Originally Posted by firstlog
Mountain biking is what lead me to getting a dirtbike. My knees don't like pedaling though so I've had to really cut back and the dirtibke is a natural substitute and a little more fun.
There is no doubt that riding a bicycle regularly can get you into great shape, but so can a lot of other things that are often cheaper and more convenient. Cycling has also caused me some moderate long term knee pain after several years of intense riding.
Skill wise it depends a lot on how you mountain bike. I think the biggest benefit is not particular skills (ie crossing logs) but the idea that you can shift your weight to control the machine, that you can huck a 3 foot drop on the trail, or that you can unweight the bike and float over some obstacles. Riding aggressive AM/DH/FR changes your idea of what is possible on a bike and I think that carries over really well to a dirtbike even though a lot of the skills and movements and possibilities are different.
I remember hucking a moderate drop for the first time on my two stroke. I weighted the front as I approached the edge and then leaned back as the front tire left the ground just like on the mountain bike. With a little twist of the throttle the bike launched me forward like a rocket. I added a whole new dimension. Can't do that on a peddle bike.
Right there with you. I raced XC for a bit and still love to ride any kind of technical or fast MTB trails, and I completely credit my mountain biking experience with being able to jump on a dirt bike and actually ride somewhat decently. True, the skills are different, but some of them are actually really useful. Things like conserving your momentum, picking the best line rather than just hammering the suspension, transferring weight, using your entire body to control the bike, finding the rhythm of the trail...that's all stuff that is way more critical on a mountain bike, but has made me a much better rider off road as well.
That said, the effect is more that it gives you a big jump on the early learning curve, rather than making you suddenly a master. I got to the level of 'decent trail rider' pretty quick because of mountain biking, but I don't think there is nearly as much crossover when it comes to 'fast trail rider' or riding really technical stuff where wheelies, clutch/throttle finesse, and really steep ascents/decents, and almost trials-like skills come into play. That will still take just as long to learn as for most other people