The world needs some gravel bikes

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

  1. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    Yeah, I had a tough time finding a bike that suited my needs. I needed one bike that could do it all, and weighed less than 450 lbs.

    Solo on forest roads.
    [​IMG]

    Fully loaded for camping.
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    2-up on the interstate with traffic flowing at 90 mph.
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    Track days.
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    I seem to have found it. :D
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  2. shinyribs

    shinyribs Thumpers for life

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    Lol

    A while back I was invited on a dual sport trip. Ended up being MABDR. Disappointed, but still a good time. My buddy and myself were on dirt bikes ( XR4 and WR250F), everyone else was on GS, S10 or KLR. The split second we turned off pavement and on to a gravel road ( much nicer than my own driveway) the GS guys were popping off their saddles like clockwork. I got tickled. Later on when we pull back on to pavement they sat back down until gravel again, then pop pop pop they all went again. One after the other as soon as their tires rolled from one surface to the other. I laughed out loud. My buddy and I were chuckling about it at camp that night. Looked like prarie dogs popping out of their holes for a look.

    On day two my butt got sore on a long paved road section and I stood up to stretch. I was reprimanded on my dangerous riding at the next fuel stop. Some people have no clue, they just follow what the trends and YouTube tell them is cool.
  3. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    [​IMG]
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  4. Tripped1

    Tripped1 Smoove, Smoove like velvet.

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    My 675 Daytona would also. My old driveway was more gnarly than that, and I used to run it sitting, at 35mph on Speed Triple with sport touruing rubber
  5. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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  6. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    How many are willing to do that on an $8500 bike? Just curious.
  7. William Wolfen

    William Wolfen DR Guy

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    Most guys on a $10k+ KTM/Husqvarna/Beta.
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  8. DesertPilot

    DesertPilot Been here awhile

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    Stop it! Stop tempting me to walk to the dealership that's only half a block away and get that Ducati! Stop it right this instant! Argh! :D
  9. ChopperCharles

    ChopperCharles Long timer

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    I’m one of those nobody’s with an SCR950. Love the bike, and it’s very competent on gravel — even if I’m not! I get skeerd when stuff starts sliding so I take it easy in gravel for the most part. I did upgrade my suspension and raise the bike up quite a bit though.

    Love the bike. 45mph on gravel roads was easy and confidence inspiring. Same type of roads on my v65 felt pretty hairy, and I kept speed waaaay down on that bike.

    Charles.
  10. DesertPilot

    DesertPilot Been here awhile

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    Sounds like you've got a winner! What did you do to the suspension and how did you do the raise? Did you have to fiddle with the sidestand as well?
  11. ChopperCharles

    ChopperCharles Long timer

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    12.25” FORSA shocks on the back. Front slid down in the trees .5”. That’s 1.5” taller in the rear and .5 inches taller in the front. Bike was very slow handling before the change, and quite quick afterwards. Still stable on the highway, even decelerating with no hands.

    Front forks stick out the top of the trees .25” stock, so they’re only .25” under the top now. (The top of the nut is flush with the top tree). With the shocks the new swing arm travel only increases a half an inch, which is important because of the belt drive. I’d love long travel suspension, but I’d have to machine a chain drive conversion first. The FORSA shocks are for a sportster, so they still don’t have a lot of travel, but are taller and they’re better than the stock shocks. They were very stiff at first but after 2000 miles they’ve broken in to be absolutely perfect.

    Charles.
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  12. ChopperCharles

    ChopperCharles Long timer

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    Been riding it on those few dirt roads in the area, and keep upping my speed and letting the rear wander out a bit more. Trying it standing and sitting and both are fun. But having a leg out just wants to grab my foot and whip it around. How does one do that safely on a gravel road?

    Charles.
  13. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    Foot is only out there to catch should you slip a bit too far. Usually not touching, maybe skimming at the most. You do need a boot with a smooth or MX style sole that will be less likely to catch when skimming. It's not like having a steel shoe and flat tracking it, it's more like a smooth sweeper in MX. The rear is drifting some, the foot is only out in the event it is needed, not to slide it on the ground. Most of the time the foot will not touch.

    Even flat trackers don't have their foot on the ground as much as one might think. If you watch them they may use it sliding in, but motoring out the foot may be out, but not touching unless the rear wheel suddenly kicks out due to a rut, hole, or the like. On a really smooth cushion they will often have their foot on the peg, sliding. Same with motocrossers in most situations, they're not dragging their foot, it is out should a dab be necessary.
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  14. PJay

    PJay Any bike, anywhere

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    My gravel road bike and some friends, lunch break off a rare sealed road part of our 120-mile gravel road toddle last weekend:

    Triumph and Austins 8 Oct 2018.jpg

    The four 1930s Austin 7s between them might, perhaps, have more power than the Street Scrambler...and I read on this forum that the Scrammie is underpowered.

    PS no meerkat behaviour from me on gravel, nor (it should be said) from the intrepid drivers of these bolides.
  15. PJay

    PJay Any bike, anywhere

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    On the subject of suitable gravel road machines, these are the roads I grew up on, and I’ve done a lot of (successful) competition on gravel: hill climbs, road trials etc. So I have a lot of bases for comparison over the last 50+ years.

    In my experience, a low centre of gravity and compliant suspension count highest for suitable machines (as the MX world has discovered over the last couple of decades, performance of suspension is way more important than length of travel).

    So my Street Scrambler is a better gravel bike than my KTMs ever were, not to mention my DR650 or XL1000V.

    My mag wheel Bonneville Newchurch was better than my 865 Scrambler.

    And on the topics of traction control and ABS, yes, once I got used to not having to slip and slide everywhere, they’re great for fast progress in gravel. The factory does know better than I do.
  16. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    Why would anyone who plays on gravel roads ever want traction control? Half the fun is sliding around a good corner. But then that's just my fun.
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  17. PJay

    PJay Any bike, anywhere

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    But...around my place, gravel roads are usually single lane or single and a bit, so no room to change a slide when a logging truck appears around a corner in front of you.

    I find it's quicker from point A to point B to have the wheels hooked up all the time.

    BTW, top gravel road speed of my Street Scrammie by GPS so far is 170kph (Acheron Road through Molesworth Station).

    You do it your way, I'll do it mine.
  18. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    Missed the times where I comment about being able to see around the corner I take it? Well, I'll add that to my comment -

    I find it a whole lot of fun to hang the rear end out about a foot and slide around a nice clear sweeper... or railing it a bit around a berm on a trail... or floating the front wheel a bit when possible...

    After all, for me it's always been the adventure of the ride, not how far I ride and how quick I can do it. That's why I cannot tell you how fast I've gone on a gravel road - it just didn't matter. We do what's fun. I have run around 90 mph (145 kph) on the back wheel of a Suzuki TM400 on a short track one day when we were playing around and practicing at Hilltop Speedway. Then I realized just how fast that was on one wheel - no more of that.

    Often times we've never gotten more than 30 miles, as the crow flies, from home, yet we somehow accumulate around seventy-five to a hundred miles with as much on dirt/gravel as we can find. SE Ohio has a nice quality of having a fair amount of them too, being in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountain range. Some are barely a car wide others up to three lanes (haul roads). Sometimes the corners have good line of sight, sometimes not. Occasionally we come up on Amish buggies or combines. So it's not like full time crazy, it is when the road is clear and conditions are right. Then it's turn left to go right and vice versa or wick it up a bit.
  19. motu

    motu Loose Pre Unit

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    I came across what must've been a training ride last year, a bunch of bikes on gravel, all standing up. I was polite and sat behind them for awhile, but they were too slow, so I passed about 20 bikes....sitting down, on my street bike.

    I love getting sideways on gravel...well, untill a couple of weeks ago when I officially became old, but I can see the benefit of traction control...by way of gutless bikes that are so much fun. I used to have an XT400, identical to the XT600, just less power. It was fun on gravel, I'd ride it at 97% or more...backing it in, hard on the gas real early, the thing just hooked up with hardly any power slide at all. Of course it ended up as 621cc in the end, and was a whole different bike - it was wheelspinning as soon as the throttle was opened, real hard to get it hooked up, you needed to find some hardpack, and even then it would still spin...all sorts of tyres. It was even hard to control coming into corners, too much engine braking. This is compared to the 400 of course. Point to point, the 2 bikes (the same bike) were probably the same, but the 400 was pushing hard, the 600 managing wheelspin. That's why I'm happy with my current 650 twin...it'll still spin up, but what HP I do have is more useable.
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  20. ChopperCharles

    ChopperCharles Long timer

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    I'm new at this, but I'm only standing up when I see a big pot hole in front of me. Usually just enough to get my ass off the seat, and then back down. It's sometimes hard to see the pot holes under a canopy of trees until the last second, so I have to look ahead while also taking a moment to scan the ground in front of me. It slows me down a bit, but I'm okay with that. I've missed one big pot hole and got bucked into the air a bit, was sure the bike was broken, but it was fine. Kept on my merry way.

    Charles.
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