Riding Tips

Uphill Switchbacks

Riding on tight trails is hard enough, but when you throw in elements like uphill switchbacks things can get nasty. Some conbinations of riding techniques enable a rider to slice his way through even the gnarlist sections.

  1. Because the trail is extremely tight you have to use the existing rut to take on the section. Let the bike settle into the rut and allow the rut to guide you around the corner. On switchbacks like this one the rut will guide you directly into the next turn. Braking is also important when riding ruts. Brake early so you can accelerate through the rut. Try to complete your braking before you enter the turn.
  2. As you come out of the first turn you’re looking forward to set up for the next one. Try not to gas it too hard out of the corner when going from turn to turn. You need to be smooth. Get a good drive out of the first corner and you can keep the power delivery smooth to the next turn.
  3. As you follow the rut around, you are completely changing your direction. Because you exited the first turn smoothly You have no trouble keeping up momentum and have started a rhythm from turn to turn. Again, because you’ve maintained smooth throttle control and neutral body position you’re able to keep the wheels in the rut. If you were on the power too hard, the front wheel would likely jump or ride out of the rut and throw off your rhythm. Riding too aggressively in technical sections can actually cause you to lose time. It’s best to slow down and ride smooth. You’ll be surprised how fast you go.

Drying a Drowned Four Stroke

  1. Start by removing the airbox drain and remove the seat and/or sideplates to get into the airbox and remove the airfilter element. Squeeze out the filter element to remove as much water as possible. Turn the fuel tap off and drain the carby by removing the bottom plug in the float bowl.
  2. Remove the spark plug, which on many thumpers may mean removing the tank. Use the kickstarter to pump water in the cylinder out through the plughole by kicking through quickly with the throttle fully open and the killswitch on. Keep kicking until no more water pumps out.
  3. Drain the exhaust system by lifting the bike up onto the rear wheel. Leaving the bike in gear and having someone help (if the buddy system has not kick in already) makes it easier. On bikes with very low hanging header pipes like the TTR250 and DRZ400, it’s best to also remove the header pipe to get all water out of the exhaust. Lower the bike back down and then check for any water in the airfilter boot between the airfilter and carby. Kick over the engine again to check for any more water at the plughole. At this stage you should also check for any water in the engine oil. Carefully remove the oil drain plug. As oil floats on water, the water will drain out first. Refit the plug once oil starts to drain out.
  4. Now check for spark, preferably using a new sparkplug from your bumbag (you do carry a spare, right!). Cold water on a hot fourstroke sparkplug can crack the porcelain, shorting out the spark only when it’s refitted. Once you’ve got spark you can refit the plug.
  5. Refit the fuel tank but drain some fuel from the tank before refitting the fuel hose. It’s unlikely any water will get into the fuel tank. Turn on the fuel tap to flush the carby through again, then turn off the fuel tap and refit the carby drain plug. Turn the fuel back on and with the air filter element removed, try to start the engine using your normal cold start technique. If that doesn’t work, try using the hot start button if one is fitted. It might take more kicking than usual but the motor should start. Let someone else kick for awhile. Once the engine starts running, keep the revs up by flicking the throttle. Have someone hold the throttle to keep the motor running and then carefully install the airfilter. Put the seat and sideplates back on and you’re there. Finally, check the engine oil dipstrick once the engine has fully warmed up, looking for a milky white colouring to the oil. If it’s milky white it means water has been inside the cases and you need to change the oil as soon as you can.

Credit: Phil Gielis, Andrew Clubb