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  1. #1
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    I need a guide to pump tracks

    Hi all,
    i recently got into biking again and went freeriding in Malmedy with a friend but i'd need more practice to become a "good" rider.

    So i started reading up and noticed that many people mentioned pump tracks being a very good way to get some practice and just in general a fun work out.
    I also need to work out...

    So i want to build a pump track and i contacted our local government asking for a public spot, bragging that i'd design that shit etc etc.. Lol, i know shit about pump tracks but if you want to get something done here you have to do most part of it yourself, then when it's finished invite the mayor and thank him for what he's done for you..politics suck..
    I could easily do it on some private property as well but i'd like it to be a public meeting place instead of a secret spot. Sharing is caring!

    So i'm looking for a guide, to the likes of Leelikesbikes his stuff but then not having to pay 10$ for 25pages of stuff...

    Has anybody gotten a good site that explains the what's and whatnot's and the hows and the why's?
    Yesterday i thought that a tranny was what my dad became but reading up on pump tracks i learned i needed to broaden my vision!

    Any info would be greatly appreciated!
    (i looked at the wikipedia page but was quite dissapointed, i had expected some more elaborate explanation as to how far rollers should be etc etc)

  2. #2
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    Spend the $10 for the book Lee sells. It's not much money and it has some valuable info in it.

  3. #3
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    A few inches below this thread is one with about 15 pages of pump track discussion.
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  4. #4
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    *sigh* i was afraid this would happen..i hate distilling through zounds of posts to get those few informative bits that aren't about this or that posters mom..

    Thx guys, put a lock on it

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    If looking through a thread full of good info is already pushing the limit of what you're willing to do, I wouldn't recommend trying to build a pump track.
    Sinister Bikes
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  6. #6
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    Categorize all you want dear boy, but there's a big difference between moving earth with a shovel, honest though hard manual labour, and digging through zounds of ******** posts to find those few interesting ones.

    Shoveling shows result quite rapidly, reading ******** causes wars..

    Great forum though! A warm place..I feel the love!

  7. #7
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    The $10 for Lee's book is money well spent. Yes, it's a short book, but it's surprisingly difficult to distill all the knowledge that goes into digging. If I was more enthusiastic I'd extend Lee's book but then it'd be three times the price for three times the number of pages.

    The problem is that "shoveling shows results quite rapidly" isn't actually correct. Yes, you'll end up with something quickly, but you'll spend a lot of time redigging everything you've done, even if you mostly know what you're doing.

    Redigging gets really old really fast.

    There's a lot of pump tracks built here in Puget Sound in the last couple of years, and most of them are only rideable by experts if they're rideable at all. But them's fighting words to the guys that dug the tracks, so it's safe to say that shoveling starts wars too.
    Rolland

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by atzerath View Post
    Categorize all you want dear boy, but there's a big difference between moving earth with a shovel, honest though hard manual labour, and digging through zounds of ******** posts to find those few interesting ones.

    Shoveling shows result quite rapidly, reading ******** causes wars..

    Great forum though! A warm place..I feel the love!
    Asking for advice then discounting it as soon as it's offered without even looking into it makes categorization easy. If you're too lazy to even take a couple seconds to attempt to follow a lead (and a good one at that) you're not going to have much luck building anything decent.

    If you're getting rapid results with a shovel while having no idea how to lay out or shape things, you're building a shitty track.
    Sinister Bikes
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by atzerath View Post
    *sigh* i was afraid this would happen..i hate distilling through zounds of posts to get those few informative bits that aren't about this or that posters mom..

    Thx guys, put a lock on it
    Quote Originally Posted by atzerath View Post
    Categorize all you want dear boy, but there's a big difference between moving earth with a shovel, honest though hard manual labour, and digging through zounds of ******** posts to find those few interesting ones.

    Shoveling shows result quite rapidly, reading ******** causes wars..

    Great forum though! A warm place..I feel the love!
    So, you've called yourself out as a hardworking digger (even if not a reader)!

    Task #1, get a wheelbarrow and start digging a source pit. Take dirt from it and wheel it over to make a line of 4 to 5 rollers. They should be evenly spaced about 10-13 feet peak to peak (depending on your preference). Use a hard-edge rake to shape them and your feet to stomp/pack them.

    Come back when you've done it and post pics of it. Pump track building by hand is best done in steps. You do one section, you ride it in, then you build the next section.

    You really don't need comprehensive plans--in fact, "master planning" tends to cause bad results, unless the exact plans have been built before and the terrain is exactly the same. Even small gradient differences can throw off a track. Many failed pump tracks are due to someone xeroxing "plans" from somewhere else, moving all the dirt in a few days with a bobcat, then failing to take into account that most of the work is in the shaping and dialing in, riding/testing and re-tweaking when things don't work right. It's art and science.


  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by atzerath View Post
    . . .
    So i want to build a pump track and i contacted our local government asking for a public spot, bragging that i'd design that shit etc etc.. Lol, i know shit about pump tracks but if you want to get something done here you have to do most part of it yourself, then when it's finished invite the mayor and thank him for what he's done for you..politics suck..)
    So do you actually have permission,then? Or are you trying to get free plans to bring to the local government?

    I don't know what your area is like, but sometimes there are already mountain bike trail building clubs who have agreements with local governments regarding trail projects, etc. Sometimes the best way is to work through a mountain bike club. Surely, someone has already discussed pump tracks?

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    I'm going to ignore the attempts at insulting me as it makes conversation more pleasant. That doesn't mean you can't try anymore, by all means do go on. It's just a heads up.

    Apparently the guys asking for the skatepark had been asking for it for about 5 years and even built a concrete one themselves first before the community said they couldn't and wanted to take it down. It was at that point that they said: OK, if you get us a new one. Which they got..
    So it might be a long time before I get my permission.

    I've got a plot of land that's doing nothing but overgrowing. I didn't feel like doing it there because it wont bring in other riders and the guys I ride with live too far away to come and enjoy it. (Not in distance but traffic wise, its hell here..)
    And these things are more fun when done in group..

    @sagebrush: trial and error = great workout

    @cmc: nobody ever succeeded in trying to make me prove myself. That's both a good and a bad thing but what are you gonna do? But seeing how I want this to happen: okay I will..could you be more specific about height and width? I'm going to try and have it done next week.
    So I'll need a digging and flat shovel, wheelbarrow, concrete roller to harden the soil, an inclinometer was mentioned by someone else I believe and what more?

  12. #12
    That Waters Guy
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmc4130 View Post
    Pump track building by hand is best done in steps. You do one section, you ride it in, you fix it, you ride it in, you fix it some more, you ride it in, you post pictures to the Internet, and then you build the next section.
    Fixed that for you!

    PS. Nice grommets! So good to see kids riding. And kids love pump tracks!
    Rolland

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by atzerath View Post
    . . .

    @cmc: nobody ever succeeded in trying to make me prove myself. That's both a good and a bad thing but what are you gonna do? But seeing how I want this to happen: okay I will..could you be more specific about height and width? I'm going to try and have it done next week.
    So I'll need a digging and flat shovel, wheelbarrow, concrete roller to harden the soil, an inclinometer was mentioned by someone else I believe and what more?
    Yeah. A spade, a flat-head shovel, and a wheelbarrow.

    You don't really need a concrete roller. It's best to dig and shape when dirt is damp (not dry, and not muddy). Damp dirt will pack when you walk/stomp on it with your feet or smack it with the backside of the flat shovel. You don't really need an inclinometer either.

    Just try to shape into something that approximates mellow waves:

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BDJ0JcKusM




    Bandite Bike Park Pump Track | I-MTB

    Just go to Google Images "pump track" and you'll see tons ......

  14. #14
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    i went to the plot of land today and only managed to mow half the terrain!I need a guide to pump tracks-img_20150518_134933.jpgI need a guide to pump tracks-img_20150518_134953.jpgI need a guide to pump tracks-img_20150518_150701.jpg
    these are some pics in no specific order..there's very much to be done before i can actually put a shovel in the dirt! hadn't expected that but hey, what are you gonna do?
    Tomorrow and after tomorrow is rainy so i won't be able to mow but Thursday should be good! Going back to continue this job and rake it all together somewhere...the trees are there to stay but the bamboo will most likely get it because of the uncontrollable growth.

    There are some dead trees that need cleaning up and some shrub that needs removal..this is not even half the plot.

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    just a heads up: Due to rainy weather i was unable to do much work..I put down some trees and cleaned up a big part of the cuttings but now i'm going to try and borrow a lawnmower so i can cut it really short. Then i'll pay a visit to a construction site to get my pick up filled with dirt...I'll have to do that a couple of times before i get enough dirt but it'll be easier AND better than digging because i will have less pooling this way. (i hope)
    I printed the fix/rythmn cycles pump track as a guideline for berms and rollers..

    So yes it's not going as fast as i hoped but i'm alone in doing this and i've got a household to manage with two toddlers and a nurse..(the nurse isn't that much work but she's out working often)

    apart from that: the local governments answered with positive and negative notes. i'd copy paste but i doubt anyone here speaks dutch?

    They think it's a great idea and want to build a pump track but there is not really a location where they can foresee building one. I opted building one in dirt for starters to see if it's popular and they immediately went with that. They're actually looking for a location to build one but it wont be for this year anymore so if i want to ride one this summer it'll be my private one!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by atzerath View Post
    . . . Then i'll pay a visit to a construction site to get my pick up filled with dirt...I'll have to do that a couple of times before i get enough dirt but it'll be easier AND better than digging because i will have less pooling this way. (i hope). . . . !
    If you buy the LeeLikesBikes "Welcome to Pump Track Nation" book, he talks about how to calculate how much dirt you'll need.

    Basically, going to get it in a pickup truck is not practical. (I have tried it). When you move the dirt out of the pickup onto the ground, you still have to shovel it, and that's not a hell of a lot different from digging it (only slightly easier). The reason I said to dig from one source pit and the wheelbarrow it to your riding line is to keep the riding line above grade and not have any trench or hole next to it. Rather, you'll just have one big hole. At my spot, I ended up actually using that hole (and a second slightly smaller one) for the last jump in the loop. You may or may not want to do that. Holes can be considered an eyesore or danger by some people, so consider that when deciding to use a source pit or not.



    Over on this thread, I posted up what 18 cubic yards of dirt looks like:
    Tips for building good dirt jumps - Pinkbike Forum

    Measure Up - *


    These guys are digging from the riding line only, so the track is partly below gradient. Like you said, there can be water pooling problems... but there are also ways to deal with that. Remember: A berm that is half below gradient takes half as much digging.


    Also some below-gradient riding line here. A lot of these will fill up with water. In dry climates, that may not matter at all if it's a rare occurrence.
    Pump Track - Pinkbike Forum


    This is an example of a line I hand dug. It was mostly dirt that I wheelbarrowed over from about 50-75 feet away. At the same time, because it was on a slant, even if the riding line did go below grade a little, the water had a place to go.


    I built this berm with native dirt. The inside of a berm turn CAN be below gradient, and it doesn't matter if it holds water because the riding line can be above the water line.


    A lot of DIY BMX trail builders dig from right next to the riding line. The area where he is standing is obviously below gradient, and that's where water will go.


    Some BMX / MTB-DJ trail builders really take their stuff to dirt sculpture levels (although I tend to favor function over photogenic ):
    A.B. Trails Archives - Can You Dig It BMX


    Lastly, it's kind of lame you're going use The Fix / Rhythm cycles drawing just because it's free. That came from "Welcome to Pump Track Nation." I could be wrong, but I have heard from good friends (who are good riders) that the Fix track is not good-- the rollers are too close together and the berms are too tight. But, go ahead and try it and see if you like it. I personally prefer rollers at around 10 foot spacing (maybe up to 13', depending) spacing and 8'-ish foot berm radius.


  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmc4130 View Post
    I personally prefer rollers at around 10 foot spacing (maybe up to 13', depending) spacing and 8'-ish foot berm radius.
    IMVHO an 8' berm radius is about minimum for fast comfortable riding on a 26er with moderately skilled riders (e.g., expert MTBers but not BMXers) particularly with a berm height of 3'.

    This is measured from outside edge of the riding line to the outside edge of the riding.

    The picture cmc shows might probably would be about a 7' radius as I measure mine, which is pretty tight for a 180 bowl even with a 5' berm.

    My pumps are at 8.5' peak-to-peak, and that's good when you first start riding but a lot tighter than you really need. If I redo my pumps I'll go to an 11 - 12' spacing as I don't have enough space to do 10' spacing.
    Rolland

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Sagebrush Slug View Post
    . .

    The picture cmc shows might probably would be about a 7' radius as I measure mine, which is pretty tight for a 180 bowl even with a 5' berm.
    . . . .
    True. But, the picture shows a 90 degree berm, not a 180. I agree with you--I would rarely want to do a 7 foot radius 180 berm.

    I think as you increase the amount of turning, your body feels more G's and consequently, a 180 berm feels tighter than just hitting a 90 degree corner the same radius. But still, it's all about what speed you have and calibrating the berm for the expected speed. ; )

    I am a big fan of 120 degree berms on pump tracks. It gives you enough berm to really be in it, but it allows for more carry-through speed. I also usually build berms to be one directional, so a lot of times the exit has a "landing" for more pump. When you ride it backwards, it feels completely different. So, it's worth considering whether you want a pump track to be bi-directional, and if you do, whether you want it to be roughly the same feeling in the other direction versus a totally different experience. Especially if the track has jumps, the jumps will feel different backwards.

    Lee Likes Bikes

    Hard to say just from looking at them (although you could try to figure the wheelbase of the bike and how much circumference it's taking up) but a little comparison on 180s:

    help with jump line into berm | Ridemonkey.com



    from leelikesbikes.com:
    Last edited by cmc4130; 05-27-2015 at 04:30 PM.

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    As mentioned in the DJ, Pump Track Plans thread, it can help to go visit some concrete skateparks to feel what different radius turns/berms feel like.

    This skatepark has a few good aspects (as much as I can tell from the photos, and quite a few awful ones). But, anyway, you can imagine riding around that bowl corner like a berm. . . . . When you have that transitioned face, it means you can pick your line depending on how fast you're going. The faster you go, the more sideways you get.


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  20. #20
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    thanks guys, i did not know that that particular free plan sucked so much but it's a great way to get an idea of measurements etc..

    Unfortunately i'm in a wet country AND in a lower part of it as well, sort of in a valley?
    That's why i'm bringing in external dirt to keep the whole thing above ground level AND i have to bring it in by wheelbarrow from the street so it'll be hard work but i'm taking this route anyway..Tomorrow i'm going back..the weather isn't great but at least it'll be dry.

  21. #21
    That Waters Guy
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmc4130 View Post
    True. But, the picture shows a 90 degree berm, not a 180. I agree with you--I would rarely want to do a 7 foot radius 180 berm.

    I think as you increase the amount of turning, your body feels more G's and consequently, a 180 berm feels tighter than just hitting a 90 degree corner the same radius. But still, it's all about what speed you have and calibrating the berm for the expected speed. ; )
    180s are definitely harder than 90s. But I don't know if it's a physics thing (more G's), or 180s make you use better technique (same G's for longer means you're more likely to lose speed.)

    I can pump the 8' radius 180, but not the 7' one. Who knew that a foot made such a difference?!

    Well you and Lee probably did.

    That last photo's definitely a tiny radius 180. Even if that's a 6' tall rider it can't be any more than 5'.

    I'll get some more photos up sometime soon. I kind of wish I'd been taking pictures of all my mistakes though, what not to do is often really useful!
    Rolland

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Sagebrush Slug View Post
    180s are definitely harder than 90s. But I don't know if it's a physics thing (more G's), or 180s make you use better technique (same G's for longer means you're more likely to lose speed.)

    I can pump the 8' radius 180, but not the 7' one. Who knew that a foot made such a difference?!

    Well you and Lee probably did.

    That last photo's definitely a tiny radius 180. Even if that's a 6' tall rider it can't be any more than 5'.

    I'll get some more photos up sometime soon. I kind of wish I'd been taking pictures of all my mistakes though, what not to do is often really useful!
    Yeah, right on!! You are absolutely right about taking progress pics along the way.

    The weird thing about geometry and measurements is that it both matters and doesn't matter. Part of the challenge of creatively riding BMX and MTB terrain is riding things that people didn't think were rideable--picnic tables, weird rock formations, super tight transitions, whatever.......

    BUT...... on the flip side, if you want a line or loop that people always gravitate towards and can just ride endlessly and effortlessly with a huge smile, that's where the art and science really challenge each other. Some parts take a lot of re-building and tweaking.

    When it comes to radius . . . it might help to think of a berm (or bowl corner) as a sideways quarter pipe or half pipe. This is an example of a sideways halfpipe as a berm--it's a still the "Odd Couple" videos from Ray's MTB park in Cleveland (definitely go look them up. Even better GO RIDE THERE).


    The 8 foot radius has a long history in skateboarding--particularly early half pipes and later street quarter pipes and launch ramps--although bigger pro vert contest ramps had 9 and 10 foot radius. BMX'ers initially started riding 8 radius also (like for box jumps) . . . but by the mid 90's and later, BMX had moved up to 9 foot radius on a lot of mini ramps and box jumps and were riding 9 foot radius (with a foot of vert) for vert contests.

    On the other side of things, though, BMX race tracks have massive radius berms--mainly because you have 8 riders side by side (who need room) and are cranking as fast as they possibly can. Some of those turns are massive. But, if you've ever tried to casually crank around a BMX track, it feels awful. So sluggish. The berms don't "work" unless you're going Mach 10. (This is also why I think it's stupid that BMX racing has 6 year olds racing on the same track as experts and pros--they should have two tracks at every spot).

    Downhill MTB also uses massive radius turns to soak up speed. I have paced them at as much as 25 foot radius. But, some DH trails at bike parks have tons of braking ruts--which is a signal to the builders that most people feel like they will overshoot the berm at the speed they have..... To fix it, either the berm needs a bigger radius, or the berm needs a steeper face, to get sideways. However, on DH trails it's hard to keep dirt shaped up to near-vert. With sun, wind, and rain, most berms want to settle back to 30-45 degrees.

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    OK, so I did some digging this weekend but no photos ... I know, lame. I need to install tapatalk or whatever that is so I can post photos from my phone.

    Anyway, I definitely got the 7' radius berm fixed up. Now that it's a perfectly shaped berm, I can ride it fine (and here my skill level is I can ride a pump track, but only utterly without any kind of style.)

    My wife on the other hand, not so much. The radius is soooo short that if you're not going up on the berm walls, you can't ride around it, and if you're not going at least kind of fast, you can't go up on the walls.

    Well shoot, I guess that oval isn't really going to work for beginners.

    Which is why I've now started on the second back berm, and I have enough cleared that fixing a figure-8 based oval should be an "easy" weekend's worth of work. And plus now it's raining (I'm in Seattle and it's been bone dry for 6 weeks already!) and that should make busting up the clay easier.

    Anyway, the new loop will have two 8' radius berms, one with a 4' tall berm, and one with a 3' tall berm. It'll be an offset figure 8 (ala an old-school kid's slot car track) with right about 40' between the berms.

    I will take some photos this week but getting the watering up and running for the new plantings was more important this weekend.
    Rolland

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