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Benefits of cycling
5 Useful Tips for Riding Dirt and Gravel Roads

5 Useful Tips for Riding Dirt and Gravel Roads


as adventure riders we ride on pavement
nasty gnarly trails and roads like this today I have five tips for taking your
adventure bike off pavement let’s start with relaxing the first time you get off
road it doesn’t feel very natural the bike wiggles and squirms all over the
place and our first tendency is to tighten up to look down at the ground
and then hold our breath so that’s what we have to get past first keep your eyes
as far down the road as you can remember to relax your shoulders relax your grip
and take nice easy breaths when cornering let the bike roll underneath
you on the road we lean in with the motorcycle motorcycle leans in and we
lean it when we go off pavement the motorcycle still leans into the corner
but we stay to the outside of the corner the easiest way to make sure you’re in
the proper position is move your body to the outside and look all the way through
the corner it’s like you’re trying to peek all the way around the higher the
speed you’re going the more you need to move to the outside eventually you need
to be standing on the motorcycle and you shift to the outside and peek through
now your arms are going to be your limiting factor here so you’ll end up
moving slightly forward on the bike and then moving to the outside and that’s
gonna give you the greatest ability to see as far through and that’s going to
put you in the proper position so the bike rolls underneath you and you’re
staying on top of the motorcycle more vehicles than ever are using roads like
this we need to remember to stay to the right
there’s no painted lines on these roads to divide where you’re supposed to be
and where they’re supposed to be and it’s very common for people to take
their half of the road out of the middle as you come around these corners hold
far enough out that you can see around but you stay far enough to thrive the
roads though if the vehicles in the middle of the road you have time and
space to get out of the way and to dive back to the outside where you’re safe don’t get sucked into going faster the
limitations on these roads aren’t necessarily the motorcycle and the tires
or even how good you are as a rider the real limitations have to do with the
environment conditions and the other users on the road if you can’t stop fast
enough to avoid a car coming around a corner in your lane you’re going too
fast it’s the skilled rider that recognizes
those limits and doesn’t get sucked in and finally keep your eyes up vision is
the key to all of this if you want to stay relaxed you need to look as far
down the road as you can when you’re looking down at every Rock every stick
every puddle every little patch of sand or mud it causes you to be tense in
those limited sight corners if you’re looking through the corner when you lean
out from the bike and you peek around the corner before seeing that body to
give you the best vision puts you in the best position for the corner when you’re
looking farther out on the road to see what’s going on and what’s happening it
helps keep your speed in check if you can’t see through a corner you’re gonna
slow down if you have a long sight line you’re gonna speed up that vision is
gonna help control that speed it is the key

100 comments on “5 Useful Tips for Riding Dirt and Gravel Roads

  1. The road you show as off-road is the standart roads in our country. What we are going to do in Turkey? 😀

  2. Brilliant emphasis and sooooooo darn important. Ride relaxed! It doesn't subtract control, it amplifies it. May sound counter-intuitive, but it's true.

  3. The kind of gravel we have here is the size of golf balls and just as round and most of the time it's embedded in sand. It's pretty squirrely. I'm still having trouble with it.

  4. Good video but I hear that you should but other than peeking and farther site I don't hear the "why" from a physics perspective. Can you expand on this some?

  5. I totally understand being tense and focusing right down in front of you. Not that I’m advocating this but I certainly am much more loose, relaxed and look farther down the road after having one or two drinks but definitely no more.

  6. Good advise……..vision is definatly key to keeping your butt out of unfixable situations……after more than 50 years hangin on to a set of handle bars I puzzled by your dark visor . Many years ago I got caught comming out of Cades Cove in the Tennessee mountains with a dark smoke visor I learned to carry sun and clear glasses but ALWAYS a clear visor yellow glasses help in fog also. Just an old riders two cents……

  7. I always love your videos. Well shot and well spoken. The only thing I would personally like to see is more normal speed shots…maybe not instead of, but in addition to the slow mo's. I'm a comfortable 20+year mostly road rider with very little off-road, dirt, gravel experience. One of my biggest concerns is gauging speed on different off-pavement surfaces. To see normal speed shots from your perspective on the bike would be very helpful in gauging​ what is possible and appropriate speeds in those conditions. Just a thought for future shooting. Now time to go plan for the MABDR! Thanks!

  8. On a gravel curve, why do you lean your body to the outside of the curve and lean the bike over more? This is the opposite of how a racer rides through a curve on pavement, trying to keep the bike as upright as it can be.

  9. As a serious adv rider i traverse a section of gravel every time i need to leave the house for work and wares. Luckily this is the only section of rough terrain on which i travel. It is lined with literally thousands of rocks, yet I take this route daily because there is no other way through to the other side of the channel. The treacherous passthru has a name equally as notorious as "Independence Pass" in colorado, or Khardung La in India. The pass is known as "drive way" and the massive body of water it traverses is known as "culvert." Godspeed, gentlemen. Wish me luck. I'll need it.

  10. Great advice and always great videos. What about tyre pressures? On gravel should we lower the pressures by 2-3 PSI? Or keep running highway or road pressures?

  11. Thanks; i will share your nice video & tips with my rider friends; Cheers; Live long, Ride safe & Prosper 🖖🏼

  12. Came around a State forest road blind corner yesterday and found two stopped vans unloading a huge group of backpackers. There was no path whatsoever to pass without hitting a van, kid, or tree. I only avoided getting hurt and/or hurting a kid because my speed was low enough to slide to a stop. Thanks for spreading the news that it isn't just your equipment and/or god like skills that should dictate your speed.

  13. Jack Burton taught me this back in 1986.
    Like I told my last wife, I says, "Honey, I never drive faster than I can see. Besides that, it's all in the reflexes."

  14. what about very steep gravel and at an angle? for example I have a bit on my road that leads out to the paved road that is 90* right turn and steep so when I try to wide turn, my back wheel just slides down the hill instead of turning, which leads me to fall off the steep side ofcourse, because the bike is heavy and I simply cannot force it upwards.

  15. In other words? It is unsafe to have BIG fun on curvy public roads and the ONLY place where you can reasonably have cart blanch fun on a motorcycle in twisty road? Is on a race track where not only everyone is going the same direction but it is also monitored for debri and slippery liquid spills …via flag men etc. But on curvy public truck trails etc? Face it that you ARE gambling with your very life and health status especially if you push the speed much at all ….On any given day there are plenty of people abusing their privilege to drive via drinking and substance abuse, or they are just fools going way to fast …..are they on your favorite mostly lonely curvy road today? …Which means YOU are continually running the risk of being creamed! I mean right? It totally sucks but it is what it is ….have a family to support? You could instantly become unable to do that.

    Growing up one of the best motorcycle riders in the Los Angeles area, totally expert class Motocross racer was riding his CZ race bike up on the same fire roads we all did but unbeknownst to him someone else was flying around turns coming the opposite direction ….99% of the time you came across no other vehicles ….actually about as likely to come across a rattlesnake or someone on horseback as another rider/driver …which meant there was a real incentive to let her rip! Sliding around the flat turns at speed was an utter blast! But that day for John sheer joy turned into tragedy …It was so long ago I can't even remember his exact injuries but it was catastrophic racing career OVER …broken neck or back some such …he had to be airlifted out of there he was so bad off…could of been me or any of the other neighborhood riders ….funny thing was that John did not frequent those roads near as much as the rest of us …he made a practice track back there and mostly did that …I never even came across him one time he was up there so infrequently ….But I never took for granted again that I was alone…it ruins the fun, and you can say what you like about it being worth it or making comments like "you just cant worry about everything like that or you cant even enjoy living" ….I know I understand ….but when you SEE how someone's life is destroyed in 2 seconds? How do you ever unsee that? How can you just keep assuming it cant happen to me too? Ya know?

  16. Here is a sort of cold blooded technique to stay safer …always let your more fearless riding pal ride point …I mean sure when he finally gets airlifted out as a quadriplegic you are going to feel a little bit bad, but not so much you would have traded places ….with him slightly out front maybe you have a better chance of surviving a crazy coming the other way?

  17. I am a newbie to riding a motorcycle and today on my morning ride I found that a contractor had shredded the pavement of a road leaving grooves and gravel for miles. If not for these videos I don’t know what would have happened. I manage to successfully overcome this challenge with your help. Thank you Mototrek.

  18. Excellent videos, I have a few questions. Do these tips apply if I'm riding a CRF250L with Dunlop D606s, a pretty knobby tire, assuming the same type of road surface shown here?
    I've also heard many times to "look thru the corner." What exactly does this mean? Look ahead as far as I can while in the corner?
    Thank you for time.

  19. I'm new to riding off pavement and when on gravel the bike is definitely loose in the rear…can be intimidating when not used to that. Thanks for the tips…I'll try them out. Subscribed!

  20. Alguien puso subtítulos en español y se le agradece. Pero la traducción es pésima. Please, try to correct the texts. But, again, thanx.

  21. Ok…. stand up, got it. How do you split your weight across the foot pegs? 50/50? Weight the outside peg? Weight the inside peg?

  22. Love these vids! And the music, too! Where can I buy it, please? My Amazon Music for Matt Jorgensen gets me much jazz, but I just love these percussions… 🙂

  23. I see more and more riders cornering on tight, blind turns in the opposite side. It is bloody scary and it just amazes me that they do this. Its by far the stupidest thing to do and lots do it.

  24. Great advice. Especially with the the huge increase with SxS 's on the road. They seem to be what I come across more than ever here in Arizona

  25. So, if you going round a left hand bend, you move your body out to the right (staying upright), but what about the weight distribution on your feet (through the pegs)- even balance, or more weight on one peg over the other?

  26. Hi and Thanks for a lot of great videos. Just getting in to the World of adventure biking with my 850gs, and I enjoy watching your vids.
    How is that shoei helmet doing at highway speeds?

    Regards from Denmark 👍🏻

  27. Here in Korea, people riding on the road are less than careful. And are even less careful offroad, where they think there isn't likely to be any traffic or police enforcement. I find, especially when going around a blind bend, particularly where the road is only one lane wide, I give a little blast of the horn. It has saved my life way more than once. Even if moving at a crawl, I would still get creamed by some SUV driver who thinks he's the only person in the universe, while he blasts around these tight bends.

  28. Also, Lean forward – always have the front wheel in control and with grip. The moment you loose the front you are done.
    Back wheel doesn't matter as much.

  29. I'm a real beginner in dirt road riding! A week old beginner!!! But i live in the country and we are surrounded by dirt roads. So i started riding with my new Kawasaki Versys and just went for it. Came across some big rocks…it was either face that or jump in the stream…i almost fell but i remembered when i took that road to go back home, how i should prepare before riding on that surface. I was so happy when i crossed it and was way more in control the second time around. I stood up and looked as far as i could not concentrating on what bad things could happen if i fell but rather on how happy i was going to be when i crossed it! Thank you for your instructive videos. They came in handy!

  30. Riding at Milican we would signal how many bikes were coming behind us when we met other crews. Not everyone does it, but it is a nice thing to help others out.

    I wasn't riding but driving on a mountain road whilst hunting with a buddy years ago in Arizona. We were not going fast, thank goodness, but a Ranger was speeding to catch a poacher (didn't have tags) who had fled a different Ranger. It really wasn't fun, and it was a huge cliff on one side, thank fully she went on the correct side of the road, even on the corner or it would have been game over. We had the hill side, she had the cliff side.

    She came to our camp a day later, and apologized (she recognized the truck), all is forgiven.

  31. How to steer the bike while off-roading? Push or pull the handle? Can you please which is the best video for this?

  32. Watched this few times in the past couple of months. Very helpful and to the point. Thank you very much !

  33. First video I've ever watched from this channel. I appreciate you getting to the point and not stretching it out to a 15-minute video.

  34. Succinct video with excellent safety points, cheers. I live in NZ and ride narrow, very tight, (1st gear hairpins..!) twisty, gravel roads, which could be deep gravel, corrugated or scrubbed off just leaving a smooth clay surface. The outside of a bend is always deep gravel and often where you need to be to avoid a sideways ute or camper van coming around the bluff. Sometimes with a boat on a trailer swinging behind. Rule of thumb in addition to what is said in your vid is brake in a straight line, pick the safest / observant line and be in the right gear to ride the loose crap around the corner. A positive throttle keeps your underpants clean. Staying outside the CoG and weighting the outside footrest when standing is paramount to avoid stunting incidents. And yeah, relax. The bike won't fall over unless you make it do so. Most of our gravel roads are cambered, use the camber to minimise lean – increase grip. I love gravel!

  35. Great advice, thanks! I have not ridden gravel, and trail since high school in my dirt bike days. It's been all street for me since I struck out on my own with an XS Yamaha 500 (1980)! Feeling the call to get back to my roots so I'm looking at some different ADV bikes and these tips are very helpful to start getting my head back in that zone. I enjoy the channel so new sub from northern Minnesota. Peace.

  36. Thank you Bret. I am touring Alaska and had promised to take my 11 year old daughter to Arctic circle and back. Your videos that i watched yesterday helped me do that.. My commuter bike is 650GS, but the rental gave me a 1200GSA.. i watched your video several times and the videos played in my mind every time i tense up.. thank you.. I will be watching all your videos..

  37. Every tip you gave I had to work trough intuitively except the counter-steering. I found myself doing that naturally on back roads but I thought it was a bad habit.

  38. Just curious on where you're from some of the landscape looks a lot like the PNW of the United States. Washington state to be more precise

  39. If I took your advice and kept to the right, I would be dead within a minute. We drive on the left in the UK, Joking btw. Great advice tho!, thanks

  40. I need to focus on staying right, I tend to think I am the only person on the road. Great video and tips, I just subscribed so I can learn more

  41. Your videos are very helpfull for a new adventure rider like me , so much knowledge wow, thanks for sharing it. The videos are also very nicely put together. I have a Honda CRF 1000 the bike is big, so far no luck to achive the uturn on a gravel even after watching your video lol

  42. 1:16 What if I am riding a V-twin? I hope my suspension takes care of the off road issues for me because it is hard standing on my pegs.

  43. Thanks for the video and info. Love the channel. I am brand new to motorcycling just got my beginners. Quick question, by leaning out are you also counter balancing the bike, can you explain a bit more why you lean out off road? I guess two questions. Thx.

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