If you’ve ever ridden your adventure or dual sport bike through mud, you’ll know it requires some skill to get through to the other side without putting your feet (or your whole bike) down. In this post, we cover the basic technique of riding your adventure bike through slippery mud like a pro.
#1: Enter With Momentum
You want to enter the mud puddle with some momentum so that you don’t have to rely on the throttle to get you to the other side. Don’t go in too fast, otherwise a mistake will mean a crash at a higher speed. Apply just enough throttle just before entering the mud to carry your through to the other side.
#2: Body Position
Stand up with bent knees and lean back so that you have the bulk of your weight over the rear tire. Standing up will allow you to move your weight around on the bike to keep it under you at all times as it tries to slip around. Weighting the rear wheel will help with traction to prevent the rear wheel from spinning out from underneath you.
#3: Look Ahead
As with all obstacles, you need to look up ahead toward where you want to ride. If you look down at your front wheel you are almost certain to lose momentum or fall over. By looking toward the other side of the mud pit, you psychological tell your whole body that you are committed to make it to the other side.
This sounds trivial, but it (along with Step 5 below) will make the biggest difference when riding through very slippery mud. Even more so if you are riding through ruts and tracks left by a car or truck before you.
#4: Knees Tight, Handlebars Loose
While in the standing position, grip the bike between your knees so you can control it as it tries to slide around underneath you. You have to resist the urge to white-knuckle the grips with your fists. Loosely grip the handlebars and allow the front wheel to move side to side as it tries to find grip.
This is similar to riding through thick sand. A very common mistake riders make is to grip the handlebars so tightly that the slight corrections from the front wheel are prevented, causing the front end to wipe out. It is totally normal for the front end to sway violently from side to side as you focus on maintaining grip at the rear wheel.
#5: Don’t Spin the Rear Wheel
This is the most important technique you will use when riding through slippery mud. If the rear wheels starts spinning (by you applying too much throttle or the tire losing grip), the rear-end of the bike will slide out to the side and try to overtake you.
This is a very common mistake new riders (myself included) makes. The way to prevent the rear wheel from spinning is by feathering the clutch to trim the power as soon as you detect a loss of traction at the rear.
When the rear wheel starts to slip, don’t close the throttle. This will move the weight of the bike to the front which will reduce the traction at the rear even further. Rather pull in the clutch just enough to stop the wheel from spinning. Once you’ve regained traction, you can let the clutch out again slowly.
This requires some getting used to, but once you are comfortable with controlling power to the rear wheel with the clutch, you will be able to ride through the mud without putting a boot in the bog.