Here is the first round of answers to the noob questions. There may be a little tongue and cheek in there but the answers are still the same.
And to answer the question above, we can teach any skill level but we recommend rank beginners to go to a MSF dirt bike school to learn the basic operation of the motorcycle. Once you can ride, and ride down a dirt road, we can take it from there.
Here is the first batch of Noob Answers, fielded from questions PM’ed to me on ADV Rider. Though I have been riding, racing and teaching motorcycle riding for the better part of my life, I’ve never forgotten the thrill of the early days and the mistakes that come along with learning.
The names of the innocent and uninformed have been kept secret so you can’t make fun of them for being smart enough to ask the question you’ve been dying to know the answer to.
My noob question for you is what do you suggest as a warm up drill/exercise for returning to the dirt after an extended break from off road riding. I do have dirt experience, I have been to one of your 1 day classes (at Glen Helen). The easy answer is to get out and ride, but what helps get the good habits started again for safe and fun riding?
You know the answer already but wait, like a game show, there is more. Dirt bike riding has so much to do with balance and muscle memory, it can not be overstated. And I have found most riders, of all ability levels tend to ride out of balance. So very easy thing to do, and you can do this in the privacy of your garage, is to try and balance and “ track stand” on your bike. It is much easier to show in person, but just the act of trying to stand on the footpegs, relaxed, without putting pressure on the handlebar, just for that momentary second were you are in balance, will pay dividends come ride time. You will tune up the feel needed to keep the bike balanced and also get comfortable in “picking a side” to put your foot back down when the balance goes off to one side or another. You will get comfortable crossing from side-to-side on the bike. You will start using the footpegs to control the balance of the bike, like you should when riding. Just remember, use your legs and not the handlebar to control he balance of the bike. You don’t use your hands to keep balance when walking relaxed, so don’t try doing that when you ride!
Saw your last post on the DV Noobs thread and figured I would hit you up with a set up question or possible solution. I am riding an 09 R1200GSA and I know I push it too hard sometimes but have seen you in action on yours and know the bike can take it. Problem I am having is that twice in less than 3 months I have bent the rear torsion strut to the point that it restricts the spin of the rear tire. Replaced it with new stock part. In both cases it has been on hard landings off a big whoop where the rear end did a double hop bucking bronco.
I am a bigger guy at 255 lbs and had the suspension built accordingly by Wilbers through the Beemer Shop in Scott's Valley. In your years of riding the big Beemers was there ever a beefed up strut added to your bike. I see solid billet models for the K bikes but can't find one for the GS. Any help or ideas would be great.
You misinterpret how I ride. My bike could not take it either so I don’t ride it like you are describing and no suspension or torque arm modification will cure the forces you are putting through the machine. In fact if you were to increase the strength of the torque arm (torsion strut) then something else would fail. The GS was not designed to be ridden like that. Even on our race prepped HP2 we were using only a slightly reinforced torque arm. The easy answer is to get a real “race type” dirt bike that can be ridden hard that so you won’t have these issues, and on those machines the suspension can be modified to deal with your weight. But just like you would not expect a standard truck to be jumped like you see the off-road race trucks do on the short courses, the GS cannot be ridden like a race bike. I respect the limits and abilities of the machine I am riding. I am perceived to ride it fast or “hard” based on the speed in which I cover ground. I do that by minimizing my braking distances and having controlled acceleration all while being smooth through rough conditions and not bottoming the suspension. Trust me I ride my GS (or any other adventure bike) much slower than I could ride it but I’m thinking about safety all the time. That bottoming is a warning that something bad is going to happen.
I have an 07 KTM 990 I am riding right now. Came with Mefo Explorers. Opinion for their use in DV?
Tires are one of the most overlooked components on an adventure bike and I’m surprised by how many riders will try and get away with riding a “round” tire off-road. If you do not have a blocked-knob-type tire, one with good-sized openings in the tread, you are flirting with disaster in the dirt. All it takes is running your hand across to different types of tires to feel the difference in adhesion and bite the knobby affords you. And to make it worse, the performance of the knobby really comes into play when you really need it, especially in turning or braking. A round tire just slides on top the dirt and has little bite to stop the sliding.
Specifically the Mefo is a less aggressive knobby-type tire that compromises a little bit on the longevity side for less outright dirt traction. It has enough openings on the side of the tire to have more bite than a street tire but it’s definitely not a Kenda Big Block or a Continental TKC 80 when you really need it.
What it comes down to for me is this: Would I rather change tires more often or wait the six weeks to have the cast taken off my ankle from the sudden and unexpected crash that happened to me because I was on the wrong tires? And as much as the saving money part comes into the discussion, we all know which one of those scenarios is les expensive, right?
Keep practicing and getting ready and I'll see you in DV... Oh, and keep the questions coming, PM for best results.