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Thread: Tips from the wise? Struggling with gravel...

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    Member shortSteve's Avatar
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    Tips from the wise? Struggling with gravel...

    Hey folks, so not being proper decent at off road stuff, am struggling A LOT with gravel tracks.
    Bit of a back story...haven't ridden in the dirt for 12 years or something, had a yzf400 back then, and only remember having a bad front end lose once, albeit usually avoided gravel tracks in favour of dirt/hard sand type terrain. A couple of years ago had a drz400 with stock tyres (looked aggressive but were really hard, actually great for pavement but apparently not so much for dirt...) and only took it offroad once, on a Snail Trail ride (which was awesome learning too). I found on anything slick and hard packed (clay) or gravelly (all tracks around Mundaring powerlines) the front end would just dance around, offering no lateral stability, but somehow still braking really well...I put it down to both tyres and suspension setup as it had reduced sags and stiffer damping as it was used always as a tard.
    Fast forward to last night, first outing with the new bike, Michelin ac10 (sooo much softer then the std tyres and bigger tread gaps/more knob height) and straight onto the powerlines, once off the initial hard sand type stuff and into the gravel tracks, same light and wandering front end. rear wasn't much better. Now, pressures were a lil high (18psi, Michelin recommend 14 for trail riding, 18 for higher speed) and sags have been set as per recommended (100mm rear, 65 front based on 295/280mm travel iirc). I figured it was too little weight on the front, but changing body poition more over the bars made it worse, and sitting right back on the seat didn't really make much difference either. I found the only way to get ANY stability was to ride in the harder packed wheel tracks, which were slightly lower.
    So, in firm dirt/sand bike was ok, front moved but seemed to "bite" much more into the ground, as did the rear. And later on a normal "swept" gravel road, problem was no where near as bad, and would more be as I would expect the bike to behave on gravel.
    Was it just poor wheel placement? Does everyone have this issue in gravel and just ride around it? I did find "dislocating" myself from the bike helped a lil with overall stability, but lack of any front feel or grip was really offputting?
    Thoughts, advice and help appreciated. And no, I didn't fall off. Completely.

    sS
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    Member Phildo's Avatar
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    Going from spending years on bitumen to riding on gravel is just going to be a prick of a learning curve.

    Sorry - no other way of putting it. Harsh reality. Practice, practice, practice, etc.

    Suspension setup helps, as does tyre pressures.

    Gravel is always going to be a particularly nasty invention, though.
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    Member RA35GT's Avatar
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    Fuck gravel/sand
    Don't live life being scared of death, live in the fear of not truly living. RP 2012

    I'm a BOM rider, that is, I need to check the Bureau of Meteorology before riding!

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    I moved from road to dirt on my DR650 2 years ago and it's a steep learning curve. Only way I feel comfortable on gravel is STANDING UP. Sitting down feels like the front end is constantly going to wash out.

    Stand up, especially when going round corners on gravel. Grip the tank with your legs, keep your grip light and steer by applying weight to the pegs.

    As for lack of grip being off putting, unfortunately there's no way around it.
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    Thanks guys, thought it was me or the bike, but seems its everyones problem? As for gripping the tank with knees, found this made it worse than just standing loose on the pegs and letting the bike "wobble" and swerve beneath me?
    Hoping to head out in the daylight for an afternoon practice early in the new year. Or up to pinjar and spend the time trying different things/setups on the same loop.
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    Member Yakka's Avatar
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    It's all about body position, the tyres you are running are more than fine grip wise. If doing enduro like riding depending on how quick you are you tend to want to lean on a slightly soft set up and I mean slight.
    I found by sitting just forward and keep the power on all the way through they will track fine, don't sit all way forward on the seat as this will put to much weight on the front and you will get that wash out feeling anything from centre back same thing will happen!! And remember load up outside peg.
    Gravel is great fun on the right bike just need to get use of that riding on marbles feeling, my road bike and gravel don't go we'll together!!
    No road to rough no muff to tough.

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    Lol...

    I grew up in Mundaring and learnt riding on that gravel on Yz80/125s...

    I never knew any different, in fact the first time I rode on sand I had issues with it because it was so unfamiliar...

    Get used to it the bike will move around a lot, don't fight it, flow with it...
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    Meh Gravel smavel just ride So now to the important bit. What BIKE did you get ??

    MM
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    Use your back wheel to steer lol.

    Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk

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    Member chew's Avatar
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    First decent ride on the DR650 was out to Cuballing with a heap of others on fire tracks, farm roads and a bit of gazetted gravel road.

    I had a Trailwing on the front, commonly known as a Deathwing, threw that fucker away after that ride and a better tyre later helped a bit......, a bit.

    Just ran with the "Please stay upright" prayer technique of hang on and stay on the track in spite of the marbles on ice feedback from the bike.
    They hung a sign up in our town "If you live it up, you won't live it down"-Tom Waits

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    Stop thinking about it...

    You know when you teach a learner to ride on the road and it takes a while to get them to loosen the death grip so they stop correcting and over correcting and in turn weaving all over the road instead of riding a straight line.

    You're that learner at the moment.
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    I reckon it will feel better when you drop the pressure. I still run my Supermoto and Hypermotard pressures lower than most people, I reckon it's a hang on from the Gidgegannup years.
    -

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich... View Post
    Lol...

    I grew up in Mundaring and learnt riding on that gravel on Yz80/125s...

    I never knew any different, in fact the first time I rode on sand I had issues with it because it was so unfamiliar...

    Get used to it the bike will move around a lot, don't fight it, flow with it...
    WHS
    ride the slide , expect to be in fuill controle about 30 to 40 % of the time , the rest is a lesson in stearing with the back and suspension trust issues.
    Always Always have reserve power in case your going to hit something .
    pick up the front and hit it or kick out the back and turn .
    you still only use the front brake , the back is only for turning.
    Power slides with brake assist are sooo sooo fun
    REPENT MOTHER FUCKER
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    Always try to stay on camber in the corners...

    If you run out of on camber in the corner and get on the off camber start looking at the ditch/edge of the track and see if it's a suitable berm...
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    Member shortSteve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich... View Post
    Always try to stay on camber in the corners...

    If you run out of on camber in the corner and get on the off camber start looking at the ditch/edge of the track and see if it's a suitable berm...
    So just like curbs on the road...


    Stay in the low track. Will give it a crack next time and maybe lower the bike a lil to aid confidence for a while.
    And it's another drz....
    Cheers :-)
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    let me get some new throttle cables for my duke,you use what you got i'll use the duke?

    sif if you cant read the furrows ?

    hope you had a good xmas and i sniff taking the piss

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    Member shortSteve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by potato View Post
    let me get some new throttle cables for my duke,you use what you got i'll use the duke?

    sif if you cant read the furrows ?

    hope you had a good xmas and i sniff taking the piss
    srs, I absolutely suck at this stuff. Hope to head out to Pinjar next Tuesday arvo and spend some time setting the bike up so I can be a little more confident on it.

    sS
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    Member GsxInShed's Avatar
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    My KTM/CR500 mate recommends front 12 psi..( watch out for rocks...bent rims)

    Foot pegs ...all your body weight...

    Try this....get mid seat position with yo butt.... hang your feet off the pegs...soft hands elbows low....for sand and gravel.

    Heaps of throttle in 1-2-3 now back off....trail boots...keep 'em low.....

    can you feel the front now..?

    The road rider in you will make you put your feet back on the pegs...

    Just take in the feedback... is all I'm sayin... get it..?
    " The Souls' of the engineers and builders of motorcycles, dwell within them."
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    At the end of 2014 after an eventful ride from Perth to Phillip Island I gave up my Bandit 1250 for a Suzuki DR650. I would describe myself as an offroad rambler rather than enduro demon.

    I got on the DR650 and tried to ride it like a road bike, leaning into corners, braking with the front and ate shit a few times. Turns out there is hardly any transfer of skills from road to offroad.

    Haven't really ridden any road in a couple years now. Did the Great Ocean Rd a couple weeks back and I was amazed how quickly I'd forgotten how to corner on a road bike. I had to consciously tell myself to lean into corners as my brain is now wired to ride on the dirt.

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    Member agrid's Avatar
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    ^ Works the other way too, I came from dirt bikes and found myself doing 180 at Barbs while looking 10 metres in front in case there was a honky nut on the track.
    -
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