A – Z of Off-Road: A Blagger’s Guide

In Blog, Motorcycle Gear by Julian0 Comments

We all know that riding off-road motorcycles is on of the most life-affirming things you can spend your time on. We get it – there is nothing better.

But what if you are new to off-road riding – what if this is the first time you’ve owned a dirt bike? Well obviously you want a definitive guide to everything you need to know about dirt biking, an in-depth reference document covering everything from training to engine tuning. 

The joy of Off-Road riding

Well that might be what you want, but what you are going to get is our own unique A to Z  – a lightweight, less informative, yet easy to swallow version of that definitive guide.  You can’t have everything in life…

A

is for AWESOME

Yes it’s a horrible word that’s overly used by the staff in fast food restaurants. but there is little else that can describe the feeling of riding a bike through the foothills of the Himalayas or blatting through the forests of Vietnam.

Used in context it’s okay – providing the correct change to purchase a burger is NOT awesome, riding across a rope bridge in the jungle in Laos is …

Riding in Cambodia
B

is for BLING

A relatively new word for the dirt biking dictionary, bling is anything and everything that makes your bike look pretty and shiny. Of course none of it actually make you a better rider but who cares – it looks super-cool. Red anodised brake clevis block anyone?

All about the Bling
C

is for COLLAR BONE

Seeming to serve no other purpose than being easily snapped, the collarbone is the only long horizontal bone in the skeleton, and as such it’s always going to be a weak link in a crash.

Every year, everyone from world motocross stars to weekend trail riders have their seasons wrecked when their clavicle decides to snap like a twig, leaving them in deep pain and unable to raise their arms – rubbish. If only you could get a carbon afterarket replacement…

Broken Collarbone
D

is for DAD

If there is a driving force in early life of a motorcycle rider, it comes in the form of Dad.  So we want to shout out those unappreciated, harassed dads who spent their weekends charging round tracks across the world shouting instructions that have set so many of us on a dirt biking life.

Even when you’ve long since left home, faced with a four-stroke strip down – who you gonna call? Not Ghostbusters..

 The best dad
E

is for ENVY

Motorcycling is often driven by the green-eyed beast. From envy of the riders with the latest bike with the latest kit, to envy of the guys who are heading for epic riding trips in far-flung continents are all riddled with unhealthy emotions.

Make no mistake, when we go to a watch an Extreme Enduro or Rally Raid, there is not a spectator that isn’t envious of the big boys. We want the lifestyle, the factory bikes, the pay checks but most of all we want to be able to ride a bike that fast and with that much style – bastards…

IMAGE MARCIN KIN / HUSQVARNA IMAGES
Rally Raid
F

is for FEAR

Fear is what divides those champions from the rest of us talentless numpties. While we worry about which line to take through a river crossing or risk soiling ourselves if the bike goes higher than 6ft, conscious of the potential for pain and injury, the guys with real ability have nailed it, jumped 80ft and are already halfway up the next straight.

The cool guys have no fear and hence ride unshackled by the worry and sense of self-preservation that keeps the rest of us off the track and on the trails.

Whip it
G

is for GRAPHICS

Leaving your bike with standard graphics is as wrong as fancying your sister in our view. Along with an aftermarket pipe and a bit of unashamed bling, fancy graphics are an essential part of the off-road riders armoury, worth at least 5bhp in anyone’s book. 

However, any amount of gold, giggling skulls or semi-clad ladies are only acceptable for Supercross or FMX riders, not for middle-aged men trail riding in Norfolk – OK?

Graphics rock
H

is FOR HELMET

Whilst spending money on you bike is OK, you should always set aside some decent cash for a decent lid. Let’s face it when a couple of centimetres of fibreglass and polystyrene is all that’s keeping you out of the vegetable rack, then saving money is not smart.

 Buy a £50 helmet, you’ve obviously got a £5 brain

Ricky Carmichael
I

is for INJURY

An inevitable part of riding dirt bikes is causing physical damage to yourself – get over it. From the stupid injuries of cutting a slice across your fingers with an unseen Stanley knife in your toolbox, to the unprecedented agony of a snapped ACL, off road riding offers every possibility of injury.

Faceplant time
J

is for JETWASH

Although all the owner’s manuals warn against using any pressure washer, suggesting that you can really clean a dirt bike with a natural sponge and some organic soapsuds, that’s just daft.

Blasting your bike with the jet washer is the obvious solution to the weekend’s activity, even if the resultant pile of mud outside the house is not exactly great for keeping the contents of your garage a secret, and the pressure will ultimately kill your bearings …

Jetwash heaven
K

is for KICKSTART

It’s a little known fact that whereas the humble kickstart may look like a benign lump of alloy on the side of your bike, it is in fact a highly intelligent being, capable of extreme cruelty. If it can sense any hint of tiredness or potential for embarrassment, it is able to make the bike completely impossible to fire up, leaving you pumping away at your machine like a demented porn star. 

And if you are unlucky or daft enough to own a bike with a left-hander or maybe a VOR with a forward kickstart, then the thing just takes the mickey all the time.

Left hand kickstart
L

is for LIMITLESS BUDGET

This is the only answer to really enjoying dirt biking in the absence of a factory contract.   For most of us, off-road riding takes a substantial part of our paycheck, more than we perhaps let our partners know, so let’s move on quickly …

Honda Africa Twin
M

is for MUD

No matter how we dress it up, our sport is no more complicated than boys playing in the mud. Whilst the pretty boys of the Supercross circuits race indoors on perfectly graded designer mud, off-road riding is and always has been about getting down and dirty at the weekend.

There is little as satisfying as throwing a bike into deep berm and blasting out with a roost of finest mud in you wake – it’s what Sundays for.   

Mud is not fun
N

is for NAIL

In every club, there is always that rider.  Their bike looks awful, breaks down almost every time out and is held together with cable ties and gaffer tape, but they still drag it out every weekend.

They think nothing of the crimp it makes to the day’s riding, laughing and joking as they mend their brake caliper with a length of baler twine and a stick. You know who you are Dave …

Old trail bike
O

is for OUTRAGEOUS PRICES

Sometimes the price of consumables just to keep our bikes ticking over is beyond a joke. Sixteen quid for an oil filter, 50 notes for a few litres of two-stoke – you are having a giraffe. If the big manufacturers’ insist on selling bikes that pile through the oil and filters quicker than Toby buys new tech, they might at least include a handful in the spares kit or maybe make them a smidgen cheaper.

No – oh well worth a try.

P

is for PETROL

Although car drivers see the fluid as simply fuel, dirt riders see the unleaded as far more flexible. You can clean your air filter in it for far less than dedicated cleaners, you can clean all that chain lube and gak off your back wheel and sprockets with it, you can even start a passable bonfire with what you haven’t used – Brilliant.

What do you mean – it’s highly explosive, carcinogenic and melts the tarmac on your drive …

Petrol pump
Q

is for QUIET

This is as rare as a nutritional snack from a burger van, and our entire past time is dominated by noise. While the manufacturers might try to tempt us with whisper-quiet electric bikes, the fact that you can only ride them for an hour makes them next to useless for the moment.

But for all the noise and fun of the bikes, when you get to the top of an epic view, it’s good to turn off the bike and simply take it all in …

Trail riding in Laos
R

is for REGULATIONS

From the endless stream of emission regulations to the restrictions to where we are allowed to ride, off road riding is often bashed by those that seek to stop us enjoying ourselves. Joining clubs and organizations like the TRF in the UK and rider’s rights organisations helps – so sign up today folks.

Restricted Byway
S

is for SH*T

It’s a cover all word for the whole of the sport at times. From weather to tracks, bikes to crashes, the simple four-letter expletive is sometimes the only word that works. 

Trail ride crash
T

is for TEARS

Whether through joy when you finally get up that impossible climb, or from pain when you miss-time a simple jump your man parts on the handlebars as you fly through the air,  or running out of fuel in the biggest race of your life, dirt biking without tears is a tall order.

Running out of fuel
U

is for UNBELIEVABLE VIEWS

Trail riding around your local area is fun, but it comes a poor second to organizing big trips away with your mates. Whether it’s a week in the Cambodia or a fortnight in the Himalayas the views you get to experience are something you will never forget.

Don’t just talk abut that epic trip – book it!

Riding in the Himalayas
V

is for VENGANCE

You know the Samuel L Jackson speech in Pulp Fiction  – the one about ‘striking down upon thee with great vengeance’ (Ezekiel 25: 17 for bible fans) – is that not the precise thing you are thinking when you mates cover you in liquid mud as they overtake you?

Now far be it from me to hold a grudge, but given the opportunity to return the favour – look us in the eye and tell us won’t do exactly the same with bells on? Deeply satisfying.

Roost
W

is for WELLINGTON BOOTS

It’s a tribute to the a ‘make do’ attitude that despite the modern advances in off-road boot technology, there it still a guy in every club that goes out in the trails in a set of wellies. OK they offer no protection, are too short to be an advantage in river crossings, but to that guy it matters not – they’re his riding boots and that it!

Riding in Wellies
X

is for X RAYS

Some say that the eyes are the window to the soul, but believe me – X-rays are far better. If you ride bikes, at some point you will get to see how photogenic your bones are, and indeed, how much damage you have done to them.

If you are lucky you might even get some metalwork permanently implanted – now that is serious bling!

X ray
Y

is for YELLING

Shouting is part of the hidden armory in the rider’s toolbox – if you can’t get past your mates, then shouting at them can often do the trick! And of course if you do fall off in the middle of a deep river crossing that they are filming, you are obliged to shout a stream of potty-mouth gems for You Tube.

Motorcycle Water crossing
Z

is for ZZZZZZZZ

Finally getting to bed after a day on the trail is one of the best feelings. The only downside is knowing that in a few short hours it’s back to work and the drudgery of everyday life.

Arse.

Sleep

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Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017 Toby Jacobs
Acknowledgements: Husqvarva Images Marcin Kin

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