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Do off road skills translate to (safe) on-road riding?


In short, yes! In fact, your off road skills can even make you a better on-road rider. Of course, there’s a lot you can’t do on-road that you can do off-road, and while we know you’re all being very safe and cautious riders, you have a bit more freedom in the off-road experience than you do out in the general traffic. So, what are the skills that translate best from off-road to on-road riding?

Traction knowledge

Off-road can be a very intuitive experience, and it certainly hones that ability to understand riding with the bike, and the environment, second by second with very little time, if any, to autopilot. Long stretches of asphalt road can put you at risk of autopilot riding, and less ready for any unexpected things to pop up. This is especially the case for understanding traction, and changes to terrain that require changing how you’re riding, the speed you’re going and forethought on how to troubleshoot issues quickly. Just because you’re on a road doesn’t mean the terrain can’t change dramatically, in an instant. Other than certain asphalt having different surfaces, depending on its age and use, you can be dealing with weather affected spots, oil spills or potholes. Being intuitive in your reaction to changing terrain makes for a more enjoyable ride, and could very well save your life. 

Testing the limits

While we are certainly not suggesting that off-road riding should be a rogue activity without any safety precautions, it does offer a safer space to test the capacity of your bike in ways that on-road alone can’t, but that can help on-road. It’s an opportunity to really understand your bike and how it reacts in unusual situations, and how you can react with it. You do increase your chances of stacking it, or falling off, when you off-road regularly. This actually has a bit of a silver lining; creating some muscle memory on how to fall in the safest way possible, where possible. There is no ‘perfect’ way to do this, but being far more aware of how it feels and what to do, and any knowledge in your mind about this is valuable. And, again, could be life saving.

Skill development

Off-roading offers A LOT of freedom to test braking, starting, stalling, clutch control, sharp turns, general balance, in a really unique way. Firstly, a lot of off-roaders have been doing this as tikes, which is something (obviously) that can’t be done for on-road riding. So that innately built skill becomes enormously helpful for navigating high-traffic, residential and higher speed roads and, in no small part, the short-comings of car drivers. On-road (apart from organised, structured riding skill courses, which are also great) does not offer that ability to test your control functions and improve your skills, at your own pace. To have these skills embedded into your psyche before you head out on the road is a huge benefit to you as a rider, and the safety of yourself and those around you. 

Having off-road experience before you take it on-road arms you with a really strong arsenal of skills that, as we’ve reiterated, can genuinely save your life, and the life of others. The trick is, becoming skilled at choosing the right skills of off-roading to translate onto on-road riding. It’s super important to remember that as much as off-roading can give you big benefits out in the traffic, it is also a hugely different experience. The rules, the regulations, the necessary precautions, speed limits, speed bumps, other cars, pedestrians… There is a long list to consider to ensure you have a fun, safe and considerate on-road experience, that you wouldn’t necessarily have to factor into your off-road riding.

Regardless of the terrain and environment you’re on though, there are two main goals to always have: be safe, have FUN!

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