MOTORCYCLE ADVENTURE RIDES: HOW TO PACK FOR YOUR JOURNEY

How will you pack for your upcoming motorcycle adventure?

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Whether you’re about to ride from Machu Picchu to Ushuaia, through the Alps in Europe, or just across your own country, getting ready for such an adventure sure can be a challenge.

After thousands of miles on the road, in the dirt, and around the campfire, we at RIDE Adventures offer the following tips and suggestions to make sure you pack both efficiently, and with reason behind every item you bring:

Water Source – A motorcycle rider´s best friend might be their hydration-pack, or basically a backpack with a water source built-in.  While you´re riding, it´s just not possible to constantly keep opening a bottle to drink from, so this convenient water source hangs a hose over your shoulder for easy sipping while riding.  Make sure to buy one large enough not only to fill the water-bladder inside, but also to keep your passport, spare money, valuables and such safe and accessible at all times.

PURCHASING TIPS:  1) While shopping for this, remember that much of that useable storage space will disappear when you put the 2 or 3 liters of water in the bladder.  2) Don´t “go cheap” on this purchase, or you´ll be sure to have either torn seams or a leak in the water bladder in no time.  In our opinion, “Camelbak” (www.camelbak.com) is leading the market and is even used by military forces around the world.  3) Only put pure water & ice in the bladder, no sweet drinks, sodas, etc.  Those sugars found in many sport drinks might taste great, but they´ll cause bacteria to grow in the hydration unit and you´ll have your own humanbladder infection in a day or two.  A few companies are making tablet-form powders meant specifically for these hydration units that add a better-than-plain-water flavor to your drink and add electrolytes without the sugars and bacteria.

Cold Weather/Rain Gear

In many famous riding areas around the world, the weather can change rapidly.  Think you have the right waterproof riding gear already?  Just “thinking” you´ve got the right gear is not enough.  If the rain protection you´ve chosen is not personally proven by yourself while riding a motorcycle in significant rain for more than a couple of hours, DON´T TRUST IT!  Rain will not only permeate insufficient materials, but it will creep over collars, inside of sleeves, and from beneath waistlines.  Once this leaking starts, every inch of your body will be soaked in a matter of minutes, and mixed with a cold wind:  You´ll be miserably uncomfortable in no time.

PURCHASING TIP:  It´s a tough fact that “you get what you pay for” in many cases, and such is typically true with rain gear.  Products made with GORE-TEX are generally considered some of the best, in that they allow your body to breath and release perspiration while shielding you from the elements.  A pure-rubber or plastic suit that doesn´t breath can trap perspiration, allowing moisture to cling to your skin, and you’ll end up feeling just as cold as if rain water had made its way through to you.  There are many manufacturers out there offering quality products, but one recommendation we can make is found under the “Product Test” portion of our blog.  You’ll see we’ve reviewed riding gear by Klim USA (www.klimusa.com) with excellent results.

EXTRAS:  With so much of our natural body heat escaping through our neck and head, the addition of a “balaclava” is an excellent idea.  Typically used in mountaineering and winter sports situations, finding one that fits under your helmet will make an enormous difference in keeping you warm.  At the very least, some kind of a neck-warmer will make a difference as well.  – Also, it’s a good idea to have a 2nd pair of riding gloves available.  As they get soaked in rainy climates, they probably won’t dry-out overnight, so having a 2nd pair is helpful.

Clothing

Synthetic or Wool:  “Good”

Cotton:  “Bad”

It´s as simple as that.  You can greatly reduce the amount of space you´ll need for clothes by reducing the number of shirts, socks, underwear, and interior layers by replacing everything made from cotton with a synthetic or wool item instead.  Quite easy to find these days are synthetic/micro-fiber shirts, underwear, and interior layers that advertise moisture-wicking properties.  They´ll keep you dry, comfortable, relatively odor-free, and most of the micro-fiber items can be washed in the shower or sink in the evening, and be dry enough to wear the following morning.   Plus, if you didn´t remember to wash your underwear the night before, don´t worry.  Going an extra 2, or even 3 days in the same pair of micro-fiber underwear might sound disgusting, but it honestly isn´t that bad!  You just need to be good at keeping secrets….ha, ha.  (See websites like www.smartwool.com or www.underarmour.com for great products that we highly recommend.)

Padding/Protection

Many motorcycle apparel manufacturers are making their jackets and pants with removable padding already built in.  Depending on the manufacturer, those foam pads may or may not really help you much in the event of a crash, but in nearly every case, their coverage for you will not be as effective as a separate body armor system.

OUR RECOMMENDATION:  A body armor jacket and kneepads like Alpinestar’s “Bionic” products (www.alpinestars.com) or Klim USA’s Tek/Tactical lineup (www.klimusa.com) provide the best protection, and in turn offer you a higher level of confidence while riding.  (Confidence being KEY to riding safely!)  Just by holding these products, you’ll agree the level of protection is superior to the padding included in typical jackets and pants.  HOW ABOUT COMFORT?  Okay, you might lose a little bit of comfort, but most people would trade a little riding discomfort any day over the discomfort of a broken kneecap or elbow.  On the flip-side, in those hot weather situations when you so dearly want to remove your jacket but still want to keep your padding on for protection?  Now you can take your jacket off for some relief from the pounding heat, but still have body armor on for safety.  It´s perfect!  (Just be ready for almost everyone to start calling you “The Terminator” or “Robo Cop,” cause that’s what you’ll look like wearing just the body armor.  It’s amazing how even in tiny villages in Mexico, Central America, or South America, somehow EVERYONE knows those two movies.)

Luggage bags

No, you are not allowed to borrow your wife´s floral pattern matched luggage to strap across the back of your motorcycle!  Instead find a rugged, waterproof, and durable bag to store your clothes, tent, sleeping bag, and such in as well.  Make the investment, it´ll be well worth it.  Generally speaking, 90 liters of space or less should be plenty of space to pack all your clothing, tent, sleeping bag, etc.   Always buy the larger of the two you are thinking about, as the excess space can be cinched down without a problem.   (See brands like www.ortlieb.com for their “Rack Pack,” www.outdoorresearch.com for their “Lateral Dry Bags” or others brands at major sporting goods and camping equipment stores.)  These types of bags are also extremely easy to keep clean.   After a long, dirty day strapped to the motorcycle….just put the watertight bag on the floor of the shower with you and it’ll look like new again in no time.

Clamping/Winching Straps

CAUTION: Are your bags really secured, or could they slip off while riding?  Admittedly, it happened to me once in high-winds in the Andes Mountains.  Cruising along at about 70mph, my bags slipped loose and fell down the back of the motorcycle, getting wrapped up in the rear wheel and “locking” it in place.  I was able to keep the bike upright and avoid crashing, but the outcome could have been much, much worse of course.   Aside from my luggage bags and some clothes being shredded, the 120-yard long skid burned an irreparable hole in the rear tire.   Don’t let this happen to you… think “overkill” when selecting the durability of your straps, and secure your luggage with a vengeance!

Sidecases/Topcases

Another topic that’s unique to each motorcycle, we won’t get too specific here.  Just keep in mind a couple of key points if you have not yet chosen which cases to adorn your motorcycle with:  a) certainly, you want a type that is locked to the motorcycle, and locked from opening.  b) have a backup plan in mind should you have a crash and the original locks or mountain system are no longer supporting the case – see “Tie down straps” below  c) generally speaking, topcases do not hold up to the jarring and bouncing if you’ll be spending much time on tough terrain just because of their position on the motorcycle.  Plus, with a topcase, it’s unlikely you’ll have much space remaining for strapping your luggage bag across the back, and d) as described below, you’ll want to make sure to store spare fuels/oils completely separate from any foods or textiles you’re bringing.   Choose one side for your tools, fuels, and oils, and dedicate the other side to your foods and such.

Camping & Cooking

Another section of advice could be written about forever, but again, the basic thoughts are: don’t go cheap, and don’t wait until you’re on your trip to test it for the first time!

TENTS – How much space you’ll need you can probably figure out.  Just keep in mind that at night, you’ll probably want your riding gear and bags inside the tent with you, and then a 1-man tent will not be enough space.  We personally have used the REI Half Dome tent (www.rei.com/product/728308) an impressive number of times in the past 2 years, often in extremely high winds and rain, and have nothing but good things to say about it.  Light, compact, very tough, and fairly priced, it has been a truly great purchase.  There are other tents specifically built to handle the highest of winds, but the Half Dome really might be all you need.  It’s a great value.

SLEEPING BAGS-The lightweight & compact, down-filled sleeping bag might seem like a great idea, but if you get it wet:  Forget it.  Experienced users will tell you it takes a long, long time to dry out a down-filled bag, and will certainly take longer if you have to pack it up and ride everyday instead of having it out in the fresh air to dry.  Synthetic bags are cheaper, dry more quickly, and only require a little more space to carry.  What temperature range should you choose?  Your personal travel plans will have to answer that, but instead of buying a “sleeping bag liner” that are often sold to compliment your sleeping bag and get another 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit of warmth, I recommend just using wool or synthetic long underwear.  That base-layer underwear can serve you while riding during the day if it’s cold, and do the same thing as a bag liner at night.  Money, space, weight, and world resources saved!

BURNERS/STOVES – Cooking around the campfire with your friends after a great day’s ride: It doesn’t get much better than this!  Maybe the campfire itself will be your heat source, but it might be good to have a simple fuel-powered burner along with you as well.  Which one?  “Multi-Fuel” is the key term to look for those stoves that run on white gas, kerosene, or unleaded auto/motorcycle fuel.

Why buy a Multi-Fuel stove?  Think about it: At least one of those fuels is available almost everywhere in the world, and what happens when you run out of gas on your motorcycle just 5 miles before the gas station?  You’ll have anywhere from ½, to 1 and ½ liters of extra gas that you need already with you from your cooking equipment.  Beautiful!  (That 1 liter or so has already saved us a few times from having to spend 2-3 hours walking back and forth in my heavy motorcycle boots.)  —  OUR RECOMMENDATION: The MSR WhisperLite International Stove has been great, www.msrcorp.com.  Very fairly priced, extremely light and durable, we have nothing but good things to say about it.  (NOTE:  Always store your fuel bottle separate from clothes, food, or anything that you don’t want to smell & taste like gas forever.   Just a one-day ride with your fuel in the same compartment will be enough to have any textile permanently saturated with the scent of fuel.  For example, if you use a dry sack to carry breakfast cereal, a fuel-stained dry sack will FOREVER be transferring that fuel taste into your breakfast!

POTS/PANS – Stainless Steel, Titanium, or Aluminum?  Aluminum cooks most efficiently, but is the least durable.  Titanium is the lightest, but most expensive.  Stainless is the heaviest, but most durable.  Yada, yada, yada……you can spend days reading reviews and opinions online regarding which is best.  Our personal experiences are with stainless steel, and we are very pleased with the Primus Stainless Steel Gourmet II set (www.primuscamping.com.)  Store your stove and a few more things inside the pots using the pan as a lid, and it really packs down into a convenient and durable resource.

ACCESSORIES – Between MSR, Primus, Outdoor Research, REI, and the other big-name manufacturers, you’ll find everything you need in terms of knives, cutting boards, spatulas, lighters, and cleaning utensils.   Another reason to practice your cooking routine before you leave is that it’ll help you figure which items you might be forgetting.

HEAD LAMP – What good is all of this if you forgot to buy a headlamp so you can see what you’re doing in the dark?  Easy to use, cheap, battery-operated, and essential to camping life is your forehead-mounted headlamp (and so much more convenient than holding a flashlight!)  See a popular brand like Petzl for a variety of options at www.petzl.com. — OUR RECOMMENDATION: Get one that operates on AAA or larger batteries.  The smaller coin-shaped battery headlamps never seem to last as long or be bright enough, and those types of batteries are not as easy to find as AAA, or AA. 

Locking your Motorcycle & Gear

Always consider how your luggage or tank bag is strapped & secured to your motorcycle.  For example, do you plan to do some hiking & site-seeing during your day or crossing borders into other countries?  Get ready to spend at least a couple hours in between each country, in many cases well out of visual range of your motorcycle.  Unless you´re with a travel partner that watches your belongings while taking turns doing border paperwork, a luggage bag simply strapped to your bike can easily be stolen by the time you return.  Either plan on carrying tank bags, luggage bags, and your helmet with you, or find some secure way to lock these items to the motorcycle.  (Think about the locking system you’re buying.  A simple 1/8 inch cable can be cut very quickly with a standard pair of side-cutters that fits in any thieves’ pocket.)

Many different philosophies exist about disc-locks to keep your motorcycle from being stolen, or cables to secure the bike to another object.  If traveling with other riders, a high-quality U-Lock that locks your two bikes together closely can make it very difficult for thieves to even reach the lock.  (And next to impossible to load two motorcycles into a truck at the same time.)  We like a disc lock when traveling alone.  With an alarm built-in, that’s a pretty good deterrent.

Tools – The list of tools to bring will of course be different for every motorcycle.  If you haven´t been working on your motorcycle enough to figure which tools apply to your situation, at least go online and search many of the motorcycle forums to read suggestions from other owner´s of the same motorcycle (www.ktm950.infowww.klr650.net, or www.r1200gs.info for example.)  Again trying to limit the amount of items you bring with, doing your best to find “multi-purpose” tools will obviously serve a purpose.  One great item to have is a Leatherman product found on www.leatherman.com.

“Trick Fix-Its and Riggings”

These items don´t quite qualify as “tools,” but they´ll almost certainly save your day at some point:

1) Tie down straps with winches or clamps built in.  They´ll be used to strap your luggage bag to the motorcycle, suspend a kickstand or center stand that has been falling down or needs to be secured while fixing a flat tire, or possibly secure your bike to a truck if a major breakdown keeps you from riding to a repair point.  2) Duct Tape:  Need we say more?  There´s always something that can be fixed with it!  3) Zip-Ties: (the little plastic straps that make the “zzzzzzzzip!” sound when you secure them.)  Just grab a handful of varying sizes for less than $2, and you´ll be amazed by how many things can be fixed with them.  4) Fuel Hose:  Just a simple rubber or plastic hose, probably sold in bulk at your local hardware store.  When you run out of gas and a passing car is willing to sell you some, this is the easiest way to transfer fuel out of their car and into a bottle or tank before your motorcycle.  With just a 1/8 inch inside diameter and about 2 meters in length, you’ll never have to worry about accidentally swallowing gas when you’re getting the flow started.  When properly wrapped up, this only takes up as much space as 2 decks of cards together.  5) Epoxy/Gasket/Liquid Metal: Hopefully the need never arises, but if it does you’ll be glad you brought some high-temperature gasket product, fuel tank repair epoxies, or liquid metal products such as those made by Permatex or JB Weld.  Such compounds can usually be mixed or activated along the roadside, and within 20-60 minutes have your sealing or metal repair needs resolved so that you’re up and riding again!

Flat Tires

If you’re thinking “ahhh……..it won’t happen,” we sure hope you’re right!  You can figure out if you have Tube or “Tubeless” rims and tires, each of which you can find countless “How To’s” about online.  (NOTE:  Just because the tire on your motorcycle says “Tubeless” on the side does not mean you don’t have a tube in there!  Best to understand what type of rims the bike comes with, and if the use of tubes is actually necessary or not.)   Make sure you’re proficient on fixing flats before you leave, and BE SURE you have all the tools, pumps, patches, plugs, or whatever you need to bring with you.  NOTE: If you have tubes in your tires and need to change one, we cannot possibly stress enough the importance of using plenty of lubrication when trying to take the tire on/off the rim.  Try to do this “dry,” and you’ll see what we mean.

Snacks/Food

Especially in the case of international motorcycle travel there’s always the potential for a delay during border-crossings.  Add the possibility of a flat tire, breakdown, or a handful of other situations, and there´s a good chance you won´t have the chance to eat when you´re hungry.  Having some nuts, dried fruit, or some kind of non-perishable snack with you at all times can make an otherwise uncomfortable situation easy (a perfect place for this is in your Camelbak!)

Water Purification

Between purification tablets, bacteria-killing UV lights, and simple filter & pressure systems, there sure are a variety of choices and plenty of reading to do before making the right decision for your needs.   A great complement (or replacement) to your purification process is to have some spare water in a 5-10 liter bag made by MSR or another manufacturer (see www.msrcorp.com for their “Dromedary” models.)  These bags are surprisingly durable, extremely compact when not being used, and absolutely great for getting you through a couple of days where water just isn´t available even in rivers and lakes.

Aspirin/Ibuprofen/Acetazolamide

Will you be riding at elevation?  Most people will feel the effects of altitude change at some point, usually involving a headache or some feelings of dizziness.  Of course you should try to gradually ride your way into these situations to avoid a potentially dangerous situation, but some people find relief from a drug called acetazolamide (one brand is called “Diamox.”)  Just in case that doesn’t work though, keep with you at all times the pain-killing remedy of your choice to help combat the headaches that are very common with altitude sickness or any other ailment that might impinge on your ability to ride comfortably and safely. 

Spare Key – But how to carry it?

Of course you’re bringing 1 or even 2 spare keys for the motorcycle.  Especially, the ignition key.  (I have had them break unexpectedly while turning, for absolutely no apparent reason.)

But how should you carry/store the spare key(s)?

Backpacks and luggage can be stolen, jackets can have zippers slide open, and another location on your bike that depends on having a key to access it is just a bad idea.  I recommend:  Buy a simple Velcro/nylon watch band from almost any watch store, and use either an existing loop on the band or a key-ring or something to put it on your wrist permanently.  Sounds annoying…like the key might be constantly dangling about, getting in the way.  But with a little time, you’ll find a way to fold the key under the watch band so that it just lies on your wrist and you’ll never even notice it’s there.  Short of being mugged for everything on your body, you’ll always have at least that key with you.

Baby Wipes

Yes, seriously!  You´re going to come across that public bathroom that doesn´t have toilet paper, or that road-side setting that of course doesn´t have any either.  (Enough said, they will come in handy.)  Aside from the obvious needs though, baby wipes are absolutely great for cleaning your hands after random roadside motorcycle maintenance or flat tire changing, and can be used to clean badly bug-splattered goggles or helmet visors.  Be careful though, using anything other than synthetic microfibers on goggles can often leave minor scratches.  Also, please keep with you a garbage bag of some sorts at all times to properly dispose of these when you´re done with them! 

Ultra-light Towel

Any good camping store that carries aforementioned brand names should have a few “ultralight” towels for you to try.  Don’t even think about bringing the plush, terry-cloth towel that always precedes your cushy bathrobe at home.  It’ll never dry out by morning each day, and will permanently stink of mildew after 2 days.  (Not to mention how much weight and space they take up.)  These chamois-like ultralight camping towels are cheap, dry out well overnight, and take up about as much space as a couple of golf balls when stored.

Sunglasses

It’s no secret that proper visibility is key to safe motorcycle riding, so be sure to have sunglasses with you at all times.  They serve as a pretty good back up plan, too if by chance your normally used goggles or visor become damaged, lost, etc….

Camera

While your semi-pro SLR camera will certainly be useful, it’s a good idea to have a very quickly accessible pocket-sized camera handy.  Some photo opportunities pass us by so quickly, a cheap pocket cam quickly reached in your tank bag might just catch the photo opportunities otherwise missed.  For about $100 USD these days, you can pick-up a pocket-sized camera that will be more than sufficient to snap a photo quickly before it’s too late.

While this surely doesn´t outline every possible thing you’ll need to pack for your trip, the 15 minutes it took to read these suggestions is likely to save you hours of correcting mistakes before or during your trip, and probably some money, too.  We at RIDE Adventures sure hope this list of suggestions helps keep you cover more territory, more comfortably, and with more great riding moments to keep referring back to!

Ride on!

Winter Riding – Your Dirt Bike

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As soon as the first major snowfall hit, I’d pack away my dirt bikes along the side of the garage wall and have to look at them daily as I waited for spring. Once I realized a few die-hard dirt bike riders were still at it in the winter, I started looking into it. Other than dressing warm,  your dirt bike is the biggest consideration. Those knobbies may be great in the dirt – but not as much help on ice or 3-foot drifts.

The prime tire for winter riding – if you can afford it – is one with the spikes permanently installed. If you can, get the carbide-tipped spikes – they’ll last much longer, giving you more riding for your dirt bike buck. Speaking of price – it’ll seem a little steep at first, but sit back and realize that they’ll last for years, and then think about how much it’s worth to get all that extra dirt bike time.

If you just can’t afford the ready-made tires for riding in the snow, or on ice, you still have a homemade option. Visit your local hardware store or building centre and pick up a bag of hex-head metal screws. If you’re okay with spending a little bit more, check your local dirt bike shop, or online, for ice riding screws or tire traction screws. As I mentioned, they’re a little more expensive than the hardware store option, but tend to stay in the tire longer and grip a little better.
When you’re making your own set of winter or ice tires for your dirt bike, it’s going to feel a little strange screwing a sharp object into your tire on purpose. Ideally, you want to install as long a screw as possible so it stays put… but not so long that it punctures your inner tube. If you can, use newer or brand new tires since the knobs will be taller/thicker and try not to use screws shorter than half an inch.
If riding your dirt bike in the snow turns out to be a regular and frequent event, keep your eyes open for an extra set of rims for your machine. If you have your winter tires pre-mounted on rims, swapping tires can be done in less than an hour.

If you’re going to ride your dirt bike in the snow for more than a few minutes, you’ll want to install a shield or protector for the carburetor – otherwise your carb will ice up, and your dirt bike’s performance will suffer. If you look around long enough, you can find commercially made shields for some bike models, but a homemade solution is fairly easy to come by. I’ve seen protectors made from cutting plastic bottles or milk jugs to shape… inner tube pieces zip-tied to the carburetor… and a modified hand guard complete with its own mounting screws. Avoid using any kind of tape to hold the shield in place – it’ll often lose its grip in cold and/or wet conditions, and any fuel and oil drips will loosen up the adhesive. The carb area is also an awkward place to clean tape goop out of.

Also, depending on your bike and the day’s conditions, keep an eye on your air box to make sure you’re not sucking in snow and plugging it up.

I mentioned heated grips in the clothing article, but forgot another quick tip. If you have access to the right size shrink tubing, put some on your clutch and brake levers. A double-layer is even better if you can manage it. This will help insulate your fingers from the heat-sucking metal on the levers. In the summer, if the shrink tubing bothers you, it’s easily removed with one slit along the length of the lever. A few layers of electrical tape can help if you don’t use the shrink tubing, but it’s harder and messier to remove in the spring.

Simple Braking Techniques to Improve Your Dirt Bike Skills

When I first got my bike and began riding, I didn’t know the first thing about braking and had no idea which techniques would be best. In fact, I would mostly just sit down — needless to say, my junk took a tremendous beating. This isn’t exactly what I would call fun. As I kept riding, I would notice a number of more experienced riders lead into corners. After talking to them and getting some practice in, I began to employ some of the following techniques as I braked and eased around corners.

Here are some important tips:

Don’t forget about line selection. The harder the section of ground the better, so make sure that you keep this in mind whenever possible.

• Put your bike in the most ideal central standing position, making sure that you lean your weight toward the back

• Squeeze your knees together firmly in order to get a grip on your bike. This way, you won’t have to worry about your foot sliding off of the pegs when you are riding across bumpy land.

• When possible, make sure that you are using your front and back breaks in conjunction with each other. You will always have your front brake doing the bulk of the work since that is where your momentum is going. When doing this, be careful not to lock up your wheels, because this can have you get into a nasty spill, creating injuries.

Make sure that you always downshift in gear as you are slowing your momentum. When you do this, it will also put you in the right gear when you need to speed out of a corner that you are turning.

The greatest tips for beginning riders

if you are a beginner, make sure that you pinpoint some flat ground. From here, you will be able to gently apply your front brake so that it begins to lock up on you. When this happens, all you need to do is boost the throttle so that the bike is not stall out. At the locking point, make sure that you release the break and continuously repeat this. This will help you get a comfort level for the bike and all of its mechanisms. This way, you will be in a better position to try it on the open road.

A great riding tip for riders who are more experienced

When he returns are tight, you should employ a break slide. This is also a lot of fun! Make sure that you lock up your back wheel as you slide forward. This will create it. That allows you to move toward your direction, at which point you can boost the throttle and accelerate.

Article by dirtbikinguniversity.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

What You Can Do To Improve Your Motocross Nutrition

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If you make the effort to improve your nutritional intake, you will feel fitter, stronger and healthier which can only improve your riding skills on the bike.

  • Begin eating plenty of fruit, vegetables and whole grains daily:Be sure to wash fruit and veges to clear them of pesticides and sprays.
  • Cut back on junk food, processed foods and simple sugars (all the tasty stuff): Things like fizzy drinks give you a roller coaster-like burst of energy but in the long run will sap you of vital energy. This includes Redbull and Monster Energy! Junk food will only clog up your system and slow you down, mentally and physically.
  • Drink enough water: Most nutrition experts recommend around 2 liters p/day. But during intense, sweaty conditions ie. race meets; this needs to be upped. Don’t wait till you have a headache – by then you’re already dehydrated.
  • Supplement your diet with vitamins: Do your homework on these first before you start popping them like tic-tacs. Vitamins are notcreated equally. Some infact, are worthless – they can’t even be absorbed properly by your body.
  • Supplement your diet with protein powder: This stuff’s not only for the Beef-0-Maniacs at the gym! A quality protein powder will improve your strength and health, and decrease recovery time between training – meaning more bike time for you.
  • Eat 5-6 smaller meals p/day: This will speed up your metabolism, helping you to burn fat and provide you with more energy.
  • Eat lean, protein-rich meats such as beef and fish: A no-brainer really. Meat provides essential proteins and iron to help build a strong, healthy body.

 

  • Add some Super Foods to your diet: Super Foods such as blueberries, alfalfa sprouts, flax seed, soy, turkey, tomatoes, beans, oats, salmon, chlorella and cranberries pack incredible amounts of goodness into them. Begin eating at least one of these foods daily.
  • Cut back on the booze: Wait! Don’t hit the back button! At the risk of sounding like a party pooper I have to speak from experience and say that drinking loads of alcohol doesn’t do your riding skills any good… truly.

Some Tips For The Highway

I’m just as bad as anyone when it comes to hitting the road with our bikes loaded up ready for a big day of riding. That last minute rush in the morning and… whoops, forgot to pack a proper lunch again! So, a quick stop at a service station leaves me with a back seat full of potato chips, fizzy drink (and beer), some chocolate bars and a few mince pies. Sound familiar? Next time you’re about to hit the road, put a little thought and prep into it and consider these ideas…

 

  • Take a chilly-bin/esky/cooler (whatever!) and use it to keep fruit and sandwiches in. Take a spare one for drinks. This makes it more appealing on hot days to have fresh, cool food.
  • Cook meals like stir-fries loaded with veges and lean meat the night before to take with you. Quick, easy, nutritious and tasty!
  • If you are going to make the effort to improve your motocross nutrition, you might as well make sure you wash your hands before piling that fruit into your pie hole. Oily, greasy, sweaty, dirty hands handling your food is a great way to knock your immune system around.
  • Tell your girlfriend or mum about your new healthy-eating plans. If you have a good one, she’ll whip you together some healthy food and save you the effort ;). If you are a girl reading this, who has a boyfriend… good luck convincing him!

Conclusion For Motocross Nutrition

If you are really serious about your motocross nutrition, seek professional advice. Remember, there’s no one-specific nutrition program for everyone, so take the time to figure out what works for you.

Why You Get Arm Pump – And What You Can Do To Reduce It

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Ahhh the dreaded arm pump! Every motocrossers nightmare. What is it? How is it caused? And how can you reduce it?

The fact that you are reading this tells me you already know what it is… that frustrating lack of strength and control you unwillingly acquire in your forearms and hands while holding on for dear life to your handlebars. You know that feeling all too well when your forearms feel like they’re bursting at the seams and they resemble Popeyes after cracking open a tin of spinach. Your fingers no longer function properly (if at all), and your grip is about as strong as a 4 month old babies!

Almost every dirt bike rider suffers from arm pump on varying levels at some stage, and it’s about as welcome as your soon-to-be mother-in-law on your bucks night. So, what can you do to reduce it? To fully understand the principals behind the methods I’m about to suggest, you firstly need to understand why it occurs.

The Cause of Arm Pump: The reason your arms are reduced to this pathetic state is because of this.. When under extreme pressure, the blood circulating away from your arms cannot leave as quickly as the much-needed, oxygen-rich blood is coming into them, which creates a buildup of lactic acid. Pressure builds up in the forearms compressing the muscles and nerves which in turn loose their ability to function properly.

How To Reduce The Effects of Arm Pump: While there is currently no magic pill, operation or cure to completely eliminate forearm pump, there are certain measures you can take to drastically reduce it. The goal here is to improve blood flow through your arms.

  • Ride Regularly: As with improving your overall motocross fitness, the best thing you can do is ride as much as possible. The more you ride, the more conditioned your arms become. When you feel your arms pumping up during a ride, back off the pace but don’t stop. This way you train your arms to push through it for longer periods and each time you ride you will last longer than before.
  • Stretch: Stretch your forearms, fingers and palms before, between and after racing/riding. This helps to keep the blood flowing freely through your arms.
  • Warm Up And Massage Your Forearms: Again, do this before, between and after racing/riding. Deep massaging encourages blood flow as will a hot towel or water bottle placed over your arms.
  • Improve Your Fitness/Cardiovascular System: You may be strong but if your heart can’t pump enough oxygen through your blood to feed your muscles, you will struggle to avoid arm pump. Exercise regularly and eat healthy foods to get the heart pumping!
  • Improve Your Riding Technique: Remember to utilize the sheer size and strength of your legs to grip your bike firmly. This will relieve your arms considerably when done right.
  • Tweak Your Bike Set-up: Having the handlebars, clutch and brake levers set in the wrong position can cause your forearms and hands to be at awkward angles restricting blood flow. Keep your levers/cables well lubricated and clean to ensure easy operation. Not doing so is a definite ticket to the arm pump show! Your suspension set-up makes a huge difference as well so don’t neglect this.
  • Keep Mentally Relaxed: When you are nervous or stressed (like at the beginning of a race) your muscles tighten up and blood flow becomes more restricted. Breathe properly and try to remain calm.
  • Avoid Tight Sleeves And Gloves: Sorry Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson fans, but wearing tight gloves or sleeves will slow blood circulation through your hands.
  • Choose Better Lines Around The Track: Obviously, the smoother and less physically demanding your ride is, the less pressure you put on your arms and body. Try to use ruts and berms etc to your advantage. Go with the flow.
  • Keep Hydrated: Drink plenty of water before, during and after riding. H2O is the magic elixir that has more benefits than one!

I used to really struggle with arm pump, but after implementing the strategies above I can now ride far longer and cut way more laps in any given session.

So, next time you’re preparing for a race, or heading out with your mates for a bit of free-riding, try implementing some of these solutions and reap the benefits of a more enjoyable and safer ride.

Motocross Fitness Tips

Training for a win with motocross sensation Ken Roczen
Training for a win with motocross sensation Ken Roczen

Short of having your own motocross fitness trainer these are probably some of the best things you can do to begin improving your fitness levels on your bike. Be smart about it, be consistent, keep your program balanced and you will get results with less injuries.

  • Regular Riding: This one’s a gimme. This is the best form of training by far, and it will have the greatest impact on your motocross fitness. The problem with this is not everyone has the time or money to ride 7 days a week. Plus, injuries will often prevent you from kicking the old girl over, which leads me onto…
  • Cross Training: When you’re not on your bike try swimming (or in my case surfing), cycling, skipping or running in soft sand. These types of exercises are great for the cardiovascular system and your strength – and they’re low impact exercises which mean less damage to your joints and ligaments. Oh, and did I mention they don’t cost much 🙂
  • Stretching: I learned this invaluable piece of advice through karate and gym training. Trust me, this will definitely improve your riding. Plus it will lower the risk of injury and save you a lot of aches and pains as you get older. Be sure to stretch out your forearms / arms to help prevent ARM PUMP. Stretch not only before, but after riding to improve your recovery and flexibility.
  • Breathing Correctly: Surprised? Again, I learned this through karate. Breathing is THE most fundamental function of the human body but very few of us pay any attention to it. I won’t bore you with specifics but basically most people take short, shallow breaths which deprive your body of vital oxygen resulting in inferior muscle use, lower energy levels and less ability to concentrate. Pretty important things huh? Even worse than shallow breathing is the fact that many people temporarily cease breathing in intense situations. Practice taking deeper breaths, really filling your lungs up (without hyper-ventilating) and see how much more relaxed and clearer you become.
  • Strength Training: It’s hard work riding at pace on dirt bikes these days and it definitely requires a lot of muscular strength to ride at your best! The sheer power of these modern bikes are constantly trying to tear your hands and body away from them. Ask anyone who doesn’t ride and they will tell you “the bike does all the work”… bollicks! Lifting weights at the gym is an obvious way to increase your strength. Have a gym instructor write you up a program that you will stick to – higher reps and lighter weights are better for MX than lower reps and heavier weights. If you prefer to train at home, you can perform exercises such as sit-ups, push-ups and chin-ups to improve your muscle strength. Make sure you keep it balanced and train your back muscles equally – too many people disregard this and it results in an unbalanced upper body lacking real strength. By building a stronger body you also decrease the likelihood of injuring yourself through accidents. More muscle equals more protection.
  • Nutrition: Watch what you consume! If you’re serious about improving your overall fitness you have to eat good, healthy, energy-rich foods and avoid tooth-destroying fizzy drinks like coke. For more information on Nutrition see here.
  • Rest: If you’re going to make the effort to do all of the above don’t forget to rest your body and mind! Sleeping is like plugging a rechargeable battery into the power socket. This is the time that the body needs to repair itself.

Tip: Refrain from working out the day before you ride. You want your body to be fully recovered and working at its best.

Ten things not to do when riding dirt bikes

Hard Enduro legend Chris Birch’s list of important things to avoid while riding your dirt bike.

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Chris Birch told me that once but immediately insisted that I erase the visions of hard enduro competitors sucking wind while immersed in the massive rocks of Karl’s Diner at the Erzberg Rodeo. I agreed and asked him nicely if he could possibly teach me some things to work on in order to improve my riding. While I could have very well signed up for Chris Birch Coaching and taken one of his classes, I was opting for a more verbal approach and hoped he would just tell me, not put me through some hands on, ill-fated trial-by-fire. If he had his way he would probably just toss me down a steep hill in Romania.

Chris just grinned (as he always does) and asked me, “How about I tell you some things not to do when you go riding?” Chris came up with 10 ‘deadly sins’ of riding dirt bikes – all of which he has seen – or committed himself – during his two-wheel adventures.

1. Run out of fuel:

That is easier said than done sometimes; dirt bikes are hard to push, especially over any sort of distance. One time in Lesotho we pulled into a town thinking that there would be fuel available and they didn’t have any petrol at all. This African guy with a big smile on his face pulled some fuel out of a barrel. I got about five kilometers down the road and the bike started to belch smoke. It turns out he had sold us lamp oil. I found out that a two-stroke will run on lamp oil – not very well, but it will run. It was enough to get us to the next town that had
some proper fuel. I can still see the black cloud billowing out the back. We used up three spark plugs as well.

2. Forget to bring tools:

I have this one kid that I have done a fair bit of coaching with and I am always trying to teach him to be self-reliant. On this one particular ride he hadn’t bothered to bring his tool bag with him. When he fouled a plug I thought it would be a chance to teach him a good lesson: rather than just fix his bike for him I made him sit there and wait for
us. As it turned out it ended up being a really long ride, by the time we got back he had been sitting on the same rock for nine hours! Lets just say that kid never forgot to bring his bum bag again. Even if you don’t know how to use the tools, if you have a spark plug and a spanner that fits your bike you will usually find someone that can fix it.
Bringing food is also important, especially if you are a skinny guy like me – once I get hungry it’s game over.

3. Fail to check tire pressures:

Having your tires set at the right pressure is your first line of defense. As soon as the terrain gets slippery or horrible you need to let some pressure out. Doing that gives the tire a bigger footprint, which gives the bike better grip. When I am on a group ride and someone asks me to push their bike up a hill I will always air the tire down first and tell them to give it another go. Beginning any ride with low tire pressure can backfire as well; do that and you are just inviting a flat.

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4. Leave the group:

A mate of ours fell off the back of the group out trail riding once. Before we noticed he was gone, he had become lost. It took us so long to find him that when we finally did, he was sitting on the mountain on a digger (a large machine that digs earth). He realized that he was starting to get hypothermia and (being a diesel mechanic) had managed to hotwire the digger. He had the digger wide-open on the rev limiter and was sitting on the engine cover hugging the exhaust pipe to keep warm.

5. Don’t put your helmet down on a hill:

I have seen this happen a few times: guys will take their helmet off and put it down on the side of a hill and it just rolls away. You have to be careful where you put it down. Hang it off the handlebar or the foot
peg where it is not going to roll away. The first year I did Romaniacs a guy came in to the finish with no helmet on. He had all these scratches on his head and his hair was full of crap. It turns out he did half of the ride with no helmet on because he had placed it on a hill and it rolled away down into the bowels of the Carpathians Mountains never to be seen again.

6. Jump over something without looking first:

In the forestry near where I live they often dig a big ditch and then pile the dirt up on the other side in an attempt to stop four-wheel drives from going through. At first glance it looks like they have made you a perfect jump. When I was a kid I launched off of one of them without thinking where the dirt had come from and tossed my XR100 into this huge hole on the other side. The old saying ‘look before you leap’ applies here. Think to yourself first, ‘Where did all that dirt come from?’

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7. Turn and look at you own roost:

This is the classic rookie error: you come out of a corner and give it a big handful, turn around, look behind you and say, ‘This is sweet!’ only to ride straight into a tree. What is behind you is in the past. Always look ahead; that’s the way you are going.

8. Don’t tell anyone you are riding alone:

This is a basic rule of survival: tell someone where you are going. I have had some of the biggest crashes in my life trying to be careful. You have to tell someone what area you are riding in. I recently got my massive KTM 1190 Adventure R stuck upside-down in a sand dune and had this immediate moment of clarity. I thought, “I am all by myself, I am on a 230 kilo motorcycle, I haven’t told anyone where I am and there is no cell phone reception.” Luckily I had the skills to get myself out of there eventually but it was at that precise moment that I thought, “I am such an idiot and I should know better than this.” All of the basic survival skills they teach you at Boy Scouts I had failed to do.

9. Use the wrong tires:

You should always use the right tires of for right conditions. You have to look at the bikes tires as its shoes: you can’t go dancing in bowling shoes, if you know what I mean.

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10: Forget that riding dirt bikes is fun:

Riding motorbikes is supposed to be fun. People start getting carried away with trying to find the right sponsors, trying to win, beat all of their mates and all of that. You have to remember why you got into
dirt bikes to begin with. It’s all about the joy of riding the bike and ripping around in the bush. Emergency room nurses don’t like dirt bikes because they don’t ride dirt bikes. The occasional broken arm here and there is totally worth it. Sure, it really sucks, but if that’s the price you have to pay, then I say no problem. One of my mates from South Africa just came over to race a New Zealand enduro with me. At the end of the race he broke his wrist 200 meters from the finish line. He still reckons it was the best ride he’s had in the last two years. He got on the plane with his arm in a cast and a massive smile on his face.

12 Routine Maintenance Tips for Dirt Bikes

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That’s a time-tested piece of fire fighting advice that also applies to things like our health, security, and yes—even your dirt bike! Routine dirt bike maintenance can prevent catastrophic mechanical failure, accidents and injuries, and costly repairs.

In our case, an ounce of prevention consists of these 12 easy maintenance tips that’ll keep your dirt bike running strong all summer:

  1. Wash your bike after every ride.
    Be gentle. We recommend simply using a bucket of water and a selection of brushes to knock off mud. You can use a pressure washer, but be careful to deflect the water away from the bike, so you don’t force water and dirt into areas where it can damage engine or electrical components. Consider using an airbox cover to seal off the carburetor from water and debris.
  2. Dry it before you inspect it.
    Make sure your bike is clean and dry before you inspect it for maintenance issues. You can use a dryer or leaf blower to speed up the drying process.
  3. Check for leaks.
    Once your dirt bike is clean and dry, look for oil drips on the ground and underneath the motor. Also, inspect for coolant and brake fluid.
  4. Inspect and clean your chain.
    If your dirt bike’s drive chain is particularly muddy, allow the mud to dry overnight, so it can be more easily removed with a nylon brush. Once the chain is clean, lubricate it with a high-quality chain lube from Klotz, Maxima, Bel-Ray, or other trusted brand.
  5. Check your chain tension.
    Remember, the chain should never be taut—there should be some slack to compensate for suspension movement. On the other hand, if you are able to remove the chain from the rear sprocket, it has become too loose and should be replaced. No matter how much travel your dirt bike’s suspension has, the ideal amount of chain free-play is ½-inch or 13 millimeters when the swingarm is parallel to the ground.
  6. Inspect and tighten bolts.
    Check your hardware to make sure bolts haven’t loosened under extreme vibration.
  7. Check out your controls and control cables.
    Inspect your throttle and clutch cables and replace them if they are frayed or kinked. Then, test the throttle control for the proper amount of free play. An easy way to test for free play is to place the bike on a work stand, start it up, and let it idle. Then, rotate the handlbars through their full range of travel and listen for any increase in engine rpm. If an increase occurs, you need to add free play to your throttle cable. Also, test your throttle for responsive operation, making sure it snaps back crisply when twisted.
  8. Check and clean your air filter.
    By maintaining a clean air filter, you’ll not only improve performance, you’ll protect your engine from costly damage. You can use a quality spray-on air filter cleaner or clean it with a mix of water and a household cleaner like Simple Green. Once the filter is dry, coat it with high-quality air filter oil.
  9. Check your tire pressure in between each ride.
    Use a tire pressure gauge to set the proper pressure based on the terrain conditions. We recommend 8 psi (front tires) and 6 psi (rear tires) for muddy conditions and 14 psi (front) and 12 psi (rear) for dry conditions.
  10. Change your oil.
    If you spend most of your time in the dirt or mud—or if your dirt bike sees extreme duty—you need to change your motor oil often. Some say change your oil after every ride; others say change the oil every eight to 10 operating hours. Follow your manufacturer’s recommendations, but remember—the more often you change your oil, the longer your engine will likely live.
  11. Check your fluids.
    You should replace your brake fluid periodically, because it is inherently conducive to absorbing moisture. Most manufacturers recommend DOT-4 brake fluid—an alcohol-based fluid—for dirt bikes. Also, check your coolant level and top off as needed. Plan to flush and change your cooling system once per year.
  12. Grease it up.
    Grease seals out water and dirt and provides lubrication for important components. Inspect your air filter’s sealing area, swingarm and hardware, wheel bearings and seals, shock seals and forks, and steering head bearings. Use a good PTFE-based, petroleum-based, or moly grease where necessary.

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How To Prep Your Dirt Bike For The Sand Dunes

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-20-29-10 I think we can all agree that dirt bikes are some of the most versatile machines out there. You can take them anywhere and have a heck of a lot of fun doing it – even in the sand.

Dune riding for sure is a beast in and of itself. Riding on sand offers even the most expert rider a significant challenge and a completely whole new experience for anyone who has only spent time on the track or trail. Without a doubt one adventure every dirt bike owner must try is a day on the sand dunes.

What makes it even more special is, for most dirt bikers, the sand dunes aren’t exactly right in their own backyard. For most, a day in the sand is the road less traveled and it’ll be an all-day affair. But, whenever you decide to try your hands on the sand be it the beach or desert remember you can’t just take your dirt bike off the trail and rip it in the sand without some prep work.

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If you’ve ever been to the beach whether to lay out in the sun or simply stroll along the breakers one thing is quite evident – sand sticks to everything and finds every nook and cranny of your shoes, clothes, towels and anything you put on it. The same applies to your dirt bike.

Your bike can manage the muddiest of trails so it can certainly handle a day on the sand dunes. However, you’ll need to do some prep work before you head out for the dunes to ensure you don’t just spin your wheels and your bike survives to ride another day. In this guide we will cover the following tips for riding sand dunes:

  • Paddle Tires
  • Chain Lube
  • Sprockets
  • Air Filter
  • Coolant
  • Safety Flag
  • Fuel

Sand or Paddle Tires

Change out your regular knob tire in the rear for a paddle tire. These tires essentially paddle your bike through the sand and give you much more traction. Be prepared to throw around a lot of sand because, well, that’s why they are called paddle tires.

If you don’t have a paddle tire or don?t want to spend the money on a tire to play in the sand once a year you can still use your regular knob tires. The key here is to let a lot of air out and run them between 8 and 12 psi. The lower pressure flattens the tire which gives you grip and floatation in the sand.

A note on using a paddle tire: consider running one tooth up on your rear sprocket with the paddle since it could make the bike lug.

Posted by Andrew T.

Dirt Bike Riding Tips And Techniques

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-20-22-44The following dirt bike riding tips are an excellent place to begin your journey to becoming a better rider, but they’re not the end! No matter what level you’re at, unless you’re completely happy with your current skill set on a dirt bike, I suggest you keep improving by seeking tips & advice from better riders than yourself. The best thing I ever did to improve my riding was ask for advice from more experienced riders. And if your riding level isn’t where you want it to be then this will be one of the best things you can do too, to improve your skills on the track or trail.

I’ve been advised by much better riders than myself to concentrate on my technique rather than speed. If you get the technique right, the speed will come naturally. And you’ll be much quicker than you otherwise would’ve been… and safer!

Another key thing to improve your riding is to actually think! Become conscious of how you ride, rather than just riding. Learn what you are supposed to be doing then focus on doing it. Every great sportsman uses visualization techniques to improve their performance, because most of how we perform physically is predetermined by how we think mentally.

There are so many small things that good riders do that make them so incredibly quick and smooth. I’m not going to pretend I know what they all are, but I will share some fundamental dirt bike riding tips that I have learned from experienced riders and motocross schools… beginning with your standing position.

Your body position on your bike is the first thing you need to get right.

When I started riding, I used to sit down a lot with my elbows hanging, legs wide open and sitting in the middle of the bike.  I felt like a midget trying to operate a jackhammer – constantly being bullied around over rough ground and ruts. You see these poor souls occasionally at your local track getting tossed around like rag-dolls.

A lot of your riding (esp. over rough, hard terrain) should be done in the standing position. It distributes your weight to a lower point on the bike (your foot pegs) which can allow you more control. Observe the pro’s next time and learn from them.

To do this…

  • Position the foot pegs in the middle of your feet for good control of the foot levers.
  • Grip the bike with your knees slightly bent near the bottom of the tank.
  • Your back should be slightly arched. Keep your arms up, and elbows forward with your head over the handle bars.
  • Try and keep either 1 or 2 fingers on the clutch and brake levers as much as possible. It may feel awkward to begin with but after practice it will feel natural.

Practice riding like this over rough terrain and watch your speed, control and enjoyment increase!

Sand Riding Tip: When riding in the sand or mud, your body position changes. Your weight should be to the back of the bike to prevent the front wheel from bogging and throwing you over the bars. This will also give you greater traction. You will need to be hard on the gas to keep the bike gliding over the sand.

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