I’m sure more than once you’ve been in a situation where you can barely deal with your middleweight motorcycle on a back road somewhere, and all of a sudden you see this rider taking you like you’re parked with his 450+ pound machine. ADV. The first thing after cleaning your googles is to think: How the hell….? Read on if you want to read and learn the advice behind the eyes of these skilled riders… Wes Siler, in his article: How to Ride a Big, Heavy Motorcycle Off-Road, explained a few things that, to some, may seem obvious, to others, a holy grail of wisdom displayed right in front of you. Wherever you are on the scale, here are some of his tips. Please note that it is assumed that you know how to ride a motorcycle on comfortable roads. Optimize ergonomics: “Before you ride one off-road, you’ll need to make it so you can stand comfortably and safely for hours at a time, while in full control. First, place the motorcycle on its center stand or have a friend hold it upright for you. Then, while standing on the pegs, examine your reach for the bars. Can you reach up and move them from lock to lock without rounding your back, sinking your shoulders, or contorting someone else’s body? If not you can try and find more height by turning the bars forward, if that’s not enough you’ll need to start buying new bars until you find the ones that fit you. do it. Also, consider the footrests. During an experimental ride close to home, try standing on them for 15-20 minutes at a time in your regular riding boots. How do your feet feel? Are there pressure points or is there anything uncomfortable? Most ADV bikes have footpegs that are too small for long-term foot comfort and to be replaced with larger, aftermarket “bear trap” items. Standing effectively lowers the motorcycle’s center of gravity by putting your weight through its pegs rather than the higher seat. It also makes you the least elegant cheetah tail in the world. Yes, by clumsily going over the bike while jumping and sliding, your beer belly will really help it stabilize upright and on the move. Always keep your knees slightly bent, your legs are your shock absorbers. Once you have a bike that you can comfortably control for longer periods of time while standing, you can move on to the rest of these skills.”
Lower the pressure and put on good tires: “Typical road tire pressure is 36 psi (front) and 42 psi (rear). Off-road you’ll want to go much lower. 20 psi is a good compromise pressure on both ends if you need to Hit both tarmac and dirt on the same day but for off-road use only I’ll go down to 12 psi Consider what type of wheels you have before doing this Cast aluminum wheels like the ones shown found on cheaper and more road-oriented bikes are weaker which means you need to protect them from impacts and keep the tires at 20 psi pressures A lower pressure tire will be less able to cushion the wheel from impacts, like hitting a big rock.” Take a good look at any ADV bike you see in an ad, magazine, or video where it’s jumping, sliding, or doing anything ambitious on dirt. See those big tread blocks? Those are the Continental TKC80s, by far the most capable ADV tire. Similar tires always offer a deal between grip and durability, to which is added a quite differential price. Stay away from the clutch: “The advantage of running such large engines, 800 or 1200cc, is that these bikes have massive torque delivered low in the rev range. Basically from idle using the clutch. If you do, it gives you better control of the bike and is less fatiguing. But, you’ll have to practice to get smooth, go for it.” Except for Wheelies: “To clear obstacles like large rocks, logs, the edges of desert washes, and creek climbs, you’ll need to be able to lift the front wheel on demand. With your pinky and ring fingers wrapped around the bar, use your middle finger and index finger to quickly push in the clutch lever, twist the throttle with the other hand and quickly, with control, release the clutch.” Steer with your feet: “Find a long, straight, wide, empty stretch of dirt road and ride it at a moderate speed while standing. Practice putting your weight on alternate pegs, gaining the ability to steer the motorcycle as you do so. How to ride a dirt bike and how you should ride an ADV bike while off-road as well, doing so puts less of a requirement on front-wheel drive, which is suspect at best. Got a slide about to go wrong? Step on the peg on the side the bike is sliding toward to bring it back into alignment. Stomp hard. It’s the same principle as the reverse direction and it works.” Master the front brake: “While standing, bend at the hips as if you were doing a squat, forcing your but as far back and as low as possible. If you feel like you’re about to sit on the rack behind the passenger seat, you’re doing fine. This should allow you to transfer your weight through your arms, onto the bars, and down to the front tire to give you the best possible chance of finding traction while braking hard. Just like on the road, Squeeze gently initially to load your contact patch, before gradually building up to full braking power.” Leave the electronics on: These are some big, heavy bikes. Ready to go, but before packing, that SuperTenere I drove across Canada weighs 636 pounds! That’s heavy for the class, but even the lightest ADV bikes typically weigh over 500 pounds. That means we’re talking about a lot of momentum, which means things can go wrong very quickly and quite irrevocably. Fortunately, most of these bikes now come with ABS and traction control optimized for off-road work. Practice with yours in a safe environment, learning what settings work best under what conditions and under what circumstances you might want to turn them off.
ABS is an excellent safety aid on an ADV bike, allowing you to brake hard if a cow suddenly jumps out onto the road while your head is in the clouds. But, it will work against you on steep inclines in loose sand or dirt. To learn where it works, consider the terrain she’s driving through, and turn it on and off while she’s driving accordingly. TC is the same, reigning in slides before they require too much intervention from us, humans. But try climbing a steep hill through loose sand, dirt, or mud and, well, you’re not going anywhere. Once again, learn its function and use it accordingly. Don’t think you’re too manly to use these electronic cycling aids. ADV riding often involves very long days in very bad weather through very dangerous terrain. And that means fatigue. Trust me, crashing five days from the nearest hospital or mechanic is a bad idea and take advantage of any help you can get to not do it. www.gizmodo.com