Airhead on gravel and dirt

Discussion in 'Airheads' started by Prairie Beemer, Jan 22, 2010.

  1. Prairie Beemer

    Prairie Beemer Adventurer

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    Oct 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    52
    Location:
    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
    I'd like to get a little more off the beaten path next spring on my R60/7. What can I expect from the bike on gravel, dirt, sand or maybe a little mud?

    They seem to do fine in the old war movies.
    #1
  2. SprintSix

    SprintSix Been here awhile

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    Dec 24, 2009
    Oddometer:
    152
    Location:
    Ohio
    For light offroad use as described, they do great. Tires are the main factor. If you really are talking war era BMW they go well on gravel but my experience is limited to 2 rides. Very careful rides, fully restored bikes. Tires again would help enormously.

    For more heavy use the big problems are ground clearance and weight. My budget plan for my 81 r100rt. Top brace, 1" over shocks, shallow pan and pickup froma /5, frame mounted bash plate, flip the exhaust, spark arrestor type mufflers, knobbily DOTS. Strip weight.
    #2
  3. jtwind

    jtwind Wisconsin Airhead

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2004
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    3,474
    Location:
    Madison WI
    Slow, cautious riding on gravel roads and relatively smooth dirt is fine and fun. As mentioned, anything else and you are limited by tires, ground clearance, weight and suspension. Even dual purpose airheads like the g/s aren't great in these situations unless much modified and prepped. But you should give it a try. Heck somewhere I saw a suzuki gsxr with knobbies that some character rode around the world.
    #3
  4. tennessee thumper

    tennessee thumper Don't Text Me Bro

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
    910
    Location:
    Arkansas Ozarks
    Ride to your ability.

    If you have some motocross experience you'll find the rubber cow to be heavy but quite capable in most situations.

    Paved roads are the exception here in my neck of the woods and with my /5 I've done a number of ill advised water crossings, traveled many a forest service road and dug out of some pretty deep gravel.
    Only thing worse for the wear was the front fender and oil sump.

    The most important thing is having dry ground to ride on. Mud is not your friend when off roading on an airhead. My #1 rule is this...

    when in doubt, throttle hard.
    #4
  5. lkchris

    lkchris Albuquerque

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,095
    Wider bars are better than narrow bars.
    #5
  6. Ray of Sunshine

    Ray of Sunshine Meat Donut 2 Some

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    Location:
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    UNlike the street, forget you have a front brake. Even the POS front brake on a BMW airhead will lock the front tire. Not good.

    I have ridden lots of dirt/gravel roads on my airhead and it isn't too bad. Not like a dedicated dual sport, but remain calm, let he bike find its way, and you will be okay.

    Just how seriuos are you going to ride? Casual use, yes, serious ADV take no prisoners mud plagging, there are much better choices.
    #6
  7. Country Doc

    Country Doc Wanderer

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    somwhere north of Kingston, Ontario
    I actually find my /6 and /5 easier to ride on gravel than my R100GS was. The CofG is low, they handle just fine on smooth gravel, and they were more predictable. I never knew what was happening beneath me on the GS.

    I wouldn't try anything rough or loose, but I'd explore secondary unpaved roads to my hearts content on an old road-going airhead.

    dc
    #7
  8. motu

    motu Loose Pre Unit

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    New Zealand
    They go great on gravel,I think my R65 goes better on gravel than all the adventure bikes I had before.Set up is important though....tyres and bars.

    [​IMG]
    #8
  9. Country Doc

    Country Doc Wanderer

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    somwhere north of Kingston, Ontario
    cool bike!

    dc
    #9
  10. hardwaregrrl

    hardwaregrrl ignore list

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2006
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    8,146
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Just ask the dude that owns this bike!
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/22817219@N04/4299231142/" title="DSC03992 by hardwaregrrl, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4011/4299231142_a1164a50ea.jpg" width="281" height="500" alt="DSC03992" /></a>
    Check out the Alabama chrome on the headlight and fender strut. Hey Redbud, where you at? His /5 bombed down some dirt tracks pretty snappy!!!
    #10
  11. BALSEY

    BALSEY Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 19, 2008
    Oddometer:
    123
    Thanks for the input. I'm thinking of a gravel traveler for my 83' R100.
    #11
  12. kstoo

    kstoo Adventurer

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    Nov 4, 2008
    Oddometer:
    74
    Location:
    Burlington WI
    +1 tires (I am going to try something else on the next change).
    Suddenly I realize what that black knob at the center of the handlebar is for!
    I need a better way of sealing water out of the ignition sensor area when that goes under water. damhik.
    Other than that, I just love blasting gravel roads. It gets you to places that others don't normally find.

    #12
  13. Dolly Sod

    Dolly Sod I want to do right, but not right now

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    What bars are you running?
    #13
  14. motu

    motu Loose Pre Unit

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    Slideways from Omar.
    #14
  15. Dratharr

    Dratharr Been here awhile

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    Dec 10, 2006
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    235
    Location:
    Western Nebraska
    I ride my R100/7 off road all the time, it rides better than my R1150GS on gravel road's. Last year I was riding with a friend of mine in the Black Hills of South Dakota he was on his 77' R100S and I was on my GS, we where riding some dirt roads and a couple of guys were in front of us on KTM dirt bikes my buddy passed them, and then they passed him, then he gassed it and totally schooled them, I was laughing my ass off, he was ripping down that dirt road at probably around 80mph. He was pitching it sideways around the corners, those guys had to be like WTF. My friend is totaly old school Bell half face helmet, googles, Luftmiester fairing, it still cracks me up thinking about it.
    #15
  16. chiefrider

    chiefrider Chrome won't get you home

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    Airheads work fine on gravel!
    [​IMG]

    Tom in Salem
    #16
  17. red bud

    red bud alky w/motorcycle problem

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    oh yea airheads do fine on gravel rds, the ones with alabama chrome do the best. that one pictured has been places 20-25 yrs ago that i hesitate to take my 4x4 these days.
    jenna, when we going again?
    #17
  18. Prairie Beemer

    Prairie Beemer Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    52
    Location:
    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
    Alabama chrome. I love it.

    About riding an airhead off the pavement, there is is some great advice in this thread, as usual. I am encouraged to hear from those who have done it. There are a lot of gravel roads around here, many of them that are otherwise inviting.

    Some riders have mentioned the importance of tires. What tires would be better off the pavement?

    I have to get new tires anyway this spring. Mostly I use the bike to commute. Since I rarely wring it out, I might sacrifice a little on the pavement for better all-around performance. Any recommendations?
    #18
  19. red bud

    red bud alky w/motorcycle problem

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    i'm runnig avon distana's (probabley misspelled but u get the idea) they seem to do good in gravel etc. and i can rub the cylinder on the left and the brake pedal on the right side on a paved mt rd. everybody i talk to seem to think they last better than most
    #19
  20. OldLinePaul

    OldLinePaul Adventurer

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    There's quite a bit of discussion around here on dual-purpose tires for street going airheads, but choices are pretty limited. I think I saw somewhere that Motu recommended Dunlop K70s for gravel. I plan on trying them this summer as replacements for my Macadams.
    #20