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ADV bikes compared to road bikes for other than smooth pavement

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by mridefellow, Oct 12, 2018 at 11:03 AM.

  1. mridefellow

    mridefellow Adventurer

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    Classic ADV bikes like the BMW GS, Yamaha Tenere, Suzuki V-Strom 1000, etc., how much better are they for riding through bad roads, unmaintained roads, gravel roads, and packed dirt roads compared to common street bikes like the Harley Sportster, naked (UJM), etc.?
    #1
  2. mysticbus

    mysticbus Mysticbus

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    Yeah... I have a thought on this, and it isn't going to be popular. I took a trip with my Son, we went to Tellico TN. I took a GS and he took an R1100RT. We hit some mountain trails and did a bit of exploring off the road... The old RT could do absolutely everything the GS could do.
    #2
    thechief86 likes this.
  3. sleazy rider

    sleazy rider Retired

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    Having commuted into the urban environment that is metro Detroit, I much preferred my GS over my older street bike. The XR600 was even more fun commuting. Longer travel made the heaved, missing and rutted pavement much easier on my body. Controllability and ease of maintaining a higher rate of speed was improved significantly. The ability to launch out of the extra large potholes without worrying about dragging hard parts added to my entertainment value.
    #3
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  4. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    Try dropping off a few 10-12" rock steps, shoot off a few jumps catching a couple feet of air, and go over a few good size logs, then come back and see if you can say that.
    #4
  5. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    Mt experience is that adventure bikes are much better than pure street bikes on rough pavement. Sure you can ride a street bike on rough pavement or even off the pavement but adventure bikes with more suspension and bigger front wheels will do better and you can ride faster. This really isn't rocket science.
    #5
    Barry likes this.
  6. CaseyJones

    CaseyJones Ridin' that train

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    Well...I was up at an historic ghost town (Garnet) that's preserved as part of a National Forest....I came from the state highway to the north. Road was paved halfway and was well-graded dirt the other half.

    The other direction, from the Interstate, runs an old stagecoach road, which is more than most 4x4s can make. I later took that road with my Wee, and I wasn't going to do it again. The Wee isn't light and there were places where a wrong move could mean a 20-foot drop.

    Anyway. I arrive at the public parking area, and up from the other side (which I had not yet seen) comes a California duo. One on a boxer GS; and the other on a K75. With street tires.

    I asked him about the road up; he was a master of understatement. "Yeah...it took some concentration."

    That about sums it up. With enough skills and enough people around to help with mudholes and dirt-naps, anyone can ride anything anywhere. The question is, how hard it is - for rider, for machine, for the amount of focus and planning needed.
    #6
  7. Barry

    Barry Just Beastly

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    That's cuz they are both street bikes. IMHO 99% of getting a bike through something is tires and rider. Put slick road tires on my sexy and extremely capable KTM 990 Adventure R with 10" of travel front and rear, and you suddenly have a street bike. Weight and traction are the enemy, then ground clearance. Sure, REALLY talented guys do awesome stuff with a GS, but they do that with a V-Strom as well... Talent will prevail.

    I can say that I am very happy with my 990 road manners sporting aggressive knobbies. It just handles pavement really well, but I'm not boy racer either.
    #7
  8. AwDang

    AwDang Been here awhile

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    I think they call that a supermoto?.........and they still seem quite capable
    #8
  9. Barry

    Barry Just Beastly

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    Nope... I have owned super motos. Technically putting 17s and sticky street tires on my 990 R will not make it a supermoto, but it will make it a pavement only bike.

    This is a KTM 950 SM (mine) and it is essentially a naked street bike... Technically not a SM.

    image.jpeg
    #9
  10. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    Depending on the area one can always hire some locals to lift and carry the machine too. Seen some pictures like that where the bike is broken down a bit and transported through dense jungle or across a river in canoes. Where there's a will there's a way for sure.
    #10
  11. Meriden

    Meriden Yea whatever

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    I frequently ride gravel, which often means 1-2" rock bed here in Texas, on a R1100RT with street tires. A buddy rides the same area on his Road King. Not optimum, but different tires would go most of the way to solve that problem. My ADV bike is a moderately modified X Challenge and his is a KLR.

    That said, I would reframe the question in this way. First, how much pavement vs how much gravel. If's it's 80/20, I'd compromise performance on the gravel for the street. Second, what is the hardest part of your route (and can you avoid it.) I've got better things to do than ride 5 miles of sandy whoops or log hop on a big GS, and there are too many motorcycles better suited for it.

    Don't get me wrong. I'm not knocking the big ADV bikes, only saying that there is far more overlap in performance capabilities with other bikes than some would suggest. And has been noted, a strong rider can make it through some bad stuff on most anything.
    #11
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  12. Cuttlefish

    Cuttlefish Riding to disappear.

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    Don't forget the potential for ride ending damage on UJM's compared to adv bikes with crash protection and also the cost of replacing damaged parts when the bike hits the deck.
    #12
  13. CaseyJones

    CaseyJones Ridin' that train

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    The damage to a UJM would be probably limited to: Muffler; front-fender damage; on a hard-landing, collapsing or bending the forks. In a hard drop, the tank, bars...possibly the engine case.

    Without crash bars and skidplate, many of the "adventure" models are just as vulnerable. More-so, with all the plastic trim. Mufflers are sometimes better protected; sometimes not.

    I was not impressed with my Wee-Strom's front forks - they needed bracing from the factory. Frankly, they needed to be turned upside-down; that's one area the Versys 650 has ALL OVER that model. Although my Versys has a low exhaust...not as pretty as a UJM, but just as vulnerable to crushing.
    #13
  14. thechief86

    thechief86 Long timer

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    I've had times when the only bikes I had were road bikes, so they got taken off the pavement regularly, and sometimes this sucked.
    In the same vein, I've been through times when all I had were dirtbikes that I had tagged, and they saw a lot of pavement miles, which kinda sucked.
    When it comes down to it, it is a whole lot easier to tolerate a dirt machine on the pavement than it is to tolerate a big, heavy bike on street tires in the woods and hard off-road.
    But with some skill, courage, and perseverance, a lot can be accomplished on whatever you happen to have.
    At this stage in life, I try to keep a few bikes around, but I don't own anything that I'd be afraid to ride on gravel or dirt roads. That's just depressing.
    Thing is, though, all you really need to ride on gravel roads, is rubber tires with air in them. Street tires are fine on gravel if you know what you're doing.
    Better skill can make up for poor equipment a whole lot easier than better equipment can make up for poor skill.
    The thing that kills any off-pavement fun for me would be forward controls. You can't absorb bumps with your legs if you can't pick your butt up off the seat, so the shock goes straight up your spine. I'm not even that old, but I can't tolerate that for long.
    #14
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  15. PeterW

    PeterW Long timer

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    Personal experience around here. I lose most of the road bikes once I hit the nastier hills - most not all. There are some very fast sports bike riders. Usually it's suspension that does them, bumpy uphill corners are hell with stock sportsbike suspension.

    For similar reasons I've been able to at least keep up with most of the fast bikes on some of the back roads. I usually lose them on the straights and gain serious distance in the corners. For me, unbelievable distance because I simply can't understand how a pig like a DL1000 can out corner a Busa or S1000XR.
    #15
  16. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    Cornering is mostly rider, not bike. My experience with Busa's on twisty mountain roads is that I could go faster on a 50cc scooter than most of Busa's I have seen there. Many of the Busa rider's here put on stretched swingarms and have no idea how to ride other than in a straight line. My apologies to those Busa riders who actually know how to ride. A Busa is certainly a capable bike.
    #16
  17. Motor7

    Motor7 Long timer

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    There is a old thread here somewhere and a guy was RTW on a Road King with knobbies......I think that answers the question?
    #17
  18. mysticbus

    mysticbus Mysticbus

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    OP asked about how much better are they for riding through bad roads, unmaintained roads, gravel roads, and packed dirt roads, I'll stand by my opinion here. But for your scenario, I would cross any street bike off the list, including "unmodified" GS's, Africa Twins, KTM Adventures and the like.
    The scenario you painted seems tailor made for a middleweight enduro, like a crf450 rally
    #18
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  19. mysticbus

    mysticbus Mysticbus

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    I remember reading that when he was headed through Mexico to South America.... water crossings on a Road King... oh my!
    #19
  20. Snowbird

    Snowbird Cereal Killer

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    I suppose, as with any topic, you can argue back and forth all day or all week but my one reply to the OP's question is this: On rural or urban broken pavement, in slow moving city traffic (splitting not allowed), gravel roads, clay roads softened by wet weather or roads with little to no maintenance a dual sport is the hands down winner when I'm deciding which bike to take on that ride. If I'm going on a longer point to point ride where I will stick to improved, smooth pavement I'll choose either of my sport-tourers. Nothing surprising about my answer... bikes specifically designed for a particular situation actually do better in those situations. Whoa, imagine that. Sure, you can put knobbies on a Harley dresser and manage to get it around a motocross track, but why in hell would you? There's a reason that idea gets attention, and that is because doing it makes absolutely no sense.
    #20
    mitchxout likes this.