How to Teach Kids to Ride a Dirt Bike (With 16 Creative Tips!)


Riding a dirt bike can be incredibly fun. A child might be afraid of it at first, but I want to provide some great tips and tricks for teaching your child to ride a dirt bike so they’ll fall in love with it, too!

Here are my top 10 tips:

  • Teach On a Flat, Dirt Road
  • Get an Automatic
  • Forget the Training Wheels
  • Keep Good Stance
  • Teach at a Good Pace
  • Drink Water
  • Remember: Safety
  • Try Out a Bicycle
  • Get Back Up and Try Again
  • Watch Dirt Biking Videos

These are just 10 of the tips that I felt were most important. For the rest of them and more info, look further into my article!

Tip #1: Teach On a Flat, Dirt Road

Terrain TypeDifficulty level
DirtRookie
WoodsNovice
MudIntermediate
RockAdvanced
SandAdvanced

There are many terrains out there to ride a dirt bike on. Of course, you will have certain tires for different terrains but let’s talk about why dirt is the best way to start.

If you want your child to enjoy dirt biking and learn basic technique, take them on the dirt first. There is a reason why it’s called a dirt bike and not a mud bike. Because of the firm terrain and the versatility of the dirt, this is the ideal place to start.

If you start out on anything else, your child might run into problems. When I started out, I made sure I had an open wide space to learn to ride. Ideally, you do not want others to be there but that is not always the case.

Since your child just might be scared out of their minds, keep it simple the first time and teach them to go straight on the dirt and then stop after a little bit.

Do not practice any cool moves or teach them to turn around at first. Having previously taught my younger siblings, I can tel you that they get frustrated if you tried to force too much on them in the beginning.

Tip #2: Get an Automatic

Okay, so this topic is really subjective and some people may not agree with me, but here are my two cents on automatics.

I have driven a car for a while now and I learned to drive a manual when I was twenty. It was a new experience and it took some practice. Now translate that to a kid trying to learn how to do that on a dirt bike when they possibly have never had to balance themselves on two wheels.

They have to figure out how to ride and how to balance themselves with the added part of using a clutch. That’s hefty and can be intimidating to a son or daughter when they first start.

You could argue that once they learn manual, they can choose for themselves what they prefer. Honestly, if you don’t want the hassle, then just go for the automatic.

Tip #3: Forget the Training Wheels

I had never even considered this concept before. I mean, I did not have training wheels when I started, but it really does make more sense to train without them.

All the research I have done says to discard the training wheels. Your child probably just wants to ride their bike anyways.

If your child is really young, like 3 years old, then yeah, you should get them. But for older kids, training wheels are crippling and they just delay the inevitable. Eventually, your child is going to have to learn how to ride while balancing.

If you put them on training wheels, you’re still going to have to teach them how not to use them at some point. Teach them now so they get over the fear sooner rather than later.

Tip #4: Keep Good Stance

Stance means everything when riding a dirt bike. Weight distribution is key. Teach your child to ride sitting closer to the front than the back. The closer you are to the front, the better the traction you will have on your front wheel. When it comes time to teach them how to turn, sitting forward will be beneficial.

If you watch any dirt biking videos at all, you will see that they stand while riding most of the time. Teach your child to do this. It was kind of scary for me at first, but it helps to get the balancing thing down faster.

Always look ahead of you when you’re riding.

Teach them to always look ahead. It may seem like the best idea is to look at the ground in front of you but it is not. Teaching them to trust the road is a big deal as well.

Teach them to keep their arms up and their elbows out. This is a good position for their arms to support them and keep them away from their body so they can be more fluid with their movements.

Tip #5: Practice Turning in an Open Field

After they get their stance down, they will need to learn how to turn. Gauge where your child is at and then teach then the turning mechanic. Turning can be difficult because, in order to turn without falling over, they have to be going fast enough.

Leaning is a HUGE technique for good turning. With a two-wheeled vehicle just turning the handlebars is not going to be effective. You gotta lean into the turn to change direction.

The only problem is, this technique can be very strange and feel counter-intuitive because you’re basically making yourself fall.

The key is to be going fast enough but not too fast. This is why learning to balance while riding is really important.

Tip #6: Drink Water

I was going to put this under the safety section, but I decided that this was important enough to stand alone.

Drinking water is crucial. We all know this. But sometimes out on the dirt, you get carried away. You’re just having too much fun. Well, the sun is most likely beating down on you (unless you took your kids for their first ride in the rain, but why would you?).

The sun will sap your energy and dehydrate you, so please bring water with you. Nothing will wreck your trip like having one of your kids dehydrated.

Stick a cooler in your car with some water and even bring some water with you if you’re going to be some distance away from the car.

Tip #7: Teach at a Good Pace

Most children want to feel successful and once they have gotten good at something, they might get bored of it if nothing new is taught. Children generally learn at a moderate rate. I would suggest that you teach them one big, main idea when you go out on a dirt bike.

This is my suggestion:

  • Staying balanced on a straightaway
  • Good stance
  • Turning
  • Using Their Feet
  • Practice, etc.

They won’t be perfect at first, but that is okay. Teach them that is okay to fall. They might get banged up a little. Falling is not a failure. I remember when I first started. Any sport you do is going to require some sort of a toll on the body. This should not stop anybody though.

Falling is not a failure.

In time they will get the hang of it and the more you go out with them and encourage them, the better they will become. Good luck!

Tip #8: Break Down How the Bike Works

In order to handle the bike, you will need to teach them the basics of how the bike works. This part can either be done at home or out on the trail.

Braking, turning and acceleration, among others, are all a part of understanding the thing they have been sitting on.

Now, more advanced stuff like which brakes to use and how will come later. You can also teach this whenever it fits best.

After teaching them where and how to brake, you can give them a little push. Tell them after a few seconds of coasting to brake. Rinse and repeat. Constant practice can be really helpful later on. You can try similar exercises in repetition.

Once you get out on the trail, hit the dirt and try out what you’ve practiced. They can only get better from there.

Tip #9: Remember Safety

There was a study done in 2013 of 23 children who were injured because of dirt biking. 54% of these children had orthopedic fractures and 38% had more than one fracture.

With knowledge like that, you might wonder, “Should I be allowing my children to do this?”

Here are some ways to extremely reduce the chances of injury:

  • Wear a Helmet with Eye Protection
  • Wear Protective Gear
  • Ride on the dirt, not on a track
  • Ride ONLY during the day

There is always a risk that someone is going to get hurt. You can do the things mentioned above to help reduce the chances of injury. I have researched some studies and provided some statistics to help you get a better understanding of this subject.

Hopefully, this will help you decide whether this is something you are willing to get involved in with your family.

  • Motocross accidents lead to more hospitalization than natural settings. (source)
  • ATV deaths have significantly lowered in the past 10 years. (source)
  • About 9% of motocross accidents are from jumping. (source)
  • 33% of ATV fatalities were on paved surfaces, which was the highest percentage. (source)
  • About 50% of ATV fatalities at alcohol influenced. (source)
  • Most injuries involved in a crash are contusion/abrasion and fracture. More than 3/4 of these people are treated and released. (source)
  • Most of the injuries happen to the head, neck, and arms. Following that are the legs and then the torso. (source)
  • Collision with a stationary object, like a tree, was the cause of 27% of injuries a study. (source)

This is a no-brainer but bring a first aid kit. You never know when you might need one. It could be insignificant but bring it anyways. One day, you might thank me.

There is always a risk that something might happen. It is better to be prepared just in case things do not go as planned.

Tip #10: Try Out a Bicycle

If your child is finding it really difficult to ride a dirt bike, then maybe an alternative to that for a small amount of time is a bicycle. They could work on getting their balance down and turning while riding a bike.

Maybe in a couple of months, after you’ve observed how well they ride their bike, you could test them on a dirt bike again. They might surprise you.

Personally, I thought it was useful. I learned to ride a bike years ago, but I can say for sure that already knowing how to ride a bike (basically in my sleep) helped me to understand how to ride a dirt bike better.

Tip #11: Get Back Up and Try Again

There is something so pure and empowering when a father or a mother encourage their child to try again. Riding a dirt bike might be a scary thing for your child but falling is even more so.

Teach them that it is okay to fall. They have to in order to learn. This could even be a good teaching moment to show that good/fun things often take effort. You have this moment to really make a difference in your child’s life. Take a hold of it!

Get down on their level in every sense of the word but especially on a physical level. Talk to your child eye to eye and show that you care. Build them up always because they can accomplish this whole thing. It is difficult but it is doable.

Teach them that it is okay to fall. They have to in order to learn.

They will eventually stop falling so much and then they will take off and be zooming around before you know it. They just have to get through the learning phase.

Be patient as well. The other week I went snowboarding for the first time. I had a couple of friends that went up with me. I fell a ton and I did not like it in the slightest. My friends were very patient with me and I appreciated it.

Can you imagine how much it would have sucked if my friends were irritated with me? The experience will be much more positive for your child if you are patient and positive.

Tip #12: Consider a Dirt Bike School

Now, I understand that the word “school” is pretty much a kid’s least favorite word, especially when it is sunny outside and they aren’t in school but hear me out.

If you are hardcore about dirt biking and everybody in your family has to do it, I would suggest getting them taught through an organized group. It’s always good to have a mentor.

If you are not able to teach as much as you want to your kids, get somebody else to teach them!

I don’t know if there are many “dirt bike schools” around but I know of one in Irvine, California. The MSF DirtBike School have teachers that provide hands-on training to anyone above the age of 6.

This could drastically improve the skills of your young ones so I’d humor the idea.

Tip #13: Watch Dirt Biking Videos with Them

My buddies and I watch a ton of extreme sports videos on YouTube. It brings us together and gets us excited to do those things. This is something that could build a bond between you and your kids and help them to be excited about going out on their dirt bike!

If you have any favorites, show them to your kids. Get some popcorn, talk about and get excited when something cool happens! There are some crazy amazing things out there to watch.

I just have a few suggestions for you, but feel free to go find some on your own, because there is an endless supply of cool extreme sports videos out there.

I love to watch this kind of stuff with my friends and then get excited about the next time we go out dirt biking. I highly suggest this method for your kids, especially if they are on the fence.

Personally, when I start worrying about or overthinking something new that I am learning to do, I watch videos. The more that I watch, the cooler the idea becomes to me. Eventually, I just want to go out and get better so I can feel cool and accomplished.

It’s the young soul in me. I just know it works for me, so I suggest this idea to everybody.

Tip #14: Get Them Involved!

If you want your kids to be excited, get them heavil involved! A lot goes into planning a trip.

You need to make a list of food and snacks to bring, especially if you are going to be out for a while. Have your kids help decide what to eat. Maybe even make a few sandwiches. Teach them about the nutrients and why you need some healthy foods.

You should have a master list for everything. You can delegate tasks to each of the kids (if you have multiple) so that the jobs get done quicker.

Make sure that everybody knows the itinerary. Everybody knows when you are eating or even packing up to leave. The more they know, the more smooth sailing everything will be.

Let your kids be involved!

Tell the younger and less experienced ones to bring some activities that they enjoy so when they get tired of riding they have something to do to keep them out of mischief.

Teach them about why they need gear to wear and have them pick out some good choices. Help them find a sense of their style. This helps them feel like they are owning the whole situation.

Children love to have input in their lives and some will give their input without even asking or wanting it. I’m sure as a parent you understand that. Allow them the freedom to enjoy and really be involved in this activity that can really bring your family together.

Tip #15: Respect the World Around You

You might as well call them “Rules of the Trail.” We have this wonderful world where we can experience so much and enjoy the beauty to be found here. I think an important part of teaching your children is teaching them to respect the world around them.

This mostly applies to trail-riding, but definitely stay on the trail. This is mostly for the safety of your child but also because there is wildlife out there and they need respect.

That leads to the idea of leaving wildlife alone. There are snakes and bears out there and that is a risk nobody wants to deal with.

I think that being out in nature is way more fulfilling when you respect and appreciate it. When I go out with friends, we pack out what we packed in. I think that teaching your kids to do that will be satisfying as a parent.

Enjoy your time and the wonders around you.

Tip #16: Remember to Have Fun!

What it comes down to is that dirt biking is a recreational sport. It is all for fun! It is for the thrill and the rush of moving fast. It releases stress (or stresses you out more).

It’s a good thing and I hope that you enjoy it with your kids. Let them know how much you enjoy it, and they’ll see the passion you have for dirt biking and will want to experience it for themselves.

Your positive affirmation will rub off on them and help them to get up and go again. They will thank you later when they have the hang of the whole thing.

Plus, you have all of this amazing time to bond with your children. It is a fun activity and something that you can always enjoy with others.

Get your kids involved in the planning process and everything leading up to going out and having fun. This is an incredible time to bond with your children and your whole family.

I think that these kinds of experiences together will create great memories for you to share with your kids. Make the most of it and enjoy!

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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