Off Road Technique from my ride yesterday.
I got some dirt miles in again yesterday. I have some thoughts that may help some guys new to dirt or gravel. Most was winding climbing and descending fire roads nothing to hardcore but the loose gravel was tricky for some of the big bikes with me. The roughest sections had some very rocky shale that would slide. Overall in all of it the Versys X was super stable.
The way I rode the Versys was not like riding a dirt bike although I also do this on a dirt bike for super technical downhill. I tried not to use the clutch or brakes. Its was that simple. If I kept the bike in 2nd gear I could climb easily without pealing out the back tire on slippery rocks, and the engine would slow me down in a very comfortable and predictable fashion downhill. Engine braking is the best version of ABS on tricky downhills.
I did shift to 3/4 gear for straight aways of course.
There is no need to feather the clutch. The Versys won't stall going up or down in second gear unless you come to a complete stop and even then as long as touch the throttle a tiny bit, it will just push forward. It is a tractor.
I was also using stock tires. I think these tires are just fine for most off road if you ride know how to ride them. I can see the urge to to panic when the bikes has a bit of a slide on rocks, gravel, or sand, but the reality is they hook up just fine when you let out the clutch, lay off the brakes, and just idle or give it throttle. No I did not air them down. I had the recommended stock pressure for the street.
One other thought. I was standing up most of the time down hill or in tricky sections. You would be surprised how much more control you have standing up. You will feel it instantly. Just let the bike surf below you and look where you want to go, not where you don't want to go. And let go of the clutch and brakes! I promise that works wonders.
I will probably get some beefier off road tires because there are so many sharp rocks in Southern California, but I don't have to have them. I had the most street oriented tires yesterday in the group of KTMs and BMWs and I had zero problems keeping up even in the roughest parts of the ride.
I am still learning how to ride these larger bikes having grown up on light weight motocross bikes. I would love to hear the techniques you guys use that may help me.
I feel safer on a motocross track than a freeway, but I am working on it.