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Old 04-14-2014, 10:15 AM   #1
Boricua OP
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To air down or not to air down

I ride a tiger explorer with road oriented oem tires. I took it on dirt for the first time in a hard pack well graded but steep and twisty gravely road. The road was a very easy well maintained road, any sedan can do it. Traction was compromised by the amount of loose gravel on top of the hard pack dirt. Going down an 8% grade on a 600 pound beast over a twisty gravelly road can be a bit concerning for a dirt noob. I setup the electornics for the type of surface, abs off, TCC mode for off road.

My 100 mile ride was 80% road 20% dirt. That would be typical for the type of riding I am doing.

Should I have aired down the tires and if so how much? Normal pressure is 36 front, 42 rear.

Any opinions are welcomed.
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Old 04-14-2014, 10:23 AM   #2
jeepinbanditrider
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I sometimes run my STROM at low to mid 20s front and rear and it seems to help a lot especialy the front you just have to be careful going too low because you can get rim dents that in some cases can cause flats
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Old 04-14-2014, 10:24 AM   #3
freetors
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It depends entirely on the surface, the bike, the tires, and your riding style. Some tires on my bike like to be aired up. Others like to be aired down. The only way to know is to try it out.
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Old 04-14-2014, 03:12 PM   #4
Thanantos
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I wouldn't air down for a gravel road. I only air down for really loose surfaces like beach sand.
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Old 04-14-2014, 04:54 PM   #5
ALinUTAH
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Depends on the tires. The various bridgestones they put on so many bikes are horrible on gravel if you don't air them down. I switched to fullbore on the strom and they are great at street pressures. Also noticed a big improvement when I went to T-63 on the little dualsport.

It also helps if you know how to ride on loose surfaces. And a lack of experience will also make you think it's worse than it really is because any little wiggle will freak you out.

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Old 04-14-2014, 05:47 PM   #6
r60man
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thanantos View Post
I wouldn't air down for a gravel road. I only air down for really loose surfaces like beach sand.
I agree with this 100%.
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Old 04-14-2014, 07:13 PM   #7
Boricua OP
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Cry

Quote:
Originally Posted by ALinUTAH View Post
Depends on the tires. The various bridgestones they put on so many bikes are horrible on gravel if you don't air them down. I switched to fullbore on the strom and they are great at street pressures. Also noticed a big improvement when I went to T-63 on the little dualsport.

It also helps if you know how to ride on loose surfaces. And a lack of experience will also make you think it's worse than it really is because any little wiggle will freak you out.

-al
You are stating the obvoius here. Its not the wiggle, its the sharp turn I can see at the end of the 8% grade that scares me.
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Old 04-14-2014, 07:46 PM   #8
Bucho
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Those tire pressures sound on the high side. You could easily run more like 32/36. That is still plenty high enough for street/high speed riding.
Loose gravel is loose gravel not too much is going to help.
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Old 04-14-2014, 08:03 PM   #9
Boricua OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bucho View Post
Those tire pressures sound on the high side. You could easily run more like 32/36. That is still plenty high enough for street/high speed riding.
Loose gravel is loose gravel not too much is going to help.
I though it was high too. However, that is factory spec. Checked with MOM and yes they go that high.

I'm looking for piece of mind. I used to ride a Versys. On gravel it was quite a handfull. However, always manage to stay with the rubber side down. I usually ride solo therefore my concern is having to lift the behemoth after a close encounter with the ground. I know I can do it. I did the exercise to prove myself it's a matter of leverage not muscle. Just the idea makes me cautious.
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Old 04-14-2014, 08:13 PM   #10
High Country Herb
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bucho View Post
Those tire pressures sound on the high side. You could easily run more like 32/36. That is still plenty high enough for street/high speed riding.
Loose gravel is loose gravel not too much is going to help.
I would agree with that, as long as it wasn't low enough pressure that you could tell by squeezing it.

I tried running 29/33 and banged a rim on the ground. My bike is about 410 lbs, with 180 width Pirelli Scorpion Trails. The bikes with 150 section tires seem to get away with it easier, maybe because their tires aren't as low profile?

I think running a knobbie like the TKC80 would help, but the Explorer might wear them down quickly.
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Old 04-15-2014, 08:13 AM   #11
DesertTortoise
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Gravel is tough! Especially deep gravel. Get a cheap air compressor (I have the slime one from walmart) and experiment with different tire pressures.
But practice good technique (and relax the death grip on the bars) and it'll get easier.

You'll get more confidence and probably won't worry so much about tire pressure like some of the other guys are saying. But try it for yourself.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Boricua View Post
I ride a tiger explorer with road oriented oem tires. I took it on dirt for the first time in a hard pack well graded but steep and twisty gravely road. The road was a very easy well maintained road, any sedan can do it. Traction was compromised by the amount of loose gravel on top of the hard pack dirt. Going down an 8% grade on a 600 pound beast over a twisty gravelly road can be a bit concerning for a dirt noob. I setup the electornics for the type of surface, abs off, TCC mode for off road.

My 100 mile ride was 80% road 20% dirt. That would be typical for the type of riding I am doing.

Should I have aired down the tires and if so how much? Normal pressure is 36 front, 42 rear.

Any opinions are welcomed.
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Old 04-16-2014, 09:36 PM   #12
jonz
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My big bike (950SE) isn't that heavy, probably something over 400 lbs. I air it all the way down to 18 lbs rear/25 lbs front. Tires are Dunlop 908 rear/Pirelli MT21 front. I don't like going lower on the front as embedded rocks are tough on the front rim. If the road was just gravel without a lot of embedded rocks, I might lower the front down some more.

For your bike, I'd drop the pressure 10 lbs front and rear and give it a try. Maybe even a little more for the rear.
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Old 04-19-2014, 08:26 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bucho View Post
Those tire pressures sound on the high side. You could easily run more like 32/36. That is still plenty high enough for street/high speed riding.
Loose gravel is loose gravel not too much is going to help.
+ 1 on these pressures for your daily riding.
For two up loaded the 42 rear would work.

If I'm doing a long dirt ride (Ruta 40 Bolivia to Tierra del Fuego )
I'll air down my KTM 990 to 28 to 30 psi.

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Old 04-20-2014, 12:29 PM   #14
Kommando
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If you're that concerned about a gravel road, get a lighter bike.

Under a skilled rider, a Tiger 800XC can be ridden on technical ATV trails like a dirtbike, and it can also fit a 21" front DOT knob with a capable rear DS tire like a K60. The 800XC is more than capable of blazing slab all day, with a full load and a passenger, at over 100MPH. Why somebody who can't ride gravel without a second thought needs a 550lb+ 1200cc bike for solo adv-riding, in a country with sub-90MPH speed limits, is beyond me.

With that said, airing down can improve the feel on unpaved surfaces. So can using appropriate tires. So can attending a course of instruction that is focused on riding bigger bikes off pavement.
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Old 04-21-2014, 01:31 PM   #15
InsideThePerimeter
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For off road fun I air down my Wee Strom Shinko's to 25 front and rear, no real rocks around to bash rims on where I go.

For steep down hill grades having the bike in the proper gear- lower - will allow engine braking to slow the bike so you don't ride the rear brake and get that uneasy sliding the back tire feeling.

And from the post above don't death grip the bars.
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