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 Riding Technique for Unpaved Loose Gravel and Rocky Roads?

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Dimond
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PostSubject: Riding Technique for Unpaved Loose Gravel and Rocky Roads?   Tue 07 Feb 2012, 13:20

I usually only ride paved roads and am very skittish whenever I am traversing the least bit of gravel (e.g., gravel parking lots). I usually go slooow and avoid turning and braking as much as possible when on gravel. This summer I am going to need to travel on unimproved 'dry' mining roads (only for a few miles in/out to gain access to a campground) that will have pockets of gravel, large/small rocks, and some beds of sand. The roads are classed as 'high clearance 2WD', 4WD, and 'steep technical 4WD' - and I will need to traverse the the 'high clearance 2WD and a few miles of 4WD. Apparently these roads are no problem for dirt bikes and dualsport bikes going 25mph - but presently I go slooow when I traverse dirt/rocks/sand/gravel. Some questions: Can the SWing handle this? How can I learn to handle it? What kind of success have you had on roads like this? Would I be better off to just forget this trip? Thanks.
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john grinsel
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PostSubject: Re: Riding Technique for Unpaved Loose Gravel and Rocky Roads?   Tue 07 Feb 2012, 16:00

First go out and get some experience on dry roads-----like a quick 10,000 miles, ride everyday.

Dirt/gravel can be done one scooter----scooter being harder than bike as you cannot stand on pegs as you would on bike.

Anything can be done----I did Baja several times on Helix, sometimes sand/dirt so fine, deep you didn't have to put stand down when you stopped.

Endless slow going,working engine probably not best for clutch/belt life.

Dirt riders sometimes go fast as that is better way to stay up, scooter makes it hard.

SilverWing heavy if you get stuck.
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Waspie
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PostSubject: Re: Riding Technique for Unpaved Loose Gravel and Rocky Roads?   Tue 07 Feb 2012, 17:07

Like John says, nothing beats personal experience. - riding.

Just get on the bike and ride a variety of roads. Start slow and build up to whatever speed you are comfortable with. It's all about your comfort and your safety.
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"Hi Yo"
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PostSubject: Re: Riding Technique for Unpaved Loose Gravel and Rocky Roads?   Tue 07 Feb 2012, 17:54

As others have said; the only way to know what you are comfotable with is seat time. That being said, I would contact the campground and see if they have motorcyclists visiting on bikes like yours or large cruiser type cycles. Not dualsport or dirt bikes. If they say no, then I wouldn't try it.
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ulflyer
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PostSubject: Re: Riding Technique for Unpaved Loose Gravel and Rocky Roads?   Tue 07 Feb 2012, 19:46

Diamond: so easy to dump it on gravel. I did just that recently because of slightly, and i mean slightly, too much throttle. Rear end spun, and it went out from under me so fast I couldn't hold it.

Point is, if you travel that road slowly you'll prob be ok on relatively level ground. If theres any significant hills, and you need to give it more throttle to get up them, thats where it gets dangerous. Again, too much throttle and you risk a spinout.

If theres any very steep downhills, don't use the front...right lever...brake. If its so steep you think the brake might not hold it and you could slide, stop, turn around, go back.

Loose sand can be equally tricky.
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masscoot
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PostSubject: Re: Riding Technique for Unpaved Loose Gravel and Rocky Roads?   Tue 07 Feb 2012, 21:11

Nothing beats experience for adapting to road conditions, but when the pavement ends and the road turns to dirt or loose gravel the best thing you can do is sit up straight on the saddle feet flat on the floorboards. You must also use the throttle lightly. Uphill not too bad, downhill with turns is not for the under 10k mile crowd.
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matthew
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PostSubject: Re: Riding Technique for Unpaved Loose Gravel and Rocky Roads?   Tue 07 Feb 2012, 21:48

I live on a bad dirt/rock/rutted/bumpy/sometimes gravely rarely maintained dirt road. I have to ride about a mile and a quarter to get to pavement, so I've had no choice but to learn to do it. I never have liked it, and I still don't like it, on the Swing. If you're thinking about trying to ride several miles on a road that's designated as a 4WD road, I think that would be a mistake on the Swing.

The bike is too heavy, the tires/wheels are too small, the suspension sucks (for that kind of riding), the ground clearance is too low, the automatic transmission is a liability here - no low end grunt that you'd want for this kind of riding, and I'm sure there are other factors that lend themselves against such riding. It's not a dual sport or off road bike, and never will be. If you want to do that kind of riding, I'd think that getting the right bike for it would be a better idea, like maybe a KLR650.

All of this is, of course, just my opinion based on my own experience riding the Swing off road for 3 years now. I've also ridden it on what I'd call pretty good dirt roads, like well maintained forest service roads, and this is another story. It's still not made for this kind of riding, but it does ok with it. Suit yourself of course, but I know I wouldn't do it.

Oh yeah: and I've dropped the Swing many times on my dirt road.


Last edited by matthew on Wed 08 Feb 2012, 21:56; edited 2 times in total
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robert
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PostSubject: Re: Riding Technique for Unpaved Loose Gravel and Rocky Roads?   Tue 07 Feb 2012, 22:25

The S/W was not made for those kinds of roads, but if you must go, please wear plenty of protective gear, RIDE SAFE.
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Daboo
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PostSubject: Re: Riding Technique for Unpaved Loose Gravel and Rocky Roads?   Wed 08 Feb 2012, 15:01

I did some roads that were mud and gravel last summer. About 4 miles each way. They were only 2WD, but had some big potholes.

Among other things, look ahead. Spot the things like large potholes to avoid and position yourself to miss them without having to make sharp corrections to the steering. In gravel, it is so easy to drop the bike. Once it starts going over, all you can do is slow down the eventual drop.

I'd also put a mudflap on it. That'll keep garbage from getting thrown into your radiator.

Before I set off on these two hikes (the destination at the end of the four mile roads), I called the ranger station to find out what the road conditions were for a street motorcycle like a cruiser. Usually, someone has been up there very recently and can give you a good idea of what the road is like.

It's doable...but not fun.

Chris
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DarthJ
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PostSubject: Re: Riding Technique for Unpaved Loose Gravel and Rocky Roads?   Wed 08 Feb 2012, 21:18

For me, hard packed dirt is okay. Loose and/or gravel = Shadow no-go zone. Will go home and grab F150 4x4. Stay in 2wd unless might get stuck.

john grinsel wrote:
SilverWing heavy if you get stuck.

F150 MUCH heavier if you get stuck. :lol!:
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Ishkatan
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PostSubject: Re: Riding Technique for Unpaved Loose Gravel and Rocky Roads?   Thu 09 Feb 2012, 02:06

Dimond, I think Matthew covered it pretty well. I would add if you insist on doing this set your shocks to 5 - the hardest preset so the bike rides hard but as high as possible when you go over a bump. You might even have to get off and walk it so your weigh is not compressing the suspension. Not sure if you can actually feather the throttle to go that slow.

I have gone over a speed bump just a tad too fast and bottomed out. I did not look what damage was done but crossed my fingers. Seems to have worked.

I was exploring a semi steep dirt road to a farm house and decided to try to turn around via a 3 point turn. First I rode the front tire up a steep side bank... but the front was still lower than the rear and the rear wheel was in the right rut...and it was a real struggle to back the bike up. Finally I got it back so it was actually across the road and was stuck again ... the wheels were in the ruts and the bike was balanced on the engine/undercarriage on the hump in the middle of the road. I managed to muscle it off by straddling the bike effectively getting off it and jerking on the handle bars several times to inch it back. NOT recommended. I weigh 225 and am told I'm strong for 57.

My bike is very skittish on grass and slippery surfaces (mud). Dunlop Diablo tires (round and minor tread pattern) but it is hard to keep the back wheel from turning too fast.

As others said, call the rangers and ask about the road, and tell them you have 4 inches of clearance...

My other recommendation is to rent a dual purpose bike for the trip.

You might also try riding very slowly on very soft grass to get the feel of the bike on slippery surfaces - expect to drop or almost drop it. I managed stop it, straddle and hold it up, but barely. I wold also recommend changing the rear tire to one with some knobbier tread or maybe a darkside tire.
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john grinsel
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PostSubject: Re: Riding Technique for Unpaved Loose Gravel and Rocky Roads?   Thu 09 Feb 2012, 06:45

Dunlop Diablo tires? Mine came from Pirelli.
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Dimond
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PostSubject: Re: Riding Technique for Unpaved Loose Gravel and Rocky Roads?   Thu 09 Feb 2012, 06:49

Thanks guys for each and every post/comment. Based upon your input I NOW plan on sticking to 'paved' roads. You have saved me from what eventually would have been an unpleasant experience - and I surely don't need any type of SWing experience that does not bring a smile to my face! I may travel the occasional stretch of hard pack unpaved road/lot - but I am not going to seek them out and only go on it to get to a better road surface or parking location. If I encounter an unexpected unpaved road in my travels that has ruts, excessive loose gravels, excessive loose sands, excessive moisture, potholed, pitched, or is anything but nearly level - then I plan on turning around and going back where it is 'safe'. I will leave the unpaved roads to the younger and/or more experienced riders! I have learned my limits regarding this matter not through my experiences - but through yours - and thank you for that!
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Ishkatan
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PostSubject: Re: Riding Technique for Unpaved Loose Gravel and Rocky Roads?   Sat 11 Feb 2012, 12:21

john grinsel wrote:
Dunlop Diablo tires? Mine came from Pirelli.

Darn that "D...D...D" stutter... Embarassed PPPPPirelli it is.
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Ishkatan
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PostSubject: Re: Riding Technique for Unpaved Loose Gravel and Rocky Roads?   Sat 11 Feb 2012, 12:49

Dimond wrote:
... If I encounter an unexpected unpaved road in my travels that has ruts, excessive loose gravels, excessive loose sands, excessive moisture, potholed, pitched, or is anything but nearly level - then I plan on turning around and going back where it is 'safe'.

Ack, dont' let us ruin your fun. My tales are just a warning and heads up on the limits of the bike. If you use your head you can probably do a lot with it. Just think it out carefully before hand.

When I was in Italy many years ago we rented 50cc Vespa scooters and of course had to ride them on the beach. I spotted a high and almost dry sandbar on the other side of an 8 ft channel and of course had to ride on it... so I got a good running start, jumped up pulling up on the handle bars as I hit the channel and let the flat floor boards carry the bike across. Nothing to it. My companion decided to approach this safely and walked his scooter into the water.... 3 feet deep. We could just see the handlebars. Given his short hair I know he was not thinking he was Jesus... After I helped him get his scooter back on land I repeated my trick while he glared ... You can imagine how we spent the rest of the evening but he did manage to get it runnig by morning just in time to return it to the rental company. Evil or Very Mad
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