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AnotherLee

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AnotherLee

Fellow riders, what's the best strategy for riding on gravel?

I take it really slow (on my RT) and try not to panic. Would appreciate your suggestions.

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Glenn Reed

In addition to those, stay loose on the handlebars. If it starts to move, let it do so, and catch it up easy. If you try to force it, well, that won't go so well. Or so I'm told. I've had my RT off pavement a few times and made it just fine using the combination of these three items.

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Yes, keep loose on the bars and relax, pretty much the way you do when going over one of those metal grated bridges, or a roadway that has been scoured and grooved heavily.

 

IF you hit a patch of deeper rocks, and the back gets too loose, blip the throttle to right the bike and then go back to relaxing. Hitting the gas makes the bike stand up, if you do it right. ;)

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You'll likely have a tendency to look at the road surface very close to the bike. This will cause you to tense up, convinced that every loose pile/rut will cause the front tire to wash out. The reality is that unless there was a a long stretch of loose and deep gravel your tires will just roll over it with only some of the slight bar movements described above. One of the keys it to get your focus away from the surface right in front of the bike and look down the road.

 

You will still want to take quick looks at the surface just to be sure there are no danger areas, but then put your focus further down the road. Think of it in a the same way you handle a tight sweeper on a twisty road. Your focus needs to be far ahead as you look through the turn, but you'll want to take a quick glance at the road surface to be sure there is no sand, leaves, oil, diesel, etc. As soon as you see the road surface is clean your attention returns to the curve and its exit.

 

Each time I go offroad on one of my dual sports after a long layoff I need to focus on where I'm looking. It is a normal survival instinct.

 

Your bike has linked brakes and ABS which are not the best for traveling on gravel, but there is nothing you can do about it. Just be aware that if you brake hard enough on loose gravel to activate the ABS YOU MAY VERY WELL KEEP ROLLING so give yourself more distance between bikes in front of you and start slowing and braking early when coming to an intersection where you need to stop.

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roadscholar

The above suggestions are all good but there are three things that will really help if you want to be proactive about riding on soft, slippery, bumpy, unpredictable surfaces. I call it being on offense vs. being on the defense(ive). Stand on the pegs, stand up on the pegs, and STAND UP on the freaking pegs. :)

 

There are two type of off-road riders that don't stand up when riding on dicey surfaces, bad ones and really good ones (because they don't need to). And those that are just resting because they've been standing up too long : )

 

It doesn't matter what you're riding, when you're up on the pegs you have about 80% more control than if you're sitting. Now the bike can move around underneath without one's fat ass being on it, and it is going to move around so may as well get used to it. You are perched steady above the action controlling it with your appendages. Your arms with small corrective inputs and your legs with larger ones (turning) by pushing down on either peg the direction you want to go. Also, on an RT or GS you've just removed about 25% of the weight of the total package (you and the bike) and in any offroad condition, lighter is better.

 

The reason off-road noobs don't want to stand up (we've all been there) is that they want to be able to get their feet down when there's a problem. The catch-22 is that problems are far more likely if you aren't standing than if you are.

 

Fear of standing (actually a slight crouch) can be overcome with practice, find a parking lot and do some u-turns and figure 8's standing up, then try it on a slightly softer but uniform surface like grass. Learning to ride well off road is no different than on road, it just requires different techniques.

 

You can keep being defensive and let the bike dictate what's happening while you're constantly trying to correct, or take control and make it do what you want, it's your choice.

 

I'm using lawnchairboy as an example, we've ridden many a mile offroad together and don't think he'll mind.

 

not good, he's sitting and the bike is trying to pitch him but he saves it.

 

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better..

 

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good, he has control now.

 

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Success. :thumbsup:

 

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A couple more of proper form..

 

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Glenn Reed

Thanks Bill! Now I'll have to practice this next time I go off pavement with the RT, since I haven't been converted yet! :rofl:

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All good suggestions.

One of the things not completely obvious with standing is that you can shift your weight front to back. You want your weight back on soft gravel. Standing, arms extended and fanny back with a blip on the throttle will minimize the weight on the front wheel. With a heavy bike like an RT, this technique helps. Good luck. And remember an RT's tires aren't made for dirt. Knobby tires help . . .

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Oh, and use your rear brake on down hills when loose gravel. Your front tire will likely skid on loose gravel by applying the hand brake.

 

Keep you speed down, but not too slow. Often you need momentum when things start going bad.

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Often you need momentum when things start going bad.

 

Reminds me of a causeway crossing I was doing several years ago, a very experienced rider seen my nervous demeanor and gave me the advice; on the pegs weight back, if she starts to wobble nail it and you'll be fine.

 

I did and it was ... succinct instruction stay with you :)

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Reminds me of a causeway crossing I was doing several years ago, a very experienced rider seen my nervous demeanor and gave me the advice; on the pegs weight back, if she starts to wobble nail it and you'll be fine.

 

I did and it was ... succinct instruction stay with you :)

 

Takes me back to my track days: If in doubt, give it more gas. It will either fix the problem or end the suspense! :eek::)

 

Best regards!

 

Jim

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Joe Frickin' Friday

Not really about gravel, but...

 

IMG_3204-L.jpg

 

How is this engine not drowning? Is there an aftermarket mod that puts the snorkel inlet up near the top of the fuel tank, instead of down below it?

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roadscholar

It's the stock setup Mitch, fuel tank is under the seat. The air inlet is high on that bike, in this pic it's just below the GS decal. We were surprised how deep it was, especially Mike. Earl and I opted for the bridge : )

 

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Probably good the opening is small too, for when you're doing stupid stuff.

 

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roadscholar
Thanks Bill! Now I'll have to practice this next time I go off pavement with the RT, since I haven't been converted yet! :rofl:

 

:lurk:

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roadscholar

Lemme see if I can find that..yeah here it is.

 

 

Oh, you meant the one going the other way, sorry...well here's the deal with that one, the current was pretty doggone strong that day and I think the sun was in my eyes and sometimes the Husky has a fueling problem just off idle and..yaketty yak :)

 

 

The real issue of course was lack of speed or momentum and trying to finesse it which consequently, almost never works.

 

Just do as I say, not as I do. :grin:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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