Once you master these techniques, trail riding is twice the fun!


From time to time we bring you tips from pro riders on how to set up your quad and go fast on a track. We know most of you don’t ride tracks and would rather learn how to ride better on trails. So, in this feature we will give you a few tips on how to properly conquer big obstacles you might encounter on the trail. Once you master these techniques, trail riding becomes twice the fun and you’ll find yourself going for the tougher lines rather than taking the easy go-around.


How to ride over ruts on an ATV
We like to ride just after it rains when the dust is kept at bay, but a downpour usually creates deep ruts. On ATVs, it’s imperative to not let one side or the other of the quad fall into a rut. It’s best to approach the rut at a 90-degree angle, lighten the front end and jump straight over it. You can approach it at a little bit of an angle if it has a small lip to help you out. Pull up on the front end just enough to get your front wheels past the rut and back on the ground. Having the front wheels on the ground quickly will help keep the rear wheels light and help clear the rut.


How to approach hills on an ATV.
Take your time to find the hill or trail with the least obstacles in your way. Not making a hill-climb in some situations can turn ugly. On approach, have your line picked out and build just enough momentum to make it to the top. If you have enough speed, traction shouldn’t be an issue, and you can stand up to keep weight on the front end. Hills that have obstacles that require you to check up, should be separated into sections. Again, gain enough momentum to clear the obstacle, then get on the throttle again while keeping your weight centered over the machine.


How to turn around on hills when riding an ATV How to turn around on hills when riding an ATV How to turn around on hills when riding an ATV
If you find yourself getting increasingly uncomfortable when ascending a hill, it’s best to give up early on. Try to stop in the widest area you can to turn around. It’s safest to turn the quad around when not sitting on it. As the quad comes to a stop, grab the front brake and step off the machine. Being on the upside of the machine is your safest out. Then, when standing next to the quad, you can easily roll the quad back down the hill, and possibly steer it to point the nose downward. Once the quad gets nearly perpendicular with the trail, you can turn the bars toward the down side of the hill. If the ATV doesn’t want to turn, lock the parking brake on and drag the front of the quad the direction you want to go. Once you feel it’s safe to remount, you can ride it back down the hill.


Riding over rocks is about line selection first and balance second. In most situations, it’s best to let the tires drive over rocks instead of letting the frame and skid plates scrape over them. If you do find a situation where the rocks have to be center-punched, do it with momentum. At first, keep your front end light and get enough speed so the rock will make it at least three-quarters of the way under your frame. Once your front tires hit the ground again, be ready with a steady throttle to drive off of them. If your quad is only 2WD or a sport quad, you have to hit them faster and be sure to keep weight off the rear of the quad when the rock slides to that section. If a tall rock stands in your way, remember, it’s better to hit the axle than it is to hit your chain or brake rotor.


How to ride off-camber trails on an ATV
Some sidehills can be taken by just moving your weight to the high side of the hill. But keep in mind, you might encounter a section that is more severe than the rest. Momentum is your friend here. For this, you want to get a little more speed through and keep an eye out for when it levels out and slow down just prior. Another thing to watch out for when riding off-camber sections of trail – if you encounter a rock, root or square-edge bump on the upper side of the trail, prepare for it by leaning further toward the upside of the trail.


How to hop over logs on an ATV. How to hop over logs on an ATV.
Crossing logs can be a lot of fun. Getting over them is about body position. Typically, you can ride over logs that are no bigger than the size of your tires. Square up the log with your front wheels, move your body weight to the rear and lightly blip the throttle to drive on top of the log. Before the log catches on your skid plate, let off the throttle and lean your body forward to help keep the quad moving across the log. Just as your rear tires hit the log, another blip of the throttle should get you over it safely. You might have to get off of the ATV and push the rear tires over the log a few times before mastering this technique.


How to ride through deep two-track on an ATV
Well-traveled trails will become two-track in some cases, and the deeper ones can catch your underbelly or swingarm. Approach them fast and move your bodyweight to the outside of the turn and let the side knobbies on your tires help drive you through. In dry terrain, you might also have the option of riding the center and side mounds so that the center of your ATV straddles the rut.


How to ride in silt on an ATV.
On heavily traveled trails in the Southwest, we have what is called silt. Baja racers know silt far to well. It’s baby-powder-like dirt that takes many people by surprise, like quicksand in the desert. The key is to keep momentum up but only ride as fast as you have to without letting the fluff rise up and block your vision. Silt, like sand, gets rutted up, so you also want to ride to the side of the ruts to keep your underbelly from getting hung up.

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