On good dirt roads I find it ok. But if there is any loose stuff, sandy covering or stones it seems very, very skaty and it always feels like the front is going to go out from under me.
Last week in the mountains west of Canberra, the dirt/rock road felt like riding on marbles. And eventually I had a very big stack - despite going slow and careful.
So my question is this - is the V Strom not really good off road at the best of times, is it the tyres, or am I just a crap rider (if you think I am, you can tell me, I've got the stones).
I have been having such a blast on gravel/dirt roads I just have to contribute to this thread
I have been doing a lot of gravel roads recently – and while not 'ball-bearing' stuff, it does include some loose blue stone surface stuff that used to get me to tippy-toe though.
I used to ride lightweight trail bikes in sand (West Aust) in my youth – so steering with the rear wheel was the go.
Many years later and on a 2012 DL 650 that all changed. What a different situation with the heavier bike.
I was more than a little wary of gravel roads when I started on this L2 650 V-Strom, then I came across this article written by a bike products store owner -- and it turned all that around. (details below)
The article I read said
"To turn right, press your left knee into the tank and at the same time press down on the right footpeg with your right toes. Push the handlebars bars to the right, in a lateral movement."
That way of riding (including the standing on the pegs part he has in the article) has been so great -- it has freed me from any feeling of terror when a chosen road turns to gravel.
When I came to road works and a gravel stretch -- I used to get quite worried -- and now I have the experience from practicing the ideas this guy wrote about to not be concerned.
To backtrack a little – I had read his 'How to Handle a bike off-road' article, and wasn't seeing it as important as it was -- when I came across an article in a local bike mag (Aust Road Rider) about what accessories and pieces they'd changed on this 'project bike' they had at the mag -- a KTM 990. They mentioned that they'd put larger footpegs on the bike -- and likened that to adding 'power steering'.
I immediately picked-up on that -- and saw how this pegs pressure thing is widely known about.
And incorporating the lateral movement of the handlebars the Peterson article speaks of -- it makes a complete turning technique.
So -- I've been playing with when to add that bit of footpeg pressure in road riding situations now.
Here's the gist of the turning aspects of the Peterson article – with reference to his pdf download
Pavement techniques call for “counter-steering”. Push the bars forward on the right to turn right, push the bars forward on the left to turn left. It works great, but keep that technique where it belongs - on the pavement.
Off-Road techniques are somewhat different because of the traction issues involved in the dirt. If you use a road riding technique that relies on counter-steering, you may experience some interesting events, none of which are pleasant.
Off-Road riding relies on different handlebar techniques, knee movements, weight transfer, and other “body English” techniques to control the direction of the motorcycle.
When you’re standing on the pegs you’ll use your knees, your toes, the handlebars, and basically your entire body to control the direction of the motorcycle.
1. To turn right, press your left knee into the tank and at the same time press down on the right footpeg with your right toes. Push the handlebars bars to the right, in a lateral movement.
2. To turn left, press your right knee into the tank and at the same press down on the left footpeg with your left toes. Push the handlebars bars to the left, in a lateral movement.
3. I don’t intentionally TURN the handlebars right or left, instead I take the entire handlebar assembly and move it sideways in the direction of the turn, slightly pressing DOWN on the side of the bars closest to the inside of the turn.
4. The more you accentuate the above movements, the sharper the turn will be.
5. These techniques can be used at any speed when you’re riding Off-Road.
6. When practicing this technique in a slow figure-8 course, the rider will be making dramatic shifts of his body, from left to right and vice versa. The rider always stays “on top of the bike”, keeping the bike between them and the ground.
7. Positioning your body “on top of the bike” keeps your center of balance over the contact patches of the wheels, which improves your traction.
8. Unlike a street rider who aggressively hangs off his bike on the INSIDE of the turn, the Off-Road rider pushes the bike laterally toward the inside of the turn, as they positions their body ON TOP of the bike.
9. The key point to remember is that you want to be “pushing” the bike downward toward the axis of the turn, and as you move your body further away from the axis of the turn (or away from the pivot point), and toward the outside of the bike
above (with changes) from pages 33 + 34 of 76 Version 03/29/2012 10:09 2012 David Petersen
The full 76 page pdf can be found at
BestRest Products, LLC
You'll see the 'Download a FREE How-To-Ride Off Road Article' link a
a short way down that homepage
I also have a fork brace, and run about 25 psi front and rear on long streteches of gravel (have an electric pump) -- but still on the Trailwings