Technique for rocky hill ascent/descent?

wanaride

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#1
OK, I'm a newbie trail rider on the East Coast. I'm currently riding in a heavily wooded area with some pretty big hills. The trails cut back left and right down steep hills.

What is the best technique for riding down steep, rocky trails? I quickly learned that the rear brake is USELESS for this. I'm currently sitting back on the seat using the front brake for speed control (that is, barely moving fast enough to keep from tipping over). Should I stand up for this?

Is standing up the best technique for ascending rocky hills?

Thanks for your help!
 

Bish

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#2
I grew up riding rocks in New England before moving to the midwest about 6 years ago. I can tell you one thing, I DON'T MISS THE ROCKS!!!

Anyhow, going uphill on rocks, speed and momentum are key. I try to stay in a taller gear to lessen wheelspin. If you can keep your speed, the suspension should help suck up the rocks. Once you slow down, the suspension won't work as well and it will kill your momentum and then you're cooked. Standing up is way better riding rocks and a steering damper helps BIG.

As for decending, the back brake is still essential. You just need to be able to modulate it without locking it up too much. I sit down, lean back, and work the front AND rear brakes lightly. Obviously, once you lock up either, the decent gets much more interesting :)

The great thing about riding in New England...once you can ride rocks well, chances are you can ride well anywhere in the country.
 
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#3
This is my first year of riding the woods and rocks of New England, it's a huge challenge, but I love it. I always remind myself; uphill sit forward, downhill sit back. When going downhill I stay hard on the back brake unless my bike starts to go side ways, and at the same time I keep the front brake on lightly to keep my speed under control. I have a YZ250 so when going uphill momentum is key, usually faster is better, as long as you have your suspension set up soft to take the bumps and rocks. I make sure I always have a 90 degree bend in my elbows, that means I'm forward on the bike. just my $.02
 

wanaride

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#4
Oh man, there's nothing like going down a steep rocky downhill section and noticing that your rear tire is slowly coming around to meet your front tire (compliments of locking up the rear brake). :eek: Jack-knifing on a steep downhill is an "interesting" thing to do, especially with a 50ft drop off the other side of the trail...thank God for body armor!!!

Sounds like I need to:
- reduce air pressure in my tires further (maybe to 10psi?).
- soften my suspension settings.
- adjust my rear brake so that tapping it doesn't lock up the wheel.
- maybe change the gearing for better low-end pulling.
- stand up on the uphills, sit down towards the rear of the seat on downhills.
- get more body armor and more life insurance ;)
 
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#5
hey, hows it going, I grew up riding rocks and have since learned to love riding in them. Here is how I do it, on down hills I always stand riding on the balls of my feet gripping tight with my knees. I try not to steer with the handle bars I try to lean dragging both brakes remember not to lock the back all you do is gain speed, also if you sit it will make you gain speed easyer and it will usually make the back end of the bike bounce around and gets out of control. On steep downhills I like to go side to side because some times you can use the sides of the banks to slow you down. But the best advice I can give you is stand up and go with the flow, don't fight it if the bike wants to go some where ride it and just hang on.
On up hills they are easy get all your speed up at the bottom because momentem is every thing pick your line at the bottom and try to go there. If you can't make the line you want just try to make it work. I try to find spots where the rocks are embeaded in the ground because you can gain speed on them with some throttle control but to much gas you spin you spin to much may as well go back down and start over.

Good luck and start slow
scoobymx
 
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#7
i have ridden the ozarks and good bit of hills in various places. the best technique that i have found is first get you some kevlar brake pads for front and rear. the kevlar is like an anti-lock braking system. the last thing you want are the brakes locking up on a long rocky down-hill. sit down on the up hill climbs unless it is just way to steep. the best braking technique for down hill is to stand up and stay on the front and rear brake evenly but also be in a gear were it is also slowing you down some. put your butt about half way between the rear of the seat and rear fender. THE KEVLAR BRAKE PADS ARE THE KEY!!!!!!!
 
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#8
Just don't do what I managed in the recent Mile High Grand Prix, biggest nasty downhill filled with rocks, missed a shift and flew down the hill. This was my first dirt race in 38 years and on that lap I passed all the hotshots on that downhill! I was hoping on some engine breaking to manage my speed a little better )-: I survived I think by keeping the weight back and having just a light touch on the bars.
 
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#9
Stand up and look ahead. Weight your pegs like you are skiing to adjust your line. And one more thing...Don't worry, your suspension can take it.

Have Fun.
 
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#10
Stand up going up or down--very simple you get a lower center of gravity and more control. Go fast enough to let your suspension work (if you dare)

If you must go slower than low gear allows--pull in the clutch to keep the engine running and gently use the rear brake as well as two fingers only on the front--off and on.

I have found that an easy trick for the KDX200 in the mountains is to use a 12 tooth countershaft which gives you more power assents (and makes it easier to stay in a higher gear) and slower descents.

Practice, you will get better and it will become easier with your confidence.