Our entire team is made up of folk who love teaching as much as they love riding. We’ve spent years honing the art of log clambering so we can pass that knowledge on. Our courses are designed to pass on all the skills you need to move from a no-dirt-experience novice to an advanced, log mastering, off-road riding hero.
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Trees can be rather inconsiderate things. They’ve got a fantastic habit of taking their rest across trails and providing a slippery, crash causing obstacle. However, learning to get yourself over a decent sized tree trunk need not be a fear inducing exercise.
Our recent travels in the snow dusted forests of Australia have reminded us just how many logs a ride can bring, so we gave the keyboard to instructor extraordinaire and 10 time Dakar finisher to explain the novice and advanced methods of how to ride logs.
The tyre won’t find any grip on the log, so it is crucially important that you approach the log with the wheels straight and upright. This means hitting 90 degress to the face of the log and 90 degrees to the ground.
Your body position needs to be balanced, central and relaxed like we’ve covered in the guide to standing position. We need to have our elbows and knees “soft” and ready to absorb the inevitable bump. My approach to this log was steady and fairly slow in first gear, just above idle. You need enough momentum for the bike to keep moving, without being so much we damage the bike. Notice how compressed the tyre and suspension are, even at the relatively slow speed.
The idea is to not be surprised by the bump and instead keep your balance and let the front of the bike move back and up beneath us. The front wheel bumping up in the air creates extra ground clearance so that the sump and exhaust won’t touch the log. Nice steady throttle helps here. Notice my soft elbows have soaked up the energy and the rest of my body is still balanced and in a very similar position.
The knees have now bent slightly in anticipation of soaking up the impact of the back wheel hitting. The more you soak up the impact with your legs the less the back wheel will bounce. The amount of throttle should either be very gentle or nothing. Having power on when the back wheel touches the log will cause wheel spin, as there is very little grip on the log. Make sure you are covering the clutch, so that you can take the drive away and regain control for the next turn or obstacle or in the instance you make a mistake.
Firstly a little bit of track grooming never hurts and if there isn’t an ideal line then move a bit of terrain and make one. Placing a bit of bark or another branch on the run in to help get the front wheel up as well.
This time instead of riding straight into the log we are looking to try to lighten the front wheel until it kisses the top half of the log. Often a small bump or stone can help with this so look at the approach carefully.
Approach the log in the central standing position. Then use your body to compress the suspension as in the image below. As the suspension rebounds extend your body and gently feed in some power with metered throttle and clutch – you are looking for drive to lift the front wheel, not wheel spin.
Like with the smaller log the front wheel needs to kiss the top edge of the log (not a high wheelie). If you are all balanced and there is plenty of room on the other side you can keep driving with the throttle all the way until after the back wheel has hit the log. This will allow the bike to jump nicely off the other side impressing all the local Wombats.
The more likely situation is that the terrain is a bit technical on the other side of the logand you will be better off nipping the clutch just before the bike’s back wheel hits the log and rolling out ready for the next section. This will also help stop the wheel sliding out if the log is slippery. Now it’s time to get practicing. Start small, get bigger and happy log riding.
With thanks to…
KTM Australia for the loan of a KTM 1190 Adventure R and allowing us to ride over logs on it.
For more info on how to ride logs or the other learning possibilities Si Pavey and Off Road Skills can provide, click here.