You finally mastered jumps and cornering on a dirt bike now it's time for the hard part.
OK, just kidding, however depending on the incline a hill can prove to be a difficult feat to master. Climbing hills, true hills, is something you'll encounter in off-roading and some Motocross tracks. Whether you're trying to stay ahead of the competition or keep from falling over, riding hills on a dirt bike requires some know-how and a small understanding of physics. Once you've got it down though you'll race up any hill mother nature puts in your way.
That's GNCC Champion Kailub Russell practicing hill climbs
Tips to Climbing Hills on a Dirt Bike
1. Get Momentum
If possible, the first thing required is speed. This may not always be possible, like in the Grand National Cross Country series, but even if a small straightaway exists open the throttle a bit and get some speed before the big climb.
2. Body Position
This is where physics comes into play. If you don't position your body correctly you're apt to pull the front wheel off the ground. This at best slows you down but likely results in you tumbling off the bike.
Keep your body weight forward so you're in a standing position hovering more over the handlebars rather than sitting upright in the seat or even leaning back. Think of it like riding a road bike up a hill except without all the pedaling. Standing on the foot pegs aids in the forward momentum of the bike and also gives you more control if rocks or ruts add further obstacles to the hill.
3. Be ready to shift
If you don't give power to the bike by shifting at the right time you may never recover and you're hill climb is over. Shifting is especially important if the soil is thick and hinders your progress. The shifter, throttle and even the brake all work in unison, at times, to tackle the most demanding hills.
Smooth clutch handling and power helps improve speed, momentum and bike control.
4. Roll the Throttle
Obviously if you don't give your bike some gas you're not going to climb very far. However, opening up the throttle isn't the answer. Controlling the throttle is key to climbing a hill. Not enough gas of course slows your momentum, too much at once can cause slippage. Like smooth clutch handling, smooth throttle control is paramount to successfully conquering steep hills.
5. Look Ahead
Don't get tunnel vision and stare at the ground. Your natural inclination might be to focus just ahead of the front fender. The problem with that is you don't know what's in your path. A big root, large boulders, ruts and acceleration bumps, not to mention other riders, can knock you right off the bike if encountered as a surprise.
Even the best off-roaders have trouble some times
Overall, when riding hills be precise in your technique and balance. It is very easy to loop-out, turn sideways and fall over, or stall the motor. Like anything technical on a dirt bike, conquering hills takes practice. Be patient and expect a fall or two.
Written By: AndrewT