myth of the light weight adventure bike for dirt and adv riding?

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by B1, Mar 14, 2013.

  1. manybike

    manybike Omnipresent

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    My lightweight version. Not big power..but enough. Easy to handle, easy to pick up. Seat height is livable.
    SAM_1393.jpg
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  2. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    Eventually when no longer a noob, you may find you don't spend too much time feet down flat footed. You will find if you can touch down reasonably well with one foot, that is fine.

    All I need to be able to do is to touch down enough to deal with rough terrain if I need to dab a bit. Otherwise no big deal. Riding dual sports for the past near 20 years I haven't been able to touch flat footed a majority of the time. I find when I was riding my Zephyr 550 it felt goofy to me to be able to put both feet down, bended knees. Most of the time I only put one foot down and usually on the ball of my foot as opposed to flat footed - habit.
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  3. AlexWS

    AlexWS Adventurer

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    I have no doubt that a taller bike is the way to go for trail riding especially with a skilled rider. I'm looking to have one motorcycle that does it all as I don't want one bike for commuting in town and another for taking on trips and another for exploring trails. As such, any motorcycle I get will probably spend well over half its life on asphalt as my daily ride and when I'm on asphalt it's a lot more comfortable for me to be able to put both feet down. When I'm on trips and adventures my riding is more likely to be 60/40 asphalt/dirt so I don't need a hard core trail ripper and when I am on the dirt the hardest it's likely to get is a non-technical single track.

    My off road riding isn't so much about being off road just to be off road, it's about getting places I can't get to by staying on the asphalt. I just like small bikes that can take me anywhere, they don't have to do it fast though.
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  4. B1

    B1 Carbon-based bipedal

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    those taller bikes can be tricky if you have short legs. there probably isn't much new info in this vid, but did this one recently about the various ways to adapt your riding or your bike when it's hard to touch the ground.

  5. AlexWS

    AlexWS Adventurer

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    Some good info there but I have to say, my riding doesn't look anything like that. I simply do not need the ground clearance those guys do because I'm not riding trails like that or hopping over trees.
  6. mesoman

    mesoman Been here awhile

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    But as you ride more things may change for you. You may become more interested in following more challenging off road situations. A taller bike is just "right", especially off road.
    With more ADV riding experience this fact may come to you. Or not. But the Sherpa is OK ... especially if traveling the 3rd world. Look up John Downs and his years of travel aboard a S. Sherpa in Mexico, Cent. America and S. America. One of the best ride reports ever posted here on ADV Rider.
  7. AlexWS

    AlexWS Adventurer

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    I read the whole ride report, that's how I found out about Sherpas and what really turned me on to minimalist touring.
  8. Caesars_ghost

    Caesars_ghost Air Cooled.

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    Yeah, the problem is "adventure" means a lot of different things. The bike that's just right for commuting and cruising local backroads isn't the same one that's ideal for blazing down single track 3 hours from home, or exploring the trickiest trails. Likewise touring SA (or any destinations far from home) produces a different set of requirements.

    I'd be really hesitant to take a Euro bike (other than BMW) to South America, simply because the increased maintenance requirements, questionable parts availability, to say nothing of the less-than-totally-bulletproof reputation they have. But a high-strung KTM or Husqvarna would be just the thing for fun on road or travel within a couple hours of home (or farther afield if it's a counterbalanced model like the 690.)

    On the other hand, not everyone wants to spend $9-25k on a bike that's going to be thrashed offroad. A budget DRZ or DR or 250 is less intimidating from the standpoint of doing maintenance yourself, not to mention not worrying about scratches and drops.

    I have no doubt that a 38" seat height is doable for about anyone, when riding recreationally, especially offroad. But I do think that if the machine is being used for more "practical" things like commuting, or travel/touring, a lower seat height is desirable for those of us who are inseam challenged. There's simply no way to avoid having to stop, sometimes frequently, in traffic, and sometimes it's necessary to ride through that stuff. It'd be still more problematic if the bike is loaded up for camping and top heavy, or if riding 2up.
  9. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    On road was the least of any problem. It's easy to simply balance with one foot down when on the road. As said, after you ride for a while you may find with a smaller lighter bike you will not be concerned with two feet down. It's simply about learning balance and be observant enough to realize which side to foot when there's a heavy crown or surface is off camber to one side. Some riders lower bikes to help until confidence is there, then reset to stock.

    Problems have with seat height is off road when there are ruts under foot in rough terrain... Much easier with the 250 than with the 650 in spite of a higher seat height on the 250. It's about where the weight is distributed. I also have to pay attention to where I stop and which way I lean.

    But definitely do what is comfortable for now.
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  10. AlexWS

    AlexWS Adventurer

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    As I said I've been riding for 5 years on the road so the confidence is there, I just really enjoy being able to put my feet down. I find it more comfortable when stopped at traffic lights and stop signs or when I'm pulled over to check a map real quick or grab a drink I also only want one bike so it also needs to be my commuter/around town bike so a lower seat height makes it more useful for things like that.
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  11. DrHeinrich

    DrHeinrich um.... huh. Supporter

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    I just did a four-hour "big bike" (I had my tiny DR in a sea of GS's and 1190's) intermediate training with Jimmy Lewis - Baja winner, Dakar winner, great educator.

    He started us on the fundamentals of balance and the first thing was to never have both feet down. Find the balance point of the bike - upright and neutral - as you have one foot on the ground and you control the bike with your thigh over your seat and foot on your peg. On/off. Up/down. Switch sides. He challenged us to never have two feet down again at the same time. He went on to say later that it's obviously exactly the right thing to do when it's the right thing to do, but he wants us to change our mindset toward balance through neutrality vs. our too often used "balance" through creating a tripod.

    Not only did this change my approach and feel for my bike off-road immensely, it also shifted my thoughts on "what's too tall," etc. More tools in the toolbox.
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  12. DrHeinrich

    DrHeinrich um.... huh. Supporter

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    Love the intent of this thread, btw...

    For us one-bike guys, we'll be wading in compromise - likely for each ride. I think of it as any particular bike I own will at best hit about 80-85% of optimal and it's up to me to fill in the rest with fun.

    I did my best to identify the mission my bike was to optimally fulfill and find what had low-maintenance requirements and was within my budget. But the mission comes first, always. (My mission is the TAT and northern Ontario everywhere and class-4 Vermont roads and the ability to ride to and return from all those places. And to not break down.)

    I just did about 920 miles over five days that included parkways and interstates (with rain, trucks, and crosswinds) to a rally in upstate NY (with camping gear) that included two half-day trainings, obstacle courses, technical woods trails, fast dirt, technical descents, etc. I really wanted something heavier on the run up - like GS-heavy (or even KLR-heavy ;-) ) and lighter for the technical would have been cool but not a must.

    So weight isn't only bad depending upon the mission. AND there is no f-in way I would want something more than 450lbs fully fueled and loaded. I like to ride solo too (another mission component) - gotta be manage-able.
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  13. AlexWS

    AlexWS Adventurer

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    I absolutely get that for technical skills but I'm talking about when you aren't moving like at a stop light. For me it just makes the day more comfortable when I can put both feet down when I'm not moving.
  14. DrHeinrich

    DrHeinrich um.... huh. Supporter

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    Respectfully, an intersection is the last place I'll allow myself to feel comfortable. At a stop light, I never have both feet down. If anything happens that I need to respond to, I'd be too slow - needing to shift weight being the first issue.

    I'm left foot down. Right foot engaging the rear brake. Clutch and throttle ready to jump if needed. If I don't have a foot on the peg, the bike takes me for the ride.

    This training reinforced that for me and took it many steps further.
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  15. Caesars_ghost

    Caesars_ghost Air Cooled.

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    Weight is definitely the hardest issue. Issues like suspension, not so much, because a dirt suspension is going to work just fine on the street -it just doesn't have much to do. Same with power -we can get spoiled easily, but 30s-40s hp is quite enough to cruise past the speed limit and out-accelerate any cage, especially on a light machine.

    But the weight requires a definite, hard compromise, and I think the "sweet spot" is probably different for everyone depending on their own body and riding conditions. A big bike feels better on the pavement (up to a certain point.) It feels more stable and planted, less apt to get blown about by wind or by the draft of semis and other vehicles. And of course, heavier usually also means more hp, which is also nice. I can say, for a 2 hour slab ride, a 550lb 1200 naked is a lot more enjoyable than a 320lb 250 naked. Less getting blown around, less vibrations, less feeling like the motor is about to grenade (whether it is or not -it's a psychological thing.) For a longer ride the little bike would be torture -unless you were willing to slow down to 50mph to tame the vibes and wind, and smell the roses on secondary roads. This is maybe the best solution if you're going around the world, but less doable if you need to get places, or are making a weekend/week-long trip instead of an indefinite wander.

    On the other hand, when traversing very rough ground, lighter is better. The bike requires a lot more physical steering inputs, and it's way less fatiguing to throw around a 250lb bike than a 350lb, and 450 is exponentially more difficult. On the street bike, a steering input is a gentle push once in awhile. Smooth dirt roads don't matter as much because we aren't talking about traversing or maneuvering around ruts, rocks, etc. As long as the traction feels good and the suspension is moderately capable, weight doesn't matter too much. But well-maintained dirt can turn into rough dirt easily, and most of us want to be able to ride the rough stuff, otherwise we would just stick to the pavement.

    So the really tricky part of this whole equation is finding a bike that is stable and planted enough on pavement to make a trip pleasant and not exhausting, but light enough to make the dirt fun and not exhausting. And the only answer to that question is to answer the following:

    -how much pavement do you plan to ride?
    -how rough is the dirt?
    -how much endurance (fitness) do you have and what is your tolerance level? A 20yo is going to be unphased by things that will get to a 30 or 40yo rather quickly.
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  16. mesoman

    mesoman Been here awhile

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    Good analysis there! I like it! :thumbup The other possible could have been "buy another bike"! :nod May not work for some but having a daily commuter bike AND a decent travel bike could solve some problems. One bike will never fully cover every situation.

    Sometimes knowing what terrain you will encounter can't be known! Going deep into Mexico or even crossing Nevada (off road) I encountered this dilemma a few times. Once or twice, had to turn round, other times made it through, other times, got beat up pretty good but made it.
    Being young and strong is important. But good riding technique is of equal importance. Noob off road riders should not make judgements about what bikes are best for travel until they've done the time and miles to have empirical evidence and have developed the skills to back that up. Wisdom.

    I've done cross country and out of country rides for decades. Tried all sorts of crazy bikes that did not fit ... and some that did. I thought my DL1000 Vstrom could cover a lot of bases ... and it did ... except for any sort of serious off road. Also traveled on Sport bikes. All disastrous off road.
    Did several long Mexico rides on XR650L, XR400, and XR250. Longest on a KLR650. 6K miles from Baja to Guatemala. I hated that KLR ... but a carefully set up KLR is not so bad.

    Eventually came back to the DR650. Remarkable bike. So versatile.

    Regards 250's and the like, not great for in USA touring, not good for making 500 mile days. But ideal for 3rd world travel in Asia or Latin America. Much slower pace there, lots of wonderful secondary roads not many Freeways. :ricky
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  17. The_Precious_Juice

    The_Precious_Juice The Virginian

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    Well its nearly 2020. We have some good things going for us.

    First of all, I'll define light wight as 399lbs and less.

    We have a lot of great bikes.

    Shorty Pants
    DR200
    XT250

    Tally Pants
    WR250R
    DRZ400


    The Ultimate Platform
    The Mighty DR

    Big and Tall
    Honda 650

    Micro-Machines
    CRF250L Rally ABS
    G310GS

    Ready to Tour
    Versys X 300 (non ABS)
    KTM 390
    RE Hima (this is over 400lbs but has a center stand, and other goodies that make it just over 400lbs.

    Ready to Race
    CRF450L
    KTM 690 R
    KTM EXC-F 450
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  18. manybike

    manybike Omnipresent

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    i plan to stick with the VX for now. The 390 is very interesting, want to see one in the flesh.
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  19. The_Precious_Juice

    The_Precious_Juice The Virginian

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    Big fan of the X 300.
    Huge success.

    I'm shocked that Yamaha did not do the same with the R3. I demo rad the R3 and around 7,000rpm she starts to take off.
    I would assume that around 8,000rpm the X 300 does too.

    Dumb leadership. I guess they do not have the factory space.

    I believe Kawi is in command out of the big four.
  20. Kommando

    Kommando Long timer

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    Especially now that we have lighter "rackless" luggage options, like MoskoMoto, Green Chile, Giant Loop, etc. We also have more lithium battery options, and titanium exhaust is even more common.
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