How to Ride a Motorcycle on Gravel

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20 miles west from Yellowstone National Park is Island Park. It attracts thousands each year. The highway 20, which turns into Main Street Island Park is a pleasant, easy ride. However, there are bumpy gravel roads to reach Island Park Reservoir.

It is crucial for riders to learn how to safely ride a gravel motorcycle.

How do you ride your motorcycle on gravel? These are the four most important steps for riding a motorcycle on dirt.

  • Attention to large rocks and the road.
  • Be calm and don’t let your arms or legs get in the way of your thoughts
  • Your body weight should be balanced above the middle of the motorcycle
  • Take it slow enough to allow you to put your foot down if needed

A great way to see the area is by riding a motorcycle. The best views are often found far from the main road. Although many national parks and forests offer paved roads, you may need to travel back roads to reach a campsite. You will ride on gravel roads, whether you are riding on country or mountain roads. It can be quite different from street riding so it is important to remember some safety tips.

How to Ride a Motorcycle on Gravel

Maintaining tire traction is the key to riding on gravel. Here are some tips to help you safely transport your motorcycle over gravel.

  • You should pay extra attention to roads and large rocks. You should always look ahead to avoid bumps, obstructions, and oncoming traffic. Gravel can obscure road imperfections, making steering difficult or impossible. Give yourself as much time as you can to react. To avoid any gravel roads, plan your route.
  • Be calm and don’t let your arms or legs get in the way. It is crucial to maintain control, which means maintaining traction. Traction refers to the friction between your tires and ground. The risk of losing traction is high if your body is tight and you make sudden movements. Slowly throttle and ease into braking with both the rear and front brakes.
  • Balance your body weight over the middle of your motorcycle. In a street riding setting, leaning with the bike into the turn presses your body weight into the tires’ traction. On gravel roads, this can cause the rear tire to kick off the turn. To maintain balance, you should lean your body away when turning on gravel roads.
  • Take it slow enough that you can keep your foot on the ground if necessary. You will have more reaction time when braking, acceleration, and turning. If the gravel road is winding, be sure to keep to your side of the road which will save you from oncoming traffic you can’t always see.

This list isn’t comprehensive, meaning there is a lot more to being safe than just these few steps. These principles go hand in hand with fundamental safety principles like wearing protective gear, riding with lights, and following traffic laws.

What to Do After You Ride In Gravel

Not all gravel roads will be the same. While some roads are smooth and easy to navigate, others can be rough. But some roads–even if they get a lot of traffic–can be very bumpy, have potholes or large protruding rocks, or have any level of dust.

Dirt and rocks can cause additional wear to your bike. Dirt can get in your bike chain and rocks can jump up and chip paint. Sharp rocks could potentially cause a flat.

After riding down a gravel road you’ll want to inspect your bike. Look out for obvious damage from the gravel road. There are also some less obvious things you should check:

  • Brakes. Rocks can become stuck between the brake caliper rotor, causing damage and reduced brake performance. Remove any rocks and repair any damaged parts.
  • Tires. Check for leaky signs, such as hissing or crackling rubber. You can adjust your tire pressures as necessary. You should also inspect your wheels for damage.
  • Leaks. Rocks can cause damage and wear to motorbike components. The fluid will be visible if there is a leak. Dust from the road can stick to it. You can trace the leak to the source and make repairs. Check all fluid levels while you’re at it, just to be sure.
  • Chain. It will last longer if your chain is kept clean. You should also inspect the sprockets for excessive wear or damage. Clean the rear wheel by putting it on a table so the chain can rotate freely. Use a brush to remove dirt and other debris. Apply a new chain lube.
  • Suspension. The rough gravel road will put a lot of strain on your suspension, so make sure to inspect your shocks. Make repairs if necessary.

Paint. Gravel can cause damage to your paint that could be very costly to repair. You should be aware of any paint damage that may occur and take steps to get it repaired.

Why Street Bikes Should Not Be Used in Gravel

Manufacturers create motorcycles based upon specific riding styles. You should avoid riding your street bike on gravel. You can still ride on the pavement if necessary. Here are some reasons why gravel should be avoided by street bikes.

First, there is always a risk of injury. Motorcycle riding can already be dangerous, and that danger is compounded when pushing your motorcycle to do something it wasn’t designed for. Gravel roads can present additional dangers such as loss of control, skids and fishtailing. Keep safe by following the above steps.

Other drivers could also be at risk. Gravel is equally dangerous for cars as it is for motorcycles. Trucks and cars also kick up rocks, which can become projectiles. It is not a good idea to assume other drivers will be watching out for you. Keep your eyes on the road, your head up, and keep your eyes focused on your lane.

Secondly, gravel roads generally aren’t very smooth, potentially causing additional damage to your bike. You should inspect your bike after you ride on gravel roads. Follow the steps. Any damage that isn’t necessary will decrease the bike’s value and life expectancy.

The last reason is suspension and tires. Most street bikes today have adjustable suspension systems. You can adjust different dimensions to improve handling and ride comfort. These should be adjusted based on the riding style and rider.

The road force travels through your suspension system and into the shocks. Street suspension tunes are designed to provide a smooth ride with minimal bumps or dips. Contrast that with a dirtbike suspension, which has more travel and dampening that absorbs harsh feedback from off-road terrain. The goal is to maintain rider control, tire traction, and rider control.

Tire Choice Matters If You Ride On Gravel

Let’s look more into why tire choice matters. Street bikes will typically have tires that can dynamically maintain traction even when the rider is moving at higher speeds. This usually requires less tread. “Tread” This refers to the tire’s surface that is designed to maximise contact with the road.

A tire that is off-road will, however, have a wider tread, which absorbs larger imperfections such as gravel, rocks, mud and so forth. “Off-road” To achieve the desired performance, tread has larger knobs and grooves. These types of tires are most common on dirtbikes because they are meant for off-road riding.

You should look for tires with the right amount and type of tread if you are going to be doing lots of gravel riding. You might also consider dual-sport bikes, which are built to handle both street riding and offroad riding.

You can still ride on gravel roads, but it’s best to use a recommended street tire that suits your riding style.

However, if you feel the urge to take off on the blacktop to ride down gravelly back roads, remember the tips above to protect your bike. It is your desire to explore the natural world, and not just a wrecked or damaged motorcycle.

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