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Discussion Starter #1
It's springtime and around here that means the county roads are being graded and fresh gravel is put down. I just bought my TW and it's the first motorcycle/dirtbike I've ridden since I was 12 or 13, so about 17 years ago.

That said riding on loose gravel seems to give what I can only describe as a "floating" feeling. Its a bit squirrely going above 30 on these roads. As if either tire could just slide out with too much throttle or a turn. I have the stock death wing and rear tire. Bike has under 1500 miles. I've tried letting some air out, but it didn't really change. Is this normal? Is it due to the fatter tires not digging in like a traditional MX tire would?
 

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You are not going fast enough (just kidding! ). The faster you go the more the deathwing likes it. It is just waiting to hit that little rock or washed out curve so it can then do its job. It's job is to throw you down and hopefully just kill your bike.

Really you need to go slower with that tire on any curves or down hill. I ride 90% dirt roads on mine. I may go 25mph down the straights. Any curves or downhill are blue-hair-in-a-buick. Lol. I still have my deathwing on but I have a 241 lurking in the garage. When I get to 3000 miles, it's death to the deathwing. That's just my goal. No science involved in the decision.
 

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That experience on loose gravel sounds fairly normal.
l don't know if tire selection would make much difference when the roadbed gravel pieces tend to be of similar size. Without a good mix of finer sizes there is no real matrix to lock particles together.
While the county grader operator would say it is "well graded" by him the soil engineering term is "poorly graded" meaning there is lack of mix of particle sizes. No offense grader operator.:)

BigHorn must have big balls 'cause I would get very nervous above 30 mph. in those conditions. Fear of things getting suddenly too squirrely and front tucking in or washing out would likely have me back off at times. I recall that picking gravel out from under skin hurts.

Worst seems to be railroad ballast in the 2" to 3" size.
 

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I have learned the hard way, at higher speeds on gravel, smooth control mixture is really important, loose surface particles on a road like gravel and sand at higher rotational speeds allows the rear tire to (as you mentioned) "float" this is normal, and it feels freakin spooky.

The way it was explained to me is if you want to ride at higher speeds on those surfaces, you kind of have to surrender to how the bike is operating... it took me a little practice and almost repeating it in my head a lot until it stuck, here's a few tips:

-Rear brake.... rear brake rear brake rear brake... You can mix the front brake after you've got yourself down to a manageable speed, but rear braking prevents excess force being transferred to the front tire while at speed, and if you do this while trying to make a tight turn, the wheel starts to move one way, while your body and the rest of the bike continue on in its original direction often causing the front tire to whip hard to the side you are turning and you end up like Wiley coyote in a giant ball of dust. Rear brake.

-Wider turns, if you have the room to work, make wider turns, allow yourself more time to make the turn and should require less lean and braking, and make sure you enter at a speed you are comfortable managing (I've "Come in hot" a number of times not knowing some of the upcoming turns, that's where those snap braking decisions will come back to bite you.

-Relax, and try not to ride tense into turns, period.

Others may have different opinions (I.e. just go full throttle, or just send it and you'll figure it out) but these are just my 3 cents from having to figure it out on my own.
 

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every summer we get a lot of chip seal repair going on, with many km of deep marble like gravel. it actually kills a few unsuspecting riders. I have ridden these conditions at speed on Harleys, Super Tenere, FJ-09 and the TW. I have found that standing and remaining relaxed (no white knuckles on the bars) helps. it allows the bike to float and move around a bit which can be a bit unsettling but in the end allows the bike to make its own way.
 

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Relax and let it dance in the straights. I know this law of physics is backwards as stated but, your every Reaction can cause an equal but most likely Greater Action by the bike when riding on marbles. Relax and let it react on its own in the straights. Slow on curves and try to keep the bike as perpendicular to the road as possible. At least till you get a feel for, and comfortable with, the way the bike will sache to it's own liking in the turns. Like Troll said, loosen your grip on the bars, no white knuckles.

Marty
 

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yup, loosen your grip and keep your weight on the outside peg when cornering
absolutely yes to that outside peg and as noted by scooterbrained, keep the bike as perpendicular to the surface as practicable all while staying loose.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
All good tips. Thanks gents. Took the bike out for a nice 40 mile ride. Didn't hit too much gravel, but did hit some washboards. That's a whole other thing I'll have to get used to riding out here. Pretty similar to the gravel traction-wise, but far more annoying. Standing and riding relaxed helped quite a bit.
 

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Hi. A technique that really saved me from washing out the front in a corner.

REAR-STEER. I do it even on pavement, just in case there's sand in the corner. Move forward on the seat so your weighting the front/center, hang half of your bum of the seat to the outside of the corner, outside elbo up, and push your foot down on the outside peg, forcing weight on it. Dirt track style.

Practice this a lot, so your used to "Drifting the bike".

Cheers,
 

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...and then practice some more to get a feel for surfing the edge between low-siding or high-siding.:)
Going "slideways" sure can be fun and rewarding as you keep everything in a state of fluid balance.
Somehow though I think weight forward flat track techniques on gravel comes with a bit more risk of the front tucking in with changing compactness of the gravel compared to being on relatively firm dirt.
The other night I had a lucky save from an incipient tuck-n-toss high side as a rut grabbed my front end diving into corner. Don't know what I did to save it but know I almost pissed my pants. Muscle memory? Subconscious intuitive reaction based on painful memories of imbedded gravel in those same muscles? Who knows?
Practice helps build skills, confidence and speed.
 

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It is just waiting to hit that little rock or washed out curve so it can then do its job. It's job is to throw you down and hopefully just kill your bike.
Is that tire really that bad? I'm still keeping my bike in the slow lane, but man, I hate a dangerous tire. If it's that bad I'll be changing it in a heartbeat.

I took my bike onto a big gravel lot today while out for a ride just to see how it would perform. At 20 mph making a VERY wide turn--read: deviating slightly from a straight line--my rear tire also felt like it was floating, kind of like it began to ride on whipped butter. I sensed slippage, relaxed, then headed back onto the pavement. It was nice getting a slight feel for the gravel. I'll continue another time. I'd heard the bike was 'great on gravel'. I don't think I agree.
 

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Great"er" on gravel with lowered air pressure, but it's still sketchy and uncomfortable feeling...

Bro, it's a ok road tire, but in a fraction of a sec, it can dump you. I know you wouldn't want to scratch up that new beautiful bike bro o_O Change it and make a tire swing out of the new stocker for the kids. 😉
 
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If you were going to be on the road only, I'd say keep the stocker. Good choices seem to be the Shinko 244 or 241. It has been said that the 244 is better on the street than the 241, but I wouldn't know. I have only had a 244 and never tried a 241 on the street. One thing for sure is that the 241 is better than the 244 on dirt. Hopefully a few riders will chime in with their experiences.
Regardless, a 50 dollar new tire is better than a 50 dollar dent in the tank... 😢
I can tell you value your toys as much as I do. I'd be pissed if I dented or scratched my bike... Yeah, I drive garage queens. 😊
 

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Correct. Even a minor scratch on my bike really, really bothers me. Thanks for the tips. I'll do some research.
Don't know if you have noticed, but there is a little button to click below that says "Like". When you click this button out of appreciation for the tips and help, it gives the person helping you a little adrenaline rush and he likes that. Ha Ha Ha!! 🤣
 
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