This article will examine the top three most common shifting mistakes dirt bike riders make, especially beginners. Most people new to riding dirt bikes most times find shifting difficult without realizing that they are making these mistakes. Don’t bite yourself for making these mistakes because most professional dirt bike riders, including me, have been in your shoes.
Three Most Common Shifting Mistakes
By the end of this article you will know this mistakes and the ways to avoid them and become better with shifting and a better rider.
1. Shifting At The Wrong RPM
This is important to making your bike handle the way it’s supposed to. Suppose your gear is too high and lugging the bike. If the power won’t ramp up, it’s most times because you’re too low on the RPM, so the bike obviously doesn’t have the power to pull you out of the bad situations or get you enough speed to get over the jump that you want to jump.
Also, if you’re letting the bike ramp out too hard and the power drops off, it’s often because you’re too high up in the RPMs; therefore, the bike doesn’t handle the suspension and doesn’t flow as smoothly as it would if you’re just in the meet of the power.
How To Know Where The RPMs Lie
You can figure out where these RPMs lie :
- If the bike is getting super loud and, as a result vibrating super hard. When this happens, it is an indicator that you have already missed your time to shift.
- Has the bike gotten to that point where it makes a low grunting noise? The bike is making weird noises and things that don’t seem a common issue when you’re listening to other, more experienced riders.
Note: Always Find a nice safe spot and practice.
2. Shifting Too Close Or On A Jump Face
There are multiple reasons why doing this is terrible, especially if you don’t have much experience or truly trust your bike’s transmission.
Bikes are known to catch what we refer to as a false neutral. For instance, if you’re at the bottom of a face of a jump and you shift right at the last second, and your bike doesn’t go all the way through to the next gear, it catches that false neutral. Nine times out of ten, it might result in a crash or something really close to it.
What Is A False Neutral On A Dirt Bike?
If you’re hearing the phrase “false neutral” for the first time, it’s basically going from one gear to the next but not making it all the way through. Suppose you go from second to third gear, it’s like catching two and a half, and two and a half doesn’t work; therefore, the gear isn’t clicking in; that’s what we call false neutral.
Sometimes false neutral happens away from the actual neutral position of the engine. It can happen in between third to fourth or fourth to fifth gear. To eliminate the risk of getting into the wrong gear or hitting the gear before the jump, what you can do is to take a turn in the gear you want to hit the jump in or go into the corner. Maybe it is a third or second-gear corner, but you have to learn how to ride that corner with a little more momentum to the point where you can pull the gear coming out of the turn to get over the jump.
You shouldn’t slow up in the turn to go down to second gear and then have the shift right away, and then you get a jump because there’s just too much risk there and too much going on, especially for a newer rider.
You may see guys in Supercross shifting coming out of the berms but remember that these guys are the best in the world, so you definitely want to practice carrying good momentum and carrying the gear that you want to hit the jump in, in the corner.
3. Improper Shift Lever Position
This improper shift lever position can be too high or too low. If it’s too high, you’re going to have a tough time getting to that shift lever when you’re sitting down. Let’s say you’re coming out of a turn and need to catch a couple of gears before you stand up and approach a jump. It’s going to be really difficult for you to get your foot up to that position. You will discover that your foot is going to come off the footpeg, and you can be lifting your whole foot up instead of hinging at your ankle instead of using your heel to leverage up.
In a situation where you are standing and your shift lever is too low, you’re going to have a tough time getting your toe down underneath to pull the shift lever up, and it leaves you vulnerable to catching your foot on the ground with your toe pointed way under. I have done that before; believe me, wrapping your foot underneath the footpeg doesn’t feel good. What I like to do is to go just above the lever with the foot peg, and that gives me a little room to get under there when I’m standing, and also, it’s down low enough when I’m sitting so that I can get it without having to lift my whole foot up off the footpeg to get the gear to come on.
I hope your shifting is going to improve from today.