Hard-surfaced pump tracks?

Have you ever built a pumptrack surfaced with concrete? I’ve seen a few videos from Europe showing one or two but nothing I can see in the U.S. I asking since I may be trying to approach our city about installing a pump track in a public park and something that would be lasting and require little to no maintenance would be ideal.

I live in La Crosse, WI and even asphalt doesn’t last more than 4-5 years without upkeep/replacement. By the way I like your design and thank you for your website.

Thank you,

Hi Derek,

This must be what you’re talking about:

Sweet! But expensive. A trailbuilder friend told me this Velosolutions track in Zurich cost seven figures. A similar skate park in the U.S. would cost at least six figures.

Because of small budgets and the practicalities of getting projects done, we have not yet built a concrete track. We wanted to asphalt the Mitch Park Bike Park in Gardnerville, NV, but that would have added $40,000 to the project. No way.

We have used these methods:

SoilTac. This polymer binds dirt particles together to form a sort of pavement. It’s used by many BMX tracks and pump tracks. I used some on my pump track to stabilize loose corners. Warning: SoilTac can create runoff issues, and it can pothole just like asphalt. It was used heavily at Valmont Bike Park, but they’ve gotten away from it in favor of good dirt and proper drainage.

Soil cement. This is a mix of Portland cement and dirt. In our last project, 15 percent cement worked well. It gives a natural looking track that’s rather durable (and inexpensive).

Magnesium chloride. Have you ever been on a dirt road that was hard packed and seemed almost a little moist? They might have mag chlorided it. This chemical attracts water from the air to maintain a harder surface and reduce dust. It’s best used in dry areas.

Good dirt. This is still my favorite because it delivers very high value per dollar. With good material and design, pump tracks don’t need very much maintenance. The tracks we’ve built here in Colorado go full years between work sessions.

Paving stones are another option. We have not used them because of expense.

Some day American pump tracks will get the same budgets that skate parks have, and we’ll be shredding the ‘crete. For now, try a lower-cost option or start pushing for more money. The more money you need, the longer it’ll take to get your project finished.

The best pump track in the world …

… is the one that gets built. We recently finished a low-cost track at Denver Green School in Denver, CO. With good dirt, clean design and smart drainage, this track will last a while.

Measure twice, build once!

Check out LLB Trailbuilding: Design and build services >>>


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7 replies
  1. Chance Glasford says:

    Hey Derek,

    I’m not sure if we have met but I’m friends with Aaron from your area and I’ve talked to him. I would recommend Dust Shield by Soil Loc over soil tac. http://www.soil-loc.com/products/dustshield
    reason being that soil tac, while awesome, requires you to peal it off every spring and dispose of it, at least in the upper midwest, plus it is 2x as expensive! You can call any track and they will attest to this. Dust Shield works a little different, it doesn’t make the surface as water proof as soil tac but it fills the voids and hardens the surface. If you set your track up right with proper drainage, get it as rock free as possible, smooth it pack in and treat it, it will be bomb proof. You can come ride our pump tracks at Cottage Grove. They can be ridden with in 24 hours of rain. We rode in less than 24 hours after a 3 inch rain fall. We treat our pump tracks and 4x track.

  2. Esteban says:

    Hi Lee,

    the Pumptrack in Zurich (where I live :-), and you’re welcome to visit ;-)) cost the tax payer around 2mio USD. I’d bet that most of the costs were not generated by the choice of surface but by all the studies that had to be made to build the park legally and the insfrastructure around it.
    Nevertheless, the chosen surface is more expensive than normal dirt. On the long run it has shown to be more cost effective. In a city like Zurich, where a shaper, would make somewhere around 20-25$/hour, it gets really cheap, really fast if you never have to touch the track again. Besides, with the kind of abuse it gets (100’s of people on any good weather day) and the ability of the track to dry very fast and not getting affected by riding it in the wet, I see it as a good investment.

  3. Jakub says:

    Hi Lee,

    I had an opportunity to try a pumptrack made of asphalt this year. It’s super flowy and super fast, but also very tough on your psyche 😉 The transition from tarmac to dirt (at the edge of the rollers) is pretty sharp and I can’t even imagine what would happen if your front wheel rode outside. Definitely scares the shit out of me at the racing speed!

    But the good thing is that it looks exceptionally well in an urban area, I guess that’s why we had a flood of asphalt pumptracks in Poland this year. Just take a look at the one I’ve been riding at: http://mpbmxracing.s-park.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/10614340_10204331188627263_6310499406919752168_n-672×372.jpg I believe that building one of these isn’t such a high cost, otherwise little towns couldn’t afford them. It may be totally different in the USA though.


  4. Jakub says:

    Damn, I guess it’s because of an “x” sign in the name of an image, your website converts it to a little bit different sign that I get from my keyboard. Maybe this way: http://goo.gl/pDhH9U

    (sorry for making a mess 😉 )


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