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Old 06-11-2012, 08:20 AM   #1
CafeRacer99 OP
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Tips for slowing/stopping downhill on dirt/gravel

What are your tips for riding downhill on gravel? The scenario is a big bike, Super Ten in my case but any big bike, going down a fairly steep switchback gravel road with some six-inch loose rock thrown in as well.

Are you on the front brake as well as the back? Are you using engine braking or no? How about when you have to come to a full stop to wait for traffic going uphill? ABS?

Thanks!
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Old 06-11-2012, 08:31 AM   #2
High Country Herb
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I'd be curious to hear what the experts have to say, too.

My technique is to use mostly engine breaking and rear brake, and feather the front brake when traction feels good. If the rear is breaking loose, I let off the front brake completely to avoid having both tires sliding at the same time.

No ABS for me.
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Old 06-11-2012, 08:35 AM   #3
GoGoGavin41
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Use your brakes, especially if you have abs.
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Old 06-11-2012, 09:23 AM   #4
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This is my daily commute...my driveway is long, steep and gravel.

I use engine braking and rear brake primarily with just a touch of front brake if needed. Be careful when down shifting, first gear will lock the tire up, at least on my bike. This can be avoided with clutch control.

If emergency braking then use as much front as you can without washing out locking/ front wheel..You just have to feel where that point is....practice helps.

This is my method YMMV
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Old 06-11-2012, 09:24 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoGoGavin41 View Post
Use your brakes, especially if you have abs.
ABS? That has not been my experience at all. Steep loose downhill with the ABS turned on, at least on my F800GS = no brakes.
I much prefer engine braking, then a gentle combo of front and back brakes with no ABS.
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Old 06-11-2012, 09:26 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CafeRacer99 View Post
What are your tips for riding downhill on gravel? The scenario is a big bike, Super Ten in my case but any big bike, going down a fairly steep switchback gravel road with some six-inch loose rock thrown in as well.

Are you on the front brake as well as the back? Are you using engine braking or no? How about when you have to come to a full stop to wait for traffic going uphill? ABS?
Is this your first bike? First offroad?

In any case, when headed downhill, use both brakes. Hopefully the ABS won't intervene too much, and likewise hopefully you don't skid the front too much. But your rear brake won't have much stopping power as most of the weight is on the front in that situation.

Engine braking is questionable at best. It's harder to modulate, and I'm not sure if the S10 has traction control (think of TC as ABS for the engine).

When you come to a full stop, use your brakes.
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Old 06-11-2012, 10:04 AM   #7
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The front brake still has most of the stopping power. ESPECIALLY on a steep downhill where they will be even less weight than usual on the rear tire..

In really loose stuff, a lot of the stopping can come from "plowing" up a pile of the loose material ahead of a briefly locked or "partially locked" (yeah, oxymoron) tire. Unfortunately ABS often won't allow this and will release the braking, leaving you with a "no brakes" feeling. This is why many experienced riders prefer to turn off ABS for loose conditions.

If you want to stop most effectively in loose downhill conditions, use the brakes. If you have sufficiently planned ahead so as not to need maximum effectiveness, then engine braking and rear braking could be enough and will require less attention to the front. Your choice. Going too fast into a steep loose downhill so that you need to save it before you crash into oncoming traffic is like overcooking a corner entry. The better approach is to not be in that situation to begin with.
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Old 06-11-2012, 10:09 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by viverrid View Post
The front brake still has most of the stopping power. ESPECIALLY on a steep downhill where they will be even less weight than usual on the rear tire..

In really loose stuff, a lot of the stopping can come from "plowing" up a pile of the loose material ahead of a briefly locked or "partially locked" (yeah, oxymoron) tire. Unfortunately ABS often won't allow this and will release the braking, leaving you with a "no brakes" feeling. This is why many experienced riders prefer to turn off ABS for loose conditions.

If you want to stop most effectively in loose downhill conditions, use the brakes. If you have sufficiently planned ahead so as not to need maximum effectiveness, then engine braking and rear braking could be enough and will require less attention to the front. Your choice. Going too fast into a steep loose downhill so that you need to save it before you crash into oncoming traffic is like overcooking a corner entry. The better approach is to not be in that situation to begin with.
I agree with everything 100%

same advice for snow & ice
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Old 06-11-2012, 10:39 AM   #9
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If you know before hand that you're going to go down a steep hill, a gravel one, turn the abs off, if possible. Especially the back wheel needs abs like hole in the head. I can only repeat what few others stated already, use both brakes, again the front one being more effective. If the hill is steep enough, the back wheel wants to slide all over the place, sending you arse over tit, so slow it right down, use the front binders, with a heavy bike like the super ten, i'd avoid the real steep ones. I've gone down a few with my 990 adv and it's no picnic!
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Old 06-11-2012, 11:23 AM   #10
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Another thing that helps is moving your weight back as far as possible.
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Old 06-11-2012, 11:55 AM   #11
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Downhill and ABS = not good. Watch 2nd half of this (admittedly rider stays on, but only just)


EggChaser screwed with this post 06-11-2012 at 12:10 PM
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Old 06-11-2012, 12:58 PM   #12
GoGoGavin41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EggChaser View Post
Downhill and ABS = not good. Watch 2nd half of this (admittedly rider stays on, but only just)

I ride gravel aggressively with the abs on and use both brakes at all times. I have a feeling this video has more to do with the rider than electronics.


...que abs argument...
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Old 06-11-2012, 12:59 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoGoGavin41 View Post
I ride gravel aggressively with the abs on and use both brakes at all times. I have a feeling this video has more to do with the rider than electronics.
My ABS experience is similar to yours. I used to disable it for any dust or dirt. Now I just worry if it's getting excessively bumpy.
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Old 06-11-2012, 01:16 PM   #14
High Country Herb
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I run into the same thing with my 4x4 truck. When it gets real steep, one rear wheel slipping gets me rolling with no brakes. It isn't as big of a deal in the manual trans truck, though, since I have engine braking at all wheels.

I wonder if there are any adjustable ABS systems out there. It seems like some are so sensitive, they basically turn off the brakes, while others work great. If you have ABS, it would be a good idea to test it on a short downhill before attempting something like that video. As always, its good to know your bike.
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Old 06-11-2012, 01:20 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by EggChaser View Post
Downhill and ABS = not good. Watch 2nd half of this (admittedly rider stays on, but only just)




Sort of wrong bike at a wrong place. The trend today seems to be to take these 'behemoth's of dirt biking', everywhere, no matter how painfull and slow it might be, must be something those two guys on their bm's started, they had lot of help though, mechanics, film crew etc. For condition's shown on the film, smaller lighter bike, 600cc even, without the 'mandatory' abs, would have been different scene altogether. The gs 1200 is a good motorcycle, but as they say, horse's for course's. Hill's identical to this one, but in the brindabella ranges, just outside of Canberra in OZ, i used to fly up and down on KTM 500xc, now there was right kind of weapon for the rough stuff, christ it had some poke in it too
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