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So I bought a used TW with all the right racks for pretty much the sole purpose of using it for elk hunting and some camp maintenance. I did a shake-down run this weekend and there's some pluses and minuses with enough on the negative that I want to make sure I made the right choice for the bike. I have some bike riding experience but very little on a trail, 55 YO, about 6' 5", 220 lb. The goal of the shakedown was to make sure the bike would work okay and also to cut some firewood so we don't have to do that while hunting. The ride consisted of about 7 miles of hardpack road (took the bike of the HF rear carriers so it wouldn't drag) and then about 1.5 miles of trail and back out. The road has a fair amount of rocks anywhere from golf to soft ball size (that can be loose on the road) and the trail has some areas that are not only steep but literally like a dry stream-bed but the rocks are rough and kind fairly loose. A fair amount is hard dirt and there's also some just hard rock (not loose). At times, there's a drop off on one side and about a 1-2 foot high wall on the other side). There's one steep and twisty climb that is fairly hard dirt but also kind of deep ruts. In short, it's got about everything!

So here's the pluses:
I didn't kill or injure myself.
Mission accomplished, got the wood cut and camp site taken care of.
The bike did fine (other than maybe not being the best for this type of trail).
My 13/65 gearing performed well but could maybe still be a bit lower.
Gear racks and cargo carrying capability are fine.

And the minuses:
I am sore! Well not really bad but I used muscles I never knew I had. The worst part is the lower legs above the ankles, almost like shin splints. This would suck if I had to endure this on the first day of hunting.
I did have some trouble controlling the bike. The TW seemed heavier and "clunkier" then expected. I know it has a steel frame and heavy wheels (tires) which I'm sure doesn't help. The end effect seems to be that the trail controls the bike more than expected. I talked to some other guys riding the trail (it's a general use trail) and their bikes (more true dirt bikes) are of course taller, probably lighter and, perhaps most importantly, have a shallower steering rake (i.e. more like a chopper) so that the rider would seem to have an easier time controlling the bike (rocks could not put as much control onto the bars).

So here's my basic questions:
1. How much of this will get better with time & experience?
2. How much a different bike would help that would be able to carry gear (let's say about 100 lb total, 10-20 on my back, 60 on the rear and 20 on the front)
3. Are there any other bike mods I could make to make it easier to drive on this conditions?

On the last point, one thing I'm curious about, since I rarely hit 20 mph or more, is if I geared it down even more, does a higher RPM at a give speed generate enough of a gyroscopic effect to help stabilize the bike at low speed? I get that the bike is more stable at a higher speed but I really need to be able to stop on a dime and there is the "opportunity" to dang near head off a clip here and the nearest medical facility could be hours away. Safety is paramount but I understand there are always risks (I'm taking risks just hunting out there, it's steep and remote).

Thanks and don't worry about the fact that I bought a bike I might end up selling. I got it knowing that it might not work out but I'm by no means ready to give up yet. Just trying to get some input. I'm thinking about going out for one more trip just to get more experience (as well as some local riding but it would likely be simpler). Sorry I don't have any meaningful photos.

BB
 

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What tires are you running? What tire pressures?

It is common opinion here that the stock front tire is less than ideal offroad, and it has earned the nickname: Death Wing (A play on words from the Bridgestone Trail Wing model). The current trend is for a D.O.T. Trials type tire for general dual-sport riding, but it sounds like you probably are in need of something more aggressive like the D606, K760 Trackmaster II, AC10, etc. The front tire thread is a sticky in Performance, but here is a direct link: http://tw200forum.com/forum/performance-customization/3635-front-tire-choices.html

I would run very low pressures for the type of terrain and slow speeds you describe. Some trial and error may be in order to dial it in but I'm talking ranges of 0-10 psi Rear, and 7-13 psi Front.

Generally, also being from the PNW the TW is a fairly common street plated hunting bike. That is how I found it initially. If you don't need the street plate, the Yamaha Big Wheel 350 or 200 are the two wheeled ATVs guys use for hunting up here in WA.
 

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Second the front tire recommendation. Also, might consider aftermarket footpegs that are larger than the stock ones and will be easier to stand on (there are some threads here on footpeg options). Sounds like this is a rough trail and road with lots of rocks, and you mention that rocks are controlling the bars. Consider standing on the pegs with slightly bent knees during the rough sections if not already doing so. When the rear tire hits a rock, if seated, a jolt can travel up through the body to the arms and bars.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
If you could find some experienced off-road TW riders in your area to go up your route with you would be the best way to answer that.
Great suggestion but my hunting buddies would kill me! We are keeping this area as much as possible on the "down low".

What tires are you running? What tire pressures?

It is common opinion here that the stock front tire is less than ideal offroad, and it has earned the nickname: Death Wing (A play on words from the Bridgestone Trail Wing model). The current trend is for a D.O.T. Trials type tire for general dual-sport riding, but it sounds like you probably are in need of something more aggressive like the D606, K760 Trackmaster II, AC10, etc. The front tire thread is a sticky in Performance, but here is a direct link: http://tw200forum.com/forum/performance-customization/3635-front-tire-choices.html

I would run very low pressures for the type of terrain and slow speeds you describe. Some trial and error may be in order to dial it in but I'm talking ranges of 0-10 psi Rear, and 7-13 psi Front.

Generally, also being from the PNW the TW is a fairly common street plated hunting bike. That is how I found it initially. If you don't need the street plate, the Yamaha Big Wheel 350 or 200 are the two wheeled ATVs guys use for hunting up here in WA.
I was running 12/12 but that does make sense what you're saying; I'll try dropping it a few. I believe the front tire has been replaced, can't find out brand until tonight. All I can really say now is that it is a heavy knobby. Ironically, I became antiquated with the TW after seeing a BW200 at a g-sale for around $600. I passed on it due to concern about parts but this is where I ended up about a year later.

Second the front tire recommendation. Also, might consider aftermarket foot pegs that are larger than the stock ones and will be easier to stand on (there are some threads here on foot peg options). Sounds like this is a rough trail and road with lots of rocks, and you mention that rocks are controlling the bars. Consider standing on the pegs with slightly bent knees during the rough sections if not already doing so. When the rear tire hits a rock, if seated, a jolt can travel up through the body to the arms and bars.
I did look into the foot pegs but got concerned about the shifting issue which other people have downplayed. I'll definitely give those a try. I didn't do much standing up but I see your point and will give that a try as well.

Thanks all!
BB
 

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The TW is typically a “hard nosed” bitch in the rough – she’ll get you through, but shake your shoulders and upper back ‘till your teeth get loose in the process. This is good because of the primitive design, but bad because of the lack of travel in the forks. Those big tires are there to compensate for that, not just for show, so play around with the pressures until you can soften it all out a bit more.

After that, there’s a bit of room for improvement in the forks, stronger springs, different levels of fork oil you can try – hopefully someone can provide a link to these …….

The rear shock is pretty much OK, and we haven’t yet come up with a solution that would help out in your situation – “it is what is it is”, given the amount of travel – back to tire pressures again …..

Then there’s “riding position”. At 6ft 5, you might want to take a serious look at “bar risers”. These can raise the bar height by two inches to give you more control over the bike when standing (or even raising yourself) on the pegs. Stick to a 2” rise, or you’ll be re-cabling everything – (recommendations would again be useful here guys) – and I’ll second the bigger foot pegs to compliment this.

That’s about all you can get from a TW, and you’ve got this far, so stick with it. The alternative is a “skinny arse” bike that you would probably need a step ladder to get on to, and a whole different set of “problems” to overcome. And “yes”, it hurts the day after – it’s supposed to – it’s the “day before” that counts. That bike got you there and back, and will continue to do so for as long as you ask it to – you can’t put a price on that. Your body will toughen up in the places required, same as if you were riding any other bike on that trail. Takes time, that’s all. There is no “soft option” to that.

After a day on the trail on my TW, my butt hurts, my shoulders hurt, and at least one of my teeth I have serious doubts about – but I still look at it and grin – and I’m 6ft and 180lbs ……
 

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Tire choices, air pressure choices, foot peg choices, standing position, bar risers, etc. all pale with awareness that a rider with limited off-road experience is attempting to ride with an additional 100 pounds of gear all carried high on either back or on racks.
If the 7 mile approach road is drivable why not just drive to the 1.5 mile trail head then either pack that gear in by foot or take two or three lighter loads on the TW?
The experience on a lightly loaded TW would be a skill builder and might result in much greater joy of TW ownership. Otherwise a lower, slower pack-mule of a bike like a Rokon might make a better elk hunting rig. Certainly all conventional/traditional skinny tired off-road bikes are poor candidates to pack 100 pounds of gear in one load.
 

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So I bought a used TW with all the right racks for pretty much the sole purpose of using it for elk hunting and some camp maintenance. I did a shake-down run this weekend and there's some pluses and minuses with enough on the negative that I want to make sure I made the right choice for the bike. I have some bike riding experience but very little on a trail, 55 YO, about 6' 5", 220 lb. The goal of the shakedown was to make sure the bike would work okay and also to cut some firewood so we don't have to do that while hunting. The ride consisted of about 7 miles of hardpack road (took the bike of the HF rear carriers so it wouldn't drag) and then about 1.5 miles of trail and back out. The road has a fair amount of rocks anywhere from golf to soft ball size (that can be loose on the road) and the trail has some areas that are not only steep but literally like a dry stream-bed but the rocks are rough and kind fairly loose. A fair amount is hard dirt and there's also some just hard rock (not loose). At times, there's a drop off on one side and about a 1-2 foot high wall on the other side). There's one steep and twisty climb that is fairly hard dirt but also kind of deep ruts. In short, it's got about everything!

So here's the pluses:
I didn't kill or injure myself.
Mission accomplished, got the wood cut and camp site taken care of.
The bike did fine (other than maybe not being the best for this type of trail).
My 13/65 gearing performed well but could maybe still be a bit lower.
Gear racks and cargo carrying capability are fine.

And the minuses:
I am sore! Well not really bad but I used muscles I never knew I had. The worst part is the lower legs above the ankles, almost like shin splints. This would suck if I had to endure this on the first day of hunting.
I did have some trouble controlling the bike. The TW seemed heavier and "clunkier" then expected. I know it has a steel frame and heavy wheels (tires) which I'm sure doesn't help. The end effect seems to be that the trail controls the bike more than expected. I talked to some other guys riding the trail (it's a general use trail) and their bikes (more true dirt bikes) are of course taller, probably lighter and, perhaps most importantly, have a shallower steering rake (i.e. more like a chopper) so that the rider would seem to have an easier time controlling the bike (rocks could not put as much control onto the bars).

So here's my basic questions:
1. How much of this will get better with time & experience?
2. How much a different bike would help that would be able to carry gear (let's say about 100 lb total, 10-20 on my back, 60 on the rear and 20 on the front)
3. Are there any other bike mods I could make to make it easier to drive on this conditions?

On the last point, one thing I'm curious about, since I rarely hit 20 mph or more, is if I geared it down even more, does a higher RPM at a give speed generate enough of a gyroscopic effect to help stabilize the bike at low speed? I get that the bike is more stable at a higher speed but I really need to be able to stop on a dime and there is the "opportunity" to dang near head off a clip here and the nearest medical facility could be hours away. Safety is paramount but I understand there are always risks (I'm taking risks just hunting out there, it's steep and remote).

Thanks and don't worry about the fact that I bought a bike I might end up selling. I got it knowing that it might not work out but I'm by no means ready to give up yet. Just trying to get some input. I'm thinking about going out for one more trip just to get more experience (as well as some local riding but it would likely be simpler). Sorry I don't have any meaningful photos.

BB
The higher RPM will give some stability, you can really rev the TW up, redline is around 10,200. I put on a tach and at 6000 Rpm it's sounding like it's coming apart, so I was not revving mine up near enough before the tach. Most people think ( by the noise ) that they are revving them much higher than they really are. You can run in first and just twist it till it screams, it's not coming apart. At 5000 rpm, you should be able to just creep along and slip the clutch as needed to maintain a slow speed and balance and have very good control at almost no forward speed. Since it's a wet clutch, and by design slipping it really doesn't overly wear it to any great degree.

The reality is you are going to be sore without some conditioning and time in the seat. It's a real workout on rocky terrain. Much more so than street, gravel or fire roads. You work muscles that just don't normally get worked no matter how good of shape you're in. I'm 56 and good boots, good gloves and good handgrips are paramount. As is at least a regular basic workout program like walking, hiking, bicycle mountain biking, push-ups and some stretching if you want to bash around like a teenager. In the video below my SIL was on his lighter Kwai 250 race bike and had a tougher time than me in most places. Unfortunately changing bikes won't make you less sore, but a little prep work will.

Take a look at this video; you can brush through to the 14:20 mark to see the run up the terrain it sounds like you are describing, we rode a total of about 45 miles that day and it was mostly 40-45 degrees up or down the dry wash. I had on a full backpack and the bike had a pelican full case on the back rack. Stock gearing, regular street tire pressure. Pro taper bars and ODI Rogue grips. The ricochet skid plate wings clipped some rocks hard enough to jar me off course a few times. But when in doubt, rev it up, power out and point it where you want it to go.




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55 YO, about 6' 5", 220 lb.

Most of us are old, maybe not as tall as you, and quite a few pounds heavier than you. You're good!:D

The ride consisted of about 7 miles of hardpack road (took the bike of the HF rear carriers so it wouldn't drag) and then about 1.5 miles of trail and back out.

So here's the pluses:

The bike did fine (other than maybe not being the best for this type of trail).
My 13/65 gearing performed well but could maybe still be a bit lower.

The gearing you're already riding with is pretty darn good for trail riding but there are a couple forum members who run 70 tooth rear sprockets and mainly use their TW for hunting like you.

And the minuses:
I am sore! Well not really bad but I used muscles I never knew I had. The worst part is the lower legs above the ankles, almost like shin splints. This would suck if I had to endure this on the first day of hunting.

Yeah, this doesn't get better with age. Your soreness will usually get better the more you ride and keep riding. For example, early season riding for me gives me sore leg muscles when I stand on the pegs a lot. My legs get stronger throughout the riding season and this isn't a problem after a few rides if you keep riding. Stop riding for a while and the muscle pain & fatigue will re-occur.


I did have some trouble controlling the bike. The TW seemed heavier and "clunkier" then expected. The end effect seems to be that the trail controls the bike more than expected. I talked to some other guys riding the trail (it's a general use trail) and their bikes (more true dirt bikes) are of course taller, probably lighter and, perhaps most importantly, have a shallower steering rake (i.e. more like a chopper) so that the rider would seem to have an easier time controlling the bike (rocks could not put as much control onto the bars).

Experiment with tire pressures. As long as you don't go so fast as to bash the front tire into a rock, lower tire pressures will help you going over and around rocks/obstacles. Lower pressures would also help with loose soil/sand/mud. Snow a little but the stock tires including the rear doesn't do well in snow. Actually, it's not that great in mud either but you don't have too many choices unless you mount an ATV tire on the rear which is hard and maybe worth it to you or some other rear trailer rim mods for ATV tires. Search for some threads on this if it interests you and you decide to keep the TW for the long haul.

So here's my basic questions:
1. How much of this will get better with time & experience?

If this is your first time riding a TW you will get use to some of the issues you've mentioned above. The more you ride the better you'll get. TW is not a dirt bike and from what I'm reading, you don't want a dirt bike.

2. How much a different bike would help that would be able to carry gear (let's say about 100 lb total, 10-20 on my back, 60 on the rear and 20 on the front)
3. Are there any other bike mods I could make to make it easier to drive on this conditions?

Sounds like you've got the rack situation, but the only thing I think which could help you is maybe pulling a trailer. Member Ronnydog made a trailer to pull behind the TW for hunting. However, pulling a trailer could have it's problems if the trail has very sharp turns. Many use a backpack on all kinds of motorcycles so you'll just have to see if it bothers your back or not.

On the last point, one thing I'm curious about since I rarely hit 20 mph or more, is if I geared it down even more, does a higher RPM at a give speed generate enough of a gyroscopic effect to help stabilize the bike at low speed?

Sort of, maybe. Have you heard the term "throttle out of trouble"? Sometimes if you're going to slow around a curve, you may have to give it some gas to stay upright. This would be true for riding in sand and gravel as well.

Thanks and don't worry about the fact that I bought a bike I might end up selling.

If not this bike for slow trail riding into camp for hunting, what motorcycle do you think would be better?

BB
Good luck and hope the TW works out for you.
 

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Perhaps Biederboat should first attempt several trips on flat, level, paved surfaces with that 100 pound load-out. If bike plus load cannot be mastered under ideal conditions then I doubt he will fare any better on the trail similarly loaded. If still difficult on pavement then reduce load until rider is comfortable and always in control; then take that load out into the woods and practice with it until proficient.
Lowering and reducing the weighty load really might help. Soft sided panniers could carry the 20 pounds currently designated for the front rack. I don't recall anyone ever reporting success off-road with 20 pounds on a front rack, seems like it would require significantly greater skill than piloting unloaded TW forks.
 

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I'd point out something that will make a bigger difference than what it may seem is Puple's suggestion for the bar risers. This will make your stand up position much more comfortable. The more you're off the seat the more you will be in control.

That and maybe a new front tire.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Ever consider a Rokon?
Actually, yes, did look into it and might yet again if I feel the TW can't be mastered. I can't really give a good reason as to why I didn't except cost and the thought that maybe this trail isn't that bad.

I do want to thank everyone for their input. I will definitely do some more practice runs, experiment with air pressure, I'll get a 12T on the front, larger foot pegs as well as anything else that comes up in my review of everyone's posts (haven't been able to fully read everything yet).

In case people didn't see my initial post, here's the bike as it basically looks today minus street gear and I do have the larger rear sprocket. Front tire is a Kenda 120/80 "knobby" (someone asked for that early on).

Thanks again,
BB

20160801_075609.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I'd point out something that will make a bigger difference than what it may seem is Puple's suggestion for the bar risers. This will make your stand up position much more comfortable. The more you're off the seat the more you will be in control.

That and maybe a new front tire.
I meant to add that to the list as well (bar risers). What do you recommend for a front tire (sorry if someone already mentioned it, a lot to go through here)?

BB
 

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I have googled MT 25 a couple times and come up with nothing. Do they still make them? What do they look like? I think I have the Shinko 241 but it does not say "241" any where on the tire. Any way it seems to perform will on the street and in the dirt. Seeing as how I am 230IBs of love I run 22 pounds in it with satisfactory results. Mike
 

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The more you're off the seat the more you will be in control.
I don't know of any mod that will by itself make a difficult trail easy. Other than modding the rider: and that takes fitness and practice.
 
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