Easy off-road is a myth

Easy off-road is a myth

You haven't been around off-road newcomers if you haven't heard sentences such as; "what track do you recommend as an easy off-road ride" or "what tires should I use for easy off-road."

Although those questions are riddled with deep-rooted problems that would give me material for several articles, today we will be focusing on the notion that off-road newbies have that there is such thing as a universal agreement on what easy off-road is.

An understandable yet dangerous mistake to make.


I'm a firm believer that anything in this round planet of ours is based on context.

A basket hoop is tall for most people but quite ok for Shaquille O'neal, the same way that a pinned MotoGP bike for Miguel Oliveira is just another day at the office, but for an average rider would probably be the last thing he would have the pleasure of experiencing.

Reference: Image from autonoid.com

Context is king, and when it comes to off-road, it is no different.

When a question like "what is easy off-road" is put out into the world, we will always get answers based on the person's context answering it, which means dubious consensus.

This tells us that instead of asking what easy off-road is, one needs to contextualize it.



A particular skill top off-road riders have is terrain reading, or in the wise words of one of our instructors, "the ability to find the clear path amongst the minefield."

A tough to teach skill, usually only achievable by a mix of experience, understanding of how the bike will react in any particular situation, and natural ability.

This means that when starting, one is missing it, forcing newcomers, more often than not, to aim for the mine instead of the path.

A clear example of it is water.

While newcomers are drawn to puddles like a fish to freshwater, experienced riders tend to avoid the sauce and take the dry path. Although this choice is bound to collect less social media engagement, it is still much safer and less prone to unexpected problems than pinning the throttle into the liquid unknown.

Newcomers will make choices like that at an alarming rate, either by lack of terrain reading ability or sheer lack of technique, both natural and normal at early stages, especially if proper instruction was neglected.

Reference: Image from Shaun Terblanche

A simple 180 turn on the trail, a manoeuvre with a few different technical approaches that can be achieved in anywhere between 3 to 30 seconds on average, can take long energy-draining minutes for newcomers.

Terrain reading mistakes force energy-draining manoeuvres that produce more trail reading errors that drain more energy… a sad, exhausting, and many times semi-dangerous vicious circle.

To add insult to injury, all of this can happen on what many would consider an easy track, bringing us again to the idea of context.

What is easy for some may prove to be difficult for others, with inexperience potentially pushing the level of a track from moderate, to difficult, to, in some cases, impossible.



Assuming anything when off-road riding is a gamble.

Assuming that there is a soft landing after an unknown jump, that a puddle is 10cm and not 1 meter deep, even assuming that your fuel range will be enough is a game that could be held at a casino alongside any other game of chance.

Nature and the trail have a way of throwing enough curve balls at us to keep things interesting, so I believe that it is our job as riders to be prepared for them instead of making things harder on our own just for the sake of it.

Following this line of thought and remembering that context is king, a general language for adv was needed, and Bret Tkacs did an excellent job at his crack at it.

Creating a defined set of assumptions and considerations, his system gave us a baseline to determine what may be easy or not.

Reference: Image from BN-EnduroCamp


At BN, we use his system; still, you may assume it doesn't suit your needs.

In that case, there is at least something you can take out of this article, the clear notion that not creating a baseline can get you in a situation where you may be lost in context and lacking knowledge.

If you are concerned with difficulty, invest in technique, and when talking to others, make sure you clearly define your skill and what you are searching for.

Stop assuming, stop guessing, stop gambling, and start taking more out of your off-road experiences.


1 comment

  • Craigtenry

    It is very a pity to me, I can help nothing, but it is assured, that to you will help to find the correct decision.

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