the blind rise and/or corner
very bad patches of road
By always looking ahead you can usually see a bad patch
before you actually have to ride over it. This is your cue
to slow down. That way you have room to gently accelerate
through the bad section without starting to go too fast.
If you find the bike moves around a bit, gas it a bit more!
and the bike will steady up. (see diagram below points 1
As the road surface becomes more radical, push down harder
and harder onto the foot pegs until you may finally find
yourself standing up, allowing the bike to bounce around
freely beneath you as it moves over the uneven surface (knees
gripping bike lightly, legs bent, upper body moving freely)
Once you have mastered the basics of off road riding your next
challenge is to recognise the special dangers inherent in blind
rises and/or corners. The rule here is to maintain a speed that
is in relation to the amount of visible track ahead of you. What
you cannot see, you cannot avoid - if you are going too fast when
you do see it, you will be in trouble
a shallow weir
Many small rivers have a concrete causeway or weir instead of
a bridge. Beware! The surface can be as slippery as a well oiled
piglet. The secret here is not to stress the little traction you
have i.e. don't speed up, don't slow down, don't turn, don't move
your weight about. Just keep the bike upright, straight and go
through smooth and clean.
across an incline (traversing)
Going up and down inclines is normal, even for a road bike. Cutting
across a steep incline is commonplace when riding off road. Most
difficult of all is going up, turning around while still on the
slope before come back down again - a skill tested in the GS Challenge
on the foot pegs helps to avoid the Bike A scenario and gets the
bike balanced and vertical! Once the bike is vertical relative
to gravity (Bike B) the motorbike is going to be inclined to loose
traction and slip sideways downhill. This can be avoided by putting
your weight on the downhill foot peg. This downward force assists
the tyre to keep traction while traversing.
There are no secrets or easy answers for a rider wanting
to move a heavily laden touring or trail bike through
mud. This is a slow process often involving a lot of paddling
with your feet as you move forward. If the mud is not
too deep you can still stand up but this time move your
weight backwards off the front wheel. This can prevent
it from digging in. A gung-ho approach of blasting through
a long patch of bad mud at speed seldom works for bigger
bikes. Instead commit, look up look ahead, and aggressively
keep the bike moving at a brisk walking speed.
Your bike may also overheat during a period of slow riding
and higher than normal revs. Also check the radiator to
ensure that it is not caked with mud. A motorcycle with
a fender (mudguard) situated high up is more likely to
suffer from this problem.
heavy dual purpose trail bikes.
Riding a big, heavy dual purpose trail bike over a bad
surface with deep washes, ruts and channels is a skill.
Don’t do the "hero thing" and try to fly your bike over
- this is for the MX crowd or for emergency situations.
Instead, slow down to a walking speed and hung far back
on the saddle. As the bike drops in, you allow your body
to move forward - thus the momentum of your body moving
forward assists the bike to keep moving forward as well.
A heavy, slow moving bike and rider has a lot of stored
momentum energy and it takes a lot to stop them. i.e.
once they are moving, they tend to keep moving. Use this
momentum! On very bad technical surfaces ride slowly and
accurately. Maintain perfect balance. Use the momentum
in your body and motorcycle in conjunction with quick
blimps on the gas, to move your bike in and out of the
deep, bad stuff without causing damage to your bike and
very steep inclines
Being potentially hazardous, short very steep up hills
deserve special mention. Before you commit yourself to
going up make sure you have the correct combination of
skill, bike, power, tyres and track surface for a successful
ascent. Getting half way up with the bike stalling is
very dangerous! You also need to know something about
the terrain at the top. If you power up over the lip you
will have little chance of stopping if there is a 20 meter
drop on the other side (common when riding sand dunes
and in old quarries)
Getting up a steep incline successfully depends on the
preparation you make before you actually start. Thus the
technique is broken into two separate phases and applies
equally well to mud as to uphill sections
1) Preparation phase.
Is this a wise decision? If ’yes’, you must be totally
committed!! Choose a line up the incline. Choose a suitable
gear. Increase the revs and move into the power band (torque).
The bike will accelerate but moderate it to a suitable
speed. Move your weight forward over the front wheel.
For a quick short incline you can remain seated but for
a longer one you may need to stand up on the footpegs
and move your weight forward. (Do not rest your weight
down onto the handlebars as this prevents you from steering
2) Maintenance phase.
Maintain!!! Keep the revs a little below the power band.
Ease off the throttle if you have too. If the bike’s revs
begin to drop, ease the throttle open.. You do not want
the back wheel to spin and loose traction. If the revs
continue to drop change to a lower gear. (this could mean
that you approached the incline in the wrong gear in the
If you find you have miscalculated and the terrain in
front of you becomes too steep, aim your front tyre for
a ledge, boulder or pothole and ’hook’ your front type
over / into it and anchor it there with the front brake.
Lay the motorbike down on its side and slide it down to
a safer area where it can be mounted again.
If you cannot get out of the situation and you see that
you are going to stall on a section that is too steep
for you it is time to part company. Jump! . . .sideways
as far as you can and allow the motorcycle to fall down
and away from you. A controlled fall is always better
than an uncontrolled one.
Declines, Loose Stones
Descending steep declines with a negative camber, loose
stones and a turn to the left or right is very intimidating.
Like a steep incline you must be totally committed and
have faith in your machine to take you down. Your anxiety
will be the bike’s worst enemy.
1) Preparation phase.
Stop (or pause) at the top of the decline and choose your
line. Drop down into first gear and let the clutch out.
The bike will speed up and move over the lip of the descent!
(Scary Stuff!). Stand up on the footpegs, just enough
to get your butt off the seat but keep your weight as
far back as possible. Place one finger on the front brake
2) Maintenance phase.
The motorcycle will ’plunge’ down the first few meters
but suddenly the bike’s speed will level out as the compression
increases. Navigate your way down, arms easy and relaxed,
gripping the bike with your knees when the needs arises.
Use the "Stomping Grapes" skill mentioned above to flick
the bike from side to side as you navigate down. If the
bike does move too quickly (or you need to slow down for
a tricky maneuver), gently squeeze the front brake lever
with your one finger. It has a lot of downward pressure
on it and is unlikely to lock up . . in fact you can increase
the downward pressure and thereby the traction, by leaning
on the handlebars with your body weight as you squeeze
the front brake. If the surface is very loose, dab the
front brake on the good stuff and release on the bad.
Despite moving slowly and not giving it any gas, the bike
will not stall unless you stop.
The bike will move briskly down the decline in a very
controlled fashioned but now you find you are heading
for a turn!!! Release the brake at the last moment, push
down hard on the outside footpeg (you are still standing?)
and with a decisive movement, dive the bike into the turn.
Hey Presto! Despite your worst fears, the bike will decisively
and solidly turn the corner as easy as can be!
The whole maneuver just takes commitment, confidence and
belief that the bike can deliver. Remember, that a moderate
amount of speed is your alley. Your bike becomes light
and maneuverable without stressing the limited traction
NOTE: The back brake, although a more logical choice has
very little downward pressure on it unless you have a
pillion passenger. It therefore locks up too easily and
offers very little stopping power.