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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I want to open a discussion about types of riding. I have dreams of riding off road and have been trying to find places to ride. The problem I have encountered is a disparity between what I think of as Dual Sport riding and Adventure riding and Dirt riding. I think the issue is my problem and a lack of understanding, but the problem I am trying to correct is to improve my understanding.

I know what is more likely to happen here, because we are talking about the definition of these riding styles, will be a extended dialogue about what the definition is to each one of us. I hope not, but then, that is very likely. The real core of the issue is that when I have been trying to find a riding event, being advertised by a group, that I have discovered an event that has been tagged as Adventure riding.

My opinion, worth absolutely nothing more than a starting point, is that Adventure Riding is the least strenuous and most geographically diverse riding style that incorporates roads, gravel and dirt as well as paved roads. Dual Sport is much more off road oriented and will include double track, single track, or no track but these bikes are plated and can arrive at their tracks via paved road or trailered. Dirt riding is, by my definition, motocross/trail full on dirt, always off road and un-plated and must be trailered to the riding destination.

The disparity of these definitions is causing problems for me in finding a group with which to ride because I cannot tell which group is going to riding what style on what kind of terrain.

I don't know if this issue will ever be resolved. I don't know if it can be solved. The heart of this issue, I believe, is that event hosts want to gather as many riders as possible, so they will market the event to the broadest audience, with the goal of attracting the most number of participants. Therefore, the handbills advertising an event may employ what ever title of riding style that will gather the most number of riders.

So, what do you think? What do these riding style titles mean to you? :beatnik:
 

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Adventure touring and dirt riding are very clear in most riders minds. Differences in opinion are usually with dual sport. Dual sport events will usually include everything from single track challenging enduro trails to multi lane slabs. Dual sport motorcycles will include everything from plated pure dirt bikes to 500 pound tourers with or without knobby tires. Stressing over definitions is futile. You need to determine from either promoters or previous riders what type of riding is involved.
 

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Agree it's kind of nebulous. Seems to vary from person to person and region to region. I tend to break it down by pavement, off-pavement (anything a 4 wheel drive can get through), and offroad/ single-track. Just my $.02. :beatnik:
 

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It's an impossible discussion, IMHO, just too subjective....both geographically and because of the blurring of the bike types, setups, expecations and experiences on dirt.

I run into this, even when I ride with other people. If I say "Hey, we're gonna ride big bikes and do some light trails". How does the term "light trail" translate to someone who's never done dirt? How does it translate to an AA enduro rider?

Same with dual sporting, to some guys it's technical single track on a plated bike, to others it's KLR's down the 2-digit state routes.

It's very hard to reconcile or make all the definitions stick.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well, I thought it would be a tough conversation, and I appreciate the comments so far. It would seem that I understand this as well as I can. I just have to check with each event coordinator to confirm what type of riding can be expected.

My lack of experience is the key to the issue, I think, and you pointed it out very well when you commented that light trails means something different to an experienced trail rider than to a rookie/noobie.

Well, I just had to ask. There seems to be a confusing aspect of this conversation that I hadn't considered before. Specifically, two responders mentioned something about the bike when talking about the type of trail only. While it is clear that a heavier bike can make any trail more difficult just like a light weight dirt bike can be technically easier to ride, I was attempting to restrict the conversation to the type of terrain. The fact that others didn't perceive my point clearly tells me that the complication of the issue is enhanced, not only by the riders experience, but also by the type of bike.

Very good points and I really appreciate y'all's time to respond. Thanx :beatnik:
 

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Here's my simple take on it.

Dirt = ride has no pavement using a pure dirtbike 2 or 4 stroke, with no plate required.

Dual Sport = using a (primarily) dirt bike with a plate, ride includes sections of pavement to hook trails/fire roads together.

Adventure rides typically use larger displacement more comfortable bikes with more street bias. The rides are much longer distance, many are multi-day, state or country, and usually more pavement biased in nature with sections of fire road/two lane dirt, maybe mild single track.

I know many like to blur the lines but this is how it breaks down to me.
 

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I agree that dirt and ADV riding are clear in definition; what is not is dual sport.

My interpretation, which counts for diddley, is that DS will involve some of everything and you need to be able to ride the gnarly stuff, even if it is only a small dose of it on any given ride.
 

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First, sort of an off-topic part…

I know I’m not typical. I have more equipment than most, more time on my hands, and probably a more obsessive personality to do some essentially silly things. Here’s the situation: I have a particular cove-and-point combo on the large local lake (Lake Ouachita) that I like to fish. The cove is 12 miles by water from the nearest launch ramp.

To travel to the cove by water, I can use my 19-foot pontoon barge with a 60-hp outboard (2-3 GPH, 15-18 MPH), my bass boat with a 115-hp outboard (3 GPH, 35-40 MPH), or either of two skiff/johnboat types with 10/15-hp outboards (1-2 GPH, 8-12 MPH). Not counting trailering the boat of choice about 10 miles to the launch ramp, travel-time just to get to the fishing area is going to be considerable and a lot of fuel will be consumed.

A little closer to on-topic…

The other choice to get to my fishing hole involves going by land over a series of roads mostly developed by Weyerhauser Corp. over the years to support their forestry and logging operations. These roads are a real Godsend for outdoors people in these old mountains. I have only one overland route to my spot – one that I’ve used probably hundreds of times over the years. It’s 11 miles of hard-surface asphalt, four more miles of graded rural road, and then 8 more miles of ever-deteriorating double-track , with a final 300 yards of mountain-slope woods trail to reach lakeside. The double-track is most interesting as it parallels the lake shore for most of its miles and crosses all the ridges and gullies that slope down into the lake valley. Erosion slices it crosswise at every low spot and lengthwise on both sides of each ridge. In some places there’s clay and others have rocky rubble. Each side of every ridge can have 20-30% grade sections.

Anyway, by choosing the right fishing gear and a choice of land vehicle:

• GMC Sierra 1500 pickup all-wheel-drive with a trailer for one or more motorcycles. I won’t use it for the last 6 miles or so of track because it’ll get too scratched up and won’t be pretty enough to go to town. It gets 15 MPG.
• Old 70’s-something Chevy 4-wheel-drive ¾-ton pickup that will haul motorcycles in its bed or on a trailer, but is also usually the most likely choice to make the entire route on its own –especially if two or all four wheels are chained-up. It gets 8 MPG.
• Kawasaki Prairie 360-cc ATV 4WD with dual-range
• Honda XR650L with enduro tires, plated
• Honda CRF250X with dirt tires, plated due to an extra $700+ kit
• Suzuki V-Strom DL-1000 with OEM Trailwings

There are only two of these vehicles that will make the whole route in-and-out every time – the Chevy 4WD with chains as necessary and the Kawasaki ATV. Of those, only the ATV will make it to lakeside. If I had to chain up the ATV, I think it would always make the trip unless water was running too deep to cross.

Finally on topic,

For the two-wheelers, I’ve probably tried 10 times to get there (end of the double-track) on the V-Strom and succeeded only twice -- turned around each time and went all the way back home to make another choice.

I’ve only tried twice on the relatively-new XR650L and made it to the end of the doubletrack both times but then chose to hike the trail down to lakeside. There will be a time in wetter weather when the clay part of the doubletrack will defeat this bike.

The CRF250X has made it all the way to lakeside twice but on one trip I dropped it twice – once in an erosion rut in the doubletrack going downhill and once climbing the trail from lakeside in head-sized boulders and rocky rubble. I’ll probably hurt myself one day doing this.

I keep thinking a $450 horse or mule would be safer and more reliable if a bit slower, and would be cheaper to feed in the long run! :mrgreen:
 

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There does not have to be dirt in adventure riding. An adventure is what you want it to be, for some it could be a 100 mile ride on roads they haven't been on before and for others it could be an unassisted ride to the North Pole. Both would qualify as adventure for the participants and it's what the participants think that is all that matters.
 

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Dual Sport is just a fancy way of saying on or off road, usually applied to a type of motorcycle or event.

Adventure Riding is going someplace--whatever the road surface--on a trip/adventure, such as Southern Mexico, or Alaska.

Dirt riding is prety much just that. Usually close to home or camp, the idea being to sling some mud or whatever.

As with most of the best things in life, it's much better to do it than to try and define it. Take whatever bike you have and Ride.
 

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You should be able to get a good idea of the AMA sanctioned dual sport rides by reading different forums (ADVRider, Thumpertalk, etc) and watching videos on YouTube. All the ones in Ohio are basically like a B-level enduro, although they can quickly change into an A-level enduro if the weather is bad. That's definately not something you want to ride if you are a beginner. An experienced enduro rider will have a good time and get a decent workout, whereas a beginner will probably quit after about 20-30 miles from exhaustion.

There is a DS ride in Kentucky known as the Renfro Valley Ride. It's a lot like Ohio and not beginner friendly. I think there are some bypasses though for the harder stuff. If you want to really challenge yourself in Kentucky, ride the entire Redbird Crest Trail with all the "secret" single track. It's about 100 miles almost entirely offroad and will give even the best riders a challenge :fineprint: If you want some good practice check out the S-tree and Turkey Foot ORV trails in the London Ranger district. Much easier than Redbird.

A big DS ride in PA is the Durty Dabbers ride. It's more tame than the Ohio DS rides in general. However, if you are not very experienced in rocks it will beat you up, especially if you ride all the alternates. On the other hand, I rode with Mike Lafferty who completed all the alternates on a stock 990 Adventure R :mrgreen: I thought it was fun ride on my Husaberg and a modest workout, although personally I would have liked to see some more difficult alternates.

Most of the organized "Adventure Rides" (like on ADVRider) I have been to have been really easy- to the point that I got bored and left early on some of them. Those would be fine for a beginner though. Swingset put on a nice ride yesterday in Ohio that was great for big bikes and for riders with some dirt experience. For those who wanted less of a challenge, he made bypasses (although I don't think anyone took them). I didn't think it was a big challenge but I had fun and didn't get bored, so I was happy :thumbup:

In general, if you are ever in doubt, just ask the event organizer and introduce yourself as a true beginner and I'm sure you will get good advice. Remember, we were all beginners at some point.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
OhioPT: Thanks for the specific advise that you offer regarding some of the events that are available. That kind of information is really good to have and I will use it. I don't consider myself a perfect beginner but I have more and more to learn. Thanks again. :beatnik:
 

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There does not have to be dirt in adventure riding. An adventure is what you want it to be, for some it could be a 100 mile ride on roads they haven't been on before and for others it could be an unassisted ride to the North Pole. Both would qualify as adventure for the participants and it's what the participants think that is all that matters.
I agree with K1W1 on this point. I rode many adventures, all on pavement, before I got my Wee. Now my adventures include non-paved sections.
 

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So, what do you think? What do these riding style titles mean to you? :beatnik:
To me adventure riding means going long distances on either dirt or street, and being prepared for any type of weather conditions you may encounter. To me adventure riding also includes overnighting.

Dual sporting means riding a bike that is street legal, and riding off-road and on road.

Dirt riding is exactly that....specifically off-road, and at least for me; I ride stuff on my dirt bike that an adventure bike could not handle. Like, steep hillclimbs that may or may not be smooth, gnarly single track, or bush crashing down the side of a mountain to get back to a trail or road.

That's how I see it anyway. This is probably not the "official" view. I've never been in any kind of "event." I just ride cause I like to.
 

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Dual sport, I would say is riding minimal paved roads to get to dirt trails. Adventure riding would be a mix of paved roads, dirt roads, and some light off-road riding. I have set up my DRZ 400 for just riding roads to get to my off road playgrounds. It is now not very fun to ride on the road, D.O.T. knobs and a lot lower gearing. That is probably why I only have 90 miles on that bike this year. My VTX 1300 is only paved roads. No fun even on dirt roads. It is possible to ride on them, just not very fun. My V-strom goes everywhere except serious off road trails. It does street great. It does dirt roads great. It will do light off-road, but it is almost too much like work after riding the DRZ. In my own opinion, adventure riding is just getting on your bike and going wherever you feel like heading. Any bike is capable of doing mostly anything depending on the rider and minimal set-up. Would I take my VTX on some of the forest roads in the Allegheny national forest? No, but with a little patience, it could be done. Would it be fun? Not really, but that in my book would be considered an adventure.
 

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Iv'e noticed on most of the ride planning threads that it seems to make things clearer when the organizers mention what sort of bike would be best for the ride, or whether a given bike should even attempt it.

For example, I've seen phrases like:

- "You'll need a KLR650 with knobbies"
- "A V-Strom with any decent dual-sport tire"
- "Attempt only with a dirtbike"
- "Passable on a DL1000, but only with TKC80s and a good rider"
- "If you're bringing a V-Strom, make sure you have crash bars"
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Well, I feel like I have a good understanding of the conditions for each type of riding. I see a dirt bike in my future some day but, for right now, I am satisfied with my Wee and I will be looking for more Adventure trips, near and far, that will include gravel and stuff like that.

This is the best place to learn some stuff. You guys are great! :beatnik:
 

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Would I take my VTX on some of the forest roads in the Allegheny national forest? No, but with a little patience, it could be done. Would it be fun? Not really, but that in my book would be considered an adventure.

Funny you mention that, because my V-Strom has a date with the ANF trails this summer :mrgreen:
 

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Well, I feel like I have a good understanding of the conditions for each type of riding. I see a dirt bike in my future some day but, for right now, I am satisfied with my Wee and I will be looking for more Adventure trips, near and far, that will include gravel and stuff like that.

This is the best place to learn some stuff. You guys are great! :beatnik:
Get yourself a cheap ($2-3k) enduro/dual sport bike. You will have a blast. People don't learn to ride offroad well on big bikes; they learn much better on the smaller bikes. Much safer and easier to learn proper techniques.

I have a friend you used to race Mtn bikes. He picked up a 990 Adventure and tried to use it as a dirt bike. When he bought a 250 KTM he was okay for a beginner, but he had a lot to learn. I honestly thought he would instantly be bada$$ on the 250 because of the stuff he rode on the 990 Adventure, but that wasn't the case. The same thing can be observed with transitioning to/from offroad bikes to trials riding. The carryover from trials to offroad is much better than the carryover from offroad to trials. Taddy Blazusiak is a prime example. He went from never racing offroad (just trials riding) to becoming the world extreme enduro champ overnight.
 

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I have had them all, 18 differnt bikes since 1974 and will always love off road dirt riding, the problem is more and more riding areas are becoming private, combine this with quad trails in tight woods and it can can make for a long day, quads create ruts and increase errosion, typically 2, so if you ride bikes, many times you tend to favor the ruts, this can be very challenging in tight woods as your handle bars end up hitting a lot of trees and brush, also anyone who has spent 8 hours in the saddle on an enduro bike will sleep best.
Adventure riding will get you futher our of the neighbor hood and open more horizons, if you camp or fish, its just a short breeze on the scooter. You can also increase your riding ability on more challengeing trails and pretty much push the limits as far as you care to do. All this can be done without the hassle of angry landowners.

You limit yourself to pretty much staying fairly local with a dirtbike, limited cargo options, limited weather protection, and a shorter riding season, although it tends to be cheaper.
DOn;t sweat finding anyone to ride with, some of the best trips can be done alone or with your better half.
 
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