Basic Suspension Tuning

This article is not about advanced techniques for race-preping suspension, nor is it a beginner's step-by-step guide. The intent of this article is to provide a small amount of insight into the process of tuning bike suspension for people that have some basic mechanical skills.

First, some terms:

Spring rate is how strong the springs are. Stronger springs take more force to compress a given amount. Heavier or more aggressive riders can benefit from stronger springs, but they also reduce the ability to absorb smaller bumps. Springs, being springs, take more force to compress as they go, thus we have spring "rate." Any force will start to compress a spring, it's how much the force needs to increase per amount of travel that determines the rate.

Progressive springs have variable spring rates and usually appear to have the spring coils closer together over part of the spring length. The spring coils that are closer together are designed to be weaker than the rest. When a bump comes along, they collapse first, until the spring coils bind against each other, and then the rest of the spring coils, which are stiffer, begin to compress. Thus, the springs can be stiff enough for more aggressive riding while still being able to absorb smaller bumps smoothly.

Preload is how much spring force the suspension has to keep the bike and rider up. Rear shocks usually have an external preload adjustment; forks are usually adjusted with spacers on top of the springs. Without preload, the bike would just sag down, collapsing the suspension. Too much preload and the suspension will be fully extended, even with the rider sitting on the bike. Basically, preload should be set such that there is some sag but not too much. Note that preload does not increase spring rate, it just preloads the initial force on the spring to shift where the bike sits on the "rate" scale.

Sag is a measure of how much the suspension settles down when the rider is sitting on the bike. When going over dips, the wheels need to extend downwards to stay connected to the ground. Without sag, even going over small bumps would let the wheels fly off the ground. This kills traction. Some sag is good. Sag also consumes your suspension travel and this will reduce the ability to take bigger bumps without bottoming. Too much sag is bad. How much is right? Lots of people will give you exact numbers but the truth is that it has to be right for you and, unless you are a serious racer, this isn't going to get reduced to a formula. You just have to try different amounts until it feels right.

Damping is the rate at which the suspension can move in and out. It is either controlled by valving or by the weight (viscosity) of the oil. Too much damping and the suspension will be too slow to absorb the bumps. Too little damping and the bike will collapse onto and spring off bumps like a pogo stick. Sometimes, you will be able to adjust compression and rebound dampening separately - this can be a good thing. Like everything else, the right amount of damping depends very much on where, how, and what you ride.

Oil height is a measure of how far down the oil level is in the fork tubes with the springs out and the fork fully collapsed. Oil height matters because forks are sealed. As they collapse, the air pressure in them increases; increasing air pressure effectively adds to the spring rate. Thus, as forks collapse, the air in them acts sort of like progressive springs. The higher the oil in the tube, the more pronounces this effect is. Oil height allows you to fine-tune how your suspension behaves in the bigger hits.

Air pressure in front forks can be adjusted with the tire-style valves at the top of the forks. Honestly, the manufactures installed these valves so you can take air pressure out, not put it in. As you ride, your forks will warm up; as they warm up, the air pressure will increase. Increasing pressure will add to the effects of your preload and oil height settings. Also, over time, forks tend to "pump up" just by riding. Serious riders with well-tuned suspension will take this extra air pressure out. However, some people use these valves to add air pressure. Now, if you are attempting to temporarily tune your suspension to some unusual set of conditions, this is fine - so long as you don't add too much. Most manufactures recommend against this. Too much air pressure is very hard on fork seals; you may start leaking fork oil. Besides, if you are using air pressure all the time, then you might want to properly tune your suspension in the first place. Air pressure changes too much as you ride and this will change how your bike handles, making it less predictable. Predictable is good; it allows you to ride closer to the edge.

Bottoming is what happens when you hit a bump so hard that the suspension collapses to its limits. If you are bottoming often while riding around then you either have too soft of a spring rate, too little preload, too much sag, not enough fork oil, too little damping, or you don't know how to ride very well. Hey, I never said suspension tuning was easy.

Lock up or binding is what happens when you screw up your suspension tuning. If you add too much preload, the spring coils will bind up before the suspension bottoms. This is a bad thing as it puts way too much force on the wrong parts of your suspension. If you have too much fork oil then you will bottom out on the oil before the suspension is finished. While this isn't quite as bad and coil bind, it's still really hard on your fork seals. Bike manufacturers usually specify limits on preload and fork oil height; it is wise to stay within these limits. If you need more - start thinking about buying new springs.

Why bother with all of this?

The object of suspension tuning is to maximise traction and control. If your suspension is too soft, and you regularly bottom out, then you will have a hard time controlling the bike. If your suspension is too hard, then the bike will stutter on small bumps and you will loose traction, and probably control. If everything is just right, you will be able to maintain control while traveling quickly over smaller bumps and still be able to absorb the bigger hits without having to slow down too much. Riding a well tuned bike makes a huge difference in a rider's ability to go fast over varying terrain. And, let's face it, if you're not going fast, your suspension doesn't really matter - just about anything will work well enough.

So, how do you do manage all those combinations in suspension tuning?

Basically, very basically, here's the order I recommend:
  1. Get the preload right. Once you get the preload right, move on to the next step. If you need longer spacers than the maximum allowed, then you need stiffer springs.
  2. Get the front damping right. Typically, this means changing fork oil weights, but your bike may be adjustable. It doesn't really matter, just get it right. The heavier the oil, the less your forks will collapse on a big hit and the less they will absorb the stutter-bumps (= loss of traction). Then, when this feels about right, go on.
  3. Get the fork oil height right. The higher the oil is in the tub, the faster your air pressure will increase and the stiffer your forks will get before bottoming. If the above is right, and you still bottom a lot in the front, add more oil - being aware of the maximum for your bike. Then...
  4. Adjust the compression and rebound dampening for you back shock. On my KLR, there is only one adjustment, so I do what I can.

So, what's right?

Riders will note that I've spent a lot of time describing what can be adjusted, and the order to adjust them, but nothing about what they should be adjusted to. This is because I can't tell you. Suspension tuning is not really about specific measurements or right and wrong, it's about the best compromise you can get for YOUR riding style. Suspension is not perfect, it's always about trading off one thing for another... you want soft suspension for traction but stiff suspension for the bigger hits. In fact, the settings you use as a learner will usually be way too soft once you really know what you're doing. On the other hand, I've also seen inexperienced riders way over-stiffen their suspension. Basically, they're hitting the larger bumps all wrong, hammering the suspension until it bottoms out. To compensate, they stiffen the suspension to avoid the bottoming, but in doing so they sacrifice traction. Without the control from decent traction, they can't ride that fast.

What I'm trying to get at is that the suspension needs to be tuned to the rider. There are just too many variables: height, weight, terrain, bike, ability, etc.. There are a lot of people out there offering specific advice. If you can find someone with the same variables as you, you might get some decent information on where to start. This is especially true if you are riding a bike outside of its intended terrain, a motocross bike on tight-woods trails for example. Generic advice for all makes, terrain, and riders, will probably be less useful than the stock manufacturer's settings. What this article is attempting to do is just provide some insight into what the terms mean and some ideas about what each setting will do. You get to take it from there.


Chance Favours the Well Prepared

I ride my KLR650 - away - from civilisation at every opportunity. I also like riding nasty single track where extra weight, even on a monster like the 650, is an issue. Besides that, I frequently ride alone. So, I make sure to carry what I need to fix my bike, but not so much that I can't ride where I want. Over the years, I've fine-tuned my gear to match my bike, my riding style, and my capabilities. The following list may not be right for you, but I hope it will at least give you a few ideas about where to start.

The list:
  1. Poor Man's Batman Utility Belt: Bailing wire, black tape, zip ties,
    and duct tape. I don't carry rolls of each, but rather, I take lengths
    and wrap them around other things. For example, my spark-plug wrench
    has a length of black tape wrapped around it, my axle spanner has bailing
    wire, and my water bottle has duct tape. Not a lot, but just enough to
    make an emergency repair. I also replace these lengths as they get

  2. Everything I need to fix a flat tire. This includes an air pump
    strapped to my handlebars, tire levers zip-tied to my down-tube - just above
    my skid-plate, and an over-stuffed patch kit with extra glue tubes.
    Also, I replace one of my valve cover caps with one that can remove valve

  3. Better tools. I always replace the standard wrench sizes from the
    original bike toolkit with better quality wrenches. I only keep the
    specialty stuff, like plug wrenches and axle spanners. I also augment
    the kit with a pair of needle nose Visegrips - in place of the original junk
    pliers, a 1/4" extension with the head filed down to fit a 10m wrench and a
    few sockets, some allen keys, a master link for my chain, and a few nuts and
    bolts of various sizes. To lighten the load, I've drilled and filed
    the centres out of the larger tools, including the tire leavers.

  4. My emergency pouch. This pouch contains the bare minimum I need to
    survive a night in the bush. It includes a pair of nylon jogging pants
    (in case I'm out in jeans and get soaked in the cold), a couple of
    Powerbars, a large garbage bag (very useful for lots of things, including
    emergency shelters), candles and matches (to make a fire), and a space
    blanket. It also has a cable saw (just in case there's no way around,
    under, or over a fallen tree - I've never needed it but it's light).

  5. First Aid kit. My first aid kit is admittedly small - it's actually in
    a plastic travel-soap container. It contains Steri-strips, band-aids,
    gauze pads, a razor blade, Imodium, anti-histamine, and a shoe lace - just
    in case I have to tie something off. I figure I can use the tape from
    my toolkit or water bottle if things get rough. First aid kits are one
    of those things that will never really be enough; there's no end of things
    you can carry. Where you draw the line is pretty personal. I
    figure that if I'm alone and need more than what I usually carry, I'd pass
    out long before I got to apply the stuff anyway. If you're alone,
    carrying shell dressings for sucking chest wounds seems pretty pointless.

  6. Pack stuff. Besides my emergency pouch, I usually also carry a
    Thinsulate vest, Gortex over-pants, and x-large rubber gloves - for when the
    weather gets nasty, water, extra food, and a map and compass - in case my
    GPS dies. If the weather is likely to get cold, I may also carry some
    fleece pants to zip under my Gortex.

  7. Pockets and belt. I carry a neoprene face mask and scarf in my jacket
    pockets. In another pocket, I carry a little gas money, just in case I
    lose my wallet. On my belt I carry a Leatherman Crunch (locking
    pliers) and a cell phone. I'm often out of cell phone range, but you
    never know.

Things other people recommend you carry, that I don't bother with:

A spare tube. There is always the possibility that a tube will shred beyond being patchable. For those instances, some riders will carry an extra front tube - the theory being that a front tube can always be stuffed into a back tire if absolutely necessary. It's a good idea, but I don't bother. What I do bring is lots of extra tire cement and patches. I also make no attempt at riding on a flat tire, which will shred a tube quickly. I figure that, with sufficient time and glue, I could probably get a fairly damaged tube to hold air for at least a little while. Another point against carrying an extra tube is that they are big and hard to pack. Maybe someday I'll be cursing my decision but, for now, I just don't bother with a spare tube.

Clutch and brake leavers. These things stick out from the bike and can, when things go wrong, snap off. At that point, braking or shifting can become quite difficult. Some people carry spares; I don't. I do recommend taking a simple preventative measure: keep your hand levers loose enough such that you can, just barely, move them by hand. That way, when you fall down, they will move rather than break. Most people tighten them right up, and they break right off when falling over. Even if you carried spare hand levers, odds are the mount will break instead. Reduce the strain on both by keeping them slightly loose. Besides, for the most part - if the trail isn't too challenging - I can ride without a clutch or front break. It's not easy, but I can do it. As for the rear brake, no one I've ever met carries a spare rear brake lever. Riding without a rear brake is no big deal, annoying but not critical.

Shift lever. Some people swear by carrying a spare shift lever as well. I've bent mine around until it's hit the foot peg, but I've never broken one. KLR650 shift levers are prone to cracking; rather than carrying a spare, I make sure mine is okay by inspecting it once in a while. A little weld here and there is all it takes to make the stock shifter strong enough. If I did snap the shifter off, then I suppose I could make due with Vicegrips clamped on the stub. On a side note, before you go out and purchase that super-strong aftermarket shift lever, think about what you would rather have bend, the shifter on the outside or the shaft on the inside? If you hit a rock at speed, something is going to bend; I happen to think it should be the cheapest thing there is to replace. Sometimes weaker is better, like a fuse.

Clutch cables. Some people even carry spare clutch cables, I don't. It would be rather silly of me as my clutch is now hydraulic anyway. Besides, like a broken clutch lever or mount, all I have to do is get the bike started in first gear and I can make it out - at least until I get into traffic, and then it's not life threatening.

Some people always ride with a buddy. Well, that's a really good idea, but I don't bother much. There are problems with the buddy system: First, they always have the bike that breaks, which I wind up fixing for them - or worse, towing them out. Oh yea, tow rope; I don't carry one of those either. Second, if said buddies ride out front, I have to eat their dust. Third, if they ride behind, I either have to wait or they get lost and I have to go find them. Fourth, they wimp out and want to go home just when the trails are starting to get fun. And finally, I hate waiting around in the emergency ward after they've tried to keep up. So, I tend to ride alone, just wandering wherever the wind blows me. This is why I carry the stuff I do. I also acknowledge that I'm taking a risk and, if I screw up, I could die. No one will be there to save me, and I'm okay with that. I do take it easy while riding alone, and this is also the main reason I like racing.

Racing gives the best of both worlds. Like riding alone, I can go at my own pace. Unlike riding alone, if I screw up, I know someone will eventually be sweeping the course for people in trouble. Because of this, I can cut loose and ride as hard as I want, without that nagging thought that I could wind up in a ball on the trail, gasping for breath for a week, while slowly starving to death. I might die quick during a race but there's no lingering demise - thanks to the sweeps. Also, while I'm riding with a bunch of other people, I don't really have to look after them. Sure, if someone is hurt or broken down, I'll stop to help. But, I don't have to worry about the guy behind me when climbing a nasty hill, or going through some tough section. That's the job for the sweeps; escorting people out that get in over their heads.

And yes, I still carry all my emergency gear and tools, even when I race.


Review of the Pirelli MT21 and Kenda K760 DOT-approved Knobby Tires

This review is more of a comparison between the Pirelli MT21 and Kenda K760 DOT (street legal) knobby tires when mounted on a KLR650, for riders that like a bias towards the dirt side.

I ran old fashioned dualsport tires for years, and I hated them. I used to cringe at the sight of mud; the tires would instantly load up and leave me with zero traction. Then, one fateful day, I was in the bike shop ordering parts when the salesman mentioned, in passing, that they had just received a shipment of DOT approved knobbies.

I said "what?"

He said "Ya, they have street legal knobbies now."

I said "where?" We went off to the warehouse and he pointed out a set of Pirelli MT-21s and asked me if I wanted them. Stupid question, I was already wiping the drool off my chin while scanning them for the telltale "not for highway use" lettering on the sidewall. Not finding anything, I picked them up and threw them on my shoulder without even asking how much they were. I didn't even need new tires, the ones on the bike were fine. Well, they had about 80% tread left - but they weren't really fine. Like I said, they sucked in the dirt.

At that point, I learned one important thing about Pirelli MT-21s: they are expensive. Shortly thereafter, I also learned they added quite a bit of road noise. At very slow speed the bike vibrates from the tread pattern; I can actually feel the bike going up and down as the knobs roll over the ground. However, on the dirt they were amazing. The traction was fantastic and I started riding places I hadn't been to since I sold my XR250, places a KLR 650 had no business being. They gave respectable traction on the pavement too, more that I initially expected. From past experience running full knobbies on a dualsport, after shaving off the "not for highway use" lettering, I really didn't expect the good handling that the MT21s provided. But, after 6 months of riding, I learned another lesson: the MT21s dissolve on the road. With only 3000k on bike, the tires were shot, at least for serious trail work. Still, I went through several sets of them without even considering the possibility of going back to the old so called dual purpose tires. Now, however, there are quite a few DOT knobbies locally available.

After pondering options for a while, I ordered myself a set of Kenda K760s. When they arrived, the first thing I noticed was how strikingly aggressive the tread pattern was. It still amazes me how they can get those things approved for the street. The next thing I noticed is that they were almost half the price of the Pirellis. Unfortunately, after riding for less than a year, I now feel that they are also less than half the tires the Pirellis are. Basically, I hate the Kendas . First, they are LOUD, way louder than the Pirellis. And yes, the Pirellis are loud too. Going down the road, the howl from the Kenda tires drive me batty. After a while, I just can't stand it. Second, there's the handling. On the dirt, the front tire has a nasty habit of giving out a little when you first enter a corner, right when having it bite hard would feel really nice. It does grab, eventually, but that initial slide does take some getting used to. The back hooks up okay, but nothing special. It might be a little better in mud but it's less inspiring in the rooted single-track. On the road, I've heard the K760s can actually stick pretty well, but, when riding, I just don't feel like they're going to stick. They just don't leave me with the confident feeling I like to really enjoy the twisties. Third, the tires are significantly lighter than the Pirellis, light enough that I feel like I should run higher tire pressures just to avoid pinch-flats. I haven't had any flats with the Kendas, but the tire just doesn't inspire confidence, anywhere. Fourth, the Kendas are wearing out faster than the Pirellis, not that I care as I'll be tossing them before they are worn out anyway. About the only thing good I'll say about the Kendas is that they were really easy to mount, being so light and flexible.

Some people seem to love them; some like them more than the MT21s. I don't. In comparison, the K760s don't even come close. On a lighter bike, in mud or sand, they might have the edge. But on my KLR 650, either down the trails or the road back home, the MT21s are way, way better than the K760s. And yes, they are worth it even at twice the price. I'll be peeling of the Kendas and putting on a new set of Pirellis before the next race I enter.


Bush Camping along the San Juan River

During the summer of 2006, I was motorcycle camping with my girlfriend, now my wife. At one point, as evening was approaching, we were getting a little deperate for a campsite. Now, when I say campsite, I'm not talking KOA. I ride a dualsport for a reason; I don't consider camping a community event. My preference is for bush camping, being out there with no neighbors, unless you count the bears.

Well, as I said, it was getting dark and we were cruising the backroads from Mesachie (along Cowichan Lake) down to Port Renfrew when I spotted an access road off to the left, a wee bit after we crossed a bridge. This was a good sign. I followed this road, such as it was, for quite a ways, keeping an eye out for any potential trails towards the river. Sure enough, I hit one and then wheedled my way towards the water. Water always makes camping much more enjoyable.

After hitting the gravel banks of the San Juan, I cruised a little upstream until I found an elevated sandbar where I could set up camp. Sure, it was dry, but I'm not keen on pitching a tent 6 inches about the waterline. A few feet up the bank is much preferable.

Note that the trail in was dualsport territory - a 4x4 would not have made it. Not without cutting a new - wider - trail.

Being logging country, there was no shortage of firewood laying about and we managed to cook all our meals over an open fire. Now, that's camping :)

Anyway, the route in is HERE, in both Google Earth KML and OziExplorer PLT formats.

Note that this is BUSH (back country) wilderness camping. There are no services, no corner stores, no one coming around to sell you ice cream, no cell service, and no one to help you if you screw up. There are, however, bears, cougars, wolfs, and ferocious squirrels. My favorite definition of "wilderness" is "a place where, sometimes, the animals get to eat the people." Yes, this is meant to frighten you. Fear is a good thing; it keeps you within your limits. If you don't understand this, read my opinions on Wilderness Insurance here.

If you know what bush camping is all about, then enjoy. This isn't the best site I've ever camped at, but it's far enough off the beaten track to keep it clean and quite. Perfect for a dualsport.

Other routes are available HERE.


Powerline Tracks for Vancouver Island

Many great riding areas often start where major powerlines intersect rural or logging roads. Because of this, I traced out all of the major powerline routes on Vancouver Island. The source maps were the 50K government topos (available HERE).

Don't expect to ride the entire length of a powerline. Around these parts, they often use helecoptors to run the wire so, unless you've got wings, you'll be looking for ridable sections, which may or may not go all the way through to other roads. Also, around settled areas, powerline right of ways are often leased from farmers, so routes may dead-end on a gated field etc.. In other words, even if you find an entrance to a section of ridable powerlines, you may have to double-back the way you came.

This track is the full version, with over 900 points, so it is not suitable for downloading directly to GPS receivers - at least not mine. It's quite detailed actually. It took about an hour to trace out from the maps and includes multiple sections.

You can download the track in Google Earth (KML) or OziExplorer (PLT) formats HERE.

Similar items are listed HERE.


P.S. If you're interested in a reduced version that I made for my Garmin E-trek Legend, with a single section and less than 500 points, let me know. It sacrifices a little detail, with well over half the points removed, and includes some double-backs to keep the track in one section. However, it does work well in my GPS and is one of my "standard tracks" that I always keep loaded.


More GPS Tracks

I've put some more tracks up on the GPS and Mapping area. All of them came from my GPS while riding the KLR650.

They are Here

Ride Report: Camping at Labour Day Lake

During the summer, my girlfriend and I rode the KLR up to Labour Day Lake. I've uploaded a route; it makes for a nice relaxed trip. From the Alberni highway, the ride was basically abandoned logging road suitable for anything resembling a 4x4. There's nothing really difficult, you just need a bit of clearance from the rocks. I wouldn't do it with anything you were worried about the paint though, it's pretty overgrown.

There is a trail from the parking area to the lake, about 1km long. When I was there, a large log had fallen across the trail, at a really bad spot, and this effectively ruled out motorcycle access all the way in. If the log wasn't there, then the trail would be difficult, but probably not impossible, for a decent rider. There are a lot of stream crossings, some with slippery corduroy bridges, that make the going rough for 2-wheeled traffic. We hiked in with out camping gear and spent the night.

The trail in T's off with the main camping site to the left and, to the right, a trail along the side of the lake. People were already at the main site so we decided to try our luck with the trail. After hiking another kilometre or so, we backtracked a bit to a fairly tight little spot along the lake shore. At least it was private.

Things were wet but we managed to find enough dry wood to get a fire going, cook dinner, and settle down for the night. The next day, we hiked back out, rode into Port Alberni for lunch, and then cruised the very dusty mainlines down to Lake Cowichan . After dealing with a plugged air filter, and lunch at the A&W, we headed further south to a campsite along the San Juan river... but that's another post.

The route is available for download in both Google Earth and Ozi Explorer formats.

Be sure to read the DISCLAIMER as well.



Ride Report for the 2006 Victoria Motorcycle Club (VMC) March Hare Enduro

Run on March 5th 2006 at Boyds Pit, out in Sooke B.C.

Now, being the first enduro of the year, this is suppose to be a "Junior Friendly" event, at least by VMC standards, which means it can be ridden by people on dualsport bikes, maybe. Most years, they even have a beginner class that bypassed everything nasty, so riders can wimp-out and race with the 8-year olds.

For those that don't know, an enduro is a race where you try to maintain an average speed from check to check. Thus, an odometer and a watch are necessary. You ride around, over mostly single-track, following arrows and trying to stay "on your minute." It's a lot of fun, if you happen to enjoy pain and exhaustion. By design, earning bragging-rights is never easy. For this race only, the VMC actually trophies out to 10th place in the Junior class. For most of us, it's the one chance per year to FINALLY get that trophy for our TVs.

A decent rider, that can handle single-track, can usually do it on a dualsport 400 or so. I've ridden this event a few times on my KLR-650, but I ride single-track all the time, and I like it. If you are considering riding a VMC event, don't even think about it if you don't have knobbies. My bike is not anywhere near stock. The trails are usually tight, like weaving your handlebars between the trees tight, muddy, rocky, slippery, wet, rutted, and generally very challenging. What's usually missing from the March Hare are the "OMFG, "They CAN'T be serious" sections that spices up the senior and expert level races.

This year was the 4th March Hare enduro I've done, the 3rd on the KLR, and it was the hardest. I've ridden tougher VMC events, but not in the last while and not on a dualsport.

The run between the 1st and 2nd checks was the hardest part, with significant log crossings that were just brutal on Killer and I. I have yet to clean a log crossing where the skid plate hits; the KLR just stops dead and I suddenly realise I have over 300 pounds of bike under me. Every time I had to drag the bike over a log, I was so exhausted I'd ride a little ways and then loose it on root or something and go down.

Overall, I dumped 4 times (2 per loop), broke off both brush guards (one per loop), and bent my shift leaver around until it hit the footpeg (2nd loop). But, I finished. Just as a point of reference, I've been riding Killer for 16 years with the original brush guards - I lost them both in one day. It was a TOUGH ride. Maybe they decided to make it a little harder because of last year... I don't know.

Last year, in 2005, I came in first in the junior class for the March Hare. That and another race netted me the Junior Series Champion trophy for 2005 as well. I'm not sure how that happened. That year was a breeze compared to this ride. Still, this year, even after counting up over 40 minutes in penalties, I managed 3rd place. I still don't believe it, I was hoping for something like - not last. But, as it turns out, everyone else sucked too. The 1st place finisher was around 20 minutes. Last year, I counted up 2 minutes of penalties, second place went to a guy with 3. It shows just how much harder this race was than usual. Nearly half the junior field DNF'd.

Here's the course route but please be aware that the Boyds Pitt area is owned by Timber West. They do not allow people to ride on their land anymore. VMC had a special agreement to hold events but this is now history. As well, the area has been freshly logged. Such is the life of a dirtbiker.

There's more maps and tracks over on the mapping section.

I've posted both Google Earth and Ozi Explorer tracks for downloading.


Similar Pages

So, who am I?

I go by FixerDave and ride a KLR650 on southern Vancouver Island. I typically ride alone... just drifting around as the wind blows me.

I've got near 35 years riding experience and I can't remember the last time didn't own a dirtbike... I think I was 6; you do the math. I'm a member of the Victoria Motorcycle club and race a few of their events... the last one of note being the 2006 March Hare Enduro. Yes, my bike is way too big for that kind of nasty single-track, I dumped 4 times, but I still placed 3rd in the Juniors. Yes, I race the junior class - I figure if I'm dragging a KLR650 around, I need a handicap.

My bike has full knobbies, MT-21s being my preferred meat, 14t drive sprocket (and a little bigger on the back too), progressive springs up front, and a hydraulic clutch (OMG - I love that clutch). After the last race, it's short one rear turn signal though (don't ask).

For some odd reason, even on my 650, I like doing single-track and fast old fire roads... active logging roads bore me to tears. Of course, the lousy KLR seat probably has more to do with the tears than the boredom. Sometimes, usually when I'm dragging "Killer" over a log, I think I've got the wrong bike for the way I like to ride. On the other hand, if I had my old XR-250, I'd probably not bother racing. I like having people make snide comments before the race... and the the look on their faces at the end, after I've whupped them and their prissy little trailer-queens. After all REAL men RIDE to the event, right?

I have a Garmin GPS mounted on my handlebar and am heavy into digital mapping (OZI, ArcView, etc.) If you're looking for tracks or maps of Vancouver Island, check out the mapping section HERE.