Honda Talon UTV is one of the (Utility Task Vehicles) on display at Ken & Joe's Motorcycle Dealership in Santa Clarita on Saturday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Off the SCV’s beaten paths

The true motorbike and off-road riders understand why most bikes and gear shops tend to be closed on Sundays on Mondays.

“Our industry has always been closed Sundays and Mondays, because Sunday is race day,” said David Medlen, owner of Pit Pro Cycle MX in Newhall.

And whether you’re like Medlen, who’s been riding local race tracks since he’s been old enough to be able to, or you’ve never stepped foot on a motorbike — it’s never too late to learn to ride, according to local experts.

“We’ve have a lot places, just here in Santa Clarita (to go off-roading),” said David Denman, sales manager and Ken and Joe’s, an off-road vehicle dealership on Golden Triangle Road.

Beginners!

No matter who you ask in the world of motocross and off-roading, it all starts with picking your ride.

“Well, first you need a bike,” said Medlen. “Then, you need to get the gear and get out there and start riding.”

However, the many areas where an expert can assist first-time riders on their path is by getting them on the right track, literally, and understanding what type of bike, what size of bike and and what kind of riding you’re prepared to do.

The size of bike makes a lot of difference, in a number of ways, according to the experts. The higher the cubic centimeters, or CCs, generally the more powerful the bike is going to be. Engine displacement, which is measured in CCs are also known as, are a good indicator of where to start with a bike, but after determining with an expert the right size for you, it’s important than to understanding what type of bike you need for what you want to do. 

“It’s all in the type of motorcycle, there’s more to it than engine displacement,” said Denman. “They even have small bikes for the kids.”

“It all starts with your height and weight and your skill level,” Medlen said. “Pick a bike that fits your body dynamic and the skill you got to give. Pick a smaller bike and get used to it.”

In terms of gear, it’s important for kids to have every protection they can when riding, from the gloves, to the helmet, to the boots, elbow/knee pads. Adults need to think about purchasing protective chest and back gear, Deman said.

“It’s a way longer fall for an adult,” Denman said.

Safety

The concern over safety is a make-or-break factor for a number of people considering pursuing the sport, and newbie riders should understand that, especially when you’re first starting out, the occasional spill is a way of life, according to the experts.

“It’s inevitable that you’re going to crash, but there’s risk with everything in life,” said Medlen. “It’s all about calculated risk and not riding above your head.”

One of the ways beginning riders should do that is to do that is to make sure they don’t feel like they need to keep up with everyone, Medlen said. There’s a strong community among riders who look to help out new riders, according to Denman.

“As long as you’re wearing the proper safety gear — most of the time — like a car, if you’re seatbelted in and doing things properly, you walk away from the accident,” said Denman. “If you do things stupid, you ride over your head, go too fast for conditions and you don’t wear the proper safety gear, you’re going to get hurt.”

“Find your happy fun zone and stick with it and you’ll love it,” said Medlen. “Just cause your buddy is fast doesn’t mean you should go fast. If you’re uncomfortable, you can slow down.”

Customer Travis Taylor, right, gets instruction on his new KTM 1290 Super-Adventure motorcycle from Service Manager Jim Rodriquez(cq) as Taylor takes delivery at Ken & Joe’s Motorcycle Dealership in Santa Clarita on Saturday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Cost and local rides

Both Medlen and Denman said the SCV is the unique home to a number of unique opportunities for dirt bike riding and racing, and the sport is cheap enough for everyday people with jobs, families and bills to get involved in.

“There’s hundreds of bikes out there that you can buy cheap,” said Medlen. “And races aren’t that expensive.”

Medlen said that races come at $40 per entry, and they offer a cheap form of escapism.

People are cheering,” said Medlen, describing the atmosphere of a race. “Life becomes about family and paying bills, and it’s cool to escape for a minute to the race day track.”

A few tracks and spots to use your offroading bike include Texas Canyon Rowher Flats, Drinkwater Flats, Azusa Canyon, Los Angeles County Raceway and Gorman, which offers  19,000 acres and more than 130 miles of scenic trails for motorcycle, All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV), dune buggies and 4×4 recreational vehicles.

“People always want to help. It’s a sport where, like any sport, people who are already involved get excited to bringing someone else into the sport,” said Denman. “So as far getting help advice everyone is going to want to offer you advice, but the caveat to that is be careful who you listen to.”

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