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VIDEO: How to Ride Off Camber Hills Like a Pro!

Garrahan Off-Road Training

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Winning racer & professional off-road motorcycle skills trainer Brian Garrahan gives us his best tips and demonstrates how to properly ride higher speed off camber hills. Instruction begins at 41 seconds.

The Garrahan Off - Road Instructional Video Series is produced by Cuyler Ruskin at Media66inc.com. Cuyler and his team at Media 66 Inc. come from a very extensive background in the off road motorcycle industry. Started at the young age of 16, filming on the side of the track, and has grown into a full service video production team who produce features driven by inspiration. Everything we produce at Media 66 Inc. is done with passion and done right. Please give us a follow on social media and visit the new website: www.media66inc.com to see what we have done, and what we are working on currently.

 

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 I must have misunderstood what you said. You say to weight the inside Peg  in order to put weight and traction on the knobbies that are gripping the hill.... which theoretically sounds like it would make sense.  By that you mean the uphill Peg, correct? But you can’t possibly believe that. On a negative camber hill you want to weight the outside Peg, the downhill Peg  just like the outside of a turn on gravel.   And it’s not just me.   Other dirt bike trainers say the same thing.  But you don’t have to take anyone’s word for it just go out on a soft negative camber hill and try each one. You will soon find out you always want your weight on the downhill outside Peg. Otherwise your rear wheel to keeps slipping out needlessly. 

Edited by Tim Wayne
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Like Tim I learned exactly the contrary from what was said in the video. All instructors I ever met or talked too told me to weigh the outside peg. 

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Boys I have experimented with this for many years. I have done many off cambers in my days. More than you will ever experience. Weighing the inside peg will give you added traction. obviously you are counter balancing with the outside peg and throttle control is essential. 

If you are only adding weight to the outside peg it will throw you off balance and send you off line

 

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I respect Garrahan but this is exact opposite of what I was taught in offroad riding classes. They say to weigh the outside peg (the one pointing away from the hill) which will than put straight downward pressure on the tire causing to bite better. Weighing the inside peg (the one pointing towards the hill) would make it easier for the bike to slip under you. Even during a Jarvis training session he told me to lean the bike toward the hill or off camber bare rock face and put my body towards the outside. He did not specifically say weight the outside peg but if you do what he says, you are automatically weighing the outside peg. Now I have done less than 3-4 miles of off camber riding and although this is intuitive, it does not mean it is the only way to ride off camber. Maybe there is something to what Garrahan is saying which can be only explained by experience. I'd say if he is weighing the inside peg, he could be compensating by doing something else with his body, bars, brakes etc...

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The skiing analogy might be appropriate here, im guessing.  weight is on the outside ski.  Where is the center of balance when you sitting?

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Like I said, just go try several places with negative camber using the inside and then the outside peg.  I will guarantee that you will eventually want to weight the outside peg and here's exactly why.  It is the same reason that you weight the outside peg going around a corner (standing up) on a ball bearing dirt road. In that instance, when the bike finally does start to skid, rather than falling to the inside it simply slips to the outside with the bike perfectly balanced not falling to the inside or the outside but simply sliding to the outside in your balanced position…exactly what you want, great control. 

On those types of roads you  invariably see dirt riders sitting on the seat extending their inside leg sticking out in order to catch themselves when the bike finally starts to slide out from under them. I never stick my foot out. I stand on the pegs, weight my outside peg.  When the bike does started to skid, front wheel or back wheel or both, the bike simply broad slides sideways just like an experienced flat tracker in a race.  Takes some practice but this works so good you can't stand it.  Plus you look like you know what you're doing.

Now on the negative camber hill, the same thing applies.  Hopefully your bike maintains grip (both front and back tire) but sooner or later your bike will slide down the hill In some situations. But when it does you will not fall DOWN to the inside, it will simply slip downhill allowing you to stay upright and recover to regain traction again.  And of course the added advantage is if you do lose it, you can always put your uphill foot down to catch yourself.

Edited by Tim Wayne
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Boys I have experimented with this for many years. I have done many off cambers in my days. More than you will ever experience. Weighing the inside peg will give you added traction. obviously you are counter balancing with the outside peg and throttle control is essential. 

If you are only adding weight to the outside peg it will throw you off balance and send you off line

 

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17 hours ago, digitalzombie said:

I respect Garrahan but this is exact opposite of what I was taught in offroad riding classes. They say to weigh the outside peg (the one pointing away from the hill) which will than put straight downward pressure on the tire causing to bite better. Weighing the inside peg (the one pointing towards the hill) would make it easier for the bike to slip under you. Even during a Jarvis training session he told me to lean the bike toward the hill or off camber bare rock face and put my body towards the outside. He did not specifically say weight the outside peg but if you do what he says, you are automatically weighing the outside peg. Now I have done less than 3-4 miles of off camber riding and although this is intuitive, it does not mean it is the only way to ride off camber. Maybe there is something to what Garrahan is saying which can be only explained by experience. I'd say if he is weighing the inside peg, he could be compensating by doing something else with his body, bars, brakes etc...

I completely understand the whole theory. My last video was about weighing the outside peg.

Obviously if I put to much pressure on the inside, I will loose traction so I need to be counter balancing the whole time with the outside, and adding downward force. 

However if I'm standing with momentum I need to be putting pressure to the inside also not just the outside. If I only put pressure to the outside it will put me off balance and be hard to hold my line.

 

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Barray, the crazy guy from down under says exactly the opposite and he has a trial school since years...

 

 

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Outside peg! No different than skiing or climbing the more you lean into the mountain the harder you have to fight for traction and the better chance of washing out. I even like to feel like the bike is resting against my outside leg. IMHO

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He says to weight the outside so that you can dab quickly with the inside foot.

Cool, but completely different situation. He is doing low speed off cambers and I am doing high speeds.

Put your foot down on high speed and you are for sure loosing balance and forward momentum.

I can clearly see the riders switching the weight according to the traction.

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Garrahan may have a point.  All my discussion about weighting the outside peg would be at fairly low speed.  I don't know why it would be much different at higher speeds but maybe he's got a point.  I don't think I've ever ridden really steep neg camber at the speed shown in the video.  We've done harder, softer steeper stuff but not that fast.

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I would have to say I'm an outside peg guy. I have always referred to this topic as sidehill riding. Practiced it for miles upon miles, in all conditions. I remember reading an article in one of the dirt mags about 45 years ago on the subject, and it said to lean the bike away from the hill, probably to increase tire contact or something. I tried it...didn't like it. I've read several articles over the years on sidehill techniques. Weighting the inside peg just seems like asking for trouble to me. Someone mentioned outside peg pressure in turns. Agreed. I don't always stick my foot out, but it's almost always up off the inside peg!

My thoughts are practice is the best teacher. Ride sidehills as often as possible, and personal experience will show you what works best.  Cheers!

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it's same technic when skiing ... i.e. cornering & skiing sidhills ... (sorry for bad English syntax / vocabulary 😉 )

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I've ridden some higher speed desert hills, of various sizes and inclines, and I remember gripping real tight with my legs and keeping my weight centered where I felt the most balance. It was fairly low traction but I often weighted either peg just to help keep me standing upright. At lower speeds it was mostly outside, but the traction or softness/low traction was mostly countered with low tire pressure.  It was so different from here (in Maryland).

Audience question:   Has anyone done that off-camber corner at Budds Creek? Amazingly difficult, right?

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I'm gonna take a step back and look at this from a physics approach, which helps explain some things for me.

First off, for simplicity's sake, let's just assume riding directly across an off-camber hill.  And let's assume a standing rider, with a foot on each peg and both hands on the bars, with most of the weight on the pegs.

There's only two forces at play here:  gravity, which is pulling the bike and rider straight down.  And the reaction force from the ground counteracting gravity.  It doesn't matter if the rider is sitting, standing, weighting one peg or the other, etc.:  these forces are always constant.

Now, since we only have two points of contact (each tire), we actually have an unstable system.  Which means if the center of gravity is either uphill or downhill of the tires, then the bike will tip in that direction.  In other words, the combined center of gravity (bike and rider) must be directly over the tires if we're not falling up or down the hill (or technically turning, but that's beside the point).

Knowing this, how we weight the pegs only affects the cant of the bike.  Weight the inside (uphill) peg, and the bike leans uphill, with the rider's upper body leaning downhill to maintain the combined center of gravity over the tires (to keep from tipping uphill).  Weight the outside (downhill) peg, and the opposite happens: the bike leans down the hill, upper body up the hill.  Or, weight both equally, and the bike stays completely upright.

Ok, here's where all that physics comes together, and why it matters:  knobs.  Tire knobs, that is.  When you lean the bike uphill (i.e. weight the inside peg), you are essentially rotating the majority of the knobs on the tire (the center ones) away from the ground.  And there's no way that they can give you can traction when they're not on the ground.  The further the bike is leaned uphill, the more and more you're counting on only the outer most knobs to provide you with the traction.

The opposite is true when weighting the downhill side.  The bike cants down the hill, rotating the center knobs more into contact with the ground.

I'll let anyone still reading make their own decision into which is better for traction.  If anyone doubts me, go ride a trials tire (which has basically no side knobs) on an off-camber slope, and lean it up the hill as you try to ride it. 

This is the same reason you weight the outside peg in a flat turn:  doing so brings the bike a little more upright, and thus brings more of the knobs in contact with the ground, increasing traction.  (Plus in a turn, weighting the outside brings the center of gravity back over the tires, increasing stability.)

Of course, the real world is significantly more complicated than I described.  How you weight the bars matters; balance with either scenario matters; turning up or down the slope matters; being able to recover from a slip matters, etc.  But the general physics at play remain the same. 

I've taken a couple classes over the years with pro-level instructors, and have many hours riding behind extremely talented individuals that have been riding for decades.  I've never once heard anyone recommend weighting the uphill peg on off-camber.  And in my personal experiences riding enduro and extreme enduro, I most often screw up off-camber sections when I DON'T weight the downhill peg. 

Looking at the video, the rider is definitely doing what is described:  weighting the inside peg.  This is obvious, because as I described above, the bike is canted up the hill, and the rider leaning down the hill to maintain balance.  What's also obvious to me is how much the rear tire is fighting for traction, and how easily it's sliding down the hill.  I don't have much experience with riding off-camber at speed like in this video, so it's entirely possible that's the preferred method, and it may be easier to maintain balance and momentum that way.  But in the extreme enduro stuff I typically ride, my rear tire (or front tire) sliding 6-12"+ down the hill as I go across it would result in a very bad day.  And weighting the downhill peg is the best way I've found to get traction and keep that from happening.

I'm not saying that my way is always right, or that the way the video describes is always wrong.  Just that my personal experience, and my little bit of schooling in regards to the physics at play, doesn't completely align with the recommendation in the video.  But I welcome discussion regarding any points I've made (and may be wrong about), and I'm certainly going to give it a try next time I go riding.

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On 5/5/2019 at 4:00 PM, Tim Wayne said:

Garrahan may have a point.  All my discussion about weighting the outside peg would be at fairly low speed.  I don't know why it would be much different at higher speeds but maybe he's got a point.  I don't think I've ever ridden really steep neg camber at the speed shown in the video.  We've done harder, softer steeper stuff but not that fast.

 

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Awesome guys thanks for all the comments. I should have been more clear on the title of the segment.

This is defiantly only for high speed off cambers.

I understand at low speed you want to put the pressure on the outside peg to drive the force into the ground. This will help give traction and keep you pushing into the slope.

What I find though is when I get to a higher speed and the bike balances out I tend to start pushing on the inside peg for a greater bite of traction. I still have weight on the outside for a quick counter balance if I loose traction. I have attempted this time and time again and find this works best.  

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On 5/6/2019 at 4:01 PM, Commuterrex said:

I've ridden some higher speed desert hills, of various sizes and inclines, and I remember gripping real tight with my legs and keeping my weight centered where I felt the most balance. It was fairly low traction but I often weighted either peg just to help keep me standing upright. At lower speeds it was mostly outside, but the traction or softness/low traction was mostly countered with low tire pressure.  It was so different from here (in Maryland).

Audience question:   Has anyone done that off-camber corner at Budds Creek? Amazingly difficult, right?

Awesome, my main point is what you said. I only hear people talk about the outside peg but really you are counter balancing and shifting weight constantly.

It was fairly low traction but I often weighted either peg just to help keep me standing upright

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On 5/7/2019 at 12:26 PM, sneaky98gt said:

I'm gonna take a step back and look at this from a physics approach, which helps explain some things for me.

First off, for simplicity's sake, let's just assume riding directly across an off-camber hill.  And let's assume a standing rider, with a foot on each peg and both hands on the bars, with most of the weight on the pegs.

There's only two forces at play here:  gravity, which is pulling the bike and rider straight down.  And the reaction force from the ground counteracting gravity.  It doesn't matter if the rider is sitting, standing, weighting one peg or the other, etc.:  these forces are always constant.

Now, since we only have two points of contact (each tire), we actually have an unstable system.  Which means if the center of gravity is either uphill or downhill of the tires, then the bike will tip in that direction.  In other words, the combined center of gravity (bike and rider) must be directly over the tires if we're not falling up or down the hill (or technically turning, but that's beside the point).

Knowing this, how we weight the pegs only affects the cant of the bike.  Weight the inside (uphill) peg, and the bike leans uphill, with the rider's upper body leaning downhill to maintain the combined center of gravity over the tires (to keep from tipping uphill).  Weight the outside (downhill) peg, and the opposite happens: the bike leans down the hill, upper body up the hill.  Or, weight both equally, and the bike stays completely upright.

Ok, here's where all that physics comes together, and why it matters:  knobs.  Tire knobs, that is.  When you lean the bike uphill (i.e. weight the inside peg), you are essentially rotating the majority of the knobs on the tire (the center ones) away from the ground.  And there's no way that they can give you can traction when they're not on the ground.  The further the bike is leaned uphill, the more and more you're counting on only the outer most knobs to provide you with the traction.

The opposite is true when weighting the downhill side.  The bike cants down the hill, rotating the center knobs more into contact with the ground.

I'll let anyone still reading make their own decision into which is better for traction.  If anyone doubts me, go ride a trials tire (which has basically no side knobs) on an off-camber slope, and lean it up the hill as you try to ride it. 

This is the same reason you weight the outside peg in a flat turn:  doing so brings the bike a little more upright, and thus brings more of the knobs in contact with the ground, increasing traction.  (Plus in a turn, weighting the outside brings the center of gravity back over the tires, increasing stability.)

Of course, the real world is significantly more complicated than I described.  How you weight the bars matters; balance with either scenario matters; turning up or down the slope matters; being able to recover from a slip matters, etc.  But the general physics at play remain the same. 

I've taken a couple classes over the years with pro-level instructors, and have many hours riding behind extremely talented individuals that have been riding for decades.  I've never once heard anyone recommend weighting the uphill peg on off-camber.  And in my personal experiences riding enduro and extreme enduro, I most often screw up off-camber sections when I DON'T weight the downhill peg. 

Looking at the video, the rider is definitely doing what is described:  weighting the inside peg.  This is obvious, because as I described above, the bike is canted up the hill, and the rider leaning down the hill to maintain balance.  What's also obvious to me is how much the rear tire is fighting for traction, and how easily it's sliding down the hill.  I don't have much experience with riding off-camber at speed like in this video, so it's entirely possible that's the preferred method, and it may be easier to maintain balance and momentum that way.  But in the extreme enduro stuff I typically ride, my rear tire (or front tire) sliding 6-12"+ down the hill as I go across it would result in a very bad day.  And weighting the downhill peg is the best way I've found to get traction and keep that from happening.

I'm not saying that my way is always right, or that the way the video describes is always wrong.  Just that my personal experience, and my little bit of schooling in regards to the physics at play, doesn't completely align with the recommendation in the video.  But I welcome discussion regarding any points I've made (and may be wrong about), and I'm certainly going to give it a try next time I go riding.

I’m thinking that the cant of the bike is the important variable, like you have described. Depending on what you do with your upper body, it really doesn’t matter which peg is weighted. It’s the combined mass of the rider and bike, like you stated, that determines the lean angle of the bike.

 

I would argue that it may even be possible to lean the bike further away from the hill by weighting the inside peg. Just balancing stationary, I can get the bike leaned over the furthest by lifting my foot totally off the “outside” peg and putting all of my weight on the “inside” peg. This allows me to get my body further out to the side to offset the weight of the bike. 

 

I think the the video may be on to something. I admit that I really have to think about weighting the outside peg on off cambers. It never has felt right or like it worked better to me. 

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Its really hard to take these videos seriously when to get just one tip, little explanation and then a bunch of ads, music, and aerial shots. Sorry but these are simply commercials not training videos.

The tip on waiting the inside peg is a good one just poorly explained.  It's really about keeping the body upright and leaning the bike underneath you.  If the bike slides you can pull it back upright instead of it sliding out from under you.

But it's simply not explained in these "one liner" training videos.  Its not that they don't know how to ride, they are leaving out too much information.

Look at "cross training enduro" youtube channel for comparison.

 

Edited by Florida Gliderpilot

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