So you want to become a Trail Rider....

So the first thing you need to know is that it's awesome and you'll wonder why you never started years ago!
You'll no doubt be full of questions, so let's have a go at answering some of them.

Where can I ride?

There is a network of Green Roads (unsealed legal highway) of over 6,000 miles that crosses England and Wales. The individual Green Roads are varied in their terrain and landscape. It’s great fun exploring them. But one thing you will find is that they can be hard to find, and their legal status can change over time.

Green Roads are typically defined by the authorities as either Unclassified County Roads (UCRs) or Byways open to All Traffic (BOATs) – never ride on footpaths, bridleways or restricted byways. Green Roads can be subject to a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO), which will exclude certain user groups on a temporary or longer term basis. Highway and Local Authorities keep records of all the UCRs and BOATs in their area and you can access these, often through their websites.

The TRF has developed the Green Road Map which is an online digital map showing the whereabouts of all the legal Green Roads in England and Wales.

If you choose to join the TRF there will be a local group that will be able to introduce you to routes in your area and who organise local ride outs.

What bike should I buy?

As riding Green Roads is not riding 'off-road' the law that applies to your Trail Bike is the same as the law that applies to a road bike. It must be legal, taxed, MOT'd and insured.

What is the perfect Trail Bike, is an often-asked question with no definitive answer. Everyone will have a different opinion, from those who prefer the classic old school twin shock machine, to those who prefer more modern enduro based bikes, while increasingly we see more and more ‘adventure’ bikes also taking to Green Roads.

Much also depends on your experience level in motorcycling, where you plan to go riding, and even your physicality.

For beginners, it’s nearly always best to start small. Low-powered, lightweight Tail Bikes, such as 250cc four-strokes, offer a very manageable start point – these bikes are capable of conquering most trails yet remain straightforward to operate and are the easiest to control.

You can often find bikes for sale within local TRF groups, the members of which will all have plenty of advice (and opinion!) on what bike to choose.

What other users will I encounter when riding Green Roads?

You love motorbikes. You love the countryside. You love adventure and exploration. You love mixing them up and enjoying a day Trail Riding. Great. Whilst out on your bike you will meet a whole range of other countryside users: walkers, cyclists, horse riders, farmers, countryside residents – who also enjoy the countryside, only in their own way, too.

Everyone who enjoys our natural landscape should understand that they have a responsibility to be respectful to the land and to other users. Where you encounter anxious other users of Green Roads – this can be animal (eg. horses or dogs) as well as human – the best policy is often to simply stop and turn off your engine. Horses can also be spooked by crash helmets, so taking your helmet off will also often help. You can then talk to the other users and discuss a way to pass each other with the least agitation. Always be aware of livestock and when passing these have consideration, keeping noise and speed low.

The TRF has developed Code of Conduct and you can also find out more about sharing the trail here.

Do I need training?

Training is a great way to build confidence and learn new Trail Riding skills. Many new riders are surprised at how different – and challenging – riding unsealed roads can be; the balance, speed and bike control are very different to traditional road riding.

Training can be informal – receiving tips from other Trail Riders while out riding – or you may choose to attend a formal training session that many groups organise, or seek professional guidance. 

Some TRF groups organise training locally and most will have ride outs designed to suit those new to Trail Riding. 

Do I need tools and spares when riding Green Roads?

When riding Green Roads there is a chance that you experience a mechanical problem. Like a Scout, a good Trail Rider will come prepared and typically equip themselves with some basic essentials so that they don’t ‘make a drama out of crisis’.

Patches or spare tubes, a pump and tools to remove a wheel and tyre, mean you can make your repair there and then and continue your ride rather than seek assistance from the breakdown services. Spares such as levers or cables are often a good idea. A split link for your chain. Tape or cable ties should you break some bodywork. A small first aid kit is also a good idea.

We do suggest you download the WhatThreeWords app to your phone in case of emergencies as you may find yourself in need of help in a more remote location.

If you go along to your local TRF group members’ evening there will be plenty of help and advice on what to take along on a ride.

How do I plan a route?

As discussed above, finding where to ride can be challenging, but many will start with an Ordnance Survey map identifying byways and unclassified country roads, but you will need to check with Local Authority maps to ensure these roads are open.

The Green Road Network is fragmented so you won’t be able to seamlessly navigate a route without using tarmac roads. However, including small minor sealed routes still means you get to see parts of the countryside many others will miss.

For practical reasons most riders now rely on either apps on a smart phone or dedicated navigational devices loaded with routes known as GPX files. There are various online mapping platforms where some users will share these routes, however caution is needed as some routes may include roads or paths where it is not legal to ride.

Your local TRF group is likely to have a local expert, with some groups holding dedicated workshops on the subject.

What tyres should I fit?

This will of course depend on the tyres available for the size of your wheels, but it is best to invest in some road legal dual purpose or ‘nobbly’ genuine trail-suitable tyres. These range from trials type, or dual use (road/trail), or enduro style tyres.

‘What are the best tyres’ is one of the most commonly questions asked and your local TRF group will be able to help with advice based on the terrain locally.

Do I need special riding gear?

There is a huge array of gear now available that ranges from that designed for adventure travel to that designed for the sport end of the spectrum with enduro or motocross. Whichever end you look at, try to ensure it carries a proper CE rating.

Alongside you mandatory helmet we would recommend you invest in a sturdy pair of boots and gloves as a minimum. There is also all manner of other protective equipment available including knee pads and braces, protective shorts and shirts.

A waterproof layer is essential – you are riding in the UK after all!

Why should I join the TRF?

The TRF has been conserving Green Roads for over 50 years, promoting responsible and sustainable Trail Riding. The Not-for-Profit organisation represents the interests of Trail Riders before local and central government along with other user groups. The TRF has 40+ local groups spread around England and Wales, and in the last five years alone the organisation has spent £1.5m legally defending the rights of the public to enjoy the countryside using a motorcycle on Green Roads.

A few short videos to introduce you to the TRF