Just take a look at trials riders. They are the perfect example of someone mastering figure eights. They are balancing gods.
Off road riding is something that needs to be practiced in order to achieve a level at which you can ride safe, fast, and enjoy your motorcycle the way is meant to be enjoyed. I’m not saying that you won’t be able to ride it off road and travel to wild places, unless you practice, but if you do that with focus and attention, a whole new world of possibilities and pleasures opens up in front of you. Trust me, the difference is night and day.
First of all, you absolutely need to stand on your bike. This way you shift the center of gravity lower, down to the foot pegs. Second, you enable yourself to move around the bike and balance with your body to counteract many imbalances produced by motorcycle going over uneven surface. Never forget that your brain is actually a quantum computer, and your legs are directly connected to it. Together, they form the most amazing suspension system in the universe!
By practicing, I mean figure eights. They are the alpha and omega of learning how to ride off road. By practicing, you not only learn how to balance on the bike while standing, but you get the feel for the clutch, throttle, brakes, and how to combine all the inputs you receive from your bike with mentioned controls, to keep neutral balance. It also teaches you how to deeply focus, and to recognize at which point you’re getting too tired and start making mistakes, which is critical. Luckily, mistakes learned this way are safe, cheap, and sometimes fun, unlike the same mistakes made at a higher speeds, which can have dire consequences. Remember, same dynamics applies to the motorcycle at lower, and higher speeds, only difference are the consequences. Nothing else.
At first, one should start practicing figure eights on some empty, flat piece of land, trying to go as slow as possible, with a goal to have the steering fully locked as much time as possible. At this point, you learn how to stand on the bike, balance with your body, use your controls to add to balance, and steer. All at the same time, while keeping proper body posture, which is also very important. It doesn’t sound simple, quite the opposite, and that’s why it takes practice.
Next level is the same thing, but on an incline. Here you should focus even further on how to apply the technique, and incorporate it into you riding. Once you master inclined figure eights, you’re ready to start playing with sand, mud, rocks, applying what you have learned, and continue progressing.
Every time I go out and practice figure eights I learn something new, even after 10 years of riding an off road bike. It’s like flying a helicopter, a never ending learning curve. You can practice it for life, and still learn something new every time. I’m so amazed by this fact.
Practicing figure eights is boring, and hard at the beginning, that’s a fact. But don’t get discouraged, control your thoughts, focus on what you are doing, focus on feedback you’re getting from your bike. Soon you will control yourself and the bike better. By doing so, the progress is guaranteed and so much faster, you wouldn’t believe it.
Just try it: take time to practice figure eights, for example, 3 half hour sessions, one day apart. Then try riding over some technical stuff you had trouble with earlier. You’ll be amazed how much lighter the bike feels, and how much your confidence went up.
I highly recommend Advanced Dual Sport Riding Techniques DVD by http://www.dualsportriding.com/
When I first started practicing off road riding, this video was an eye opener for me. By watching it countless times between my practice sessions, I figured how to connect to the motorcycle, balance, steer, use controls, and enjoy riding so much more.
And don’t forget, practice makes perfect!