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Taking a road bike off bitumen - what are the limits?

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by cameronp, Oct 15, 2012.

  1. Hi guys,

    I ended up riding my VTR on a gravel road for the first time yesterday (not realising ahead of time that the route I was taking was partly unsealed). After the initial "oh shit" feeling it turned out to be no big deal, though it was only for a few kilometres and the road was in fairly good condition.

    It got me wondering, though, how does a road bike compare to a 2WD car when you've left the tarmac behind?

    The issues with ground clearance and suspension seem like they'd be pretty similar, but the bike moved around a whole lot more than a car on loose gravel - I was super cautious around corners. I'm guessing that sand and mud would be right out on street tyres. The thought of crossing through creeks on a bike scares the hell out of me though I've done it several times (carefully) in a few different cars...

  2. Nope. Certainly not ideal, but not impossible either (though a lot less fun with a small diameter front wheel).

    Obviously though there is a point at which a grooved slick is just not going to be able to get sufficient traction to move (or stop), which is not something you want on a steep hill.
  3. You can get a sports bike many places you can't get a regular 2wd car but you need to know how to ride and be willing to live with the consequences if you try it. Deep sand, bulldust and mud suck but otherwise it is not that tough to get most places, on a dry formed road you should be fine unless you are a complete newbie.
  4. A naked..no worries till it got muddy or wet clay...don't ever play on wet clay. Moocho slippery.
    Sporties you crack the front lower fairing at the front, which usually means replacing both sides....and then the headers...sporties don't wheely too well off road to get the clearance.
    Oh and roadies get very hot off road
  5. It's the clearance from the fairing that worries me with my GS500F. I've bottomed the fairing out on about a 2'' drop from a concrete slab edge to grass.
  6. I've ridden my Harley off road a fair bit. You're right about the "oh shit! Wait this isn't too bad". Once you do it a bit, you start to find it fun. Had some bits on the last ride that should of been a dirt bike, but hill climbs are fun even up wet grass.
  7. I don't mind a bit of gravel and unsealed roads on my sportsbike, but the thing I have to watch out for is holes.

    Often on dirt roads there can be large holes and the suspension on my bike doesn't like them. Need to ride at a pace where you can evade any bad surface conditions (or get a bike with longer travel suspension).
  8. The BMW servo assisted braked nearly put me through a barbed wire fence ,I was testing it , And broke a rule , dont go crazy on a road you ave not ridden in awhile.

    she spun the back wheel easy up too 100kph , Stopping on the other hand,That end was all rutted,Every time the front went light ,i could feel the bike surge forward massively the brakes just turn off till the weight goes back on the wheel.

    It really nowhere near enough fast enough for a offroad ABS system. but it works good on flat surfaces ,

    at least i achieved my goal. found some of the bikes limits, and adjusted my riding style
  9. Road bikes are better than 2wd cars as it easier to pick your line and you can always stand up to get a few centimetres more if you are stopped.

    The most important things are to be smooth and plan ahead dont get in a spot where you have to stop quickly. Oh and mud is probably a limit but dry is fine.
  10. Clay. Wet clay is the limit. But then so it is for 2wd cars.
  11. I took my little VTR about 15 kilometers down a wet clay road. Just rolling off the throttle you would have the back wheel slip. The front wheel seemed to have a mind of it's own as well.

    Another problem I had was riding through a puddle that I thought was very shallow, which turned out to be quite the opposite. Sensitive parts fly straight off the seat and into the tank... had to pull over because I felt like vomiting. I choose not to avoid the puddle because I thought steering away from it was too difficult without any grip.

    I'm not expert, but the funny thing I noticed is, when riding on gravel and wet clay... if it feels very dodgy, you need to relax more and sit upright. It's very tiring though, I was exhausted in no time.

    Things like wet cattle grids... I think you just go at them straight on at about 35 k's an hour.

    I reckon my little bike could go much further than the average 2WD car. If worse comes to worse you can probably unbog yourself from most places.

    I will go so far as to say riding on dry gravel is fun with road tyres. Not sure how nice it is for the chain and air filter etc
  12. Moss Sucks on any bike . we used to try gun it across a moss patch , It wasnt if you would fall off , it was how far you could make it
  13. Wow, the responses here are far more positive than I was expecting! Good to see that not everyone here babies their bikes and that I don't need to worry too much about the average unpaved road.

    It's got me itching to get a bike I don't care about getting scratched up, maybe a postie, so I can go and experiment a bit more off road. Shame my finances won't permit that any time soon.
  14. watch out for rocks and your radiator

    slick tyres and slippy surface= excellent traction
  15. Go and find some old photographs of British long distance trials before ~1960. You will see bikes that, effectively, have road chassis and little or no suspension travel being flogged up steep, muddy, boulder strewn tracks by men with flat caps and dangling Woodbines :D.
  16. dont listen to these guys its easy!

    or just get a supermoto :)
  17. :LOL:
    Oh yeah, that looks like fun :shock:
  18. I have tried quite a few off road tracks
    It's quite fun, until you get carried away and exceed road tire limits
  19. Freekin awesome Zr , where the hell is that road? ,Looks like you done that a few times
  20. clay+notraction=brokencollarbone :)

    queens birthday weekend last year, was heading to our camping ground.. Zero traction after about 100 metres due to tyres filling with mud, hit a clay patch and down she went.. All good fun, except the broken bone part.. This bike has seen 1000's of k's offroad, and yes things do break due to too many vibrations. You can ride as quick on dirt as tar, just don't expect to stop or swerve in a hurry :)

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