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The world needs some gravel bikes

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by DesertPilot, Aug 16, 2018.

  1. LeMaitre

    LeMaitre Been here awhile Supporter

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    Your listing is more descriptive, "Gravel or dirt roads with minimal or seasonal maintenance that may require high clearance or 4wd
    Off road (single or double track, non maintained roads
    " of what I meant by off road.

    -Mark
  2. Rufjeep

    Rufjeep Been here awhile

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    I'm typing on a phone, so bare with me on spelling/ being concise. I meant that Off-road is a separate 3rd category from the other two. IMO, there is a huge difference in the type of bike that excells at off road vs. unmaintained/ seasonally maintained roads vs. maintained pavement or gravel.
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  3. LeMaitre

    LeMaitre Been here awhile Supporter

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    A Trials Bike definitely is better for climbing over large obstacles, but not ideal for doing 45 down a gravel road. Each bike style has its sweet spot.

    -Mark
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  4. popscycle

    popscycle Fahren Away Super Supporter

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    Perhaps, in summary, the issue is less about the availability of gravel bikes and more about the skill of gravel riders.
  5. Rufjeep

    Rufjeep Been here awhile

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    I hear you! Mud is a GS's nemesis. She's too fat to climb in slick mud, and coming down is like riding a rhinoceros on ice skates.
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  6. Pantah

    Pantah Jiggy Dog Fan Supporter

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    I think my 2012 KTM 690 Enduro is a terrific 'gravel bike'. I am not particularly fond of it because I don't like the motor and the way it makes power. It is very jerky jerky and makes a lot of rattly sounds. But I have almost 20k miles on it and I can say it is a very nice dirt road and gravel bike. Plus it has nice ergonomics and is very comfy for the long haul. Not as comfy as a soft twin with better wind protection, but pretty darn comfy for me. I have a Seat Concepts seat (firm), KTM wind screen, soft foam grips and I lowered the bike 1 inch front and rear and shortened the side stand. My last big trip (2018) on it was from Seattle to the Arctic Circle and back as part of the Alcan5000 TSD Rally. It was a total of about 7200 miles over 12 days. Maybe 2k miles of it was maintained dirt and gravel roads. That's quite a lot to pack into the first 8 days of the event. Plus we had plenty of dry and mud surfaces. The bike was good to ride through that stuff. I ran TKC 80 DOT knobby tires. I changed the rear at about 4k miles and left the front. We had chase trucks that carried our spares and luggage. Most importantly, I never thought about butt burn or cramps.

    In earlier years I rode a 2004 KTM 950 in the Alcan5000 twice. It was also a VERY good gravel bike. Probably the best I've ridden. But I couldn't pick it up without help so I replaced it with the 690. I rode my 690 a few weeks ago through an all-day un-maintained mountain road here in the desert. The sand was my big fear, but not really very much and only deep for short wash crossings. The deep ruts were no problem but I used a better tire in the Pirelli MT21. The 690 was pretty darn good so I decided to keep it.
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  7. randyo

    randyo Long timer

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    I think the SV650 works well
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
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  8. DesertPilot

    DesertPilot Been here awhile

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    What's the suspension like on bad washboard? How is it compared with the bigger bike?
  9. Pantah

    Pantah Jiggy Dog Fan Supporter

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    I'd say over washboard my 690 is much better than either my 2008 Yamaha Wr250r or my 2004 KTM950 Adventure. The 690 has better suspension than the Yamaha and is a little stiffer front and rear than the 950. I'd say the little Yam was the worst because it has a very short shock using linkage to achieve the longer travel. It made washboard teeth gritting. Plus it had a short swing arm, which aggravated things. Meanwhile the 950 was a big heavy machine with lots of power. Bad combo for washboard roads like you find in the Rockies. My 690 has decent suspension. I could probably make it softer because I don't push it that hard. I'd say its biggest weakness is the nature of its motor. It is violently powerful but it comes on too high in the rev range and the FI is snatchy. I understand the motor has been vastly improved for 2020 and the Husky 701 much better too with better FI and two balance shafts. But mine will do just fine as it is. To reduce the jarring effects of washboard, I pretty much keep a low and steady throttle setting until I clear the worst of it.
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  10. AdvNener

    AdvNener Long timer

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    I'm sure stock to stock the 690 has better suspension, but i don't think using linkage on the WRR has anything to do with that?
  11. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    My 1290 only started to float comfortably over the washboard at above 65mph. Below that it was bone-jarring, teeth rattling and double-vision inducing. Over 75 it was pretty good but that's getting pretty nuts for a non-racer. Crashing at that speed would be extremely nasty. Even at the "smoother" speeds, several hundred miles of it still beat me up and managed to rattle the steering bearings loose.
  12. Pantah

    Pantah Jiggy Dog Fan Supporter

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    I've never ever noticed washboard at high speeds. For me washboard surfaces occur on slow and winding grades. 2nd and 3rd gear stuff tops. And even then I am a gear too high to minimize the slipping that causes rear wheel chatter.
  13. Pantah

    Pantah Jiggy Dog Fan Supporter

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    The WRR has a very short shock. As a result it is heavily damped. They use linkage to extend the travel of the wheel. My KTM has linkage too, but it is a full sized shock absorber and fully adjustable. I rode that WRR all over the west and while it is a great little motorcycle, it has its limitations. The short wheelbase and compact shock are two of the reasons for its limitations over a full sized dirt oriented motorcycle. It makes the back end very harsh in my opinion.
  14. AdvNener

    AdvNener Long timer

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    I genuinely still don't get why this compact shock would specifically be a problem on washboard roads. For me every bike will have issue at specific speeds depending on the washboard pattern and suspension.
    Btw the wr250r shock travel is listed at 95mm (spring free length is 220mm), I have trouble finding the 690 specs (various models anyway as the bike was updated regularly) but 55mm seems to come out here and there (seems weird)?

    The yam wheelbase is shorter than most for sure, and its shock benefits from some internal tuning.
  15. Rufjeep

    Rufjeep Been here awhile

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    A well sorted KLR, DR, or XRL makes a pretty sweet gravel bikes, IMO. Can be made really comfortable, light enough to pick up, decent suspension, and nice mellow power that works well for exploring back roads. Plus, easy to repair in the field.

    I've got a GS, which is great, but prefer the 650 unless there is a lot of pavement.
  16. ScottFree

    ScottFree Been here awhile

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  17. Hamamelis

    Hamamelis Inmate

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    Honestly, I think that's part of why so many Americans have moved over to either crossover SUVs or lifted wagons like the Outback or the similar European models (Audi, VW, and Volvo all offer their own variants on the formula). Let alone within the motorcycle market, where ADVs and "soft-roaders" like the Versys 650 or NC700X are slowly outpacing cruisers in sales

    It's a lot more pleasant to hit a crack in the road, let alone a serious pothole, with tall wheels and good suspension than to risk the alternative. Especially in the dark of winter!
  18. ScottFree

    ScottFree Been here awhile

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    Yep—I remember back in ‘05, when the Buell Ulysses came out, I took a demo ride that never went off pavement. But it floated over enough Wisconsin frost heaves to make me say, “I want one of these!”

    There are several roads in the farm country around here that seem to go back and forth between gravel and pavement. Every ten years or so the highway department gets enough money to squirt some chip-seal down. After about five years this degrades back to gravel. Five years later, here comes the truck full of tar...
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  19. Gummee!

    Gummee! That's MR. Toothless

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    I'm surprised none of y'all have mentioned a Rallye Replica for gravel roads. Lightweight. Lots of gas. Should be lots of fun.

    Somewhat unobtanium however.

    ...and maybe a hair tall for the OP?

    M
  20. Hamamelis

    Hamamelis Inmate

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    I've only ever seen one Rally Replica on public roads and I imagine that's a damn sight more than most people ever have unless they're someone like Lyndon Poskitt