Enduro Technique

Enduro Technique – How to ride off road

This is a section of the site where you may pick up some tips on how to progress off road. The first article is by Malcolm Bissett an Expert Class rider. Later there will be some articles on specific areas – downhill or corners etc – hopefully with some pictures to illustrate. The best way to improve is to ride, you can’t get bike fit reading.


The basics for riding either Enduro or Motocross are very similar. On top of the basics there are more specialised techniques specific to Enduros. The following pages will cover firstly the basics of riding the motorcycle efficiently concentrating on rider positioning on the bike when riding ‘the going’ / course and when riding the special test. Secondly more advanced riding skills relating to specific obstacles that could be encountered in an Enduro. Then finishing by looking at fitness and machine preparation.


When riding the going you should be as relaxed as possible and concentrating ahead for good lines or hazards. Generally you should be in the standing position with your elbows up and letting the bike wander between your legs and not gripping it heavily. The aim of riding the going is to get to the next check on time. You will have to adjust your pace to make the tighter checks and this will come naturally with experience. You go fast on the going, not by taking risks, but by riding fast in the places were you can and picking good lines. The latter is very important. Don’t just follow the brown line.


Ditches & Boggy Ground

These are one of the most feared hazards in the Enduro event.

When riding ditches you should aim to loft the front wheel so that it clears the ditch and then bunnyhop the rear of the bike over too. When you approach, be in the standing position and using the clutch and the throttle preload the suspension. Gripping the bike with your legs will help you get the back in the air.

When riding bogs you need to pick a good line and stay away from the deepest part, usually the middle. Approach in the same way as you would approach a ditch but keep your speed up shifting your weight towards the back of the bike. Using a combination of throttle and clutch lift the front wheel over the bog. For larger bogs you will have to lift the front end higher. If the bog is continuous and there is the possibility of getting stuck, zigzag across from side to side so that you are riding over the underlying ruts rather than in them. If you are not sure, stop and have a look don’t just hope for the best, even see how another rider gets through.

Uphills and Downhills

When tackling uphills it is all about momentum. You need to accelerate before you reach the start of the hill and keep the momentum going as you progress up the hill. It is easier if the hill is fairly smooth to sit down with both feet on the pegs and with your weight slightly back. On steeper hills if the front comes up don’t back off but feather the clutch to regain control. On rougher hills with stones it is important to be committed and keep the momentum going. You will have to stand up on the rougher hills to get over certain obstacles like roots and rocks. If you have to sit down, keeping one foot on the peg will aid traction.

When riding down hills you must stand (never sit down) with your weight back and keeping your arms slightly bent. Select a high gear and control your descent using both brakes. When braking the front brake will mostly control your speed while the back brake is used mostly for control of the rear end. When using the back brake do not pull in the clutch, as this will cause the back wheel to lock and break out, probably overtaking you. This will take practice to prevent you from stalling the bike.

downhill.jpg (20657 bytes)Downhill – sit back

Lean out on corners


The way to ride a camber is to be as smooth as possible with any movement and your throttle control. That is not to say you must ride them very slowly. When approaching a camber try to stay as high as possible and out of the brown line. If you slide a little you have the option to go down. Stand up in the middle of the bike and weight the outside footpeg. If it is very tricky or you loose gnip and you must put a foot down, keep most of your weight on the outside peg and not on the seat.


Riding ruts takes a lot of practice and good balance. It is easier, faster and uses much less energy riding a rut standing up with both feet on the pegs. You must focus ahead of you and lean slightly forward on the bike to aid steering and balance. You have to lean left or right to keep the bike upright and to make turns. If you have to sit down when it becomes very tricky, keep your backside as far forward on the scat as possible and avoid your legs constantly running along side the bike, this is the quickest way to get cramp. On some of the very deep ruts you will have to wheelie the bike through to stop it from grounding and getting stuck.

Stony Ground and Tree Roots

For the smaller stones and tree roots the best way to ride them is to stay loose in a high gear and ignore them. The bike will wiggle around a bit but you will get used to this with experience. For larger stones and roots that you cannot avoid, try and hit them as square as possible keeping the front end light and going at a constant speed.

Riding in heather is always a bit daunting especially when there are stones about. You must be in a high gear and stand up in the middle of the bike. Reading the ground is all-important and will take time to learn. Keep to the heather that looks most constant avoiding any lumps or strange areas. This should keep you away from the larger stones and hazards. You will hit smaller stones but with practice over this type of going you will be able to control any kicks or direction changes that the bike will make. To ride in heather is about experience rather than technique.

Extreme Sections & Getting Stuck

Towards the end of the Enduro the going will tend to get more cut up and difficult to ride especially if it is wet. You are constantly having to sit down and use your legs. In this stage of the Enduro your mental and physical strength comes into play.

When you come to extreme sections on the course you have to get through them quickly to avoid getting stuck or using too much energy. Be very aggressive when you need to be but think of where you are going. The aim is to keep going at all cost. If you are finding it hard, it is hard and everyone else will find it hard as well. If you get stuck there are a number of ways to get going again : jump off the bike with the engine still running and in gear and push it out or over the hazard ; if you are totally buried move the bike from side to side and try again to push it out using the engine while lifting under the bars with your left arm; if on a rare occasion when you have to lift the bike out, lift the back out first as the steering head will allow this.

Riding the Special Test

Riding the test takes total commitment. The test is about 60% ability and 40% mental commitment. You will have to ride the bike very aggressively, not wildly. The test requires a different approach than riding the going.
Always walk the test; this is very important as it will give you faster lines and alternative lines as well as keeping you out of trouble.

When cornering on flat ground sit on the outside of the seat and lean the opposite way from the bike. Keep your inside foot outstretched in front of you while weighting the outside footpeg with the other. Feed in the power slowly and don’t open the throttle fully until you can keep it wide open.

When in rutted or bermed corners lean with the bike. Again inside foot outstretched in front of you. As you approach the corner ease off the brakes and begin to lean over feed in the power to prevent you from falling right over. Again don’t bring on the power completely until you can keep it on.

Avoid over use of the clutch when comerig and try to be as smooth but aggressive as possible.

When you are on the straights make sure that you have the throttle fully open. Sounds stupid but most riders don’t open the throttle fully even when they think the have.


It is a fact that the fitter you are the easier riding the bike is. To be fit for the bike you need to be physically fit a well as bike fit. Bike fit is when you can ride the bike without obtaining sore muscles after a short time. Physically fit is when you can maintain maximum effort and concentration throughout the day.

You should aim to be on your bike for at least 2-3 hours per week. The physical training side is more difficult to achieve and requires a high degree of motivation and commitment. This can consist of a run swim or cycle, 2-3 times per week.



The position of your brake and clutch levers will depend on your individual riding style and physique. In general most of the top Enduro riders set the position of their controls for when they are standing. This is because when you are travelling cross- country , this is the position when you are in most control. You should also try and ride with only two fingers on the levers and will allow you to retain a good grip on the bars.


To aid tyre changing it is a good idea to do the followig.

Move the security bolt around to the first set of diverging spokes next to the valve.
Throw away the original rim tape; replace with a narrow run of duct tape wrapped round two to three times.
Tyre changing techniques vary from individual to individual. Once you have mastered a technique then it is just down to practice.

Always use the best tyres that you can afford. The tyre pressures, unless you are running mooses, are a compromise between preventing punctures and obtaining maximum grip.

A guide to tyre pressures:

Sand/Mud        10 – 12 PSI

Mud/Rock        12 – 13 PSI

Rock                 13 – 15 PSI

If the going is dry rocky and fast then you should run a slightly higher pressure to avoid getting punctures.


Scottish Enduro Training   Riding Techniques prepared by Malcom Bisset

How to mark up your time card, at sign on and during the event.

At  signing on for each event you will be given a time card. Usually sealed in a plastic wallet it will have a space for your name, riding number and start time. These items may be filled in for you by the organisers but you will have to fill in the rest yourself.

Check the number of laps you have to do and the time allowed for each lap, or in the case of long laps, the time between checks.

Check No Time Allowance Due time Actual Time
——- Start Time 10:30
Check 1 40 Minutes 11:10
Check 2 50 Minutes 12:00
Check 3 40 Minutes 12:40
Check 4 40 Minutes 13:20

Above is your card at the start of the event with the time you aim to meet. However due to your own speed or errors on the course you may arrive late at a check. If you arrive early you do not check in until your set time (you wil be penalised for early arrival). Once you are late you stay late. Below is a card with actual times on it.

Check No Time Allowance Due time Actual Time
——- Start Time 10:30
Check 1 40 Minutes 11:10 11:10    (A)
Check 2 50 Minutes 12:00 12:10    (B)
Check 3 40 Minutes 12:50 12:40    (C)
Check 4 40 Minutes 13:20 13:10    (D)

(A) On time – zeroed the check.
(B) Ten minutes late – you are allowed up to  maxium of 60 minutes before you are disqualified.
(C) The rider should have added 40 minutes on to his arrival time at the last check and arrived at 12:50. But the rider kept to his original time sheet and has arrived 10 minutes early – incurring a ten minute early arrival penalty.
(D) The rider has arrived early at the last check of the day and can go straight through with no penalty.

There are several tricks to be employed with time cards. One is to arrive early at a check and accept the time penalties if you know the next check is tight and it could put you over your hour. Better to have a few extra points than be disqualified on time. Another is to use your minute at each check to rest – but remember each later check is out by each minute you wait. In a ten lap event you could be ten minutes late and have no penalty points.

The above instructions are basic – and if you know better let me know.