Active8 Yamaha’s Josh Green shares some basic but oft-overlooked tips
By Jerry Bernardo
As a member of the Australian World Trophy team that won the 2015 International Six Days Enduro, Active8 Yamaha’s Josh Green knows what it takes to use a dirt bike to its full potential. In his spare time he starts off teaching his Offroad Advantage students the basics of off-road riding, including some oft-overlooked gems.
Knobbies are just small blocks of rubber on a tyre that contact the ground. The more weight you can transfer onto them, the more traction your bike gets. Weighting the outside peg on flat turns and off-cambers really helps to maximise traction. When you see a rider sitting on the edge of his seat in a flat turn, draw an imaginary line straight to the ground. The contact point on the ground will be the outside knobbies.
In the standing position you have the most control of your bike as it transfers the weight of your body down through to the pegs. When standing, don’t lock out your arms or legs as this prevents them from acting as another set of suspension. While braking, shift weight backwards and squat in order to load the rear end with as much as weight as you can. When the bike dives forward under hard braking, counteract that with your rearward weight shift. The same rules apply riding down hills: The steeper the descent, the further back you should be.
While in second gear pull the clutch in, rev the bike a bit and release the clutch quickly so the front wheel rises. As it does, shut off and pull the clutch back; this counteracts the movement. You can also apply a bit of back brake to drop the front tyre back to the ground.
Always make sure you have at least your right foot over the rear-brake pedal as a quick brake tap will save you if you are about to flip over. Clutch wheelies are a useful technique that allows riders to pop the front tyre over rocks, logs and holes.
Stoppies (Nose Wheelies)
Practice this while riding on grippy surfaces. Squeeze the front brake as you quickly shift your body weight forward in order to get the back of the bike to lift. Once the back end of the bike lifts, release the front brake and lean back in order to allow the bike to settle back down while also pulling in the clutch. When you become skilled enough, you can practise a clutch wheelie into a stoppy. Practicing stoppies may also help you to remain relaxed when you’re braking too hard and the rear kicks up while heading downhill.
A front-brake skid is also a useful tool in certain situations. Maintain constant throttle with your body seated to the rear of the bike to make the front end lighter. Squeeze the front brake until the front wheel locks. The goal is to ride along with the wheel locked and wanting to wash out.
Both these skills are great for training the rider on how to react in different situations. Normal instinct is to grab the brakes harder when things go wrong, but usually that will make things even worse.
The goal is to ride three full circles in both directions with handlebar at full lock. The slower you go, the harder it becomes. Start in a cornering position seated forwards. Your head should be up, your inside leg out and keep your outside elbow up. Once you’ve mastered that, go to the standing position and try to achieve the same results.
Basic drills like these become platforms to build on while focusing on advancing skill sets and riding ability.