The UK has some stunning countryside, and in our book, there aren’t many better ways to explore that countryside than on two wheels. And there are thousands of miles of Byways Open To All Traffic (BOATS) across the UK, which means you can enjoy riding your road legal adventure or enduro bike on these trails.
If you’re new to the world of trail riding or green laning, or you don’t have an appropriate motorcycle and want to give it a go, the question is: where do you start? That’s where the team at Phoenix Trails come in.
Phoenix Trails is an offshoot of Phoenix Motorcycle Training, the UK’s largest motorcycle training school with over 20 centres. The trail side of the business offers a day’s ride on some of the best trails in the country, including in Salisbury Plains, the North Downs in Kent, West Pennines and the Peak District. So, we joined the team in the Peak District to find out more, and improve our off road riding along the way.
There are four different levels of trail days offered by Phoenix for different abilities, from 90-minute taster sessions, to Beginner Level 1, which we were on, Intermediate Level 2 and Extended Level 3, for the more competent off road riders.
Kick starting at The Yondermann Café just off the A623 with some breakfast, a quick briefing and introduction to the bikes we’d be riding – a fleet of Fantic XEF250s – it was time to hit the trails after a short stint on the road to get acquainted with the machines.
As with the landscape and terrain in the Peak District, most of the byways we rode throughout the day were undulating, rocky and stony, with a smattering of grass every so often. Loose stone can be challenging to ride, with the surface always moving around underneath the bike, and it can feel unpredictable at first. But with regular stops and bite-size pointers from the experts, navigating the changeable terrain became easier and increasingly enjoyable the more miles rolled by.
Aside from the spectacular surroundings and awesome riding from the very first trail to the last, the relaxed training environment was one of the best things about the trail day. Little pointers here, and some useful tips there, while taking on some water and marvelling at the landscape, you were able to simply piece it all together and incrementally improve your riding.
It also became clear that you don’t need to be an enduro expert or own the latest all-singing all-dancing adventure bike to enjoy riding off road. A bit like not needing to be Jonathan Rea on a £25k+ sports bike to enjoy riding on a tarmac circuit. The little 250cc Fantics provided ample performance for each rider in the small group of five, and never missed a beat. It’s light weight, grunty motor and decent standard suspension meant it had plenty left in its arsenal should we have needed to use it.
Overall, it was an excellent day and the perfect introduction to trail riding. Relaxed, friendly, informative and really good fun. You can’t ask for much more than that, really. If you’re after some more technical routes and hardcore tuition, there are other options out there that’d better suit you, like most of the manufacturer supported centres in Wales.
But if all you’re looking for is an enjoyable day on the lanes with a like-minded group in a beautiful setting, and being a more competent green-laner by the end of it, Phoenix Trails is ideal.
A full day’s riding costs £250 at any of the locations, and for that you get use of an enduro bike, either the Fantic XEF250 we used or a Honda CRF250, full protective kit if you need it and expert instruction.
All you need to bring is your full motorcycle licence (UK, EU or International) with a minimum of an A2 category and recent experience of riding a geared motorcycle. Although, we would recommend wearing your own kit if you have it, and bringing a backpack with a few snacks and fluids for energy. Being comfortable and energised is important, and regardless of the ambient temperature, off-road riding even on beginner lanes is physical and you certainly work up a sweat!
We can’t wait to give Level 2 a go. Thanks, Phoenix!
You can book here: https://phoenixmotorcycletraining.co.uk/phoenixtrails/