Ducking Under Logs On The Fly With Shane Watts

I’d heard of this Shane Watts technique, but seeing it in photos is still pretty shocking. Shane dived under this low log in second or third gear and going about 15 mph, but he does this at higher speeds in more open areas with slightly higher logs. “You want to approach in the correct gear that allows the engine to be in the lower part of the rev range but not too low that you bog out. If the revs are too high, you have a big chance of looping out when exiting the obstacle because when you extend your body way back you have the tendency to, and actually need to, get on the gas significantly.”

1. “It is very critical that you look for the highest point of the log to squeak under. Don’t go too slow that you get wedged underneath the log, but also do not go too fast that you don’t have enough time to execute the necessary techniques and actions. Standing up, legs straight and fully extended, gives you better body extension and weight usage to ‘squat’ the bike down and allows for better balance retention. This is one of the few times on the trail you’ll need to be standing on your toes.”

2. “The front end can be compressed somewhat with a quick dab of the front brake, slight decrease in throttle position, and an abrupt push down on the bars from your upper body weight movement. The correct timing is imperative. You can see that the rear end is jacked up higher . Now start the downward swing of your midsection body weight by bending at your hips and straightening your arms to get your butt back toward the rear of the bike to get it compressed down. Keep focusing ahead to help with maintaining balance.”

3. “Again, timing is critical; as the bars are just clearing the underside of the log they’re starting to spring back up while the rear continues to compress down. My head is still not low enough, but that’s no worry, as I have about another foot before hitting the log. The suspension stays compressed for a very short time, so crack the throttle back on again to get you out from under there quickly and to help provide the necessary final body extension and rear end squat by throwing you back somewhat.”

4. “With your butt as far back as possible, your body should be almost flat against the seat. Tuck your head down and try to kiss the middle of your seat to ensure that you don’t clean your clock and come out 3 inches shorter. My toes are pointing up from rotating my feet back on the pegs. This helps with lowering my overall body height and assists with overcoming my lack of flexibility (due to scar tissue). The goal is to time your body’s actions so that the lowest trajectory of each part of the bike and body is right when it goes under the log. Don’t forget if you decided to wear a backpack because the log will soon remind you!”

5. “Now that you’re through, slide your body up to the front of the bike as you get back hard on the right hand and refocus on the next obstacle. You will have made up a lot of time on riders who got off their bike to lean it over and walk it through. Maybe you can stop and watch your mates huff and puff, skin their knuckles, and make a right mess of it, or you can ask them to get medical assistance because you pulled a hammie!”

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For more info about Shane Watts, his DirtWise Academy of Off-Road Riding Schools, and his instructional DVDs, check out shanewatts.com.