Learning on Dirt vs asphalt - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
General V-Strom Discussion Talk about all things V-Strom not limited to just one of the above models

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post #1 of 13 Old 09-30-2009, 07:26 AM Thread Starter
Jeff Kushner's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Just north of Annapolis Maryland
Posts: 1,355
Learning on Dirt vs asphalt

Reading one of the other threads reminded me of something that was an epiphany to me years ago.

I began riding way back in the early '70's. I learned on a dirt road riding my 350 Honda but quickly left the dirt and all my riding was street. Within a couple of years I had met a couple guys and got into road racing 2 strokes. We rode in the open class which was basically, anything over 500cc. I had been competitively racing for almost a complete season when an old high school friend brought his DT250 Yamaha over for me to "fix" for him. I did a bit of porting to it which narrowed the powerband but gave a healthy increase in power if you kept it in it's happy place. I called him when it was done and he told me to keep it for a few weeks and ride the piss out of it as thanks for repairing and juicing his bike.

Now remember that I had never really ridden any dirt since dirt roads don't count. I took that bike back to the local abandoned quarry(seems that every town has one) and rode the crap out of that bike. All the "dirt guys" used to ride there so there was plenty of competition and of course I was a "real" racer so I couldn't let these guys beat me on their RM's and YZ's...so I rode waaaay past my edge in an effort to keep up with and beat these guys that had far better machines. Somehow I made it through that period of about a month without killing myself and I couldn't even begin to count the number of times that I came off of jumps and found myself laying sideways on the seat, hand still twisting the throttle<LOL>. I learned power sliding and steering from the rear and a host of other skills.

When I went back to racing, I found that I was a lot more confidant when power-driving a high speed turn and my lap times noticeably dropped....by as much as almost 4 seconds on one track. That's a huge increase in racing terms.

A lot of "street" guys will proclaim that they are "better" riders then "dirt" guys but I found that learning how to go fast in the dirt was the single best thing that made me a faster road racer.


Present only:
My VStrom 1000 K7
Stock bikes: a
purple '74 RD350 in great shape,
'72 H1,
1975 GT550,
All-original 1975 H2 750 triple (purple of course),
Modified bikes:
1974 H2 750(my go-fast), a scary fast & fully ported street machine!
'82 Yam 650 Turbo- running 18PSI, Be sure to be pointed where you want to go!
'75 GT550 built up & ported,
'75- H1 wrist-rocket- HOLY GOD ALMIGHTY!
'75 S1 Kaw 250 baby triple w/ lifted and ported 350cc cylinders/28mm flatslides
To-Restore list: '72 H1, 1-'75 H1, 1974 GT750
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post #2 of 13 Old 09-30-2009, 08:35 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Cherry Valley, Ca
Posts: 2,496
NOOOOO doubt about it, learning on dirt has gotten me out of countless situations on the street

'05 Silver Wee, Givi crash bars, Scotts dampener, JC top box, Battlewings, Homemade fork brace, GSXR calipers with homemade brackets. TCI Outback luggage System, Mr. Eds Moto custom seat
Life, repression, and the pursuit of tax money
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post #3 of 13 Old 09-30-2009, 09:21 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Ohio
Posts: 544
I would ride my CR250 all day doing power slides, jumps, wheelies etc. Street bikes were boring to me back in those days. I may get me a dirt bike and do it again! I have some older friends who are still doing the dirt bike thing.

2004 Silver V-Strom 1000 & 1994 Yamaha XT600

Farkles? Sargent Seat, Genmar risers, K&N filter, cramp buster, heated grips, PCIII, Givi Engine Guards, Givi Hard Bags 52 liter and two 45 liter, Givi shield with spacers for buffeting.

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post #4 of 13 Old 09-30-2009, 09:26 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Creswell, Oregon
Posts: 116
Just about all the pros ride dirt bikes as well. Most ride trials as well.

Mike M.
Creswell, Oregon

'08 DL 1000
'99 DR 350
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post #5 of 13 Old 09-30-2009, 12:26 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Hot Springs, Arkansas, USA
Posts: 2,114
I never road-raced but I'm sure my dirt riding and racing made me more capable and confident in my handling of motorcycles on hard surfaces. It shows up in the way I use my butt and my shoulders, and I think in the way I concentrate to avoid mistakes. And I'm looking for a trials bike.

'97 Honda Valkyrie

I believe in ... gravity!
"Everyone brings something to the party."
- Snoopy
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post #6 of 13 Old 09-30-2009, 12:40 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Kingston, Ontario
Posts: 1,611
My last bike was Kawi 250 F11 that I used for enduro riding and exploring. I probably fell or dropped it 100 times. I sold it in about 1975 and just two years ago I got back into motorcycling and bought a new 2007 Vee.
Ya, I'm old, but I still remembered some of the skills I learned in dirt and gravel.
I'd suggest to anyone learning to ride that they get a small bike, capable of some off exploring, and learn to ride before they consider purchasing a Vstrom.

Road Toads Charter Member - old guy goes stromabout on a 2007 Vee and finally has touched all of the 48 contiguous United states and the 10 Canadian provinces.
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post #7 of 13 Old 09-30-2009, 01:40 PM
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Location: NEPA
Posts: 1,852
Lets not forget the art of crashing! There are lessons to be learned in the dirt that will help you fare much better should the time come on the pavement, crashing, confidence, countersteering, throttle control, body english, attack position and many more. I learned to ride with my ass off the seat on a CZ 250 redframe at the age of 12 because it had no seat! I still stand often on the strom in technical areas, or fast fire roads.
I always felt you have a better chance of walking away from a dirt bike crash, threrefore you are given more chances to learn these basic rider skills that will become second nature as you grow older.
Injuries from dirt bikes can none the less be painfull, but its how the rider handles these experiences that will make him a better rider. I have had near casterations, concussions, stitches, broken bones (hands and thumb joints) and such. Did I learn anything? Yes, did I get back up and do it again......hell yes. Many times I recall running over to my bike to check damages, only to realize after wards.....man that hurt, then I would cower in pain, or I would go home and ma would say where is all that blood on the floor coming from? Ahhh the memories.
I think most painfull was the avation gas that came out of the breather early in a Hare Scramble race. I took a high speed get off and ended up over the bank stuck in the crotch of this maple tree about 4 feet in the air. Somehow the av gas spilled on my thighs as I was pinned in the carnage. It looked worst than it was and a track official want to red flag the race untill we spoke and he help me out of the tree. I went on to take 3rd place that day, but after 2 hours of Av gas exposure, IT had burned my thighs making them very, very, red. As soon as it was done, I just recall stripping off those race pants in the pits ASAP!

"Pain is weakness leaving the body"
"Nothings possible until its done!"
"If ya can't afford the fine, take the lead!"

Last edited by Tollster; 09-30-2009 at 01:52 PM.
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post #8 of 13 Old 09-30-2009, 02:02 PM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Pacific Northwet
Posts: 651
Learned in the dirt, no option for a 5 1/2 year old. Did some racing, TT's, motocross, and my favorite flat track. Turned 16 and moved to the street and ended up road racing for a while. Left the dirt behind until I was nearing 40 and for some reason picked up a dirt bike and now I do both road and trails. Now for a racing fix I'm back in the dirt only.

Learning in the dirt is a better, more forgiving way to learn to ride and let's not forget that young children pick up on things faster than adults. The body awareness and balance that I developed on dirt bikes has served me well through out my life.


So what is it, am I a smart*** or a dumb***? Maybe I'm just an ***hole.
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post #9 of 13 Old 10-01-2009, 09:51 AM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Columbia SC, right in the center of the state.
Posts: 146
Amen to all of the above. You can learn things riding on dirt at 20 MPH that you have do 60 on the street to learn. Also crashing on the dirt is much more forgiving. As we used to say, "You can get hurt in the dirt but you will get killed on the street!" And we did get hurt but lived to tell about it. Every rider should start out on a dirt bike.
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post #10 of 13 Old 10-01-2009, 11:33 PM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 639
just be a little careful

there are some things that should Not be brought to the street, hotshoeing a turn on the street is a good way to get hurt. but learning on dirt is really really good useful practice.

If you really want a great thing to learn a lot from go here:

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