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Road bikes on dirt roads?

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' at netrider.net.au started by Leighbus, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. Just a random thought I had, what happens if I come across a dirt road in my travels. Is it a good idea to ride a road bike on a dirt road or should I avoid it completely.

    The other day when I went for a ride over mt mee I pulled over on a big dirt patch on the side of the road for a rest, when I took off again the front wheel was bouncing and sliding and the whole bike was wobbling until I got onto the bitumen, must admit it scared me a little.

  2. No need to avoid completly, but ride to the conditions. If you are going to be doing a lot of it, put some tyres on your bike that are suited to it.
  3. +1 proper tyres.
  4. Be very wary of clay when its wet, it's as slippery as shit.
  5. Ride on dirt roads. They are there. You will encounter them.

    Nobody ever got any better at anything, or even maintained existing skills by engaging only when conditions are ideal.
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  7. Reminds me of this... Can be done.. and it's quite hilarious.
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  8. Plenty of people do it. Here's another nice example.

  9. Anything is possible
  10. Ground clearance can be a killer if it's rough.
    You only have preload adjustment on a VRT250 AFAIK but it can be handy to soften up a Bike's damping over corrugated roads.
    Don't be wary about putting your foot down (or both) if you need to for stability at slow speed. Rules saying not to are for learner's courses and dry, grippy tar.
  11. what exactly is 'dirt'?, you mean gravel?,
    gravel is okay if you remember you will slide around a fair bit, like skidding a pushbike.

    on gravel; you will slide!

    no other bike will ride like a dirtbike will offroad, but a cruisier general purpose bike will be easier to manage than a stiffer bike
    sportbikes are tough to ride on gravel
    roadbikes don't really have the suspension clearance
  12. When I think dirt road I think uneven surface, corrugations, loose gravel and potholes.
  13. 4 limiting factors,corrugated corners.Swapping from 1 wheel rut to another.Ground clearance,and mud.Any of these need slow and steady throttle action and gentle braking.Be aware the bike will move around a bit.Nice relaxed grip on the bars and enjoy.Love surprising the specialist Adventure bikes when we arrive at the inevitable bit of unfinished road out in the boondocks.
  14. That's the vast majority of the roads around here, even the so called bitumen roads.
    • Agree Agree x 2
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  15. I regularly ride on dirt (gravel roads) on the Bandit. As long as you ride to the conditions (as you always should) you shouldn't too much of a problem. I wouldn't be tackling fire trials and the like on a road bike but a well formed gravel road shouldn't be too much of an ask.
  16. LOL , i remember watching a video about the BMW GS riders club tour, there was a rough rocky section over mountainous terrain that riders could opt to avoid, and the guys that fancied themselves took the hard way. Only one or two of the best riders made it without crashing, watching all those BMW's constantly crashing was pretty funny.

    plus it takes about three guys to lift one of those 1200's off of its side
  17. #17 Highett, Nov 19, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2013
    Obviously road bikes are better suited to a sealed surface, they will however handle gravel roads and tracks to a point.

    Some gravel access roads start off pretty good but deteriorate as you go in so ground clearance and suspension limitations means that a decision needs to be made if the going gets too rough to warrant going further.

    Some really good locations only have gravel road access and are worth taking your time to ride into.

    Careful use of the brakes particularly the front brake, not going to fast for the road surface and like all things practice, the first time on a slippery surface can be quite daunting.

    Other road users can also be encountered, in my experience you have to be ready to move to the side quickly.

    The road surface can also change, smooth, corrugations, light gravel, deep gravel, sand, etc., so you need to be observant of the surface at all times

    A link to a photo gallery - In the Dirt

    A video of a gravel road with different surfaces and traffic filmed off my GTR

    I do get off the beaten track occasionally

    Just be aware that the risk of dropping your bike increases on gravel, more so on a gravel surface that slopes off to the side.

  18. I would say avoid wet clay, mud and sand until you get some experience or a more suitable bike. But ordinary unsealed roads are not an obstacle. Marbles (loose pebbles on a hard packed base) and ruts can feel scary but if you develop a nice loose technique and go easy on the controls you'll get the hang of it.

    Let the bike move around, not too much lean, weight off the seat and onto the pegs. Enjoy :)
  19. #19 dobbo, Nov 19, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2013
    Depending on the bike and the choice of tyres, if you ride to the conditions you should be right.
    The more you do it the more confidence you will have when some dirt appears.
    As has been mentioned wet clay, can be very tricky; so I'd avoid it unless you feel that your bike and you are up to it.

    Sometimes, roadworks can be tricky, especially if a fresh load of dirt has been dumped and has yet to be packed down.

    Bike choice is a big one!
    I would say dirt riding is my favourite type of riding and have been doing it since I was a kid, I have a dual-sport bike set up for long distance off-road riding, and have yet to find any terrain that I wouldn't ride it on. I would consider myself fairly competant as a dirt rider.

    During a riding course, I was informed by an instructor, that their are no differences in techniques between tar & dirt riding..... I thought "bullsh*t".
    As I ride both a dirtbike and roadbike, I use considerable different techniques, particularly cornering.

    all this said, I still feel uneasy riding my big lump of a roadbike (Yamaha XJR1300) down any dirt roads, the weight, suspension setup and ergonomics are all wrong. I will ride short distances on dirt (maybe for some sight-seeing) but if it's more than 10km, I will find a different route.
    I don't think I would bin it, but I don't won't to damage the underside/exhausts. I tend to ride a lot slower on the dirt (when on my XJR) and fear being rounded up (or collected) by some dick in his cage thinking they are part of the World Rally Championship.
  20. Weather is very important,a couple of us went to the first Philip Is GP and came back to Sydney via The Barry Way.Thats 350ks of good dirt across The Snowy Mountains.Fine the first day,horrible on the second day.It rained and the Gray clay turned to a soap like surface.We did the last 90ks into Jindabine in 1st gear battling constant front end slides.Thats on my 1975 Laverda Triple and a mate in an ex cop K100.Neither of use came a gutser,very lucky but I now religiously watch the weather reports on big rides.