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Old 07-14-2016, 03:50 PM   #1
CaptCrash
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Try a Dirt Bike

Took the mighty DRZ for a long ride on some of our fine US Forest Service roads and I came back thinking: everybody should ride a dirt bike once in a while. Honestly, if you haven’t been on a dirt bike you need to get up on one. The motorcycle is so alive under you that it takes a moment to calm yourself and get used to it. Both the front and the rear slip and slither, push and slide; it can be frightening but in the end you’re OK. I believe that a great many street accidents happen when a street rider has an issue that a dirt biker would see as a normal bike behavior. On a fire road as you transition from one wheel track to the other you often have to cross a bar of loose, pushed up sand; the front will deflect, you’ll steer back into it and the front may even slip and then hook up on the fresh track. A street only rider can find that front end pushing around to be terrifying, think it’s the beginning of a crash, make a big input and BOOM instead of riding through a rough patch they actively crash their bike.

As I rode I realized that a lively, slipping bike isn’t what a lot of people expect from their rides. “Riding on a rail” and “Railing around a curve” or “stuck like glue” makes some newer riders believe that a bike is some kind Disney monorail humming around the enchanted kingdom. In reality a bike is a living, breathing thing that’s reacting to the world around it, hunting for traction, slipping and regaining its footing…want to feel it? Get on a dirt bike, twist the throttle hard and even when you’re going 25mph the back end may spin up and then hook back up. On my ride the DRZ routinely spun up the rear on hard upshifts and then hooked back up without my easing up on the throttle. The little thumper is set up with Continental Trail Attacks which are a tire set up for on road and light off road service. On dirt they work but aren’t nearly as useful as a full on knobby and on the street they “stick like glue” but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the rear spin on the asphalt. A simple hard shift in an intersection with the back passing over diesel or spilled coolant and the rear tire will break loose—it lasts only a second and for guys like me it might not register a .3 on the motorcycle earthquake scale but if it’s something you’ve never felt you might just think “THIS IS THE BIG ONE!” and make an input you might regret; maybe the back steps out of line and you chop the throttle and the back snaps back into line. This is a highside and can potentially kick you up onto the tank, or worse yet, all the way off the bike. Maybe you think you need to slow down and you stomp on the breaks and the back steps out or the front lets go. Could be as you yank on the front brake you make a steering input on a locked front wheel—that would be bad, bad, bad.

On a dirt bike you learn that sometimes the best action is no action. Just keep riding. Problems can be transitory and letting them pass without big inputs is the best course of action. Remember, a forest trail or fire road is a low traction surface, that’s why knobbies are the preferred tire. Riding on the dirt isn’t required but I would recommend it as a valuable experience. I haven’t had the DRZ off pavement in a long, long time but as I zipped down the trail I felt things I’ve felt on the pavement, little slips and slides, loss of traction and recovery, as well as basic unsettled riding; the joy of riding a living machine.
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Old 07-14-2016, 04:04 PM   #2
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totally agree.

Good reminder Cap!
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Old 07-14-2016, 05:58 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by CaptCrash View Post
Took the mighty DRZ for a long ride on some of our fine US Forest Service roads and I came back thinking: everybody should ride a dirt bike once in a while. Honestly, if you haven’t been on a dirt bike you need to get up on one. The motorcycle is so alive under you that it takes a moment to calm yourself and get used to it. Both the front and the rear slip and slither, push and slide; it can be frightening but in the end you’re OK. I believe that a great many street accidents happen when a street rider has an issue that a dirt biker would see as a normal bike behavior. On a fire road as you transition from one wheel track to the other you often have to cross a bar of loose, pushed up sand; the front will deflect, you’ll steer back into it and the front may even slip and then hook up on the fresh track. A street only rider can find that front end pushing around to be terrifying, think it’s the beginning of a crash, make a big input and BOOM instead of riding through a rough patch they actively crash their bike.

As I rode I realized that a lively, slipping bike isn’t what a lot of people expect from their rides. “Riding on a rail” and “Railing around a curve” or “stuck like glue” makes some newer riders believe that a bike is some kind Disney monorail humming around the enchanted kingdom. In reality a bike is a living, breathing thing that’s reacting to the world around it, hunting for traction, slipping and regaining its footing…want to feel it? Get on a dirt bike, twist the throttle hard and even when you’re going 25mph the back end may spin up and then hook back up. On my ride the DRZ routinely spun up the rear on hard upshifts and then hooked back up without my easing up on the throttle. The little thumper is set up with Continental Trail Attacks which are a tire set up for on road and light off road service. On dirt they work but aren’t nearly as useful as a full on knobby and on the street they “stick like glue” but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the rear spin on the asphalt. A simple hard shift in an intersection with the back passing over diesel or spilled coolant and the rear tire will break loose—it lasts only a second and for guys like me it might not register a .3 on the motorcycle earthquake scale but if it’s something you’ve never felt you might just think “THIS IS THE BIG ONE!” and make an input you might regret; maybe the back steps out of line and you chop the throttle and the back snaps back into line. This is a highside and can potentially kick you up onto the tank, or worse yet, all the way off the bike. Maybe you think you need to slow down and you stomp on the breaks and the back steps out or the front lets go. Could be as you yank on the front brake you make a steering input on a locked front wheel—that would be bad, bad, bad.

On a dirt bike you learn that sometimes the best action is no action. Just keep riding. Problems can be transitory and letting them pass without big inputs is the best course of action. Remember, a forest trail or fire road is a low traction surface, that’s why knobbies are the preferred tire. Riding on the dirt isn’t required but I would recommend it as a valuable experience. I haven’t had the DRZ off pavement in a long, long time but as I zipped down the trail I felt things I’ve felt on the pavement, little slips and slides, loss of traction and recovery, as well as basic unsettled riding; the joy of riding a living machine.
It's where a rider learns How to ride a bike, so they can safely cope with the hazards of (and on) the public road...

It should be a requirement... Especially because it isn't required.

Massive percentage of riders don't know they need any skill at all.

A most critically important skill to learn, is learned on sketchy traction dirt/mud/snow/ice.
That is how (when you can) safely test traction.. Then You can carry that technique to pavement, and Always Know how much traction you have to work with.
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Last edited by louemc; 07-14-2016 at 06:05 PM..
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Old 07-14-2016, 07:31 PM   #4
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I know we've beat the technical aspects to death on this one, but I'll add that getting yourself out in the middle of nowhere and tooling about on random trails is some of the best mental healthcare one can practice.
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Old 07-14-2016, 07:51 PM   #5
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And then when that dirt bike is hooking up like its on rails at the apex but you get to spin the rear the whole way out....aaaah
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Old 07-14-2016, 08:33 PM   #6
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Such a wonderful dance, riding, especially dirt.
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Old 07-14-2016, 08:50 PM   #7
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Riding is a dance. Learn the steps and Rock it.
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Old 07-15-2016, 12:15 AM   #8
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Bah, must wait until university is done to afford more than one bike and have storage for multiple vehicles. Oh accounting & economics B.S., where art thou?

MBA and CPA license need to come faster too!
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Old 07-15-2016, 05:06 AM   #9
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This thread is spot on.
After riding 10 years all over the western US and Canada I spent a day on a friends bike riding trails and at the end of the day all I could think of was "I can't believe I wasted 10 years riding only on the street".
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Old 07-15-2016, 05:33 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by byke View Post
... getting yourself out in the
middle of nowhere and
tooling about on random trails
is some of the best mental healthcare
one can practice.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SFMCjohn View Post
time ...
to ...
RIDE!
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Old 07-15-2016, 05:49 AM   #11
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Spot on, fellas
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Old 07-15-2016, 06:35 AM   #12
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I enjoy trails a lot, different mind set of riding..... it brings out the child in me..
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Old 07-15-2016, 12:58 PM   #13
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My guy bought a used Honda XR100R for me early on, and it was a great confidence builder.

I looked around the interwebs for a dirtbike camp and found the Dirtbike camp in Orland a few years ago, it was a blast.

What park do you recommend for all levels of riders closest to San Francisco? Where can we easily rent dirtbikes instead of buying one?
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Old 07-19-2016, 01:25 PM   #14
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I've never been, but read good things

http://garrahanoffroadtraining.com/
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Old 07-20-2016, 08:53 AM   #15
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I've never been, but read good things

http://garrahanoffroadtraining.com/
Thanks for posting the info up, much appreciated!
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