Dirt bike riding has little if any boundaries and a lot of Motocross riders take to the trails and vice versa with little trouble skill wise.
However, taking your holeshot grabbing 450 and expecting similar results off-road is wishful thinking. Sure, you can probably rip it for a bit but off-road riding throws an entirely different set of obstacles that your bike is not properly equipped to handle which could ultimately result in serious damage to the bike or bodily injury to you.
Trail or off-road riding is more about finesse than speed. Snaking your way in between tree trunks, hopping over fallen logs and careening through deep mud puddles doesn't happen at 40 mph. Therefore, reducing the weight of your dirt bike is not so much a necessity. In fact, when converting your Motocross bike into a trail machine you'll actually add a significant amount of weight. Certainly you can buy a dirt bike made for the trails but if that's not in the cards and you ride Moto you'll need some additions for a successful conversion.
Riding a bike geared for Motocross through the woods is like heading off to battle without any defense. One misstep on a giant boulder will crush the engine casing like a melon! Don't even try leaving without wrap-around hand guards. If the constant twig whips to your hands don't end your day eventually a sturdy branch jetting out from an adjacent tree grabs your front brake lever and sends you flying over the handlebars. Yes, it can happen.
The compact fuel tank on your racing bike holds enough gas to get you through a 30 minute Moto but without a large fuel tank you won't venture too far away from camp when you're on the trails. You certainly don't want to run out of gas when competing in an enduro or other off-road competition.
Re-valve the Suspension
If you're thinking if turning your dirt bike into a full-time off-roader then look into getting the suspension re-valved. The suspension on a Motocross bike is designed to handle jumps and whoops so it's a bit stiffer than what you'll need on the trails. First try adjusting the compression and rebound but if it's not enough consider a new set-up that's more comfortable. You'll likely need a professional to make the switch.
It's the least of your worries but changing the gear ratio on your Motocross bike, to accommodate the slower speeds and more technical aspects a trail bike tackles, gives you better handling and the torque necessary to best steep grades, thick mud holes and other obstacles. You might not need any changes if you're headed off to the desert or other high speed racing conditions. Check out our Gearing Guide for information on how to get faster acceleration or faster top speed.
If you want to go all-in then equipping your ride with a few extras turns the page as far as truly adapting to your surroundings and converting your machine to a trail riding beast.
You can't carry around a bike stand when off-roading so adding a kickstand allows for a riding break without leaning your bike against a tree or worse on the ground. Have fun getting it back up if you do. Dirt bikes are heavy to begin with so once you add all the necessities for trail riding you'll be happy you've got a kickstand.
Most if not all OHV trails require a spark arrestor and many sanctioned riding events also obligate participants to have one. If you're riding on private lands you can get away without a spark arrestor but even if you're not planning a full crossover conversion you'll need one to avoid fines if you're on public lands.
You don't get stadium lighting out on the trails so if you want to keep riding after the sun sets you'll need a headlight.
Consider all the suggestions if you're planning to "retire" the Motocross bike for the trail version. Even with high-end parts it's much easier on the pocket book then buying a trail bike off the showroom floor. If you want a part-time crossover or even a one-off ride, at a minimum invest in armor, or you might go shopping for a new ride the following weekend.
Written By: AndrewT