Hints and tips

Getting your bike ready for the lanes

The trailie or enduro bike as delivered is often not suitable to take straight out into the countryside and the dedicated rider will make several modifications in preparation. Here are some that come to mind:

  • Loosen the brake and clutch lever on the bars so a fall will move and not break them.
  • Carry a spare lever in tool bag or attached to the underside of the bars.
  • Fit BarkBusters or similar lever protectors.
  • Adjust tyre pressure to between 14 and 17 psi
  • Ensure that both tyres are clamped with a security bolt to stop it moving on the rim.
  • Fit suitable knobbly tyres. These should be road legal but with the maximum off road grip. Typically a Treleburg Army Special or Michelin Competion Enduro. For a road legal tyre the knobbles must be similar to the gap between them. You might have problems with the MOT so ask to read the exact wording of the requirements.
  • Split Fire plugs are often seen as the answer to a maidens prayer for 4-strokes when trying to start a flooded engine. This usually happens when the bike is stalled at 45 degrees to the vertical or is in a deep muddy puddle.
  • Fitting ‘mousse’ inner tubes prevents punctures but are expensive at around £150. Saves carrying tyre levers and spare inner tubes (puncture repair kit).
  • Get together a tool kit and secure it to the rear of the bike.
  • Learn how to bump start the bike using the decompressor.
  • Learn how to bump start the bike without the decompressor (in case you don’t have one)
  • Chain lubrication is almost a cosmetic function as the first muddy puddle seems to clean off all traces of oil within seconds. Try using Chain Wax by Castrol. I think it will have most benefit if done immediately after hosing the bike after a run. This will a least stop it rusting in the garage. When replacing the chain get one with ‘O’ ring sealed links.
  • Adjust the chain gearing to suit the terrain you are riding. Difficult terrain usually requires a lower gear to enable you to go slower in the ‘technical’ sections. Increase the teeth on the back sprocket rather than decreasing the front sprocket. This will increase the life of both sprockets – the more teeth in contact with the chain the longer it will last.

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And When You Get Home:

  • Hose the mud off – a high pressure jetting device is good but be careful to follow all instructions
  • After washing – run the engine to dry the bike internally (exhaust pipe etc)
  • If you have a drum brake – ride with the brake on to dry it out
  • Spray grease the chain – stops it rusting
  • One shot of grease into any frame/suspension nipples (if you have them)
  • Check the oil level
  • Check you still have brake pads with some meat on them
  • Check the chain tension
  • Check/repair other damage

After effecting any remedial work you should now be ready to go again

Waterproof Clothing is essential and everyone has their own preferences, but here are some suggestions.

  • Don’t wear too much clothing under your protecive gear – you will get hot on the trail.
  • A strong jacket that won’t tear when you go past brambles is a good starting point. These are rarely waterproof so you may want to get a light fully waterproof over jacket for when it starts to tip down. The main feature of the over jacket is that it should be waterproof and cheap, and if possible repairable.
  • Gloves always seem to be a compromise. They should provide some protection to your hands when you fall off and also keep you warm, dry and allow maximum sensitivity to control the bike. Several different pairs may be the answer.
  • Boots should be high, waterproof and strong enough to operate the kick-start without falling apart. They must also protect your feet when hitting rocks/tree stumps etc. Ideally motocross or enduro boots.
  • Trousers can also perform several functions such as warmth, and protection from brambles and falls. Although expensive motocross trousers offer good protection and comfort. They seldom combine this with being waterproof so it is often useful to have over trousers. The Dutch Army provides their troops with strong air breathing waterproof over-trousers. They may be made of Gortex but the label doesn’t say so. Only available in camouflage it seems. My preference is to wear these over my boots and make them a little more resistant to the ingress of water by using a strip cut from and old inner-tube (like a big elastic band) to clamp them tightly to the boots. Over-trousers about £30.
  • Knee and elbow protectors are essential.
  • Body armour is recommended.
  • Gortex over-socks can help to keep your feet dry. About £30.

Wheel bearings need replacing from time to time. Generally all bearings are made to standard sizes and are available from bearing specialists – look in the Yellow Pages. These will be much cheaper than the branded part and in the case of Honda they will be much better. Make sure that you buy the ones with a double seal. A number stamped on the rim is universally recognisable but to be sure you get the right one take the old one in with you.

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(Scanned from TRAIL May 2000 plus Editors comments)


  • How do I make smooth and safe progress along trails?

1. Never ride alone. It’s dangerous and sad.

2. Look well ahead. Fixate on where you want to go in the distance, the bike and your body will do the rest. Don’t fixate on the rock, rut or tree a few metres ahead, you’ll probably freeze, wobble or hit it.

3. Relax. Tense muscles, tight grip and stiff posture are tiring. Let the bike do the work.

4. Try standing up with knees bent. It lowers the centre of gravity (your weight on pegs now, not high on seat) and let your leg muscles act as shock absorbers (like skiing).

[No actually the centre of gravity is raised but it is easier to keep the bike stable as it can move underneath you – Ed]

5. Never overtake. The rider in front doesn’t know what you’re planning, and he could change direction or stop.

6. Leave plenty of distance between riders. You’ll enjoy each section more, pick better lines and make safer, quicker and smoother progress.

7. Don’t turn off the main priority of the trail, until you are certain that the rider following has seen you turn off. Wait. This is true teamwork for fun, safety and a good pace.

8. Stop for walkers and animals. A friendly wave makes you an ambassador for our pastime.

9. Trail riding is all about using the right gears (much lower than on the road) and gentle, constant throttle control.

10. Avoid using your brakes by; observation, anticipation, sympathetic gear changes and deceleration. How far can you go without braking?

11. Brake gently and progressively.

12. Brake in a straight line, on the flat. Sit well back with your arms locked straight. Bias on the front brake. It will dig in!

13. When crossing water. Low gears, low speed, high revs, maybe slip the clutch a little (bow wave won’t kill the spark plug or go into air box and engine). Look ahead for a shallow, clean line. Don’t brake. If you drop the bike, hit the kill switch immediately, to avoid expensive ‘hydraulic’ damage to the engine.

14. Is it possible to cross from one rut to another?

It’s best not to try. Look ahead and plan your route.

You may be able to steer your front wheel from one small rut to another easily. But the back wheel will not follow if it is being driven.Release the clutch quickly and the back wheel will ‘free wheel’ and follow over.

  • How do I get up hills without effort?

15. Going uphill is easy. Stand, select a low gear for the entire section, plan your route and use a smooth, constant throttle. Try not to stop.

16. If it’s slippery, sticky or loose, try sitting with your body weight far back putting maximum weight on the rear wheel.

  • And how do I go downhill without frightening myself?

17. Don’t brake going downhill on the trail. Sympathetically select third or second gear, throttle shut, let the engine slow you and the suspension have its full travel to do all the work. Stand up.

  • Can a bike really tow another bike safely?

18. With great care and with a proper tow-rope. Use the minimum speed and gentle acceleration.Tie one end to the front bike’s right foot-peg, and the other end to the broken bike’s left foot-peg (or vice versa) and avoid fouling brakes, chain or controls. Tie a warning flag in the middle of the rope.

[The bike being towed should not be tied to the tow-rope. Wrap the rope once round the peg and place your foot on it. If you need to release quickly just remove your foot – Ed]

Never tie ropes to the forks or steering!

How can I turn without looking a total nonce?

19. Anticipate and plan your turn. Brake well ahead.

Turn in very slowly and gently power out. Keep them as wide as possible. Use banking and gradient to help you (called a burm).

Keep two fingers on the clutch and feather it to stop the back wheel sliding, this gives you finer control than the throttle.

Body weight forward, inside leg (to direction of turn) out straight for balance. No brakes on turns.

20. And if you do drop your bike. Turn the engine off. Smile and think carefully about the easiest way to pick it up, or get help. Picking it up incorrectly can hurt more than a fall.

Relax and have fun.

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Repairing Punctures

Repairing punctures can be a daunting operation to a newcomer. Out on the trail there is seldom that friendly workshop man with a tyre-changing machine to help.

Don’t injure yourself – we take no responsibility!

You will need:

  • Tyre levers, at least two, three is better. These need to be strong and at least 300mm long, they can be strapped to the handle bars if you can’t find any where else to put them.
  • Tyre lubricant, e.g. washing up liquid (diluted 30%)
  • A spare tube or a tube repair kit. Get a tube for the larger wheel (21″) and keep the repair kit for emergencies.
  • Spanners to remove the wheel, security bolt and inner tube inflater retaining nut.
  • Some muscle and a lot of technique.

First remove the wheel then:

  1. Slacken off the security bolt and remove the nut from the inner tube inflater.
  2. Use leavers in the normal way to remove one side of the tyre from the rim. This is a fairly easy job but don’t use the levers any where near the tube inflater valve – you will get a bit more than a nip.
  3. Push the tube inflater inside the rim and pull out the inner tube. It can be a bit fiddly to get you hand under the tyre but again this is not too hard.
  4. Repair the hole in the tube. Do this now so that the glue has a good chance to set.
  5. Remove the tyre from the rim. This can be hard work so try this; Insert a lever between the rim and tyre and turn it through a full 180 degrees, plus some. Push down hard on the lever and then use a second lever to ease the rest of the tyre off.
  6. Check the tyre for the cause of the puncture – thorns/nails etc.
  7. Inflate the inner tube fairly to be fairly firm.
  8. Insert the tube in the tyre orienting the inflater in the correct position to locate the in rim.
  9. Pull the inflater section of the tube out of the tyre (this make it easy to locate the inflater in the wheel rim – next step)
  10. Lubricate the tyre rims with rubber lubricant.
  11. Offer the wheel rim up the tube inflater, push it through and fit the retaining nut. The tube will have by now popped back into the tyre.
  12. Place one side of the wheel rim into the tyre. This should be the part of the rim opposite the security bolt.
  13. Use levers to prise one side of the tyre onto the rim. Take care here not to nip the tube with the levers. Don’t be over ambitious with the amount you lever at any one time. Just take it a little step at a time. Note that the tube is still partially inflated, this helps to reduce nipping (puncturing) the tube with the levers.
  14. Make sure that the tyre is between the security bolt and the rim.
  15. Lever the second side of the tyre onto the rim. As before watch out for nipping and take reasonably small steps with the levers round the tyre.
  16. Check the security bolt is free inside the tyre. Use levers as necessary.
  17. Inflate the tyre to about 30psi to set it on the rim. You may omit this if you are on the trail and pumping is a problem.
  18. Set to correct tyre pressure.
  19. Tighten the security bolt.

Now you are a man my son and you can confidently discuss the best kind of tyre levers and weather its easier to do the front or rear tyre when you next have a half pint of larger-top at the TRF.

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Tip of the Month


Making some extreme descents and just want to go a bit slower than first gear will allow? – just pull in the decompressor and hey presto some extra engine braking. Try it in a safe place first.


Now that autumn is here its back to goggles misting up time. Save money on that expensive fluid that the motorcycle shops sell you and try a dab of washing up liquid on the lens. Spread it round and wipe the lens clear with a tissue. Thats it.

If your out on the trail and you forgot to demist them at home a bit of spit used in the same way does much the same job.

For the technical minded its the starch (in the spit) or the detergent (washing up liquid) that breaks down the surface tension of the mist bubbles and clears the mist.

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