How do you get up that hill?

29 replies to this topic
  • Eliems

Posted January 25, 2005 - 07:43 PM


What do you well season riders do when you get to a steep washed out riverbed of a road heading up in to the high county?

Do you carefully ride the clutch over each watermelon sized rock with your feet stabilizing you, or do you blast up in second gear with momentum providing stability?

If you do the latter, how often have you been thrown off your bike and smashed in to the ground at high speed?

I am trying to work up the nerve to blast up our steep coastal rides but I lost my sense of immortality a long time ago! Now this new 450 is high off the ground for keeping the feet down.


  • Beef

Posted January 25, 2005 - 07:59 PM


I'm also curious how some of the veterans go down extremely steep hills that have tire-width ruts? I let my front tire drop into one once, in 1st gear, riding my brakes, and paniced :cry: , which was the wrong thing to do (though it felt good at the time) and promptly ended up rolling down the hill with my bike chasing me! :cry:

  • cruise

Posted January 25, 2005 - 08:08 PM


On steep rocky hills i try to pick the best line, look a few meters in front enough to give me time to react to any obsticles and try to keep as much momentem as i can. If i get bounced to bad or totally lose it i bail before i hit the ground.
ps If you put you feet down too much you will loose traction on steep stuff.

  • Hamish

Posted January 25, 2005 - 08:30 PM


Our hills are slightly different here. Big ruts, but all the rocks are small marbles, mostly golf ball size on a softish base.
when I come across a hill like that I:
1) wish I didnt have a YZ timed 426. Wish I did have a big flywheel and auto clutch and a bigger set of gonads
2) use 1st and a bit of clutch
3) loose traction altogether and fall off
4) get back on and have a go in 2nd and normally end up getting bounced off the trees.

When you find the secret, pls let me know :cry:

  • Indy_WR450

Posted January 25, 2005 - 08:36 PM


Going up you got to use momentum and push as fast as you can without getting airborne over large rocks. Once you have hangtime it is over and you lost all your momentum. So sometimes you slow down to maintian momentum and where you can speed up and build momentum all the while going up the rocky wash. Downhill is much harder to be brave! On downhills go fast enough to maintain your balance but not so fast you cant brake if necessary. :cry:

  • mjslim

Posted January 25, 2005 - 09:52 PM


I agree with Indy about going uphill - its all about maintaining smooth momentum. Be sure to look ahead and plan your line. The technique that works well for me on steep downhills is to pull in the clutch as you are braking so you can feel the rear tire and not stall the bike, and be sure to use both brakes simultaneously. Keep both wheels rotating slightly because the angular momentum of the wheels is what makes your balance possible and helps you hold your line. Don't be afraid of a little speed as long as it is controlled - you are more likely to fall if you go too slow and have to fight the bike, especially if you've locked up the rear tire.

  • CraigW

Posted January 25, 2005 - 10:40 PM


The secret is coast over the narly stuff and get on the gas/brakes where there is good traction.

I find way too many beginners brake hard on a downhill where the traction is poor (rutted or loose soil/rock) and end up loosing control. Rather coast over this, allowing the bike to build up speed, then get hard on the brakes when the ground is stable or flattens off. It comes down to anticipating the terrain, scanning ahead looking for the sections to do your braking.

Very much the reverse applies to climbing hills.

  • 450_James

Posted January 25, 2005 - 11:28 PM


Good advice in previous posts.

The key for me on the down hills was being able to control the front brake. As soon as I was able to feather the front brake (short pulses without locking up the front wheel) I wasn't so afraid to go a little faster. The gain in downhill speed made the bike much more stable.

On the uphills momentum is everything. Hit it with speed (within reason) then regulate the throttle so you don't spin the back tire.


Posted January 26, 2005 - 01:39 AM


you'd be surprised what a bit of momentum will carry you over

  • MathProf

Posted January 26, 2005 - 05:32 AM


Momentum is the key. Trials riders have a technique called a bunny hop. This where you quickly load and unload the rear suspension with throttle and jump the bike off the ground w/o a jump. I use this technique to jump wide ruts or to jump over rocks in the trail that might slow you down.

There is no law that says you have to go straight down (or up) the trail. On really rutted downhills (and uphills) I zig-zag back and forth across the ruts so they don't grab my front tire.

Downhills: My fatal error is too much front brake at the wrong time. Rocky downhills are especailly bad. It is best to let the front wheel roll over the rocks if they can, but if you grab the front brake too much the tire actually makes the rock roll more.

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  • Jackazz

Posted January 26, 2005 - 06:39 AM


I am by no means a "seasoned" dirt rider, but in the past 6 months a few hill tricks I've learned are as follows:

up - 1st or 2nd gear, modulate the clutch when you start to spin up the rear, & lean forward to get (& keep) your weight on the pegs. It had never occured to me to stand on the pegs when things got steep, until I tried it one day & it helped a ton.

down - Lean back, use a gear low enough to provide some engine braking if you let off the throttle, modulate the clutch & both brakes to maintain a comfortable pace. It's suprising how much you can steer a bike downhills using the rear brake.

ruts - avoid whenever possible! :cry:

  • assgasorgrass

Posted January 26, 2005 - 08:35 AM


FL sucks, I wish we had hills

  • bottomfeeder2

Posted January 26, 2005 - 08:46 AM


Up: Stay out of the ruts.

Down: Stay out of the ruts.

Flat: Stay out of the ruts.

  • Beef

Posted January 26, 2005 - 09:17 AM


Up: Stay out of the ruts.

Down: Stay out of the ruts.

Flat: Stay out of the ruts.

LOL :cry:

  • barefootbob

Posted January 26, 2005 - 09:17 AM


FL sucks, I wish we had hills

Florida might not have hills but you have the best waterski lakes/ :cry:

momentum workes for me up hill I think its all in the approch I start in 1st point my bike wher I want to go grab 2nd and nail it instant momentum if everything is good and the bike is on the rite track grab 3rd toward the top I always look for somthing to lanch off from to jump to the next level but thats just me I like air time.

down hill pucker up still figuring that out brake when you have traction coast through the hard parts.

dont pass unless you can see the hole trail learned that last sunday expensive lesson

its all fun even if you dont make it I call it exsersize

  • RADRick

Posted January 26, 2005 - 09:50 AM


Something not mentioned regarding uphills is that it is important to know what is at the top and the other side. If you are tackling a hill for the first time and are unsure of what awaits you at the top, you're more likely to let off the throttle too soon. Most riders find themselves in trouble in the last 3rd of the climb either because they are so focused they forget to downshift, or they are unaware of what's at the top and they let off the gas early. Either situation results in a loss of momentum and a scary ending. Obviously, you can't always know what awaits you on top of a hill, but it is almost always safer to get up there and deal with it than to panic and not make it all the way up.

  • RichBaker

Posted January 26, 2005 - 01:03 PM


Always ride a gear higher than you think is right, stand up and keep your momentum!! When your in 1st or 2nd you'll get too much wheelspin. If you stall or get stuck, use 2nd and lots of clutch...
Downhills, brake where you have traction, otherwise coast.

  • CraigW

Posted January 26, 2005 - 11:00 PM


The key for me on the down hills was being able to control the front brake. As soon as I was able to feather the front brake (short pulses without locking up the front wheel) .

I'm not too sure where this cadence braking technique comes from, but from what I've seen I dont like it at all. This grabbing and releasing the brake might work fine on a road vehicle, but on an enduro/motocross bike it sucks.
It causes the front end to dive on braking and then rebound as the brakes are released, creating a pogo effect. On a long travel suspension bike all it achieves is to unsettle the chassis, the rider gets out of control, picks up speed, overcompensates, with predictable results.

In my experience, the secret is to modulate the brakes, particularly the front, applying sufficient pressure to the point just before traction is lost. When this happens, you let off the brake just enough to allow the front wheel to regain traction (not a total release of the braking force). If there is just no traction to be had, then you have to pretty much let go, let the bike pick up speed until you get to a place where the brakes can once more be applied. If nothing is evident on the trail ahead, then lay the bike down, before too much momentum picks up. Footpegs, exhausts and handlebars can make for damn good braking on a slippery slope :cry:

To summarise then, optimum braking come from modulation , not grabbing and releasing in an ABS sort of way.

  • Eliems

Posted January 26, 2005 - 11:13 PM


Hey Craig, is there a trail up Table Mountain? I did it once in a cable car but would love to get up there on my 450!


  • CraigW

Posted January 26, 2005 - 11:27 PM


Hey Craig, is there a trail up Table Mountain? I did it once in a cable car but would love to get up there on my 450!


:cry: , There are way too many rocks on that damn mountain, for me to want to ride it on my dirtbike, and I think the Greenies will kill you if they catch you on its sacret slopes. Having said that, I know there are a number of mountain bike trailers on some of the lower slopes.

I ride on the East coast , called KwaZulu-Natal. Here is a pic of some of the typical terrain.
Posted Image

[I see you still remember your Zulu greetings - "go in peace"]


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