Handling on a gravel road - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 42 Old 07-13-2007, 05:51 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2007
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Handling on a gravel road

I bought a DL1000 K7 a few weeks ago and this week I experienced my first off-road ride.

After 15 years since my last dirt bike (Suzuki DL600) I'm somewhat a bit rusty so I took it cautiously on the gravel road ... not enough apparently.

I was extremely disappointed to realize how much work was required to keep the bike inline when there was more than 1/2 inch of gravel. The bike keeps swaying from left to right.

While riding at about 20mph on a section of the road with about 1 1/2 inch of gravel, the bike front wheel started to escape left and right in an increasing wider arc to the point where I lost control in the curve and ended up in the ditch ... scratched front wheel fender, windshield, thank plastic fender, bend foot break. Luckily, the Givi engine guard took the brunt of the shock and now it need a unbending job.

My buddy with his BMW R1200GS had no problem at all on the gravel.

I would like to know what is your experience with the V-Strom on gravel roads ... any special hints to ride in such roads? better to lighten up the front wheel or apply more weight?

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post #2 of 42 Old 07-13-2007, 06:17 PM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: kansas
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lighten up a little on the front never apply front brake in gravel. The bike will wander a little, sometimes a lot ,just go with it until you get control back. Did I say do not hit front brake in gravel. Let the front roll and do not try to horse it any, if it rolls right ride right some if it rolls left ride left some. No sharp movements in loose gravel. Did I say do not hit front brake in gravel? I live in Kansas and grew up riding on gravel. I still rid in gravel every day so I do have experience. The bike will help you out if you just ride it and dont try to steer it.
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post #3 of 42 Old 07-13-2007, 06:29 PM
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Let the bike wander a bit, you are riding in gravel not on a billiard table the bike, every bike moves around on gravel.
Be careful about the brakes especially the front.
When in doubt use more power. I'm serious more power applied properly will usually straighten the bike up. Most people ride far too slow on gravel and end up bouncing around where if they had ridden a bit faster they would tend to float over the surface much better.
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post #4 of 42 Old 07-13-2007, 08:02 PM
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Agree with most of the above.

You cannot be too timid. You have to steer with the rear wheel sometimes.

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post #5 of 42 Old 07-13-2007, 10:15 PM
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Check pre-load on rear shock and make sure it isn't too stiff. Also, carry a good pump so you can drop the tire pressure down a few PSI while off pavement, and then re-inflate if you have a long ride home. Upgrading the stock front springs is supposed to help also..

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post #6 of 42 Old 07-13-2007, 10:21 PM
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Also knowing that you have a 500 lb. top heavy bike in deep gravel helps. It isn't a dirt bike.
post #7 of 42 Old 07-13-2007, 10:35 PM
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Location: Burnaby BC Canada
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Your experience matches my own... Also. the last two posts echo my learning of late.... Also, stand up on gravel roads.

This is what happens when you don't...

Riding off road is buckets of fun, but this bike is a couple of hundred pounds more than is er... Practical.

The guys on GS's on the ride I was on did pretty well, but most still dropped them. The serious guys also had knobbies rather than Trailwings, which probably also helped.


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post #8 of 42 Old 07-13-2007, 10:38 PM
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I can't believe that directional made it. Bruce that Strom has personality
post #9 of 42 Old 07-13-2007, 10:58 PM
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Location: Farmington, New Hampshire, USA
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practice, lot o practice,

gravel roads are not "off road"

inputs should be smooth

your stopping power is still on the front wheel, just don't be hamfisted about it

the throttle, rolling on, rolling off, is your friend

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post #10 of 42 Old 07-13-2007, 11:42 PM Thread Starter
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BC-Bruce .... I cannot believe it. If your bike were black, I would swear that you took a picture of my DL1000. My bike has the exact same <wounds>.

I'm not a rookie ... just a rusty "once was a not so bad dirt biker" ... years away from motorcycles dulls the reflexes. One thing I learned when I was a much younger rider is; never apply the front brake on a loose gravel road ... specially entering a turn ... that much I remember and still practice.

I guess it will take a leap of faith to apply K1W1 recommendation to increase the speed and "float". I'm still not sure whether the 20mph I was going at when I entered the moderate curve was too fast or too slow. I wish I had a camera to take a picture of the snake trail I left in the gravel.

One more thing I learned from this experience ... 500+ pounds is heavy. Specially when I had to put the bike back on its wheels after it went down sideways in the ditch. I'm still sweating just to think about the weight lifting workout :-)
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