I scared the crap outa myself today! - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 02:19 AM Thread Starter
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I scared the crap outa myself today!

I was just cruising along the country roads where I live. I usually parallel the state highways and interstate when just out for a ride.. Scenic, little traffic, very relaxed, etc...
Country road, nice 35-40 mph s-turns, the glare of the late afternoon sun in my face.
I saw the road straighten out, kept the speed at about 40.
Without warning, the paved road ended and it was soft gravel! WHOA! Floating and fishtailing a bit, I eased the throttle off and slowed to about 15, which still felt kind of unstable. I have stock tires and have never gone faster than about 20 on anything less than pavement.
So, this should spark some conversation, who can recommend some more versatile tires when I'm due?
Edit to add: I've only put a thousand miles on the bike.

Last edited by max buffet; 05-18-2009 at 05:22 AM.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 03:31 AM
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Damn... I guess you should've went before the ride.
I switched to an Avon Distanzia front with a Continental Trail Attack 150/70 rear, and I really like the combo on any type of surface including rough and muddy dirt roads with ruts and puddles. Well balanced on the tarmac, the pair should also wear pretty well.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 04:09 AM
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my normal speed on gravel is 60-75 ml/h. Anything less is dangerous. Not bragging, just stating the facts. The V handels gravel at that speed like a king. Even sliding into corners on gravel is like fun, this with standard tires. I am howver thinking to get the Distanzia on the next replacement. Heard good things about it
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 05:16 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by invader View Post
Damn... I guess you should've went before the ride.
I switched to an Avon Distanzia front with a Continental Trail Attack 150/70 rear, and I really like the combo on any type of surface including rough and muddy dirt roads with ruts and puddles. Well balanced on the tarmac, the pair should also wear pretty well.
No problem, it was only like a little stain...
Thanks for tip on the tires!
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 05:21 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Zonkelnut View Post
my normal speed on gravel is 60-75 ml/h. Anything less is dangerous. Not bragging, just stating the facts. The V handels gravel at that speed like a king. Even sliding into corners on gravel is like fun, this with standard tires. I am howver thinking to get the Distanzia on the next replacement. Heard good things about it
Well, I guess we won't be riding much together! Part of the problem was that it startled me, I wasn't expecting the change.
Seriously, the bike felt very unstable, how does more speed improve that? How do you accelerate/decelerate through the "unstable zone", if that's all it is?
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 12:24 PM
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Excerpts from Proficient Motorcycling Book

I'm not a gray-beard for riding on gravel but follow the same gravel guidelines which David Hough wrote in the book Proficient Motorcycling

Quote:
Reduce speed for corners
Weight on footpegs
Steady throttle/Don't engine break
Riding too slow causes plowing which reduces balance
Faster speeds allows "floating" plus greater gyroscopic stability

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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 02:15 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks!
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-19-2009, 09:17 PM
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Reduce speed for corners
Weight on footpegs
Steady throttle/Don't engine break
Riding too slow causes plowing which reduces balance
Faster speeds allows "floating" plus greater gyroscopic stability


That's good stuff to know.


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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-20-2009, 02:14 AM
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Just to explain a bit more detail the following:

"Reduce speed for corners
Weight on footpegs
Steady throttle/Don't engine break
Riding too slow causes plowing which reduces balance
Faster speeds allows "floating" plus greater gyroscopic stability"

Reduce speed for corners - Riding with the GPS you can see the degree of the corner. The GPS help lots. Then if 90 degrees, obviously reduce lots, otherwise let go slightly and then do the footpegs thing.

Weight on footpegs - What this means is that on tar roads you normally put your weight on the inside footpeg and move your weight to the inside by hanging over to keep the bike more upright. On dirt you put all your weight on the outside footpeg so that you push the tires into the dirt, otherwise the bike will slip out under you. Also lean the to the outside of the corner with your body and push the bike into the corner. The bike and your body should look like a "V" shape, if you get the picture. Or lets do this "\/". the "\" is the bike and the "/" your body.

Steady throttle/Don't engine break - So right, keep the power stable. you needed to have slowed down before the corner. Again the GPS helps allot.

Riding too slow causes plowing which reduces balance - Yip, nothing to add.

Faster speeds allows "floating" plus greater gyroscopic stability - Try it in the beginning slowly and add to your speed as you progress. But faster speed definitely works.

Last edited by Zonkelnut; 05-20-2009 at 02:43 AM.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-20-2009, 02:26 AM
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Originally Posted by max buffet View Post
Well, I guess we won't be riding much together! Part of the problem was that it startled me, I wasn't expecting the change.
Seriously, the bike felt very unstable, how does more speed improve that? How do you accelerate/decelerate through the "unstable zone", if that's all it is?
"unstable zone" is just in your heart and should be overwritten by your mind.

Let me explain. When I started riding DS bikes on dirt, I would not go over 80 Km/h. Even at that speed I was very scarred as the bike was very unstable. Hitting sand and loose stones just "snaked" the bike and the rear felt that it wanted to break out. But it was because I was going to slow.
Other guys would pass me at 160-170 km/h and I could not understand that crazy people. Then one day I told myself that today I am going to go fast even if I fall. So I did it and my mind had to talk to everything in my body that shouted that it just doesn't make sense and it is crazy "Slow down!". But i did not and as soon as I hit 120 km/h, the bike got very stable. Just like that it felt like I was riding on tar. I couldn't believe it.

Then the only other thing was to figure out how can I stop quickly from 120, which is damn fast. That is when the next thing (after chatting to the crazy guys) that baffled me worked. Use your front brakes . Yes, use your front brakes more than the back. Again I had to practice this from slow to fast and took me more than a month's worth of dirt riding. It just did not make sense to use the front as my mind told me that it will slide out. But it did not.

So, I hope this helps. I have to say after not riding a few weeks or months, I have to start slow again especially the corners and front breaking. You have to stay in practice to do it right. But after the 2nd day everything comes back again and the bike stable.

So just try it once to go over 120km/h ( i think 75ml/h?) on a straight dirt road. It does not matter if it is a good or bad dirt road, just do it. Take a straight without corners and feel the stability of the Versys at that speed. You will be surprised and scared. But keep at it. Then later on try the corners slowly and then increasing speed. After that try to slide out the back tire into a corner by transferring your weight to the outside and pushing the bike down into the corner. But be careful at first.

when you accomplish this you will find that it is amazing fun and gives you a grin factor of 10. Ignore what people say about the V and the dirt capabilities. I am telling you there are lots of scared people that wants to bash every bike that is not BMW or KTM. Do understand that it is not the bike but the rider that makes a good DS bike. Passion and love. the Versys is a good bike and once my baby gets released from customs I will start putting up ride reports of the Versys in Africa. What most riders don't get is that a DS bike is not a MX bike. It is Duel Purpose (sport).

But as said before, I want to put on more DS orientated tires. The standard work for dirt roads but got me nearly stuck in a river bed with its thick sand and riding in mud it is like snot. So the only think I would like to change is the tires.

OK. enough said.

Last edited by Zonkelnut; 05-20-2009 at 02:39 AM.
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-20-2009, 02:45 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you! I appreciate your time and expertise!
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-07-2009, 01:06 PM
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Another thing I don't think was mentioned: the tendency ('cause you're nervous) is to CLAMP onto the grips with a "death grip".
NOW when the bike tries to move it'll tend to go down. Relax your arms and let the bike move around under you.
This is where some experience riding dirt bikes helps, as you're used to the bike being "loose".
Ed
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-08-2009, 11:01 AM
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I had zero experience on any m/c in gravel until last week. (Beyond reading Proficient Motorcycling) I ended up having to ride around 40 minutes in gravel due to construction ripping apart highway 20 east of the Cascades in Washington state. I kept my speed around 60-70 km/hr (30-40 mph), and found the stock tires were just fine. I was certainly focused/ a little nervous, and have to say I haven't sat up that straight for an hour in a long time. However, the peg, and loose arm thing really did help manage things. I can't recommend that book, Proficient Motorcycling, enough. It really helps a rider deal with the hazards that can happen when you are a distance from home and have no choice but to turn back or ride on.

I can't say I was willing to try the speeds suggested above, but being a 6 hour ride from home also meant I had no desire to experiment and risk a drop. However my buddy with a lot of dirt experience took his new Concourse through at about 90 km/h (55 mpg) with little issue so I have no doubt what is said above is true.

I would suggest practice before throwing more money at the bike. Time in the saddle always seems to work better for me as a fix, than throwing more in cash looking for the magic beans.

Last edited by splitmind; 06-08-2009 at 11:05 AM.
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