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I am the newly proud owner of a 2009 wee and just got it out into the dirt for the first time. It's been 17 years since the last time I've hit the dirt and that was on 2-strokes. At the time I was a fairly decent rider, but had little training and I've long since forgot what I did know.

Needless to say it was a different experience now. I've thought about how I did and where I had trouble and wanted to solicit advice/tips.

I went to an off-highway vehicle location called Rowher Flats north of Los Angeles. I followed a friend in a pickup truck as he led the way. It started out as a 1/4 mile dirt road with lots of gravel and some rocks. The road went up over some hills and back down. I was in a state of near-panic so I don't really remember anything about my technique except that I got to the staging area without stalling, falling, or looking too stupid (I think). I did remember to stand up on the pegs after a few minutes. After that short ride I was exhausted to the point that my legs were shaking, but in good spirits.

After that I took another short trip along a road in slightly worse condition, but mostly flat with short ups and downs. It started to get fun at about that time.

Another short road in much the same condition and I was starting to feel comfortable, but the physical effort was really catching up with me. My arms were tired, but my legs were on fire.

Finally I got to the location we were going to ride around in. It was a mostly flat area with a bunch of very short and easily avoidable technical sections. A pretty good place to practice. By that time I was confident while steering at speed, but still couldn't turn well while going slow.

I did some up-hills and down-hills, some rocky stuff, and even caught a little air off a jump. Then I dumped the bike at around 5 MPH while trying to u-turn and flipped over the bars. I was fine and the bike was fine, but I am in the market for a new turn signal! I got a bit more cautious after that and we ended the day a while later.

On the way back out to the highway I managed a few more technical errors like downshifting two gears on a downhill and getting the bars to slap the tank a few times before I got it under control. On downhills I thought the front end was really mushy. I stopped to check if I had a flat tire but nothing was wrong.

Things I learned: Stand up. Feet forward until you balance and don't have to use your calf muscles. Hold the tank with your legs. Don't death-grip the handles (still having trouble with this).

Specific questions: At low speeds (first gear and a little in second gear) I was in constant danger of stalling and had a lot of trouble regulating my acceleration. I eventually remembered to "feather" the clutch, but really didn't have a clue if I was doing it right. I mostly just kept the clutch half-in when I was in first and that helped. Also: "Don't look at that rock!"

While turning, I remembered that I shouldn't lean in the same way that one leans on the road. I tried to keep upright and let the bike lean under me but felt extremely unstable while doing so. I always felt like I was about to lose it. Steering while at speed was easier but I didn't really know how I was doing it.

Big question: People ride off road for hours and hours. I couldn't possibly have done that. I needed to rest regularly and I am not a weak person. I know for a fact that much of my exhaustion was the result of poor technique, but don't know what exactly. I felt like I was fighting my own muscles and the bike all the time.

Long story short: I had a great time, but came away with more questions than answers regarding off-road technique. I'd love to hear your input!
 

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Motocross riders are one of the fittest athletes of any sport and now you get a feel for why.

First time my kid did dirt I thought he was in a coma on the way home he was so tired.

Its a mix of relaxing and muscles.... bottom line ....the Wee is really not much for off road ....get a 250 or 400 weighing 150 lb less or more. Different world....much closer to your remembered 2 strokes. Wee is great on dirt and gravel road and light two track with decent tires.....much past that ....nah
 

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"My arms were tired, but my legs were on fire."

Had the same experience with a half day at Raw Hyde. Boy, is we out of shape!?
Tires make a YUGE difference too. The Shinko 705's are OK for some dirt but the 805's would be mo bettah for loose surface or inclines.
 

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How are the ergos of the bike for you especially standing. Did the bars feel like they were in your lap? Pegs tall and forward?

That's the way the OEM setup felt for me. It was the first thing I addressed. I got rid of the OEM bars they had a weird shape. Installed CR Hi-bend and Rox risers to adjust the fit. Richland Ric's peg lowering kit.

Much better sitting and standing position. You have to compromise somewhat between the 2 if you really want more off-road comfort. The bars will be a bit high and forward sitting but a bit low for standing.

As far as being comfortable standing off-road for longer periods you need to find a neutral balance point. Legs mostly straight leaning forward usually. Like this: (not me BTW)



You adjust that position as needed of course but you stay balanced so that the bike is not jerking you around.

One more thing hold the bike with your lower legs and ankles. Don't squeeze the tank with your knees. You want the bike to be fairly loose under you. No need to have a death grip on the bars either.
 

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The guys at Raw Hyde wanted up to try putting both legs on one side of the bike or the other while standing. Supposed to help crossing those off camber trails. I guess to put yourself on the high side so you don't go down with the bike when it hurtles itself off the mountain side. Gack!
 

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The Wee is not an off road bike.
I am coming from a WR250r which could go anywhere. The Wee is too heavy and no ground clearance.
I hope you have a skid plate, crash bars and 50/50 tires on your bike.
The death wings have no grip in loose gravel at low speeds.

I went with the Heidnau K60s and now wished I would have went with a knobby tire for the FSR riding I do.

As already stated you need to be able to stand comfortably, so bar risers are needed.

If you are slipping the clutch, the bike is either geared too high or you are in some rough shit.
 

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I took my XT of pavement for the first time yesterday. 20 miles worth of dirt road through some great little canyons that lead to a small Indian reservation near my home in North San Diego County. The roads were graded pretty well with occasional patches of erosion channels. Only a couple of times did the bike feel like it was doing or sliding under me.

Like mentioned above, my death grip on the bars for the first couple of miles quickly made my hands numb. I got more comfortable with the slow speed turns, but tried really hard to avoid turning in loose gravel or sand.

I thought the would be a good chance that I'd dump it in a slow turn, but it never happened.

I think dirt roads are probably as rough as I'll ride on until I replace the stock tires and get a skid plate, but luckily, there are hundreds of miles of really great dirt roads nearby.

Sent from my Nexus 6 using Tapatalk
 

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Yes it is. I think rider skill and determination makes the difference...then add protection skid plate, bars, mitas e-07, raising link or custom shocks, ...I bet you can go 85% of where a klr can go too.

Making the Suzuki V-Strom 650 Off-Road Ready? - ADV Pulse

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_QQEeW2gO4
No, it's not an off road bike. Sure, with appropriate tyres and skill you can take it to extreme places but it is a road bike with longer travel suspension, conservative steering geometry, and an upright sitting position intended for all roads touring.

Got a big truck at home? They are great when you have stuff to move, but a pain in the butt to park at the supermarket. The V-Strom will never be as capable as a dirt bike off road but who wants to ride a dirt bike interstate?
 

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Yup....off pavement fine ....even the KLR is marginal off road....not enough clearance and too heavy....at least it has a 21" front wheel.
Fine for forest roads and you can tour with the Wee or the KLR....singe track ...nah.

This is off road ..



not Wee turf.....or KLR
 

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Yes a wee is a street bike but with a few safety mods certainly is capable offroad...maybe not streams like that or rough single track...of course they are not as good as a pure dirt bike..I didn't say that. I gave you 2 links and if you viewed them you might agree that Wees CAN and WILL CONTINUE to go many places off road...even moderate single track. Sand, deep mud, deep water, jagged rocks, and gravity challenged trails maybe not...but at slower speeds being more careful they work pretty good and there sure seem to be many reviews from people that agree. Don't take my word for it...I don't own one yet but google is your friend.

ps...a klr can be dragged across a stream just as well as those dirt bikes ;)
 

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After riding sports bikes and dirt bikes for 30 years I decided to branch out into adventure touring. My first "adventure" bike was a Yamaha XTZ750 and what a rude awakening that was. I quickly traded it on on a Honda Dominator.

Over the years I have reappraised the hype generated by those who wish to classify adventure bikes as some sort of race bike for REAL men. As true dirt bikes they are overweight pigs. You cannot deny Newtons laws of physics and motion.

Sure a good rider can take a well prepared bike to places that will amaze others, BUT, the hype promoted by bike manufacturers and media is surely unrealistic - just the same as buying a Harley does not turn you into the toughest dude in your neighbourhood.
 

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Right tool for the job ..... etc.

There's a guy on here with a 5 month old Wee with bent forks from playing off pavement ...wrong bike....gets expensive.
That you CAN do something doesn't mean it's a very good idea....KLR has a shot at rough stuff but still doesn't cut it.

We've lifted the KLR over a rock bit that buddies XL650 drove through with easy clearance. Fortunately a 6' section. The rest was mostly easy forest track. I must admit with 606s the KLR surprised me....bike was better than I am these days.

But I'm still looking for a light 250 with clearance.
 

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I agree that the handicap is pure and simple - excessive weight. It's an unresolvable conundrum as adventure bikes need to be capable of taking some stress while loaded up with 100 lbs of gear, and maybe a passenger as well. To do that they have to be strong - and therefore heavy.

Simply making a less powerful adventure bike cannot divest huge weight as the traveller and his equipment are often equal to the weight of the whole bike. The manufacturers to a great job. Just imagine a manufacturer who kept on making recalls to replace the rear subframe, or worse still the main motorcycle frame.

If the Strom was 100 lbs lighter I could agree with the hype but the reality is that weight penalty is necessary for the demands that many riders put on their machines.
 

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Marketing tends to make people have unrealistic expectations.
It's a great all roads bike, but in the way of all compromises it's not going to be good at everything.
But you can travel a 1000k's with a load and deal with that last 25k's that gets down to poorly maintained firetrail with a reasonable amount of confidence and a healthy dose of appropriate speed and caution.
Any bike is only as capable as the rider, and sometimes the rider can make the bike do things that really aren't good for the bike.
Many years ago had a friend who was a quite accomplished MX rider, he could make his CB1100 do things that were adventurous long before any marketeer had coined such a sales term.
Like Chris Macneil, he does things with that bike that are beyond the pale, but would you really want to be the owner of the bike after he'd put .....say a 1000k's on it ?

BMW Stunt Rider Chris ?Teach? McNeil On the S1000XR
 

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I'm sure all of you know the KLR outsells and runs more miles worldwide than all these bikes by a large margin...there is a reason for that. The Wee3 (based on reviews only) is a far better road bike than the klr and with some farkles it can apparently be 85% of what a klr is then that is exactly what I'm looking for. I was not drawn to the wee from any manufacturer hype just actual user reviews. See the link I provided they ran that Wee on tough single track.

Years ago I beat a bmw m3 through moderate cross bronx traffic for about 5 minutes driving a dodge 3500 crewcab dually...certainly not the best tool for the job but the tool I had and I made it work...believe me that guy will never forget that.

...so one can adapt to the tool. Get on out there and don't be bashful...ride em offroad!!!
 

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We hash this subject and re-hash it, but things still get learned. For all of us on "Adventure" bikes, there should be distinct line between off road and single track. Those two require two different types of bikes if one is to have fun and be comfortable. On the 'stroms, some of us are more capable in more technical off road, while others are not....this is a choice, neither one is wrong.

As already stated, with the proper set up(includes a 14 tooth front sprocket for me), tires and suspension, the strom can be a blast on some pretty rough terrain. But just like anything else the rider has to learn how to ride the bike in that manner, so just jumping off the street can be quite intimidating. There are many off road schools available to those that wish to learn these skills & just like street training I highly recommend them.

Here is what I wanted....a comfortable bike to ride too and from my off pavement desires & one that can reasonably handle off road trails. To me, this is what an Adventure bike really is designed to do. I think the vstrom fits very well in this category. I took my '15 DL650XT on the 100 mile White Rim Trail in Canyonland Natl Park which has a little bit of everything technical...sand, steep, rocks, etc. I was extremely impressed with the bike on that trip which also included over 4000 miles of pavement.

In my opinion a KLR or DRZ are not single track bikes and are closer to the vstrom in weight & handling characteristics(I have owned both), but not near as comfortable on the pavement. Personal preference, but I'll take my DL650 over either one of those for my type of off road riding. I find I ride a bit slower on the DL in the dirt than I did on the KLR/DRZ because of it's weight, but in the long run that's a good thing health-wise and I still enjoy the ride.
A true off road capable bike is just miserable to ride on the street for any length of time which is why they go on a trailer. I don't like to trailer, I like to ride, so those bikes don't work for me.
 

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.... After that short ride I was exhausted to the point that my legs were shaking, ....
.... Another short road in much the same condition and I was starting to feel comfortable, but the physical effort was really catching up with me. My arms were tired, but my legs were on fire. ....
.... but still couldn't turn well while going slow.
.... Then I dumped the bike at around 5 MPH while trying to u-turn and flipped over the bars.
....On the way back out to the highway I managed a few more technical errors like downshifting two gears on a downhill and getting the bars to slap the tank a few times before I got it under control. On downhills I thought the front end was really mushy. I stopped to check if I had a flat tire but nothing was wrong.
.... While turning, I remembered that I shouldn't lean in the same way that one leans on the road. I tried to keep upright and let the bike lean under me but felt extremely unstable while doing so. I always felt like I was about to lose it.
Big question: People ride off road for hours and hours. I couldn't possibly have done that. I needed to rest regularly and I am not a weak person. I know for a fact that much of my exhaustion was the result of poor technique, but don't know what exactly. I felt like I was fighting my own muscles and the bike all the time.
.... I'd love to hear your input!
Rohare, Great summary of your observations and issues.
You've gotten some sound advice above. And yes the bike is what it is. I'll offer two suggestions: Not being weak helps but even if you rated yourself as strong the muscle sets in play on a dirt bike are unique. My suggestion is to push your bike up and down your street. Yup. Walk it from both sides, left and right, until you can walk it to the corner store and back. It will get easier pretty quickly because as you'll get better at it. This can never be described as fun but it does a lot more that just train your muscle memory, it trains your balance as it pertains to the position of the front wheel and all the other subconscious adjustments a dirt rider does multiple times a minute.

Next: Dedicate a lot of your early days of dirt riding to being in 1st and 2nd gear. Practice rear wheel skids (like you did on your first bicycle). Then practice dirt burn outs. Add in burn outs turning left and right. Dragging and spinning the rear wheel is a major tool in quick and comfortable dirt biking. Doing these exercises at low risk speeds is the foundation to build your house of skills on.
 

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I agree that the handicap is pure and simple - excessive weight. It's an unresolvable conundrum as adventure bikes need to be capable of taking some stress while loaded up with 100 lbs of gear, and maybe a passenger as well. To do that they have to be strong - and therefore heavy...
+1

A friend at work bought a KTM 1190 Adventure. He's a long time off-road racer so he thought that the KTM should be great off-road.

Rude awakening for him, it's a 500 lb bike. He says it's just too heavy for any kind of "real" off-road. Sure there's people that flog them off-road but that's a case of "it's not the arrow, it's the Indian" kind of a thing.

It always cracks me up to see some BMW GS type bike pilled up off-road with the owner proudly posing next to it. My first thought... more money than sense!
 
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