How not to slide the rear tire in gravel?

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by brandonmccann, Feb 13, 2013.

  1. brandonmccann

    brandonmccann Adventurer

    Dec 15, 2012

    So any time I've ever dropped my bike is due to gravel. First time was because I didn't pick out a good spot in the road to stop, and the other 2 were because no one ever mentioned that you should stop with both brakes, unless you're in gravel.

    Anyways, I've finally mastered how to get into my driveway but there is still one problem. My driveway is down hill, with loose gravel. Once I come down the hill, I have to stop fairly quickly or I'll hit the curb of my yard. The issue I'm having is that I can't seem to not slide the rear tire when making that stop. As loose as the gravel is, and as touchy as my brakes are, I can't seem to find a good method. Here's how I come into my driveway and maybe someone can give me some experienced input:

    Going down highway, I'll move over to shoulder. As I am coasting to the turn into my house, I'm shifting down to first. At the turn, I stop as to be able to have total control of the throttle. I gently pull in the clutch to better lower my speed and go into my driveway slowly. At the bottom, I squeeze the rear brake and the tire slides around a bit until I come to a stop.
  2. crofrog

    crofrog Long timer

    Sep 26, 2007
    Annapolis Maryland
    no you're still suppose to use both brakes.

    The tire is easier to control with the clutch OUT and if the tire slides around some who cares?
  3. Aj Mick

    Aj Mick Been here awhile

    Aug 31, 2012
    Phuket, Thailand
    Slam the rear brake on hard, and lean the bike over to slide around to a stop in fairly short order..... I've done it often enough. It was recommended practice for an emergency stop back in the days of yore, when brakes were nothing flash, and ABS was unknown.....

    But seriously, it sounds like you need to find yourself someone who can teach you a bit; get some lessons. There is only so much you can learn from an intent forum, or reading a book. Most learning is achieved by doing.

    Take it easy going down that hill; to control your speed you'll probably be better mainly using the rear brake (and a low gear), with just a little front. When you need to stop, squeeze a bit more on the front.

    On the road, with gravel you have to anticipate well in advance, and make your inputs gentle. Don't pull the clutch in and coast. Just back off the throttle and gently drop down through the gears as you slow down. By the time you get to where you want to turn you should be in the right gear.
  4. BlueLghtning

    BlueLghtning Riding is my passion

    Feb 16, 2004
    Newnan, GA
    As CroFrog said, both brakes. It just takes more attention on gravel not to lock them up, Your front brake still provides more stopping power, even in gravel.

    It does sound like you are picking up too much speed down hill with the clutch in and then applying only the rear brake on gravel surface which is going to to slide on you. Leave it in 1st gear use the motor to maintain a slow down hill speed and smoothly use both brakes to stop or even maintain a slower down hill speed if the engine isn't keep you slowed down enough.

    Sounds like you could really use some time in a dirt bike class to learn some off road riding techniques and learn how to brake comfortably when traction is less than optimal.
  5. corndog67

    corndog67 Banned

    Jan 24, 2006
    Santa Maria, CA
    Brandon, you sound like you are real nervous riding your bike, and that nervousness turns into an accident waiting to happen. You need to practice, and it seems as if you are freezing up when you hit the gravel. Personally, I grew up on dirt bikes, so sliding things around doesn't bother me a bit, in fact, I do it on purpose. Do you know anyone that will let you practice on their dirt bike? Once you get used to sliding around on a dirt bike, it transfers to street bikes pretty readily.
  6. It'sNotTheBike

    It'sNotTheBike Banned

    Jul 20, 2011

    1. There is no hard and fast rule for when to use only one brake or when to use two.
    Riding in the real world cannot be reduced to a simple set of rules because
    there are too many variables.

    2. It's not clear from your description but it sounds like you are riding DOWN hill
    when your rear tire locks up and slides. When riding downhill the weight on
    the wheels of the bike tends to transfer off the rear wheel and onto the front wheel.
    Riding downhill makes the rear wheel even more likely to lock up and slide, so if
    you don't want the rear wheel to slide you need to use the rear brake carefully.
    I understand you probably don't want to use the front brake because if the front
    wheel locks a crash might follow, but if you can learn to use the front brake well
    you'll discover that the brake can slow the bike without locking the front wheel
    and that the front brake is a very useful thing.

    3. It sounds like you need to approach the point in your driveway where you want to
    stop completely at a slower speed. The more slowly you approach your stopping
    point the less likely it is that you will suddenly lock the rear wheel when you use the
    rear brake, because you won't need to change your speed as drastically to bring the
    bike to a complete stop ( the change in your rate of negative acceleration will be less
    over a given period of time ).

    A rear wheel sliding is not necessarily going to make you crash. Sometimes it is
    desirable to lock the rear wheel in order to make the bike do what you want.
    But that sort of technique sounds like it might be a bit ahead of your current
    skill level.


    As others have mentioned above, it sounds like you should take a riding course.
    A course which involves situations with less than perfect traction and is taught by
    a professional instructor and which provides small light weight easy to handle dirt-oriented
    motorcycles for you to learn on would be ideal for you.

    A good instructor can watch you ride and pick up on some of the things you need to
    change in your technique. I don't have any affiliation with a riding school so I have no
    hidden agenda making this recommendation to you. The fee for such a school is usually
    reasonable and it could be some of the best money you ever spend, if it keeps you
    out of the hospital.

    Bottom line : you will NOT learn how to ride better by reading stuff on the internet.
    You will learn to ride better by riding and practicing your technique. And if you are taught
    proper technique by an instructor who is competent, and you practice what you are taught,
    your riding skills will improve and you will be much less likely to crash in gravel.

  7. It'sNotTheBike

    It'sNotTheBike Banned

    Jul 20, 2011

    And maybe he should also do a "stoppie" and a tail whip to reverse the direction
    of the bike, and then break-dance on the bike, like Taddy does when he wins an
    endurocross event :rofl

  8. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Long timer

    Sep 6, 2011
    I'll agree, you need more practivce. So you become comfortable with sliding in gravel. It really is quite controllable.

    That said, I'd also say you need to start braking earlier, and gentler, so you don't break the rear end free. It's not much different than stopping in the rain, you brake earlier and gentler.
  9. DAKEZ

    DAKEZ Long timer

    Mar 18, 2007
    Begin Op Zoom
    Oh good. A new technical term. :lurk
  10. PhilB

    PhilB Long timer

    Sep 8, 2012
    New Hampshire
    Pave your driveway?

  11. Offcamber

    Offcamber Long timer

    Aug 23, 2010
    New Hampshire
    I to have to turn off a main road onto my gravel driveway. My method to keep from washing out the front end is as follows. When making a left in I slow down (assuming I don't have to wait for traffic) then make the turn square enough so I am going almost straight when I hit the gravel.

    When making a right turn I start slowing well before the turn and signal to give any cars behind me ample warning I'm turning. As I approach the driveway I drift left to the center line then turn as slowly and as tightly as I can so I am almost straight when I hit the gravel.

    My driveway goes up hill steeply from the road so as soon as the turn is completed I'm back on the gas to accelerate up the hill....then I have fun sending a rooster tail of gravel out behind me :D

    This method works for my YMMV

    As for stopping down the hill use the engine to brake you with adding in some front brake to control the speed...go slow

    But as others have stated....practice more. Caution is good fear will hurt you.
  12. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Long timer

    Sep 6, 2011
    If that misseplling got you excited, just wait until you see the others I have in store! I'm *good* at typos.
  13. monkeythumpa

    monkeythumpa When I go slow, I go fast

    Oct 21, 2008
    Oakland, CA
    Easier than that...get some decomposed granite and a tamper. It'll firm it right up.
  14. Pantah

    Pantah PJ Fan from Boston

    Oct 25, 2004
    India Wharf
    Now there is a cheap and brilliant solution.
  15. Crisis management

    Crisis management Latte riders FTW!

    Feb 14, 2007
    New Zealand
    I'm with Crofrog, learn to use all the tools in your inventory (both brakes) and you will have to get used to sliding around a bit, it doesn't hurt and is usually a lot of fun.
    I assume you are on a road bike and fat tires don't really behave well in gravel, but it's just another skill to learn. I ride a road bike happily on gravel and other than having to brake a bit earlier there is no difference between it and a dual sport bike / tires.

    Find a straight, flat gravel road and practice braking and turning until you get used to the feel of less traction, don't over do it, 15 minutes practice at a time. If you can't find a gravel road use a grass field / yard... for added excitement wet it first!

    Have fun!
  16. Drunk_Uncle

    Drunk_Uncle Long timer

    Dec 26, 2009
    El Mirage, AZ (Phoenix Area)
    Before answering the question, I would like to know what kind of bike this it. I would ride my Tiger differently than my Sprint. My Tiger would have to be to lock the rear and slide sideways to a stop while trying to impress my wife. I usually fail but its fun trying.
  17. brandonmccann

    brandonmccann Adventurer

    Dec 15, 2012
    The issue for me isn't ever going down the hill as it's literally maybe 15 feet to where it gets level. My driveway is little more than dirt with a truckfull of rocks thrown loosely around. Anytime I ever used the front brake in my driveway it was like the ground literally disappeared. When I go to stop I'm...say 4mph? It slides a little to a stop. At this point, I feel in control, it's just I don't like to slide around that much. I guess I'll just have to deal with it.
  18. Bill Harris

    Bill Harris Confirmed Curmudgeon

    Sep 20, 2008
    backwoods Alabama
    No. It's called a technivcal term. :lol3

  19. fifthcircle

    fifthcircle Beer Knurd

    Jan 20, 2005
    Knee deep in diapers, Nebraska.
    You are all WAY over thinking this....
    Just ride in the grass. :deal
  20. Wout67

    Wout67 Long timer

    May 16, 2007
    Portland, OR
    or slalom, like you were skiing.


    I'm for going as fast as you can, stand on the back brakes, lean over and see how many of those rocks you can get to hit your garage door.

    Set up targets and make a game out of it!