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Discussion Starter #1
I bought a DL1000 K7 a few weeks ago and this week I experienced my first off-road ride.

After 15 years since my last dirt bike (Suzuki DL600) I'm somewhat a bit rusty so I took it cautiously on the gravel road ... not enough apparently.

I was extremely disappointed to realize how much work was required to keep the bike inline when there was more than 1/2 inch of gravel. The bike keeps swaying from left to right.

While riding at about 20mph on a section of the road with about 1 1/2 inch of gravel, the bike front wheel started to escape left and right in an increasing wider arc to the point where I lost control in the curve and ended up in the ditch ... scratched front wheel fender, windshield, thank plastic fender, bend foot break. Luckily, the Givi engine guard took the brunt of the shock and now it need a unbending job.

My buddy with his BMW R1200GS had no problem at all on the gravel.

I would like to know what is your experience with the V-Strom on gravel roads ... any special hints to ride in such roads? better to lighten up the front wheel or apply more weight?

Thanks.
 

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lighten up a little on the front never apply front brake in gravel. The bike will wander a little, sometimes a lot ,just go with it until you get control back. Did I say do not hit front brake in gravel. Let the front roll and do not try to horse it any, if it rolls right ride right some if it rolls left ride left some. No sharp movements in loose gravel. Did I say do not hit front brake in gravel? I live in Kansas and grew up riding on gravel. I still rid in gravel every day so I do have experience. The bike will help you out if you just ride it and dont try to steer it.
Mel
 

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DO NOT USE THE DEATH GRIP ON THE HANDLEBARS.
Relax.
Let the bike wander a bit, you are riding in gravel not on a billiard table the bike, every bike moves around on gravel.
Be careful about the brakes especially the front.
When in doubt use more power. I'm serious more power applied properly will usually straighten the bike up. Most people ride far too slow on gravel and end up bouncing around where if they had ridden a bit faster they would tend to float over the surface much better.
 

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Agree with most of the above.

You cannot be too timid. You have to steer with the rear wheel sometimes.
 

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Check pre-load on rear shock and make sure it isn't too stiff. Also, carry a good pump so you can drop the tire pressure down a few PSI while off pavement, and then re-inflate if you have a long ride home. Upgrading the stock front springs is supposed to help also..
 
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Also knowing that you have a 500 lb. top heavy bike in deep gravel helps. It isn't a dirt bike.
 

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Your experience matches my own... Also. the last two posts echo my learning of late.... Also, stand up on gravel roads.

This is what happens when you don't...



Riding off road is buckets of fun, but this bike is a couple of hundred pounds more than is er... Practical.

The guys on GS's on the ride I was on did pretty well, but most still dropped them. The serious guys also had knobbies rather than Trailwings, which probably also helped.

- BCB
 
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I can't believe that directional made it. Bruce that Strom has personality
 

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Discussion Starter #10
BC-Bruce .... I cannot believe it. If your bike were black, I would swear that you took a picture of my DL1000. My bike has the exact same <wounds>.

I'm not a rookie ... just a rusty "once was a not so bad dirt biker" ... years away from motorcycles dulls the reflexes. One thing I learned when I was a much younger rider is; never apply the front brake on a loose gravel road ... specially entering a turn ... that much I remember and still practice.

I guess it will take a leap of faith to apply K1W1 recommendation to increase the speed and "float". I'm still not sure whether the 20mph I was going at when I entered the moderate curve was too fast or too slow. I wish I had a camera to take a picture of the snake trail I left in the gravel.

One more thing I learned from this experience ... 500+ pounds is heavy. Specially when I had to put the bike back on its wheels after it went down sideways in the ditch. I'm still sweating just to think about the weight lifting workout :)
 

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BC-Bruce .... I cannot believe it. If your bike were black, I would swear that you took a picture of my DL1000. My bike has the exact same <wounds>.
Not "wounds", but as MightyShep said, "Personality"!

"I guess it will take a leap of faith to apply K1W1 recommendation to increase the speed and "float". I'm still not sure whether the 20mph I was going at when I entered the moderate curve was too fast or too slow."
I was told, "Throttle is your friend"... Although when I applied the throttle, the side to side handlebar motion got worse... That's when I tried the front brake... With the results you saw here. I still don't know if I had applied more throttle if it was recoverable, but it sure didn't seem to be at that point.


I wish I had a camera to take a picture of the snake trail I left in the gravel.
You mean like this??? :grin:



One more thing I learned from this experience ... 500+ pounds is heavy. Specially when I had to put the bike back on its wheels after it went down sideways in the ditch. I'm still sweating just to think about the weight lifting workout :)
No kidding... I'm lucky I had people stop to help - I had tried on my own with limited success. (They had to stop to take a picture first though!)



Still - it's a blast to do. I just need to practice more!

- BCB.
 

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Good advice from all. I'm not really comfortable on gravel either. The book Proficient Motorcycling suggests that more speed is better than creeping along (within reason).

I guess the question that hasn't been answered is this: Is the DL1000 (or for that matter, the Wee) worse than bikes of similar weight and configuration? If so, should Suzuki even be selling it as a dual sport?
 

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I guess the question that hasn't been answered is this: Is the DL1000 (or for that matter, the Wee) worse than bikes of similar weight and configuration? If so, should Suzuki even be selling it as a dual sport?
My humble opinion is that the V-strom is a light duty off road vehicle. I have heard of those who use there's on single track, but I have a KLR for that.:p
I have sized up the KLR against the DL1000 on a old RR bed near home. I can scream down the bed at 70 mph on the KLR but was unable to best 35 on the V-strom. That being said I took a recent trip with some GS1200's to Southern Ohio. Not only was I out cornering the GS1200's (with very experienced riders I might add) but when we hit a gravel road by mistake I was easily leaving the pack. Oddly we all had trail wings for tires, so in that respect we were evenly matched. So, yes. The V-stroms are dual sport bikes. But like with any dual sport, just because the bike can do it doesn't mean the rider can too. LOL
 

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...When in doubt use more power. I'm serious more power applied properly will usually straighten the bike up....
Yep. And if more power isn't the right thing, well, at least it'll end the suspense. :mrgreen:
 

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Possibly someone will chime in about, weighting the inside and outside pegs, accelerating through the turns, and when to stand up. I had someone show me, and combined they made a huge difference. I did the same thing going around a sharp right downhill turn. Ever since gravel has made me nervous, and slowly I'm getting back on.

Cleaned up
 

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I hesitate to get involved with this thread. I don't want to jinx myself. But I have to ride 1.5 miles on the absolute worst excuse for a gravel road anyone will ever see before I reach something that slightly resembles hard surface. Compared to my Concours, my big Strom IS a dirt bike. I think it handles my road pretty darn good.

About a year ago I left my place in the dark headed for school. It had rained a day or two earlier but the dust had returned (meaning the road had dried out). Just as I was cresting a hill riding in a "tire groove", a muddy spot grabbed the Connie's front wheel, sucked it down into the groove, and tossed me down on my left side.

Funniest site I ever saw was a new rider on a new Sportster trying to negotiate that road in the early morning hours. Poor guy was scared to death. He had a death grip on the bars and was trying to slowly tiptoe through the stuff.

My theory is to relax your grip on the bars - don't fight it, never do ANYTHING sudden with brakes or throttle, do NOT use the front brake, keep it in the lower part of the engine's power band, but be prepared to apply steady acceleration if the gravel suddenly gets deep.

Good Luck!
 

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I don't believe tires were mentioned, but my front Trailwing will wash out with no warning on any type of dirt or gravel - not an off-road tire.
 

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Gravel

I ride on gravel a lot with the wee, it is a top heavy bike but I find it handles nicely. One of the keys that I have learned is you have to judge the roads you are riding on and adjust your speed accordingly prior to entering any corners. I ride on trail wings and the front tire does seem to want to wash out if you push it to hard into a corner. Stand up and weight the pegs flow with the bike and if it starts oscolating give it some gas, that was one of the hardest things to learn. Everyone who rides street bikes is always taught to slow down if the bike feels like it is getting out of control. On Dirt and gravel when the bike seems to start to get out of control slight acceleration goes a long way to bring the frontend back inline. If you are want to help the bike handle better on gravel try some TKC's the added knobbie will help out, but you loose a little for the pavment sections and how long they will wear.
 

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why does everybody advize against using the front brake on gravel

riding on gravel does not change the weight distribution, your primary stopping power is still the front brake. using the front brake still stops you quicker
Lack of technique and understanding of the physics more like.
There is nothing wrong with the front brake on gravel you just need to be careful. If the front wheel is pointed exactly in the direction of travel and the bike is vertical then you can basically apply the brake as hard as you like. The problem occurs when people grab a big handful of brake while the bike is turning on a loose surface and wash the front wheel out.
IMO every bike rider should be forced to ride MX or Enduros or Observed Trials before they are let loose on the road but I figure I'm in the minority on that one.
 
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