What is your gravel riding technique? - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
Riding Proficiency Tips and suggestions for improving the rider's safety skills and riding techniques

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post #1 of 27 Old 05-19-2015, 10:44 AM Thread Starter
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What is your gravel riding technique?

I'm curious how you ride gravel.

I have ridden on fire roads and gravel roads all my life but would never claim to be a "dirt" rider. Really I'm a street rider that isn't afraid of gravel and have never learned any real offroad technique.

I ride with 90/10 tires. (Tourance standard are my preferred but Tourance Next on the front.) I just kind of open the throttle and go moderately fast and hang on for dear life. I don't slide around corners so I slow down a lot for them. I will sometimes stand if things get hairy but they usualy don't so I usually don't.

How do you ride on gravel or dirt? Do you guys that do a lot of gravel (especially those that put knobbies on your bike) drift/slide around corners?

What tips might you have so that we can really conquer gravel and dirt (and perhaps feel as if we are as good a rider as someone riding Paris-Dakar or Baja.)

..Tom

2006 DL650: 202,000 km 125,500 miles, Sold
2012 DL650 139,500+ km, 86,700+ miles. Sold
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post #2 of 27 Old 05-19-2015, 11:04 AM
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I am interested as well. I took an old Xl250 to a flat track a hand full of times in my yourth and had great fun hanging the tail out around the corners. But then I high sided! Not bad when you are young and riding an XL250, but wouldn't dare on my Dl650!
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post #3 of 27 Old 05-19-2015, 12:06 PM
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as a teenager growing up in south St. Louis in the 70s, we used to ride down the railroad tracks to get to our favorite dirt trails. The railroad tracks had heavy gravel between the two seperate tracks and rode in the middle, between the two train tracks. It was flatter there. Every now and then we would meet a train coming in the other direction but had plenty of room to move over. However, one time there was a parked train on the right track we were riding past it, but another train soon was coming directly at us on the left track leaving us in the middle!
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post #4 of 27 Old 05-19-2015, 12:10 PM
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There was probably 8-10 feet between the two trains but as time has gone on and I recount the story, my memory has reduced that to only a 3 or 4 feet! Sounds more daring and dangerous that way! Let me tell you about riding in gravel under those circumstances, you do not slow down. The faster you go the more stable you are. If you slow down you started to wander a little bit. It was quite an experience and I still remember it to this day.
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post #5 of 27 Old 05-19-2015, 02:14 PM
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Introduced to the dirt late in life after a time could ride with the 'B' group in a local dirt motorcycle club. At my best I was able to follow and keep the dust cloud of the 'A' group in sight though I was way behind. I was on a 350 dual sport and some of the best were riding 650 Honda XR's I believe.
True what they say about 'when in doubt...mo throttle'. Took me awhile to put that in practice. For example if you start fish tailing more throttle will straighten you right out. On the wrong surface it can also spit you on your butt when you try and impress your buddies with a 90 or 180. On a light weight machine one can almost abandon caution but on a 500 lb machine I would exercise it mostly, things like keeping a sharp eye for deep gravel and sand. Easy to stall the DL too when going too slow with low revs and then when you put your foot down...surprise....over you go 'cause you stepped in a low spot. Should be no problem though on hard surfaces. Nice to have someone along to help you up your bike because sometimes it can end up in an awkward place say on a bit of a slope. Exercise caution and watch out for deep stuff and it will be fun.
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Last edited by chicago; 05-19-2015 at 02:55 PM.
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post #6 of 27 Old 05-19-2015, 02:25 PM
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Great Topic

Great Topic - I need to do better in gravel

Current Bike: 2007 ABS Wee, rebuilt forks with Cogent DDC, Elka rear shock, tapered roller steering stem bearings, fork brace, Admore top box lights, LED side-only turn indicator lights, Powerlet outlet, frame sliders, Givi windscreen, Givi top box.

Prior Bikes: 2003 EX250, 2007 DL650 (non-ABS)
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post #7 of 27 Old 05-19-2015, 03:09 PM
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Gravel

My wife and I ride two up in the gravel every chance we get, maybe 5-6 days a month if the weather and/or work allows. The fork brace, improved springs/oil, rear shock, k60 rear and TKC80 front all work together to help the bike remain stable.

That being said, speed is your friend, within reason. Really, it's one of those things you have to get use to. For me, the only way I get better on a 500lb scrambler is to spend every chance I get riding in those conditions.
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post #8 of 27 Old 05-19-2015, 03:16 PM
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My advice number one is get fit.


The fitter you are the easier dirt becomes and the more you will enjoy it.


My advice number two is relax.


If you stiffen up dirt will become hard work and you will never enjoy it.


My advice number three don't be afraid to crash.


If you are too concerned about damage to your bike it is hard to relax and enjoy the dirt.
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post #9 of 27 Old 05-19-2015, 03:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolex View Post
My advice number one is get fit.


The fitter you are the easier dirt becomes and the more you will enjoy it.


My advice number two is relax.


If you stiffen up dirt will become hard work and you will never enjoy it.


My advice number three don't be afraid to crash.


If you are too concerned about damage to your bike it is hard to relax and enjoy the dirt.
This sums it up pretty well. Relax and think ahead. If you are afraid to drop the bike or are not fond of scratches, stay on the pavement. Otherwise your fears will come true! You'll be fixated on the bike, not the road, trail, etc.

The best part of getting off the pavement is escaping.


Last edited by jdad; 05-19-2015 at 03:35 PM.
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post #10 of 27 Old 05-19-2015, 04:40 PM
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Many years ago I rode on California fire roads. I would do things on those roads that I would love to do locally, but all the dirt roads I ride on now are regular roads that have traffic. The traffic is sparse but it is there and there are plenty of driveways to worry about also. On the fire roads most places you could see quite a ways and know if someone is coming along in the other direction. When you knew it was clear you could really hang it out.

I am quite comfortable on the Vee on the dirt roads around here (NH), but I don't push it. I don't try to do any foot down sliding. I don't mind spinning the tire here and there though. I have to temper my speed so that I am certain I don't cross over to the other side of the road at all in a turn.

I am not confident with the Vee's front end on tight downhill gravelly turns, and if they are off camber at all then I really slow it down. I don't feel that I can use the throttle to assist with the turn. I do on exit, but not on entry or apex. I still have the stock tires on it. I like the stock tires enough that I will probably replace mine with the same thing. I think favoring the dirt anymore will detract from the road and vice versa. I've been quite comfortable with these tires in everything that I ride on (and I will stay a million miles away from mud).

I have a KLR 650 which I feel more comfortable on, but it pushes more than the Vee and has less power to help with the turn. The rear brake is far superior in feel on the KLR than the rear brake on the Vee.

I agree with the above advice, given by others, including don't be afraid to crash. I would also say don't be comfortable with crashing. Try to ride within your limits. That means get comfortable first and then gently explore the edge of your limits and not crash through them. You want to stay on the road, not fall over, and definitely not high side.

As I get older my limits are decreasing and I probably should be decreasing them even more.
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Last edited by bruceatk; 05-19-2015 at 04:43 PM.
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