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Or Adventure Riding Starts When The Blacktop Stops…Four powerful requirements for riding off-road:
- What skills are required to have an enjoyable and safe ride?
- What features are required on the motorcycle?
- What you need to protect on the bike and yourself?
- How to ride to suit the condition of the road or track?
By off-road I mean a public, dirt / gravel / sand / dust road, path or track. Motocross (MX) riding isn’t addressed with any detail in this article but there the comparison has some relevance.
To safely undertake these types of roads there are four areas to consider i.e. The motorcycle itself, your skill level, your protective apparel and the condition of the road or track.
Concentrating on the dual sport motorcycle for a bit, one commonly demands a dual sport motorcycle that provides torque at low revolutions per minute* (between 3000 and 6000 rpm), and a gearbox that offers a lower first gear and a maximum speed of less than 180kph. As well higher, harder suspension, sensible off-road tyres, broad upright handlebars.
Generally these types of dual sport motorcycles are called enduro or trail with Motocross (MX) bikes being the most extreme cases.
Normally tyres are run a little softer than on the road. A good general pressure level is 1.1 bar (15psi) for the front with the back being slightly harder (increase tyre pressure above 2 bar when going over really rough terrain in order to protect your rims and avoid punctures).
If you plan to ride more ambitious tracks your dual sport motorcycle should have wheel rims with spokes and heavy duty tubes which are able to withstand objects like sticks and rocks.
Inner tubes ought to be replaced every 20,000km even when they’ve never had a puncture. This is because the area around the valve deteriorates and ultimately tears inducing a puncture that can become irreparable. Water that seeps in past the spokes too causes harm to both the rims, spokes and tube. Ideally your rims should dry before you park your dual sport motorcycle.
The susceptible parts of your motorcycle ought to be protected by engine guards, crash bars, bash plates etc. front and back. This particularly goes for to the larger, dual sport boxer BMW GS series motorcycles where the tappet covers protrude from the side and are particularly susceptible to damage. Particular gear e.g. headlamps, brakes, indicators, radiator, hydraulic brake cylinder etc. should as well be protected.
Whenever you’re travelling off-road your baggage must be carried low down to maintain a low centre of gravity. Carrying gear on the pillion seat can cause your dual sport motorcycle to become unstable.
You will not even notice the problem as you depart town on the bitumen. Afterwards as you arrive at the rough stuff, it will be too late!
Protective Riding Gear – All The Gear All The Time (ATGATT) is essential to safe dual sport motorcycle riding!
Accidental injury can be prevented by wearing appropriate protective gear. Helmet, eye and hand protection are evident but do not ignore the following.
- Riding boots that offer solid ankle joint support (sport shoes, sneakers, tennis shoes are definitely not suitable).
- Long trousers that are rip resistant (blue jeans, dungarees are not appropriate!).
- Knee joint protection. This can be built into the construction of the trousers or worn separately and externally over the knee joint.
- Thigh protection. Usually built into the long trousers.
- Jacket that offers elbow and shoulder protection.
Riding off-road in very hot areas and at low speeds can be very arduous exercise. This ought to be borne in mind when buying a jacket. For the same reasons one would wear a 3/4 helmet with goggles when riding off-road at speeds of lower than 100kph.
Now the only thing missing is a way gaining the appropriate skills and practice required to make your Adventure riding a pleasurable event.
write by sanchez