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 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