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Old 09-07-2014, 09:50 AM   #1
KenCM OP
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Location: Near Dade City, FL
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Less Painful Way to Learn?

A few months ago I broke my ankle riding my dual sport (CRF250L) on a sand forest road (I live in Florida).

Finally fully recovered, yesterday I proceeded to (apparently) break my shoulder - again riding my dual sport on a sand forest road.

On both occasions, the bike and I were pitched over when the front tire dug into the sand. In the first instance, going around a corner at about 20 MPH and in the second, while riding in a tire rut at about 40 MPH.

This CRF250L is my first off-road bike of any sort and I got it about 4 months ago. My total experience riding off-road is about 30% of the 3,500 miles I've put on it.

I learned at least one lesson from the first crash and now wear a compression suit, proper boots, etc...

I'd like to not have to learn all of this stuff the hard way.

Are the stock tires simply not right for this kind of riding?
Is this bike just more prone to these issues than say a straight-up dirt bike?
Is riding in the sand just subject to these problems?

I'm learning - but it's slow and taking a toll.
I'm too old to take this kind of abuse on an ongoing basis.

Here are the various things I'm already considering - would be interested in informed opinions on the relative value of each and if there are additional things I should be doing:

* take some training from Cornerspin, Motoventures, etc...
* get a small dirt bike to get more experience
* take some trials training from the Trials Training Center
* get a trials bike and work on skills development
* switch from the CRF250L to a KTM Enduro - like a 450 XC-W
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Old 09-07-2014, 10:01 AM   #2
pne
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sand is a tricky beast. To ride it well you must keep your weight back and be very aggressive, otherwise the front tire will sink as you found out. Good tires make a huge difference. I liked my starcross front tire in sand running low pressure around 10psi if there are no rocks.


Tips:

-Look far ahead not down at your front tire. Keep looking 30-40 feet ahead and plan out your line in your minds eye.

-Keep a loose grip and relax, I usually sit down in sand with my butt slid back on the seat. If you stand also try to move your weight back but do not lock your arms completely straight or you give up control. You can briefly straighten them to throw your weight back when you feel the front digging, but come back forward right afterwards.

-Hard on the gas just about all the time, especially on a little 230 I would have the throttle wrapped most of the time. As you accelerate and feel your front end lighten, practice wiggling the bars back and forth to get used to the front. Unlike on dirt, you can get away with a lot of front end movement so don't be frightened of it and chop the throttle.

-Stay off the front brakes, drag the rear into the corner if you want more stability but keep on the gas at the same time.

-be aggressive, pick your line and commit to it. If the bike starts doing something strange or is about to spit you off, forget about what it's doing completely. Look ahead, get on the gas and ride on to your next target, it will get back in line.

-There is a very defined speed where you will float on top of the sand versus sink. Stay above that, IE go faster. It is no different than powder skiing or water skiing, you simply cannot approach it to learn by doddling about at 5mph.
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Old 09-07-2014, 10:55 AM   #3
folknride
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pne View Post
sand is a tricky beast. To ride it well you must keep your weight back and be very aggressive, otherwise the front tire will sink as you found out. Good tires make a huge difference. I liked my starcross front tire in sand running low pressure around 10psi if there are no rocks.


Tips:

-Look far ahead not down at your front tire. Keep looking 30-40 feet ahead and plan out your line in your minds eye.

-Keep a loose grip and relax, I usually sit down in sand with my butt slid back on the seat. If you stand also try to move your weight back but do not lock your arms completely straight or you give up control. You can briefly straighten them to throw your weight back when you feel the front digging, but come back forward right afterwards.

-Hard on the gas just about all the time, especially on a little 230 I would have the throttle wrapped most of the time. As you accelerate and feel your front end lighten, practice wiggling the bars back and forth to get used to the front. Unlike on dirt, you can get away with a lot of front end movement so don't be frightened of it and chop the throttle.

-Stay off the front brakes, drag the rear into the corner if you want more stability but keep on the gas at the same time.

-be aggressive, pick your line and commit to it. If the bike starts doing something strange or is about to spit you off, forget about what it's doing completely. Look ahead, get on the gas and ride on to your next target, it will get back in line.

-There is a very defined speed where you will float on top of the sand versus sink. Stay above that, IE go faster. It is no different than powder skiing or water skiing, you simply cannot approach it to learn by doddling about at 5mph.
+1 on all of the above - and a steering damper (cranked right up) helps me feel like I'm not too bad at it - when in fact I suck.

Sorry you got hurt - the only good thing about sand is that it usually doesn't hurt so much when the inevitable happens.
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Old 09-07-2014, 01:02 PM   #4
backroadrider74
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stick with the 250

A Ktm 450 is insane. Just go slower and take your time.


Quote:
Originally Posted by KenCM View Post
A few months ago I broke my ankle riding my dual sport (CRF250L) on a sand forest road (I live in Florida).

Finally fully recovered, yesterday I proceeded to (apparently) break my shoulder - again riding my dual sport on a sand forest road.

On both occasions, the bike and I were pitched over when the front tire dug into the sand. In the first instance, going around a corner at about 20 MPH and in the second, while riding in a tire rut at about 40 MPH.

This CRF250L is my first off-road bike of any sort and I got it about 4 months ago. My total experience riding off-road is about 30% of the 3,500 miles I've put on it.

I learned at least one lesson from the first crash and now wear a compression suit, proper boots, etc...

I'd like to not have to learn all of this stuff the hard way.

Are the stock tires simply not right for this kind of riding?
Is this bike just more prone to these issues than say a straight-up dirt bike?
Is riding in the sand just subject to these problems?

I'm learning - but it's slow and taking a toll.
I'm too old to take this kind of abuse on an ongoing basis.

Here are the various things I'm already considering - would be interested in informed opinions on the relative value of each and if there are additional things I should be doing:

* take some training from Cornerspin, Motoventures, etc...
* get a small dirt bike to get more experience
* take some trials training from the Trials Training Center
* get a trials bike and work on skills development
* switch from the CRF250L to a KTM Enduro - like a 450 XC-W
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Old 09-07-2014, 05:27 PM   #5
NJ-Brett
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Knobbie on the front helps a lot in sand.

Its all sand around here, except for the mud holes.
I have a nice broken bone collection also, sandy whoops did most of mine.
I never tried a steering damper but its likely a good idea.
Gear is not much help in sand, sand is soft, but its the sudden stop that gets you.
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Old 09-07-2014, 05:43 PM   #6
KenCM OP
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Slower?

Quote:
Originally Posted by backroadrider74 View Post
Just go slower and take your time.
Slower? What fun would that be?

When the front wheel grabbed, the bars went full left and takeoff commenced.
Landing is about 18 feet from takeoff point.

Would a steering damper help this?
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Old 09-07-2014, 05:46 PM   #7
KenCM OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NJ-Brett View Post
Knobbie on the front helps a lot in sand.

Its all sand around here, except for the mud holes.
I have a nice broken bone collection also, sandy whoops did most of mine.
I never tried a steering damper but its likely a good idea.
Gear is not much help in sand, sand is soft, but its the sudden stop that gets you.
I have a set of Dunlop D606's that I was going to try when the stock tires wore out.

I think I'll go ahead and put those on while I'm laid up.
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Old 09-07-2014, 06:10 PM   #8
ObiJohn
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I've gor a CRF230L, the 250s carbed predecessor. The stock Bridgestone Trailwings, AKA 'Deathwings' are worthless in any kind of loose stuff. I put a Pirelli MT21 on the front and it makes a considerable difference. What motivated me to switch was tootling along at fairly low speed, turning slightly and feeling the front wheel start to slide out. A little gas saved it, but aimed me right at a big tree. More turning, lean and gas saved that. Did enough research when I got home to find that no one has good things to say about the Deathwings offroad.

Really loose sand is some treacherous stuff. I have a rule... the Old Man's Rule... don't ride offroad faster than I can control, or want to fall.

Heal quickly.
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Old 09-07-2014, 06:10 PM   #9
acejones
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Dang ! I'd say I-95, I-75, or the Florida Turnpike would be safer !
Good luck and safer riding !
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Old 09-07-2014, 07:21 PM   #10
NJ-Brett
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In thick sand, going slow is very hard work.
It gets better with speed, but the risk builds, the front wheel digs in and you have a high side which can end badly.

There is a trail close to me that is long, has very thick sand, and its rough and has loads of ruts in it from jeep guys.
Its no fun on any bike, I avoid it.
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Old 09-07-2014, 07:30 PM   #11
KenCM OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NJ-Brett View Post
There is a trail close to me that is long, has very thick sand, and its rough and has loads of ruts in it from jeep guys.
Its no fun on any bike, I avoid it.
In hind sight, I guess it'd be better to stay out of the rut rather than trying to stay centered in it.
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Old 09-07-2014, 07:34 PM   #12
Dr.Z
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pne View Post
sand is a tricky beast. To ride it well you must keep your weight back and be very aggressive, otherwise the front tire will sink as you found out. Good tires make a huge difference. I liked my starcross front tire in sand running low pressure around 10psi if there are no rocks.


Tips:

-Look far ahead not down at your front tire. Keep looking 30-40 feet ahead and plan out your line in your minds eye.

-Keep a loose grip and relax, I usually sit down in sand with my butt slid back on the seat. If you stand also try to move your weight back but do not lock your arms completely straight or you give up control. You can briefly straighten them to throw your weight back when you feel the front digging, but come back forward right afterwards.

-Hard on the gas just about all the time, especially on a little 230 I would have the throttle wrapped most of the time. As you accelerate and feel your front end lighten, practice wiggling the bars back and forth to get used to the front. Unlike on dirt, you can get away with a lot of front end movement so don't be frightened of it and chop the throttle.

-Stay off the front brakes, drag the rear into the corner if you want more stability but keep on the gas at the same time.

-be aggressive, pick your line and commit to it. If the bike starts doing something strange or is about to spit you off, forget about what it's doing completely. Look ahead, get on the gas and ride on to your next target, it will get back in line.

-There is a very defined speed where you will float on top of the sand versus sink. Stay above that, IE go faster. It is no different than powder skiing or water skiing, you simply cannot approach it to learn by doddling about at 5mph.

Nailed it!

Trials riding will also help improve your skills faster than any other type of riding IMO.
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Old 09-07-2014, 07:55 PM   #13
scooteraug02
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Trials training center is a good place. Trials is motorcycle riding physics.

High speed sand is tricky for anyone. Try a track or loop and put a lot of time doing laps. If you screw up a turn or straight try something different next time until you do it better.

You should feel in control when you ride.
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Old 09-07-2014, 08:14 PM   #14
FastHydra
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Never rode a crf250l but I assume it's the same as others. Weight back and power on, float that front wheel. (I personally avoid sand if possible unless I'm on a massive 2 stroke)
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Old 09-07-2014, 08:25 PM   #15
KenCM OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by backroadrider74 View Post
A Ktm 450 is insane.
I'm thinking that 80 pounds lighter might be beneficial.

It sure would have helped when I was picking it up. The tumble hurt. Having to use my injured shoulder to get the bike up hurt a LOT more.
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