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. Moronic

    Moronic Long timer

    Joined:
    May 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,789
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia

    Looks from that pic like you are talking an inch or two deep of gravel from shoulder to shoulder. You don't say you are uncomfortable riding with pillion on that sort of surface on the straights. If you're comfortable, that says plenty about your skill level, IMO. That sort of surface two-up on a big, heavy bike like a GS with 19-inch front end is tricky. You must have the "relax and let it move around" bit well worked out.

    But you're not comfortable in the turns. Turns you believe you would be quite comfortable in solo.

    It occurs to me that your intuitions might well be accurate here. That is, that there is something about the combination of weight distribution and chassis geometry two-up that is interfering with the turning process.

    While - possibly - enhancing the straight-line stability.

    One guess: perhaps two-up the bike sags more on its rear spring (even when preload is added), which would change the effective steering head angle, biasing it more towards straight line stability and less towards steering bite.

    Add the more rearward weight distribution (which would tend to bury the rear tyre a little deeper than the front) and it seems explicable that the front feels (indeed, is) less secure in the turns than when solo.


    What to do about it? I've an idea that if you can understand the problem, you'll sort out your own solution. Good luck!
    #21
  2. BanjoBoy

    BanjoBoy Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2009
    Oddometer:
    878
    Location:
    Northern CA
    Iz she hawt? We want picz! :lol3
    Purdie much ^THIS^
    Dunno why you wanta go fast on gravel w/ yer 'ole lady on back anywayz? :dunno
    Ta go fast in dirt/gravel ya need ta move round on the bike, which ya can't do w/ her there. Also, her added weight on the rear means it's gonna wanta "hook up" 'n the front'll push. (When ya want the rear to pivot 'round a "planted" front.)
    Just relax 'n be smooth, 'n after y'all ride sum miles slide'in 'round, you'll know how much you can push it. :evil
    #22
  3. car94

    car94 What's this Box for?

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2010
    Oddometer:
    3,960
    Location:
    West Central Missouri
  4. fixie

    fixie don't lie to me, man!

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    73
    Location:
    PDX, OR
    Great comments, all! First, importantly, yes, she's hot! :evil Ha.

    Totally don't want my pillion - who is very relaxed and neutral on the bike, not interfering at all - cartwheeling down the trail. That's why I ride conservatively when she's on and am asking the question!

    The cement idea is ingenious! I wonder if anyone's actually done that.

    Moronic - yeah, I'm comfortable with the bike squirming when in gravel, though I'm not a speed demon even when alone. Also, very interesting comment about my bike's suspension. The rear is quite soft. Ohlins install scheduled for the end of the month! Clearly that won't solve my problem for me, but it won't hurt to have more even weight distribution as a starting point.
    #24
  5. Bill-66

    Bill-66 Hencho in Kansas

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2009
    Oddometer:
    7,692
    Location:
    The Northwet..
    Reading Viverred's post reminded me...

    Make sure you are getting your preload cranked up..when your pillion hops on, your bike turns into a chopper, for all intents..

    Yes, even if the wife is a feather..her weight is far back..

    When the head angle gets laid back on your bike, it becomes sluggish to turn..

    Suspension work MAY be needed as well..
    #25
  6. Moronic

    Moronic Long timer

    Joined:
    May 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,789
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    Glad to be of assistance.

    Yes, if the rear is soft then firming up the spring may well help a bit, perhaps even a lot. It's always a compromise tho, if you use the bike solo as well.

    For the rest, I was thinking that having a useful analysis of the problem could help, simply by affecting the way you ride.

    Lowering expectations (because you know there's a genuine issue) and loosening up a bit (because you've a fair idea what the issue is) might do most of the trick for you. :1drink
    #26
  7. Yankee Dog

    Yankee Dog Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,042
    Location:
    Decatur, AL
    I ride 2up in the dirt and gravel all the time. I dont try to push it. I let the hotshots race on ahead. I will catch up eventually. Usually at the scene of some carnage.

    The only addtional advice I will offer is to air down your tires some more. I think you can go as low as 20lb front and rear. I found this makes a hugh difference in all types of terrain, including the rolly polly gravel.

    If you really want to haulass on the gravel 2up. Throw a side car on the thing. Then you can powerslide through the corners with aplomb. :deal
    #27
  8. ohgood

    ohgood Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    3,299
    Location:
    alabama


    can you do a doughnut on it for a minute ?

    i'm no racer, no gravel god, no ds genius, but everything i do poorly i work on, each and every opportunity. no need in hurting the wife with practice ;-)
    #28
  9. operose

    operose Mama tried

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2011
    Oddometer:
    816
    Location:
    "upper upstate" NY
    Really think a large part of it is the bike and the tires, but also maybe mindset. I ride 2up on gravel, atv trails, deep sand, all sorts of horrible stuff with my wife on the back of a DRZ400 and also on the back of a TW200 (both with knobbies). We can really move right along through all those sorts of terrains but it is within the context of what we are doing, which is riding a dirtbike with two people on loose surfaces.

    This is much different than me riding either bike solo on the same surfaces, where I can also "move right along" but within the context of a moderately experienced person riding a dirtbike. Simply put, you will likely not be moving as fast offroad or on gravel when you have a passenger, it changes the dynamics of the ride significantly in my opinion.

    But also: try a smaller bike! Maybe not DRZ or TW200 small, but KLR? It is really fun to throw a small bike around riding 2up offroad. Both my wife and I enjoy it immensely. I would never try to push a big BMW or such on gravel or offroad the way that I do the smaller bikes with a passenger on the back. We have tried it a little with an XS650 that has dual sport tires, it's just too heavy, too little suspension, needs knobbies, more ground clearance, lower gearing, LESS WEIGHT.

    Sorry for the rambling but hopefully this helps
    #29
  10. Bill-66

    Bill-66 Hencho in Kansas

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2009
    Oddometer:
    7,692
    Location:
    The Northwet..

    Sorry..90% rider...bad or poor technique, will not change with the bike size..it may be eadier to mask on a small bike..but you're still going to hit the ground.
    #30
  11. dirtrulz

    dirtrulz Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2006
    Oddometer:
    474
    Location:
    denver co
    I ride two up all the time and dont feel it is responsible to ride faster and risk hurting them just because I think I should be able to go faster. If anything I am way more cautious with a passenger. If I hurt myself that is my fault, but if I hurt my wife because I did something foolish then it would be hard to forgive myself. Unless there is a life or death reason to have to go faster what is the big deal.

    If your passenger does one wrong think in a gravel corner and you are running on the edge then there is a good chance you are going to go down hard.
    #31
  12. corndog67

    corndog67 Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,281
    Location:
    Santa Maria, CA
    Tires? I see people on here blame their tires all the time. Wrong tread pattern made me crash. Wrong compound was why I couldn't make it up that hill. It was too narrow for the conditions. I looked at the manufacturers date code and they were old, that's why I crashed. The knobs were too big. The knobs were too small.

    Its all bullshit, and its all just excuses. Its the rider. You're riding the bike. Its up to you to make it work. Quit blaming the tires, its you.
    #32
  13. bigdon

    bigdon Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,713
    Slow down coming into the corner and power out. I'm not saying to brake the rear end loose but applying even a little power will make the bike turn better.
    #33
  14. Aj Mick

    Aj Mick Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2012
    Oddometer:
    753
    Location:
    Phuket, Thailand
    Just doing it will build your experience.... it will beat any suggestions you get from an Internet forum.

    But what's the hurry.....? Just get used to taking it easy on gravel roads when you have a pillion. Keep the fancy go faster tricks for when you are riding solo, and only have your own comfort and safety to consider.
    #34
  15. Bill 310

    Bill 310 Poser Emeritus

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2002
    Oddometer:
    3,293
    Location:
    Hopefully Upright
    I ran 28 Front/ 30 psi in my rear TKC on my 990 on the way to Inuvik and back. Just outside of Klondike river crossing on the way home i had a massive rear tore failure, rim strip cooked off, excessive heat melted the sidewalls.

    I rode 38/F 40/R the next year in and out of Deadhorse no issues. These big heavy bikes running at higher speeds need more than the PSI's people are talking about. Jim Hyde at Rawhyde was big on these low pressures and recommended them to us. Post rear failure I received an unpleasant and unforgettable ass reaming from the Legendary Dick Fish regarding tire pressures on the Dempster and Dalton.

    [This is the part where Mike Butt would reply to this thread with a :lol3]
    #35
  16. BOB RAMSAY

    BOB RAMSAY Not in the Clique -

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2011
    Oddometer:
    362
    Location:
    Granville, Ohio
    Let see - a couple of things to say from an old enduro & gravel road rider:

    - when turning solo, get up on the tank, get your foot up near the front axle and let the rear wheel do it's thing. But when you have a passenger, now you have way too much weight over the rear, making the front wheel much too light. When you try to turn with a front wheel barely skimming (I don't know how 'big' the passenger might be. . .) the front wheel just cannot 'plant' itself to allow you a confidence inspiring turn. (think: over-loaded forklift)

    - Personally, I lower my tire pressure if I'm staying mostly on the gravel (25-27psi). Also, I don't blast home at 110 mph on the pavement (heat build-up). I re-fill the tires when allowed. The first time I took the Misses on the gravel with 34/38 psi, I had to pull over and let air out - NOW!

    My front wheel recently changed from a 21" (KTM) to a 19" (BMW) and to me, I'm more comfortable with a narrow, taller front wheel but that's not going to stop me from riding.

    I've never liked that dis-concerting feeling of vague front wheel traction. It seems that whenever I lose the front wheel, something bad happens - NOW!

    And like the inmate said earlier - just slow down, you'll catch everyone eventually.


    -
    #36
  17. FloorPoor

    FloorPoor Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2010
    Oddometer:
    712
    Location:
    Spudville, Idaho
    I often ride like a bat out of hell on dirt and gravel when solo, but with a pillion (usually one of my kids, the wife doesn't like to ride) I just put put around. It's not worth it. But I have noticed a couple of my kids are better pillions then the rest (6 total, what the hell was I thinking!?:huh) and those are the two who get slightly faster an/or more varied terrain rides.

    My wife is a terrible pillion, she only weighs 120, but she leans way back and doesn't move with the bike at all. Makes the bike handle terribly. I'm kinda glad she doesn't like to ride, It turns an otherwise fun ride into sketchville :eek1
    #37
  18. joexr

    joexr Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2011
    Oddometer:
    3,773
    Location:
    You're Mama
    Ride , ride and ride some more. Seat time and experience. When I raced flat-track as a teenager I could do foot up donuts in both directions with my girlfriend on the back. You'll pick up speed , just push the envelope a little and find your groove. Try getting used to sliding by practicing on grass.:D
    #38
  19. speedtrickle

    speedtrickle n00b

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2010
    Oddometer:
    5
    Location:
    Northland, New Zealand
    It's really a mix of everything here but the bottom line is whatever level you are at you must have confidence and the way to do that is by walking before you can run and the way to do that is to get your self a smaller, easier machine that will do the task. My point is you are making it way harder by expecting that your intercontinental cruiser is going to let you develop as a rider, newsflash it won't so get yourself a dr or something and go have some friggin FUN! Goodluck
    #39
  20. joexr

    joexr Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2011
    Oddometer:
    3,773
    Location:
    You're Mama
    Well said.
    #40