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

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2016
    Oddometer:
    375
    Location:
    NE Minnesota
    Went out on a narrow gravel road on street tires Thursday,

    [​IMG]

    The bike, 1985 Goldwing, GL1200A.



    Don't push too hard and enjoy the ride.

    -Mark
  2. choppahead

    choppahead Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2011
    Oddometer:
    324
    Location:
    Lakeland Playland
    20180615_154920.jpg
    I find myself on gravel with my Scout quite often and it does fine. Interested to see if Indian takes the FTR platform in a touring direction. It's made for gravel.
    arkastt and LeMaitre like this.
  3. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    17,047
    Location:
    Delaware Ohio
    We don't usually get the signs on gravel roads, usually only the paved and then usually only the state and US routes. But that looks like a lot of fun.
    LeMaitre likes this.
  4. Rollin'

    Rollin' does it come in black? Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,651
    Location:
    Wisconsin
  5. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    17,047
    Location:
    Delaware Ohio
    Can you idle that slow? Can anyone idle that low without slipping the clutch and dragging feet? Maybe on my trials bike or the like...
  6. LeMaitre

    LeMaitre Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2016
    Oddometer:
    375
    Location:
    NE Minnesota
    The Honeymoon Trail is a forest service road. It is a two way traffic road. Don't cross the double yellow line. You say there is no line. Just imagine meeting a car on one of those sharp left hand turns that are 1 1/2 lanes wide. You need to keep outside on left turns and inside on right turns. A dual sport or dirt bike can go at a good pace. I ride the road often so I know what to expect and I can still get caught going to hot into one of those curves. The normal bike that I ride on the trail is the '75 CB550F.

    -Mark
  7. nephron

    nephron countercurrent exchanger Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2005
    Oddometer:
    365
    Location:
    SW Oregon
    What is the wisdom of the collective as far as a best gravel tire?
    Just moved into my first real dual sport, 500 exc from a wee strom, and so far I find that the trails are less stressful than the gravel roads that get me there. Certainly I need to work on my technique but curious if there is anything like a consensus on tread pattern, psi, etc for gravel.
  8. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2003
    Oddometer:
    10,527
    Location:
    Southern Louisiana or Southern England or ...
    There are NO tires that work really well on gravel. I have had good results with Heidenau K-60's on my KTM 1290 but the stock Trail-Attack 2's were ok on most gravel too. Dropping 5-10 psi off your normal tire pressures will make a noticeable improvement in your stability and confidence.
    Iron Cross Junction likes this.
  9. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    17,047
    Location:
    Delaware Ohio
    Personally have been using Duro Median HF903/904 for about 20 years now - good price excellent tire. I can ride with the sport and supermoto guys on the roads in the corners no problem and it is adequate for off road, although not as good as a knobby.
  10. salty_dog

    salty_dog Day trips around TLH, WMAs and South Ga dirt roads

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2016
    Oddometer:
    207
    Location:
    Tallahassee
    I like the Duro Median for 'gravel' roads too. So long as you know the offroad limits of the tire, it handles forest roads, country dirt roads and all types/sizes of gravel road bases. Long life tire too.
  11. c_m_shooter

    c_m_shooter Ninja Warrior

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2009
    Oddometer:
    724
    Location:
    Paradise, TX
    Best thing you can do for our gravel riding is to go find some sand dunes and spend a weekend learning to ride them. Once you learn to float and let it drift some you are set.
  12. vespatim

    vespatim Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2014
    Oddometer:
    22
    Location:
    Sydney
    B7A0E522-25D1-46D3-909F-C56E0315B35F.jpeg BE981978-1B2A-4D01-882E-9C2A635D153B.jpeg 9698214D-43CA-4CD7-A751-F1EE2A26BC32.jpeg F517DE06-C0C0-4804-AD74-AC320506CEE0.jpeg I think my Guzzi makes for a good gravel bike.
  13. Hamamelis

    Hamamelis Inmate

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2016
    Oddometer:
    142
    Location:
    RVA, Beast Coast
    One bike that hasn't been mentioned yet but probably deserves it: the Honda CB500X, stock or with the Rally Raid Level 1 kit. About as low as a DL650, but slim and with a sub-200kg wet weight. Has a pretty modest power delivery, too.

    The RR L2 (and formerly Level 3) kit makes it a proper tall ADV, more like a contemporary Transalp to match the current Africa Twin, but the stock bike is plenty capable on rough surfaces within a certain limit.
    sharps5090 likes this.
  14. Webman

    Webman Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2016
    Oddometer:
    592
    Location:
    Arizona
    This is a cool thread! Just started reading it today, so apologies if this has been mentioned already. I just saw that Kawasaki is making the W800 available to the US. While they're currently only showing the cafe racerized on don their website right now, a bar swap and a few other tweaks would make it an excellent gravel road bike. Triumph has made a bunch of updates to their Scrambler line, as well. An earlier poster mentioned the SR400, which is high on my own list. There are 185 pages in the SR thread that attest to its highway capabilities, even with heavier riders than the OP here. Last, but certainly not least, Royal Enfield's new Interceptor 650 looks like an excellent candidate, with a few minor mods.

    I forgot, strangely enough, to mention 1986-2003 Harley Sportsters. They need some modifications, but actually handle quite well off road. I saw that Ginger Beard posted on here; he has one of the sweetest gravel-capable Sportsters around.
  15. Webman

    Webman Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2016
    Oddometer:
    592
    Location:
    Arizona
    Super sweet! Do you have a build thread?
  16. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    17,047
    Location:
    Delaware Ohio
    Nope. Just had some beers and played with tools and stuff. Never messed with pictures.
  17. Webman

    Webman Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2016
    Oddometer:
    592
    Location:
    Arizona
    Bummer. Can you say a few words about what you've learned, what worked, what didn't?
  18. Motonirvana

    Motonirvana Can't make this shit up

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2018
    Oddometer:
    1,116
    Location:
    Central PA & Northern NJ
    The new Triumph Scrambler 1200 has to be in the discussion with 200-250 mm travel depending which model you pick. Throw in Ohlins in the rear and Showas in the front and you have a serious gravel bike. A bit heavier than the 900cc Scrambler but with serious off-road suspension bits and 21" tubeless tire. It's also got some cool tech for the pavement riding that can be turned off for off-road riding.
    Webman likes this.
  19. Sal Pairadice

    Sal Pairadice Captain Obvious

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2018
    Oddometer:
    626
    Location:
    New York
    Its the Himalayan. They are selling for $4500 new.

    The OP doesn't really specifiy what he wants for weight and HP. But the Himalayan is basically a simple torquey little gravel bike. God help you if you need to take the slab home in a metro area.
    Webman and Motonirvana like this.
  20. Hamamelis

    Hamamelis Inmate

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2016
    Oddometer:
    142
    Location:
    RVA, Beast Coast
    The Himalayan says the quiet part out loud about most dual-sports - it makes few aspirations about being a world-crossing off-road killer, and instead aims squarely at solving the question of how to absolutely crush rural unimproved roads at speeds found in South Asia. That philosophy of use is squarely aimed at gravel roads and probably also cities with poor-quality pavement.

    Incidentally this is what the vast majority of Asian dual-sports have been used for this entire time in Japan and South-East Asia. I have seen so many TW200s, XT225s, and similar 200-250 class dualies in Japan that have probably never crossed the urban rural divide, and never need to, but they absolutely get their suspensions tested on craggy tarmac (and one of my friends in DC uses her XT225 for the exact same purpose!). Suzuki even has a Japan-only motard called the D-Tracker which is explicitly aimed at that role, and sells like gangbusters for it.