Several months ago, we looked at becoming a little more targeted and focussed in your riding, by looking at what you would need if you wanted to do your first trackday.
However, for those who aren’t interested in getting their knee down, then a spot of light green-laning, or off-road riding might be more up your street…or byway.
We’re not talking about full-on Dakar-spec trails but nice and easy tracks that you can enjoy riding and where you can see sights that aren’t apparent from the tarmac roads.
The first thing you need to understand though is what you’re looking for. You are after BOATs; Byways Open to All Traffic. Legally, these are classified as public roads so you must be on a road-legal, taxed, MoT’d (if appropriate) and insured bike.
You also need to be aware that you aren’t the only ones entitled to use that track; walkers, often with dogs, horse riders and even 4x4 drivers are all perfectly allowed to be there too, so treat everyone with respect and if necessary, pull over and allow them to pass.
Finding the best tracks can be tricky; you can either tackle it yourself and go trial-and-error or you can join a group such as the Trail Riders Federation that has known routes corresponding to your level and often organises rides in your area that you can join.
You’ll need an appropriate bike as well; something that will allow you to make the most of your off-road forays. You could go for a full-on road-legal enduro bike, like a Honda CRF300L but this might be too extreme for the road-ride there, meaning you need a van.
Alternatively, something like a Royal Enfield Himalayan should get you to your chosen greenlane (albeit slowly) and allow you to carry on when you get there.
And of course, there is kit. Your road-riding gear may work but it isn’t a given. Just like the bike, you need the right kit to tackle those lanes and so helmet, clothing, gloves and boots all need to be greenlane ready.
It might sound daunting but I’ve tentatively ventured off-road a couple of times and while it can be hard work, it can also be incredibly rewarding; the riding itself is completely different and you get to see places that you would never get near if you stuck to the roads.
So here are our top essentials to get you going off-road.
Nolan N70.2 Helmet
This adventure helmet from Nolan is made for both road and off-road use. The peak, which is intended to shield the visor from sunlight as well as mud and debris, is easily removable for road use and the visor aperture is huge for excellent vision.
The drop-down sun visor is quick and easy to use and retracts completely at the push of a button but what makes this helmet so versatile is the ability to remove the entire chin-bar for huge cooling effect.
Trail Riders Federation Membership
Quite possibly the best £52 you will spend to go trail or green-lane riding. The TRF has members all over the country, with local groups meeting regularly and itu2019s very welcoming to new members and riders. It works closely with authorities and other users of green lanes to ensure that the motorcycling community is properly educated and represented and is big on conservation. There are events taking place all the time and you can also download routes to try for yourself.
RST Pro Series Adventure-X Suit
This jacket from RST (as well as the matching trousers) is made from a Maxtex outer and is paired with a waterproof and windproof inner liner that can be removed if the going is dry or warm. The outer has lots of ventilation, including large panels on the chest and along the arms and the inner can be stored in the rear poacheru2019s pocket.
The jacket is CE AA rated and comes with Lever-2 shoulder, elbow and back armour and the trousers are A-rated and come with Level-2 knee armour. The jacket is also available with an integrated In&motion airbag for £200 more – there is a matching adventure profile for the airbag.
Forma Adventure Boots
Protecting your feet is important on arduous off-road rides and these boots from Forma do just that while keeping you dray and comfortable. They feature a tall design with three strap and buckle fastenings for a great fit u2013 Iu2019ve tried these and they are all-day comfortable.
They have an oiled-leather upper with ankle armour and over the shin and there is a stainless steel shank in the sole for protection and comfort when standing up on the bike’s footpegs.
Oxford Mondial Gloves
Typically, adventure and off-road gloves are a short design to make them less cumbersome and these from Oxford feature the companyu2019s Dry2Dry waterproof and breathable membrane to keep water out but not get too hot and sweaty.
They have moulded armour over the knuckles and on the fingers and stretch panels on the fingers while there are grip panels on the palm and Superfabric sections in the heel of the palm ‘landing zone’.
Garmin Zumo XT
Finding a sat nav that will do both road and off-road routes used to be tricky but the Garmin Zumo XT seems to have solved that conundrum. It functions as a normal sat nav, finding the fastest route to your destination or, if you prefer, you can set it to choose a more u2018adventurousu2019 route to avoid motorways, for example.
It can use topographical profiles for off-road routing and will also control your mobile phone for music if that’s your thing. Pair it with an inReach satellite unit for SOS and messaging options or Garmin’s own Group Ride Tracker to stay connected with other riders using Garmins.
Outdoor Active App
Formerly Viewranger, this app is free to download to your smartphone and offers a range of routes across the UK, including walking, cycling, equestrian and motorcycling. You need to join to access the stored routes but once joined, you can follow them as they are posted by fellow members.
You can also record your rides and the Pro (€2.5pcm) membership gives you access to more detailed maps and Pro+ (€5pcm) gives you expert level maps and 3D planning of your routes.
Quadlock Phone Mounting System
If youu2019re using any form of smartphone-based navigation or route app, then you need to mount your phone to the bike. However, recently, there have been multiple reports of vibrations affecting phone cameras and their ability to focus.
Insulating the phone from the bike and any inherent vibrations is key and this mounting system from Quad Lock uses a case that stays on the phone and twist-locks onto a mount on the bike. But between the two is the company’s vibration damper which prevents the damaging vibes from reaching the phone. I use this constantly and have had no issues at all.
Trespass Hydration Rucksack
Riding off-road can be thirsty work and this hydration rucksack from Trespass will not only house two litres of water in a hydration bladder, but it also offers 15 litres of storage for any of your odds and sods, including keys, wallets and clothing layers. It has webbed waist belt loops, a chest strap and comes with the hydration bladder.