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post #1 of 29 Old 04-03-2010, 10:39 PM
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Stupid noob dual-sporting questions

Today I found myself at the top of a very steep (50-75% grade), twisty, rutted dirt one-lane road. It was pavement up over the crest of the hill, and by the time I knew what I was in for, I don't think I could have turned around - or even dismounted - without dumping it.

"Hey, it's an 'adventure' bike, right?"

I descended the hill with both brakes on the whole way, in first gear, and I don't think I broke 5mph even at that. I was hyper-conscious of every little push the front tire got when it hit a big rock or the ruts shoved it to one side or the other, and I felt like I was always only a second away from both brakes locking up and skidding on the loose gravel. Despite high "pucker factor," I made it down uneventfully.

Stupid Q time:
1. Is this normal? I mean, is anyone hammering down a steep rough road like this, or do even the pros sweat this kind of stuff?

2. What is the proper braking technique for poor traction + steep downhill? It felt like ALL the weight was up front, so I was light on the rear brake to avoid locking it - but don't the dirt riders use back brakes almost exclusively?

3. I know what happens when you lock the back end up in gravel (not a good feeling), but what happens when you lock the front?

I like the IDEA of the go-anywhere mc, but man, there are places that scare the bejeebies out of me to go - and they usually involve steep downhills with sharp turns. My one and only dump was on gravel in a similar situation: crested a hill only to find a massively steep drop-off with a 90* bend a short way ahead. Locked the back tire and road it out - I was pointing back up the hill when I finally jumped ship (this was on my KLR, btw). I'd scrubbed all but a few mph by then, and the act of hopping off was aided by a mini-high side. Maybe that experience is coloring my fears now - I don't know.
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post #2 of 29 Old 04-03-2010, 10:53 PM
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1. is dependant on your skill and confidence level, and the bike.

2. i engine brake down, and rear brake only.

3. when you lock the front, you fall over.

edit: and when you lock the back up, unless your going real slow its best to ride it to a stop, still locked up. if you release it at speed you'll high side (if you're sideways at all).

Last edited by chowdown; 04-03-2010 at 10:56 PM.
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post #3 of 29 Old 04-03-2010, 11:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve68steve View Post
Today I found myself at the top of a very steep (50-75% grade), twisty, rutted dirt one-lane road. It was pavement up over the crest of the hill, and by the time I knew what I was in for, I don't think I could have turned around - or even dismounted - without dumping it.
Now you're livin'.

I consider a trip worthwhile if I find myself out of my comfort zone at least once while off pavement.

Last edited by dtalk; 04-04-2010 at 03:00 AM.
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post #4 of 29 Old 04-04-2010, 02:46 AM
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Had a similar experience on my previous BMW 1150gs.

The experts might breeze through calmly but the rest of us mortals end up with a very tight sphincter and hyperventilting before we reach the bottom of the hill.

In my case I ran out of back brake, I managed to get it stopped with front brake only without dropping it.

Luckily I had friends following in a 4WD, it took three of us to get the bike turned around so we could go back up the hill, the road was getting even steeper going down so I chickened out.

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post #5 of 29 Old 04-04-2010, 07:24 AM
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That's about all you can do. Scrub off speed as quickly as possible. Try to completely stop and assess. If necessary get both feet down and walk the bike down using the front brake, only letting the bike roll a few feet at a time.

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post #6 of 29 Old 04-04-2010, 09:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chowdown View Post
1. is dependant on your skill and confidence level, and the bike.

2. i engine brake down, and rear brake only.

3. when you lock the front, you fall over.

edit: and when you lock the back up, unless your going real slow its best to ride it to a stop, still locked up. if you release it at speed you'll high side (if you're sideways at all).
+1 on this. The back brake is your friend.
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post #7 of 29 Old 04-04-2010, 09:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve68steve View Post
Today I found myself at the top of a very steep (50-75% grade), twisty, rutted dirt one-lane road. It was pavement up over the crest of the hill, and by the time I knew what I was in for, I don't think I could have turned around - or even dismounted - without dumping it.

"Hey, it's an 'adventure' bike, right?"

I descended the hill with both brakes on the whole way, in first gear, and I don't think I broke 5mph even at that. I was hyper-conscious of every little push the front tire got when it hit a big rock or the ruts shoved it to one side or the other, and I felt like I was always only a second away from both brakes locking up and skidding on the loose gravel. Despite high "pucker factor," I made it down uneventfully.

Stupid Q time:
1. Is this normal? I mean, is anyone hammering down a steep rough road like this, or do even the pros sweat this kind of stuff?

2. What is the proper braking technique for poor traction + steep downhill? It felt like ALL the weight was up front, so I was light on the rear brake to avoid locking it - but don't the dirt riders use back brakes almost exclusively?

3. I know what happens when you lock the back end up in gravel (not a good feeling), but what happens when you lock the front?

I like the IDEA of the go-anywhere mc, but man, there are places that scare the bejeebies out of me to go - and they usually involve steep downhills with sharp turns. My one and only dump was on gravel in a similar situation: crested a hill only to find a massively steep drop-off with a 90* bend a short way ahead. Locked the back tire and road it out - I was pointing back up the hill when I finally jumped ship (this was on my KLR, btw). I'd scrubbed all but a few mph by then, and the act of hopping off was aided by a mini-high side. Maybe that experience is coloring my fears now - I don't know.
Sounds like you handled it just fine. If you continue to ride such terrain it is possible that your comfort level may go up and you may begin to ride faster....then again maybe not.

Without actually seeing the hill you mentioned it's hard to criticize your actions one way or the other.....I do know this.

I ride much slower over rough terrain on my Strom than I do on my DR650.

..... putting the fun in dysfunctional.....

save $5 on SmugMug https://secure.smugmug.com/signup?Coupon=0E8WP3kJcvvbY

Last edited by knybanjo; 04-04-2010 at 09:57 AM. Reason: typos
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post #8 of 29 Old 04-04-2010, 10:17 AM
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I guess it wasn't obvious: I started out at the top of the hill from a dead stop. I sat there thinking about it for a few minutes and decided the worst that could happen is I drop the bike.

While I felt an adventurous sense of accomplishment, I felt like I was the world's biggest pansy on the way down.

Just wondering if there's some technique I should've been using that I don't know about: FWIW, using the back brake is a little counter-intuitive to me - there's hardly any weight on the back tire at all (altho, I WAS braking the front). Seems like the back would lock up almost instantly.
When I dumped my KLR, I was amazed how easily it locked up and how long it took to slide to a stop from 20mph-ish.

Another time on the KLR, I was on a gravel hill that I could NOT stop on - it was steep enough that gravity + me + the bike = locked up rear tire at full stop. THAT is what I'm trying to avoid.
post #9 of 29 Old 04-04-2010, 10:28 AM
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post #10 of 29 Old 04-04-2010, 10:40 AM
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I don't use my strom off pavement much, the bike has to long of a wheel base to feel secure on dirt at low speed.
With a trail bike KDX or even my KLR I've warped rear brake rotors from descending down steep trails, pretty much a given. I never use the front brakes. I always get my weight back as far as I can on the seat to help the rear wheel dig in to slow the bike down.

I have to think that the stock Bridgestones are horrible on soft dirt or gravel, really need to have a more aggressive tire mounted to get any type of bite to prevent the front wheel from sliding out on a downhill turn.
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