intermediate level trials training: balancing skills
In our first video on balancing, we finished off with challenges to balance in tricky spots, particularly up against obstacles, and to try balancing with your front wheel straight using objects to help keep balance.
Unless your club follows the non-stop rules, it's very handy to be able to balance in awkward spots to clean out your engine, choose the right gear or examine the terrain ahead. While balanced, have a try at leaning back too - this will be useful in advanced techniques later on.
balancing with the front wheel straight
Balancing with the front wheel straight, or almost straight, is important as you work up through the grades as there will be times you can't turn your front wheel. Lower your tire pressures if you have difficulties. Having your tires in small holes or ruts can help a lot. As you get better, try leaning back - again a very handy skill for later when you come to do advanced techniques with minimal run up.
Try riding along logs, and if possible, balance briefly at a stand still. This will encourage you to use your legs for balance in situations where you can't afford to turn the front wheel.
using obstacles for balancing
Try placing either the front or rear wheel against obstacles against objects for extra stability when balancing - you can hop either the front or rear wheel if needed until they are against a tree, rock or log. A handy trick is easing down slowly off logs or rock faces slowly and stop with the rear wheel still firmly lodged for balance (see our video for examples of this).
The same principle applies to the front wheel. Try easing the bike against a log or rock for easy balancing. You can slip the clutch to push harder against the object for even more stability. This is a great opportunity to learn leaning back for those advanced techniques to come.
Find two logs or rocks at the right distance to practice having both wheels wedged in for easy balancing. This will provide the foundation for advanced techniques like bridging gaps in the future.
wheelie on to obstacles then balance
Try a small wheelie onto and against a rock or large log, an important step toward advanced zaps in the future. It might look hard but will provide a lot of stability if the front wheel is against a near vertical face. Apply both brakes and push down on the bars to get the front wheel even more firmly lodged in.
As you get comfortable with this, try little hops to move the front wheel around, leaning back, or getting the front wheel up and against undercut ledges or logs in the air. These skills will pave the way for advanced zaps and other techniques in the future.
where to look while balancing?
In the early stages, where you look can help a lot. Most riders seem to find that fixing on something in the mid-distance provides a good visual reference to help you balance. Others find that looking at something close by on the ground is better. Experiment with both to see which suits you.
Watch our Youtube video Mid-level balancing skills for a visual demonstration.
Copyright B. Morris 2014
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