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cruisers and dirt roads

Discussion in 'Cruisers' started by Benny Boy, May 2, 2013.

  1. Should it be done, Cruisers on dirt that is.

    Taking my boulevard M90 on dirt these days seems to be more challenging than i remember.

    When i had my M50, I used to take it off road as well. But it seemed easier and i don't remember it skidding around as much.

    The M90 goes alright on flat dirt and up hill. But going down hill, I'm hesitant as i've had a few slips in the past. A touch of break on a down hill dirt road is enough to have the back wheel skid and almost loose control. Being a heavy bike i know the weight plays a big part in momentum going down hill and can be a factor in skids.

    Is there a point regarding the size of the bike when you shouldn't be taking a cruiser off road? Or is there a method of riding big cruisers off road that i don't know yet?
  2. Tyres? M90 has a 200mm rear, M50 has 170mm. Wider is worse on dirt, although I have no idea what tread pattern is used on either.
    Weight has to play some part.
  3. I sued to run Dunlop on the M50. On the M90 I run Metzler ME880s on front and back. Im not sure if there is much else that suits an M90 out there. When i bought it second hand and the previous owner had put harley davidson tyres on it. I changed to the metzlers and the handling improved straight away.

    P5020028.JPG P5020027.JPG
    wrong way, but at least you get an idea for tread pattern. It the same front and back.
  4. Tyres, weight, power, geometry etc etc all play a part.

    I see no reason (except fear) not to take a bike of any size down a dirt road. I wouldn't take a cruiser truly off road, but that's just me.

    Obviously you wouldn't ride a M109 on a dirt road like you would a DR650, but
  5. why would you loose control?... rear wheel locks release and re-apply brake.

    Stay loose on the bars allow the bike to track and follow the contours of the road.

    I take my VFR on gravel and dirt roads ~430kg all loaded up. just running road tyres, I just ride to the conditions.
  6. I have a 240 on the rear of the VN2000 and it loves to wiggle it's backside when riding on anything but bitumen.
  7. Dress like the fonz and maintain cruiser-face

    • Like Like x 1
  8. It's not about level dirt roads as such, more about hilly dirt roads and roads with loose surfaces, on heavy bikes.

    About 18 months ago i was heading to a camp near Gympie. I was on a gravel/dirt road and my bike was fully loaded. I was going down hill and was starting to gather speed and feeling the bump get bigger. I dabbed on the brakes to try and slow down. All i felt was the gravel slide and my bike was on it's side almost immediately. I wasn't going that fast, but i know the loose road surface and the bikes weight didn't help.

    Going to Sundown national park the weekend past, I encountered more dirt roads. much better quality compared to that road near Gympie. But going down hill i was was still skidding when i dabbed the brakes.

    I guess i could inch the bike down a hilly dirt road, but have i reached a line that i shouldn't cross in regards to my cruisers weight and the types of dirt road i should be riding.

    Im thinking it may be time to get a second bike.
  9. I

    I want it. I've never said that of a harley before.

    Reminds me of X-men origins: Wolverine where he rides the Harley through the forest.
    I've had people ask me if i could do that, but then i point out that while being chased by the helicopter he's stopped somewhere off camera to change his tyres to nobby's.
  10. pick a gear for the down hill that will hold your desired speed, and instead of "Dabbing" the brakes setup and squeeze them gently.

    even on rocky dirt roads or gravel you should be able to brake effectively without locking a wheel albeit not at the same force you could on asphalt.
  11. I'll have to try a dirt road again and take note of how i brake. I was was going pretty slow and the gravel was still sliding when i was light on the brakes.

    I'll try rewording my main question as i'm still not getting an answer that satisfies my curiosity. My smaller lighter M50 could handle the dirt better than my current M90. I think I'm trying to ride my M90 on the dirt like i rode my M50.

    Im am trying to overcome a hurdle here and i want to gauge if it is me, or if I am asking too much of the bike to go on rough, loose or hilly terrain i.e. taking the dirt road from Wee Jasper to Tumut.

  12. on dirt lighter is better, the average weight of a dirt bike is 120kg and that is at the heavier end of the scale.

    a heavier bike with road tyres is going to be at a disadvantage on dirt or lose surfaces.

    however if you ride to the conditions you should be fine.

    if you "dabbed" your brakes, locked up and put the bike down, you must have "dabbed" to quickly and with too much force for the conditions.

    personally why take the dirt road when their is a sealed road running parallel to it? if you had a dirt bike or adventure-tourer fair enough.


    the method you seek is: ride to the conditions, stay relaxed and don't place to much weight on the bars, allow the bike to track and avoid fighting the bike if it gets into a rut (just ride it out), take the corners slower and keep the bike upright, use BOTH brakes to slow the bike, avoid suddenly "dabbing" them, avoid braking in a corner or when the bike is not completely upright. use smooth acceleration and a higher gear to avoid wheel spin
  13. I've taken my VTX1800 on dirt fire trails a few times, it can be sketchy, but it's possible. Some things I've figured out are:
    - maintain a constant speed, any sudden changes in breaking, acceleration or direction are bad
    - keep the bars as loose as possible so that you're not fighting the dirt
    - look where you want to go, not at what you're trying to avoid
    - don't be afraid to put a foot down
    - stay in second gear whenever possible
  14. You dabbed your front brake a bit hard, Locking the front wheel, down you go, The front has slid out from under you,
    Try using your gears for down hill, and just take it quietly, Dont worry to much with the back end sliding, Just make sure the front dont,

    I dont like dirt, As my bike is too top heavy for dirt, and with smooth sports tyres, It can get quite hairy at times,

    Your cruiser, no problems, The weight is down low, so it should track right,
  15. #15 Benny Boy, May 27, 2013
    Last edited: May 27, 2013
    I thought dabbing them was squeezing them gently, i certainly didn't grab and hold tight to slow down. I ridden dirt bikes enough to know that not what you do.

    It was more back break that i was using.

    I appreciate the advice come with the best of intentions to help, but Ill try and explain my frustration a bit more.

    By applying the theory and practical of riding carefully and riding to condition to driving cars. I should then be able to drive my front wheel drive toyota camry down 4WD track as long as Im careful and driving to the conditions. But i know it can be silly because of clearance, grip, suspension etc. So I'm fining it a bit hard to believe that a 300kg+ v-twin road bike can tackle loose dirt roads in a similar way as smaller lighter cruisers or sports bike.

    To try an illustrate some of the roads I'm referring to.
    This first pic is of a dirt road i have no problem traveling on. It's somewhat flat, compacted dirt, some loose sandy stuff in places and a few dips from water flow.

    the next one is a little trickier. not a full blown 4WD track, but it's from Sundown national park where they have alot of 4WDs.
    rocky road.

    It's alot more uneven, rockier, the surface is loose, it's steeper than it looks, the photo doesn't do it justice. Go to Sundown NP and you'll see what i mean.

    Yes there are car tracks, but there are still rocks there. With wide cruiser tyres these can alter your course a bit and can put you into the troubling stuff.

    Talking with a few people in person about this lately they've told me that cruiser are built mainly for the bitumen and if i want to try off Road Sundown NP style i need a bike built for this types of roads. Thats where i got the 4WD drive analogy from.
  16. You shouldnt be having difficulty on those two roads, I would hammer down both of those,
    Do not even think of trying to compare a car with a bike, You cant fall off a car,
  17. That's about as rough and loose if not the hilliest as they come in this country. You should be fine, just take it easy.
  18. Cheers people. Looks like I'm just going to have to suck it up and get out there and get some practice.
    I don't know what it is about dirt roads that makes me nervous on my current bike.