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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Some have express an unfamiliarity with being off the pavement.

If dry the clay type dirt roads give good traction where the tires have scrubbed them smooth. The cars stay 1/2 on their side , the result is usually that the roads have 3 tracks in them. There is usually soft and rocky marbles on both sides and between them. Obviously most of the time you want to be on the smooth compacted tracks.

When you are on the tracks everything is fairly normal except you can't grab the front brake hard as it WILL break traction, skid and down you go. I would say balanced use of both brakes is the best and maybe even more rear than front. If the rear skids a little mostly nothing happens if your off of it quickly.
Gentler inputs and reduced speed and there will be no problem.

The little rock marbles ( marbles because they can roll out of your way). The point here is if the bike merely rolls over this loose surface and there is no other inputs then there will not be a problem. Gently move to one of the smooth surfaces and then do your braking or accelerations.

Always be conscious of target fixing on what you want to do and go. There is likely to be more stuff rocks, bushes, horse poop, etc. on a dirt road and its your job to focus on the way passed.

Dirt road surfaces are NOT all the same. The most common WTF are wash boards on uphills. The cars have wheel hop as they apply power and the road is scooped up into a series of waves ... wash boards ( ancient device for tub washing clothes manually). Your VStrom is in its element and it can negotiate this easily. I usually ride this sort of thing standing on the pegs. By uncoupling you fat as* from the bike she can dance around under you and have better traction. You will have a better ride over the bumps if your off the seat.

Another problem is when they have graded the road. They use a combination of bull dozer and grass hopper that scrapes the road level and smooth. The tracks, marbles, wash boards etc are all erased. What is left is a uniform SOFT surface. This is fine but requires an even gentler application of brakes etc.

DUST !!! Dirt roads are made of well dust. Every vehicle will turn up a plume of dust. Cars coming at you will have a 1/4 mile long cloud behind them. I recommend visor down squinting to the point that you are looking through your eyelashes that will act as natural filters. Other bikes are also kicking up a plume. If your riding with 1 ONE other person then you can be in close staggered formation and the wheel dust from the front rider will not have risen high enough to be in the 2nd riders face. More than 2 riders and some one is eating it and or back a 1/3 of a mile.

Lastly your visor, glasses etc will become coated with abrasive dust. Make sure you carry a method of flushing and softly wiping them

See all the fun

Please add or ridicule at your discretion
 

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Looking for a sarcastic comment, but the tips really are good.

additional: on the 3 track gravel, watch for hills. We have countless small rises that are big enough to hide car coming the other way. They usually drive in the middle of he road. I always pull way to the right as I make the crest.

+1 on the loose gravel. I was zipping along a highway on a little 2 stroke, years ago, when I found an unmarked construction area. The roadway had been cut and filled with gravel. I just sat there and let the bike drive. It wobbled and danced like crazy but it stayed up.

I usually remember to close my visor after I taste the dust. I hate the taste of dust! Closing visor before eating it is a good idea.

Most people I talk to have the same fear. They want the bike to ride like it's on pavement. Just let it wiggle and all's well.
 

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Ruts! If you're in one, anything more than an inch deep is a challenge. On anything as big, and (top) heavy as a Strom, my approach is to chicken out -- hard stop and creep out. Then stay out! Erosion gullys on hillsides are a different beast that will eat you if you falter. It's easier to climb up them as though they were a widowmaker, and then go home a different route.
 

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Out here we call them gravel roads, and we have lots of them. 50mph is no problem on most and I'll hold 70mph if things seem OK. Not fun to hit a sand boil at that speed however. I like riding gravel because it puts one in the moment. Its a good way to clear the mind.
 

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I like riding gravel because it puts one in the moment. Its a good way to clear the mind.
Too true! I never thought of it like that. Must be because I'm in the moment.
 

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Out here we call them gravel roads

when they are gravel, we call em gravel , but many are just plain dirt

at least with gravel its a realtivly uniform surface once graded and compacted

I got a lot of practice on freshlty graded gravel this spring, our town has a new road agent that's doing things differently than previous road agents. the town road crews have added processed gravel and regraded about once a week for a couple months, then about 3 weeks ago, they applied calcium cloride and ran a vibratory roller over the surface, now the roads are like concrete and with the exception of a few marbles on the surface are as hard and good traction as pavement

when I find dirt is most unpredictable is when it gets wet, if the dirt has a high clay content, the surface turns to grease

actually I am happy to see "3 track" gravel roads, that means that drivers at least dry to stay to one side

most of the local gravel roads are 1½ lane, and everybody drives in the center unless there is something oncoming. then of course if yer on a bike oncoming the cage sometimes doesn't budge giving the biker about ¼lane to travel in. more often though, I find myself trying to overtake cars that like to stay in the middle of the road, they don't know your behind them trying to overtake cause all they see is dust in their rearview

in winter, dirt/gravel roads are never bare & free of packed snow/ice, studded tires are a must

first video is a local road in the winter, my camera battery went dead halfway thru the run, second video is the same road in the summer

YouTube - ‪winter riverroad.avi‬‏

YouTube - ‪RiverRoad‬‏



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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yes in Northeast dirt is dirt with little or no augmentation

Additionally there is also natural berms formed which can help on turns but sometimes the crown of the road is such that you will naturally drift.

Sometimes it results in wrong banking which lessens your traction in a turn an amazing degree.

If you can stay in the more level surfaces or even sneak across so that the crown helps the turn banking... Not on blind turns
 

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Newly bladed gravel is always more challenging because the loose rock has been spread over the whole road. I prefer it when the tracks have been re-established.

I would think there has to be some rock in those dirt roads. Otherwise they would be impassable in the spring. Any dirt roads we have around here, such as field roads, are pretty smooth when dry.
 

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Rich,

Thanks for the info. I guess now the only thing left is to practice :)
 

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All spring the gravel roads here were 3 track and no problem. Now the road maintenance has spread a lot of fresh gravel, there are no tracks and the surface is pretty well all loose. On this surface the front end (Tourances front and back) feels like I have no directional control and that it will slid out and fall down. On lighter bikes, I can let it move around and continue forward, but the weight of the V and its momentum is most unnerving. Standing up seems to help a bit, but it I can't do that for miles. Any suggestions?
 

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I think its a feelings vs. fact issue. As long as you are moving forward the bike will stay upright; it just won't "feel" like it sometimes. The front tire becomes the concern, since it won't track. I stay off the front brake and use the motor/transmission to brake and the throttle to steer. Always run one gear lower with higher rpm's to get some engine braking.

I also hate it when they grade and spread the gravel like that.
 

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Any suggestions?
just something you have to get used to, practice

also get used to using the front as well as rear brake, regardless the surface, stopping power is the front, if you need to stop in a hurry, you need to have both front and rear braking skills

you might want to consider a TKC or Karoo for the front

and, if ya really want to be daring, going darkside in the back. naysayers can say what they want

good suspension helps a lot as well



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