ATV Riding Tips: Log Crossings

Ride Technique — on August 18, 2010 at 11:23 am
Logcrossing1

Before you cross the log, survey the surrounding area and the dirt in front and behind the log. (By Frank Hoppen)

Crossing a fallen tree or log can be a fun challenge, especially in a controlled environment. I recently took some log-crossing photos with one of the elite motorsports photographers in the world, Mr. Frank Hoppen. I figured I should share them with you and a few tips to help you conquer the next log/tree you come across. These tips may not work for your machine, every fallen log (tree), weather or terrain you’re riding in. Use them as a point of reference and tweak them to cater to your own needs and riding abilities.

This is how I’d tackle a fallen log (were talking one large enough to high center on while crossing it). Two school of thoughts exist for crossing a log. One is to use momentum and, once the front tires are on top of the log, gas it and basically jump the log like a single jump on an MX track. The other is to again use momentum, but let the machine’s 4×4 system (traction and potentially diff. lock) claw and pull you over the obstacle. It really depends on your machine and skill level. Smaller logs would require you to simple slow down (it’s the safest method) before crossing them.

1. If for any reason you feel you can’t safely navigate the log, leave it to someone else in your party who is more skilled. If possible, you could also find an alternate route (if allowed by your trail or property owner) and avoid it altogether.

2. Approach the log and survey the surrounding area. This means before you throw caution in the wind, look at the log

With a controlled steady throttle (and slow speed), climb the log. (By Frank Hoppen)

With a controlled steady throttle (and slow speed), climb the log. (By Frank Hoppen)

and terrain. Are there holes in front of the log (indicator of where others got stuck)? Does the log/tree have bark on it? Is it muddy or is the log wet?

3. Make sure the machine is in 4×4. Lock the front differential if you feel it’s necessary.

4. Slowly approach the log with slow, steady throttle control and start to climb. Stand up and slightly over the bars.

5. Watch the front tires pull up the face of the log and then you can stop with the front tires on top of the log. You can control the machine’s movements with its brakes.

6. This is when you’ll lean as over the handlebars more while still maintaining control of the throttle and braking.

7. As you feel the machine start to climb and drop over the other side you’ll need to do two things: First, give it a little

Notice the rider has shifted his weight to a more neutral position on the ATV. The front tires will start to drop and the rear end will climb up the log as you carry over the momentum. (By Frank Hoppen)

Notice the rider has shifted his weight to a more neutral position on the ATV. The front tires will start to drop and the rear end will climb up the log as you carry over the momentum. (By Frank Hoppen)

more throttle (more of a blip than a pinning of the gas); Second, then shift your weight back to a neutral (or over the rear section of the seat) as the machine’s rear tires reach the top of the log. This keeps your body weight back as the front end drops to make contact with the ground.

8. Remember while those rear tires are on the log, the front tires are resting on the ground and pulling (if in 4WD and diff lock). Weight control keeps the machine from coming back on you or falling forward on you. If your machine is equipped with a good skid plate with recessed hardware, it should help it slide over the log, too.

9. Maintain you secure grip on the handlebars and the neutral body position until all four tires are on the ground.

10. Switch out of diff lock and go back to enjoying the trails!

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