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  1. #1
    teh s'african robb86's Avatar
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    I want to go trail riding... where to start?

    Been riding street bikes for awhile, though I haven't owned/ridden a street bike since February of this year. Guess the bike itch is back and I feel like scratching it (I need a darn hobby, lol). I was poking around on YouTube and watched several videos of folks having a blast at Highland Park. Checked their website and noticed they rent bikes and gear, I proceeded to do a couple of searches online to see where/how to start. I got a whole lot of good information about trying different bikes but nothing about how exactly to get started?

    I haven't been on a dirt bike in about 10 years, even back then we just put about, no real challenges. My brother (17) has a little 250 Raptor four wheeler, that's the only recent dirt riding I've done. I would thus rank my skills as - uber dirt noob with some street experience.

    Do I just show up there, rent a bike and gear?
    Would I be better off ordering my own gear? Noticed the are seems to be inexpensive gear available all over the web.
    What gear do I need?
    Is it okay to go riding alone for a noobie or would it be better to find a buddy to tag along?
    Better to go ride on a weekday or weekend for an uber-noob?
    Whats the riding season?
    How welcome are four-wheelers (quads/atv's, whatever you wanna call them)?
    Can a four-wheeler and rental bike ride together (In case I want to bring along my younger brother)?

    Thanks in advance, seems like a great mix of folks and great time outdoors.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Blownhotrodder's Avatar
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    You can rent a bike but if you wreck it and really screw it up then you have to pay to fix it. If your really serious about riding then Id just get a clean cheap bike and some gear and go have a blast. I would suggest riding with someone just incase something happens and you need a hand but you could ride alone if you ride reasonably and not try to be the next JS7. I wear a decent helmet, roost protector, neck brace, motorcross boots, and riding pants, jersey, and gloves. Quads and bikes can ride together unless you go on the single track and the quad would be too wide. You can ride all year, personally myself and most my buddies ride when its cooler rather than be in the heat.

  3. #3
    teh s'african robb86's Avatar
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    Thanks, great info!

    I assume there are easy (noobie) trails to start out with?
    Is there is sort of free-range area, where you can just ride about?
    How about riding etiquette, are there some rules a noob should be aware of? (I understand each park has their own rules, but general dirt/trial riding etiquette)
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Blownhotrodder's Avatar
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    Dont know where youd be riding but im sure just about everywhere will have an area to just ride around in. Etiquette? Parking area is not a riding area, watch behind for faster riders and let them by, dont stop in the middle of a trail, pick up your trash.

  5. #5
    Long Member KTM Rider's Avatar
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    IMO you should not worry about people behind you. Faster riders have an obligation to pass you cleanly. Doesnt mean they all will but they should. At most pay to ride private facilities you shouldnt have a problem with them dont anything other than that

    Now if you are aware of someone behind you then sure letting them by is a nice gesture but you should focus on your riding instead of being distracted by worrying about people behind you
    The average response time of a 911 call is over 3 minutes....the response time of a .45 ACP is 880 feet per second.

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  6. #6
    Senior Member BlueLghtning's Avatar
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    Hey Robb. Highland Park is a great place to ride and they have everything from beginner to advanced trails (1 Diamond to 6 Diamond). and they are all very well marked and one way only so you don't have to worry about on coming traffic. You could just do loops on the two perimeter trails until you get comfy and then venture on to the 2D trails. They also have 3 MXGP tracks with one of them being pretty small and fun and easy to ride. They do welcome ATV's although they aren't allowed on the 3 MXGP tracks near the entrance and aren't allowed on the single track trails, but you wouldn't be hitting those anyways. I haven't been there over most of the summer, so not sure what has changed since last time I was there, but they did have a MXGP track near the top of the outside perimeter that ATV's are welcome on. Its in rough shape, but if your buddy on an ATV really wanted to hit a MX track, he could there.

    If you want the park to yourself, go on a weekday, but even during the weekends, its really not that crowded and with over 80 miles of trails, you usually don't run into people except on the main trails. I would suggest having a friend along though just to have someone to keep an eye on you.

    As for renting a bike, during the week, you probably have your choice, but on weekends, you should make a reservation as they often are all reserved. They do make you put a deposit down, but unless you really screw the bike up, most everyone gets their deposits back. They are dirt bikes and expect them to be dropped. But if you start breaking plastics or bend something major by throwing it into a tree, yeah you'd probably get charged. Dirt bikes are tough though and take a lot of abuse. (Just ask my wife! ) The bikes are usually less then a year old, so you get to ride the latest bikes. Get something small and forgiving for your first rental. You do not need a monster bike out there.

    As for gear, you should at a minimum have dirt bike boots, dirt helmet & goggles and a chest protector. Elbow and knee pads are pretty cheap. They do rent boots there and I would strongly suggest doing that if you don't own any by the time you go. I would suggest though buying your own dirt bike helmet and goggles that fit. Before you drop a lot of money on new gear, check out GOR (GeorgiaOffroad.com) or CL and try to find some used good gear.
    Last edited by BlueLghtning; 10-17-2011 at 11:10 PM.
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  7. #7
    teh s'african robb86's Avatar
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    Dan, Thank you! Those were the kind of details I have been looking for but I've mostly been finding threads about what kind of bikes to buy, which I still have no idea what would be a good starter bike. I'm still set on renting a bike first to see how I like the overall experience. I'm already on the hunt for some bargain gear, gonna call ahead and reserve a bike, take it slow and get comfortable/learn.

    Any suggestions on what bike to rent? I'm 5'11" @ 180lbs, with very basic dirt riding skills.
    I was thinking about trying a KTM 200XCW or Yamaha TR230.
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  8. #8
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    The KTM 200 is a much more capable bike than the TTR230. The TTR is an air cooled four stroke that is overweight and under suspended. You'd have much more fun on the KTM. One sure fire way to ruin your day is renting too much bike until you know what you're ready for. Don't hesitate to buy an inexpensive new helmet, goggles and gloves but I'd highly suggest NOT buying new boots and having to break them in on your first rides getting back into it. That could dramatically add another challenge to your first rides.

    Be careful buying cheap dirt bikes. If you get something cheap ($1000-1500), you can easily inherit a bike you'll have to spend $500 just to get safe and/or reliable enough to get you back to the truck.

    Don't skimp on tires- if there is one thing a novice rider can't compensate for is worn tires. An advanced rider can two wheel drift pushing a dirt bike closer to its limits.

    When it comes to street riders taking up dirt bikes- the most common (and bordering on comical) mistake is watching the street bike guy move his body weight from side to side. A dirt bike requires completely opposite body language (weighting the outside peg in a corner helps on a dirt bike) as well as needing you to move forwards and backwards more than you ever did on a street bike. For a dirt bike to turn well, you need to get the majority of your body weight over the front end to get the front end to bite. Keep your upper torso over the bars- they have seat all the way up to the gas cap for a reason- use it!

    Tire pressures- a safe pressure to begin with is 13psi front and rear unless you have a reason to vary from that. In mud, you can run 11psi or so to help traction. In rocky terrain, you might want to run 15psi or so to help reduce/prevent pinch flats when (not if) you hit rocks.

    Good luck and remember to have fun. Don't try to impress anyone, just have fun.

    What size shoe do you wear? I may have some boots.
    Last edited by MX Tuner; 10-18-2011 at 12:01 AM.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member BlueLghtning's Avatar
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    Mark is right, skip the TT230. Its way under sprung and overweight. You would be fine with the KTM 200XCW. It is a 2 stroke, but very light and easy to ride and easy to start. They used to rent a KTM 250 XCF which was a 250 4 stroke, but it doesn't look like its in its rental fleet anymore. That was a fun bike. The 200 will treat you fine.

    Also his suggestion about not wearing new boots is spot on. Its rough sometimes breaking in new MX boots. I would definitely rent a pair from them or borrow a used pair your first time out.
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  10. #10
    teh s'african robb86's Avatar
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    Thanks Dan & Mark. Wouldn't even have thought of new boots being an issue on a first ride but it makes complete sense now that you mentioned it.

    Called and reserved a 200XCW for Sunday. Actually taking my girlfriend along (she'll be rocking the Yamaha Raptor 250). She saw some videos of a couple riding together last night on atv's at highland park (on some wide trials) and asked if she could tag along. Already got gloves for both of us and one helmet. Gonna pick-up another inexpensive helmet and some goggles. Just going to rent some boots when we get there. She psyched and I'm pretty psyched she asked to part-take in my new adventure/itch.

    As for bikes, I've been looking at mostly KTM's. Trying to figure out the 2stroke vs. 4stroke thing but it seems like its more of a rider preference. Really diggin' the 2012 KTM XCF-W, but not sure I want to buy a brand new bike and haven't been able to find any used 2011's. Any specific model recommendations?
    Last edited by robb86; 10-18-2011 at 04:35 PM.
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