Pollard’s Complete Trail Building Guide

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—————-4. North shore Stunts——————

4.1 What Wood?

The wood has to be durable, resistant to moisture, decay, insects, and the elements (sun, cold, wet, dry, snow, ice, etc…). E.g. redwood, cedar, white oak, cypress, locust and mazanita (I don’t actually know the last 3, but IMBA says they are fine). Generally, use your common sense too, or experiment. Commercial wood can be used to, but get advice from the dudes in the shop as to how resistant and durable it is. Don’t use wooden pallets, scrap wood, ply, soft woods (e.g. pine), random sticks, chipboard, or any other inappropriate materials. Don’t cut down trees unless permission has been given, so if you don’t have permission you’ll need to use dead wood. Make sure the dead wood is big enough to resist decay and/or deterioration, and always remove the bark. If in doubt of the wood you want to use, consult an expert, someone who knows what they talking about, or an experienced trail builder.

4.2 Tools

There are a zillion tools you can use to do the job but here are the ones I recommend for the majority of north shore stunts (on top of standard trail tools).

  • Axe. used for making rungs and generally chopping stuff (very useful). You can use the backside of a mattock but you’ll be using it a lot so get a dedicated axe.
  • Saw. cutting down rungs and also general cutting and sizing wood (very useful). Big 2 person saws are needed if you have to cut through seriously big logs or stumps or whatever.
  • Wedge. used to split logs to make rungs. Use common sense and advice as to what size and style to get.
  • Hammer (sledgehammer). using with the wedge to make rungs.
  • A bark peeling tool, e.g. spud, drawknife, adze. Choose which you think will be easiest for you.
  • Small hammer, for hammering in nails.
  • Nails, not really a tool but don’t forget them. People have nail preferences but i find 6″ and 9″ galvanized nails to be the most common. Spiral nailed are supposed to be even better too. Obvious for huge stuff 12″ nails can be used, but don’t unnecessarily. Also, screws can be used but then you need a drill and plenty of power for it.

(25 Best Trail Building Tools – BikeFAT.com)

4.3 How to make rungs

Having not ever made rungs do it being england over here (no big trees to make rungs from), I’ve never personally made any rungs, but I’ve found a link that does an excellent job of explaining it. Check it out.

4.4 Ladder Bridges

There are loads of different ways to make ladders, and of course it depends on where you’re building too, but I’ll just quick run through a typical method of building them, and through in a few construction tips along the way.

First of all do all the initial clearing where the shore will go, and also make sure you clear any dangerous things in the surrounding ‘fall zone’ too (the fall zone is where a rider would fall if they had to abort the stunt, or fall off).

Then, gather all the wood you’ll be using, you can do this as you go but it helps to gather in bunches. For example you could have 1 person making rungs, and the other nailing it all together. Also, debark the wood at this stage too.

You’ll need to then make the upright posts that will hold the ladder up. Chop some logs up to size, bearing in mind at least 2 ft will be underground. Then, dig a 2 ft(ish) hole, for the posts, stick a big flat rock as a base (having no rock base leaves the wood prone to deteriorate damaging the stunt’s long term integrity). Then, stick the post logs down in the hole and fill the hole in, this should result in a strong supporting post.

Once you have enough posts in you’ll need to put the main stringers in, the stringers are what the rungs are nailed to. To do this, cut them size, and use your common sense. Use your biggest nails to connect the stringers and the supporting posts.

Then, beef up the structure using diagonal struts and again common sense, and make it stronger than you first anticipate it to be. Use the pictures to give you ideas where to beef it up.

Then, nail the rungs on, without consistent gaps to shed mud and water from collecting, see examples for spacing ideas.

Then, you just need to put additional traction on if needed, see 4.8 on what to use for this.

4.7 and 4.8 will give you further tips and guidance on building north shore, be sure to read through them too, and if in doubt, use your common sense.

4.5 Log Rides

Log rides are where you have the option to ride along a log, adding a technical challenge to the trail.

First of all choose what you want to do, and choose an appropriate log to use. If you decide upon a non cut away one, don’t debark, otherwise, debark. Either way, you’re going to need some form of additional traction otherwise they’ll quickly become a slippery nightmare, see 4.8 for traction tips. To cut away at the log, you can use any method, such as axe, saw, or whatever but by far the easiest is a chainsaw. Even though you have to carry it to the trail, the effort saved easily outweighs any transport trouble.

You can include log rides wherever and whenever you want, and again, use your common sense.

4.6 Get Creative

One of the most fun things about building north shore is the creativity you can incorporate. It almost becomes an art form. Look at the following examples for inspiration and come up with your own uber creative line:

Pollard's Complete Trail Building Guide examples of berms freerider trails, ladders, and bridges image onePollard's Complete Trail Building Guide examples of berms freerider trails, ladders, and bridges image twoPollard's Complete Trail Building Guide examples of berms freerider trails, ladders, and bridges image threePollard's Complete Trail Building Guide examples of berms freerider trails, ladders, and bridges image fourPollard's Complete Trail Building Guide examples of berms freerider trails, ladders, and bridges image five4.7 Ladder Tips

  • Don’t put a ladder in that is out of place, by that I mean for example don’t put a super skinny ladder 15ft up in the middle of an easy trail.
  • Make the ladder high up, this adds an element of danger but also makes it more challenging and fun.
  • Armor the entrance and exit, make sure you make the area as durable as possible, using rocks if possible.
  • Vary the length, height and width to add a challenging aspect to it.
  • Make turns in it, and off camber sections, make sure when doing a turn to make the corner bits wider so your wheels can track round without falling off.
  • Make steep ups and steep downs, but make sure its still rideable.
  • Link em up, link ladder sections to make an uber cool trail.
  • Stick some drop offs in there, consider the impact force of the drop on the landing and make it stronger if necessary.
  • Combine ladders with other crazy stunts such as teeter totters and discombobulators!
  • Keep them a secret, obviously tell ya mates, but try and hide them because unless you’ve been given permission, the forestry commission will destroy them in all probability.

4.8 General Tips


  • Don’t have any exposed sharp edges, not just protruding nails, but sharp edges in the wood hurt too.
  • Rungs shouldn’t stick over the edge by any more than a few inches.
  • Avoid gaps greater than 2″.
  • All nails (or screws) should be corrosion resistant. Galvanized stuff works well.

For additional traction:  You can score the surface with a saw, cover the riding surface with anti-slip paint designed for tough use or attach diamond mesh lade (chicken wire and roofing materials tend not to last too long).

Only build on stable land, marshy land is a no-no.  Build preferably with an experienced builder to stop you making stupid time wasting and dangerous mistakes.

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