Track Time

A tri­als rider an’ a log

Motorcyclist - - Contents - —An­drew Ol­dar

LIFE IS FULL of ob­sta­cles. Some of them are logs. As a young­ster, I learned to over­come those ob­sta­cles rid­ing on the pegs of a tri­als bike—a seat­less, light­weight ma­chine de­signed to climb over rocks, logs, and ev­ery imag­in­able ob­sta­cle. Now that I test dirt bikes for a liv­ing, I use many of the tech­niques I learned in tri­als daily. One of the most use­ful is the dou­ble blip.

The ma­neu­ver breaks down into three com­po­nents: get­ting the front wheel on the ob­sta­cle, the ini­tial throt­tle blip, and the sec­ond blip to clear the skid plate and ride over the ob­sta­cle. Be­gin by siz­ing up the log and de­cid­ing what gear to be in, then how much throt­tle it will take to get over it—all of which is learned by ex­pe­ri­ence.

Take the ap­prox­i­mate height of the ob­sta­cle you’re try­ing to climb. That’s about the dis­tance from the ob­sta­cle that you need to ini­ti­ate your wheelie. It’s not a hard-and-fast rule, and it doesn’t ap­ply to any­thing over 3 feet tall, but it’s a good place to start. With the wheel in the air, I gen­er­ally aim about two-thirds of the way up the ob­ject.

As I wheelie into the ob­sta­cle, I pull in the clutch slightly so that I can then re­lease, or “pop” it, once the forks be­come fully com­pressed. The com­bi­na­tion of the forks re­bound­ing and the pop of the clutch re­sults in the bike be­com­ing more ver­ti­cal and drives it for­ward at the same time. This helps clear the skid plate and pushes the rear wheel into the ob­sta­cle. Then I trans­fer my weight back with my knees slightly bent and my arms straight.

Once the rear wheel has cleared the ob­sta­cle or is on top of it, I can pull in the clutch and may hit the rear brake to bring the front end down. I can choose to land on my front or rear wheel, or have both land at the same time, de­pend­ing on what I plan to do next.

Like any­thing else, prac­tice makes per­fect. Start on a small ob­sta­cle in an open area and give your­self plenty of space. The tech­nique is eas­ier to learn on a smaller mo­tor­cy­cle, such as an of­froad or tri­als bike. Once you have the tech­nique down, it’s easy to ap­ply it to big­ger ob­sta­cles and larger ma­chines.

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