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ADV PreppingBasic Off-Road Riding Techniques for Adventure Bikes

Basic Off-Road Riding Techniques for Adventure Bikes

Helpful how-to videos that will make you a more confident off-road rider.

Published on 03.06.2014

A key skill every Adventure Rider should acquire is the ability to ride confidently off-road. Large Adventure Motorcycles can be difficult to manage in the dirt because of their weight and bulk. You can get away with a lack of dirt riding skills on small dirt bikes, but an Adventure Bike can hurt you if you don’t know what you are doing.

Often times, riders try to learn on their own with only a few dirt riding tips from a friend. This kind of trial and error approach can cause a lot of anxiety about scratching your bike and injuring yourself, leaving you feeling discouraged and ready to quit. Bad off-road riding techniques you pick up can also stall your ability to progress as an off-road rider.

You need to learn the basics if you want to master the rocks, hill climbs, descents and sand on a large Adventure Bike. Learning good off-road riding techniques will also help you avoid expensive repairs and painful injuries. Once you’ve learned the fundamentals, a whole new world of off-road adventures will open up to you.


Whether it’s your first time off-road or you just want to improve your speed, learning fundamental off-road riding skills from a professional can be extremely helpful. These videos by John Gray, a Senior Instructor at the ADA Off-Road Riding School, will show you techniques that will make you a safer and more confident rider in the dirt. While there is no substitute for in-person instruction at a professional off-road training facility, these videos are a great way to get started.

This playlist consists of 14 short video clips covering different topics. You can watch it all in one sitting or click “Play” and then the “Playlist” link in the video player to choose specific topics of interest.

Playlist Topics:
1. Body position
2. Mounting and dismounting
3. Getting up on the pegs
4. Turning around
5. Cornering
6. Emergency stops
7. Acceleration and deceleration
8. Picking up a downed bike
9. Riding downhills
10. Hill climbs
11. Failed uphill recovery 1
12. Failed uphill recovery 2
13. Riding on rocks
14. Riding in sand


Author: Rob Dabney

Rob Dabney started a lifelong obsession with motorcycles at the age of 15 when he purchased his first bike – a 1982 Honda MB5. Through his 20’s and 30’s he competed in off-road desert races, including the Baja 250, 500 and 1000. Eventually, his proclivity for exploration led him to dual sport and adventure riding. Rob’s never-ending quest to discover what’s around the next bend has taken him on Adventures in Latin America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and throughout the American West. As a moto journalist, he enjoys inspiring others to seek adventure across horizons both near and far.

Author: Rob Dabney

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March 9, 2014 1:46 pm

Great set of videos! I am going to have fun practicing these tips.

Twitchy handling on sharp turns on gravel
July 14, 2014 6:46 am

[…] […]

Riding on loose terrain?
July 6, 2015 2:33 pm

[…] The tires are part of it, but you need to learn off road cornering and body position techniques. In a very general sense, you need to push with the foot on the footpeg of the direction you want to turn, and sit more upright over the bike. Want to turn left, push the left footpeg with the left foot while keeping your upper body more upright. This takes practice, but it really works. Please don't lean with the bike into a corner while riding off road. Even with good tires you're likely to push or washout. Generally, the TW is not as powerful as a regular dirt bike, so try to avoid the "power cornering" a dirt bike can do. Here's a link to get you started which will provide a much better way for you to understand the techniques than I could ever explain: Basic Off-Road Riding Techniques for Adventure Bikes – ADV Pulse […]

Dave Piotrowski D
Dave Piotrowski D
August 2, 2016 1:45 pm

Great stuff. I have been riding for a copuple if years on the street but ultimately want an adventure bike of some description. I have a 4wd ute so having an off roading bike make perfect sense to me. Plus, the joy of riding has me feeling great, even tho it is on a scooter at present, the Adventure bike has me very interested. I am happy to see schools set up for guys like me who want to get out there at some time doing what you guys love. Keep up the great work. I hope to be out there one day learning skills in Adventure riding and going on great rides. Cheers,
David FNQ.

Rob Dabney
Rob Dabney
September 5, 2016 3:13 pm

Hi Jeff. Thanks for your comments. Here’s a list of off-road training schools from around the world. Maybe you’ll find one near you:

Hopefully, you’ll get that adventure bike you’ve been dreaming of soon!

Jeff Brownell
Jeff Brownell
September 4, 2016 11:27 pm

I really enjoyed the videos. I am a hard core dirt rider for 40 years and wanted to include my wife which loves to ride with me.i have a road star which we became bored with so I purchased a Africa twin so we can get enjoyment again riding.we have been going off road a lot but I have found different techniques are needed for 2 up off road on a heavy bike.we will practice these ways to avoid getting wife is having a blast and giggles like a school girl when I hit the woops. Next summer we want to hit the extreme stuff in Colorado so I see some training will be needed.we will practice everything and more in the videos to become safer and more skilled.I live in upper Michigan so we have good terrain to practice on.thank you for making these vidios. It could save us from injury.i do not worry about me as I have pure used to know my x-ray tech very well but never want to have my wife experience the pain I have experienced.

Rob Dabney
Rob Dabney
September 5, 2016 3:10 pm
Reply to  Jeff Brownell

Hi Jeff. Glad you enjoyed the videos, but we can’t take credit for them. These videos were made by the ADA Off-Road Riding School. You might also like our story about two-up off-road riding techniques here:

Good luck and hope you guys have some great trips together!

Alex J. Roy
Alex J. Roy
January 26, 2017 6:49 pm

Last year I purchased the hated V Strom DL 1000 and am attempting to “tune” it for more off-road riding. I have rode small dirt bikes in the past (not a noob, but not an expert by any means) and I feel confident on two-wheels, but there are no schools or training classes near me for heavy ADV bikes (I live in Hawaii). I fear that I will have to improve my skills on my own, e.g., going with my friends (one with a GS800 the other on a KLR650)…but that goes against your advice. Before I read all your articles on heavy ADV bikes I was feeling confident that I could handle mine, and “learn” as I go – now, not so much. My “off-road” trips to date have been difficult, but not unmanageable, and I have only dropped the bike once so far. I have been riding with the 80/20 tire and was tired of slipping all over, so I decided to upgrade to the TKC-80s…they are actually getting installed as we speak so it’ll be a new experience for me after the Battlewings. I’m not sure where I am going with this post, other than you really made me think I bought the wrong bike – I should have sacrificed two-up comfort for more off-road capability I guess. That is what I get for trying to find an “all-around” bike. Ah well. Either way I’m going to take these videos and see if I can “teach” myself as I am stuck with the V Strom. Practice, practice, practice!

Rob Dabney
Rob Dabney
January 26, 2017 7:47 pm
Reply to  Alex J. Roy

Hey Alex. Sometimes you got to work with what you got. If you do end up riding alone, make sure you get a GPS messenger with tracking capability and an SOS button. At least if something goes wrong, someone will know your last position. I’m sure the DL1000 will be a lot more confidence inspiring in the dirt with the new TKC rubber. It may be a little harder to learn on that bike and take you longer on your own, but it can be done. You might also consider taking a vacation to the mainland for a little training weekend. You know, it’s rough living in paradise all the time. 🙂 Good Luck!

Alex J. Roy
Alex J. Roy
January 27, 2017 12:19 pm
Reply to  Rob Dabney

Mahalo Rob, I agree, I just was feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the information on this site. I have never taken this stuff seriously, but at 42 years old, I am starting to think I am not immortal (so I better smarten up). Cheers.


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