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Author: Rob Slade
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Whether you are a regular green laner or an off-road novice, there’s always going to be room to improve on your riding skills away from the black top.

So, to try and help you out in your quest to be a better off-road rider, we spoke to Martin Chappell from Trail and Offroad and asked for some of his best tips. What you will find below is five basic ways in which you can improve your skills on the rough stuff.

1. Look ahead, where you want to go, not at the front fender, even when the going is difficult

Off-road riding

Imagine walking over rough ground looking only at your feet, or a tight rope walker looking only at the wire. Obviously you’d fall over before you got very far and it’s exactly the same on the bike.

If you look ahead, you’ve already seen what’s coming, will be better equipped to deal with the terrain and your balance will also be much better.

2. Stand up, get your weight over the front wheel, and feet in the middle of the pegs with straight, relaxed legs

Off-road motorcycling

It’s weight on the front wheel that makes it grip, the more weight on it, the more it grips. Obviously you need weight on the back wheel as well, otherwise it would be wheel spinning everywhere, so it’s about getting the balance right (and this is where experience helps).

It’s all much more critical riding off-road, as grip levels are considerably less than on the road. Road riding is easy, there’s bags of grip from road tyres and roads (even wet ones) are grippy and consistent.

3. Cover your controls with one or two fingers on the brake and the clutch at all times

Off-road riding

It saves so many silly offs. You want to build the weight on the front wheel and compress the forks (not stall them, by yanking on the front brake). Once the weight is transferred to the front wheel and the tyre is biting the dirt, you can brake hard (really hard) enough to get the rear wheel in the air (sometimes!).

Plus, by covering the clutch, you can be that much quicker at getting the drive off the back wheel, and when you’ve misjudged a situation, that split second saved in getting the clutch in is the difference between staying on or coming off.

4. Be in the right gear, low revs are better at finding grip

Off-road riding

By keeping the revs low, even when you are travelling relatively quickly, you are limiting the torque to the back wheel, you want forward motion, and a spinning wheel is wasting the turning force of the motor.

5. Practice

Off-road riding

It’s a steep learning curve, and the more you do the better you get!

Trail and Offroad offer a range of off-road experience events year-round in both the UK and abroad. If you want to brush up on your skills with hands-on expert tuition check out their offerings at www.trailandoffroad.co.uk.

Based out of Wiltshire, they run a fleet of Honda CRF250Ls, all new for 2016, supported by Bridgestone tyres and make sure there is never more than four riders to a leader.

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