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  1. #1
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    Modern trail tread width?

    I was wondering if some trail builders are taking the trend toward wider handlebars in to consideration when building new trails. Some of the re-routes at my local trails seem to imply this as some trees are being removed that were very troublesome for a lot of people with wider handlebars.

    Also, is there a standard tread width for bench-cut single track? We have a new trail in the area and it is extremely narrow in some places for my 100mm wide bottom bracket (pedal striking).

    Thanks
    Last edited by dgw2jr; 06-17-2012 at 07:40 PM. Reason: changed corridor to tread as that is what i meant

  2. #2
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    Unless a trail is specifically intended for technical riding, common trail standards in the US call for a minimum tread width of 18" and a minimum corridor width of 6'. You shouldn't be bumping against anything.

  3. #3
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    It depends on the land manager and the users on the trail.

    We work with anything from 18 inches to 6 feet trail tread.
    ADA compliance and equestrians, pedestrians, and bikes can call for wide treads near the trail head. Backcountry trails do not need to be as wide since the farther you get back, the less that number of users.

    Brush corridor is normally 5 - 6 feet wide and 6 - 10 feet high. Obviously equestrian users requite more height.

    As far as handlebar width, I think we can leave that to rider skill. I've seen riders dig bars into the ground, but we don't excavate a groove, they need to handle that on their skill set.
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  4. #4
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    Trail and corridor width really have nothing to do with regulations and have to be set to the trail. In some places reducing trail width or line of sight will slow riders for difficult terrain or a hidden intersection. In others trimming back 3m either side of the trail will allow line of sight and improve safety even though speed increases.

    For XC/middle-age crisis AM trail, our aim is to build a tread up to 1.5m wide, but one that may narrow to 60cm or less over time as the riding line develops. In some places multiple riding lines may keep a trail wide forever. In others the trail may end up 30cm wide. Either way, the corridor has to suit the trail.

    More time has to be spent trimming back invading vegetation than repairing a good trail, so it makes sense to start with a generous corridor, thinned even wider in some places to allow line of sight and allow riders to create "the" riding line. A trail that allows riders to have fun and make so much use of the trail that they don't feel another should be built is the real goal. You can't measure that in m or feet.

    Even if you are expected to conform to some legislated measurements, who's going to measure them every day? If you ask me, by the time someone comments on the trail width, it has changed, so what's the big deal?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgw2jr View Post
    I was wondering if some trail builders are taking the trend toward wider handlebars in to consideration when building new trails. Some of the re-routes at my local trails seem to imply this as some trees are being removed that were very troublesome for a lot of people with wider handlebars.

    Also, is there a standard tread width for bench-cut single track? We have a new trail in the area and it is extremely narrow in some places for my 100mm wide bottom bracket (pedal striking).

    Thanks
    What are you hitting your pedals on? The uphill side of the bench or rocks?

    I aim for 24"-30" tread when cutting bench. It's hard to say what is correct for the terrain this trail is situated on without seeing it. Generally any narrower than this isn't going to ride very well in terms of bench cut. In flatter areas, the tread width ends up being whatever gets ridden year to year. Also, it may not be feasible or desirable to pull the majority of rocks out of the tread. There just isn't any way to state an objective standard because one man's choppy, nasty trail is another's technical playground.

    Brush corridor is about 6', but this is subjective because I'll go farther to cut back things like honeysuckle and blackberry because these can grow in pretty fast. The problem plants in your area may be different. I'll also leave in bigger and high quality saplings if they don't mess up the flow of the trail.

    Walt

  6. #6
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    Love this thread!

    People sometimes don't understand the relation between corridor and tread.

    Keep the conversation going! Thanks for the feedback!
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  7. #7
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    I think the location plays a factor. Trails around here run narrow. I run 760mm bars and I hit trees at least a few times every ride. I don't mind the odd pinch where I have to snake through, provided it is in a pretty low-speed section of the trail.

    What I can't stand are pinches on high-speed downhills or on the inside of corners. Folks who hike or corner slowly don't realize how much you have to lean the bike into a corner. Trees (and blocked sightlines) on the inside of a corner are flow-killers so when I'm building I really make sure those are cleared wide.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by BonkedAgain View Post
    Unless a trail is specifically intended for technical riding, common trail standards in the US call for a minimum tread width of 18" and a minimum corridor width of 6'. You shouldn't be bumping against anything.
    This reads like a bad Wiki entry with no citation. I can see some guy going out with a tape measure, cutting out every hardwood sapling left as a choke or to add a bit of curvature just because he saw some 6' standard on the web

    The link below, chart at bottom, has good info. The trail width is actually the "tread" width not the corridor width

    Trail Difficulty Rating System | International Mountain Bicycling Association


    Link below has good info and seems to support other statements here on selectively operating within a wider corridor, but certainly not nuking everything in a 6 foot wide swath like a Bushhog would do.

    atfiles.org/files/pdf/basics.pdf

    C. Clearing the trail corridor
    1. Clear vegetation three feet on
    either side of tread. Leave
    grasses and established trees
    (get approval on what size trees
    to cut). Completely remove all
    saplings, briars, vines and other
    fast-growing impediments by
    digging them out, roots and all.
    Do not cut woody plants off at
    ground level.
    Last edited by Fattirewilly; 06-26-2012 at 04:34 AM.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Dizzy View Post
    What are you hitting your pedals on? The uphill side of the bench or rocks?

    I aim for 24"-30" tread when cutting bench. It's hard to say what is correct for the terrain this trail is situated on without seeing it. Generally any narrower than this isn't going to ride very well in terms of bench cut. In flatter areas, the tread width ends up being whatever gets ridden year to year. Also, it may not be feasible or desirable to pull the majority of rocks out of the tread. There just isn't any way to state an objective standard because one man's choppy, nasty trail is another's technical playground.

    Brush corridor is about 6', but this is subjective because I'll go farther to cut back things like honeysuckle and blackberry because these can grow in pretty fast. The problem plants in your area may be different. I'll also leave in bigger and high quality saplings if they don't mess up the flow of the trail.

    Walt
    Hitting pedals on the uphill side of the bench. Not much of a concern anymore since I'm now riding my SS 26er with taller, narrower BB.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgw2jr View Post
    Hitting pedals on the uphill side of the bench. Not much of a concern anymore since I'm now riding my SS 26er with taller, narrower BB.
    That is a sign of back slope not tapered correctly. That gets ignored too often, sadly.

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  11. #11
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    Narrow trails can discourage unwanted users

    Quote Originally Posted by dgw2jr View Post
    I was wondering if some trail builders are taking the trend toward wider handlebars in to consideration when building new trails.
    In the area I build trail horses, motorcycles, quads, and four wheelers will try to use any trail that looks good. If choke points are only left at access points a go around will often be cut in. What has been working is to keep the whole trail tight so unwanted users do not enjoy them.

    I wish the other users had lots of great trails around here so we could have some less technical bike trails that didn't turn into rutted double track!

  12. #12
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    ^^^ +1, too tight for motorized, too low for horses.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgw2jr View Post
    Hitting pedals on the uphill side of the bench. Not much of a concern anymore since I'm now riding my SS 26er with taller, narrower BB.
    Sounds like the tread is too narrow, or as slocaus points out, the back slope of the cut may be incorrect. I've had to go back and deepen bench cuts. It's a lot of work to do right, people tend to short the job especially toward the end of the work day.

    Walt

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Dizzy View Post
    Sounds like the tread is too narrow, or as slocaus points out, the back slope of the cut may be incorrect. I've had to go back and deepen bench cuts. It's a lot of work to do right, people tend to short the job especially toward the end of the work day.

    Walt
    Thanks Walt, Here is why it is hard work. It requires "moving dirt", a lot of dirt.

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  15. #15
    m11
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    In an attempt to keep ATV's off the trails we try and include tight entrances to single track from any of the double track.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Clutton View Post
    In the area I build trail horses, motorcycles, quads, and four wheelers will try to use any trail that looks good. If choke points are only left at access points a go around will often be cut in. What has been working is to keep the whole trail tight so unwanted users do not enjoy them.

    I wish the other users had lots of great trails around here so we could have some less technical bike trails that didn't turn into rutted double track!
    This approach was used here in the past - tight and very twisty trail to discourage other users. However, what happens is other users still use the trail before they find out they don't like it and then start throwing roost as they drift through the corners. Next, the tight twists encourage walkers to cut corners. In one place there must be 10+ repaired short-cuts and new ones keep coming. Finally, riders start to hate the trails because they are a pain to ride and outdated, so they start cutting corners, re-routing and making new trail.

    IMO the trail should be made right and other political measures used to keep motorised and hooved transport off. Luckily here most user groups are understanding. Bikes get on with walkers and dogs and most motos are sympathetic to trail damage if not attacked on first contact. Horses and their rriders do whatever they want and as I keep saying, that does not include trailcare, not here at least.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ridnparadise View Post
    This approach was used here in the past - tight and very twisty trail to discourage other users. However, what happens is other users still use the trail before they find out they don't like it and then start throwing roost as they drift through the corners. Next, the tight twists encourage walkers to cut corners. In one place there must be 10+ repaired short-cuts and new ones keep coming. Finally, riders start to hate the trails because they are a pain to ride and outdated, so they start cutting corners, re-routing and making new trail.
    Ridnparadise thanks for sharing your experience with tight trails!

    Every area has it's own unique landscape and what works in one area may not in others.

    Motorcycles have checked out our newer trails. They do some damage but don't come back.

    Our brush is so thick here that it is generally easer to stay on the trail. We have had to set up some log barriers to keep horse riders from cutting corners.

    Most of our new trails still have good flow. There are a few that are very tedious and corners have been cut in areas with light brush.

    I wish enforcement was a high priority with our land manager. We have given up trying to fix some trails because four wheelers tear up our work quickly. Since some money is coming in from logging now hopefully more enforcement may be coming.

    Keep up the great work!

  18. #18
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    While I agree that tight and twisty trails are getting harder to find and the trail treads are migrating some to accomodate the wider bars that may not have been the norm when some of these trails were put in 5 years ago, we had hundreds of riders on this new section of trail this weekend during the Midwest Mountain Bike Fest.

    While we heard a lot of complements on the 105 ft long wooden berms, I did not hear one complaint of the tread being too narrow. Perhaps this is less a question of tread depth and more a question of skill level?

    Curious, of the 650+ hours that went into this trail by IMBA trained and "trail Solutions" owning builders THIS YEAR... how many of those hours were put in by you?

    Don- seriously, you HAVE GOT to stop asking or saying things in an innocent manner that are hardcore insults to the people who build your trails. Riding when trails are closed repeatedly, insulting the builders, seriously man, how can you NOT see the position you are putting yourself in locally?

    Besides, the difference between your fatbike BB and your SS BB is about an inch in width... that's half an inch per side... the trails aren't WIDE ENOUGH FOR YOU? You sound like a guy that goes to the gym once and then walks around with his chest and arms stuck out like he's too muscular to scratch his own arse.

    Chill out, enjoy rides.

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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vibrato View Post
    While I agree that tight and twisty trails are getting harder to find and the trail treads are migrating some to accomodate the wider bars that may not have been the norm when some of these trails were put in 5 years ago, we had hundreds of riders on this new section of trail this weekend during the Midwest Mountain Bike Fest.

    While we heard a lot of complements on the 105 ft long wooden berms, I did not hear one complaint of the tread being too narrow. Perhaps this is less a question of tread depth and more a question of skill level?

    Curious, of the 650+ hours that went into this trail by IMBA trained and "trail Solutions" owning builders THIS YEAR... how many of those hours were put in by you?

    Don- seriously, you HAVE GOT to stop asking or saying things in an innocent manner that are hardcore insults to the people who build your trails. Riding when trails are closed repeatedly, insulting the builders, seriously man, how can you NOT see the position you are putting yourself in locally?

    Besides, the difference between your fatbike BB and your SS BB is about an inch in width... that's half an inch per side... the trails aren't WIDE ENOUGH FOR YOU? You sound like a guy that goes to the gym once and then walks around with his chest and arms stuck out like he's too muscular to scratch his own arse.

    Chill out, enjoy rides.

    .
    Oh my goodness. I'm obviously out of this loop, but here's 2 pics of narrow trail. The corridor is not narrow though. Vision and clearance are appropriate to speed. In the first (left) looks like the bush is very young, but the trail is circa 10 years old. The other pic shows the exit from/entrance to a tighter section of trail where speeds are lowered by the trail, but the corridor offers adequate time to prepare. This section of trail was built in the last couple of years. In this place wide bars could cause issues going through the trees however. The lower speed helps avoid that and up to date the little trees are not being wounded or deliberately squished here as happens on faster sections of the trail.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Modern trail corridor width?-sunny.jpg  

    Modern trail corridor width?-close.jpg  


  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vibrato View Post
    Curious, of the 650+ hours that went into this trail by IMBA trained and "trail Solutions" owning builders THIS YEAR... how many of those hours were put in by you?

    Don- seriously, you HAVE GOT to stop asking or saying things in an innocent manner that are hardcore insults to the people who build your trails. Riding when trails are closed repeatedly, insulting the builders, seriously man, how can you NOT see the position you are putting yourself in locally?

    Besides, the difference between your fatbike BB and your SS BB is about an inch in width... that's half an inch per side... the trails aren't WIDE ENOUGH FOR YOU? You sound like a guy that goes to the gym once and then walks around with his chest and arms stuck out like he's too muscular to scratch his own arse.

    Chill out, enjoy rides.

    .
    Quote Originally Posted by Ridnparadise View Post
    Oh my goodness. I'm obviously out of this loop, but here's 2 pics of narrow trail.
    @Ridnparadise - read the above, and the OP edits on is post that he did not understand tread vs corridor, since he seems not to be a trail builder.

    Seems to be a back story that we all know about user criticizing trail builders, and not actually building, but going to the internet for support of their criticism. Maybe I read this wrong.
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  21. #21
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    I only put about 2 hours in to building that particular trail, and that was all just clearing corridor. I did not move any dirt. I am not a trail builder. Also, I am not seeking criticism for the trail builders. The slope is very steep in the particular spots I am talking about, and as slocaus pointed out earlier in the thread, getting that backslope cut in further would require moving a lot more dirt. The amount of dirt moved to get to the point that it is now is pretty impressive and perhaps my whining about my pedal striking may have implied that it was not.

    Vibrato and I have spoken privately and we are all good. Dude can design one helluva berm bridge!

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgw2jr View Post
    I only put about 2 hours in to building that particular trail, and that was all just clearing corridor. I did not move any dirt. I am not a trail builder. Also, I am not seeking criticism for the trail builders. The slope is very steep in the particular spots I am talking about, and as slocaus pointed out earlier in the thread, getting that backslope cut in further would require moving a lot more dirt. The amount of dirt moved to get to the point that it is now is pretty impressive and perhaps my whining about my pedal striking may have implied that it was not.

    Vibrato and I have spoken privately and we are all good. Dude can design one helluva berm bridge!
    I'm pleased that is cleared up and the air cleared. Thanks for posting this.
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    Yeah- DJW is good dood. He's an unusual blend of Hippy MTBer and Mountain Dew MTBer, so he's coming in from a different angle than most- but no worse than the gung ho, fall line trail builder I started out as!
    Believe in yourself? Well, of course. Just be aware that believing in myself has been the root cause of most of my injuries!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vibrato View Post
    Yeah- DJW is good dood. He's an unusual blend of Hippy MTBer and Red Bull MTBer, so he's coming in from a different angle than most- but no worse than the gung ho, fall line trail builder I started out as!
    Fixed it for ya! I hate Mt. Dew! But I'd say that's probably a fair assessment lol

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    Nah man- "Red Bull MTBers" ride 20 foot drops, 50 foot gaps and down the face of 80 plus degree cliff faces and then talk about how they shredded that gnarley.

    DJW, you don't ride that stuff... yet...

    "Mounatin Dew" MTBers have difficulty understanding that we have contracts and memorandums of understanding with land owners, expectations that have to be met for continued access, insurance liabilities to be covered through membership dues, rules, guidelines and ettiquetes that if you don't follow, we get a bit frustrated with.

    You may not LIKE the DEW, but you still have a little of the DEW attitude- just a little bit. But that's ok, brother, you're letting us bring you intop the fold slow and easy... instead of kicking, screaming, scratching and spitting the way I made them bring me in. Compared to me, you've been almost painless!!
    Believe in yourself? Well, of course. Just be aware that believing in myself has been the root cause of most of my injuries!

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