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I have put about 2000 miles on my new to me 09 Wee. One of the reasons I bought it was its ability to get off road ( to some extent). This past weekend I finally got up the nerve to take off on one of Georgia's red clay dirt roads. All was fine until the road became a mixture of 50% clay and 50% gravel. I never got to the point where I felt life I was fully in control even at 25-30 mph. Are there any tips or secrets to riding on gravel - if there are I would rather hear them here than learn them sliding on my face through gravel...
 

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I would rather hear them here than learn them sliding on my face through gravel...
Looks are over rated.

Relax, stand on the pegs and don't look at the gravel.
 

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I'm still learning this myself so I may not be the one to provide the voice of experience in terms of advice. In fact, I have dropped my bike twice, but I'm still practicing. That's what I have to offer because that's what my research has returned: practice. Get out there and ride it: mud, water, gravel, loose stuff, grass. Practice at your own speed and learn how to handle your bike.

I believe that we will see replies here that will include advanced rider course work and other professional training recommendations. I don't have lots-o-cash for that kind of stuff so I just keep riding; slow, careful, and practice. I am blessed with access to about 8 acres of varied terrain/slopes. I don't have any gravel and I went looking for some this last weekend. I didn't find any gravel but I did find some memorable roads. Just practice...
 

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Gravel Riding

1. Stand up

2. stick your rear to the rear

3. slow before the corner

4. re apply the throttle

4a. turn your head and look thru the turn

5. iniatiate a counter steering input

6. lean the opposite way you are turning (weight the out side peg) this centers your weight over the contact patch of the tire instead of leaning and pushing on the tire.:yikes:

7.. If it is really bad gravel ride in the ditch where there is dirt.....ha ha...:beatnik:
 

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I have put about 2000 miles on my new to me 09 Wee. One of the reasons I bought it was its ability to get off road ( to some extent). This past weekend I finally got up the nerve to take off on one of Georgia's red clay dirt roads. All was fine until the road became a mixture of 50% clay and 50% gravel. I never got to the point where I felt life I was fully in control even at 25-30 mph. Are there any tips or secrets to riding on gravel - if there are I would rather hear them here than learn them sliding on my face through gravel...
Lots of difference in gravel. If it is deep or freshly graded, your 25/30 mph on a fat-assed bike is pretty good. If it is fine gravel over sand like a Wisconsin back road, you can do 50+ with no problem. Indiana uses #2-bigger stuff. It rolls around under you and makes the front wag---lots of fun!
 

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More throttle, use a lower gear and keep the power on so the gravel isn't pushing the wheel from side to side. Let the back end move around (you can't stop it anyway, so accept it), weight the outside peg, stand up when you feel a bit more comfortable, stay off the front brake or use it very cautiously, get your chin up and look far down the road and, just like on the pavement, look through the corners.
 

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In addition to the sage advice from others, I'll add that I occasionally find it very helpful to lower my tire pressure, on some types of gravel. Deep and/or fresh gravel is the worst, and it's a great deal more stable at 25psi. I carry a small foot pump to restore pressure when I return to pavement.

I've never felt the need to do this on dirt or packed gravel, but it's good to have the option.
 

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After many years of racing Motocross, I have found that you are never really fully in control. Its almost a borderline deal. You ride the edge of control. Gravel makes it even worse because your always sliding off those pebbles. What fun!! Great advice above
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Appreciation

Thanks for all the helpful comments. There were patches where the gravel had become part of the road, other patches with fresh gravel, still other patches with larger gravel. I'll try standing up next time. Almost out of control may be the best way to describe what I experieced.
 

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+1 to lowering tire pressures by 5 to 10 lbs.

The Strom is definitely not a gravel bike.
I'd comfortably do 100+ km/h on my 76 XL-250 (23" front wheel with knobbies), and an easy 80+ km/h on my 85 gs-1150 (16" front wheel and street rubber).

I've never been comfy on gravel on the strom (regardless of speed); it seems to do more of what it wants and less of what I want.
 

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As strange as this may sound, standing on the pegs lowers the bikes centre of gravity. When sitting on the bike most of your weight is transfered to the bike at seat height, to a lesser extent at the foot peg height and to a minor degree through the handle bars unless accelerating (sports bikes more intentionally, cruisers zero).

By standing up all the seat height weight is transfered down to the foot peg height which is below the bike/rider's combined cg, making the bike feel very stable, which of course it is.

By placing more weight on the outside peg in a turn you are manipulating with the lateral cg subconsciously bringing it more closely in line with the tire contact patch. This allows you to lean the bike which is a requirment of turning this gyroscope (the wheels) stabilized machine, whithout all of the outward centrifugal force associated with the lean angle, which is what causes the bike to lose tractions and slide out.

A good experiment is to take a kids bike and try the turn the tightest cirlcle you can in the driveway using these concepts.

Take all of this with a grain of salt as it has been 37 years since my last physics class.
 

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As strange as this may sound, standing on the pegs lowers the bikes centre of gravity.
uh uh. The bike's center of gravity stays the same--it can't change unless you move weight like luggage. The combined center of gravity of the bike & rider rises when the rider stands. The benefit of standing on the pegs is that it is easier to move the bike around under the rider's stable upper body. Somewhat the same benefit can be gained sitting and keeping the rider's trunk, arms, legs relaxed and allow the bike to move around some under the stable upper body.

The lowest (blue) circle symbol is the bike's CoG, the middle (red) symbol is the combined CoG, and the upper (green) symbol is the rider's CoG.


Motorcycle Safety Site
 

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I just completed the two day BMW adventure bike enduro skills program. It is an introduction to off road riding. The previous advice given here is very good. To ride off road you should be standing up. In gravel, you use you weight on the pegs to keep the bike going in the right direction while keeping the bike balanced beneath you, steering is the secondary means of directional control. As you enter the gravel or sand for that matter, shift your weight back and slowly apply power to maintain speed.

I highly recommend the BMW course and have yet to try out the off road techniques on my Wee yet. I chose to ride the F 800 GS as I thought it sat at about the same height as my Wee. Quite a nice bike.
DC
 

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Don't expect or worry about total contact.

Let the bike move around under you to an extent

She will find her own way if you don't fight it

More rear brake even to the point of brief skid, front brake when your really only going straight applied gently not abruptly
 

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Besides the other good advise offered on this thread - especially, standing on the pegs and airing down the tires. I've used 20psi in front and 25psi in back.

If you've raised the fork tubes in the triple clamps to help the bike turn on pavement, you might want to lower them back down to flush. Also soften up the rear shock preload. Raise and lengthen the front, lower the rear, rakes out the bike and makes it more stable in the loose gravel. I found this out the hard way on the trans labrador highway a couple of years ago. Really struggling in the deep gravel, finally tried the above. Went from struggling at 25mph to stable cruising at 45-50mph. It won't turn quite as good on pavement, but it'll be more stable in the loose stuff
 

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uh uh. The bike's center of gravity stays the same--it can't change unless you move weight like luggage. The combined center of gravity of the bike & rider rises when the rider stands. The benefit of standing on the pegs is that it is easier to move the bike around under the rider's stable upper body. Somewhat the same benefit can be gained sitting and keeping the rider's trunk, arms, legs relaxed and allow the bike to move around some under the stable upper body.

The lowest (blue) circle symbol is the bike's CoG, the middle (red) symbol is the combined CoG, and the upper (green) symbol is the rider's CoG.


Motorcycle Safety Site
+1 PTRider; About the CofG. The concept of standing on the bike is sound, the part about the CofG lowering is false. I also wish people would not say "just get on the gas", and not explain that eventually, if that's all you do, you will be in a world of trouble. I also don't get going fast on gravel back roads at all. (perhaps the Alaskan highway) Where I was today, two separate sets of deer were on the road. One stepped out into my path at the last second, and if I had been doing more than 25KMPH, I would still be there. The other set was on the road as I road through a blind corner at 20KMPH. I road between them before I even new what they were. TOO FAST! In another instance I met a tractor trailer (18 or so wheels) loaded with large stones from a quarry somewhere down this road. He ran me off the road and I came to rest before I could shift down to 1st due to very heavy underbrush. He stopped and apologized for the incident and helped me get back out on the roadway. I apologized to him for driving too fast. He liked the part where I said if I had run him off the road, I probably would not be able to push him out. My point being, practice your slow driving skills on those roads too. For that matter you should be very well versed in slow driving in a parking lot before you even attempt gravel. Rant over. If you have nice straight gravel roads, fill your boots. :green_lol:
 

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50% or more of the roads I ride daily are gravel they vary from loose and freshly graded to hard packed


all the recomendations so far are great if yer competing in the Dakar Rally

stand on pegs, rarely, and when I do stand, is not to weight the pegs, its to use my legs as additional suspension cause I see a huge pothole/bump ahead, most of the time I'm sittin on the seat, or hangin off to keep reduce the lean angle, riding no differently than I would be on pavement,

come to think of it, I ride the same way on snow & ice too

I never could figure the reduced air either, I run 38front and 42 rear regardless of surface, lower pressure only increases the rolling resistance of the tire and makes it more likely to skid in my experience



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I am a past off road racer, but that was long ago. I do however get my Wee on a gravel road here in God's Country...a.k.a. Kentucky (and across the river in Indiana) once in awhile. Now, not even do I ride on gravel, I do it with my lovely wife on the back.

I tell her to just sit tight and expect the bike to move around a bit. Don't get excited about it, its normal! We don't go "off road" on the Wee, but it has seen some miles down gravel farm roads and never had an issue. But she does move around and feel a bit out of control for sure. Oh, kind of like that old gal friend................I didn't say that!

Just hand on, keep her pointed in the direction you want and be stead on the throttle. Small corrections will be needed of course.
 

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there's a guy ( Todd Smith )on ADV who teaches adventure riding (note not dirtbike riding) with a heavy machine - this is how he explained the reason for standing whilst riding over bad surface: I thought it made a lot of sense:

"PENDULUM EFFECT
A Pendulum is a weight fixed at a length from a pivot. Just like in an old
grandfather clock. A piece of string with a nut or washer tied to the end and
being held at the other is a simple pendulum. A pendulum swings from left to
right or back and forth. A well design pendulum will keep swinging for a long
time, days or weeks before it eventually stops. All the while, the distance the
weight moves gradually becomes less and less until it stops. The interesting
thing about a pendulum is it does not matter what weight is at the end of the
string, for the same length of string, the time it takes for the weight to swing
away and back to any point (Its Period), is always the same. The thing that
effects the period of the pendulum is the length of the string. The shorter the
string, the shorter the period. Conversely the longer the string, the longer the
period. In other words, it does not matter if the weight on the end of 1 meter
of string is 1Kg or 10Kg, the period is the same.
When you ride your bike through a series of turns, leaning left then right, the
Riding Unit is subject to this pendulum effect. Where your body is on the bike
effects the length of the 'string', that is why racers who need to change
direction quickly keep low on the bike and lay off the seat. They shorten the
'string' and hence reduce the period of their pendulum (the Riding Unit) and
thus can change the angle of their lean more quickly. Conversely Enduro
rider will stand on the pegs when traversing slippery or unstable terrain.
Lengthening the string and slowing the Riding Units ability to rotate. ......"

his website: http://www.adventurerider.com.au/
 
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