Off-road Confidence

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by Order_Unknown, Aug 29, 2020.

  1. VikingMoto

    VikingMoto Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2019
    Oddometer:
    118
    Location:
    Davis, CA
  2. scottrnelson

    scottrnelson Mr. Dual Sport Rider

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,089
    Location:
    Meridian, ID
    #42
  3. VikingMoto

    VikingMoto Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2019
    Oddometer:
    118
    Location:
    Davis, CA
    That is true, but it's $35 dollars which is a lot cheaper than any other training. In my case, I did some training and that was a good start, but it wasn't until I really started practicing the basics as taught by Birch's vidoes that my riding really improved. It was hard at first, because it felt awkward and counter-intuitive, but now I can handle terrain I could never have attempted before. I also went from a Africa Twin Adventure sports to a Ktm 690, which, for me, was really different. On the AT, it didn't really matter that much what I did with my weight/body because the bike is so heavy; the 690 is a different story, and body position really makes a difference, at least in my experience. It took a lot of discipline and patience to get really force myself to practice what Birch preaches, but I am a convert.
    #43
    RedEX likes this.
  4. Bucho

    Bucho DAMNrider

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2006
    Oddometer:
    4,542
    Location:
    Maryland
    Funny how its all relative.

    My 650 is my "big bike" and these days I spend 90% of the time on a 2T enduro or a trials bike.
    But I remember the days of having a big a BMW 1150GS and how my DR650 felt like a tiny little bike in comparison.
    #44
  5. amr2ul

    amr2ul Machinery 2 Upper Level

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2005
    Oddometer:
    869
    Location:
    North Alabama
    A few years ago I went for a solo ride on the Flint Creek trail in Bankhead National Forest in Alabama. It's a 17 mile loop of moderately well maintained Forest Service ORV trail that forms a loop, making it easy to navigate since you end up where you started. Four or five miles in I found a guy on the ground, pinned there by a BMW adventure bike balanced on his ankle. It took both of us to wrestle the thing off of him, and having done so it would not start up.
    Long story even longer I was amazed he got the thing as far as he did. After I called in the local Rescue Squad it still took us all working together a couple of hours to get him and his bike out.

    Based on this experience I tend to regard "adventure bikes" with a jaundiced eye.
    #45
    MTBRALPH and Bucho like this.
  6. VikingMoto

    VikingMoto Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2019
    Oddometer:
    118
    Location:
    Davis, CA
    I had a very similar experience with my Africa Twin, which is why I sold it and bought a 690. Best decision I made!
    #46
    Ginger Beard likes this.
  7. Mr Head

    Mr Head Adventure Hippie Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2003
    Oddometer:
    16,831
    Location:
    San Clemente, CA

    Practice on the bike. A smaller bike while easier, doesn't have the mass and girth to get you comfortable with your specific bike.

    After I jumped on the adventure bike train on a 2004 BMW 1150 Adventure, I took a riding course on smaller bikes since I had no real professional instruction on dirt riding and little experience on dirt other than back in the day when we didn't yet know we had to have the right motorcycle, tires, mustache wax and cup holder to ride specific terrain. :-)

    Anyway, then I took the Jimmy Lewis Offroad course on my 1150 adventure.
    Prior to the class by a good while, I'd replaced the OEM saddle with an OEM low saddle. After the class I went back to the taller original saddle because I was much more confident in knowing exactly what to do and that saddle is far more comfortable.

    Then I made a point of every other weekend or so, making the hour or so ride out to a dry lake bed to practice the drills JLR had taught me.
    I took notes on that class, after each day so that I would remember those drills. And the important parts of each skill.

    That practice helped me be confident in looser and technical riding even fully loaded for weeks long travel.

    There are a few simple exercises/drills that can be accomplished on your front or back lawn. Both are balance drills with the motor off.

    First up is balancing the motorcycle with one finger while circumnavigating it at a stand still.
    Pick the bike up off the side stand, then holding the bike level, slowly work your way to just supporting the balance of the machine using only one finger. Once you are comfortable with that, work your way around the bike alternating one finger from either hand.
    A good way to begin this is with a full hand hold then progress as confidence indicates.
    A place to begin that is less fraught with shattered plastic and scratched chrome and ally is with a bicycle.

    This zero speed balance drill will enhance confidence when moving at low speeds or for example moving the bike with the motor off. Say in a campground or into that tight motorcycle parking area at work.

    The next step in this of course is to swing a leg over the bike and again with the motor off, stand on the pegs. Hands on the grips, hold the front brake with a finger or two. Beginning with one foot on a peg, ball of the foot, step up onto the other peg and stand balanced over the bike, then in a controlled and balanced manner step back off.

    Practice this to either side until you can do so with no wobble.


    Feeling confident?
    Good.

    Next up from the same engine off, seated on the bike position, but this time, no hands on the bars, perform the same step up onto the peg and balance.
    An easier way to approach this step is with the side stand deployed, you may need a small block as prop.

    Important: Remember that side stand may fold up when moving the bike to balance. Be ready. Be balanced. Be controlled.

    Enjoy.

    Once you can perform the above with no bar wiggle or sharp intakes of breath, you're ready for powered drills and a dry lakebed.


    My two cents from a few years of riding and a few tip-overs. I still don't like deep sand but, I know I can ride it on my fully loaded, far too tall adventure bike on worn mostly street tires. The skills I was taught and I practiced have proven that to me as has doing it on the big bikes. Only practicing on smaller bikes with no luggage will not gain that confidence in riding a big heavily loaded bike.

    Another important exercise is to really consider what you really need to carry when traveling. I managed over a few decades of travel to pare my kit down.
    Less is more.

    A month on the road, a commute for work forced me into way overload thanks to a huge work notebook computer that took up most of the right side Jesse. Plus camping gear, business attire and of course the associated Moto gear for dealing with near constant rain. :imaposer

    [​IMG]

    Two years before that and before any instruction beyond, "try and balance on the pegs and sit back a bit in the sand", I did my first dirt/adventure ride not as overloaded as the above, but loaded up on very worn Tourances with plenty of loose sand.

    [​IMG]

    At least there was a section of a couple hundred feet of grease slick mud followed a while later by a steep switchback off-camber rutted dirt.

    We still didn't like sand, but training and practice, some thanks to Garmin routing us out of our way into the desert and back. :fpalm

    [​IMG]
    This "road" began as a paved neighborhood street with homes on either side, driveways the whole enchilada, and became this. :dunno

    And another month long work commute with to much crap. Found some more sand to drop my bike in too. At least that time it was hot. :knary :muutt:imaposer

    [​IMG]

    Less sand, but we found deep mud puddles and a cylinder-deep water hazard.

    And shade.

    [​IMG]

    Another adventure commute for work with big notebook computer and too much gear,(per diem and hotel life). :-)

    [​IMG]

    Side trips when the Garmin finale gave up in the heat,

    [​IMG]

    This is where I noticed the Garmin was not reading the map card anymore so there was a little cursor on a field of mustard yellow screen. No roads or tracks to follow.
    Oh, and my gallon water bottle had split open so there was about a cup of very hot water with a bit more than a pint in my hydration bladder. Time to head back to the world.

    A month later or so later I headed home from 7 months only to have my sight glass fail at a gas station that had no gas or power. That was a long day that ultimately led to the replacement of the big BMW Adventure.

    A little lighter, a little taller, a little more powerful.

    [​IMG]

    This was just prior to the steepest and loosest sandy track I've ever descended.

    [​IMG]

    This led to more sand, inappropriate tire choices and of course travel loading.

    [​IMG]



    Enjoy.
    #47
    Iron Cross Junction and RedEX like this.
  8. All-Terrain

    All-Terrain Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2019
    Oddometer:
    87
    Location:
    CO
    Who here started riding on something too big and too powerful? Did you push through on that bike or did you swap to something smaller? Or maybe bought a second crappier bike to learn on?
    #48
  9. jacktwitch

    jacktwitch Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2016
    Oddometer:
    218
    Location:
    Northern AZ
    Get a used japanese 250 dual sport. you can sell it in a year for about what you pay for it, assuming you ever want to sell it.

    Also tires are huge. Stock tires tend to be garbage on anything but highway, especially on "adventure" bikes
    #49
  10. Boxerbreath

    Boxerbreath 2017.5 GS Black Storm

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2018
    Oddometer:
    4,345
    Location:
    Lost Angels County
    Returning to trail riding I started on a KTM 950 Adventure, then down to a Husky TE610. No advantage there.
    WR250R next, more confidence. I saw the light(er)...
    Finally a KTM 400EXC, and as I got better at regaining my chops, went to a 450EXC. Superb.
    6 years later and getting old, I'm on a DRZ400E. Low maintenance and very capable.
    I miss my 450EXC though...
    #50
  11. dirt hokie

    dirt hokie Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,622
    Location:
    Eastern shore of MD
    1. armor up your bike, and yourself
    2. get a ridding buddy
    3. Ride as much off road as you can in the conditions that give you the most problems
    4. watch the good riders, and maybe take some off road focused big bike classes.
    5. experiment with different tires and suspension and load configurations
    6. at some point it will all start to "click"
    #51
    Amphib and Boxerbreath like this.
  12. Motor7

    Motor7 Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2013
    Oddometer:
    1,618
    Location:
    East Tennessee
    #52
  13. Amphib

    Amphib A mind is like a parachute....

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2018
    Oddometer:
    3,781
    Location:
    Wnc
    I started riding more seriously offroad on a 2017 africa twin. I had moved to WNC, been out of riding for a few years and wanted to access all that there was here. (I came from Harleys and jap standards)

    I'm not as old, or as smart as some folks here, but this bike has taught me so much. When I do eventually pick up a smaller bike, I imagine I'll be on a whole nother level.

    The big lessons I've learned is..... Momentum, momentum, momentum. When in doubt, throttle out, and the bike is better than I am, so trust it. Listen to it... It'll give you clues where and how it wants to go. Don't manhandle it, looser grip on the bars. Choose lines wisely. When stopping, pay attention to where you plan on putting your feet. If the bike starts to go down, don't fight it and focus on a safe, clean dismount. Good tires, crash protection, and boots matter. I'm keeping the AT. At 48yo I still can manage to pick it up, it's a great do everything bike for me and suits the way I like to ride and the trips I like to take.

    I don't seek out single track, but do prefer rougher less used forest roads so I hesitate to use the label "offroad".... Off pavement is more precise, but a lot of the roads I ride are only accessible by high clearance 4x4s....a prius wouldn't make it. I have a tendency to bumblefuck into things and didn't really do my homework when I bought the AT. I wasn't thinking that I would be primarily wanting to be riding off road. But now I am and it's my preferred place to ride. I have no regrets, I adore my bike... I'm grateful for what I've /am learning.

    Peruse the ride reports. It's pretty cool seeing the variety bikes getting taken to so many different places.
    #53
    Ginger Beard, Motor7 and eri like this.
  14. Order_Unknown

    Order_Unknown Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2020
    Oddometer:
    28
    Location:
    Antigua, Guatemala
    I should have kept up with this thread. I just finished 90 straight days on the bike. Along the way I also did 4 days at RawHyde for more training and a 2-day ride off road through the desert. I have come so far, and really comfortable on the bike now. I finished up with a 4 day ride down through Mexico and into Guatemala, where I live. I liked my bike when I was riding through the States. But I fell in love with the bike the minute I crossed the border into Mexico. This bike was built for where I live.

    I did 12,000 miles in 90 days. I've had too many mini adventures to recount them all here right now. But the short of it is that I feel relatively confident on the bike, off road. That's miles from where I was at when I started this thread. Cheers!
    #54
  15. Bucho

    Bucho DAMNrider

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2006
    Oddometer:
    4,542
    Location:
    Maryland
    I bought an R1150GS new. I had been street riding for a few years. I ended up downsizing to a DR650. However, in my situation this was more due to other reasons besides offroad. I never took my GS on anything harder than some rough dirtroads.
    I got into dualsporting with a DR650 and then into real offroad. Later got a street legal 2T. Though, I also haul my bike around with a van and do very little pavement.
    #55
  16. Commiehunter

    Commiehunter Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    832
    I started on an R1200GS. Bought a WR426F, which was perfect for offroading the places I'd been taking the R1200GS. I ended up racing it XC, and taking it on a bunch of black diamond singletrack. So I bought a KTM 250 XCF. Now, I own a KTM 990 Adventure as well (still have the 250 and the 1200).

    I'll agree and disagree with some of the points before:

    90/10 tires, smaller bike, standing. These are all great ways to learn. They give confidence, in order for you to get the seat time and experience. Once you have experience, you can ride big, heavy bikes, sitting down, on 90/10 tires. Initially, standing is great because it helps isolate your body (and your reflexes) from the small slips and wobbles that sketch you out on gravel. Once those slips aren't a big deal, you can (and should?) do a lot of that hardpacked gravel or dirt sitting down. Tires? 90/10 tires or similar are great in a ton of scenarios. As long as it's dry, you'll get almost everywhere on them, IF you already have good technique. However, as mentioned, more aggressive tires will give you that extra confidence, and that extra leeway to recover from mistakes.
    #56