Learning to off-road

Ultraspaz

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Having a lot of fun outfitting my Sport. Wife calls it obsessing. Either way I like it.

I wanted to keep recovery boards in the Sport for Minnesota winters and summer off road trips. I didn't want to mount boards on the roof rack all winter so instead came up with this solution.

Boards.jpg


I bought 36 inch X-Bull boards and used 30 X 2 inch Velcro straps to attach them to the stored Cargo Management system. They're relatively out of the way, easy to remove and so far no rattles or noises.
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ZA-Val

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New to this forum and just saw this thread. I thought about the same thing, I would love to learn how to drive off road by working with professional instructors or taking a class or something. I’m also looking forward to the off road-eo when we can finally sign up. The only thing that kind of sucks is that if you read the fine print, the Sport owners are only allowed to attend the Texas site, I’m guessing maybe the other sites are too advanced for the Sport and are more suited for the bigger Bronco.

The website says that we have to attend within one year of delivery of our vehicle but I have a feeling that this will be extended due to the delays in production and if Ford decides that covid precautions need to be taken while these sessions go on, that will limit capacity as well. It looks like a lot of fun though, I’m looking forward to it!
 

ZA-Val

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Having a lot of fun outfitting my Sport. Wife calls it obsessing. Either way I like it.

I wanted to keep recovery boards in the Sport for Minnesota winters and summer off road trips. I didn't want to mount boards on the roof rack all winter so instead came up with this solution.

Boards.jpg


I bought 36 inch X-Bull boards and used 30 X 2 inch Velcro straps to attach them to the stored Cargo Management system. They're relatively out of the way, easy to remove and so far no rattles or noises.
This is a great idea, I like this setup. . I’d love to mount the boards on the roof rack just to keep them out of my cargo space but I’m 99% sure that they will get stolen that way. I haven’t ordered my boards since I don’t even have my car yet, but I plan on leaving them home except for my trips to the beach and then come winter I will keep them in the car when we have snow.
 

Cabezone

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New to this forum and just saw this thread. I thought about the same thing, I would love to learn how to drive off road by working with professional instructors or taking a class or something. I’m also looking forward to the off road-eo when we can finally sign up. The only thing that kind of sucks is that if you read the fine print, the Sport owners are only allowed to attend the Texas site, I’m guessing maybe the other sites are too advanced for the Sport and are more suited for the bigger Bronco.

The website says that we have to attend within one year of delivery of our vehicle but I have a feeling that this will be extended due to the delays in production and if Ford decides that covid precautions need to be taken while these sessions go on, that will limit capacity as well. It looks like a lot of fun though, I’m looking forward to it!
I dunno about the rest of the USA but in Cali there's schools in both the northern Sierras and Socal. They usually cater to people with purpose built off roaders but some take soft roaders also.
 
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JamesT

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Anybody heard any news about the Austin off roadeo location opening up yet?
 
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JamesT

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Anybody heard any news about the Austin off roadeo location opening up yet?
I just got an email from Bronco Off-Roadeo that they hope to begin opening up registrations within a month. My wife and I are thinking about it. By then, we will have had both shots and will feel ok about flying Seattle to Dallas/Austin. (Austin is the only spot where they are doing Sports, i believe)

There is more information and you can sign up to get notifications at https://broncooffroadeo.com
 
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JamesT

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This weekend, I took an offroad driving skills class from Will Gillette, a I4WDTA certified trainer with Backroad 4WD Training up a trail south of the Skagit River, Washington. I decided to do this rather than going to the Off Roadeo (which would have taken three days and nearly a thousand bucks). And I wanted to get the training before going into the hills for a ham radio event.

BOTTOM LINE
The instructor was impressed with the Bronco Sport Badlands' capabilities. He had already read and watched reviews, but seeing it in person and what it could do let him see what a surprisingly capable rig it is.

This Bronco Sport Badlands is a joy to drive. It isn't its big brother but it has nothing to be ashamed of. I feel confident with it. I think this was a wise investment over the Roadeo.

And now, I need to get time in seat.

NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS
Here are some points from the day I had with him. In no particular order.
  • Looking at the rig. We started with a nose-to-tail walk through, noting things to be careful of. Getting a look from a well-informed and vehicle agnostic person seems good.
    • The pluses and minuses of independent suspension vs. solid axle, how the vehicle will compress and step over rocks.
    • The clearances we have and the relative merits of doing a lift.
    • The good approach and departure angles but being careful about the breakover angle.
    • The skid plates are adequate. I got a few scratches and bumps and they came through fine. Wished there was something better up front.
    • Good advice: Understand what kind of vehicle you have (and what you don't have) and drive to its capabilities.
    • The extraction points (hooks) up front are good and adequate to the GVWR). There are no points at the back (the tow point would ...maybe... be ok in a pinch but you would want a lot of safety zone).
  • Tires
    • Falken Wildpeaks OEMs did fine especially for passenger/standard load tires. They aren't E-rated, heavy duty but they did really well in loose rock and gravel. Looking forward to what they do in snow.
    • Deflation to 24 pounds. He was cautious about going lower than that without knowing about the geometry of the rims and if they could hold a bead.
  • Goat Modes and lack of 4WD Low.
    • One point of concern for him was the BS/BL lack of 4WD Low.
    • It was clear that in Normal Mode, the BS/BL was way to punchy for any sort of loose rock or slippery surfaces. Even a light touch on the throttle produced such a quick response it guarantees you will slip.
    • Enter Rock/Crawl mode. This difference this mode made was a revelation. Suddenly, the BS/BL settled down to a capable crawler. It blew us away.
  • Driving skills
    • Approaching water bars and obstacles at an angle rather than straight on. This turned out to be really important due to the clearance of the BL and independent suspension. It gives the chance for the BS to step over the obstacle one at a time rather than bashing the bottom.
    • Rear tire scoot exercise. A good exercise was to try to turn the car so that both the front tire and the rear tire stepped over a rock. It was really hard because the rear tire does not follow the front... you have to turn late and wide. This exercise is how you avoid bashing the bottom with an obstacle that you cannot avoid.
    • Failed Hill Climb maneuver. Something he practices every year: What happens when you get up a hill and get stuck or start slipping. STOP-Get your bearings-Get into reverse and descend under power... it is even more important if you are slipping.
    • Left foot braking. Possibly the Trail Control mode does the same thing but it is good to know who to do this on your own.
  • Recommended gear. Here are a couple of things he recommended along the way.
    • Scan Gauge (or something similar) especially for monitoring the temperature of the differentials which is important in many contexts
    • ARB Deflator (this was so much faster than my Joe's racing tire gauge and deflator; although going just to 24 pounds would have been fine with it).
    • Radios: Amateur if you have them or FRS/GMRS if you don't. It was invaluable to have a scout up ahead warning of obstacles.
    • Superwinch. I asked him about the superwinch, which some folks have mentioned. He did not think it a good option for the BS/BL.
  • Winching and extraction
    • One of the reasons I wanted this sort of training rather than the Off-Roadeo is I also wanted instruction in getting unstuck and emergencies. We spent a third of the day just going over this stuff.
    • The BS/BL can be winched out or traction pulled from the front.
    • You could use it to try to extract something equivalent or smaller (a Subaru) but never want to try to extract something bigger. That is probably obvious but good advice.
    • The High Lift Jack is a great tool for this.
    • We practiced traction and momentum rigging and extraction using my gear from Safe-Xtract / ASR Offroad. I'm really happy we tried this because I thought the front end was going to get pulled off with the traction pull. It all worked just fine at these low speeds and it got me unstuck just fine (whew!)
  • Protection. The undercarriage protection was spotty.
    • The bash plates did what they were supposed to, protecting items when I landed on an obstacle.
    • That fabric liner on the bottom is useless. I caught a rock and it immediately shredded (see the pictures). It looks like I am dragging a branch under there and I have to cut it away.
    • The front bumper is almost useless. It got cut as well. I wish there were some more plating at the front. I hope someone comes up with an aftermarket option.

LEARNING TO THINK
  • A lot of driving takes place in the mind. Being aware. Keeping eyes up. Paying attention to your corners. Paying attention to compression. Getting out to walk a trail before driving it.
  • When we first pulled up to the gravel pit, I could see two obstacles that played with my head.
    • One was a twisty 10 degree sideways slope I had to drive over. That was a clencher and when I started to slip, he had me stop, get my bearings, back up, and start again. (His fellow instructor didn't actually finish that path but the BS/BL did! Whoop!)
    • One was a four-story, 24 degree, loose rock scramble that looked to me like it went up forever. Finally, at the end of the day, it was time to decide: could I push through the mental challenge, know that I could do the failed hill climb, trust the rig and give it a try. WOW! As you can see in the video (which does not do justice to the hill), that little BS/BL conquered the hill like it was a big nothing. No slips, no hesitation.
VIDEOS AND PICTURES
Here are some videos and pictures from my day.

Climbing the hill (you can see getting over the first bump)


















Rigging for momentum extraction

Rigging for momentum extraction.JPG


View above Skagit River

Above Skagit River.JPG


Fabric tear (no harm done but not pretty)
Fabric tear (no harm done).JPG
 

Houseof7th

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Do you have thoughts about learning to off-road with the Sport?

Any news about the Off-Roadeo? I think I recall the BS Badlands qualifies for that school. Maybe the delay in the Bronco is stalling the launch of the schools.
Bronco sport owners can only attend the Texas off roadeo event so not fare! I'm from New York and the New Hampshire location is closest to me do me and they told me I can't attend it because I have a sport. I can only redeem the Texas off roadeo event smh. Ford you can go F yourself!

Screenshot_20210824-012228_Gmail.jpg
 

ChefDank

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Bronco sport owners can only attend the Texas off roadeo event so not fare! I'm from New York and the New Hampshire location is closest to me do me and they told me I can't attend it because I have a sport. I can only redeem the Texas off roadeo event smh. Ford you can go F yourself!

Screenshot_20210824-012228_Gmail.jpg
Makes sense why I couldn't register for NH. Well that makes 2 of us not going to Texas for the Rodeo. I was misled to believe if you purchased a full size bronco or a BS BL or FE you were able to attend all of these events.
No worries I already went to Vermont and Maine for their OHV roads and logging trails.

Next up is.....

https://www.nyoffroaddriving.com/

And

https://www.rc4x4.org/maps

You can either do their training course or if you have 2 vehicles in your party you can venture out. 🤙👍💪
 

Houseof7th

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Makes sense why I couldn't register for NH. Well that makes 2 of us not going to Texas for the Rodeo. I was misled to believe if you purchased a full size bronco or a BS BL or FE you were able to attend all of these events.
No worries I already went to Vermont and Maine for their OHV roads and logging trails.

Next up is.....

https://www.nyoffroaddriving.com/

And

https://www.rc4x4.org/maps

You can either do their training course or if you have 2 vehicles in your party you can venture out. 🤙👍💪
I went to nyoffroaddriving for my first off road adventure. Wonderful place and very informative instructors. That's the next video I'm working on to post stay tube.

Ford knew what they were doing free is not something they wanna handle out. I thought my badlands would get me in no survey. If I would of knew earlier at the beginning when I got my badlands I would of ask for a refund just for the fact that I can't attend the New Hampshire off roadeo maybe they would of helped me get in. Nobody want to lose a sell!
 

christopheru

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My off-roading tips come from decades of mountain biking and gravel road cycling. Those sports require a good solid understanding of the physics of grip and moving over the rough stuff and picking a good line.

- THINK first. Know what the vehicle can do and you can do and plan accordingly.
- You have to drive it out so take the easy line for no damage. Better to say nope than to demo the vehicle.
- Get up on a hoist and learn where the delicates are to aid in vehicle placement. Avoid grounding out rather than relying on skid plates.
- All terrain tyres with reenforced sidewalls at a minimum and lower the tyre pressure for more grip. The tyres are designed for that and can take it. Might be worth investigating if there is sealant that can self repair slight leaks as there is with bicycle tyres. For airing up, I use a Specialized mountain bike high volume low pressure track pump. Takes less time to do that than a low capacity air compressor does and weighs next to nothing.
- Roll over rocks rather than straddle them - this avoids punctures underneath. Straddle ruts if you can to avoid high centring.
- Get out, and walk the line you want to take with your spotter and make a plan.
- THINK!!!
- Get a set of two way radios and use them. Communication is everything.
- Mud is always deeper and softer and deeper than you think. WALK IT FIRST! Same with river crossings. I would even suggest bringing a meter stick so you know how deep it is. These vehicles do not have snorkels and I have no idea how well the electronics work soaked. More than once, I have tripped up a bike on a hidden rock in a river crossing and have sunk hub deep in mud that looked shallow. While hilarious on a bike, this means a winch for a truck.
- Go as slow as you can to avoid damage but maintain momentum. The BS has a water crossing speed limit of something like 10kmph - very low. Big splashes are for the lucky and commercials.
- Recovery gear - seeing as there is no place to mount a damn thing on these things, this is tricky. Rear hitch mount winch/d-ring might work. Up front? Sucks to have plastic and no mounting points. If I was going to get serious with this I would either a) rip the bumper skin off and have something fabricated with brackets going deep inside the unibody for strength with mounting points, proper bumper, skid plates, and a winch, or b) buy a Toyota Tacoma or Ford Ranger and go to town on it. ARB has told me (I asked) that they are not interested in the Bronco Sport at this point. Maxtrax - four of them. Snatch ropes (Kinetic ones). Mike's off-road recovery shows another winch idea for up front. He has a front mount hitch receiver on his truck which he can stick a winch or d-ring into. That might be possible to do without sacrificing the whole front end. This way you could get away with one winch on a receiver. Get a really strong pin...

Other than that, stay within your own and your vehicle limits and don't pretend this vehicle is more than it is.
 

christopheru

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  • Protection. The undercarriage protection was spotty.
    • The bash plates did what they were supposed to, protecting items when I landed on an obstacle.
    • That fabric liner on the bottom is useless. I caught a rock and it immediately shredded (see the pictures). It looks like I am dragging a branch under there and I have to cut it away.
    • The front bumper is almost useless. It got cut as well. I wish there were some more plating at the front. I hope someone comes up with an aftermarket option
This sums up my take on the car perfectly as far as its protection is concerned and is why I won't be doing a thing other than bad roads in mine until I sort ground clearance properly (replace suspension vs lift) and get some proper skid plates. I am in no hurry, and the aftermarket may provide by the time I am ready to do this. If not, there is always the next truck :)

The front bumper is a car bumper with a plastic skin for aerodynamics. I wouldn't mount anything to it as it is 100% not structural. Under it is a steel rebar which goes most of the way across the front and is mounted to the crumple system of the car. It is designed to take one big hit and that 's it. True off road bumpers designed well have massive bracket systems mounted to the car with sheer bolts in them which allow for crumpling in a crash but give massive strength for winches, resting weight on them, and things like that. What is on the Bronco Sport is most definitely not that. It is no better than a Honda Civic.
 
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JamesT

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My off-roading tips come from decades of mountain biking and gravel road cycling. Those sports require a good solid understanding of the physics of grip and moving over the rough stuff and picking a good line.

- THINK first. Know what the vehicle can do and you can do and plan accordingly.
- You have to drive it out so take the easy line for no damage. Better to say nope than to demo the vehicle.
- Get up on a hoist and learn where the delicates are to aid in vehicle placement. Avoid grounding out rather than relying on skid plates.
- All terrain tyres with reenforced sidewalls at a minimum and lower the tyre pressure for more grip. The tyres are designed for that and can take it. Might be worth investigating if there is sealant that can self repair slight leaks as there is with bicycle tyres. For airing up, I use a Specialized mountain bike high volume low pressure track pump. Takes less time to do that than a low capacity air compressor does and weighs next to nothing.
- Roll over rocks rather than straddle them - this avoids punctures underneath. Straddle ruts if you can to avoid high centring.
- Get out, and walk the line you want to take with your spotter and make a plan.
- THINK!!!
- Get a set of two way radios and use them. Communication is everything.
- Mud is always deeper and softer and deeper than you think. WALK IT FIRST! Same with river crossings. I would even suggest bringing a meter stick so you know how deep it is. These vehicles do not have snorkels and I have no idea how well the electronics work soaked. More than once, I have tripped up a bike on a hidden rock in a river crossing and have sunk hub deep in mud that looked shallow. While hilarious on a bike, this means a winch for a truck.
- Go as slow as you can to avoid damage but maintain momentum. The BS has a water crossing speed limit of something like 10kmph - very low. Big splashes are for the lucky and commercials.
- Recovery gear - seeing as there is no place to mount a damn thing on these things, this is tricky. Rear hitch mount winch/d-ring might work. Up front? Sucks to have plastic and no mounting points. If I was going to get serious with this I would either a) rip the bumper skin off and have something fabricated with brackets going deep inside the unibody for strength with mounting points, proper bumper, skid plates, and a winch, or b) buy a Toyota Tacoma or Ford Ranger and go to town on it. ARB has told me (I asked) that they are not interested in the Bronco Sport at this point. Maxtrax - four of them. Snatch ropes (Kinetic ones). Mike's off-road recovery shows another winch idea for up front. He has a front mount hitch receiver on his truck which he can stick a winch or d-ring into. That might be possible to do without sacrificing the whole front end. This way you could get away with one winch on a receiver. Get a really strong pin...

Other than that, stay within your own and your vehicle limits and don't pretend this vehicle is more than it is.
Really good points. Thanks for sharing these.
 

JerryC

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This weekend, I took an offroad driving skills class from Will Gillette, a I4WDTA certified trainer with Backroad 4WD Training up a trail south of the Skagit River, Washington. I decided to do this rather than going to the Off Roadeo (which would have taken three days and nearly a thousand bucks). And I wanted to get the training before going into the hills for a ham radio event.
Thanks for the excellent write up.
 

Cabezone

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I'll add one more off-roading tip. Remember, when you're going down a tough climb you might have to come back up. Coming back up as much harder than the down, especially if it's wet or loose rocks.

I'd especially advise folks to keep an eye on how far the loose rock climbs are. That's where your all-wheel drive is going to have the most trouble.
 
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