Gravel Cornering....How do you do it?

Discussion in 'New Zealand' started by Night Falcon, Aug 29, 2018.

  1. Night Falcon

    Night Falcon Broke Engine Supporter

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    I have always wondered how some guys just seem to be way faster than I am on gravel. I have been riding it for a long time, tried all sorts of "techniques" and although have gotten faster, I still get left behind. So, I thought I'd start this thread and ask the question....how do you tackle gravel?

    Couple of things I've noticed:

    Firstly...Phreaky Phil (fast guy) says practice practice practice.....but practice what?

    Secondly....I noticed from watching bandit riders video of Te Rimu road that he dosen't seem to be using any more "technique" than I would use, rather, places a lot more "trust" in his front tire grip than I appear comfortable using....maybe that's it, trust ya tread?

    Thirdly....well, I don't have a thirdly except maybe standing or sitting don't seem to bother folks much?

    Lastly....This thread isn't about speed for the sake of it i.e. straight line speed, anyone can twist a throttle, it's more about getting ideas from folks for better riding technique, cornering at speed on gravel mainly......so anyone got anything to say?
    #1
  2. Phreaky Phil

    Phreaky Phil Long timer

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    Phew the old sitting standing debate :fpalm
    I sit nearly all the time and esp with Dawn on the back. Some people stand and I do / have done a lot on dirt bikes esp over rough ground. But it's about where you can transfer the weight when standing. But if the front starts sliding when standing then it's usually:muutt
    For me it's all about getting the front end turning. With two of us on the bike the front is lighter and I'm usually slower Into the corner but the extra weight gives me plenty of traction coming out. Wheel spin doesn't get u moving forward and it just wears out tires.
    I'm always looking for the hard pack lines in corners not the loose which is where the wheel ruts are. The right hand corners are harder because the camber is wrong in the left wheel track. Sometimes running a little wider out to the left side of those right hand corners gets the front wheel in part of the wheel track where it's got grip. With a torquey bike short shift and make it drive rather than spin. If you can see through a right hand corner it gives you the opportunity to swap wheel lines and cut the corner which is faster.
    And then there's the bike tire debate. I'm currently running Motoz Adv front and a Metzler T63 rear. Like Mitas E09 but found the E07 wanted to step out accelerating out of corners. But this is only my bike.
    Phew, hard to analyse what you do.
    Now MXNut has a totally different riding style which I can't copy. Faaaaassssssttttttttttt. But fast into the corner. Taps on the rear to get it sliding then hard on the gas. Well I thinks that's how he does it and you'll have to ask him.
    Easier on a small bike.
    Remembering back to my dirt bike days, the smooth guys didn't look fast but were usually the fastest.
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  3. Phreaky Phil

    Phreaky Phil Long timer

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    PS riding a Beemer teaches you about trusting the front as it's hard to get your leg out where the cylinder is :hmmmmm
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  4. EVLED

    EVLED Bike riding nutter!

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    I don't think I'm that quick - Phil just disappears when he wants to...Colin can blow me away at will and I'm running more aggressive tyres than him (although to be fair by front has 17,000km on it now).

    Sitting vs Standing? Well, with both my Vee and Tenere I found that they just sitting felt more natural - maybe it's 'cos they were/are both big heifers? I do stand up over rough stuff.

    A mate had a very Adv sorted Tigger a few years ago and it was geared down and had risers (with the bars adjusted to be more comfy standing than sitting) and while it was fun and very good when standing I still preferred to sit. Maybe I'm just lazy?

    I think trust in tyres does come into it, along with being able to read the gravel which of course can change at any time. On Sunday, at the Northern end of Turakina Valley road there was a reasonable amount of gravel on the road and the Ten seems to float around a bit so I take it easy. The weight of the Ten can a problem in some situations but in others it's not a problem or even a plus I reckon.

    E-07 Dakars FTW!

    Oh, and I'll take getting home in one piece over being quick anyday :ricky
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  5. Phreaky Phil

    Phreaky Phil Long timer

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    The summer before last on a trip in the South Island there was a road that I just couldn't come to grips with. The Hakatere Potts road up to Erewhon Stn. Loose river run gravel. I was on the other Beemer and no matter what I tried the front just wanted to :p3rryoff. In the end all I could do was limit the speed to about 70kmh and muscle it along. Sometimes the water table was the best place as we couldn't slide any further. I sure was glad to see the tar again.
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  6. oldbeer

    oldbeer Grandadventurer

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    I like a bit of a blat as much as everyone else but pretty much everyone I have ever ridden with is faster than me. I just assume they all grew up on farms and had dirtbkkes when they were 3 years old etcetc. I find on group rides regardless of who it is i cannot help myself and end up trying to keep up. This usually ends up in a laundry requirement at some point and is the main reason i dont generally do group rides anymore. I get myself in eniugh trouble riding on my own :doh

    I thought about trying to find out how to go faster but if i was going to do that i would want to learn how to stop faster, first.

    I have watched many riders go very fast round corners on public gravel roads. As impressive as it is i felt sure they would have little chance of being able to stop quickly should the need arise. Im happy to be proved wrong about that.
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  7. diabolik37

    diabolik37 Deadly Gubba

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    Question...

    Have you ever fell off on gravel going down front wheel first?
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  8. MrKiwi

    MrKiwi backwards & upsidedown Super Supporter

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    yes, so I am following this discussion with interest
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  9. Voltaire

    Voltaire Titanium and Ceramic Hipster

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    I too was impressed with the way some riders could get around corners, but I do wonder whats coming the other way.
    Two up I found the rear was pretty good but the front got lighter than riding solo, plus the R80 just chuggs along in 2nd and 3rd well.
    I went on a Northern Gravel Riders Course a couple of years back and found that useful, standing on the pegs tilting the bike in the opposite direction to on a road bike, and weight forward. I'm thinking that bracing the tank with your legs standing gives you more control than sitting....?
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  10. MirthfulThylacinator

    MirthfulThylacinator Tinker

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    Thanks for asking that question. Me too.
    Went on a trip with mates which included gravel sections. I'm new to this. Leader of the pack is Mr super-confident personified. I'm always worried. But follow him at his speed, thinking - obviously this is how it's done. We're doing up to 80 kmh, no real hairpin bends but enough to pucker up. I try the standing on pegs thing a bit. I like it. But ... not through the bends. There was gravel like marbles on some spots... seemed the leader practically aimed for and through those. Ok - that's obviously how it's done .... I follow and pucker some more - got thru, WOW ... learned a new skill here >>> boldly puckered guiding a GS where this boy hadn't ventured before ... LOL
    ... anyway, getting back on tar we pull over to reset abs and stuff, when leader says "woohoo!!! a few iffy corners back there, expected to come off a few times..."
    No shit Sherlock! I felt like saying, but then was happy with my performance on that day.

    I reckon it's Trust in tires, coupled with no fear of pain - which eventually translates into one's own skill-level-knowledge and enjoyment much like on a new-to-rider road bike.
    Still. That gravel thing has me foxed.
    And. I don't enjoy pain.
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  11. oldbeer

    oldbeer Grandadventurer

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    Welcome Aussies - great to have some input from across the ditch. I was just about to wtf your comment about no fear of pain but see you have edited your post:D:D.

    I think I will start a companion thread... "Stopping the bike as quickly as possible from 80kmh in a loose gravel corner - how do you do it (without falling off)"
    #11
  12. PeterW

    PeterW Long timer

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    Practice. Find some road you can turn into a loop and burn a set of knobs and a few tanks of fuel being comfortable.

    Next to tires decent suspension I found make a big difference, particularly on the bastard roads around here with radial washboards. With practice and good suspension on a DL650 I was on par with better riders on KTM990's and 1200GS's. Sitting down on the DL worked best, with working suspension there was generally no need to stand - admitted I was sitting well forward but the cornering was as fast and a lot less tiring.

    But, that depends on the bike, the conditions and the rider. I find it usually takes at least twenty minutes to get my dirt mojo back and then it's much easier. And yeah, a lot of that is not being tense on the bike, you aren't steering the way you do on seal, just giving it big hints on where you want to go - and having confidence that those hints will be listened to.
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  13. Night Falcon

    Night Falcon Broke Engine Supporter

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    I'm having to think about that, can't recall a time on gravel, sure I have though? Had front washouts a number of times pushing it on single track.

    Some interesting comments so far. Being able to take corners at speed gives the wrong idea though. It's more about being smooth through the corners so you're not having to slow up hard and push it out of them. As Phil said, the smooth guys were by default the fast guys.

    Since my last big crash I'm not worried about being fast, but being smoother through corners has got to be a good thing.....I'm constantly trying to improve my cornering every time I ride and really enjoy that part of riding. Saturdays afternoon (less greasy than the morning route) was great for practicing as it had loads of corners you could see through. I played around with different lines, speeds, standing & sitting; for me standing just seems to provide more control but my leg cant take it for long so am leaning towards sitting more going forward.

    You guys that were riding 2up were pretty impressive I thought. I guess riding 2up you tend to be smoother to make it more comfortable for the pillion.
    #13
  14. Voltaire

    Voltaire Titanium and Ceramic Hipster

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    When Phil said it was pillion friendly in an earlier post I now think his idea of friendly gravel is different to mine. But yes two up its all about smoothness and that risk matrix you do in your head changes.
    Would I do that route again 2 up, probably not.
    I sometimes think a newer bike would be nice but na.
    What was good training for me was 3 weeks in Vietnam on back roads not unlike the weekend two up on a Honda 150 with a semi knobbly rear tyre.
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  15. WesF

    WesF Been here awhile

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    Yes, at approx 5mph & l'm still nursing a broken/mending rib from it!!!

    I think a combination of skill & confidence is what's needed to get you going around gravel bends faster, but on saying that l knew a very experienced rider in Vegas who smashed his pelvis on an easy section of the Barstow offroad race!!

    Maybe you need to invest in the new Tiger?...(l wish l could afford the new one!)
    PS, there are some good gravel riding sequences in this video:



    PPS, l just found this Tiger new gen vid & this guy can ride, the fun stuff starts just after 6 mins................(dear Santa, Tiger XCa please, please, please......)

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  16. EVLED

    EVLED Bike riding nutter!

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    Yeah, smooth is always going to work whether on seal or gravel. I don't reckon that I'm that smooth (perhaps ham-fisted is a better description) but on anything tricky I try and "settle down" a bit and be smooth. Much easier to be smooth on the Ten than my DL. The DL wanted a few revs on and the rear was fairly prone to snapping out all over the place. The Ten is smoother and the traction control helps even more - as a rule I try to remember to put it in TC2 which allows some wheelspin, I feel that helps me know what's going on behind me...

    Gravel rocks!
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  17. Muzz67

    Muzz67 Unadventurous

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    Speaking of wheelspin,, thats the first thing I do when hitting gravel, especially in a different part of the country.
    Drop a wheelspin and see what the metal is like.
    Went up along Lake Tekapo on the slipperiest,pea metal road I've ever come across,,
    would have gutsed it on the first corner except was forewarned by a deliberate skid earlier.
    Oh, and its fun too!
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  18. WesF

    WesF Been here awhile

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    Here's a few vids that will give you visual & verbal guidance;






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  19. dazzadm

    dazzadm Long timer

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    Riding behind Phil was good to watch. Nice smooth flowing lines. Riding 2 up means that you have to consider how the pillion feels about the road you are on, otherwise you might not have a pillion next ride. For some I think that is the idea... but I enjoy having a pillion.

    Tyres. I used to use the E07s but found they lasted well but just felt a bit washy under preassure. I've gone to E09s now, just a bit more grip on wet dirt roads.

    While I was behind you, Night Falcon, I didn't see you doing anything concerning. It might just be getting that confidence, which is practice and lots of continuous miles on gravel. That's getting harder in NZ as the tar seal is stretching.

    Personnally, I have found sitting on gravel I can ride faster. Standing is good for those rough bits so you can counter ballance the bike movement and lower the center of gravity, but when travelling faster, you have to move a lot to counter act cornering.

    I agree with Phil for right hand corners. If you can't see around the corner stay left. I've ridden with too many guys who cut the corner and it just scares the s*** out of me. It can be a long wait for an ambulance in the middle of no where...

    I watched lots of motorcross videos, their cornering style is over exaggerated for the big bikes but has relevance. Ride a BMW and you quickly learn you can't put a foot out and you don't need to. I quite often find that dropping my shoulders helps. You tend to tighten up and dropping them helps to make you relax which helps and makes it more fun.

    I haven't ridden a bike with traction control or ABS, but I know I hate it in the car, it's always counter acting what I'm trying to make the car do. Watching mates ride with it, I see that it is also causing them problems, as they keep having to turn it off or set it to lower control settings. On the bigger bikes it probably needs some control to avoid letting rip with soo much power at hand.

    Hope something in there made sense...
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  20. outty

    outty (☞゚ヮ゚)☞

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    This is how I do it, but I'm not fast... Often open the throttle as I weight the outside peg and stay pretty neutral over the bike.
    lolgravel.JPG
    #20