Help me get faster when two-up on gravel!

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by fixie, Aug 12, 2013.

  1. fixie

    fixie don't lie to me, man!

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    I’m not aiming to be a hooligan when I my trusty pillion is along for the ride, I’d just like to be able to corner a bit faster. On many corners I'm at 15mph or below! Sure, this is appropriate for many situations, but I think I should be able to take many of these corners a bit faster since I could double my speed if I were solo.

    I feel confident on hardpack, even a bit of gravel/rocks on hardpack I can deal with. But I’m very cautious on deep or deepish gravel. On some turns I can feel the front tire *just* start to feel funny but I’ve never taken it further so I don’t know if it is the "wobbly in sand sort - just trust it and don't death grip" sort of funny or “I’m going to break loose and dump you” kind of funny.

    When solo I'm standing and I know to weight the outside peg, and I do that a bit when two-up, but I’m sitting so it isn’t totally effective. Currently riding Tourances (aired down to 27ish in front, 35 in rear) but when they’re done I’m putting on something a bit more dirt friendly.

    I recognize there are many types of gravel roads but I’m hoping your tutelage will apply across the board!

    Facts, in case they’re relevant
    - 1150 GS
    - I’m 185#, she’s 115#. Sometimes an extra 50# for luggage

    Hardpack like this is okay:
    [​IMG]

    When the road is as deep (all the way across) like it is in the middle here, I'm a nervous nelly:
    [​IMG]

    So, how can I improve? What should I experiment with?

    Thanks a bunch!
    #1
  2. dirtdiver

    dirtdiver Long timer

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    What kind of a front tire are you running? That would make a big difference. If it is not a knobby of sort I would go dead slow like you already are doing.

    When they say weight the outside peg what they really mean is shift your butt so that your butt crack is on the outer seam of the seat. Throw your inner leg out front towards the front tire hub.

    They say you can practice by driving at slow speed in a 20ft circle in first gear going 5-10 then 15mph. Trying to get a feel for when the back lets loose or the front washes out. There will be some sliding out to the side and low siding the bike.

    Personally I only try the above with my smaller dirt bike, the 990 is just too heavy and expensive to drop in the dirt for practice. The the lesson will transfer to your bigger bike riding though.

    Dont crash with your wife on the back. Not worth going a bit faster!

    DD
    #2
  3. dirtdiver

    dirtdiver Long timer

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    Also a steering stabilizer will help with the deep sand/gravel. Also putting your weight further back and give more gas.

    Everyone hates deep sand. It does get easier with practice though.

    knobbies help too.

    DD
    #3
  4. fixie

    fixie don't lie to me, man!

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    DD - I hear ya about not crashing with the lady. We've had one 0 mpg get off and, while she was 100% cool with it, I felt like a douche!

    Maybe we'll practice going in circles two-up on some grass.

    Thanks!
    #4
  5. tbarstow

    tbarstow Two-wheelin' Fool

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    Sounds like you need to spend a day out practicing before your next trip. Try a set of Kenda Big Blocks for better traction off road.

    Not crashing is still faster than crashing at 30mph because you "feel" to slow.
    #5
  6. tbarstow

    tbarstow Two-wheelin' Fool

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    A GS doesn't need a steering stabilizer. It has 500 pounds on the front wheel.



    Deep sand is FUN! Even on a GS.

    But it helps that I'm nuts too.
    #6
  7. Pantah

    Pantah PJ Fan from Boston

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    Tourance is a street tire. It sucks in gravel like every other street tire sucks in gravel. Even a TKC 80 DOT knobby isn't great, but it's a lot better than you are running now.
    #7
  8. Full Power

    Full Power Long timer

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    Try a set of TKC80, maybe 24 or 25 PSI front, not much more in back.
    Then take a quick ride up to Deadhorse,AK
    By the time you are back burning Premium Fuel, your gravel riding will be well tuned.
    #8
  9. fixie

    fixie don't lie to me, man!

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    That sounds like a great plan! :evil

    #9
  10. Bill-66

    Bill-66 Hencho in Kansas

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    tires..have nearly fuck all to do with it..they only improve good technique..or mask bad..

    you both need to learn to counter balance to the outside of the bike..as the bike leans in..then as speeds increase, you will shift your body(s) in, while the bike stays more upright..basic off road techniques..lead with your elbows..!!!! At slow speeds..you are leaning out..bike leaned in..in left turn..your right elbow should point the way..this pulls your body forward to weight the front..as speeds increase..the bike stays more upright..you lean your body IN and lead with left elbow..again, planting front tire..pillion works with you..match your shoulders..

    trying to buy "stuff" to cover up poor technique does not help except letting you crash faster..

    YMMV my $.02...n all that..

    As taught by Coach Ramey Stroud..Dakar Vetran..

    EDIT..remember too, on gravel..goin' is easy..slowing or stopping much tougher..keep that in mind..if you can't pitch it in and power thru..don't get goin 60 down the road and think you'll stop or slow by that corner right there..you won't..
    #10
  11. Bill-66

    Bill-66 Hencho in Kansas

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    :stupid..:lol3
    #11
  12. fixie

    fixie don't lie to me, man!

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    Thanks, VEGASGSA.

    I do want to get some formal instruction. Couldn't find any info on Stroud's website for upcoming classes. Maybe I'll have to go down to Jimmy Lewis in October!

    Most of what you wrote makes good sense, except for the bike being more upright when going faster.

    #12
  13. FirstPath

    FirstPath Long timer

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    I took a dirt riding class just over a week ago and it was very informative. Idea of driving your weight downward thru the pegs was interesting. Just making the bike move left and right this way was quite challenging and I'm starting to get the hang of it. We did turns with weighting the outside pegs and inside pegs. The outside peg weighting we did while standing.

    Everything was slow speed and it only increased a bit thru the afternoon. Practice the concepts and go slow. I have a long way to go to feel comfortable chucking it into a corner. Running stock TrailWings on the DR650 doesn't help either.
    #13
  14. corndog67

    corndog67 Banned

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    Can you imagine your old lady sliding, cartwheeling, bouncing down the road? Or old man, I'm not judging you or anything. Slow with someone on the back. If you arent highly skilled, you have no business trying to go fast with someone on the back. Even if you are highly skilled, you are putting someone else's life at risk. I'll risk my own ass (all the time), but not my wife's'.
    #14
  15. Bill-66

    Bill-66 Hencho in Kansas

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    Don't think vertical..just the best part of the tire on the ground..going quickly..you don't want to be leaned over..there is no friction (traction) on the road surface to hold you there..it will still be leaned some..

    [​IMG]

    Notice the elbow..this is on turn exit..so getting back up over bike to straighten out.

    Slower speed corner ELBOWS!!
    [​IMG]

    Higher speed corner ELBOWS!!
    [​IMG]
    #15
  16. viverrid

    viverrid not dead yet

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    Two up he hardly needs to put weight more to the rear (as someone on this thread suggested). The bike will handle differently 2-up from the greater weight already to the rear. Dirt riders do NOT always try to get weight to the rear; when you see all the moto-X riders in the group approaching a corner with their inside foot forward (NOT down on the ground but forward) that is to shift more weight to the front for better front grip and turn-in.

    If your passenger is experienced in dirt you can also at least partially stand 2-up, the passenger gets her butt off the seat also. My wife & I do this routinely even if it's just to avoid a jolt from a bump, hole, small log or other obstruction. She doesn't have to see the obstruction, she just stands when I do. We routinely take 2-up dirt road rides and I corner faster 2-up (990 Adventure) than she does alone on her own bike (XT-225). I think it's mainly a matter of experience and that someone should not just go out and try to go fast on dirt 2-up because someone said they can if they do this or that.

    But really normal procedures generally apply, there will be incrementally different handling due to the different weight distribution but same principle as being alone with camping gear on the back. And no, a steering damper (also suggested in this thread) will not make him corner faster. How fast is OP on dirt corners when riding by himself?
    #16
  17. viverrid

    viverrid not dead yet

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    Particularly on slower speed dirt corners, you throw the bike down while keeping your body more upright (opposite of hanging off). Some tight dirt maneuvers can be "rear wheel steering' where a lot of the turning comes from slewing the rear AND (to an arguable extent) the "wheelie torque" causing the front to be pulled to the inside when torque is applied while the bike is leaned over.

    When going faster you don't do this, you'd low-side. On dirt, cornering is limited by traction not lean angle. You will run out of traction long before lean angle. To take a high speed dirt corner you don't lean the bike more, it will just low-side.
    #17
  18. PeterW

    PeterW Long timer

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    A sack of cement is cheap, and heavy. Strap one down to the pillion seat good and tight. Apart from the dust if you do crash, no real other downsides ?

    Pete
    #18
  19. viverrid

    viverrid not dead yet

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    This raises another point. The passenger needs to do her part to be at least the "sack of cement" inert and strapped to the bike. I ask inexperienced passengers to "become part of the bike" and not move around, to lean when the bike leans. Because otherwise they will impede you by leaning the wrong way, or by trying to use their own 'body English' to back seat drive. Could that be part of why OP is having difficulty in dirt corners, is his passenger moving in a way that causes instability?

    But my wife is an experienced passenger and a rider herself, so she can work with me, at least by standing when I stand. Also she keeps her own weight back when we're braking or going downhill, and forward when we're accelerating or going uphill.
    #19
  20. Midnullarbor

    Midnullarbor Been here awhile

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    Examine carefully Vegasgsa's pics on the previous page.

    Narrow wheels . . . yes.

    Smooth treaded [Tourances] . . . not.

    There is a reason.
    .
    #20