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Obviously I've never done it, or even seen it. It sounds like riding on gravel is only slightly safer than riding on marbles. I assume you use around 3 inch bombproof tires, but it would seem to me the tires/bike would still take a beating. And you do it for ... fun?
 

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1986 VT1100c
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It's not that scary,,, you just have to find your lines, not overreact when the bike slides around, and not go faster than you can handle,,, if fact it's fun except for the dust cleanup after the ride!

I've gone 70+mph on hard packed gravel,, avoid that kind of speed on freshly graded roads,,,馃槈

Read about early bikers like Cannonball Baker,, he rode a hard tail Indian from California to New York in 11 days wayyy back when,,, no paved roads,, dirt and gravel. And no decent tires,, which he patched and changed on the ride. Stay on pavement if you're uncomfortable with loss of traction,,,馃槣

The only new bike I've had was a 1970 Kawasaki 250 Sidewinder,,, they named it that because on gravel it traveled like the snake, slithering from side to side,,, I tend to avoid gravel on heavy bikes with road tires but I'm not afraid to when necessary. The most fun bike I've had on gravel was a 73 Triumph TR5T trophy trail,,, 21" front wheel with enduro tires,, it flat out flew on the gravel roads,,, 馃槣

The Triumph 500 had only 30hp but weighed only 350lbs. 4 gears, small aluminum fuel tank, single carb,,, one of the finest motorcycles I've owned, or ever built,,? Hell on wheels!!!馃槤

In a weak moment I traded the Triumph for an 85 Honda VF750 Sabre,, that bike went over 120mph,,, not a gravel machine tho,,, and a service nightmare,, four carbs,, 16valves manually set,,,, mos def a road racer!!! Stay off the gravel if you are not ready for it,, but huge fun watching the rooster tail of dust in the rear view mirrors,,,馃槣
 

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1999 Shadow 750 ACE VT750CD3 Modified
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3,353 Posts
Gravel riding on my Shadow is kind of like floating or sliding. I sometimes end up getting side tracked exploring when out in the country and can't avoid gravel roads and just have to say what the eff.

How loose the surface is makes make a big difference as does dryness and smoothness, the amount of tire tread makes a big difference, generally the more tread the better. You have to skate around a bit and get the feel of it and then add more power as you feel comfortable with it. It is a counter steering game.

Be careful as eff when you apply brakes they are easier too lock and have a profound effect on things, the rear brake is far more forgiving than the front brake, and the front brake should only be used after some consideration as it will tuck in and slide and down you can go.

Start out slow get the feel for things, apply more power till you say "ermagherd" and back off.
It is better to go slow than to have to pull a six hundred pound bike out of a drainage ditch on the middle of nowhere on a Sunday afternoon.

Dirt and gravel riding is something that adds another layer of fun to your repertoire, it is another one of those practice and you will get it things. The responses and reactions, you learn on gravel and dirt can be applied anytime and may save you out on the asphalt someday.

The Shadows are not dirt machines or dual sports, but they sure as heck can be adventure bikes within reason.
Stay out of soft sand, sections, don't be tricked into going too far down a road that turns to mud or bush.

Learn by feel and doing, have fun. (-;
 

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Like anything else, you have to know the limitations of the bike you choose.
I have ridden full blown dirt bikes, big ass cruisers and everything in between on dirt and pavement.
The key is matching your speed to the bike and your riding abilities to the conditions.
I put aggressive tires on my Ascot for dirt road riding, knowing that my dual sport would be a better choice for the dirt but I would be riding long pavement sections too.
That Ascot washes/slides out at way slower speeds than the dual sport but I have adapted.
292549

not much good in the adobe mud in Idaho though, had to cut off the front fender to get unstuck that day, and the mud still piled up under the fork bridge!
292550


So yeh, gravel riding,
 

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2003 VT1100C Spirit
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308 Posts
I'll never understand motorcycle friendly roadside joints with gravel parking lots...

Luckenbach's designated motorcycle parking area...
292553


Albert Dance Hall & Saloon...
292554


Frio Canyon Motorcycle Stop - Leakey, Texas...
292555


馃え
 

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06' VT1100C/99' GL1500C Valkyrie
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Having spent riding off/on road for 10 yrs., I deal with gravel better on the Valk than the I ever did with the 1100 Spirit due to sitting position and front tire width. The ergonomics on the Spirit was all wrong.
 
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After going through the Pisgah National Forest (not too far from The Dragon) I exited onto what I thought was asphalt. Shortly thereafter it seemed that my rear tire was starting to 'wiggle' and I thought it was going flat. I pulled over and to my surprise, the tire was fine but the 'asphalt' was actually 1/2" gravel that looked as smooth as freshly laid asphalt.

Anywho... I've found that soft compound tires ( sticky but lower mileage ) 'wiggle' less on gravel than the hard compound ( higher mileage ) tires. The same is true for bridge grating. At least, that's been my experience.
 

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Obviously I've never done it, or even seen it. It sounds like riding on gravel is only slightly safer than riding on marbles. I assume you use around 3 inch bombproof tires, but it would seem to me the tires/bike would still take a beating. And you do it for ... fun?
Don't often get to do it like I used to.

Nothing special about the bike or tyres, and little special about the skills involved unless you push it.

However.... If you do ride on gravel and you learn a lot more about it, guess what happens? It means that when you come across a gravel road (like a major lot of road works) or a surface with less than perfect conditions, you're much better equipped to handle it and less likely to freak out.
 
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