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  1. To enable english subtitles, click the CC icon (captions) in the tool bar.
  2. Shane Watts

    The "Slow Ride"

    As we progress through our fundamental exercises, focusing on implementing another fundamental skill each time, it is now appropriate to move to an exercise we call the "Slow Ride". The name pretty much is self explanatory in terms of saying that the goal of the exercise is to ride from Point A to Point B as slowly as possible. If you are able to stop on the spot without moving (and not putting your foot on the ground) while doing this exercise then that means you will be able to execute it at a higher level. The "Slow Ride" now has a strong emphasis on incorporating our third fundamental skill of balance with the first two that we have been working on, that being our body position on the motorcycle and our throttle/clutch control and coordination relating to putting the power to the ground. The first key point of our "Slow Ride" exercise is make sure we look ahead. This not only helps to keep us in the prefered position of being able to better scan the trail for upcoming obstacles but also for giving us better balance. It's like thinking about a person who walks between high rise buildings on a tight rope. They don't look down at their feet as they are walking the rope, instead they look ahead towards the horizon as this gives you the ability to have better balance. The benefit of this increased balance not only works for the "Slow Ride" exercise but also for when you are fanging down the trail. Standing up also allows us to have a better range of motion in moving our body around on the motorcycle to maintain and regain our balance. By coordinating our body position, throttle/clutch action, and brakes we are with practice able to eventually come to a complete stop and then stay stationary for a period of time before finding it necessary to move forward to regain our balance instead of toppling over. Before this action is needed though we are able to maintain our balance for a longer period of time by using the technique of turning our handlebars in the direction that we are losing balance or falling over, and by moving our upper body in the other direction to counteract this loss of balance. At some stage whilst stationary this technique won't be effective enough to maintain your balance and you will end up starting to fall all the way over. The only way to regain your balance in this situation is to let the clutch out and put some motion into the wheels. This creates balance and allows you to get back in control of the motorcycle. The benefits of this exercise are noticeable in many situations out on the trail, and some of these include when riding in deep sand and mud that generally the faster we are going, and the more motion that we have in the wheels, the more we seem to be in control or at least have the sense of having greater balance. The more balance we "feel" the more in control we will be for the conditions at hand. There is a direct relationship between actions and skills used while performing the "Slow Ride" exercise and that with tackling the advanced trail situation of long, deep, straight ruts that are running down the trail. Generally when faced with this situation the inexperienced rider will not trust their balance skill and thus sit down with both feet out, having to "paddle" their way through the ruts and to maintain their balance so as not to fall over. The experienced rider will stand up on the pegs, looking towards the end of the rut for better balance, apply the throttle accordingly to increase the amount of motion (balance) in the wheels, and should they start to lose their balance while traversing the length of the rut they will lean their upper body in the opposite direction at the same time as they turn the handlebars in the direction that they are falling. Now by turning the bars while that front wheel is in the rut it is going to have a far greater effect of regaining your balance than it does on flat ground because the side knobbies will catch the edge of the rut and prop you back upright much quicker. By making use of all of the above actions, and being able to coordinate them effectively you will be able to ride through those long, deep ruts faster, safer, and with less energy usage as opposed to sitting down, second guessing yourself and hesitating, and then having to use a lot of energy to paddle your way through to the end of the rut. Be sure to check back for more ThumpeTalk exclusive off-road riding technique tips in the new year. Also, checkout my web site for additional tips and training resources. Keep the rubber side down! Shane …discuss this tip
  3. Being as efficient as possible with your energy usage is an integral part of any rider’s skill set. By being really good at this it allows us to roost those more difficult and challenging trails for a longer period of time, whether you’re racing or just trail riding. So far all of the riding tips that we have presented in the Thumpertalk newsletter have involved a component on techniques to save you energy. Essentially the more skilled you are with your riding technique the more energy you are able to conserve. One of my previous Dirt Wise Riding school students is a special forces combat operative, who has a high level of physical training and competes in his regional Hare Scramble race series. He was all bent out of shape that towards the end of the race, when totally sapped of energy, he’d continually get passed by a very “large” guy who was railing the course. His competitor used his better understanding and execution of the fundamental skills that we have outlined in the past to conserve his energy and have much better endurance at the end of those races. As we say at my Dirt Wise schools, we all start off riding motorcycles in the seated position but it is imperative to then learn how to master riding your bike while in the standing position. Once this is attained it helps you come full circle and allows you to use the higher skill level learnt in the standing position and apply it to your seated position. Doing this maximizes your efficiency in conserving energy. You maintain and regain your balance effortlessly, you make full use of the benefits in correctly adjusting your body positioning to control the bike, and you are able to achieve much more precise wheel placement. This allows you to find and ride the smooth line on the trail, generally on the edges, instead of having to continually pound through the nasty trail hack. You also get to use that standing position skill to make it easier to conquer those more difficult trail situations that you’ll face. Don’t forget while standing to keep those legs pretty much straight, lightly squeeze the bike with your knees, relax your hand grip, and most importantly lean forward when accelerating for the great benefits associated with these actions. So after reviewing our earlier articles, or our instructional DVDs, get out there on your bike and keep on practicing; doing 5 minutes of training each week with each skill will have a huge impact on improving your ability and physical endurance for that next race or trail ride..…. plus, personally I think it’s much more fun than going to the gym! About Shane: http://www.shanewatts.com/bio Additional Riding Tips & Resources: /related/2000247-miscellaneous-off-road-riding-technique/
  4. The handlebars and throttle, plus the clutch, front and rear brake levers are called “the controls” for a reason – this is how you control the bike therefore it is essential that you have a finger or two at most, or right side toes over the appropriate control at all times, ready to use. I can’t stress that enough! It’s very critical that you have your controls in the preferred position, otherwise it will have a huge effect on your ability to properly control the motorcycle and to get into the correct body position. With the handlebars, looking from underneath, the handlebars need to run straight down in line with your fork tubes. You don’t want them too far forward or back as it makes it very hard to be precise with your steering. With the clutch and front brake levers, you want to have them positioned just below horizontal. If they are pointing too far to the ground, it is hard to keep your fingers out there and to use those controls in all body positions that you move to on the bike. Again, use one or two fingers, not three or four and have them out there at all times. Having four fingers on the levers makes it very easy for the bars to get ripped out of your hands and that is very dangerous. The free play for both of these levers needs to be adjusted so they are fully operational before they hit the knuckles of your fingers gripping the bars. The back side of the clutch lever needs to touch the outer portion of the grip once it is pulled in and this is achieved by having both the clutch and brake perch positioned towards the center of the bike about 2 inches or 50mm from the inside edge of the grip. The indentation on the clutch lever is designed for your first finger to go there. If those perches are positioned too far to the outside of the bike, it is impossible to have your first finger in the correct position on the lever and have the rest of your hand up against the inner edge of the grip. Some students at my DirtWise schools have it messed up so bad that they actually ride with their pinky finger over the outside of the end of their barkbusters, no joke! With the Flexx handlebars that I use, it is so much easier to attain the correct positioning as they have a much longer outer tube for control placement. The other great thing about them is that they move up and down and absorb a lot of the shock out of those beat up trails which is really good for your wrists, especially if they are like mine! The Flexx bars are a great investment and yes, you can buy them from shanewatts.com 😏 Your rear brake and shift lever need to be positioned horizontal to the foot peg for ease of use. This also allows you to have your toes over that rear brake at all times ready for instantaneous use on the trail. So, before you ride next, be sure that all your controls are properly set-up. It absolutely does make a difference in your ability to control the bike. Cheers, Shane About me >>> discuss this tip
  5. Shane Watts

    Pre-Jumping Logs

    About Shane See http://www.shanewatts.com for additional off-road training resources, including instructional DVD's and dates/cities for schools & camps. Discuss this tip
  6. Hello, Here are 5 free riding tips that will make you ride both faster and with more control. Please read twice through. Read the first time to familiarize yourself with everything and a second time to understand and apply. There is a lot of information here. To be sure to get the most benefit and increase your speed and control, while reading your second time through take your time and apply each technique one at a time. I really enjoy helping people to enjoy riding their motorcycle. I am confident that these tips will help you increase your speed and control, as I have helped numerous people in the past nine years of schools. Please feel free to contact me through my website email if you need any further assistance. I am here to serve you in conquering your riding/racing goals. Enjoy, Rich Lafferty http://www.rlafferty.com/ About Rich 1. Look Ahead- Most riders, especially beginners do not look far enough ahead. They are focused on the ground in front of the front wheel, when they should be focused further down the trail or the track. Exiting a turn you should be looking straight down the trail/track in front of you to the next turn. If there is an obstacle in that straight away, such as a log, divert your attention back to the log and deal with it as needed. Be sure not to fix your eyes on the obstacle because it can throw off your timing. By looking further ahead you can carry more speed and momentum and you’ll be ready for obstacles the trails or tracks throw at you. In practice get in the habit of coming out of a turn and looking down the straight away to the next turn. In a little bit of time you will carry more speed. 2. Quality Practice- So many of us enjoy just trail riding or pounding laps with their buddies, after all this is the reason we ride our dirt bikes, because its just fun to ride. While doing this you will improve, but at a slower rate compared to quality practice of working on fundamentals. First off, be sure you are using proper form by taking part in a riding school. Then set up some practice drills such as figure eights or an oval to focus on all the variables that come into play for doing a turn properly. Since no turn is alike set up different ones where you can lean the bike over and other ones where you can’t. A good way to set up a tight turn is to use a cone or piece of pcv pipe on the inside of a turn. Maybe logs or jumps are a weakness spend time working on that so that it becomes easy to you. You may find that by working on fundamentals like this that your speed and bike control will increase at a more rapid pace. Think of it like football and baseball practice, do they just get together and play the game? NO! They work on fundamentals of the game. I would also recommend working in some sprints lasting from 2-3 minutes on a mx track or woods track to bring some cardio conditioning into your riding. Also, remember when working on fundamentals, try to do everything both sitting and standing. This will help you better understand how the bike reacts in different situations when you are sitting or standing. You should also work on fundamental drills at 50-75% of your actual pace. It is extremely hard to learn or perfect something at your speed. You are training your brain how to react physically over and over so that you don’t even think about it. It needs to come natural to you. The quality of your practice is important. Slow down work on your form and proper use of all the controls both sitting and standing and the speed will come a lot easier. 3. Braking Point- Another way to increase your speed is to change your braking point entering a turn. This is done easiest on a small track where you can have a buddy observe you. Let your buddy mark your current braking point with a large orange cone. Have your buddy place the cone where you actuate the brake pedal. Then get a lap time to start with. Next have your buddy move the cones closer to the turn forcing you to brake later for the turn. After spending some time working on this after moving the cones closer to the apex(middle) of the turn and finding your limit. You will know you have found your limit, when you begin to overshoot the turn. Now take another lap time. I guarantee that your lap time will have dropped. Spend at least once a week working on this along with fundamentals. 4. Proper Braking- It has been said that it is not the fastest guy, but the guy that slows down, the least. Proper brake control is crucial to riding fast. I believe that a lot of riders over brake. It is important to understand that the front brake is 65-75% of your braking power. It varies because of soil conditions if its muddy or soft you might want to use less front brake than in perfect conditions. Most beginners have issues with the front brake because they are not confident in using it. It is important to remember that most of all your braking is done entering the turn. So use of the front brake should be done when the bike is upright. You should not be using the front brake when the bike is laid over or you are in the apex of a turn. The front brake should be controlled with one to tow fingers (either your middle or pointer or both). Front brake is a slight squeeze. You want to find where the lever gets hard and do not try to squeeze passed that. Your trying to slow the motorcycle down but not lock up the front wheel. Drills for proper use of the front brake will take some time. Set up a small turn track in an open area and do laps allowing only use of the front brake. After some time you will have mastered proper use of the front brake. Now onto rear braking. It is important to have proper brake pedal adjustment. You want the pedal height to be ¼ to 3/8 of an inch above the foot peg. Use of a straight edge can help with this adjustment. Once you have the height adjusted now you want to adjust the free play. You want the pedal to get hard as it gets level with the foot peg. Now that you have the brake pedal adjusted properly, you need to understand something else that is essential to brake control. Alot of riders have a bad habit of pulling in the clutch then mashing on the rear brake. They have to pull the clutch in because they push on the brake pedal so hard that the bike will stall if they don’t. This is a mistake because you lose all forward momentum and have less control over the motorcycle and the rear wheel is sliding. You do not want to lock up the rear wheel. You want to slow it down, but not lock it up because once you lock it up you lose all the momentum you gained in the straight away. The next step is to learn to actuate the brake pedal. This is done by holding your knee, inner calf and inside of our foot tight to the bike over top the brake pedal then find the brake pedal and apply pressure to it. This is one of the most important variables in proper brake control. If you have your leg away from the bike and apply pressure to the brake, you are more prone to make the mistake of locking up the rear wheel. So keep your leg tight to the bike when actuating the brake pedal. You should only pull the clutch in when you are in tight technical situations. Learn to slow the motorcycle down using the front brake and rear brake without pulling the clutch in. When you pull the clutch in the bike is now free wheeling, which means coasting faster. This now means you have to brake harder. With the clutch out you now also have engine braking so you don’t have to brake as hard and you can still keep a positive sense of momentum by keeping the wheels turning but still slowing the bike down. Be patient this takes practice but you will be faster 5. Bike Set up- First off I would like to start with things I see on most students bikes at schools that limit their ability and control. Most people have their bars adjusted too far back. When adjusting your bars you should put your bike on a stand and sit on your bike and stand and find a happy medium between both. Most people make the mistake of adjusting their bars from a seated position. So then when they go to stand it’s not comfortable. The proper riding position whether you are sitting or standing is your head forward over the handlebars with your elbows up. This puts weight on the front wheel, which makes it easier to control. A lot of riders use bar risers for all types of reasons; the most common is tall guys. The high bar raisers creates an issue because it forces the rider back off the front end and makes it harder to keep your elbows up where they should be. I have found this especially common when conducting schools. For instance, a tall guy will come to me with high bar raisers saying he has issue with the front end riding over a berm a lot of the time. Where the rider sits further back on the bike, this unloads the front end and squats the rear pushing the front end out and over a berm. Once we eliminate bar riser the rider now can get up over the front end easier and has less of an issue riding up over the berm. If this sounds like something you might have an issue with then give it a try. Also, to take it another step further, I would recommend a straighter lower handlebar. This will also help you be able to get over the front end more and be more comfortable sitting and standing compared to a set of sweep back and high bars. I often loan out straight low bars (Pro- taper Suzuki low) to a lot of students to try before they purchase. All students have returned them and purchased them after trying them. Another thing that is often overlooked is static sag in the rear shock. If the static sag in the rear shock is incorrect it can also affect the balance and turning of your motorcycle. If you have too much static sag in the rear shock it could cause the bike to push in turns if the static sag is too little it could cause the rear to sit high and because of this the front end may knife and feel unstable. I prefer anywhere from 32-38 mm of static sag. Let’s discuss now how to set your static sag. First put your bike on a stand and measure from the axle to a fixed point on your rear fender. Then take your bike off the stand and push p and down on the rear shock then let the shock rest with the rear wheel still on the ground measure again from the rear axle to the same fixed point. As mentioned your should have a difference of 32-28 mm between the two measurements. If your measurement does not fall in between 32-28 mm you will need to adjust the preload on the shock by turning the huge spanner nut on top of the spring. If you have too much static sag, you will need to tighten the spanner nut down on the spring. If you have too much static sag, you will need to loosen up on the spanner nut. Be sure to mark the spanner nut with a magic marker so you can easily keep track of the number of turns you put on the spring. Usually one complete turn on the spanner nut it equivalent to 2 mm of difference. If even after all of this we are still having either a front wheel push issue or a knifing (tucking). Then we may need to move the forks up or down in the fork tube. For instance if the front end keeps riding up high in the berm and pushing over it then you need to push the forks up in the tubes. Moving it up 1/8 of an inch at a time makes a huge difference. If the front end keeps knifing under you then you need to push the fork tubes down in the triple clamps. Be sure to not move further then level with the fork cap. Another thing I noticed that limits a rider’s control over the motorcycle was that their levers are unevenly positioned on the handlebars. For instance the clutch lever may be super low and the front brake lever may be high. You should be sure that levers are positioned the same. They should be angled so that when you reach for them you can keep your elbows up and not have any uncomfortable kink in your wrist. Also some issues with levers arise when riders cut their bars too short and the levers end up being positioned on the bend of the handlebar. When cutting your handlebars be sure that you have all the proper room for your levers. You can do this by simply sliding the levers as far over as you can without them being on a bend. I do not prefer cutting this much off. I only cut a ½ inch off of each side. Then after putting hand guards back on I am back to the original length. I have no problems getting through tight trees and still have plenty of leverage. Too short of handlebars also limits control over the motorcycle because it compromises your body position. Riders with too short handle bars have issues with keeping their elbows up where they should be. I have given a lot of useful information here. As mentioned earlier, I suggest that you read through this a few times to be sure you have a grasp on the material and get the full benefit of it. I may have discussed something you do not have an issue with, but I believe that I have made you understand it better. When I started doing riding schools over nine years ago, it made me a better rider. In order to teach you, I had to think about what I did and put it into words. It also made me reevaluate some things I do that needed to be changed so I could increase my speed and control. That was like I said over nine years ago and in that time I have conducted a lot of private and group classes. Just about two years ago I wanted to reach more people so rather than putting out another long video that loses your interest and isn’t explicit enough, I decided to have an online school where you can learn body position, riding techniques and how to practice from your PC no matter where you live. I have over 46 instructional 2-4 minute video clips that are accessible to you at anytime. You can watch over and over until you fully understand and then go out and practice it on your bike. This definitely gives you tools for better quality of practice, which all my online students have told me. Discuss these tips
  7. If the trail just weaves through the trees, then you will generally want to stand up. This gives you better balance retention and ability to weave between trees by having increased bike maneuverability and change of direction. Having precise judgment and being sure not to hit any trees is essential. For higher speed sections, the cone weave exercise is a great way to practice and fine tune all of the movements and techniques for doing this, plus to get comfortable with the wheels drifting should they break traction. To achieve this best, you just sway your body weight onto the appropriate footpeg to alter the bike’s direction with great ease. Weight the inside peg to lean it into the corner, then change your body weight distribution to the outside peg for increased traction around the corner and to stand the bike upright on the exit. In a section of tight trees very close together, you can use a variation of this technique by actually slightly spreading your knees apart somewhat and using your arms to help very quickly sway the bike from one side to the other, allowing you to miss all of the approaching obstacles. When seated, you use so much more body energy trying to perform this very aggressive change of direction between the trees, plus you can’t do it as quickly and your legs tend to get in the way. The best option for most situations when there are just a few very tight trees then the trail opens up again is to stand when going through those tight trees for the benefits just mentioned then sit on the exit to maximize your acceleration and energy conservation. For more riding tips, checkout our youtube channel as well as the Dirtwise website. About Shane
  8. If the tight trees are offset you try to approach them a little to the opposite side of the trail from the first tree you could hit so to give more handlebar clearance. This also actually provides more distance between the trees once you commence to slightly steer through them. Once past the first tree you just quickly flick your bike back the opposite direction to clear the next tree trunk and to maintain good forward momentum. When the trees are parallel you definitely need to approach with the front wheel to the side of the trail to attain a better angle to perform the wiggle through that smaller trail width. Plus this helps you to miss any nasty bumps, exposed tree roots, or deep ruts that will likely form there from other riders having to do the “stop and start” method. Unlike what you probably read on an internet forum (ha, ha!) you don’t wheelie and turn the handle bars through tight trees like this as it is actually way slower and much more dangerous than doing the “Wattsy wiggle” through them, unless of courseit is a very unique situation where a decent sized braking bump has formed before the trees and you can then jump through the trees with the hangers turned for decreased width. Depending on the stiffness of the trees many times you can just blast through the smaller trees without even turning your bars unless it is a Manzanita bush or some crappy tree like that. About Shane Additional Riding Tips & Training Resources
  9. In all conditions, it is important to be able to maximize your acceleration and this is even more critical in mud and sand conditions. Like with all of our offroad skills we need a good execution of the 4 fundamentals to achieve this. In mud and sandy conditions your motorcycle will move around a lot more while under acceleration therefore you need to be much more attentive to maneuvering your upper body weight side to side to help maintain balance. This allows you to keep the throttle on instead of hesitating with it off while trying to regain your lost balance. Selecting a higher gear usually helps with putting the power to the ground when riding in mud. Generally speaking the faster you are going the more balance you will have due to the gyroscopic effect of the motion in both wheels. Plus there will not be as much mud in the knobbies due to it being flicked off. In slippery or loose conditions it is very important to move further to the rear of your bike so as to increase the effect your body weight has on gaining more traction at the rear tire. If the rear tire hooks up and you start wheelieing too high just basically leave the throttle at the same position, but pull the clutch in the necessary amount to decrease the drive to the rear tire. On up hills or when stuck on trail obstacles it’s important to be real effective at putting the power to the ground with great throttle and clutch control and coordination. Generally, it’s better to use the lower portion of the powerband and "grunt" the motor so as that the rear tire has more chance of hooking up. From being stopped you may need to give a quick burst of power and exaggerate your body movement to gain some initial forward motion before backing it off and hooking up. You don’t want to keep that rear tire spinning wildly as you won’t get much traction and it will be very easy to slide out and lose balance. You need to find the best balance between wheel spin and hooking up to achieve the maximum acceleration. For more info about the DirtWise Academy of Offroad Riding schools and Instructional DVDs please visit www.shanewatts.com About Shane Discuss this tip
  10. Cutting along a long side hill, where should your body position be? Weigh the outside or inside peg? Standing? Sitting? Justify your opinion and logic...
  11. I ride an xr200 1991 and got some fly boots for fairly cheap used. Shifting is hard! And unless I hold my foot out towards the side I always accident up shift. And brakes, I can't be as gentle with them. It's either no breakers or rear wheel lock up. Any help and tips would be greatly appreciated.
  12. Hey all, I recently bought a 13 WR250F, and so far am loving the bike (came off a 04 yz125). The power is very mellow and easy to use in the bush which is where I ride. That said, I am wondering where the correct position is on the foot pegs for my feet. I wear MX boots, is this what all enduro riders wear? I have played a bit with my gear shifter position and rear brake freeplay to try and set it up so i can have my foot under the shifter and over the rear brake while standing/sitting but I can't find a happy medium. I am fearful of riding the rear brake with my foot over it, and sometimes accidentally hit it and lock up my gear. I had the gear shifter up so high that I had to left my leg off to change gears correctly, surely this isn't the correct technique for off road riding. Originally I would ride with the arch of my foot (the curved part?) and stick my feet outwards to prevent hitting the rear brake or shifting. But holding the bike with my legs feels unnatural this way, so I assume its not the correct way to ride, as everybody says. Grip the bike with your legs! So being a total gumby and noob, what is the correct technique and foot placement? Should I look at a after market shift leaver? I am a size US 12 in a MX boot.
  13. Just want to share this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbU43cQiqA0
  14. I have a 2002 xr400 with Applied Racing upper triple clamp & risers. I'm 6' tall and while the feel is immensely better than O.E., I still feel the need to go slightly higher. I could purchase some higher (say 15mm) risers that'll accomplish this but my concern is that will also automatically push the bars back towards me again due to the rake of the fork. With that in mind I was thinking these risers by ROX mounted directly on top of the AR risers would do exactly what I need. I'd prefer to have a single riser that does it all, but not finding anything at all, so it seems this is my only option. Any thoughts/suggestions? Thanks, Jeff
  15. I currently have a 250f and am thinking abou getting a 125 or 250 2 stroke. I don't have a lot of experience and I've never ridden a 2 stroke in my life. Thanks
  16. I've seen alot or debating about this and been told both ways are better. I was hoping once and for all we can come up with a solid answer as to which is the better way to practice/race and why. I watch alot of races and I see the top guys doing both, but we all know we only get to see 5 min clips of GNCC's online so its hard to make an assumption. In the hare scrambles I've done I 've always noticed the A B riders come flying by standing up and hitting berms all the way down the trail standing up, but is this the way they ride the whole race? Some body help me become a better rider and let me know why I'm doing the right way!!
  17. As summer rolls in and the temps roll up, we off-road riders seek relief from the oppressive heat while trying to stay cool. For us the task at hand may be solved with choosing from the incredible variety of vented riding gear, hydration systems, and cooling vests…but for your motorcycle it may not be as easy to pick a solution that works as well. Modern off-road motorcycles use water-cooled systems to manage engine heat. Before water cooling, controlling engine heat was much more difficult because of the overall design of the engines and the way “hot spots” are produced, especially in the cylinder walls. Water cooling allowed engine designers to effectively manage these hot spots and dissipate heat from these areas, allowing higher compression ratios and overall power to weight gains. But managing heat is still a huge problem…heat is your enemy and can rob valuable horsepower on any off-road machine…many off-road bikes are now coming with EFI systems and their ECU (on-board computer) reacts to excessive heat by retarding the spark advance curve (and even shutting down the engine), thereby removing the chance to achieve maximum engine output. To read a good reference article about how modern EFI systems are affected by engine heat, check out this cool Boyesen Engineering Tech Tip article. Before beginning the article we studied boring stuff like “surfactants” and learned that these surfactant things that keep getting mentioned are substances that lower the surface tension of a liquids like water or the tension between certain liquids or between a liquid and a solid, kind of like a lubricant…and that makes sense because surfactants may act as detergents, wetting agents, emulsifiers, foaming agents, and dispersants. Whew that was mouthful…but when we talk about these “surfactants” we’re talking about a quality that the cooling substance contains to aid in the disbursement of cooling area within the contained cooling system. We also talked to the experts about what happens when you use the newer “No-Boil” cooling formulas such as Evans Waterless or Two2Cool’s PRO-G formula and we found the feedback suprising – read on to see what some of them said… It also helps to understand where hot spots come from and understand the phenomenon known as “cavitation”…And why is it bad for cooling systems? We asked the experts at Boyesen Engineering and this is what they said: Fluid air cavitation within a closed loop engine cooling system is an often overlooked problem area that contributes to an engine’s overall inability to maintain operating temperatures. Cooling fluid cavitation is the formation of small air cavities in the coolant – i.e. small fluid-free zones (“air bubbles" or "voids”). These air bubbles are the consequence of friction based impeller forces acting upon the cooling fluid. From a physics point of view, whenever a fluid is “cut", in this instance by a water pump impeller, tiny air bubbles are introduced into the fluid resulting from the fast change in pressure. Air does not have the same ability to express heat out of the internal surfaces of your machine’s engine when compared to cooling fluid and this contributes to “hot spots” and overheating. We’ve taken some time to look at some of the solutions offered in this arena in order to give all of us a better understanding of how these products work and why they may be good (or not so good) for our overheated iron steeds. As most off-road bikes are water cooled in one way or another, we’ll look at products that may improve that system in some way, whether it be by hardware (radiator caps and improved pumps/impellers) as well as products that can be added to improve the cooling efficiency and heat dissipation of aforementioned systems (coolants and additives). Now that I've laid the foundation and you've read this far, click to the next page for product 1 of the 7 engine heat fighting products you need to know about. #1: TWO2COOL COOLANTS How does it work? Two2Cool has a coolant line consisting of three different coolants/antifreeze formulas, or as an additive and they can be used in automotive or motorcycle applications diesel or gas. All share a proprietary "Heat Transfer Fluid" that removing the heat from the engine and moving to where it can be released into the air that passes over the radiator(s) using the "Total Contact" technology that reduces aeration, air pockets and surface tension. PRO-G is the newest product and it is a “no-boil” formula. We’ve heard different and varied opinions this technology and how it works and the jury still seems to be out but Two2Cool is hanging their reputation on it, and the owner Bill Swisher has been around the block more than once and is a very smart cat. How do you use it? Most products are ready to use straight out of the bottle and into your cooling system. (ThumperTalk Staff recommends flushing your cooling system any time you change from one type to another to avoid cross-contamination) and the coolant additives are mixed at 8oz. per gallon. More specific instructions on proper use should be noted on the bottle or the Two2Cool website. How do you dispose of it? All the Two2Cool coolant products are biodegradable as they use Propylene Glycol (PG) as needed which makes it legal in virtually all race sanctioning and safe on the trails. Photo: Two2Cool's Pro-G No Boil Racing Coolant #2: ENGINE ICE COOLANT How does it work? Engine Ice Hi-Performance Coolant is a product that uses a very high grade of PG (Propylene Glycol), pure water and a protective iingredient in a proprietary blending process. These ingredients and the processes create more consistent, if not lower, operating temperatures in your engine through "surfaction" (remember this?) surfaction is a reduction of surface tension of the liquid coolant within the system. Engine ice is run by Dave Kimmey, another long-time veteran of the motorcycle industry and a wealth of knowledge as well. How do you use it? Mix nothing with it, it is pre-diluted and ready to use. You drain the cooling system and put in the Engine Ice, or rinse the system with bottled water first (never put tap water in an engine) but the best way according to Engine Ice is to the flush the system with 50/50 white vinegar and bottled water before filling with the product. So, you fill the cooling system, run engine until warm, let cool, drain, fill with bottled water, run engine, let cool, drain and fill with the product…same as cleaning a coffee maker. How do you dispose of it? Engine Ice is biodegradable as defined by OSHA and the FDA, but once run through an engine, it's not quite as "nice" as it originally was, so it is recommend you dispose of all fluids properly like any glycol based product. Fact: Some motorcycle shops and auto shops will take used fluids as it is sold and recycled. Photo: Engine Ice Hi-Performance Coolant #3: THE BOYESEN SUPERCOOLER Boyesen Engineering has developed a water pump system called the Supercooler which can increase the performance of your cooling system by flowing more coolant and eliminating cavitation (remember this?) where possible. What is cavitation and why is it bad for cooling systems? Fluid air cavitation within a closed loop engine cooling system is an often overlooked problem area that contributes to an engine’s overall inability to maintain operating temperatures. Cooling Fluid Cavitation is the formation of small air cavities in the coolant – i.e. small fluid-free zones (“air bubbles" or "voids”). These air bubbles are the consequence of friction based impeller forces acting upon the cooling fluid. From a Physics point of view, whenever a fluid is “cut", in this instance by an impeller, tiny air bubbles are introduced into the fluid resulting from the fast change in pressure. Air does not have the same ability to express heat out of the internal surfaces of your machine’s engine when compared to cooling fluid. With this in mind the absolute design criteria for any water pump system’s impeller is to re-introduce coolant back into the engine with as little air cavitation as possible. How does it work? Boyesen addresses these issues by engineering a better design that cuts down on cavitation and improves flow rates by improved impeller and pump cover design. The Boyesen hydrodynamic water pump kits have been tested and designed to flow more coolant and eliminate cavitation within the coolant, and a result, deliver a much more efficient “coolant charge” to the engine. By increasing the flow, the engine will run cooler at a more constant temperature. The Supercooler's design is based on the process of correcting the inefficiencies and production-based limitations found in the design of stock water pump systems. This would include re-engineering the inlet diameter capacity and hydrodynamic efficiency of the impeller. Boyesen claims the Supercooler can reduce engine temperatures by as much as ten degrees, as confirmed by tests at Team Kawasaki. So how does the Supercooler achieve this? Hydrodynamics. Boyesen's investment-cast aluminum water pump cover has bigger water inlets, a sculpted design, no casting seams, less restrictive corners, a more efficient impeller and less cavitation than other units available. The Supercooler's optimally formed interior surfacing process eliminates all coolant flow "pinch-points" resulting in a hydrodynamically efficient interior that dramatically increases coolant flow efficiency and ultimately leads to increased fluid flow re-entry rates into your bike's engine. It also features a large inlet opening. This is superior to stock inlets, which are small and often have 90-degree bends. The patented impeller is 25 percent more efficient at moving water than stock systems. The design reduces fluid cavitation, which increases cooling capacity. More info on the SuperCooler can be found at Boyesen.com Photo: Boyesen Supercooler as installed in ThumperTalk Review by TT Reviewer Monk #4: EVANS WATERLESS POWERSPORT COOLANT How does it work? Evans Powersports Coolant is a waterless engine coolant, consisting of a blend of glycols, the same basic chemicals found in antifreeze, but without the water so it essentially does not boil in the radiator like regular water based coolants. Coolant formulas with 10% or more water content create vapor pressure and have a boiling point too close to the coolant’s operating temperature. Steam takes up 1,244 times more space than liquid water; that’s enough expansion power to run a freight train… Inside your engine, that vapor expansion pushes liquid coolant out of the cooling passages. The naked metal temperature at those locations can then spike by hundreds of degrees, which is the source of hot spot detonation. When things really get cooking, the head can warp causing head gasket failure. Because Evans is waterless and has a very high boiling point, it does not suffer from this steam expansion or the associated problems of boiling coolant with its air bubbles and resulting hotspots. How do you use it? When converting to Evans, as we've mentioned earlier, you must get the water out of the system and Evans makes a product for this called Prep Fluid; instructions are on the bottle. In an emergency, water or antifreeze can be added to Evans, although that will reduce its performance down to that of antifreeze. It is non-corrosive, doesn’t go bad, and has a freeze point of -40C/F. It shrinks as it cools so there is no freeze-burst danger. How do you dispose of it? The formulas do contain ethylene glycol (except the CCS, ASRA, and AMA Pro Flat Track legal “NPG Coolant”), so they should be handled and recycled in the same manner as antifreeze. Photo: Evans Waterless Powersports Coolant #5: MISHIMOTO OVERSIZED RADIATORS How does it work? A high-quality radiator in good working order is one of the most important components when addressing your cooling issues. These radiators feature a 100% brazed aluminum core and each radiator is designed for a clean OEM fit and have been assembled with precision TIG welding for durability. Mishimoto oversized radiators are designed to optimize coolant capacity as well as cooling fin density and pitch, as well as strength and durability, to meet the unique demands motocross racing and off-road riding.. These radiators are made with two or three rows of high-quality aluminum, which allows all parts of the radiator, including the tanks, to dissipate heat faster than a stock unit. Also, the cooling fins are designed for maximum heat dissipation. The coolant tubes on Mishimoto radiators have greater surface areas for improved cooling over stock OEM radiators and they feature more coolant capacity than OEM applications. How do we correctly determine if we need an oversized radiator? Any time a motorcycle sees heavy usage, it can benefit from increased cooling capacity afforded by a performance radiator. Even in an otherwise stock, mildly ridden or driven application, the performance product provides that extra margin of safety on a hot, humid day. How do we install the product - are there any special considerations? The Mishimoto products are designed with ease of installation in mind, so it should be a simple bolt-in affair and they also have Customer Service line that can walk you through the installation should you have questions. Photo: Mishimoto oversized radiator test results on 2009 RM-Z250 #6: RED LINE SUPERCOOL COOLANT AND WATER WETTER COOLANT ADDITIVE How does it work? Red Line’s WaterWetter acts as a surfactant, a wetting agent that pushing bubbles away from metal to add cooling efficiency when an engine gets hot. It is AMA-legal, as it does not add slipperiness or change water’s coefficient of friction. WaterWetter is completely compatible with glycol antifreeze, but WaterWetter alone has no freezing protection properties. WaterWetter is also available for motorcycles as “SuperCool with WaterWetter”, a premixed coolant with the right amount of WaterWetter and filtered, deionized water. How you use it? SuperCool with WaterWetter is simple to use, just flush your radiator, fill it and you’re done. This can be convenient, as most riders don’t know their bike’s coolant system capacity offhand. When using just WaterWetter, you can use a 12oz bottle to treat up to 3.5 gallons. How do you dispose of the product? Is it biodegradable? WaterWetter and SuperCool are both completely biodegradable. Photo: Red Line Supercool with WaterWetter #7 CYCRA/CV4 HIGH PRESSURE RADIATOR CAPS How does it work? CYCRA/CV4 offers a radiator cap can increase the boiling point of your coolant. How does it do this? By increasing the pressure required before it opens to release (and lose) your valuable coolant. Straight water will boil around 212 degrees, but under pressure your cooling system will prevent the coolant from boiling at that temperature. Many coolant mixtures will not boil until almost 300 degrees – so when the pressure is higher, the temp to boil is higher as well. Stock radiator caps are rated at around 15PSI and the CV4 cap is rated at a bit over 25PSI and as the CV cap is designed to open at a higher pressure (and temperature) it keeps the cooling system from overflowing until the bike reaches a higher temperature. Keep in mind that radiator caps are also rated in atmospheric pressures (BAR) - 1.1 bar is roughly 15psi, and 1.3 bar is around 18psi. How you use it? Installation is simple and simply requires that you replace the stock radiator cap. If you’d like to read more about the real-world usage of these types of radiator caps, you’ll want to check out this thread in the ThumperTalk Forum. Photo: CYCRA/CV4 High Pressure Radiator Cap We're sure that there are more viable powersports cooling products out there, we just didn't have the time to cover them all in one article. But, we'd love to hear from you either about what we wrote or about products and/or techniques that you're using with success that we didn't cover. Thanks in advance for your comments (see below)! Sean Goulart, Contributing Editor
  18. Precise wheel placement is an integral of you being an efficient, safe, and skilled rider out on the trails. This is the first of our three Advanced Fundamental skills that we need to practice and master. The ability to control the exact placement of your wheels whilst out on the trail, and to vary the placement of your tires by just an inch or two has a huge effect on your speed, safety, and energy use. By executing this well you can avoid many of the nasty ruts, roots, rocks, and bumps on the trail. Here are some exercises you can use to improve your wheel placement precision. Start off with being able to exactly follow a roost mark across the paddock. Utilizing the skills and techniques we learnt from practicing our previous general fundamental exercises (Stop & Go, and Slow Ride) we will have a good execution of maneuvering our upper body weight to maintain balance and direction of the motorcycle, plus adjusting the throttle, clutch, and handlebars to keep the bike on the exact desired piece of trail. Always remember to look ahead for increased balance. As with any skill it is best to isolate it and practice mastering it in a safe, controlled environment, progressing to a more advanced level in small increments, such as next riding along some train track wooden sleepers, and then along the top of the actual train tracks. We will show actual demonstrations of this in our new Advanced Instructional DVD that will be available for purchase in mid February. These skills will also be shown on this Advanced DVD Vol. #1 Promo teaser that you will be able to view on our new, updated website that goes live on Jan 13. Make sure you check it out! http://www.shanewatts.com/ Stay tuned for more exclusive off-road riding tips featured in the March issue of the ThumperTalk newsletter. 🙂 - Shane
  19. During these winter months there is a lot less traction when going around slick, muddy corners that have a flat surface than when in drier conditions. This means that you definitely need to get as comfortable and skilled with your bike sliding around and drifting through the corner while in both the seated and standing position. Be careful while braking on the entry to a flat corner as there will be a greater tendency for the wheels to lock up and slide out, most likely resulting in a crash. Going around a tight or more open corner, you will need to be continually adjusting the 3 key points of cornering, which are: 1. Your body position on the bike (and how it relates to the 90 degrees of traction principle). 2. The lean angle of your bike. 3. Your throttle position. While roosting around these corners, the goal is to maintain a smooth, consistent arc. You want to position your body at the very front of the seat, and “on top” of your bike when it is leant over through the corner so as you can gain extra traction by “weighting” the outside footpeg. A lot of times in these slippery conditions the bike will start sliding/drifting on you therefore it is important to help control your bike by using counter-steering of the handlebars, along with continued adjustment of the above three key points. If possible, try to find and use a banked surface to help stop your wheels from sliding out, or even utilize any clumps of mud or slop to support your wheels. To really fast track your learning with this essential skill, try to find an open space that has a smooth yet consistently slippery surface and then start riding slow circle of about 15-20 feet in diameter. As you get comfortable start going faster without making a bigger circle. Eventually the rear wheel will begin to spin and slide, especially if you give your bike a quick blip of the throttle to initiate the spinning action. You want to keep the wheel spinning somewhat and try to slide/drift continual circles without stopping, controlling the bike with our key points. When you start getting good at this skill it is so much fun to do this drifting exercise. You will love it! We will have an in depth analysis and demonstrations in our upcoming DirtWise Advanced Instructional DVD – Volume 2, which will focus on the techniques you use to master Braking, Cornering, and riding through Tight trees. Visit www.shanewatts.com for more info on this and the DirtWise Academy of Offroad Riding schools. Shane Discuss this tip in the off-road techique forum
  20. “Anticipating” is an essential and key part of riding a dirtbike. For sure now, as you are driving your vehicle to the trail head, the moto track, or your favorite practice loop out in the bush you have a lot of “anticipation”. Same goes for when it’s mid morning and you’ve got heaps more hours to go being either stuck in that office cubicle, or digging trenches, or what ever it is you do before you can jet out of there and go roosting. But that’s not the kind of “anticipation” I’m talking about here…. Instead, what I mean is the ability to “anticipate” the situations and conditions that are approaching on the trail ahead – whether it be a nasty uphill, a rutted out corner, a bog hole, or any other of the multitude of difficult trail situations out there. By paying acute attention not only to the previous trail but also the environment and topography you are approaching you can gain a pretty good understanding and judgment of what that next trail situation is that you will be forced to conquer before you have even seen it. For example, let’s say that back down the that moist, slippery clay trail that you are roosting there was a spot where the soil on the trail changed to a lighter color, and a sandier composition and therefore you experienced plenty more traction for the short portion of trail. Well, further up that trail as you are slip sliding around approaching that next tight corner and you see that the soil starts changing to that lighter shade of color, you can fairly certainly say, due to your “anticipating” that you are going to have much more traction in this next corner than the previous slippery ones. This means you will be able to decide to safely carry more speed into and around that particular corner. Now that is a good thing because at that same time you had noticed the trail you had been traversing along was in the bottom of a gully, with somewhat steep side walls that been “closing in”. Again, you could pretty much “anticipate” with near 100% certainty that following the next corner you will be faced with an abrupt hillclimb to conquer. Thankfully your “anticipating” has given you a better chance of cresting the top of that rise, not only because you were somewhat expecting the hill and ready to attack it, but also because you carried more speed and momentum around that previous corner. “Anticipating” and trail experience go hand-in-hand together – they complement each other and the more you have of each the better and more correct your decision making judgment will be on the trail. Generally it is hard to see and know what is around that next corner – it is that situation where your “anticipating” skill will give you the most benefit on the trail. Currently we are filming Volume #2 in our Advanced series of DirtWise Instructional DVDs, which focuses on an in depth analysis of cornering, braking and tight tree trail situations you will deal with. “Anticipating” has been a big part of this filming – not only does it apply to so many of the trail situations that we will show how to successfully conquer, but we also have a lot of “anticipating” in getting it finished and on sale in early September so as you guys can view, learn, and fast track your skills improvement from it!!! About me http://www.shanewatts.com/ Discuss this tip
  21. See http://www.shanewatts.com for additional off-road training resources, including instructional DVD's and dates/cities for schools & camps. Discuss this tip
  22. When tackling long, soft, silty berms you need to gauge the maximum force that you can place on the soft soil, that makes up that trail situation, to support the tyres adequately from blowing through the wall of the berm. If the berm has already been blown out in a certain section, you will need to turn slightly more aggressively off the banked surface earlier in the berm. Using that initial portion of the berm to pivot slightly sharper will allow you then to "reconnect" with the remaining berm for the rest of the corner. A more aggressive version of this same technique can be implemented to help you hop out of a rut that doesn’t have a desirable ending or is full of water. Using a variation of the 180 wheelie you maximize the effect by getting hard on the gas and pushing/bouncing your body down into the bike's seat, which magnifies the compression and rebound of the suspension, to achieve the necessary launch of the front wheel out of the rut at the precise moment. It is most critical to get the front wheel up and over the inside edge of the rut so as it doesn’t slide out. Hopefully the rear tyre will also have enough rebound effect to hop over that edge also. If not just stay on the gas anyway and control the bike with your grinding and drifting skills. Practice makes perfect, so get out there, find a good berm and hit it over and over! 👍 Shane About Shane Additional Riding Tips & Training Resources
  23. Thanks for watching! - Shane Watts http://www.shanewatts.com/
  24. On the steeper and slipperier hills it is also more critical that you stand up so as you have the ability to get more weight over the front of the bike if you need it to limit any big wheelies, but more importantly so you can get more traction. A lot of people think that you get more traction on uphills if you sit down. Well, actually that's wrong. Not only can you gain more traction by standing but you can also manage that traction much better. We like to call this the leveraging technique. To do this the most effectively your goal is to have the front wheel just skimming across the ground or possibly pulling a very slight wheelie. In this position the total combined weight of you and your bike is being leveraged onto the rear tyre to provide maximum possible traction for the conditions present. This enables you to then use more power. You control the precise height of the front tyre by adjusting your body position - too high, move forward, too low, move back. Again, this technique allows you to apply maximum power and gain maximum traction for all conditions - the key is to be able to move your body weight to your advantage. Sitting down doesn't allow you to do that anywhere near as effectively. When there is big variations in traction over a small distance you can get a better advantage in gaining traction by coordinating more aggressive pulling on the bars and the bouncing down of your body weight on the slipperier portions of trail. This leveraging technique is a little more tiring, and definitely way more forearm fatiguing but it provides you better ability to conquer the hill. If you didn't make it and get stuck on the hill because you were sitting, and thus were limited in making it over the top by the negative results associated with that seated position, well you're now going to expend a whole heap more energy trying to make it the rest of the way compared to what you would have used when standing up. You can learn more about this technique and many others in the new DirtWise Advanced Instructional DVD - Volume #4 coming out in mid October 2012. Visit www.shanewatts.com for more information! Keep on Roosting! Shane Watts discuss this tip in the Off-Road Riding Technique Forum
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