Should we train with our bike, or school bikes?

Should we train with our bike, or school bikes?

If you are new to adventure riding, you are most likely facing one of the most common issues that haunt new off-road riders, you don't want to damage your new bike, regardless if it is a brand spanking new one, or used and only new to you. 

That is not only common, but natural, after all, a new bike is expensive, and damaging it, is more than a dent on the gear, but also one on the soul.

This leads many new riders to prefer to use school rental bikes when they choose to embark on their off-road training.

But is that choice a wise one?

Is it the best move to learn with a rental bike as opposed to your motorcycle?

The answer is not necessarily straightforward, as experience tells me that with a rental bike, you get a faster learning curve in the beginning, but that development tends to stagnate shortly after. With your bike, your progression will start slower, but see consistent growth.

Allow me to explain.

    • Off-road training with school rental bikes

Many off-road schools have rental bikes from one brand or another, available for offer to their students.

We are usually talking about brand new models with insurance that will cover any spill we may take during our training.

If we consider than on most adventure models from the past five years, a broken blinker, a lever, or a side panel can amount to a few hundred dollars, the price schools ask for their rentals becomes incredibly appealing.

Over the years, I've noticed that when students remove from their heads the fear of having to pay for broken parts, they are more attentive, eager to try exercises outside their comfort zone, and overall more relaxed.

That means that on average a student that does a school day with a rental bike tends to develop much faster than the ones that are desperately trying not to let their machines fall, instead of focusing on the exercises, that ironically, would give them the tools to easily prevent a fall in the first place.

However, once the training is done, rental bikes are returned, and its time to jump back on your adventure bike, and that is when problems start.

Like any new skill one learns, learning it is not enough, repetition is vital, and that means that only practicing what you just learned will allow you to master it, but now, you are on your bike, and that means, your fear of braking something is back with a vengeance.

Yes, you now know much more than before, but now you no longer have your instructor next to you, you are no longer in the controlled environment of the training grounds, and if you mess up, it's on you.

At this time, we now have two different kinds of students.

The ones that accept that falling is a part of the sport, and the ones that don't.

The ones that don't tend to see their evolution stagnate, as they hold back on applying what they were taught, forgetting more and more of their training as time passes. 

Eventually, they tend to either avoid taking their adventure bikes off-road, choosing something smaller, or quit off-road all together.

The ones that accept that falling is part of the sport will hold back as much as they can for a while, but they persist, and eventually, that first falls comes around.

Once it does, they accept that a scratched panel or a dented part can be a badge of honor, and they are now in full learning mode once again, training and practicing what was previously taught.

For many, the time between holding back and the first fall is too broad, making it not uncommon to see them back at the training grounds to do the introductory levels again, but now, with their bikes.

For advanced students, this is not usually a problem, and they end up choosing the rental bike for the chance to try their skills on a different model.

  • Off-road training with your bike


It takes a unique kind of person to buy a new adventure bike and go to a school to learn with it.

I don't mean they are unique because they are inherently different from the ones that prefer to use rental bikes. They are unique because they accepted one hard truth, off-road brakes gear, and if you use your bike off-road, you will end up with broken parts.

Sooner or later, we all get to that conclusion, but it does take a special kind of mindset to accept it from the get-go.

That, however, doesn't make the first fall easier in any way.

This kind of student will try very hard to delay that first slip for as long as they can, and that tends to make their evolution somewhat slower in the beginning.

Many exercises and positions are uncomfortable, counter-intuitive, and very much out of our comfort zone until they are adequately mastered, so by trying to prevent a fall, they tend not to cross the necessary line between their safe zone, and where the exercise is.

Once the first fall happens, and they understand that the bikes are not made of glass, and neither are they, there is a palpable shift in approach, and their evolution drastically increases.

On the same token, once they leave the school, they have no adaptation phase from the rental bike to their own, meaning that they can continue to practice without any setbacks.

The problem is that depending on the school's curriculum; the introductory levels can take a few days, and because they are held at very low speeds and in highly controlled environments, it may take time until the first fall happens.

This means it is not uncommon for a student to do a two-day level one training, go back home, practice on his/her own for weeks, sometimes even months, and only halfway into their level two training have their first fall and subsequent breakthrough.


I've done classes and certifications with multiple rental bikes, as well as with my bikes, and I cannot advise going with your own, or going with a rental, all I can do is explain the differences, and let you make your personal decision.

At the end of the day, as long as you are doing some kind of training, there is no wrong decision when it comes to bike choice, you just have to understand what is at play, accept the consequences, push the throttle, and have fun!

 Should we train with our bike, or school bikes?

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