Trail riding techniques
01686 430522
marianne@trailrides-wales.com
Riding position

Most of the time, you will get less tired and make better choices if you are standing up. Stand with feet level or heel slightly down, middle of the peg, legs straight but not locked, angled slightly back so that you lean forward at the hips. Keep legs and knees close in, as that helps stabilise the bike. If you find yourself pulling on the bars, make sure you are not crouching or bending your knees, as that has the effect of throwing your upper body back which upsets your balance. Look well ahead, and do not follow another rider too closely, as he will block your view of what is coming up.

Hills up

Attack with momentum and confidence in a gear which you think will get you to the top (usually third or second). Cover the clutch with one or two fingers and if the revs are dropping but you are nearly there, slip the clutch. Avoid changing gear on the hill.

Hills down

Look well ahead. If the hill is very steep and the surface is loose or slippery, you may not be able to brake much. Start it from a standstill or walking pace. Use two fingers on the front brake and a light touch on the rear. Never pull the clutch in going downhill – you will go faster, and you have less (no) control!

Ruts

Ruts do not look difficult, but are the feature which most people find the most difficult. Because you are constrained, the temptation is to look just in front, but this is what causes downfalls! Look ahead, keep the power gently on with lowish revs/higher gear, and ride smoothly without sudden accelaration or slowing down. If you have to brake, be as gentle as possible. Narrow ruts in the centre of a track caused by thin motorcycle tyres are often impossible to ride standing up, whereas landrover or tractor ruts can become easy to ride if they are wide. If the rut is deep, make sure you feet are not vulnerable to being pushed off the peg – it hurts! Do not try to get out of a rut – you never can unless you are some sort of trials or enduro God!

Picking the bike up

If it is possible, pull the handlebar which is lowest to the ground, as far forward as you can. The front wheel will be pointing upwards. Then pick up from the lowest handlebar. This gives more leverage, and makes it easier. Do not grab the mudguards or any plastic parts, as it is likely you will break them.

Water

We suggest sitting down through puddles or streams if they are deep enough for water to go into the air filter if you fall off, i.e. about 3 inches. If you are unlucky and the bike is going over, hit the kill switch if you can! Please do not try to start the bike until the leader has checked that there is no water in the combustion chamber. He will help you pick the bike up and push it out of the water. If you press the starter when there is water in the engine, it doesn’t compress and the con-rod will bend and break, and may go through the casing into the gearbox. If so, it costs about £1000 for the rebuild.

Doing the gates

If the ground is uneven or down hill, it is best to stop the engine leaving the bike in gear, as it is less likely to roll off the stand and fall over. You can use the kill switch to stop the engine.


© Colin and Marianne Walford