Driving or riding a vehicle on unsurfaced roads or tracks
There are many different vehicles, tires, surfaces, skills, and experience that is associated with off-roading. There are many recreational sports such as; dune bashing, cross-country, raid, mojave desert controversy, roadless area conservation and public statements are the safety precautions that follow off-roading.
Off-road vehicle – In most cases off-road terrains can only be traveled by vehicles designed specifically for off-road driving such as ATVs, heavy-duty pickup trucks, trucks and equipment, sport utility vehicles (SUVs), snowmobiles, motorcycles or mountain bicycles. These types of vehicles often have extra ground clearance, sturdy tires, and front and rear locking differentials, low gear etc. Examples of vehicle manufacturers notable for producing types of off-road vehicle include Chevrolet, Ford, Nissan, Toyota, Dodge, Hummer, Suzuki, Isuzu/Honda nad IH Sout. These are vehicle companies that make specialized vehicles for off-roading, like trucks and 4×4 vehicles.
Recreational off-roading – Recreational off-roading is popular among a sub-section of the owners of four-wheel-drive or all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles. There are numerous categories of recreational off-roading, with something suitable for all levels of experience and equipment.
Major categories of recreational off-roading
Dune bashing – Dune bashing also known desert safari is a form of off roading, using a vehicle appropriate for off roading to explore and drive on Also as many people as there are seat belts in the vehicle are able to go dune bashing.
Cross-country – In the vast uninhabited expanses of the North African Sahara desert, Cross-country is the most common form of recreational have introduced few thousands of 4x4ers to the hobby in the last couple of years.
Raid – This is a type of travel undertaken with a 4×4 that mostly goes over stronger springs, shock absorbers etc…
Mudding (or mud bogging) – Mudding involves finding a large area of wet mud or clay and attempting to drive as far through it as possible without becoming stuck. There are many types of tires that are recommended for this activity, but they are not an asset to participating in the event Mudding. Some tires are balloon tiresroading there are techniques that follow; like momentum. The best driving is presented when you drive at a steady pace, without spinning the tires. Keep the pace fast so that the vehicle does not get bogged down. If and when the tires start to spin turn slightly and start to decrease the speed. Strongly attached recovery points are also recommended to enable the vehicle to be towed out if it becomes bogged down. Traction and momentum are important factors in success.
Rock crawling – Rock crawling is a highly technical category of off-roading. Vehicles are typically modified with larger than stock tires, suspension components that allow greater axle articulation, and changes in the differential gear ratio in order to provide the ideal high torque/low speed operation for traversing obstacles. It is common for a rock crawler to have a “spotter – an assistant who will go on foot alongside of or in front of the vehicle to provide information to the driver on obstacles or areas of terrain that the driver may be unable to see.
Rock racing – Rock Racing is very similar to rock crawling in the fact that the vehicles are driven over rocks, the difference is that there are no penalties for hitting cones, backing up or winching as is done in rock crawling. Rock racing also involves a degree of high-speed racing not seen in typical rock crawling.
Competitive trials – Trials are probably the safest form of trialing.
RTV trialing – RTV (Road Taxed Vehicle) trialing is the most common form of trialing. As the name suggests, it is for vehicles that are road-legal (and thus required to pay vehicle excise duty). This excludes vehicles that are highly modified or specially built. RTV-class vehicles can carry a wide range of suspension modifications, as well as off-road tires (provided they are road-legal), recovery winches, raised air intakes etc. Vehicles on RTV trials are usually best described as “modified from standard”—they use the standard chassis, drive-train and body that the vehicle was built with. Whilst modification is not necessarily required for an RTV trial, at the very least the vehicle would be expected to have some under-body protection such as a sump guard, differential guard and solid sills. RTV courses are intended to be non-damaging and driven at little more than a walking pace and a course properly laid out would be drivable without damage. However, the terrain usually includes steep slopes, water, side-slopes, deep ruts and other obstacles that could potentially damage a vehicle if mistakes are made or poor driving technique is used, and vehicle modifications increase the chance of success.
RTV trials usually take place on farmland, a quarry site or at a dedicated off-road driving center, and are usually organized by a dedicated trialing body (such as the All Wheel Drive Club or The Association of Land Rover clubs in the UK), or by a vehicle owner’s club. The course consists of 10 to 12 “gates” marked by two garden canes, vertically placed. The gates are just wide enough to get a standard vehicle through. One vehicle attempts the course at a time, and is deemed to have cleared a gate if at least one of the front wheel hub passes between the canes. The vehicle’s attempt ends when it comes to a stop (depending on the exact level of skill the trial is aimed at, any stopping may end the attempt, or a few seconds may be allowed). Long-wheelbase vehicles are usually allowed to perform a three-point turn if needed, providing the driver declares where the turn is going to be made before they attempt the course (this puts a strong emphasis on ground-reading ability). This can also be called a “shunt” where the driver has to attempt a gate and then shout shunt. they are then allowed a space of 1 and a half car lengths to reverse and line the car better to enter through the gate
The course between the gates is a “section”: between the start line and the first gate is “Section 1”, the part between the first and second gates is “Section 2” and so on. An RTV course is often laid out so that each section is progressively more difficult, although this is not always the case. If a driver fails to complete Section 1 they are given 10 points. If the attempt ends in Section 2, 9 points are awarded etc. A clear round results in gaining only 1 point. A day’s event will consist of many different courses and the driver with the lowest score is the winner.
Since the terrain covered in RTV trials should be well within the capabilities of any reasonably capable vehicle (even in standard form), these trials place the emphasis on driver skill and ground-reading abilities. A good driver in a standard specification vehicle can easily win over a modified, highly equipped vehicle driven by a less competent driver.
CCV trialing – Cross Country Vehicle (CCV) trialing is the next step up from RTV trialing and is open to non-road-legal vehicles, which greatly increases the scope for modification. The terrain covered will be of greater difficulty than that found on an RTV trial, and will usually require more judicious use of speed to get the vehicle across certain obstacles, so increasing the risk of vehicle damage. Whilst no trial is intended to be vehicle-damaging mistakes and accidents are inevitable. A standard-specification vehicle would not be expected to be able to complete a CCV course.
The event is run along the same lines as RTV, with a course made up of cane-marked gates. The rules are also the same as an RTV trial.
CCV trialing differs greatly from RTV trials in the vehicles used. Since “anything goes”, CCV trials rely on having the correct vehicle to a much greater extent than in an RTV trial. Competitors are able to design and build vehicles that are much more optimized for off-road use also make good bases for CCV-spec vehicles. Some vehicles are specially built, taking the form of light “buggies” with tractor tyres and “fiddle” brakes for the best performance.
Vehicles are required to meet certain safety regulations. Roll-cages must be fitted and be built to a suitable standard, recovery points must be fitted front and rear and fuel tanks must meet certain standards. A 4-point harness for all occupants is required and a fire extinguisher is recommended.
Punch & winch challenge – This is the most recent, and usually the most difficult, form of course trialing. A course is laid out with either a series of punches or gates and vehicles must collect as many punches as possible or complete as many gates in a course as possible. These challenges often include a small number of special stages.
The events take place on very difficult terrain and vehicles are not expected to be able to complete the course without the use of a recovery winch. Winching is a definite skill in itself, aside from off-road driving, and brings elements of team-play into the trial, as a successful (and safe) vehicle recovery needs at least 2 people to complete. Some trials are for teams of 2 or 3 vehicles, each helping to recover the others through obstacles. A Winch Challenge may extend to other off-road driving skills, such as building a log bridge to cross a river.
At its most basic a winch challenge vehicle will be a CCV-spec machine with a front-mounted recovery winch. However, a distinct breed of vehicles adapted wheelbaseLand Rover Defender, especially in “Hard Top” guise, is a typical and common basis for a Winch Challenge vehicle).
Vehicles often require extensive modification. Under-body protection is needed, given the severity of the terrain involved, enhanced suspension travel and reinforced drive train upgrades are used to get vehicles as far as possible before winching is needed. Roll-cages and “snorkel” air intakes are required to prevent vehicle damage. The vehicle’s electrical system often needs upgrading with multiple battery banks and high-trayback vehicles.
Other forms – There are other forms of trialing, usually based around one of the above types but with a slight difference. These are often used as more “fun” events within a vehicle club, rather than as a part of a formal championship. Examples include:
- Punch-Card Challenge. Usually based around an RTV trials course. Instead of a series of gates around a fixed course, a number of single canes are placed around a site. Each cane is numbered and a hole-punch tied to the cane. Each vehicle has a card with numbered squares marked on it. The card is tied to the exterior of the vehicle (usually from the wing mirror). The aim is to get the vehicle close enough to the tests driver skill and ground-reading, as the most obvious way to approach a cane is often not the easiest. For example, with a cane situated at the bottom of a steep slope it may turn out that the flat terrain at the base of the slope is too soft or muddy to drive over. The only way to the cane is to drive across the slope, stop (whilst the vehicle is tilted), punch the card and then continue. The winner is the driver who has collected the most punches.
- Tyro trial. The name derives from the Latin word “tyro” meaning “new recruit”. “Tyro” trialing is intended as an introduction to the sport for newcomers or children and is the most basic level of trialing. These take the form of a course with gates, but the course is carefully laid out so that it requires definite skill to drive, but carries no risk of damage to the vehicle or injury to the driver. Vehicle modifications are not allowed. Some tyro trial organizers even ban the fitting of different types to tyres to those the vehicle left the showroom with.
Winch events – Winch events often involve attempting to access areas that would be impassable without the use of a winch – this can include traversing deep gullies, steep slopes and so on. Most off-road vehicles that have been prepared for this type of event will typically have two winches, one at the front and one at the rear of the vehicle, each with a rated pull of over 9,000 lb (4,100 kg).
Off-parks and motocross tracks also host a number of events and may be the only legal place to off-road in the area. Events include jamborees, rock crawling competitions, Mud Bog races, Top Truck Challenges and sand racing as well as many other events, such as the Tank Trap.
Russia has very busy off-roading championship 5-7 starts every year, has 4 traditional races and the most popular off-road race in Russia is Ladoga-race in Karelia.
Off-roading organizations – Organizations and associations have been formed and many show a united front in the battle to keep public lands open to off-roaders. Some organizations, such as the Blue Ribbon Coalition and Tread Lightly!, are not off-road clubs at all and are solely set up to fight land closures and to promote environmentally friendly off-roading.
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