StromTrooper banner

1 - 20 of 26 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I need some pointers/tips on riding gravel roads. After years of riding road bikes I purchased a Vee to make a trek to the great white north. I've been out "practicing" my dirt/gravel riding skills and I'm having a heck of a time. I do all right until I hit a stretch of thick stuff. I average about 45mph and when the front wheel starts sliding I pucker-up. I just mounted up a set of Tourances but I didn’t notice a big difference between them and the TW.

Scared of Gravel
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
421 Posts
When you hit soft stuff, stand up and lean back to lighten the front end at the same time you have better side to side control :rolleyes:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,321 Posts
Might want to carry an on-board air source like the one made by slime($20.00), dropping the air pressure to about 20lbs when on gravel seems to help lots. Make sure to air up before hitting the pavement. I did about 40 miles on gravel this past saturday. Keeping my speed up seemed to stabilize things lots more than my first off road attempts at low speed. Good luck and don't forget the givi crashbars:grin: J.R.
 

·
Hodad
Joined
·
254 Posts
I guess there are a number of different textures of gravel you can encounter. Most gravel roads I have been on have a couple of distinct 'paths' created by the 4-wheel traffic, usually the gravel on those paths is packed, the stones are embedded in the clay and sand, and your front tire should be pretty stable. But if the gravel is loose it can be like riding on ball bearings. Brake only with your rear wheel, and if you can shift your weight to the rear.

If you are planning a trip to Canada, and you are concerned about gravel roads, I assume you are considering a trip to Alaska?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
213 Posts
I ride alot of gravel roads around my area and when riding on deep gravel i always feel most in control when accelerating or decelerating(rear brake only).When forced to stay on the loose stuff for long i just try not to tighten up my grip(hands&knees).Be ready for the sideways pickup coming around the curve(driver getting last drink from his beer can!!).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,515 Posts
At the risk of being accused of heresy, I find the Vee to be really not very good in loose/deep gravel or sand - and my point of comparison is my previous ZRX1100. Maybe the wee is better.

OTOH, several people have made extended trips on gravel roads, like the Alaska Highway or the Trans-Labrador, which certainly include many stretches of loose, deep gravel, on non-knobbie tires and lived to tell the tale.

I think a lot of it is just learning to let the bike move around even if it feels like it's going to wash out from under you.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
944 Posts
Drop the air pressure in your tires when on dirt/gravel for a long distance.

I carry CO2 Cartridges and a dispenser.

The 12g cartridges cost much less than the 16g cartridges and you can buy the cartridges at about any sports store with air rifles. Last time, I bought a bunch the 12g cartridges were $.75.

This website will give you information on them. I'm a mountain biker and carry CO2 cartridges/dispenser on my Mountain bike too.

http://www.performancebike.com/shop/sub_cat.cfm?subcategory_id=4362
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,429 Posts
All of the above is pretty good advice. I would add to that a farkle. If you get yourself a Scotts Stabilizer you will find offroad a lot less intimidating. I love to offroad my strom but it really is not a bike for learning to offroad.

When I was a kid there as two kinds of serious offroad riding we did. It was the balls to the wall two stroke crazy or the exploration on the strong as hell 250 (usually fat cats). Riding the strom offroad is a combo of the two different types. There are times when balls to the wall is awesome, and truthfully you should be able to do that in the loose stuff (sand and pea gravel causes the tank slappers and unsteady feelings a stabilizer will fix which will allow you to speed up comfortably). When you approach the larger obstacles (rocks, ruts, creeks) it is time to use your balance and your torque. Take it slow and use the power of these machines to get through the obstruction. We have plenty of power that you don't need speed when the going gets really tricky.

If you can pick up a CRF or something pure offroad DO IT. Not only will it make you more comfortable on your strom offroad but it is so much FUN! And I have found where you have buddies who do not ride its much easier to get them on a dirt bike first. Call it a gateway dru... err.. bike.

Take it easy out there and have fun. Ride your own ride.
-GW
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,818 Posts
Pressure and tyres.

Conti-Escapes transformed my DL off road. If you can't get them in the US - TKC-80's. The only catch is they wear a lot faster.

Anakee's were also significantly better than the stock Trail-wings off road, but nowhere near as good as Escapes.

Pete
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,436 Posts
I have the same problem in loose gravel/sand. The bike will want to go into tank slappers pretty darn quick.

Tourances helped alot, lowering the pressures as mentioned also helps a ton.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,429 Posts
I have the same problem in loose gravel/sand. The bike will want to go into tank slappers pretty darn quick.

Tourances helped alot, lowering the pressures as mentioned also helps a ton.
I say I say I say again. A stabilizer will stop that completely. It can also save your ass on the road. If you have the money that is a seriously good farkle to have.

I'm torn between one of those and a new camera for my Alaska trip. I know I should buy the stabilizer but GADS I want a good camera.

-GW
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
597 Posts
One of my favorite roads is along the Platte River here in Colorado. It is mostly hard packed sand. Anyway, I dont carry a pump and thus cannot lower and raise my tire pressure (although, I'm sure that helps a lot.)
The thing that helps me, is to steer with the back tire. I intentionaly slide the bike a lot. It keeps the front end from sliding out because it isnt doing the majority of the steering. I also decelerate using the engine to slow the bike down. If I need to slow down I drop a gear or two. It works really well on dirt. I love riding fast on dirt roads (I get massive arm pump on the road I'm refering to :D ). I have been riding dirt bikes for 20 years so riding the strom this way is a lot of fun to me.

+1 on the steering damper. They are great but pricey...

2 things to try though, steer with the back tire and use heavy engine breaking.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,714 Posts
Any

Any bike feels unstable in deep gravel. Obviously, tall heavy bikes like the Vee are somewhat worse. The trick is allowing the bike to move around some, but sort of herding it in the direction you want to go. Experiment with shifting your weight left and right to help steer the bike. Locking up the front tire is a total no-no, so plan on long stopping distances, and starting to brake well before you need to stop or turn, 'cause you're mostly going to be using the back brake. Take it easy on the throttle as well. The brakes and power are great fun on pavement, way too much in the dirt or on gravel. If the bike starts going somewhere you don't want to go, don't panic and tighten up. Gently persuade the bike to return to the correct path. If you can, borrow a real dirt bike and practice. They are lighter and more responsive, so they are easier to learn on. For a (predominantly) street bike, I find the Vee pretty good on gravel and dirt. But any tall heavy bike in a traction-limited situation is going to be a challenge.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
485 Posts
On the money

Might want to carry an on-board air source like the one made by slime($20.00), dropping the air pressure to about 20lbs when on gravel seems to help lots. Make sure to air up before hitting the pavement. I did about 40 miles on gravel this past saturday. Keeping my speed up seemed to stabilize things lots more than my first off road attempts at low speed. Good luck and don't forget the givi crashbars:grin: J.R.
+1. Indeed lower your tire pressure as Jonnyreb has suggested. Its the right thing to do, and you will be more than happy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
I have the same problem. I am a newbie on dirt, and I bought my Wee with idea that I could explore dirt roads and two-tracks. But the two times I have been out exploring, I have run into thick gravel patches in corners and for the life of me I could not turn the bike to follow the road. The slightest counter-steering pressure felt like the front end was going to wash out in the next instant. Very scary, and several times I just had to brake to a stop to keep from 1) losing the front end, or 2) running off the road.

I like the idea of standing up and putting more weight on the rear tire, and I will also try steering more with my knees, but any other advice would be appreciated!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
988 Posts
so. . . how often do folks really wipe out on gravel, then? I've noticed that it seems unstable at first, but after a bit I've learned that despite the wiggle factor it gets me where I'm going.

Maybe we should start a poll:

When I wiped out on gravel I was:
1. Going too fast
2. Going too slow
3. Turning a corner
4. Braking with the front wheel
5. Gripping the bar like it would get away from me
etc, etc.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,424 Posts
And don't fret over the Alaska Hwy. It's mostly good, paved, 80 mph highway. The only unpaved parts are where they are doing road construction, and those patches can be anywhere from a few yards to a few miles. Generally, though, it's a great ride--it's just long. The Strom is a perfect bike for that trip.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,959 Posts
Pavement? What pavement?

If you are planning a trip to Canada, and you are concerned about gravel roads, I assume you are considering a trip to Alaska?
Hey, stop teasing the man. You know perfectly well that we don't have any paved roads here. Heck, Toronto streets are just a mud bog when they thaw out. I always hate that part of crossing the Rainbow Bridge, when the pavement runs out right after customs...

:rolleyes::rolleyes:
 

·
Hodad
Joined
·
254 Posts
Hey, stop teasing the man. You know perfectly well that we don't have any paved roads here. Heck, Toronto streets are just a mud bog when they thaw out. I always hate that part of crossing the Rainbow Bridge, when the pavement runs out right after customs...

:rolleyes::rolleyes:
I'm often puzzled when southerners ask about the road conditions up here, when the real concerns are of course the bears, wolves, amazons and mountain lions. Don't even ask about the badgers. We don't need no steenking badgers.
 
1 - 20 of 26 Posts
Top