Top 5 Things we learnt at the Yamaha Off-Road Experience

Check out the best ways to improve your off-road riding.

Yamaha Wr250F

Being an urban dweller, there aren't many places to ride off-road without a local resident bursting a blood vessel and calling 5 0 (the Rozzers). Needless to say, I’m a bit of a noob to the off-road world and the bikes that make it all possible. So, when Yamaha invited me on the WR450F launch, I jumped at the opportunity and nervously rode up to Wales in anticipation of riding the big single cylinder thumper. Here are the top things I learnt at the off-road school:

Be smooth on the throttle.

I found this out the hard way when I ate sh*t in a muddy field, mere moments after leaving for the first ride of the day. Although it was hilarious for myself and all the other journalist that watched me flop, there was a silver lining. I learnt to feel for grip with the throttle and only apply it when the bike responds as it should, instead of MXGP’ing it everywhere and giving it large.

Body Position is everything 

Unlike road riding where you lean into a corner with the bike, off-road riding requires the opposite, as you lean away from the bike to stay balanced and more easily catch the bike if it looses grip. Plus, 70% of the time you’re stood up on the pegs, with your upper body loose and arm slightly bent, as they act like extra suspension travel when things get rough. 

Finding the right standing position is very personal, and if you like me and have the build of a basketball player you’re going to struggle with getting it right, but once sussed out the level of bike control you have is incredible. 

Plan ahead

Just like leaning away from the bike seems counter-intuitive so is looking as far ahead as you can, especially when rocks and roots and huge jumps present themselves in front of you. But a quick glance is all these obstacles deserve, keep your head up and plan, that way nothing comes as a surprise. Dillion Jones (Yamaha Instructor) comically said: “if you look 10ft ahead at a ditch, that’s where you’ll go”, very wise words. Once I got used to looking ahead the number of sketchy moments plummeted, as my brain had time to process the countless obstacles long before they were in front of me. 

Trust the Bike 

This is a hard hurdle to pass, particularly as if you had the front and rear end sliding on a road bike your butt hole would be flapping. The nature of off-road riding means that the bike will slip and slide underneath you, but so long as you are in the right body position and have planned ahead with your eyes up, the bike will pretty much do anything. Watching the instructors ride the big 450F like a toy demonstrates how capable the Yamaha’s are. The main limitation is the chubby lump on top of it. 

I had a big moment where I had to fight my instincts and trust the bike, as I crashed from one side to the other of a skinny mudbank (due to poor planning ahead). I put my ass in the seat, stuck both legs out and looked as far forward as I could… and somehow stayed shiny-side up. Sweet as a nut.

Always cover the front brake and clutch lever

On the road, this is something on a no-no, but off-road, things can happen very quickly, and by having the levers covered you give yourself a better chance of coping with changing conditions more effectively. Every millisecond matters. 


Personally, the Yamaha Off-road experience was a real eye-opener, and I learned a hell of a lot more than just the above. It increased my road riding confidence, slow bike control, and above all was mega fun - all at relatively safe speeds. The tuition is fantastic, and if your the type of person that likes to learn on the fly, then look no further.

If you fancy a challenge or trying something new, the Yamaha Off-Road experience caters for all types of riders, from those who can’t ride at all, right the way to pro’s who need some practice. 

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