tips for the lose gravel?

Discussion in 'GS Boxers' started by wonderings, Jul 25, 2011.

  1. wonderings

    wonderings Long timer

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    So I decided to give some gravel roads a go on my new to me 2010 GSA. The bike came with TCK 80's which is a first for me, and the nobbiest tire I have ever used. In 4 years of owning a GS, I have only used Tourances.

    Anyways, I have pretty much to skill when riding lose gravel and it kinda freaks me out as it moves around so much. I am riding really slow, and for much of the ride I just did down a 10 km road, with my feet out.

    Are there any tips for riding these kind of conditions? I would love to be more skilled and capable for it, as its the gravel roads that are usually the empty ones. So for lose gravel, what should I be doing?
    #1
  2. rebelpacket

    rebelpacket four-stroke earth-saw

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    Get stoned, relax, and let the bike wobble and weave around. Try to fight it, or tense up, and you won't let the bike do what it needs to do.
    #2
  3. KLboxeR

    KLboxeR Back in the game again

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    Speed up, loose on the bars, weight shift to the rear. Stay on the gas when things get wiggly. The bike will tend to under steer, so counter that with weight shift and throttle.

    Loose gravel is harder at low speeds so you have to "get up on top of it" Think skipping over the top of the uneven surface at speed vs wallowing through it slowly.

    You need to work your speed up a little at a time, of course, so start with harder packed surfaces till you're comfortable with the bike moving around/compromised braking surface/loose steering. Go to looser stuff when you feel you are comfortable with the basics.

    I have friends that are uncomfortable on gravel, so they grin and bear it at 20mph or less. When we compare notes on these roads, they are surprised to find that I'm up around 70mph on the same stretch and not even sweating it. The difference? Many, many miles of off road experience and practice!

    Practice on what you are comfortable with and push your limits a little bit at a time. Do it methodically and with a specific plan (some formal rider training doesn't hurt here either). If you find yourself getting tense or uncomfortable, drop back to easier terrain and start fresh. Tension is your enemy as it makes you grip tighter and fight the bike (remember, the bike wants to stay upright when moving, it's usually rider error that causes the falling down part :lol3)......soon you'll be surfing along at highway speeds with a big old grin on your face.

    Be safe
    #3
  4. Mr. Ray

    Mr. Ray Chemically Enhanced

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    Be loose. Go faster. Never look down. pretend the gravel is pavement and ride like you would there.

    One thing to remember is that front brakes really are not a good friend; you should use the rear brakes and the throttle to point and shoot the front end. It won't come naturally (that's what she said) but it works.

    I'm not saying you can't use the front brakes but you better be sure to have a gentle hand and a smooth style.
    #4
  5. rockinrog

    rockinrog Long timer

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    Air down your tires and don't grab the front brake.
    #5
  6. revtech100

    revtech100 Been here awhile

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    What they said......Stand up, shift your weight and give it some gas. First gravel road I rode out on was at 20mph. Same experiance as you. On the way back, stood up, shifted my weight, gave it some gas, was doing 50 plus and had a frikken blast!
    #6
  7. OConnor

    OConnor Bad juju

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    I loosen up on the bars. Don't use the front brake as it seems to throw weight on the front wheel and digs in. I get on the gas when it starts to wiggle and that usually helps. I figure it's like thin ice and the faster I get across the better.
    #7
  8. wonderings

    wonderings Long timer

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    Thanks for all the tips and suggestions. Some of it I have heard before, like better to be faster then slower in the lose stuff. Easier said then done :norton I am going to keep pushing myself on some of these lose gravely roads and just build up confidence. I am used to using the linked breaks on the GS, using the rear break only is almost a foreign thing now as I have been spoiled by the linked breaks.

    If its hard packed dirt roads i am fine, its just the lose stuff that irks me. I guess practise practise practise. I will try and keep all the suggestions here forefront on my mind next time I head out to hit some more gravel.
    #8
  9. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    This advice sounds like that given to me at Pismo Beach (sand dunes). I put paddle tire on the back of my XL600, and had a blast!

    I've never felt comfortable on gravel either, so I'll have to try the top skimming method there too. It makes sense that it should work, but the learning may be a bit more painful.
    #9
  10. kmroxo

    kmroxo Reno Rider

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    Stand up and loosen up. The bike will move around some under you so just let it. If you are rigid then you fight that tendency which makes it slide around instead of roll around back to a neutral position. Don't stare right in front of the front wheel. Look down the road a distance to see for ruts or disruptions. That will allow you to pick up your speed a bit and still know what is coming. If you look right in front of you too closely you actually can't see what's coming and have time to alter course. It takes some getting used to and there are varying qualities of gravel roads as well.
    #10
  11. Martincito

    Martincito Adventurer

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    Standing up, besides the advantages of lowering the center of gravity, also helps mentally because you don't feel as much the back of the bike sliding and gives you more confidence.
    #11
  12. RED CAT

    RED CAT Bumpy Backroader

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    As long as your are going in a straight line don't worry about loosing it. The momentum will carry you. Just don't try to go too slow. Much harder. Pickup the pace a little. Corners of course are trickier. I find dragging the back break a little helps as you slowly roll it on. Just do your slowing down before you get to the corner. Then slowly power around it with jewdishious throttle application. And then once coming onto the straight, gas it but don't get crazy. Keep your feet on the pegs. More control. If you have ABS I find I can brake later and come in harder by leaving it ON on Gravel roads. Also found Tourances and Anakees are actually better in gravel than TKCs. As long as there is no mud or sand Ts & As work better with less twitchiness on the front end. Here in Alberta the gravel roads are very well maintained and gravel is free so the roads are constantly being regraveled. 140kph is not a problem.
    #12
  13. craigv

    craigv Adventurer

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    rockinrog has it right, get a compressor & guage n carry it with you

    air down to 22psi and she's a completely different beast

    w TKC's @ 22psi you can run on the pavement for a long time too, as long as you're not flying around above 60mph

    now you'll need to avoid high speed off road obstacles, don't want to bend your wheels

    give it a try, changed everything for me
    #13
  14. SR1

    SR1 Back in S. Korea

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    All the above.


    Consider taking BMW's Enduro Skills course. I did, and wound up doing things on a GS I wouldn't have believed.
    #14
  15. bobbybob

    bobbybob Long timer

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    I'm surprised that no one has yet mentioned this specifically:
    WEIGHT THE PEGS. You don't have to stand up, just transfer *some* of your body weight to the footpegs by pushing downwards, making you feel a little lighter in the seat. Instant stabilty! Some say it lowers the center of gravity, but I suspect it works because it insulates your ass a little more from the gyrations the bike is doing and thus instills more confidence. Or both. But try it and you'll be amazed. I don't ride DS very often and every time I hit the gravel roads I feel all out of sorts and tense up. It takes an hour or so to loosen up every time, plus I tend to forget to weight the pegs when the bike starts feeling like I'm riding on marbles.

    1) Weight the pegs
    2) Lower your elbows/loosen your grip/ let the front end dance around some
    3) In a gravelly turn, apply MORE body weight to the *outside* peg and you will lean less
    4) Outside peg means, if turning left, more weight to the right peg--etc.
    5) Keep body vertical from waist up in turns--"throw" the bike left or right underneath you while keeping your ass light on the seat.

    This works for me.:clap
    #15
  16. DADODIRT

    DADODIRT Long timer

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    ....and you can't weight the pegs if your feet are not on them.
    #16
  17. rvt

    rvt Big Fat Trail Bikes

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    Look where you want to go - not at the tree stump, rock or pothole you want to avoid. If you fixate on something, you will probably hit it!

    I find that standing and really getting my arse out to the outside of a faster turn is rewarded. Don't be lazy, especially on soft turns. Set yourself up to be accelerating at least slightly through the turn.

    For slow, sharp, soft turns, sit down, weight balanced front/back, weight outside peg, body vertical, inside leg out.

    Set up your controls for standing, too. Brake/clutch lever set lower than the bar. Bars set high, maybe fit risers if you are really tall. Rear brake set high.

    Now practice, and have fun!:freaky
    #17
  18. wonderings

    wonderings Long timer

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    great info all, now to see if it works in practise :D

    I am sticking to long straight roads to get a better feel for the road, I didnt even think of turning on that stuff :eek1

    Wish I had some land a dirty bike to really thrash about.
    #18
  19. devo2002

    devo2002 -Devo

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    Standing up DOES NOT lower the COG.:deal
    #19
  20. bobbybob

    bobbybob Long timer

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    And although it was already mentioned, again--*air the tires down*. Maybe 26F-30R. Any amount will help to some degree. Street pressure on gravel is not fun.
    #20