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Thread: Improving trail riding skills...

  1. #11
    Senior Member Fred's Avatar
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    Challenging yourself is the way to build and improve riding skills. I say return to Rock Candy and ride it again and again and again. It doesn't look that bad, even with stock gearing and the admittedly street oriented "dual purpose" Shinko700 you should be able to conquer it when dry. Conquering it might be a case of mind over matter. As they say if you fall off a horse get right back on and ride!


    If your goal is to ride more terrain like this I would recommend swapping to much lower gearing. A 10% bigger rear sprocket ( say a 55 tooth vs 50 tooth) should give you at least 10% more time to pick and choose your line for any given engine speed. This results in more than 10% greater confidence that accompanies the 10% greater torque. Just don't slow down too much before any obstacle...massive rotational momentum from that big heavy TrailWay gyroscope spinning out back will often carry the day as well as carry the bike over rocks and roots. I see so many mistakes when folks slow down, stop, put a foot down or otherwise give up that momentum and self confidence. If you are moving on the bike, in control, in the groove etc. why give it up by upsetting your and bike's balance. Just keep crawling along calmly. Stopping, then starting again back up again with adequate momentum and control takes a certain amount of trail that may not be available before encountering the intimidating obstacle.
    Good luck and keep practicing.
    Last edited by Fred; 06-05-2019 at 09:52 AM.
    2003 TW200 "Betty Boop"
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  2. #12
    Senior Member Tiny-Wheel-200's Avatar
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    The thing that will really allow youre skills to develop faster is to put taller handlebars bigger footpegs and much lower gearing like 12-55. I say rhis with thousands of alaskan trail miles. my own trail riding skills only blossomed once I had turned my bike into a real trail bike. I went way beyond this but those are the simple and cheap things that will cost like $180. also having a full set of armor will increase your confidence alot.
    Last edited by Tiny-Wheel-200; 06-05-2019 at 12:44 PM.
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  3. #13
    Senior Member Fred's Avatar
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    That Tiny-Wheel sure knows his stuff, good advice.
    This is from his early nearly stock TW200 days. As you can see a stock TWs will gets you most places, but improvements can get you further. His riding style & bike have really evolved since. Check out his later videos. Low gearing also allows time for some good camera control. Alaska must offer amazing riding for a purpose built TW.
    Sthrnromr and Ken like this.
    2003 TW200 "Betty Boop"
    2006 TW200 "Nibbler", a.k.a. “Mr.Gizmo"
    Hidden Content All Things Considered I’ld Rather Be Motorcycling

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  5. #14
    Senior Member Sthrnromr's Avatar
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    Ha! That is a great vid. Tiny-Wheel-200 just needs a drone to follow him around so he can ditch that pole and ride with 2 hands ;P
    2010 TW200 - The Goat
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  6. #15
    Member TWBigBlake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fred View Post
    Challenging yourself is the way to build and improve riding skills. I say return to Rock Candy and ride it again and again and again. It doesn't look that bad, even with stock gearing and the admittedly street oriented "dual purpose" Shinko700 you should be able to conquer it when dry. Conquering it might be a case of mind over matter. As they say if you fall off a horse get right back on and ride!
    Definitely not trying to make excuses here, but I’ve only been able to find one video that shows the lower rock candy trails where I had trouble, entrance to the north loop isn’t bad, plumbstraight took me left of the entrance to a side I hadn’t been to before, not that it was nightmarish or anything you just encounter the steep areas on the switchbacks... which happen to be littered with weird patches of cinderblock and the standard roots and rocks scattered about.

    But he mentioned the same thing about lower gearing, which I agreed with after he politely told me to try his bike and he’d ride my bike up the last 200ish meters of the trail to a forest service road, and damned if I didn’t just put right up that hill with little effort...

    Which brings me to a discussion I had with my friend last night about reducing the incentive to become a better trail rider and incentive to lose weight by compensating with the gearing on the bike. During that conversation I relented that I need to focus on weight reduction, building confidence, and practicing on the same trails or other trails that are tough but are still fun to experience. Which reminded me of a quote from my private bass instructor when I was a younger kid:

    Instructor: “Blake, do you know why you sound terrible when you play?”
    Me: “I dunno”
    Instructor: “It’s because you really suck at playing”
    Me: “uhhh”
    Instructor: “Nobody wants to hear crappy music that’s out of tune, much less when that music is coming from you like when you practice, but practice is the only way we get better, so we can enjoy hearing ourselves play”

    I think this concept may apply to this situation...
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  7. #16
    Senior Member Fred's Avatar
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    ...and then there is compensating by radically changing the bike, more fun than going on a diet. I get any fatter and I may need to evolve my TW by doing like what TinyWheel has done to his.

    His is not really stock anymore...tiny wheel.jpg
    Ken likes this.
    2003 TW200 "Betty Boop"
    2006 TW200 "Nibbler", a.k.a. “Mr.Gizmo"
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  8. #17
    Senior Member Tiny-Wheel-200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fred View Post
    ...and then there is compensating by radically changing the bike, more fun than going on a diet. I get any fatter and I may need to evolve my TW by doing like what TinyWheel has done to his.

    His is not really stock anymore...tiny wheel.jpg
    I built a fat tired bike because I am a fat,tired rider. That configuration of the tw makes me truly a better rider. Its amazing.

    Sent from my LML211BL using Tapatalk
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  9. #18
    Senior Member ejfranz's Avatar
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    The TW forum offers many group rides. A good way to get better riding skills is to go on one of these rides. Riders usually head out in groups of similar ability, but the groups welcome all riders and you can push yourself to try some harder terrain. You also get the experience of seeing how other riders "attack" different obstacles and you can ask questions on how to get through different obstacles. No rider is left behind so if you have difficulty at a spot either the group will manhandle your bike through or someone may offer to ride it through that section.
    2001 TW200 sporting a MT43 up front. Duro has gone to a good home. 2015 VStrom XT, 1996 DT 200, Broken 2010 Xingue 400 XY. 2009 WR250r now shared with my son.

  10. #19
    Senior Member Fred's Avatar
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    Group rides can be good learning experiences...like the Marines we don't leave our dead and wounded behind. Rare is the ride where we don't consider everyone's capabilities and try to accommodate them.
    Sthrnromr and Ken like this.
    2003 TW200 "Betty Boop"
    2006 TW200 "Nibbler", a.k.a. “Mr.Gizmo"
    Hidden Content All Things Considered I’ld Rather Be Motorcycling

  11. #20
    Senior Member assquatch20's Avatar
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    I'd highly recommend you watch as many videos as you can. If you're ever able to take classes, I'd definitely love to try that. Here's some of my advice though:

    The gearing recommendations are a good help, same goes for weight transfer. The TW is a unique bike though and can handle like a street bike in ideal conditions. With the right berm you can just sit down and put a foot out like a MX'er or supermoto rider. Heck the TW is so low and grippy with the right berm you can stick a knee out like a GP'er or supermoto guy. I like supermoto in general. Trials and enduro riders have a great deal of advice that we could benefit from too. For instance, doing sideways or vertical figure 8's on the side of a hill, that's a struggle. Try it on flat ground first.

    Constantly be scanning near and far, left and right, looking where you think you need to go. Target fixation is a real thing. We tend to ride where we're looking. In a car if you go directly at an object in the road, you usually straddle it. On a bike, you run right over it or into it, so don't be staring at the big boulder or tree. Look where you need to go.

    When going down or uphill that gearing reduction will be very useful, but so is the weight transfer. Going upward, I usually stand and lean forward if the hill looks treacherous. Going down I stand but kinda squat to the rear. The seat will occasionally hit your rear if you're low enough but doing this keeps the suspension from trying to hop around so much, lowers the ole center of gravity, and allows you to use your front brake without it washing out as easily. Too much weight on the front and the brake will just lock it up. You gotta be gentle with the brake regardless. Being smooth with your rev-matching when you're about to go down a hill is gonna save you from some instability as well. If you downshift a bit too early or without matching engine and wheel speed, it can force the back tire into that lower speed and cause it to slide. Shifting too low without rev matching on a sport bike like that will wake your ass right up. A TW in the dirt can do the same though.

    There's also intentional brake sliding and power sliding for turns, but the power one is a bit tough on a TW. A lot of traction to overcome with minimal power, but it's very doable on the right surface with the right speed and angle of approach and such. A rear brake slide can be very handy in tight stuff, but I'd definitely do some research before I tried it, and avoid trees and stones while working on this technique.

    It's very common here for kids that ride MX to have tracks laid out in the yard with jumps and berms and such. Same goes for enduro and trail guys in the woods. Trials guys use the woods or the yard, you can just set up obstacles. I think it's the MSF that has you ride across a seesaw. That seems like a good balance exercise. Point is though if you can't slow down and go smoothly enough to improve where you're at, find somewhere you can. Those motocross kids can go pay for practice days at tracks but it's gonna be loud and crowded and fast for a beginner. So they make a place that allows them to figure it out at their own pace. Finding a spot like that will help a lot. This area you're talking about may be fine with slower gearing and the tips you've already learned. I don't know, I haven't seen it or you. It is correct though to say that it's like learning an instrument in a sense. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. If you can do it perfectly at a low speed, dealing with the higher speed becomes much easier. Anticipating the change in inertia and all that seems to be muscle memory after you've gotten it down. I'm a better guitarist than a rider, though, so don't take my word for it.
    Last edited by assquatch20; 06-09-2019 at 01:34 PM. Reason: well that was a lot of writing
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