Dirt Bike Trail Building Tips – Know The Land

Hare-Scramble Practice Track

After long and hard work of building a loop of riding trails, it’s a blast to get on them right away. Unfortunately, they will quickly get boring…. That is, unless, you incorporate some obstacles in them. These “obstacles” can range from: fallen trees, to large rock sections, all the way to rutted hill-climbs with a combination of logs, rocks, and tree trunks all the way up.

For most of us that don’t have machinery that can move and haul equipment and obstacles as such, we have to get more creative. Depending on how technical you want your trails to be, the goal is to make the trail so that you can incorporate as many obstacles as possible with minimal/no effort in moving them. I try to make it so that if there is a large/difficult obstacle, such as a downed tree, I make a line that goes over it, as well as one that can go around for less-experienced riders (if possible).

Even if you have a trail loop already, you can still go back and scrutinize what you can add to the trail. Who knows, you may find an even better route than what you had before. Go ahead and change it up if that’s the case, even if you didn’t find any obstacles to include.

 

What I try to look for are some nice rounded logs/downed trees, long fly-aways, steep hills/hill-climbs, valleys, and anything else that will mix it up, while still keeping the trail flowing, which is key (more about that in a later article). For logs, I usually make the trail go perpendicular over them (better for beginners), and sometimes stack them up in a pyramid-like shape to make it more challenging.


Off-Camber Switch-Back Section

If there are any hills, I look for a line to make a sweeping corner that turns and goes up the hill. Once I get near or to the top, I make a 180 degree turn to go back down, if possible. It’s hard to tell you what to look for exactly, since every woods is different. You just have to look for lines that connect and flow well, and possibly include obstacles.

Remember to get some Helmet Cam footage of your trails, and if you have any more ideas, feel free to comment. Ride safe, and stay tuned for my future posts on Trail Building!

-Tom Stark

Dirt Bike Trail Building Tips – Getting Rid of Thorns

If there’s one thing I hate the most when it comes to building dirt bike trails, it would probably thorns. Where I live, they’re everywhere, and often difficult to get rid of.

Thorns On Trail

You know what I’m talking about if you have them or have ridden through them before. It hurts, especially when he thorns are as high as your head. Getting rid of them is the worst part. It gets very annoying when you’re out in the middle of summer trying to cut thorns down when it’s blistering hot out and they just keep poking you. There are ways to make this process easier, quicker, and get around it at times.

Don’t Call Me A Wuss!

I realize that some of you may be thinking to yourself, “Why don’t you just ride over the thorns, you big baby?!” That’s fine, because if I didn’t know any better I would be thinking the same thing. But the thorns on our land aren’t one foot in height. No, they’re often four feet tall, so they get in your face, scratch up your arms and neck. So once the day is over you are more red marks than not.

I would prefer to use big and heavy artillery, such as a bobcat with brush-cutting attachments to mow thorns and weeds down, but that just isn’t probable with the current economy right now. So, instead I’ve thought of other ways to do it with cheap equipment (some of which you might already have).

Suit Up For War…

When tackling sharp and tall thorns, you don’t go out in shorts, sandals, and a beater. No, you will want to wear thick jeans, a long sleeve shirt, and work boots. I know you may say that it’s unbearable to wear that much clothing in the heat of the day, but there are ways to get around this; more on that later. Besides, it better to sweat a little than bleeding your guts out. Some work gloves will also be useful so you don’t tear up your precious hands.

What Tools?

Hedge Shear

There are many tools that you can use to cut down thorns and weeds, but I try to make it as easy as possible. So, after suiting and booting up I took our old (and I mean old) hedge shear, which are fairly heavy duty and started cutting away. I already had my trails marked (click here for previous article Making The Layout), so I just trimmed the thorns and weeds to make about a 2-3 foot wide path. I didn’t take the time to get rid of every last inch of thorn on the trail, but I did cut most of the down close to the ground. They will grow back, so after cutting a good section of trails I hop on my dirt bike and ride over them about a dozen times to rip the rest of it up.

To Make Things Easier

I love it when there is an easier way to get a job done, especially when it’s just as good or better! I figured out, not that this should be surprising, it’s A LOT easier to cut and trim thorns/weeds during the fall and spring seasons. You can do it in the winter as well, but here it’s not very probable because we get quite a bit of snow here. When everything is dead/cold it will break more easily, so cutting them will take less strength and go by much quicker. Riding over thorns when it’s cold out really speeds up the trail building process because the tire really tears them up.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment or add suggestions, as I would love you hear your opinion on whether you like these articles or not!

-Tom Stark

Dirt Bike Trail Building Tips – Clearing The Trail

Clearing a section of dirt bike trails is tedious work. There is often a lot to move or cut out of the way, even if you’re just making single track. There are many ways to do it. The easiest is to bulldoze it over or ride over it with a 4 wheeler, but I’m here to help you build trails with cheap tools.

It took a long time and many wasted hours of trying to figure out what routine works best when clearing a section of trails, but I finally figured it out. I was too picky in the early stages of making dirt bike trails because I was trying to get rid of all the sticks on the ground, as well as RAKING LEAVES!!! That’s right, I actually raked leaves. I cannot believe how many hours I wasted trying to rake every last leaf off of the trail just so I could see dirt! That wouldn’t fly, so I quit raking my time away…

Bow Saw

Once you made a layout for your trails, the first thing you should do is clear the big stuff. Use a Hand Saw/Bow Saw to cut down trees that are up to about 5″ (13cm) in diameter that are in the way. If they are much bigger then the easiest thing to do is go around them if you don’t have bigger equipment. Next thing is to get rid off any hanging or fallen branches that you don’t want on the trail. Move them to the side of the trail, use them as a border, or make an obstacle out of them. That goes for fallen trees as well.

Clearing The Trail

After you get the big stuff out of the way it might be time to get out the dirt scooter. Ride over the trails to see how it is. Be prepared to make adjustments because you will often miss things. Different climates call for different actions. Where I live the main problem I have after clearing the big things in the trail is thorns and weeds. I find that it works the best to trim them just enough so that you can ride through the trails without getting too scraped up. The thorns in our woods can get really thick and tall, so I sometimes have to spend a whole day going through a section trimming them.

That’s it for now. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to comment. So until next time, go out and start clearing some dirt bike trails!

-Tom Stark

Dirt Bike Trails


Motocross is my favorite thing to do on a dirt bike, but when I’m not able to go to a track I love to ride on trails. Dirt bike trails are usually safer than motocross tracks, and they are a lot of fun to ride on, especially if there are challenging obstacles. This article will give you an idea what dirt bike trails consist, the dangers that can lurk in them, and some tips on how to protect you and your bike.

Dirt Bike Trails

Trail riding is a cheaper alternative for riding your dirt bike instead of motocross racing. There are many trail riding areas in pretty much every state, so finding one within a reasonable distance shouldn’t be that difficult for most people. For those of you that don’t have state or local trails near you, or riders that just don’t want to pay for a state trail sticker, you can make trails on your own property if you have woods. I make my own dirt bike trails and they are a blast to ride on, especially with some buddies.

There are many aspects that make trail riding unique and unusually exciting. First of all, when else are you going to be blitzing through the woods with trees flying past your face on a vehicle? It’s the adrenaline of trying to master the obstacles in the trails that makes it so exhilarating. The things that make dirt bike trails challenging are the traction-less hill-climbs, the trees smacking your hands, roots causing you to lose balance, or the hills that you happen to high-side and fall down. Other things like the fallen trees or added obstacles such as big rocks, logs, cars, wooden walls, and anything else riders can think of make it all the more exciting. It’s that “I think I can” spirit combined with the adrenaline rush that makes trail riding so purely awesome.

Fallen Trees

Getting over these objects is easier said than done. Riding over big trees is not always simple to do, especially if the tree is at an awkward angle. To get over big trees you can’t just go fast and hope for the best. You want to go nice and easy, otherwise you’ll end up tipping over or the bike will land on top of you. To get over a big tree you should sit more towards the rear of the bike and raise the front of the bike up with the throttle and arm strength, then once you get on top of the tree you should move your weight to the front of the bike so you don’t flip. It often happens that the bottom of the bike will hit the tree. This will scratch up the frame and possibly the engine. Don’t let this happen, so guard the frame and engine with a Works Connection Skid Plate.

Hill-Climbs

 

I love riding up big and steep hills on my dirt bike, and it’s even more fun when there’s trees, branches, and ruts that you must surpass in the woods. To have great trails you must have elevation change, and that is sometimes difficult to come by if you don’t have state trails nearby. So if you have a good amount of hills then you are lucky. Riding up hills often requires momentum, traction, power, and balance. Of course you don’t always need all of these, but they are the things that will help get you up those nasty slopes. Getting momentum is simply building up as much speed before the hill as possible. This takes skill and guts sometimes, but also makes riding a lot more exciting. Traction comes from body positioning/balance, a good rear tire, and throttle control. Normally you should put weight on the rear of the bike to get traction, unless the dirt is really tacky, and rolling on the power instead of snapping it will allow the tire to hook up more. It’s the rider that makes it up the hill and usually not the bike, but a little extra power doesn’t hurt (check out my “FMF Fatty Pipe Review” for more power).

Roots/Ruts

Roots and ruts…. “What’s the difference?” you may ask, and I will tell you because you don’t want to get them confused when talking to another riding buddy. Roots are the vines of the trees that come up on trails usually from a lot of use and rundown. They are usually not difficult to ride over, but if there are a lot of roots that criss-cross and face every angle they tend to mess up your balance at times. Probably the easiest way to get over roots is to stand up and stay neutral on the bike, that way you can shift your weight more easily if you need to, and you might have to use your legs as suspension if you hit a rough root or three.

Ruts are the grooves that form after continuous use of one line. The tracks of ruts often get so deep on dirt bike trails that your foot pegs drag on the ground. The deeper the rut is the nastier it will be to get in and out of it. The key is to get maximum traction so you can ride through the entire rut. To have traction you must be smooth with the throttle and sometimes have momentum coming into the rut. You want to get the most traction so you can get through the rut, and so you won’t roost and eat away the dirt. Roosting is fine if you want to do it on your own dirt bike trails, but try not to on state trails because it just ruins it for other riders.

Get some on road practice with one of these Lexmoto 125cc motorbikes and improve your riding awareness.

Rocks

Rocks can be very difficult obstacles to overcome. It’s not just the size of the rock that’s intimidating, but the shape also matters because it requires a lot more strength to keep the bike balanced while riding over them. Getting over a rock is similar to riding over big logs, except you have to be more careful with your weight distribution and throttle control. Too much throttle and you’ll tip over, and you’ll fall if you are not balanced. There can be luck involved with getting over big rocks, but it’s mainly skill and experience. Rocks can be dangerous to you and your bike. Your elbows can easily get scraped or punctured, along with the rest of your body. You can protect them with some Fox Racing Elbow Guards, or your entire body with EVS Body Armor, you’ll be glad you did. Pipes can also get damaged; rocks dent, crack, and puncture pipes, sometimes beyond repair. Protect your two-stroke with a Pipe Guard By E Line.

Branches/Trees

 

What is more annoying than your hands constantly getting whipped by trees and branches while trying to hold on to the handlebars? I know I hate it, and I’m sure you don’t enjoy it. A good way to dodge branches is to stand up so you can easily tilt and turn your handlebars. But to do this you need balance, strength, and stamina. After a while it gets tiring if you are moving the bike, so instead of using up all of your energy you could protect you precious hands with a pair of Cycra Hand Guards.

All of these obstacles that I mentioned and more give the challenge that riders want. Riding on dirt bike trails is a relatively safe activity for dirt biking (check out my Dirt Bike Trails Protection article if you want to stay safer). It’s even more satisfying when you ride on trails that you personally made. So if you have some land, go out and make some trails, even if there are state trails near you. Either way, get out and ride some trails, especially if you haven’t tried it. They are are blast, I can guarantee it!

Good luck, and ride safe.

-Tom Stark

 

 

 

Dirt Bike Trails Protection


Dirt bike trails can be a lot of fun for any rider, but whats not fun is your bike getting damaged, or even worse, you getting injured. That is why there are many options and add-ons to protect you and your bike. Any rider that has hit a tree or another similar object while blitzing through dirt bike trails would have to agree that it hurts and they wouldn’t want to do it again (Unless of course you are on the show “Jesse James Is A Dead Man” and one of you ‘deadly’ stunts is riding a dirt bike over an off-road course). Anyway, protecting you and your dirt bike for riding on trails can save you some big money, especially if you “accidentally” tip over a lot. Don’t worry, these tips will help keep your bike in better shape in the end, and yourself as well if you choose to listen to me.

Protective Gear (For You)

BJ22 Ballistic Jersey
EVS Body Armor

The first thing to do before you go trail riding on your dirt bike is to buy protection gear for your body. Your bike may be expensive, but it’s much more beneficial if you save your own butt rather than the dirt bike. Remember, the bike is replaceable, you are not. At least not in this life you aren’t. The basic protective gear is obviously a DOT approved off-road helmet, a good pair of motocross boots, and some long clothes. Now to really protect yourself from all of those trees, rocks, roots, and other hard objects that you would hit when or if you fall on the trails, good body armor is the best protection you can get. Some people may say that they are very uncomfortable to wear, they are itchy and hot, or they’re just plain annoying to wear while riding. Most of those people probably have never even tried using one while trail riding, let alone even trying one on.

Body armor/suits are good for any kind of riding because they are full upper-body protection and many come with kidney belts that help prevent too much back stress, which is somewhat common when riding on dirt bike trails because you sit down a lot. I use one when I go racing, trail riding, and when I ride my dirt bikes with friends, and I don’t really have anything to complain about. I use a BJ22 Ballistic Jersey and will say┬áthat it was a good investment. I won’t go into too much detail about it, but will say that it is awesome protection. It doesn’t bother me much and it’s not extremely bulky. Fortunately this body armor has good ventilation and is still usable in hotter conditions without making me die from sweat. This suit comes with chest protection, shoulder pads, elbow guards, back-plate protection, and a kidney belt. If you want to give your upper body a break when you wipe out or hit something, try putting on some armor; your body will like it.

RC2 Race Collar
EVS Race Collar

Another good protective piece of gear for trail riding is a neck brace/collar. This is another thing that is neglected, especially when riding on dirt bike trails. Most people that have one only use it when they ride on the track because that is usually the most dangerous type of riding. But if you are blazing through dirt bike trails there is a good chance of injuring your neck as well if you crash. I use an EVS Race Collar and am glad I got it (Click here for a review that I made for this neck collar). It can save a neck injury or collar bone if you fall and land on your head or if your bike hits you. I always ride with it on and will say that I never notice it. The only time it restricts the head is when you turn and try to look backwards, otherwise it’s great protection with good comfort. Trust me when I say these will pay for themselves probably after one bad crash.

Protective Gear (For Your Bike)

Once you get all of the necessary equipment for yourself then you can start protecting your precious bike. Probably the most important part to protect on a two stroke dirt bike for trail riding is the pipe. The head pipe/expansion chamber can easily get damaged if you crash, especially if it hits rocks or other hard objects. A simple way to keep it from getting badly dented or cracked is by buying a pipe guard. E-Line has Pipe Guards that will fit many two and four-stroke dirt bikes. These will make your pipe last much longer than without having one. It’s a cheaper alternative than buying another new pipe, and they hardly add any weight to the bike.

Hand guards are one of the most popular dirt bike modification for trail riding because they protect your hands from hitting annoying trees, weeds, branches, and other objects in the woods that would hurt your hands. Pro Taper makes many different Hand Guards for pretty much every off-road bike possible. They have many models with several colors to match your needs. If you want to protect your hands from roost and trees, you need some hand guards!

Devol Engineering makes Front Disc and Rear Disc Guards to protect your brake rotors from getting damaged or bent from hitting rocks and other stiff objects on the trails. This is a cheap way to keep your brake discs/rotors safer and cleaner.

Works Connection has Aluminum Skid Plates that will protect the underside of the engine and the frame. This is another common modification that trail riders do to their dirt bikes because logs and rocks can really do some damage to the under part of your bike. Stop the wreckage with a skid plate before it’s too late. They are light, easy to install, and don’t add bulk to your bike.

Radiator Guards can help prevent twisting and breaking of radiators that result in costly repairs or replacement. Works Connection also has Radiator Braces that will fit almost every name brand dirt bike with radiators out there. These Guards are a lot cheaper than buying new radiators and will increase the longevity of them.

Protecting you and your bike for trail riding is smart, it will save you money, and most likely a lot of pain. There are many more parts to add on to your bike to protect it, but these are the most common modifications that riders have.

You can click on the links or go to Amazon to view these.

Thanks for viewing, and good luck protecting yourself and your bike. Stay safe, and have fun riding.

-Tom Stark