If you haven’t been paying attention, the Enduro scene is currently exploding. Combining
some of the fastest people on two wheels and terrain that’d make a winch truck curl into the foetal position and start whimpering, races like the Erzberg Enduro and Romaniacs are gaining worldwide popularity. Racers like Graham Jarvis (aka God), Jonny Walker, Billy Bolt and Manuel Lettenbichler battle it out over courses that include four-foot vertical boulders, slippery waterfalls and hill climbs that are only really scalable with a helicopter and an oxygen tank.
Here’s the interesting part: all these guys have a trials riding background. What’s trials? Glad you asked. Trials riding is to dirt bikes what rock crawlers are to 4WDs. Small capacity, ultra-lightweight (don’t even have a seat) and crazily manoeuvrable. Designed for log-hopping, rock leaping and generally just riding stuff that’d be impossible on anything else. It’s all about slow-speed, high skill supreme bike control.
So here are three fundamental trials techniques that’ll step up your riding game.
THE READY POSITION
Sounds simple, but if you want to reduce arm pump and fatigue, getting your body position right is key.
How It's Done
You should be standing most of the time, you know that right? Most good ADV riders only sit to conserve energy on long, easy sections or when hard cornering.
Keep your legs bent, but your lower legs vertical. This will position more weight over the rear of the bike, where you generally want it – crouch or bend lower, but the boots stay straight.
Elbows up and out; ankles turned in to grip the bike; ditto the knees. This will give you maximum control over the bike.
Soft sand, uphills, descents and gnarly terrain should all be tackled with this body position. The nastier the terrain, the lower the crouch.
This will work your quads the hardest, but they’re the largest and strongest muscles in the body, so fatigue should be minimised.
SLOW SPEED WHEELIES
Not just for posing (okay, mainly for posing) the slow-speed wheelie is a great method for learning clutch control, body positioning, rear brake covering and can be adapted for tight turns, rock-hopping and loading your bike into your ute when you forget your ramps.
How It's Done
At a standstill, bike in first gear, clutch in. Start by sliding your bum right to the back of the bike. Lean forward to compress the front suspension.
As you lean back and the suspension unloads, pop the clutch and give the throttle a small twist.
The front wheel should come up and you should be able to quickly find the balance point within the length of the bike. It may take a few goes to get a feel for it so take it at your pace.
Start with both feet off the pegs. That way if you feel the bike looping out or getting uncomfy you can just pull the clutch in (one finger on the clutch at all times folks) and step off the bike, easing it back down to the ground.
Once you’ve got that down, try putting your right foot up on the peg and keeping at the balance point by feathering the clutch and the rear brake – rule one with any type of wheelie is to cover the rear brake. Trust us on this one.
Now it’s time to get both feet up and when you’re ready, slow wheelie your way past that group of attractive members of the opposite sex like a boss.
Probably the most useful technique for single track riding, the punch technique will allow you to climb logs, embankments and vertical faces like your last name is Blazusiak.
How It's Done
Approach the vertical face at a slow speed in a low gear (second or third). Weight the rear of the bike and execute a small wheelie.
You want to start the wheelie about the same distance from the obstacle as it is tall. So for a two-foot high ledge, you’d start the wheelie two feet away.
You’re aiming to hit your front wheel about two-thirds of the way up the obstacle. This will compress your front forks and as you roll on the throttle, will translate into lift.
As the front wheel lifts, it’s going to feel like the bike is going to flip, but keep the throttle on and as soon as your rear wheel hits the obstacle the front will come down and the bike will climb.
Once your back wheel has crested the obstacle, chop the throttle to let the front wheel come back to Mother Earth.