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Discussion Starter #1
A buddy of mine has been trying to talk me into doing this ride ever since I got my V-Strom. Although I got this bike to do some off-road excursions and really like the idea, the truth is I have very limited gravel/fire road experience and I’m worried that it might be too much for my skill level. Has anyone done this ride on a V-Strom? Is this something that an off-road rookie can do? Also, what equipment/cloths would I need?

Thanks to everyone in advance,
Wingman
 

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I do lots of dual sport rides on my XR. And to tell you the truth I would not try most of them on the V. I have seen guys try to muscle GS out there and 90% of the time they come out with damage. Its just not worth it.
I will take the V anywhere I can get my Dodge 4x4. But the XR goes places where an adventure bike just does not belong. At least not in my hands, I am sure that some of the guys that do the Dakar have the skill and muscle to get a big machine like the V anywhere with the right tires.
 

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I'd heed Cheef's advice on this one.

I wasn't Mtn Biking in the GW Forest last weekend - no way I'd take my Strom in there. There was no doubt in my mind that it would sustain damage.

Better left to the small light weight bikes.
 

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allonsye said:
I'd heed Cheef's advice on this one.

I was Mtn Biking in the GW Forest last weekend - no way I'd take my Strom in there. There was no doubt in my mind that it would sustain damage.

Better left to the small light weight bikes.
I was on the N. end of Peter's Mill Trail on the Mtn. Bike - pretty narly. Loose sandy soil filled with basketball sized rocks on grade. I observed some guys go through with dirt bikes with a little difficulty. You'd better be damn good or have avacado sized do-dads or both. Again, expect to ding up your Strom [or Subaru for that matter] up on this section.
 

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Go for it if it gets too rough turn around no big deal, if you have crash bars and skid plate you won't do too much damage. I've dropped my 1000 a lot of times and no damage. If you don't try you will never know.I followed a big KTM and 1150 gsa for 2 days in baja, it was tiring but fun, the guy on the KTM (a lot better rider than me) said I couldn't believe it everytime I looked in my mirror you were right there.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
allonsye said:
Loose sandy soil filled with basketball sized rocks on grade.
Well, from what I've heard and saw photos of this ride its not that bad at all just loose gravel roads not much more. Still, I've never ridden dirt bikes.

Wingman
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Redbeard thanks for the link! I think I'll give it a try. Now, the more important question! What gear/accessories do I need? I already have Dan Vesel's skid plate. What else? Crash bars? Fender extender? Should I get body armor?

Oh, one more question for you dirt junkies, what pressure do I use in my tires?

Thanks again everyone,
Wingman
 

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wingman said:
allonsye said:
Loose sandy soil filled with basketball sized rocks on grade.
Well, from what I've heard and saw photos of this ride its not that bad at all just loose gravel roads not much more. Still, I've never ridden dirt bikes.

Wingman
Looking forward to a ride report from you on this one - hopefully w/lots of pics.
 

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wingman said:
allonsye said:
Loose sandy soil filled with basketball sized rocks on grade.
Well, from what I've heard and saw photos of this ride its not that bad at all just loose gravel roads not much more. Still, I've never ridden dirt bikes.

Wingman
I was referring to the north end which I've mtn biked on - it's very narly indeed and as "I" observed would be too narly for the Strom especially with the OEM Trailwings.
 

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wingman said:
Redbeard thanks for the link! I think I'll give it a try. Now, the more important question! What gear/accessories do I need? I already have Dan Vesel's skid plate. What else? Crash bars? Fender extender? Should I get body armor?

Oh, one more question for you dirt junkies, what pressure do I use in my tires?

Thanks again everyone,
Wingman
Hey Wingman,

Crash guards would be a good idea - as would clothing with the proper armor. Good boots are a must in my mind. I'm not saying you have to look like a moto-x racer, just have clothing with shoulder, elbow, knee, hip, back padding.

Not sure about tire pressure - don't drop it too much, or the rim is in danger on a hard hit. I'd guess about mid 20's

Practice riding on some dirt roads standing up - you will be doing a lot of standing on the pegs unless it's real flat.

I'm not sure about my schedule yet - I might make it for one of the days, and I'll be on a DL1000 (no hero sections for me either :wink: )

Take care,
Bob S.
 

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I just got "Proficient Motorcycling" from my local library and finished reading it last night. There are some great sections in there on riding street/adventure bikes in dirt/mud/sand/gravel etc.

Worth a read and a little practice before you go.

Have fun.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Ok, a friend suggested a Fastway peg. Would anyone recommend them?

Wingman
 

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I looked at them up at the Beemer rally last month - nice, but not cheap. I don't find the stock pegs uncomfortable, and I worry that the all metal Fastway pegs would pass more vibration to my feet.

Why did you buddy recommend them? What problem does it fix?

Take care,
Bob S.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Redbeard said:
Why did you buddy recommend them? What problem does it fix?
Not really a fix. It does help keeping your feet planted on the pegs in the ruff stuff when you are staning up.

Wingman
 

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I've done it twice...

On a KLR650 and rode the "hero" section (A section) both times. Last year it had been very dry so the roads were pretty torn up with lots of soft-ball and larger sized rocks. I got in over my head. It's a great ride, but you will bang up your bike!

Make sure you have a skid plate and heavy-duty crash bars. I'd also recommend knobby tires or certainly tires that are mostly dirt oriented.

There are sections where it's just fire trails and gravel roads, but there are also some steep uphill and downhill portions and quite a few creek crossings, some with steep banks.

I've ridden quite a few of those roads on the KLR and with a friend on an F650 GSD and there were plenty of times when we were wishing for some lighter bikes. Now, having said all that, I haven't done much dirt riding for 20 years or so (back in high school) and I'm sure an experienced off-road rider could do it well. Last piece of advice -- lower that tire pressure to 18-20 psi! It makes a huge difference on the rocky trails.

One last thought -- on a bigger bike you will be getting passed A LOT by guys on lightweight dirt bikes, and they will come flying by at speed. It's a good idea to keep an eye on your six, and maintain and steady, constant line when they're going by.

Here's my write-up from last year: http://www.tomshobbies.net/index.php/2005/10/23/shenandoah-500-dual-sport-ride/
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Well, I pulled the trigger and registered for this event. Hopefully I'll get in but at the very least I have an excuse and permission from my SO for some farcles! Already got and installed the engine guard and footpegs are on thier way.

Wingman
 

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I've taken my 1000 on some fire trail type roads which were hard packed, relatevily level trails with no ruts or larget rocks which is OK. But then I got adventurous and got onto some more hilly and lose packed dirt and it felt dangerous to me. And I have dirt riding experience.

If you have knobby (or semi-knobs) tires on plus on a 650 you would be OK most likely, but I wouldn't take my 1000 there with my current tires. Anyway, since you signed up already, have fun!!! Let us know how it goes.
 
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Wingman,

I have ridden the Shenandoah 500 three times in the last five years, so I feel like I am very familier with it. The entire route can be ridden on a Strom, but I would never want to do it. Every year I laugh and shake my head at the few brave souls taking a BMW GS out on the ride. I'm sure they are having fun at some point in the ride, but I can't help but think they stopped having fun about three hours into it. A few have come out of there with dented tanks. By all means I would suggest knobbies. And yes I normally agree that you should let some air out of the tires before the ride, but this may not be the ride to do it. At the bike inspection before the ride they make you check your air pressure to be sure you have enough in there. They get tired of changing tires trailside for riders and suggest strongly that you run extra pressure. It is pretty much non stop rocks on the entire ride. A lot of sharp rocks that can do a tire in and send you sliding down the trail.

Another post mentioned all the dirt bikes. They will be everywhere. And they will be passing you at speed. Just be aware that they may be coming.

My first time I took my XLR 650L which had a plastic tank and all the other breakables removed. I did the whole course including the hero sections, but in my mind it just wasn't the same as doing it on a real dirt bike. The second year I did it on a KTM 450 and the year after on my YZ 450. The dirt bikes really were the ticket. If you know someone with a dualsport bike, borrow it instead of riding the Strom.

There are a lot of breaks in the trail where you can escape on the road and head back to camp if the going gets rough. Be sure to bring a good map of the area or better yet a GPS. Beware of the trails that take you around the mountain, just on the edge. I saw a nasty crashed GS being hoisted back up to the trail because the guy missed the turn. Once again street tires just aren't safe on this ride.

Saturday's ride is pretty tough even on a light weight dirt bike. You get back to camp around 4 or 5pm. Sunday is just a shorter version of Saturday, finishing up around 3pm.

The campground is great, but be sure to pack warmly because it has always been relatively cold at night. The GPS coordinates for the campground are: WGS84 N38 21.125 W79 05.271 You can head back into Bridgewater for dinner if you don't feel like camp food. There are a few dives that you can eat at on Rt. 42 once you get back to town and a few fast food places. There really isn't anything in Mt. Salon, food wise. In the morning a local fire house around the corner from the campground serves a great breakfast at a reasonable price. Lunch is normally served in a local elementary school and is included with your entry fee. They give you plenty to eat. There are rider's meetings in the morning, be sure to attend. They give away a lot of nice stuff that is donated by vendors. The last time I rode it they gave me tie downs instead of the givaway t-shirt, what a deal!

I'm sure you are aware of this, but don't go near the hero sections on a Strom. I would offer my dirt bike to you since we live in the same town, but I'm going to Western Maryland that weekend and will be using it.

When you get there and check in with the club, be sure to say hi to Cathy Campbell. Better yet, bring her a 12 pack of Keystone Light beer. She will probably be the one helping you later on the trail and a bribe is always good to do when you may need help later. She is the fastest female offroad rider I have ever seen and she will probably be running sweep. Oh and be sure to leave the camp site early. You will need all the time you can get.

Good luck!

Don
Clarksville, MD
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thats for a great feedback Don. At this point I'm kind of commited and plan on going. Hopefully I'll get lucky and live!!!!

Where in CLarksville are you? Its nice to know there is another fellow Strommer just around the corner.

Wingman
 
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