 12:22 PM

I actually wanted to do the Dirt Bike School, but my question is after that what do I do? Do I have to invest in a bike right away? Are there schools that can teach me more? Is there a longer dirt bike course?

Thanks again all of you for your help!!

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1/23/2013 3:45 PM

Do you ever read any dirt bike magazines? You should pick one up to read up on all the different sorts of riding. That should help determine which style of riding you are really interested in. You may not even want to go to a track to learn right off the get go. Most open fields are great to learn on as a starter, and do just fine as they offer a natural surrounding which may provide more comfort. Then make your way closer to "track" like areas, once you start to become more comfortable. It can be a bit overwhelming to some, if you've never been around one in person before you go to try it out for your first time and haven't even really gotten a feeling for how the bike is going to handle and react in certain conditions (which you're eventually going to pick) As they all have their own characteristics such as humans.

I wouldn't personally go much older than any 2000 model when it comes down to buying a used bike unless it looks to be in practically mint or cherry condition. (As if it rolled right out of the factory and you could brush your teeth looking into the rims.) As for bikes, Any kind of 80-125cc four stroke ex:Honda crf150, Honda XR100-80, Suzuki Drz125, Kawasaki Klx125, Yamaha TTR125 or 80-85cc two stroke ex:Honda Cr80-85, Honda Cr80-85R(which is a big wheel-bigger than all the other size bikes, practically same weight) Suzuki Rm80-85, Kawasaki Kx80-85, Ktm sx85 are your best best from what it sounds like. Depending on whether or not you actually want to be able to ride this bike to and from the track or trails. Because their are many regulations you must follow in order to do so with dirtbikes now days. Their are Dual sport models, race models, and trail/free ride models. Which all change drastically/ However, you should be able to find many of these bikes i have listed above at a decent price range according to what you want to spend. Yet, always remember. You get what you pay for. Sometimes, you can find ultra killer deals you can't pass up due to your "style" bike you prefer. Yet at this point, it doesn't really sound like you have a preference, so it all comes down to what you want. Just keep an eye out for wear that is seen by the eye. This will be a major indicator in which the bikes condition really is...

If you have anyone who is familiar with motorbikes, or any sort of kick start vehicle, make sure to take them with you whenever you are to start checking possible bikes for you. As they may have more knowledge about compression, as well as being able to help you start the bike and give you their opinion as well. Especially someone closer to family who knows what they are talking about, will most of the time give you the best two cents.

An obvious, or at least very weary NO, is due to numbers on the plates, because this usually means the bike has been raced. (RIPPED, BEAT, and RIDDEN HARD). Fading on the clutch and ignition covers,(Near the pegs) or even the frame, near those covers can indicate the same thing. As well as tires, sprockets, and even just the normal appearance sometimes. This isn't always a bad thing, considering their are different circumstances for each bike and how it's been ridden. Finding an owner of a bike how has maintenance records, or is the first and only owner will help ensure you're getting a bike that's more taken care of. Never look at a bike that is titled on craigslist as "FAST". That is one indicator, you should not even waste your time looking at it. Because you will be the one to determine speed over time...Not some other goon!

If i were you. I would find a school that you know clearly supplies the bike in training, that way you can get a feel for at least one specific model. (Maybe even two for all i know, since i never spent time in a riding school. I was one of the ones who ended up on his butt more than a few times =P) Use the experience you get from in the school to help make a better decision which bike may be the best fit for you. Do not hesitate to ask questions to other fellow riders as i'm sure they will be very willing to try and help answer them, or at least take you to the right place to get them answered.. Then make your way from there. That way you have a better idea, and feel for the whole dirt bike "scene".

If their is anything else we can do let us know! Their are plenty of very experienced, well known, and smart riders/mechanics on here who have asked the same questions as you at one point. We all had to start somewhere!!! I wish you good luck, and ride on!!(: Safetly. With proper gear of course.

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Ride it like you stole it! Brap BrAPP

1/23/2013 6:40 PM
Edited Date/Time: 1/23/2013 6:41 PM

Yes, after reading those, go for either an 80 two stroke(if you're feeling adventurous) or a 125 four stroke. I only recommend the two stroke since it's cheaper to run and repair. You'll need a bigger four stroke such as a 125 or maybe a 150 after you learn the ropes to get you around with power you'll feel comfortable with. Don't go for anything below a 100 since I know they're pretty small, atleast for most people. It doesn't matter what brand too much when you're learning, but there are some good and bad years so ask about certain years of bikes you look at. Will you travel to pick up a bike?

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If you're not mixing gas, you're not haulin ass.

1/23/2013 8:57 PM

There are a few 150s in your area.
I also found an 500 with an interesting picture.
http://orlando.craigslist.org/mcy/3551352564.html

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If you're not mixing gas, you're not haulin ass.

2/23/2013 1:12 AM

An XR100 may not be a bad choice too for your first outing. It sits so low you can get used to how it all operates. Find some older guys with experience that can help you! A lot of guys at local tracks or riding areas are usually very approachable and would help you. I know I would.

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