Your web browser is out of date

This website has been developed using modern web technologies. The web browser you're currently using is outdated and may not support such technologies and as such your experience on this website may be degraded.

See your options

5 Must-Learn Trail Riding Skills for Beginners

Vic Womersley August 24, 2023

Motorcycle trail riding skills are different to road motorcycling. If you’re keen to learn but unsure where to start, this is for you!

Trail riding days are action-packed and loads of fun. No matter what your experience level is, we’ll help you develop your skill further. After practising the essential skills, you’ll be able to put them to the test with an adventure through the nearby Green Lanes of Salisbury Plains or Kent’s North Downs.

Read on for the top five tips collected from our Phoenix Trails expert instructors. This is one of the best beginner’s guides to prepare you for an off-road adventure!

#1 Look where you’re headed

It sounds obvious, but whether you’re riding on roads or trails, the same rule applies; you need to look where you want to go. This can feel a little scary at first. The tendency is to focus on what is right under your front wheel. Don’t worry though, the bike will find its way if you focus on the target ahead.

Keeping your gaze up and ahead lets you plan how to avoid obstacles with a little more time. You’ll feel like you have time to plan your route and enough distance to tackle the trail ahead with confidence. When you tire, your vision naturally drops to a few feet ahead of you. When you notice this, stop, reset and then get going again.

#2 Move your body

To help your tyres bite into slippery or dusty ground, you need to give them as much help as you can. Traction is like gold dust and creating it with your movement is one of the crucial trail riding skills.

Usually, you’ll need to sit as far forward on your seat as you can. This puts more weight on the front tyre, creating a downward force and giving it more grip. Even when cornering, this is the ideal position. The exceptions to the forward placement on your trail bike are when you’re heading down a hill or navigating a particularly slippery section. In this case, you need to sit at the rear of the seat. That puts weight over the back tyre, giving it more traction.

#3 Stand on your pegs

It can feel strange to stand on your pegs when you start riding trail motorcycles. But there’s something to it, just watch the experienced riders.

Standing on the pegs gives you a better view of what’s ahead. It also lets you move freely, allows the bike to move under you, and for you to control your centre of balance. That lets you control the motorcycle better. Although it feels odd at first, you’ll adapt to the position and begin to feel more comfortable. You’ll maintain better vision and balance while keeping control of your machine.

#4 Get out of the groove

Grooves, ruts, ditches, whatever you call them, there aren’t many trail riders who enjoy getting stuck in them. They’re impossible to avoid completely, so you’ll need to learn how to handle them. Remember there are no points for stylishly standing on the pegs. There aren’t penalties for getting your feet on the ground when you need to either.

If a rut is challenging, sit on your bike and put your feet on the ground. Walk the bike through. If you feel things going wrong, just stop, have a breather and go again. It’s not a race. Trying to style it out when you have problems will just end up with you and the motorcycle on the ground.

#5 Enjoy yourself while building your trail riding skills!

Trail riding is loads of fun. It may well be the best thing you can do on two wheels. It’s certainly hard not to grin and have a great time doing it.

Green laning on a trail bike takes you through some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes. You’ll be surrounded by nature and wildlife, so take your time to enjoy it. Regular stops give you a chance to soak up the beauty of where you are, recharge yourself and be more ‘on it’ for longer. Live your best trail riding life, and enjoy every moment!

Where to ride on motorcycle trails

The UK is crisscrossed with miles of unsurfaced roads and tracks that are ideal for green laning on a motorcycle. From Scotland to Wales and down in England’s Southwest, there is a wide range of trails to choose from if you want to go off-roading on a motorcycle.

Salisbury Plains trail riding

Salisbury Plain’s green lanes are one of the favoured spots for Phoenix Trails and we run many trail riding days there for riders of all experience levels. The 94,000-acre area incorporates some Military Land within it. These areas have special bylaws as do the different categories of lanes and tracks.

Although it’s perfectly fine for trail riders to ride on Salisbury Plain, it’s important to be aware of the SPTA rules and best practices. The easiest way is to head out with a professionally guided group such as ours. If you do head out on your own, stick to byways open to all traffic (BOAT) tracks, That will help you avoid ending up somewhere you shouldn’t be.

Kent’s North Downs

The North Downs of Kent are another favoured spot for Phoenix Trails. The 326 square miles stretch from Farnham in Surrey all the way to Dover on Kent’s coast. The ridge of chalk hills reaches a height of around 200 metres above sea level and makes a fantastic landscape for trail riders.
It’s advisable to stick to BOAT lanes in the North Downs too. There are plenty of resources and maps available on the internet to plan your own motorcycle trail riding holiday in the UK. However, the easiest way to get out and have some trail riding fun is with a professional group like Phoenix Trails. Book yourself on a trail riding course with expert instructors today!


Get more from our blog