moto guide

Best riding time is coming!

What does Enduro rider think of when Autumn approaches? Yes, great grip, perfect working temperature, no tourists in mountains, kids are in school 🙂

Lots of groups scheduled for autumn, mostly intermediate riders from all around the world. Serbia is becoming more and more popular Enduro destination where nature remains untouched, prices affordable and riding geography amazing.

Check our offers for autumn 2022 🙂

 

Summer Enduro Season so far

Lots of riding lately. This season hasn’t had intermediate riders – only hard core and beginners. What I’ve been observing in last two years was rising number of riders coming to learn and practice. Which is, I must admit, very good.

At the beginning of season, our garage got 4 new GASGAS bikes  – 2 x 250 2 stroke and 2 x 350 4 stroke. Well, we’re very happy with purchase, bikes are as reliable as KTMs, 99% spare parts compatible and fun for riding. I’d say that these would be perfect choice for riders wanting to make step up towards more extreme riding due to fact that they’re lower and bit shorter as well as the handle bar is slightly lower. You can easily play with them with zig-zags and pivots which is in my opinion basis of all hard technical riding.

However, we have a great season with new mountain explored 🙂

Come and join us! …and check the photos below 🙂

ENDURO AS ADVENTURE RIDING SCHOOL. TRACTION EXPLAINED

WHAT IS TRACTION?                                                                                                                          

Well, I’d say that it is in the most underrated concept in off road riding. Understanding it sounds like one particular skill that could be trained, however, it requires some other abilities and experience, which is why traction control is so difficult to master. How rider feels and uses traction in off road directly affects to how successful, fun and safe his ride is. No matter what kind of section is under the wheels – uphill, downhill, sidelong or rocky creek, what surface – slippery muddy, sandy or rocky – feeling the grip and controlling it is crucial.

I think that is why it’s overlooked and rarely in-depth clarified – it requires lots of trainings to understand, being able to explain and choose or create appropriate exercises.

Compared to nearly absolute traction on road, grip off road changes as often as every second which makes it so different and perceived as more difficult.

What factors affect traction the most?

1. POSITION ON THE BIKE

2. PROPER WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION ALONG THE BIKE

3. FEELING FOR REAR WHEEL

4. CLUTCH CONTROL (POWER DELIVERY)

5. CHOOSING PROPER SPEED AND KEEPING THE MOMENTUM

6. TERRAIN READING

We’re not talking about tire choice and pressure, suspension condition or settings, I hope that these comply with terrains. We’re discussing on what skills should be improved to take full advantage out of bike.

  • Proper position doesn’t mean one static position during whole particular section, it means moving (balancing) according to terrain and bike’s movements – syncing with bike every moment.
  • Different sections require different weigh distribution along the bike – between front and back and from one side to another.
  • Rear wheel spinning in off road is a normal state unless it spins too much and causes traction loss. But if you ride long and steep uphill, rear wheel spinning is inevitable all way up – it’s just a matter of keeping the balance between spinning and necessary momentum.
  • Power delivery is controlled by clutch more precise than just by the throttle. Good feeling for friction in the clutch is essential in off road – it allows lowest possible speed with sufficient revs in order not to spin the wheel and loose traction; sometimes clutch feathering is necessary to get back revs higher on steep and long uphill due to decreasing momentum
  • It’s not possible to get to the top of the steep and long hill riding it slowly – balance between forces pushing you up and forces holding you back depends exclusively on speed and momentum.

Different surfaces have different grip. Grass in the shadowed side of the hill has totally different grip compared to one on the sunny side. Uphill covered with crumbly stones few centimeters deep requires excessive wheel spinning, while riding zig-zag on muddy side is almost impossible. Choosing the surface laying just few meters aside may considerably change riding particular section and save lot of energy.

Let’s just imagine and analyze few situations.

Situation 1: You’re riding single trail across semi steep sidelong and for some reason you had to stop. Surface is something between gravel and earth. What’d you do to start from that spot?

Solution: you’ll have to sit on the back as far as possible, pushing the outer foot peg while slightly dragging in handlebar; then start releasing the clutch gently keeping revs sufficient but as low as possible.

Analysis: by sitting on the back, you’re loading rear wheel – increasing traction; by pushing the outer foot peg you’re increasing force directed “into the hill”; slightly dragging in handlebar increases both previous effects; being gentle while releasing clutch minimizes chances for rear wheel to spin and slide off trail and hillside

Situation 2: Muddy uphill, long enough to make you work. Few trees make trail go a bit curvy.

Solution & Analysis:

  • Speed up. When reach incline, find the appropriate position – usually it’s standing or “half-standing” position with all weight on foot pegs
  • body closer to front; upper body slightly laid back
  • while riding between trees work with clutch to get back revs higher since it’s going to drop due to steering – course changing – momentum loss
  • move upper body slightly back
  • when speed is recovered, move upper body slight forward again
  • repeat if needed

Analysis:

  • due to naturally distributed weight (rider + bike) to the rear end on the uphill, in order to compensate that and not being flipped back, we put more weight forward by moving body to the front
  • maneuvering between trees on the run requires steering and moving on the bike but will cause momentum loss; slippery surface won’t allow immediate speed recovery by simple opening the throttle – it’ll cause wheel spinning due to partly lost traction and momentum – that’s why we have to recover back revs and speed by feathering the clutch
  • in order to recover traction, in addition to clutch control (previous item), upper body has to be laid slightly back – this distribute more weight to the back/rear wheel, hence more traction
  • the steeper or/and more slippery uphill is, more time these techniques have to be repeated until the top

Sounds complicated? Yes, it is. As mentioned above, controlling traction requires few other skills applied simultaneously. We all went through that and filtered out all unnecessary stuff leaving only hard core essence.

But benefit is great and the fun as well!

BIKE'S ABILITIES UNDISCOVERED

More you ride, more you realize difference between bike’s capabilities installed and capabilities we actually use. One of the most significant reason to slow down the training progress is that rider knows very little about bikes in action. There are sayings “Fear has many eyes” or “Terror magnifies objects”. Especially last one perfectly describes situation with newcomers. Going off road with a lack of skills and insufficient knowledge about bike’s abilities makes riders feel uncomfortable, being constantly in a state of trouble suspense.

Most often lack of experience causes wrong situation analysis but not necessarily in a bad way. It means that inexperienced riders usually underestimate bike’s capabilities and rather avoid or walk next to the bike in certain sections. Which is, in my opinion, clever decision.

But what if greater part of the track entirely consists of those “problems”? What adventure can we talk about then?

Introducing bike’s power and ability to rider goes gradually and follows skills improvement. There are two ways to advance this. One is to ride more, making very small steps, raising the bar by millimeters. The other one requires the rider to overcome his fears and makes bigger step forward, and do the things exceeding his current knowledge.

ENDURO AS ADVENTURE RIDING SCHOOL. Balancing Explained

First of all, it’s important to know our main rule – Safety on first place. We maintain the attitude that first you have to become safer rider in order to ride faster. Some may be disappointed but that’s the true about Motorcycles. Not very popular marketing approach today when lot of people expect instant feedback from almost everything.

Lots of videos on YT on subjects like “How to wheelie on Adventure bike”, “Ride fast in the sand”, “Jumping over logs on GS” with lots of views and comments, which make me speechless. And then, I see terrible position on the bike and inappropriate riding gear.

I’ve never understood why are off road trainings on Adventure bikes held in Adventure riding gear? In a Sidi Adventure boots or similar, in adventure pants with knee “protection” built-in, in a jackets with spine “protector”…? Adventure bikes are two or three times heavier and much easier to drop or to fall from, have more power and less agility off road what make them even more risky.

For that reason, we recommend real off-road protection – from helmets to hard knee protection and MX or Enduro boots. Therefore, we start from that –pack yourself into real-deal protection.

WHERE DO WE START FROM?

No matter what rider’s level is, first hours we spend on our training ground in the woods not far from our base. That’s so called “safe environment” with wide open space, long straight and wide curvy trails as well. Surface is 100% off road but with excellent grip (traction) so no need to worry about that at least first day.

WHAT’S THE PLAN?

  1. Getting to know each other
  2. Main concepts theory
  3. Getting used to bike and terrain
  4. Different exercises: sitting position
  5. Different exercises: standing position
  6. Single trail: stage one
  7. Uphills and downhills
  8. Single trail: stage two
  9. Sidelong riding
  10. Single trail: stage three
  11. Riding in real context

No matter how good or bad rider’s previous experience is, we always start from same point. Some move faster, some need more time, but generally, almost everyone reaches the same level in near future.

WHAT IS THIS PLAN DEDICATED TO? OR WHAT WE CONSIDER AS A MAIN OFF ROAD CONCEPTS.

It may sound simple, but there are only few things for an answer to that question:

Practicing certain techniques allows us to understand why these concepts are most important for off road riding. For example, balancing on the bike is directly related to riding in standing position. Furthermore, moving on the bike, center of gravity, body position – all this has direct impact on how you’re balanced and what’s the traction at the moment.

BALANCING ON THE BIKE

There is no precise definition for it, but in short – all the movements rider undertakes to stay on the bike and to keep it on the aimed direction could be considered as a balancing.

It is how rider actually reacts on bike’s movements. Bumps, rocks, holes, ditches, roots, then combined with uphills or downhills – all this requires timely and appropriate movements on the bike.

Therefore, there are few things to start from and know about balancing:

BODY POSITION

Tons of words and books were written and said on this topic, from absolutely nonsense to sophisticated. Different terrains require different positions but all it comes down to physics and few common rules:

  • lower down combined (rider + bike) center of gravity – makes hole “system” (rider + bike) more stable and responsive to bike’s movements
  • be gentle on the handle bar (don’t hold it tight) – most of the weight should be on foot pegs which should be main fulcrum (anchor point, support) for your body, put as less as possible weight on handle bar – you’re not holding your body on the bike by squeezing handle bar but by moving it according to terrain and bike’s movements
  • pick up elbows – allows easier and precise steering not by turning handle bar left and right but by pushing it down (leaning the bike)
  • you should look like Russian letter “Г” (don’t look like candle or squatting) – back should be hanging down as relaxed as possible, use leg’s muscles as little as possible (no squatting)
  • try not to keep your body by squeezing the bike with knees/legs – adding more support points gives false confidence, masks unbalanced position and ironically, bounds moving on the bike(there are situations when it helps but it’ll come later on)

Why standing position is so important?

  1. Little-known fact for off-road newcomers – standing position actually lowers down the combined center of gravity (rider + bike)
  2. Foot pegs are main fulcrum for your body on the bike and only support to stick your body onto while balancing
  3. Foot pegs lay on the axis which is actually nearly center of rotation between front and rear which makes them less moving point on the bike, hence most stable
  4. And of course, you see further, steering and moving are easier

MOVING ACCORDING TO ANTICIPATION HOW BIKE WILL ACT

To stay in balance, you have to understand basics of how bike works and reacts to different obstacles and situations. Even simple acceleration in standing position requires timely prepared position, in this particular case – putting your body forward. How far forward and how quickly you move is directly related to acceleration intensity and duration – harder acceleration is, further body goes. Same as with braking – the more aggressive stoppage is – the more backward body goes. Jumping logs or rocks, riding over tranches – requires unloading front before hitting actual obstacle. Riding hillside (sidelong) with constant speed requires loading outer foot peg and so forth.

All this means, that syncing with the bike to match the terrain, requires knowledge of how bike works and reacts to certain conditions and what’s rider’s proper response to that. How good and safe we ride depends on how we anticipate bike’s reactions and how trained we are to act properly.

Lot of rider’s reactions and movements are natural, though quite complicated to be thought or clearly and simply explained – for example, rider would automatically move to stay on the bike if wheels were kicked by rock. Rider would instinctively move and control handle bar on slippery downhill just to stay on the bike – most of movements couldn’t be academically explained in situations like that. By the way, I was just wondering what a crazy list of things man has invented and been through (and still does) just to challenge himself and has a good time… Sorry for digression.

We are getting used to off road bumps, slippery surfaces and steep trails by spending hours and hours on bike. It’s better to spend some time with coach, closely controlled and watched then to gain bad habits and techniques.

Watching Hard Enduro from aside, one may get impression that all this actually IS against instincts, but among other things we see and live today, maybe off-road is not as bad and dangerous…

Reaching higher levels of skill, rider will face riding techniques requiring acting against his usual perception and experience more often. Sometimes it’s faster, safer and less energy demanding just to let bike go along some unbelievable downhill. It requires good balance, excellent feeling for weight distribution and traction as well as knowledge on how bike will act. Some beginner may say – “I’ll just let it go” but that’s gambling, too risky and I saw it endless times.

Or, for example, riding hillside up when rear wheel slides all the time – first thing that comes to head automatically is to put down one of the legs. If you get off outer leg, you actually remove weight and force directed into the hill, hence, considerably less traction, and stopping is inevitable. Removing inner (closer to hill) leg in order to find support on the ground means moving weight to that side and unloading outer peg; every time we step on the hillside trying to stay on the bike on the run, we also unload outer foot peg. Solution is to move weight on outer peg as much as possible (means that you’re almost riding on one leg) look up – forward and keep momentum!

Beginners are always wondering how it comes that they’re sucked out, totally exhausted after only few hours?

Beginner is mostly doing lot of things wrong. In off-road, doing wrong means, without exceptions, spending too much energy. By the way, being too excited, which is common to beginners, also sucks energy.

Squeezing the handlebar, dragging back yourself forward every time you accelerate, pushing body back at the cost of arm’s muscles when braking, squatting and being uptight entirely – all this inevitably causes fast energy loss. Less skilled the rider is, sooner he gets tired. The more tired he is, harder holds handle bar and becomes even more uptight, which causes arm-pump and clutch control loss. It’s like a vicious circle which eventually brings to injuries. Even being totally exhausted, rider will never admit that, because friends, because pride…

The device we ride has more than 50 HP, so no matter how strong we are, we’ll never be able to control it just by raw power of our muscles. Every single moment on the bike, we’re not moving only because riding technique requires that, but because we HAVE TO. Every little ditch, hole or bump, every smallest acceleration causes lot of muscles to work. Off road riding engages more muscles to work simultaneously than any other sport, that is why we spend so much energy on bike without even realizing that. When you go to gym you work on particular muscle and you can feel how it’s getting tired, but here, all your muscles work simultaneously, some more, some less, and bit by bit your energy disappears.

The only way to have fun from riding and to reach farthest point of your intercontinental adventure is to ride technically correct. For those who want to be fast – be skilled if you want to be fast.

To conclude on Balancing – no such a specific “one and only” exercise for practicing balance but at the same time, all off road riding as well as entire course could be considered as such. More practicing brings more balance. Course takes rider through set of different riding exercises and positions, which will teach, or rather allow to understand and feel concepts of balance and stability.

Enduro as Adventure riding school

Hi everyone!

I offer series of articles for Adv riders to assess. There are topics on difference between Enduro and Adventure bikes off road training approaches, advantages of learning on dirt bikes, main off road concepts of riding like balancing and traction, described through different situations and more.

With a purpose of sharing, I spent some time gathering all our off road knowledge and experience in riding and coaching, trying to structure everything in a logical and understandable order. We excluded techniques worthwhile only in marketing and squeezed the essence of all off road motorcycle riding.

One of the messages I’m trying to send, prompted by huge number of video courses on internet, is that it’s impossible to learn certain techniques without understanding the core. No sense in learning glamorous sliding u-turn if body position is disaster, or jumping over the log without understanding how weight is distributed and why the clutch work is so important. There are tricks for impressing riding mates, detached from real riding context, and there are fundamentals, understanding of which game-changing.

I hope to compile and share videos of exercises accompanying this little theory…

You can jump from one subject to another, but I really recommend to read entire article in order:

BODY POSITION

ANTICIPATING BIKE'S MOVEMENTS

INSTINCTIVE BODY MOVEMENTS

ACTING AGAINST INSTINCTS

ENERGY SAVING

BODY POSITION

PROPER WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION ALONG THE BIKE

FEELING FOR REAR WHEEL

CLUTCH CONTROL / POWER DELIVERY

CHOOSING PROPER SPEED AND KEEPING MOMENTUM

TERRAIN READING

ENDURO AND ADVENTURE RIDING IN GENERAL

Different opinions and stereotypes follow Enduro. Some say that it’s too tough, demanding and frightening. Some are joking about “that funny 100 kg weight” and “farting” one-cylinder sound, convincing me what proper position on the bike really is.

Two dominant motivations bring people to riding school. First is passion for Enduro, peculiar to Hard Enduro riders, the other one is pursuit for knowledge specific to Adventure and road riders.

Hard riders know what they want and that’s precisely Enduro with all its horror and comedy. Second group actually looks not exactly for Enduro as much as for off road skills – basic and intermediate. Their goal is to gain at least minimum confidence for the occasions when life brings them to places with bad or no roads at all.

We think that up to some point, we can consider Enduro and off road riding as a same thing. After that certain point, Enduro and off road riding split up – Enduro becomes sport unto itself. Some may say sport with very strange techniques like riding vertical cliffs or sliding down the super steep hills next to the bike. However, that’s exactly the impression people get about Enduro from media.

These are Hard and Extreme Enduro, which stand apart from skills necessary for Adventure purposes. And that’s the reason why people get to Enduro Riding School accidentally. Most likely, previously they have already tried few different courses strictly focused on Adventure bikes.

Surely, those courses are very useful and every Adventure rider should attend them. If we’re talking about more ambitious trips covering few countries or even continents, those trainings and courses are obligatory. At least, you’ll get real picture of how skilled you are and what should be improved.

There are a lot of good stuff on YT and those coaching vids are getting better and better. Well sorted out in logical order from easiest to advanced stuff, excellently recorded and edited. Some of them did a great job by emphasizing what’s important during the particular exercise by different graphics and animations. For example ADVMotoSkillz . I really like them. They go through all the important techniques. Or Jimmy Lewis off road School who is in my opinion, one of the most skilled and experienced coaches and riders among YT associates. Of course nothing without Chris Birch, nice person, great rider and professional and his Say No To Slow.

No doubt it’s always better to work with the coach “on the ground”, but at least those vids help you to start revising your riding habits and techniques.

From the bike purchase to the moment of realization that training is necessary, sometimes few years pass. In-between, great and expensive Adventure bikes are used mainly for road riding. Usually, rider understands his lack of skills as soon as he hits some gravel road or even something more challenging. And that’s good – sooner he realizes it, the sooner he starts improving his riding. Yes, it’s all about fun and challenge but let’s be honest and admit that it’s also about safety. Even if you looked like scared to death bambi on that forest dirt road squeezing the handlebar to turn blue, regretting the moment you went off road, it’s ok as long as you’re not injured and got home in one piece.

 

 

Let’s get it straight – those Adv bikes are just great travelling devices surpassing their touring brothers by almost all parameters even if used only on roads. So, if it’s intentionally purchased and used only on tarmac roads, I absolutely understand that. Still, they have a great off road capabilities which is just a shame not to use.

I was lucky to ride a motocross during all my Adventure biking time, so my riding skills were growing and getting better without my certain awareness of that. It might sound indelicate but the difference in riding techniques, between few of us motocross mates and the others – our friends or occasional co-travelers, was getting more and more obvious over the time. When we started with Sector Enduro, strictly as a Hard Enduro tours company, many Adventure riders were coming to ride with us. Some of them have stayed in Enduro and bought their own dirt bikes. But lot of them were and still are Adv riders who hugely expanded their riding geography thanks to our school. Quite often, their initial skill level wasn’t enough for even very lite Enduro tracks and we had to teach them off-road basics. Exercises were different from time to time, we’re trying to shorten the time on training ground in order to hit the mountains and show them all that beauty as soon as possible. No doubts, few days on dirt bike in the mountains improve riding, even if the tracks are easy, but soon we realized that we had to create methodology. Fortunately, we had a lot of Adventure and off road/Enduro experience, bikes and amazing place to ride.

MAIN FEATURES OF ENDURO BIKES

Some may ask – why to teach on Enduro bikes? Is it because of business optimization, to use one type of bikes for two purposes? Is it because those bikes weigh less and therefore easier to ride? Maybe because using is cheaper? Not quite true.

  • We use only newest KTM, Husqvarna and GasGas bikes with prices comparable to mid class Adv or 5-6 years old BMW GS bikes
  • Tyres wear off faster, oil and filter are changed more often because of 100% off road usage, plastics get scratched or broken and so forth.
  • Sharp response to all commands – brake, throttle and clutch, very sensitive to even minor body movements which make them more demanding for riding but better for learning

Then why we decided to use Enduro bikes?

LITE

They weigh as much as 115 kg with fuel and all other liquids. This is important for practicing slow riding, for example maneuvering around the trees, working on balance through rocky rivers as well as while practicing the clutch work. All those techniques may cause dropping the bike, so the rider feels more confidence if he is able to prevent it from falling down. Which in turn makes him more focused on riding instead of constantly being afraid of possible damaging either bike or himself.

HEAVY DUTY

Bikes for Extreme and Lite Enduro are completely the same. It’s enough to look at the Hard Enduro sections just once to understand how tough they are. Everything on these bikes is made to survive even the hardest multiple flips, falls and blows on the rocks. Probably they’d survive Nuclear Armageddon. Lay-out solutions and specific alloys make them so hardy and reliable but expensive as well. It all becomes clear and pays off far in the wild when, after dropping it on rocks from 10 meters height, you just pick it up, start and continue riding. No way to get out of the situation like that with Adventure bike.

COST OPTIMIZED

It’s entirely made the way that damages are negligible and quite cheap. Most common are scratched or broken parts like fenders or other plastics, levers, headlights or torn seat cover. Sometimes falling can cause twisted or punctured radiators or even bended handlebar but this happen rarely.  if you are practicing with coach, none of these will happen.

REAL OFF ROAD

It means off road – not only gravel or fire roads, forest trails or similar things. Those bikes allow you to reach the places, which are literally almost inaccessible even for nature lovers and sometimes climbers. This means that huge and wild geography becomes accessible and you can see and experience the places you wouldn’t even imagine on big bikes.

SPORT

Usually, when you say: “I’m going for a ride”, it means new places, observing surroundings, maybe some curvy road to chase your friends or Ego. Enduro requires a lot of energy. You can ride some basic trails at the beginning without any serious physical efforts, but as soon as you make one-step higher, you’ll have to be in quite good condition and ready to struggle. It’s a way beyond most of sports and easily replaces them as a way of releasing the everyday job’s pressures.

READY TO RACE

Despite their lightweight and strictly off road purpose, they have explosive acceleration and extremely responsive commands. This is new and frightening experience for a newbies in a first few hours. Riders start to benefit from those racing features very soon once they get used to commands. Due to those facts, it’s impossible to mask wrong body position or lack in balance control which is case with big Adventure bikes.

Those are the main reasons in favor of Enduro bikes. Easier for riders to enter the off road world, reliable so you can ride far from base, spend whole day on bike without riding same place twice while damages are for the most part negligible. And most important – all mistakes become quickly uncovered and obvious for student which speeds up the process of training

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