Lesson five: The importance of your feet
Dylan: ‘From my point of view, I think its important to get people to put their feet down in the tricky going because the problem with these bikes is if you get them out of shape at a bit of an angle then you’re going over. So when it’s tricky - especially if you’re like me with short legs - it’s a good idea to get your feet down early because if it goes you can save it. Curiously, road riders can be afraid to put their feet down, where enduro riders can be quite relaxed about it - when we need to put our feet down we put them down.’
The feet-up/feet-down argument isn’t necessarily quite so clear cut, as taller riders will often find stood-up trials riding through tricky sections an advantage. You just need to recognise when it’s time to drop down into the seat and get your feet out - a lot earlier than you might on an enduro. As Dylan says, once the centre of gravity starts shifting away from directly above the tyre contact patch then these beasts will quickly start toppling and the weight and lack of grip from the tyres means they’re soon on their side.
That weight can be a real threat to your feet too, if you don’t get them clear quickly. Again, experience in the GS Trophy has seen quite a few riders suffer crush-type injuries to their feet where they trapped them under the bike in a crash or fall. While most adventure-specific boots look like a cross between a trials boot and a road boot - great for touring comfort rather than off-road protection - we prefer heavy-duty motocross boots for this job, simply for their sturdier build and armour. 250kg is a lot for an ankle to bear...
So you can see there are some considerations that come with adventure riding. It’s easy to under-estimate the job. It’s easy to get carried away. It’s easy to inadvertently have a big crash if you’re not aware of the limitations - both yours and the bike’s. It’s not like enduro, not even like trail. And yet it is incredibly rewarding, a fine challenge for a rider, still. And as a way of seeing the great outdoors, it’s very hard to beat.
‘You mostly enjoy being out ‘n’ about and seeing the scenery,’ confirms Dylan. ‘Of course, it doesn’t give the same buzz as riding an enduro because everything has to be done slower and you can’t ride some of the extreme stuff, but then again some trails that wouldn’t be very interesting on an enduro bike ARE very interesting on an adventure bike because it makes it that much more of a challenge. [The same could be said for certain events, too.]
‘Around here, in this part of Wales, we have some amazing riding for these bikes, too. There is so much media focus on round the world trips, or remote African expeditions and such, but its surprising how much good riding there is for big bikes here right on our own doorstep. More than enough to at least lift your skills to a very high standard before setting off on an intercontinental adventure.’
There are a lot of enduro riders already hooked on the big bike scene - you’ll find a Super Ten’ or a GS in their garage parked alongside the EXC - but there are many more who haven’t yet figured it out. Yeah, they’re missing a trick...
Following a catastrophic fire at The Yamaha Off-Road Experience in early 2017, the guys are thankfully now back in business. You can contact them at www.yamaha-offroad-experience.co.uk for more details and costs etc...