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Moving Past Fear of Injury Riding Motorcycles Off-Road

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Motorcycling off-road can be loads of fun, but many riders hold back from thoroughly enjoying the experience due to fear of personal injury. This fear can keep you from enjoying some of the best motorcycle riding there is. This article will discuss tips on overcoming fear and enjoying motorcycle riding off-road.

The first step in overcoming the fear of injuring yourself on a motorcycle is to identify the root cause of the anxiety. Next, we evaluate the evidence behind the fear to formulate the most logical solution. Off-road motorcycling does carry risks, but by minimizing them, we can enjoy the pleasures of riding.

BMW 1200GS riding off-road
Enjoying an off-road motorcycle ride

It is common to feel pangs of fear when first taking your motorcycle off-road. We all know that there will eventually be some falls. But if worry over the potential of bodily injury is one of those emotions, then some clear and logical solutions are available. So let’s explore common reasons behind this fear and how to overcome it.

If you are more concerned about damaging your motorcycle when riding off-road, then you may prefer this article we wrote.

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Why are you fearful of personal injury on your off-road bike?

The first step we advise is to dissect your fear of injury to find out where it came from. Let’s look at some common reasons that my clients have shared with me:

A rider I know was injured

In this scenario, a new or experienced motorcycle rider has gotten spooked by a crash a friend had that resulted in injury. If you have been riding long enough, chances are you will know someone who was injured while riding. Fractured collar bones and ankle injuries are some of the more common off-road injuries.

TIP: Any tip-over, fall, or injury a friend of yours may have suffered does not belong to you. We can learn from their experience, but we do not need to be afraid of something that may or may not ever happen on our ride. You are not your friend … ride your own ride!

My family member or friend has told me off-road riding is dangerous

This fear is extremely common. If your loved ones do not share your passion for off-road motorcycling, they may force their worries on you instead. They may tell stories about accidents reported online or relay conversations overheard in the community. If you love and respect this person, it may be difficult to ignore their warnings.

TIP: Recognize the fears of others for precisely what they are … other people’s fears. If you plan to continue your off-road motorcycle adventures despite the protests of others, then it is critical to base your opinions on your own experiences.

I had a bad fall already, and not sure I want to try again

The memory can be hard to shake if you have experienced a crash or bad fall. We have all heard the saying that you have to “get back on the horse” again. But it is not always that simple.

Taking a fall from an ADV motorcycle when riding off-road
Taking a fall from an ADV motorcycle when riding off-road … This fall resulted in no rider injury!

TIP: Analyze your previous fall/injury and consider factors that contributed to that event. If you were not at fault, you might need to accept that accidents can happen.

However, if there was anything within your control that could have stopped or reduced the severity of the injury, then you can commit to correcting those moments, so they do not repeat.

What are some common mistakes we can identify and correct?

  • Improper technique
  • Too much front brake when cornering causing loss of traction
  • Failure to counterbalance on an off-road turn
  • And the list goes on…

If you put in the effort to correct a mistake, you can safely release the fear of it happening again.

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Overcome your fear of personal injury with these rider tips


All the gear all the time is the golden rule of off-road motorcycle riding. If you are unsure what gear you should have, read our full ATGATT post here. Take time when purchasing your gear. The added time spent ensuring the correct size, fitment, and protection level will increase your confidence in the kit.

Each time you ride the bike, you should know that you have taken every step possible to protect yourself. After you have your first tip-over or fall and realize the gear protected you, your confidence will skyrocket.

The highest quality gear does tend to have a higher price tag, so budget wisely. For example, prioritize a high-quality helmet over a cool-looking jersey.

Practice – Practice – Practice

Build your skills to build your confidence! If you fear personal injury, quality riding is the best gift you can give yourself. Start with the foundational skills of balance, friction zone, and braking. Never stop learning and practicing the basic techniques that provide you with confidence.

Find local clubs or riding partners that also value skills building. Avoid riding with people unwilling to support your development or who routinely ride trails at a pace above your current level. When you ride with the right group, it feels good to know you have support out on the trails.

Private training

Nothing will improve your skills and confidence faster than private training by a qualified off-road motorcycle coach. One-on-one training allows you to express your fears and concerns to someone equipped to help you. They can analyze your riding and work with you to overcome any deficiency in your skillset. More skills + more confidence = reduced injury potential.

Believe in yourself

Sometimes the only thing feeding our fears is a lack of self-confidence. If you can identify with this, check out our preparation, practice, and positivity post. By building confidence in our skills, gear, and bike, we can more easily release any negativity holding us back.

Ride with confidence!

Rider pumping fist while riding BMW 1200GS motorcycle

About the Author

Coach Mike is a Certified Off-Road Motorcycle Instructor & founder of ADVMotoSkillZ.

Riding tips from ADVMotoSkillZ reach thousands of international riders daily through social & blogs.

Click here to learn more about Mike’s motorcycle evolution from a Harley road rider to finding his true passion for off-road riding on a BMW 1200 GS.

If you would like to send Mike a quick message or invite him to provide training at your local facility, then visit the contact page here.

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