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9 MISTAKES Adventure Motorcycle Riders Make Every Day – You Can Do Better

9 MISTAKES Adventure Motorcycle Riders Make Every Day – You Can Do Better

I’m Bret Tkacs. I’m a professional rider
and trainer and riders come to me because they want to get better they
want to be the best and in this episode I’m going to cover some of the most
common mistakes that I have to address with riders every day, every class, every
week, every year, every decade… without debate the most common question I get from riders is how
much they should air down the tires and my answer is almost universally, don’t
air down the tires what riders don’t understand the mistake
they make is that these motorcycles are very heavy and that we’re carrying heavy
loads that also means we’re taking heavy impact we need the air in the tires to
protect the rim when we air down too much we risk bending the rim or gaining
a pinch flat I’m not saying tire pressures aren’t important they are
important and in extreme situations changing tire pressure can be to your
advantage one example is if you’re running street tires and you’re buried
in deep sand or deep rock you may want to let a lot of air pressure out to get
enough traction to get out of that situation but then you want to
immediately air back up another example would be riding through rough hard sharp
edge rocks if your tires are overinflated they won’t absorb the
impact and your front tire will deflect more than it needs to but you still need
to make sure you don’t air down so much that you risk denting your rim bending
the rim or getting a pinch flat so in hard packed trails or gravel roads just
leave the same pressures on that you run on the street many riders are terrified about using
the front brake off-road they’ve read on the forums have been told by their
friends they should only use the rear brake or they’ve been in an extreme
environment like wet clay or on wet grass and in those environments
definitely we have to be far more delicate about our use of the front
brake what the rear brake doesn’t do well off-road is stop the motorcycle
it’s good for creating stability in the bike for certain situations it’s very
good for changing direction where you can slide the back of the bike around to
go a new direction but what it doesn’t do is stop well if you want to stop
off-road you need to be using the front brake as your primary stopping power the
rear is used for stability the front is used for stopping and this is one of the
reasons why we only use one to two fingers off-road traction can change
very quickly and that allows us to have a much more delicate feel much better
feedback as we’re used in that front brake so we can sense those changes and
we can make them as make those changes as we go so off-road use both brakes and
make sure the front brake is doing the real stopping here’s a common mistake riders make they
think they’re in control their death gripping on the handlebars and they’re
telling the bike where to go it turns out these bikes are really big and
they’re gonna go where they want to go that’s what rake and trail and all those
other things that are built into the bike for its to make the bike go where
it needs to go so loosen up don’t hold on so tightly it turns out when we reach
around the grip all we’re trying to do is close those out or two fingers
against the thumb so the grip is loose to the inside if the front wheel catches
something and deflects you just want to make sure if it catches you off guard
that your hand moves with the controls that’s why we’re closing the loop the
fingers here that are controlling the clutch and the two fingers here against
the front brake those are the ones that are doing the job so loosen up a little
and don’t hold on so tight to many riders sit when they should be
standing any time the train gets really scary when we have mud when we have ruts
when we have sand when we have deep gravel our default should be to stand on
the motorcycle where we have maximum control sitting is reserved for pavement
for well groomed roads for gravel roads for long stretches where you’re trying
to conserve energy any time it gets scary stand up there are times when
sitting is a really good or even the best option for riding but there is a
proper way to sit don’t sit in the passenger seat
too many riders I see they just sit back they end up in the passenger seat and
this is normally the riders with more dirt focused bikes the KTM s the dr Z’s
the K L ours these guys are sitting on the back they have that nice flat bench
they end up all stretched out their legs are 90 degrees it causes the bike not to
track well it doesn’t allow them to have full control their arms you stretched
out they can’t control the motorcycle the riders on the big touring focus
bikes have less of a concern their bikes are usually very narrow like the bike
I’m on the GS it’s just sits right in the middle I can’t go very far the
proper way to sit is this far forward on the motorcycles you can get and on those
other bikes it means the steering is often very close to the body that’s how
they’re designed to function best so when you’re sitting sit forward you
probably don’t need those handlebar risers when I help riders and I
professionally fit riders to maximize control of the motorcycle and fit the
rider the most common thing I do is remove risers that they added to the
motorcycle unless you’re over 6 feet tall if you’re on an adventure styled
motorcycle that’s designed to go off-road they usually fit you really
really well the problem is when you put risers on a motorcycle it’s usually so
riders feel comfortable when they’re standing so they sit all the way
vertical the problem is it puts you too far back in the battle
as soon as you hit the throttle you hit a bump it throws you off balance you end
up tightening up on the handlebars and you don’t have maximum control once you
know how to ride well once you know how the posture is supposed to be you end up
farther forward over the motorcycle and those risers don’t help they get in the
way limited vision is one of the most common
critical mistakes riders make and I’m not talking about obstructive vision
like fog I’m talking about rider induced obstructed vision what I’m saying is
riders look directly in front of the motorcycle and they’re looking at the
rocks the steaks the things directly in front of the motorcycle they’re looking
at the things that are about to happen there it gonna hit it’s too late there’s
no time to plan riders have to learn how to look farther down the road so they
can see vehicles coming at them so they can see changes in terrain that’s what
needs to happen and it turns out vision is directly related to speed the faster
you go the farther you have to look the slower you go the closer you can look
but it also means Vision Drive speed when you’re looking directly in front of
your bike or directly in front of your your tire you have to ride slowly there
isn’t time to plan or react so get your eyes up and look down the road here’s a common mistake that almost
every adventure rider learns the hard way they bring too much stuff we pack
our bikes up and we have so much stuff we can’t move around on the bike I can
actually make things dangerous we have so much stuff that the bike gets so
heavy if it tips over we can’t stand it back up learn to pack light take half of
the stuff that you think you need and leave it behind
then take the half that’s left over and cut that in half that’s what you need to
have make sure that you have the important things your first-aid kit your
tool kit a way to air up the tires and fix a flat tire make sure you have a way
to stay dry and a way to stay warm that’s what you really need all that
other stuff it just adds weight learn to pack light and finally here’s a major mistake that
none of the riders that attend training with me ever make and that is spending a
bunch of money on their motorcycle and not investing in themselves too many
riders will freely spend money on their motorcycle buying gizmos and gadgets
that only make their wallet light and their motorcycle heavy but they won’t
invest in themselves getting training with a professional rider trainer will
help you become a better rider make less mistakes not damage your bike not get
hurt it’s worth the time it’s worth the money so don’t make that mistake

100 comments on “9 MISTAKES Adventure Motorcycle Riders Make Every Day – You Can Do Better

  1. I went into this expecting that I would find out what I'm doing wrong, but all my habits from racing motocross really prepared me for riding an ADV bike.
    Years in the Army helped the packing but too.

  2. Mark from Washington State here. When I was riding trials and motocross many years ago I got a good piece of advice. I was told that looking a a rock or some other obstacle will focus on the rock and you will hit it. Your advice to look ahead is right on. Note where the rock is then look up to plan your course. Don’t stare at the rock!

    How can I find out about your training opportunities? I’m in Olympia a lot and would like to hook up.

  3. Thank you for everything you, Paul and Christiana have taught me and shared with me. Everytime I ride I think of you guys (mostly in good ways 🙂 about your advice and teachings. Godspeed

  4. good info. my adv riding consists of 24-33k miles per year of sf bay area commute. a lot of this translates directly to lane splitting and getting to and fro safely. especially the look far enough to match the speed of the bike. one more thing with that i do is never focus on any one thing-keep your eyes moving.

  5. Great video. All good points. I liked the last one. I've rode with extremely good riders that have simple bikes and gear, and really bad riders with really expensive bikes and complex gear. The bike doesn't make the rider. The ride makes the bike.

  6. You also need water, food, shelter, sleeping bag, clothes and hygiene stuff if you're going out for a while. Water is heavy.

  7. As someone who took one of Bret's trainings this summer (his ADV camp in Oregon), I can 1000% attest to the value of his trainings! I got 10x better at off-road riding on my Africa Twin, which no farkle could give me.

  8. I’d add buying too big an adventure bike for your capabilities. I felt I did that when I bought my GS, there are plenty smaller options. Great video as ever.

  9. Great video as always Brett. Two points, I'm 6ft4 on a Tiger 800XC and I absolutely need bar risers (20mm) and slightly lower pegs to achieve a reasonable body position.
    Regarding tyre pressures, I've heard so many conflicting views, as you have mentioned some say keep full pressure which for the 800xc is 36/42psi, but I've found 25/35 gives a far more stable feel particularly on loose gravel. Not sure how this works for others but I find it's a good solution.

  10. Love the videos and managed 5k kms in Patagonia last year due to your gravel tips.
    Any thoughts on standing with a passenger and luggage?

  11. Cheers mate good video. I can see lots of me in the problems you highlight. Will try to do better. Great channel and I watch all of your videos as they make sense to normal people.

    Regards Steve

  12. Very nice tips for the newcomers. All true and important. My mate when he packed for one of his first trips he got like 40 kgs of luggage, he even took the axe (for chopping wood) 😂

  13. 8:45 Pack light 😆, Tiz not easy Bret. Clearly you don't cook, brew coffee or camp overnight in a tent. Thanks for the vids 👍

  14. Glad you found your bike again mate!you walked so far away from it at beginning I thought-He,s not gonna find his way back!!an in depth view on best rider gear would be good!!

  15. 5:26 I have a KLR and did 80 miles on gravel. I've tried all sitting positions and found sitting in the back seat gave me more control of the ride. I also do stand on my feet at times depending situation

  16. Awesome video!! you already have a new follower, and will ask for some course or any formation you could provide me as soon as I get the bike I am waiting for… (Teneré 700) thanks and congratulations!!

  17. Here's a tip: Instead of buying some fancy schmancy, Nancy, ADV bike buy a lighter Honda XR650L that has much more suspension/is way better on trails, is thousands cheaper and pack it light. You're welcome!

  18. Thanks again for another great video on tips. I have more recently taken my 650gs off road and your information has kept me upright. I have gone where my ol’xr200 used to take me. Additionally, your info has helped me know when to call it quits to either conquer another day with a fellow rider, or just know when the terrain has striped my skill and equipment. Don’t be surprised to see me at one of your courses one day. Thanks again.

  19. Often overlooked: trying to learn to ride offroad on a $14,000, 500 lb bike. If you’ve never ridden off road, spend a year on a used DRZ400 or a KLR 650 ( or a real dirt bike) that you can drop, scratch up, and repair relatively cheaply. You will learn so much faster when you’re not afraid to ride the bike. Put some gnarly tires on it and learn how to have fun. Follow good riders. Climb steep stuff. Get rad. Scare yourself. Then when you finally throw down 15k for that glamorous farkle pony, you won’t bust it up on the first day it touches dirt.

  20. Can I put a request in for a video on "How to fit your Bike or set up the bike to fit the individual"? Great videos to date love the content and the way you present it. Keep up the great work. Oh…And love the drumming

  21. I rarely comment on videos like this. Have 50, yes, 50 years riding experience (started really young not really old) and ride sidecars almost exclusively nowadays, because I want to not because I have too. All I have to say about this video is – what Bret said. Every thing he says applies to adventure sidecars as well as adventure bikes! Good job man, good job! Especially the too much stuff part, that causes many of the other problems Bret mentioned! BTW, you can flip a sidecar too because of stuff and improper brake usage (same applies to sidecars and bikes, except you won't just lay it down, you'll hit something of flip it) and his formula for stuff is so spot on I started to laugh! But Bret, you forgot one thing, take the amount of money you think you need for a trip and double it…that is all I can add to this…get trained, get re-trained and keep on riding.

  22. Your videos have helped me go from novice to intermediate for sure. One of these days I'll be able to afford one of your classes. But right now the bike needs handlebar risers, ground affect lights, super ultra turbo exhaust, a stereo, tire pressure sensors, etc. 😂😂

  23. Thank you very much for this series Bret!! I don't get a chance to ride as often as I'd like. I watch your training videos over and again every week and they help me be a safer rider every chance I get to ride. You're the Saint of the ADV world. Thank you very much! I'm eagerly waiting for your next videos. I do hope you do another more in-depth video on how to off-road with a pillion. 🙂

  24. Looks like 'm not the only one who's learned something from your vids =)
    I will recommend this video to anyone who is considering riding an ADV bike. You boiled it down to the essentials.

    Regards bars: guilty of risers here ( I am 6'1/2"), but one can adjust the position to a great degree with just rotation. I use a normal position when seated and riding pavement, but when I get to the dirt, I rotate my bars forward and up. You can buy toggle bolts that let you easily loosen the clamps, but I carry an allen key in my pocket.

  25. Hello, oui je pense qu'il est important d'investir sur sois même au même titre que d'investir dans les accessoires, le pilote doit aussi évoluer ! Thanks for your expérience

  26. Just subbed, can confirm this guy definitely knows his shit and is a good teacher. I wished this video existed 12 years ago when I definitely needed it.

  27. Fun story: I live in the Yukon and had to deliver some parts to my buddy whos truck had broken down in a small community 180km north of my home town. I decided to take my brand new V-Strom 1000XT for its first real road trip and set off for what was to become quite the adventure. I arrived at his location around 9:30pm, helped repair his broken rig, and left an hour later. By 11:00pm it was pitch black, raining, and 7'C. Cold, wet, and dark. This was my first time riding in these conditions and I had little riding experience to begin with. The return trip home that would normally take less then 2 hours ended up taking almost 4 hours. The entire ride was terrifying but there was one section of highway that really stood out for me.

    This particular section of road was under construction and had become a shit mix of mud and loose gravel. The fact that I couldn't see the road in front of me made it impossible to pick a 'safe' line through, and all I could think of was 'let it do it's thing' as I entered the construction zone. The V-Strom literally took me from one side of the road to the other several times, the handle bars hammering back and forth with the sudden changes in direction. I believe the only reason I stayed upright was because of some of the things I learned while watching this channel. Stay calm, do not overreact, be smooth on the throttle, keep a loose grip on the handle bars, and let the bike go where it needs to go. I had no idea a bike could behave so violently and still maintain 'control'.

    I have no desire to be in that situation ever again but I am grateful for the experience as I learned a lot from it. It was exhausting but in the end I made it home safe and sound. If it wasn't for videos like these that likely would not have been the case. Thank you for putting this information out there so new riders like me have a better chance at surviving their own stupidity!

  28. Professional rider and trainer, you kidding me? There is no right or wrong way to Alaska or Patagonia, it has been done on a scooter and a GS1200. Everything you need to know you will learn on the journey. Just take the roads less traveled and stay off the super slabs and interstates. Enjoy.

  29. It's too bad some riders struggle with these things for years, so it's great to see you cover this so clearly in your video. I totally agree, the best $ spent on a bike is in rider training. Very few things (if anything other than more gasoline) can improve the ride better than this dollar for dollar.

  30. Great video Bret, hope to one day get some adventure training if I can find some in my area. thanks for your videos so far, I've been watching them and others a lot 🙂 and thankfully have only downed my Afirca Twin about 7 times (no crash bars) with minimal damage 🙂 (Funny side note – I encountered my first big mud area a while back — I thought to myself "What would Bret do?" I couldn't remember watching about mud, so I said "well, maybe approach it 'fast' since I'm on street tires and I must maintain momentum!' 4 seconds later I was eating a mud puddle, but it was awesome (had to throttle-push it out, it was bad new Mexico clay!)

  31. This would be better if you just did a voice over and rode. I think watching you over project yourself made it hard for me to watch.

  32. What a joke. All you did was copy others videos. If you dont know these tips he copied then you should not be riding. All of it is common sense.

  33. Bar risers. Not sure I completely agree with that comment. Sure when off-road you shouldn't be running bars so high they are like the Harley Ape hangers. I would suggest that if the cockpit of your machine has you hunched over like a dog having relations with a football while standing, you need a set of risers. It is about the geometry between footpegs and bars. Prime example is my old XR650L. Being 6 feet tall I needed to add almost 2 inches of rise so I could stand in a proper attack position when on singletrack. Without the risers I would stand and my back would be bent at nearly 90 degrees to the bike. A good way to become a member of the over the bar club in short order… All that being said you have some of the best howtos out there.

  34. Can't argue with anything you said. I've ridden a lot on dirt but never big trips but I have done my fair share of big road trips on sports bikes. I have one rule when it comes to packing for a long road trip and that is if it doesn't fit in the one bag I take then it isn't coming. Nothing destroys a ride more than over loading your bike. Most people buddy up for long trips so only one bike has to carry a pump, tyre repair kit which is always just plugs and likewise one tin of chain lube. If you have lots of tools and use them before you leave you can leave them home. I don't carry much in the way of clothing either as there are laundromats the world over. We camp out every night in Hotels and Motels and if you have to you can share rooms to save money. Having your mate snoring in the other bed in a Motel room is no different to him being in the next tent over. For long trips or for any for that matter for your sanity you should get to know your riding companions and try to travel with people who ride as you do. It's crazy constantly being left behind all the time or waiting for someone to catch up. I'll put my soap box away now but was that a throttle rocker I saw on your bike.

  35. Hi Bret from Budapest,
    Congrat for the professional video(s)! Sorry about the off topic but I like a lot the stickers/deco on Your GS. I wonder if that is available on the market or that is specific just prepared for You.

    Best regards

  36. Invest in yoursel, best tip ever! It is very true and you can see them eating terrible and packing so much heavy carbs before a long ride…. dunno how they do it, it is not healthy.

  37. Hey Brett. Local guy to your area. Love your videos. Couldn't agree more about your advice on airing down the tires. Keep up the good. Hope to meet someday. ~GrizzLee

  38. Bret, you’re awesome! Your videos are priceless! About risers, myth busted! A lot of people arguing about risers, they think they have to be straight up when standing, like you said. That’s BS! Keep videos coming, Bret. That’s good training 👍🏻

  39. Non related but i just saw your double walking trough the little streets of Olbia in Sardinia.
    As always, great information, thanks!

  40. What a great video! Thanks Bret! –>subscribed! (I also really like the use of jazz drums as audio filler, that's a great sound and very applicable to the cadence of dual sport riding.)

  41. Thanks for the tips. My Africa Twin came with bar riser that raised me up and back an inch. I always wondered why I felt like I was falling off the bike when standing up. Took them off and what a difference. Much more stable.

  42. Mototrek, wanna ask u about your blinking brake light. Was this something you added or did it come stock on the bike? If you added it, can you tell me where it can be purchased. Thanks

  43. I run high bend bars with bar risers because I like to see down the trail or the MX track, and not at the front fender. I've been riding MX and endro bikes for over 30 years.

  44. Quick question, as someone who has been riding dirtbikes for years in extreme terrain, is there much that a coach for adv bikes could teach me or is most of the content related to what i learned on dirtbikes? I know the weight changes things but are the fundamentals the same? I feel as though an offroad course would be preaching to the choir, but im not ignorant if there is something more to learn i would happily embrace it.

  45. Well this was interesting for all the wrong reasons. I guess you can only say so much in a short self promotion video but this has holes everywhere. You start by contradicting your self! Don't lower your tyre pressures…….then do? Of course you decrease your tyre pressures, the tyres provide a useful part of your suspension. It depends on what tyres you use as well if you are running Mitas E09 or similar then they can and must be run at lower pressures. Even if you are on road tyres letting out 5 psi will make a world of difference. As for braking with the front wheel you did mention that in order to do this in a controlled manner off road you need to be progressive, once the weight of the bike is transferred fully onto the front tyre then apply more pressure. This should be done in the standing crouching position, where you will have more control. You can then apply the front beak very strongly until it starts to skid then ease the pressure off and on , this of course is human ABS. This should be one of the first skills you learn and PRACTICE on your bike. Your position on a bike is ALL about grip! Put your 100 plus kg where it's needed. Bar risers are absolutely a must for all but the shortest of riders. They are the only way to be able to adopted the correct position on your bike. No risers and you will either have neck pain or not be looking far enough ahead. They also mean you can get your weight over the rear end on the bike for traction, when buying a bike make sure the handle bars can be moved forward and backwards in relation to the triple clamps. As for training, yes it's a great idea, and of course money well spent. But do it before you spend vast amounts on a an adv bike you probably can't ride. The most important thing about training is practice, if you don't intend to or have not got the time then training is wasting your money. The way to get good on a bike is muscle memory, everything should be automatic so you can concentrate on the trail. Last if you going to say guys should stand on on the difficult parts of the trail then don't do your demo on easy stuff.

  46. First aid kit, toolbox, flattirekit… i pack things like that but honestly, i never needed them🙂 and i was going loooong tours…

  47. Well done! While once raced with bikes weighting under 200 lbs. I do see the appeal of these heavy off road machines. Must add they would not come to to keeping up in the events I rode.

  48. I have just attended an introductory off road riding course in South Africa. We were taught most things you said but you added to my knowledge base. Stand up, look up and open up(not throttle)

  49. Hey MOTOTREK – i was thinking about, have do ever take the Benelli TRK 502 X Grå 2019 for a trip on the mountain trail, and give a Review about it?

  50. I'm new on bike bmw F650 GS, this is my first motorcycle and your any advice is helpful.

    I've learned a lot from your videos in the past few months.

    Greetings from Bosnia and Herzegovina

  51. Thanks Brett! All of your tips were incredibly wise and something I would’ve never thought of. I’m a newbie on a KL 650 and the only wise thing I’ve done so far is stripped the bike down to the basics, and added crash bars and aggressive motor cross pegs for traction. Hoping to get on the trail soon -so far trail riding has been limited to my grassy backyard. But I am having lots of fun on the road, so it’s time for me to expand my horizons. I will certainly look for an experience, professional trainer and hope to learn a lot.

  52. What a great video! thank you. Immediately subscribed. Does anyone know what bags are these? They look perfect, right in between soft and hard.

  53. Be sure to get the most giant motorcycle you can get to ride off road. The more weight the better off road. I still don't understand this. I used to own dirt bikes and the lighter the better. I can't imagine riding even a 400 pound motorcycle off road.

  54. Bret, great video. I'm a long time dirt rider, and just got into the ADV bikes. I learned some good things.
    What is that plastic "fairing" between the headlight and the instrument cluster?
    I noticed when I have my high beam on my 2007 R1200GS, the light "bleeds" out, and sort of messes with my night vision.
    Thank you.

  55. Picked some easy terrain for the big girl. Should try the Tahula State forest, Tillamook, or tougher the Gifford Pinchot to see why a KTM EXC is as dual as a dirt sport should be.

  56. Air pressure: all performance testing by the manufacturer is done with a light, unburdened bike.. with a load your tires are already putting more tread down. A “pinch flat” is the LEAST of your worries when an under inflated tire rolls out from under you.

  57. Man really you are Great Traininer 👍, your Skills is Logical for All levels of Riders.
    Keep going, abd tell ur Followers if you have course in dubai soon.

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