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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm slightly interested in learning how to roll on gravel and dirt better. I see some roads that just look fun but my last experience with heavy gravel didn't end well on the V. I wound eating the ground and I'm a bit skittish about gravel now. Funny I had no issue on my little ninja 250 and would just go like it was nothing. The V has me spooked for gravel though. That I can get over by just biting the bullet and doing it.

How do you start? Obviously better tires and a decent crash guard would be the first things. But how do you learn the mechanisms to keep you upright most of the time. I can tell its a whole different skill set. I've mainly been a street rider and occasionally I would run dirt bikes on hard pack (not a lot of gravel in the parts of Tampa where I learned).

I guess what I'm asking is for advice on heading for roads less traveled and staying two wheels down. Any tips for someone who wants to try riding the back roads of dirt and gravel?

I appreciate the get XYZ bike suggestions but I have limited funds and can't afford a second bike at the moment. Also I've seen the ride reports of V's going where people say they can't so a second bike suggestion is a bit of hogwash in my opinion.
 

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You can ride the V on gravel roads stock or tricked out. I rode mine with stock wheels and Pirelli MT60's prior to my wheel and tire modification. Pick the best line you can and ride your own pace. Who cares how fast you get to your destination just as long as you get there safe. Big loose gravel is like riding on marbles no matter what your setup is on the V. Take it at your own pace.

If you plan on riding more gravel and don't want to purchase another bike take a look at some of the tire and wheel mods folks have done to there V on this forum. Lots of great detailed info.
 

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Versys is not really a Off Road bike, get a KLR.

rgs


I'm slightly interested in learning how to roll on gravel and dirt better. I see some roads that just look fun but my last experience with heavy gravel didn't end well on the V. I wound eating the ground and I'm a bit skittish about gravel now. Funny I had no issue on my little ninja 250 and would just go like it was nothing. The V has me spooked for gravel though. That I can get over by just biting the bullet and doing it.

How do you start? Obviously better tires and a decent crash guard would be the first things. But how do you learn the mechanisms to keep you upright most of the time. I can tell its a whole different skill set. I've mainly been a street rider and occasionally I would run dirt bikes on hard pack (not a lot of gravel in the parts of Tampa where I learned).

I guess what I'm asking is for advice on heading for roads less traveled and staying two wheels down. Any tips for someone who wants to try riding the back roads of dirt and gravel?

I appreciate the get XYZ bike suggestions but I have limited funds and can't afford a second bike at the moment. Also I've seen the ride reports of V's going where people say they can't so a second bike suggestion is a bit of hogwash in my opinion.
 

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For a noob, proper suspension settings will make a HUGE difference. Although experienced riders can handle the overly stiff suspension of the V off road, it's one of those things that make riding a dirt bike in the dirt so much easier.

Dirt bike suspensions absorb the hits and bumps. The V with ricochet off rocks and bumps making for 'exciting' riding.

I don't recommend you try to do much on your V as an off road bike. People (in general) who claim to have no issues in riding their street bikes off road most likely have a lot of off road riding experience. IMHO, off road riders make better street riders than the other way around.

First 'mistake' is being tentative. I bet you're holding on to the bars super tight and/or hugging the tank for dear life. That is not good technique. You MUST relax and let the bike wander. Keep your speed up. KEEP YOUR HEAD UP and look ahead to find the path of least resistance. If you can stand - do so. If not, ride on the balls of your feet and stay as light in the saddle as possible. Sit up tight against the tank and keep your elbows up.

None of this is easy to do on a V as it is on a true adventure bike or a dirt bike. The V is simply not set up for it.

I've ridden dirt bikes and street bikes for almost 40 years. My last 4 bikes were all dual sports. I now have the V. IMO, its NOT a dual sport or an adventure bike. Can you ride it in the dirt? Sure. Can and have. But in the end it's still a street bike.

:goodluck:
 

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The Ninja was better? :eek:
Must not have been your Ninja. :D

Yeah, I'm with Velocibiker here. Those that do ride the Versys off the pavement have generally ridden other bikes off the pavement first.
 

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Strongly suggest you get up standing on the pegs - that way your C of G will be lower, and you can steer a lot just with your knees, as well as un-weighting your front wheel by leaning back a bit. GREAT suggestion to NOT hold the bars in a 'death-grip'!
 

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Versys front end is much more prone to wash out (understeer) on loose gravel, compared to lower and lighter Ninja 250R. There is a considerable difference on local gravel roads in the same turns and in the same road surface conditions between mine and friend's Ninja 250R... Better off-road capable tires help.
 

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Many types of gravel of course. Deep gravel gets tricky. Think of it like deep wet snow. Ha! Ha! Sorry.
Ok deep gravel gets slippery so here is the trick. You have to keep your balance centered and turn slowly. If you turn to fast your tires will slip as if in deep wet snow.
Standing on your pegs to get a feel was a great suggestion. Its kinda like ice. You can not turn sharp on ice. You keep your center and turn carefully to see how much traction you have.
Many kinds of dirt also. Do the same thing and you will feel how much traction you have. :goodluck:
 

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Good of you to post this on the V and Gravel.

We have a lot of experience guys who can share some info and I am not one of them in this field. So a good staring point to understand OFF ROAD & The V.

Thanks you and thank you gentlemen for your kind contribution.

:cheers:
 

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I was brought up as a kid on off road bikes, when riding heavy gravel I will stand up on the pegs, try not to ride to fast for your skills on rough stuff as one of the worse things you can do is try to slow down to quick by braking or throttling off to quick when you get into trouble, it is easier said than done but if you start fishtailing you have more control by keeping power on.

Be cautious on speed on versys as its not a dirt bike and in my opinion does move around a bit on gravel.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
This is good advice and I appreciate it. I'm definitely not planning on taking the V into anything too rough but there are some nice dirt and gravel fire roads that aren't to bad.

Maybe travel a bit and see a nice little country lane and go enjoy it. I wish I could afford a second bike as I really do like the KLR but that won't happen for awhile.

The ninja was so light and low it handled light gravel and dirt roads with no effort. If I felt the least bit slippy I could slow down and just plant my feet and stop. The V requires me to be more technical on those because I don't have the option yet of planting my feet if things get hairy. I am comfortable standing on my pegs as I do it while riding for longer periods of time while going down the road. Its a great way to stretch my legs.

Keep the advice coming because I'm sure I'm not the only one who would love to learn from our more experienced riders.

I do plan on lowering the V, changing my tires to a more stable one as I don't care for the Dunslips and adding my engine guards. I know I will most likely go down and I want that mitigated by taking whatever precautions I can. But I don't want to miss out on a something just because I didn't take the time to ask questions and try to learn a skillset that might come in handy later.
 

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More tips then:

Ride in a gear higher than you think you should be. The V has an excellent power band and being a gear higher will help smooth out the hand to tire delivery :D. Don't chop the throttle. Throttle and/or clutch control is your friend. :thumb:

Don't get caught up in verbage or magic statements like the 'lower center of gravity' crap. That's a bunch of BS. Ride in your comfort zone. Doesn't matter HOW you get from 'A' to 'B' as long as it's fun and comfortable to YOU.

Just a quick statement about Gear. You may know this, but street gear and off road gear are not equal. There are some compromises you can make. Hard armor will serve you well in those low/lower speed get offs that happen off road. I also recommend some 'adventure' or MX type boots as well that generally offer better ankle support than regular street riding boots.

:cheers:
 

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I found that standing up in it helped a bit, I'm not sure way. Smoothly groomed deep pea gravel in my greatest enemy. I've not fallen on it, but I certain take it slowly than I do on dirt roams and such.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
So far a good summary would be:

1) Clutch and Throttle control are key (more practice YEAH)
2) Go slow (I like this one)
3) pay extra attention to the front end mechanics
4) leisurely controls (no death grip)
5) more practice standing and controlling from that position (woot even more practice)

These are some good tips to know and seem like they would allow some really mild off road enjoyment. Obviously I'm not planning on trail breaking but sometimes there are just some sights worth seeing off the normal paved bi-ways.

Secondary:

Get better off road gear if you are serious
More targeted vehicle to the more serious off roading
PROTECTION PROTECTION PROTECTION (self and machine)

Keep it coming I'm sure us newer folks could find a new interest and learn alot from the more experienced. Also seems like some of the skills would be transitional and help improve road riding too.
 

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First 'mistake' is being tentative. I bet you're holding on to the bars super tight and/or hugging the tank for dear life. That is not good technique. You MUST relax and let the bike wander. Keep your speed up. KEEP YOUR HEAD UP and look ahead to find the path of least resistance. If you can stand - do so. If not, ride on the balls of your feet and stay as light in the saddle as possible. Sit up tight against the tank and keep your elbows up.
This is good advice. FWIW, I'd focus more on keeping your eyes up, keeping a loose grip on the bar, and being smooth with your control inputs as a priority. Standing up is only really helpful - IMHO - once you've addressed those first three.
 

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Lots of good advice, as said don't fight the bike with a death grip (easier said than done) as the bike wants to naturally stay upright, as said if you can't stand right on pegs have your but just a few mm's off seat. I do this when coming in my shared driveway as it is 650 metres of gravel and and sharp up hill corner not far before my house, going down is more tricky.

A good example of loose hands taught to me by a bike track instructor was when you run over a small log or somthing on the road and you grab a death grip but he said the bike wants to correct itself and all we are doing is fighting it so lose grips works best but does go against your instincts.
 

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Versys is not really a Off Road bike, get a KLR.

rgs
Really? I guess its all in the eye of the user.

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The Versys is a great big bore off road bike. The secret is to ride in your comfort zone and that may be as simple as just slowing down. Ive got thousands of dirt road miles on mine and thats fully loaded.
 

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Yes, but would not try to ride on the beach, bike standing up on its own here.


This here got real steep and had to contend with 4wd coming up hill getting close to a sharp steep corner, had to go to first gear at times and bike was running away on me, was very scary as all i could think of was how much plastic costs to replace.



 
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