Off Road Motorcycle Buying Guide
So you’ve tried off road motorcycling and you’re hooked. How do you know which bike to buy?
Off road motorcycles do come in all shapes and sizes, so first, think about what you’re going to do on it. Are you planning to have some fun at weekends riding the green lanes, or start competing in motocross? Is this the first step towards trials riding, or towards riding around the world?
For cross-country riding, or going on an expedition, you’ll need a road-legal bike, and you’re probably already thinking about how you’ll carry some essentials like a bottle of water and a bar of chocolate – or a spare tyre, toolkit, jerrycan of petrol, camping gear, and video camera!
Just remember that you will fall over, more than once, Which means you’ll be picking the bike up, with everything you’ve attached to it. There’s a reason off-road bikes tend to be lighter than their on-road cousins!
Of course, if you’re planning to compete in trials, motocross or endure, you’ll need a bike that follows the regulations of your chosen sport. Talk to your local club before you buy anything.
Many dirt bikes, especially the models used in competitive sports, still have 2-stroke engines. Why? They’re light and powerful, cheap to run and the high-revving performance makes them lots of fun. But because they run on a mixture of oil and petrol, they take more maintenance.
Four-stroke engines have taken over in most motorcycles and scooters, because as well as being more reliable they are cleaner and quieter (something to bear in mind if you plan to ride past your neighbours’ windows early every Saturday and Sunday morning!)
If this is your first off-road bike, it’s definitely worth going to a dealer. Not only will they have a range of motorbikes that you can compare, they can advise you on what bike – and kit – to start with. And, of course, if you have problems later, you know you can go back to the place you bought your bike to sort them out.
And finally, make sure you’re not buying a motorbike that was stolen from some unlucky rider. Check the frame and engine numbers, and if it is road registered, do an HPI check before you part with your money. Security markings like Datatag help with this. You can register your bike with DLA, even if it’s not road licensed, which makes a would-be thief’s life a bit harder.