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Dual Sport Motorcycle Riding, an Introduction to Off-Road Riding!
Where adventure driving begins when the Blacktop stops… Four powerful requirements for off-road driving:
- What skills are required to have a pleasant and safe driving?
- What features are required on the motorcycle?
- What do you need to protect on the bike and yourself?
- How to ride according to the condition of the road or the track?
By off-road I mean a public road, path or track, dirt/gravel/sand/dirt. Motocross (MX) riding isn’t covered in any detail in this article, but here the comparison has some relevance.
To safely undertake these types of roads, there are four areas to consider, namely the motorcycle itself, your skill level, your protective clothing and the condition of the road or track.
Focusing a bit on the dual-sport motorcycle, a common request is for a dual-sport motorcycle that provides low-end torque* (between 3000 and 6000 rpm), and a gearbox that offers a lower first gear and a maximum speed of less than 180 km/h. In addition, higher and harder suspension, sensitive off-road tires, wide straight handlebars.
Generally, these types of dual-sport motorcycles are referred to as enduro or trail, with motocross (MX) motorcycles being the more extreme cases.
Normally the tires are a little softer than on the road. A good general pressure level is 1.1 bar (15 psi) for the front, with the rear being slightly harder (increase tire pressure above 2 bar when riding over very rough terrain to protect your rims and avoid punctures).
If you plan on riding more ambitious tracks, your dual-sport bike should have rims with sturdy spokes and tubes that can withstand objects like sticks and rocks.
Inner tubes must be replaced every 20,000 km even if they have never had a puncture. Indeed, the area around the valve deteriorates and ends up tearing causing a puncture that can become irreparable. Water that gets past the spokes also damages the rims, spokes and tube. Ideally, your rims should dry before parking your dual-sport motorcycle.
Sensitive parts of your motorcycle should be protected with engine guards, crash bars, skid plates, etc. front and back. This is especially true for larger dual sport boxer BMW GS series motorcycles where the tappet covers protrude from the side and are particularly susceptible to damage. Special equipment such as headlights, brakes, indicators, radiator, hydraulic brake cylinder, etc. must also be protected.
Whenever traveling off-road, your luggage should be carried low to maintain a low center of gravity. Carrying gear on the passenger seat can make your dual-sport motorcycle unstable.
You won’t even notice the problem when you leave town on the tarmac. Afterwards, as you arrive at the draft, it will be too late!
Protective Riding Gear – All Gear All The Time (ATGATT) is essential for riding a dual-sport motorcycle in complete safety!
Accidental injuries can be avoided by wearing proper protective equipment. Helmet, eye and hand protection are obvious, but don’t ignore the following.
- Riding boots with good support for the ankle joint (sports shoes, trainers, tennis shoes are certainly not suitable).
- Tear-resistant long trousers (blue jeans, dungarees do not fit!).
- Knee joint protection. This can be integrated into the trouser construction or worn separately and externally over the knee joint.
- Thigh protection. Generally integrated into long pants.
- Jacket offering elbow and shoulder protection.
Driving off-road in very hot areas and at low speeds can be a very strenuous exercise. This must be taken into account when buying a jacket. For the same reasons, one would wear a 3/4 helmet with goggles when riding off-road at speeds below 100 km/h.
Now the only thing missing is a way to get the proper skills and practice needed to make your riding adventure an enjoyable one.
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