Concours into ADV bike?

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by redwards, Oct 20, 2011.

  1. redwards

    redwards n00b

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    I am new to riding and bought a 1986 Kawasaki Concours. I have noticed it is HORRIBLE/SCARY on gravel. What can I do to make this bike less scary and more comfortable gravel roads. Thanks for your time! Rick e
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  2. Uglydog56

    Uglydog56 Adventurer

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    sidecar?
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  3. Grainbelt

    Grainbelt marginal adventurer Super Moderator

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    tire selection, tire pressure, and on a bike that old, make sure the suspension actually works and rebuild it if needed.
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  4. IRideASlowBike

    IRideASlowBike Banned

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    Trade it for a KLR. Nothing you do to that bike will make it good on gravel. The weight, 4-cylinder engine, lack of even mildly dirt-oriented tires in those sizes, and also the amount of shit that will break if you drop it makes it one of the worst "ADV" bikes possible.

    If you still want to take it off-road on anything more serious than light gravel roads, get some crash bars from Murphs.


    Source? I ride a 1990 Concours.
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  5. redwards

    redwards n00b

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    I have new BT45s for tires and even ever so mildly rutted pea gravel on dirt scares the poop out of me! Like I said I am new to riding, in my mid 40s, healthy, and have a HUGE respect for not crashing or dropping my bike. Also, I am a teacher in MT so I am poor and don't see my wonderful wife saying...'sure, get what you need'. I guess I am interested in morphing what I have into something more capable if that is possible. Thoughts?
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  6. Grainbelt

    Grainbelt marginal adventurer Super Moderator

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    Just get out there and ride. Any street bike can handle gravel, it is simply a matter of getting comfortable with the bike sliding around a little bit underneath you. Fit some crash bars to protect the fairings in a drop (they should be cheap, look on ebay and the concourse owners group site and whatnot) and go!

    Relax your shoulders, release the deathgrip you have on the bars, and take it easy. I had zero dirt riding experience when I moved to Saskatchewan and suddenly everything other than a major highway was gravel. I managed to ride on all sort of inappropriate machinery. Not quickly, mind you, but it was nice to get out and explore.



    [​IMG]

    Five years later I took my FZ6 with its stupid wide 180 section rear tire on some nice gravel in Wisconsin with some dual sports and found myself sliding the rear on purpose on corner exit. It is fun. You'll get used to it. :thumb
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  7. MrFurious

    MrFurious Been here awhile

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    As others have noted, there's no converting a Concours into an on/off-road bike. The biggest factors are the wheel size, limited suspension travel, and the steep steering head angle (rake).

    Can it be ridden on graded gravel roads? Sure...as was said above, you just need to get comfortable with how the bike will handle and move around on gravel. Even true dual-sports dance around on gravel, so it's not an issue you're going to get away from with any modifications or changing bikes. Just slow down, relax, and ride within your limits.

    All that said, if you're really wanting to ride a lot of gravel roads I'd really recommend you get something more suited to that use. The Conny is wide and heavy, and while you can stand up on the pegs it's really not a comfortable position to be in for very long due to the handlebar position.
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  8. Lank

    Lank Been here awhile

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    Learn to ride standing up, get some decent universal type tires, lower air pressure, keep weight to a minimum. That bike will go anywhere a GS will go if the rider wants to push it and is as willing to pick it up as GS riders are. I thought all bikes were (Adventure bikes)
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  9. Hammerspur

    Hammerspur Long timer

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    G-10's are f-in' tanks!
    Out on the open road at speed that feature disappears and they float like a butterfly.
    At really low speeds, parking, pushing, etc. they are like herding a hippo with a broken leg, just the ticket for unpaved roadways... NOT! :uhoh

    About all one can do is watch the speed, work hard at it and pray!
    #9
  10. tjhess74

    tjhess74 Been here awhile

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    really? i thought my old c10 was great on gravel! she wiggled a bit but handled rather well for a heavy road bike. on the other hand, i think my c14 is atrocious on gravel. ive done some neglected backroads in colorado and north carolina with it and thought some of those rides would never end and would be lucky to make it out rubber side up. my avatar pic is the trail of tears in nc. most of that road is good, some really sucks on the c14!

    i guess my advice would be to stay on the hardball until you get a better feel for the bike. maybe do some dirt biking to get used to how a bike handles on rocks.
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  11. bobobob

    bobobob badbadbad

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    +1
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  12. Worroll

    Worroll Been here awhile

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    Gotta get use to gravel/dirt. I was scared as poop the first time I had my FZ on a gravel road. But once I got used to it, I had no fear with my ZX14 on dirt. It is hard to get use to the bike squirming around. Taking a ride on a legit dirtbike may help with the confidence. The key is to let the bike do what it wants (within reason).
    If you are planning on ALOT of gravel I would get a different bike, but if it's just a road here and there, I'd just get used to it.
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  13. Lank

    Lank Been here awhile

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    Has a KLR Had a GS now I stick with fun bikes. My Norge will go wherever I want to take it and risk broken plastic, the CBR stays on the street as its too precious, the Bandit will go places that KLR's and GS's dare not to tred. Lower seat so a normal person can reach the ground. But I gotta admit I started riding in 1966 and I doubt if I saw a paved road for the first 5 years. Its all in the head! You generally survive a dirt accident...but hard road, excessive speed, traffic..not always. Dirt riding with a big bike is all about having room and being in a tall gear with the rear tire pushing, keep the throttle on and the brakes off

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  14. Ultravoyageant

    Ultravoyageant Been here awhile

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    I had a '00 Concours that I rode on gravel all of the time. I ride my FJ1100 quite a bit on gravel, and that's a 600# bike with sport touring rubber on it. I grew up in the country, on a gravel road, and I've been riding since I was 7 so I've been doing it for a long time. What you need to do is just practice on loose stuff to get used to it.

    If the road is like many gravel roads its hard pack dirt with gravel that is spread inconsistently, due to vehicles pushing it out of the way. You can read the road, and after a while, you'll figure out what line will give you the least chance of sliding around. Its kind of like riding single track, either on a motorcycle, or a mountain bike (skiing too, come to think); After some trial and error, you'll begin to see which is the best line for you to take. The nice thing about gravel is unless you're hauling ass the lateral movement you get from the your tires is slow and predictable, and easily corrected. Its nothing like oil, wet leaves, or black ice-its a slow loss of grip. On a gravel road sans other vehicles and not going too fast, your ability to stay on two wheels is completely within your control.

    Deep gravel roads take a little more work. I personally don't like them, and luckily for me there are none around to have to worry about. I've roamed about Montana a bit, and I don't recall many deep gravel roads out there either, but its been a while, and I've been wrong before.

    Pretend your front brake doesn't exist. Seriously. Ride the bike on gravel the way you would drive an old car with rubbish brakes fast; Stopping to avoid something RIGHT NOW is no longer an option. Therefore, find a way over or around whatever is in your way.

    Ride loose, never fixate, and never stiffen up on the bars.

    Ride slower than you think you need to, until you're good at gravel. And even then don't haul ass. I rarely go over 30mph or out of second or third gear. Ride a taller gear than you normally would for your speed, to reduce the chance of the rear stepping out or the front pushing unexpectedly.

    Practice, practice, practice.

    Remember that your front brake does not exist on gravel. That lever you see on the right side of your bars? Purely a figment of your imagination, until you're back on pavement.

    I enjoy riding on gravel, and while you may never get to that, if you do it right you at least won't get psyched out by some movement on your bike while riding on it. Good Luck!
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  15. IRideASlowBike

    IRideASlowBike Banned

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    OK, if you really want to go offroad on it? Take the plastics off (go "naked"). Crash bars, take the bags off. I'm pretty sure you won't find suitable tires though. Like everybody else said, you can go on a gravel road on any bike, but if you're considering using the Concours for anything much harder than that, you will almost certainly end up regretting it.
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  16. madeouttaglass

    madeouttaglass The AntiHarley

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    It's all a matter of getting used to it. My wife and I do quite a bit of riding on seasonal dirt roads. I thought it was much easier when we sold the 1500 Goldwing and bought the FJR1300. We now do that same riding on our 1800 Golwing. The only time we've fallen was when we took my KLX250 out.:lol3
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  17. Jim K.

    Jim K. Long timer

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    After 11 years on a 2000 Connie, I can say that it's the best bang for the buck road bike ever. That said, all the things that make it a superb, low cost, mile burner can be a drawback off pavement. The suggestion about crash bars is a good one. One slow speed drop can wreck a lot of plastic & the insurance will write up the parts at list & write off the whole bike. I've taken mine off pavement on good gravel more than once , including about 50 mi on the famous Million Dollar road up in Maine. It can be done, just gently! Above all, make sure the suspension is up to snuff. Take those forks apart, new springs can be had for < $100, Cartridge emulators are another good idea, & above all change out the fork oil, I'm guessing it is the same oil that left the factory in Neb. when she was born. The rear shock is rebuildable, or new units are available for a bit more dough. Again, new oil is probably the biggest deal here. play with the settings. Once you know the rear shock is up to spec, try a piece of gravel with different preload/damping set-ups. Go over the same piece of road again & again, changing only one increment of one variable at a time. The forks are pretty much fixed, but once you get a set of new springs calibrated to your weight, you can try different weights of fork oil. As I remember, you have a drain plug at the fork bottom, no? That should make it easier to switch out various weights of oil. Also, you can mix oil weights to arrive at intermediate values ie: 10 w + 5 w. =7.5w At a bare minimum, you'll learn a lot about what does what in terms of suspension, but first, give it the minimal maintenance that it has been missing (I'm sure) for decades.
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  18. mhaas

    mhaas intrpd travlrwanabe

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    I can't seem to not find a dirt road when I go on tour with whatever bike I'm on. My old 81 RS ,ST11s. My first 86 ZG1 got the most abuse on gravel roads. The fist night on the way home from OR. I found a 20 mile farm road to a camp site. Then the 30 miles along a ridge line in WV. The main fairing bracket broke off while poking around the inland roads of the U.P. Did the camp site repair with muffler clamps and angle iron. That bike handled the suger sand at Bulow with ease.
    Feet and eyes up relax , mind your traction.
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  19. Jim K.

    Jim K. Long timer

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    +1
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  20. Zerk

    Zerk DILLIGAF

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    Ya I noticed it sucks on gravel. Which sucks, cause I bought it for work, and have to do short amounts of gravel roads.

    It came with Dunlop, not the stock model, I am putting the stock tire back on. But doesn't sound like that will help.


    BTW its not a matter of weight, my Harley baggers do ok on gravel.
    #20