Riding skills: riding dirt roads

By Ped Baker -

Riding Skills

 23 October 2009 17:02

Riding a fully loaded adventure bike down a bumpy dirt road can be daunting.
The rough stuff requires different techniques to riding on Tarmac. On a smooth surface you can pretty much get away with sitting fairly stationary on your bike, off-road you need to use you body weight to help balance the bike.
The best way to achieve balance off-road is to stand up on the footpegs. By standing up you¹re in a much better position to shift your own bodyweight and counteract the moving weight of the bike. When you're in the standing position you may find that your brake and clutch levers need adjusting for better reach. They should be roughly in line with the angle of your arms.

Not re-tightening the clamps fully will prevent levers from snapping should you drop the bike. Grip the petrol tank with your legs lightly and keep both knees and arms bent a little.
Always look well ahead and anticipate road conditions well before you get to them so you can arrive in the right gear and at the right speed. Never ride into something you¹re not completely confident that you can ride out of, especially if you¹re on your own. Keep your speed slow (safety should be your first consideration) and the bike in a gear that enables you to use the engines torque efficiently.

Try and stay out of wheel ruts made by other vehicles. If the ruts get deeper the sides will snag on the bikes footpegs.

Keep throttle and brake inputs small and very smooth especially when travelling up or down steep and slippery gradients. Use engine braking and dabs of back brake when descending very steep hills.

Adventure touring pattern tyres will only cope with small amounts of mud before clogging so if part of your trip looks like it could be on very rough roads or tracks fit proper off road rubber (the excellent Continental TKC80 tyres come in large GS style sizes) before you reach that section.