If you are like me, you want to continually become better at riding your adventure bike. I use these exercises to tackle trickier terrain, don’t be afraid for loose sand, deal with obstacles, go up and down steep hills, etc.
And ever since I did a motocross course with a bunch of friends, I found a way to make it a lot of fun. My mindset is that every ride is practice and experience to get better. And often, I will find a moment during a ride to do a few low speed exercises. And if I am not riding for a few days, I will just hop on the bike, and do a few exercises for a while.
These exercises are a lot of fun, especially with friends. They don’t take a lot of strength or time and they will help your riding tremendously as they improve your balance in one way or another.
Exercise 1 – Walk around
This exercise won’t even require you to ride your motorcycle. Just stand next to it on a soft surface and hold the bike upright without the centre stand or side stand out. Then, walk around the bike grabbing different parts on the bike to keep it balanced.
Bonus points for doing a few walk-arounds both clockwise as well as anti-clockwise. Best done in full gear so you mimic the real world and be protected if the bike does happen to tip over towards you.
This exercise will help you learn about the weight of the bike and breaks the habit of always holding it in the same spot. If you are comfortable with your own bike, see if you can do it with a friends bike and notice how it differs.
Exercise 2 – Welcome to the other side
After completing the first exercise, take a moment to do this one as well.
When you normally walk with your bike, you are left of the bike as you push it. You also get on and off the bike from that side. For this exercise, push/walk with the bike on your left side. Also practise getting on and off it from that side. This is a useful skill to learn when you find your bike has tipped over and you can’t get to it the regular way. For example, if it is on its side on a ledge or river bank.
Bonus: put the bike on its side on a soft surface so you don’t damage it. Then practise picking up the bike from both sides.
Exercise 3 – The Slow Race
This one is a lot of fun to do especially with friends while boosting your balance on your bike:
- Find a space with ample room for you and your fellow racers to do this, without interfering with each other.
- Draw a start line
- Draw a finish line
- Race! Last one to cross the finish line OR to be standing on the pegs, wins!
There are a few rules while racing:
- Only go forwards, or sideways. No going backwards
- Standing in place is allowed, better yet; encouraged! Master this and you’re the champion.
- Foot on the ground and you’re out (or anything else than the tires really)
- No pushing others off balance
- Trash talking your friends is not mandatory but may help you win of course.
This is probably my favorite one to do with friends as the competition can be fun and fierce. A couple of years ago, a group of friends did a motocross/trials course which ended with a slow race between us and the instructor. We all started as slow as we could, except for the instructor. He wheelied away from the start only to turn off his motor and come to a complete standstill at the finish line, standing on the pegs waiting for us to fumble. He won, of course. But I am still proud that I beat my friends that day.
Exercise 4 – One foot riding
Ok, that sounds weird. You’re allowed to keep both feet attached to your body. But, ride standing up, then take one foot off the pegs.
By doing this, you will put all your weight on just one peg. In order to stay balanced, you will push a bit harder on the opposite side on the handlebar. Do this several times, switching sides. It will help you feel how to bike responds to changing the weight balance. Make a few turns as well.
Using weight transfer to enter into a corner, is recommended on low-traction surfaces. You won’t ask as much from the front tire as you would using counter-steering to enter a corner. Making it less likely for the front-end to wash out. But, steering with weight transfer, feels very different. And this exercise helps your familiarise that feeling.
Exercise 5 – Switch Wheel Slalom
This last one I find particularly tricky, but it is also one of the best exercises to feel how the front and rear wheels take different paths through terrain. Especially when going slow.
For this exercise, you will need 4 or 5 small objects. Stones or pylons will do. Lay them out in a straight line so you can slalom around them.
But this is no ordinary slalom, the trick is that the rear wheel goes around the pylon on the opposite side than the front wheel did. You need to go very slow for this and have good control over your clutch, brake and balance. Put the front wheel right next to the pylon and turn the handlebar to full lock.
The front wheel will go around the outside of the pylon, while the rear wheel will pass the pylon on the inside. The steeper the turn, the greater the difference in path between front and rear wheels. And you will experience the rear wheel hitting the pylon every now and then.
This is exactly what happens when you go slow through terrain. For example, loose rocks or narrow single-track.
With this exercise, you will better realise where your wheels are going through the terrain, particularly the rear wheel. This helps you better pick lines through the terrain.
These exercises can be done quickly and easily and most require nothing more than you and your bike. You can quickly get a few minutes of practice in during a ride. Or go out and do this as a workout. Especially with bigger adventure bikes you will work up a sweat doing these. And it allows you to skip the gym of course 😉
Do you do these exercises? Or other ones? Let me know in the comments, maybe we can come up with more fun ways to enjoy our motorcycles.
Find your way
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