You can be sure that every trial will have several sections with an obstacle right in the middle of a turn or a tight camber turn with slippery roots or rocks. These are spots for the floater technique to be used. Slippery cambers where you need to “tractor” the bike around the turn to keep the rear tire hooked up & climbing is a place to use a floater. The floater allows you to keep the good things about a turn but while turning even tighter. It’s also lower risk than hopping because traction is not broken. Floaters are also useful if there is not room to hop.
The keys to effective floaters are:
- Smooth throttle and clutch
- Look through the turn to where you want to end up
- Legs loose and apart
- Elbows up
- Weight shift and peg pressure
Here’s a step by step guide to an effective floater, as performed by TTC instructor Chris Florin.
- As you enter the turn, initiate the wheelie by loading the front suspension. Push the bike down and lean in to the turn, slightly pushing the bike away. In the first photo, Chris is pushing the bike down and away from the left turn in preparation for bringing the bike around.
- As the suspension starts to rebound, apply a little throttle and clutch and shift weight toward the rear while angling the bike toward the obstacle. Chris angles the bike in the photos by lifting the outside of the handlebars and weighting the inside peg.
- Move the bike through the turn while keeping the legs loose and maintaining a steady throttle and clutch. Be sure to keep outside elbow up and look through the turn to where you want to end up. As the bike moves through the turn, the body moves forward.
- Track the rear tire up the obstacle (or up the camber turn) by pushing with the legs to keep the rear tire in contact at all times.
- As the bike rises up on the obstacle, start to set the front down and shift weight back over the rear tire.
If you keep these basic key points in mind, you’ll be guaranteed to lower your score, keep the bike hooked up & driving, and look really cool while doing it!
Don’t forget to practice, practice, practice. And if it’s too cold where you are, come on down to the Trials Training Center for some early season riding!