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  1. #1
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    Cutting Trail With Motos

    Has anyone ever used a dirt bike to break trail for mountain bike use? I understand that this would not work in some parts of the world, but would this be a good option for putting in trails in the desert? The idea would be to flag the trail line on foot and then have a dirt bike ride the line (slowly) a few times to establish a trail. After the trail has been cut, light raking or sweeping would be done to clean up loose trail debris. Has anybody done this? Any reasons why this is not a good idea?

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    That technique would not work where we build trails (silt/clay soils, highly eroded topography, and covered in dense woodland). We have to manually clear the undergrowth and bench cut most of our trail while also paying particular attention to tread outslope and max gradients because of the erodible nature of the soils.

    Even in the desert you will need to move soil/rocks and clear brush to make a trail and a dirt bike won't do that in a useful way. Further, a dirt bike is not going to shape the trail surface to allow sheeting of water across the trail and result in an unsustainable trail that will require constant maintenance. I have learned the hard way to take the time to build trails correctly the first time because it takes much more time to fix the problems that arise by taking shortcuts.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the input....makes sense.

  4. #4
    tjp
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    On the plus side, I've found that motos are terrific for establishing corners and general trail flow. Nice, flowy, even radii. Still love riding trails established by motos, it's just not practical to establish them that way very often. If it were practical, I'd do it in a second.

  5. #5
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    3 wheelers can do a nice job of trail grooming. I used to love riding 3 wheelers, a neighbor kid had a Honda atc70 (I had an xr80). However, in the beginning stages I think you'll be better off doing it by hand the right way the first time.

  6. #6
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    The downside of dirt bikes, they can really dig in on a trail and rut it out pretty quickly if they trails are ridden hard at all.

  7. #7
    saddlemeat
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    Why not just ride it in with bicycles? A bicycle trail is a trail left by bicycles, not motos or atvs, the line will be wrong.
    A Useful Bear is a handy thing.

  8. #8
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    That's what I used to do; cut it open so I can just barely ride it, it takes a bit to break in, and is challenging to ride for quite a while. That can work on low traffic trails with soil that drains well. Only about 3 people were riding there a couple of times a week, in very good draining sandy (with small rocks) soil in Western Washington.

  9. #9
    saddlemeat
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    ^The OP is talking desert terrain so drainage may not be a problem. We have built over a hundred miles of trail this way. Makes it easy for YCC* crews to do corridor and erosion control work because the tread is already in place.

    *Youth Conservation Corps
    A Useful Bear is a handy thing.

  10. #10
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    We don't get rain often, but drainage is an issue. Last summer flash floods destroyed a few trails as they became little rivers which washed away all of the dirt and left rocks and ruts. Now, prior to that the trails were there for years with only minor issues to my understanding.

    The idea of the moto came from a buddy who thought that it would speed up the initial line cutting. We would have to go back over the whole thing and groom and rake afterwards. Since we are in the desert, most trails are pretty soft and don't ride very well when they are new. It usually takes a few rain storms (which don't happen often) and plenty of riding to pack them in and some trails always seem to remain loose. Because of this the idea of the dirt bike came in. I think that it would be better to do it all by hand from the beginning but I liked the idea of a little less digging in 110 degree weather. Maybe a small test section would be appropriate.

  11. #11
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    I have found that the moto's quickly tear up the trails in my desert terrain. There is just too much hp to the rear wheels. We have more of a problem with horses though, they just roto-til the packed sandy trails.

    Try a fat bike, nice wide tire that doesn't sink in.
    Riding Fat and still just as fast as I never was.

  12. #12
    I like bikes
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    Some trails in Tucson (i.e.- backside of Starpass) were established with the use of a dirt bike. An old Fat Cat (two-wheeled) ATV would be better suited for riding in trail.
    The older I get, the faster I was.....

  13. #13
    zrm
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    Well, the business end of a dirt bike does look and act like a trench digger.

  14. #14
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    Depends on who's riding it and the power curve of the bike. You can putt-putt and smooth out a trail I'd imagine. In my area I was thinking a bobcat would be needed the brush is so dense, but that's another story

  15. #15
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    We've used a trial motorbike to set the initial corridor in a very loamy sol a few years back. It worked. Then we had to clear all the organic to reach the mineral soil. Turn out we didn't save much time, burnt some fuel and had a lot of fun riding the moto down pretty steep stuff (it was for a DH trail).

    Now that we use a mini-X, we can do all these steps at once in 1/50 of the time it took us.
    A trailbuilder from the north

  16. #16
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    Jerome, what's a Mini-x? like a small bulldozer or a bobcat?

  17. #17
    featherweight clydesdale
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirkdaddy View Post
    Jerome, what's a Mini-x? like a small bulldozer or a bobcat?
    Here's an example
    324 - Bobcat Company
    Charlottesville Area Mountain Bike Club
    www.cambc.org

  18. #18
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    Mini-Excavator, various sizes, I don't know how small one has to be to be a mini. My brother has a dirt work company, and just got another mini because they are so handy, he has a purple one that is known as Barney. My kids (5 and 9) get to play on the minis sometimes, all mini's are Barney to them, the mini's really fun to play around with. I've never used one to build a trail, I did use a Case 450 bulldozer for one section once, -that went pretty quick!, I can imagine the mini-ex would be ideal for trail building, they're pretty easy on fuel too. I've used larger ones for taking down trees, and building burnpiles when that was still legal. Using a decent sized excavator to keep a burnpile of stumps and branches going is really fun, I kind of miss stacking burning stumps.

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