Getting familiar with dirt... - Kawasaki Versys Forum
 
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-18-2012, 09:35 AM Thread Starter
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Getting familiar with dirt...

Hi Guys,

I'm planning (hoping?) to make a long ride (likey solo) later this year or perhaps next. As part of the preparation, I want to get more comfortable riding my Versys on bad roads, gravel and dirt surfaces. Any advice on how to ease into this - or should I just head for the nearest gravel road and run up and down it until I'm happy? Beyond that, and advice on how to ease into mild off-road riding on the V?

The ride I'm planning isn't off-road at all. But it will be back-roads as much as possible, and I'd rather not decide 100 miles down some crappy road that dirt isn't for me.

I just got my V a few months ago, I've got crash bars and a pair of Avon Distanzias waiting to be mounted up. I rode dirt bikes as a kid, but that was 20+ years ago.

I'm in central Texas, so I was thinking of joining the Texas Adventure Ride in April. Anyone done that on a V? Good way to start out?

Thanks for the advice!
-Jeff
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-18-2012, 10:20 AM
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you got it right,
find local roads equal to or slightly harder than what you can expect,
ride with a someone and give it a go.

IMO bring a tire plug kit and a pump

"Respect the Ride if you don't you Won't"
"A man's got to know his limitations"

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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-18-2012, 10:25 AM
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Also it helps to reduce tire pressures when riding off road. But remember to pump them back up when you return to the pavement.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-18-2012, 10:33 AM
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I'm looking at the Avon Distanzia's too. The stock tires on the V are less than confidence inspiring especially on dirt. Although most guys here are probably going to tell you to just get a KLR and leave the V on the street.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-18-2012, 12:21 PM
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I've used Pirelli Scorpions up at Tellico Plains (Tennessee) and never had any issues with hard packed clay or gravel. Even loose clay for that matter, though I'd rather not do it again... Rather than submit my V to those challenges again I'm opting to sell the SV650 (track bike) this Spring and purchase a KLX250. This may be the year I tackle part of the TAT.

As for adventure riding techniques, I found some nice dvd's at one local bike shop, and you can find some stuff on Youtube too. Just keep in mind that these guys aren't doing this on a V. Good stuff in there regardless.

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2004 Suzuki SV650 (sold, wish I hadn't)
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-18-2012, 09:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trialsguy View Post
Also it helps to reduce tire pressures when riding off road. But remember to pump them back up when you return to the pavement.
I think you may find that 'jdrocks' probably has MORE miles on dirt than the rest of us COMBINED!!! And he recently posted that he does NOT air down for gravel and dirt.

FWIW - neither do I, and so far my dirt is on street-type tires, altho' I don't get really aggressive cornering.

Ed
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-19-2012, 10:42 AM
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A class might help, and using somebody else's dirt bike could save your V.
Motoventures. Perhaps there is a local rider traing group that does it as well; I know that Team Arizona and Team Oregon do.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-19-2012, 01:02 PM
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You should buy a cheap dirt bike and practice on that.


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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-19-2012, 01:16 PM
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Jeff, you should look up ed29 on TWT. He splits his time between DFW and Terlingua and owns a V, as well as a couple other dirt-oriented bikes. He can give you some really good info about what the V can do on gravel and what you might want a different bike for.

Me personally, I thought about converting my V to be more dirt-capable, but for the price of new tires and engine guards and a bash plate and barkbusters and maybe a 19" front wheel conversion, I just bought a 1997 DR350SE to park next to the Versys and use to play in the dirt. Right tool for the job and all that. Where the Versys feels bouncy and a little skittish on gravel, the DR just floats. I didn't realize what I was missing.

Still, it's not cheap to buy a new bike, and if you've already got most of the right farkles it may be better to just take the V. 90% of where you can take a bike has to do with the rider, not the bike.

I'd rather be riding.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-19-2012, 07:13 PM
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It is generally a good idea to take it easy when riding alone in remote areas on dirt/gravel roads. A simple injury in a remote location can easily become a life threatening situation.

2009 GREEN Versys
2006 Yellow Pearl H-D VRSCR Street Rod
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Fear is just excitement in need of an attitude adjustment.

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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-19-2012, 10:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DR_ View Post
You should buy a cheap dirt bike and practice on that.
+1

Get some more experience on a dirt bike/dual sport you wouldn't mind dropping.... one good fall w/ your versys & you're already spending half or more of what you'd spend on a small used dirt bike...

I'm doing the same (getting dirt ready for a Versys Adventure) with my Yamaha TW200... besides it's a blast to ride and pretty bulletproof. It's already helped me better handle my Versys on gravel/dirt.

KJ

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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-20-2012, 10:24 AM
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I've been thinking (re-thinking?) about this alot too. There's much backcountry very close by me, from semi-graded fire roads to uber-gnarly trails like http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=752850
I love riding the V on paved twisties, and have sticky Metzlers for that setup. I am leaning towards picking up a used small dirt bike, street legal, that I can ride the backroads to the dirt, rather than turn the V into an even heavier SUV. I'd feel differently perhaps with the skills and confidence to muscle a big bike up gnarly trails, but the learning curve is expensive and the fun factor doesn't seem any higher.

Someday is not a day of the week.
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-20-2012, 04:46 PM
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- no sudden movements/inputs. be easy.
- engine braking is your friend. do it early and often.
- let the bars wiggle and waggle as the front wheel looks for traction in the gravel. do not fight it, it knows what it's doing. to stay loose, flap your wings like a chicken if you feel your arms or upper body tensing up.
- stay out of mudholes and deep sand

discretion/valor... it's not just a cliche.

In a world full of people, only some want to ride. Isn't that crazy?
Seal/CRAZY/misquoted


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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-21-2012, 12:57 PM Thread Starter
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Great feedback folks; thanks!

Starting out easy, with someone else - and perhaps on a lighter bike all sound like sage advice.

Cheers, Jeff
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2010 Versys
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SW-Motech quick lock rear rack
Two seahorse 720 cases / panniers
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-21-2012, 01:44 PM
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I made this last year, http://youtu.be/7XRsTRsTBbo

with stock tires, stock suspension, not aired down. The versys does fine when you are realistic with what you put it through.

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post #16 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-21-2012, 11:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff S View Post
Hi Guys,

I'm planning (hoping?) to make a long ride (likey solo) later this year or perhaps next. As part of the preparation, I want to get more comfortable riding my Versys on bad roads, gravel and dirt surfaces. Any advice on how to ease into this - or should I just head for the nearest gravel road and run up and down it until I'm happy? Beyond that, and advice on how to ease into mild off-road riding on the V?

The ride I'm planning isn't off-road at all. But it will be back-roads as much as possible, and I'd rather not decide 100 miles down some crappy road that dirt isn't for me.

I just got my V a few months ago, I've got crash bars and a pair of Avon Distanzias waiting to be mounted up. I rode dirt bikes as a kid, but that was 20+ years ago.

I'm in central Texas, so I was thinking of joining the Texas Adventure Ride in April. Anyone done that on a V? Good way to start out?

Thanks for the advice!
-Jeff
just get the new tires fitted and go ride, its really that easy, take it slow around comers in dirt don't lean in but try to stay more upright,
brake earlier, the bike will wander more (front and rear) but it will still be stable, the V is quiet good on dirt, just ride your bike not a lighter or other brand you are just going confuse the situation.
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post #17 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-22-2012, 11:38 AM
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...AND if it's 'moving around' on you, STAND on your footpegs for WAY more control!

Ed
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post #18 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-24-2012, 04:16 PM
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I'm with the others and recommend a different bike. I live on a dirt road so every trip to town starts out on dirt. The V is pretty awful on dirt. The same roads where I'll easily glide by at any speed on a dirt bike or true dual sport will have me poking along on the V trying to dodge the potholes, etc.

My guess is that a large part of the problem with the V is the relatively small front tire.

Good luck with whatever you end up with.
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post #19 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-28-2012, 07:58 PM
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I'm with the others and recommend a different bike. I live on a dirt road so every trip to town starts out on dirt. The V is pretty awful on dirt. The same roads where I'll easily glide by at any speed on a dirt bike or true dual sport will have me poking along on the V trying to dodge the potholes, etc.
I'm with you. I love my Versys for the street, but its awful in the dirt.
If I'm going to be riding any dirt roads or trails I will take my XR 650. It stomps the Versys in the dirt.

2009 Kawasaki Versys
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