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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello!
I've had my '03 TW for a few years, stock suspension ("softest" setting for the rear shock), Shinko Golden Boy on the front, stock rear tire, and I'm still really struggling to feel competent with it offroad the way I do on my vintage DR125 and so I'm wondering if there's something I can try beyond "practice" because I'm already doing that and it feels like I'm fighting the TW the whole time.
It was like night and day putting me on the DR125, which only weighs about 15 lbs less than the TW and it sits a fair amount taller even when I'm sitting on it (that suspension on it is set up for my weight as well), and I still can't figure out why I'm struggling so much more with the TW doing anything more interesting than a flat dirt road with a few potholes.

It feels like it wants to fall over all the time or slide out from under me, or like it's "too heavy", suspension feels stiff to me even though I know everyone else says it's too soft, and I'm wondering if all this is something to do with dialing in the suspension. But at 5'2 130lbs I should be one of the people NOT having to change the factory setup, right? So I'm sort of feeling confused.
I'm not usually one to blame the bike for my problems but I was so shocked by how much easier the DR was and I really want to take the TW offroad more! Thanks in advance.
 

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Try sitting forward more. The saddle curves up onto the tank, sit as far forward into that curve as you can. Lean out over the bars and get your weight up there. If you are seeing any part of your bike other than the front fender, you are not far enough forward. Sitting further back slows down all reaction and delays the timing between seeing and reacting. It's like trying to drive a car from the rear seat. The farther forward you get, the more time and control you'll have. To me, the sensation is that the bike is somewhere behind me, I'm out in front flying and towing the bike with my hands and body. That probably doesn't make much sense until you practice it a few times.
 

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Hello!
I've had my '03 TW for a few years, stock suspension ("softest" setting for the rear shock), Shinko Golden Boy on the front, stock rear tire, and I'm still really struggling to feel competent with it offroad the way I do on my vintage DR125 and so I'm wondering if there's something I can try beyond "practice" because I'm already doing that and it feels like I'm fighting the TW the whole time.
It was like night and day putting me on the DR125, which only weighs about 15 lbs less than the TW and it sits a fair amount taller even when I'm sitting on it (that suspension on it is set up for my weight as well), and I still can't figure out why I'm struggling so much more with the TW doing anything more interesting than a flat dirt road with a few potholes.

It feels like it wants to fall over all the time or slide out from under me, or like it's "too heavy", suspension feels stiff to me even though I know everyone else says it's too soft, and I'm wondering if all this is something to do with dialing in the suspension. But at 5'2 130lbs I should be one of the people NOT having to change the factory setup, right? So I'm sort of feeling confused.
I'm not usually one to blame the bike for my problems but I was so shocked by how much easier the DR was and I really want to take the TW offroad more! Thanks in advance.
Interesting! I recently took a dirt bike class with a Pro rider and rented a little 110 cc bike. I was surprised that it didn't feel as secure and stable as my Dubs. How about asking a pro to evaluate your balance and riding style on your TW? I bet the experience will help immensely!
 

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What tire pressure?
 
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I am not suspension sensitive. Oh, I installed longer rears and used heavier weight fork fluid on enduros in the seventies (which had no suspension by today's standards), but on bikes with adjustable suspension (2002 H-D Sportster 1200 Sport, below), I am happy with a mid-setting...Maybe because I've had opportunity to ride so many different bikes, in addition to my own. However, tire pressure makes a lot of difference.

Tire Fuel tank Wheel Automotive fuel system Window
 
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When discussing size, height is not necessariy relevant to riding
My dad was 6' 0"
I am 5' 6" (lost at least an inch after I crashed my first M/C in 1963)
Side note: A body cast has absolutely no benefit to a compression fracture.
Dad and I had the same inseam: 29"

And when evaluating seat height, seat width is a considerable factor.

I liked Ski Pro 3's post 2 mainly for the sitting forward factor, which is also the narrowest part of the seat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
RE: tire pressure, airing them down (usually to 18F, 20R) does help a bit but not as appreciably as I had hoped. Maybe I should go a little further? I know some people put them down pretty far.
I am usually doing a stretch of dirt or gravel before getting back on the street (I often ride with dual sport people who don't bother unless they know they're doing some mileage offroad) so I fully admit I do not air down for every segment and that does add some challenge. Hmm! Maybe I'm making it too hard on myself.

I work on body position a lot, so I can totally accept that advice! I watch a lot of Brett Tkacs, trying to really absorb the technique, although like I said, it seems like it's been more challenging on the TW. I am pretty far forward on the DR and almost throw it around a bit, but it doesn't feel like I can do that on the TW, like I'm going to fly over the handlebars or I can't control it with my legs as well. Maybe I really do just need to practice more!

Thanks everyone for your thoughts so far!
 

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This would make it easier for you to air back up.


My German made compact foot pumps were aging, so a search began for a pump to keep in my tailbag when I am riding out of the valley. Did a lot of comparing before ordering this. Used it to top off the tires and it performed well.
  1. controls are intuitive
  2. easy to read digital display in bright sunlight
  3. fits well in hand
  4. Screw on hose seals well, versus clamp-on
  5. 2000 milliamp battery
  6. doubles as additional power source for cell phone
  7. internal cooling fan prevents overheating
#7 was the major benefit over other very similar models
 

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RE: tire pressure, airing them down (usually to 18F, 20R) does help a bit but not as appreciably as I had hoped.
20F18R is my road pressures. Try 14F/10R!! 18 rear is rock hard even on the road for me and I'm not light. I was getting beat up off road until I dropped it to at least 12.

I stand and get my weight back when things get squirelly up front.
Most important tip is relax. Everything gets harder to do when your arms are all tensed up. Also keep at least one foot on a peg, as soon as you disconnect both legs from the bike things go to hell fast.

It's definitely different than a dirt bike. That big rear wheel means I'm riding it more like a sport bike than steering with the rear like a dirt bike. I've also found it responds really well if you shove it down into the turn but keep yourself upright.

I feel like on my Africa Twin, I need to be as far forwards as I can be and use lots of gas. On the TW I feel like I need to be either neutral and float on it, or more to the rear, and slow down and relax. Definitely a different riding style.

Heck for the last two weeks I've been running around with 14f 7r (tubeless in the rear at the moment) and not airing up for the road at all. I'm only airing up for long road rides for tire wear reasons at this point and am just getting used to the soft feeling on the road.
 

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I keep my front at 12 and 10 to 12 on the rear. Makes a big difference. Airing down will change the performance and handling enough that you will most likely notice it immediately. These pressures are for off road.
agreed. the thing gains significant stability under 12 on the rear. It's like those inflatable punching bag clowns that kids have, they wobble but don't fall down.
 

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RE: tire pressure, airing them down (usually to 18F, 20R) does help a bit but not as appreciably as I had hoped. Maybe I should go a little further? I know some people put them down pretty far.
I am usually doing a stretch of dirt or gravel before getting back on the street (I often ride with dual sport people who don't bother unless they know they're doing some mileage offroad) so I fully admit I do not air down for every segment and that does add some challenge. Hmm! Maybe I'm making it too hard on myself.

I work on body position a lot, so I can totally accept that advice! I watch a lot of Brett Tkacs, trying to really absorb the technique, although like I said, it seems like it's been more challenging on the TW. I am pretty far forward on the DR and almost throw it around a bit, but it doesn't feel like I can do that on the TW, like I'm going to fly over the handlebars or I can't control it with my legs as well. Maybe I really do just need to practice more!

Thanks everyone for your thoughts so far!
For a small rider, tire pressure is everything, but I see something that has been over looked and I'll get to that. First, your front pressure should be about 2 psi more than the rear, because it has to bounce and roll over what the rear powers over. On pavement I run equal pressures at 18 psi, stock rear and 4.00 x18 Shinko 241 on the front. I had a 244 and didn't like it as much. On hard pack dirt and rocks I run 10 front and 6 to 8 rear. I go even lower for sand or deep gravel that doesn't have a bottom to it.

So now the question is: Where are your handle bars positioned? Too far back and you will feel like you are going over the bars. Too far forward and you don't have very good control since the leverage point is all wrong. I didn't have an issue with the stock bars but when I bent them, I went with full width Protaper SE trials high bars on one TW and KLX/DRZ 110 bars on the other TW. I myself use the entire length of my seat, both sitting and standing, for different situations and can steer and control all my bikes, in many instances, with just my body position and knees.

Oh I forgot to mention, that I am probably the smallest rider in this entire forum at 4'-11" and 95 to 98 pounds with a 27" inseam.
 

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For a small rider, tire pressure is everything, but I see something that has been over looked and I'll get to that. First, your front pressure should be about 2 psi more than the rear, because it has to bounce and roll over what the rear powers over. On pavement I run equal pressures at 18 psi, stock rear and 4.00 x18 Shinko 241 on the front. I had a 244 and didn't like it as much. On hard pack dirt and rocks I run 10 front and 6 to 8 rear. I go even lower for sand or deep gravel that doesn't have a bottom to it.

So now the question is: Where are your handle bars positioned? Too far back and you will feel like you are going over the bars. Too far forward and you don't have very good control since the leverage point is all wrong. I didn't have an issue with the stock bars but when I bent them, I went with full width Protaper SE trials high bars on one TW and KLX/DRZ 110 bars on the other TW. I myself use the entire length of my seat, both sitting and standing, for different situations and can steer and control all my bikes, in many instances, with just my body position and knees.

Oh I forgot to mention, that I am probably the smallest rider in this entire forum at 4'-11" and 95 to 98 pounds with a 27" inseam.
You ain't small, you're a fun size variety and
totally portable. What's not to love? 🤩
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
For a small rider, tire pressure is everything, but I see something that has been over looked and I'll get to that. First, your front pressure should be about 2 psi more than the rear, because it has to bounce and roll over what the rear powers over. On pavement I run equal pressures at 18 psi, stock rear and 4.00 x18 Shinko 241 on the front. I had a 244 and didn't like it as much. On hard pack dirt and rocks I run 10 front and 6 to 8 rear. I go even lower for sand or deep gravel that doesn't have a bottom to it.

So now the question is: Where are your handle bars positioned? Too far back and you will feel like you are going over the bars. Too far forward and you don't have very good control since the leverage point is all wrong. I didn't have an issue with the stock bars but when I bent them, I went with full width Protaper SE trials high bars on one TW and KLX/DRZ 110 bars on the other TW. I myself use the entire length of my seat, both sitting and standing, for different situations and can steer and control all my bikes, in many instances, with just my body position and knees.

Oh I forgot to mention, that I am probably the smallest rider in this entire forum at 4'-11" and 95 to 98 pounds with a 27" inseam.
These are all great notes and glad to have more insight on the tire pressure, especially from a fellow small rider. I will absolutely try airing down further. Handle bar position is something I recently realized might be an issue. I'll try tilting them forward a bit more and/or adjusting the controls. I have such small hands I had to get adjustable levers and they STILL don't feel quite close enough even set to the closest setting so maybe this addresses that issue a bit as well.
I have been practicing low speed body position drills for as long as I knew they were something I could practice and it keeps me from being "stuck to the seat" after a lot of street riding. It certainly helped me at the end of the day on the dirtbike when I was so tired I had noodle legs!

If that Golden Boy is a 5.10, you would probably find that the Shinko 241 in 4.0 would be a better choice. I rode the GB once and I really didn't like it at slow speeds.
I had a Shinko 241 for 8k+ miles and wore it down almost square! I wanted to try the GB this time (It's got maybe 3k on it now) just to see how I liked it, and it has felt a little easier to lean into and grab on with at speed but I can see what you mean at low speeds. We'll see how I like it now when I'm not using practically street PSI offroad :x ope
 

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These are all great notes and glad to have more insight on the tire pressure, especially from a fellow small rider. I will absolutely try airing down further. Handle bar position is something I recently realized might be an issue. I'll try tilting them forward a bit more and/or adjusting the controls. I have such small hands I had to get adjustable levers and they STILL don't feel quite close enough even set to the closest setting so maybe this addresses that issue a bit as well.
I have been practicing low speed body position drills for as long as I knew they were something I could practice and it keeps me from being "stuck to the seat" after a lot of street riding. It certainly helped me at the end of the day on the dirtbike when I was so tired I had noodle legs!


I had a Shinko 241 for 8k+ miles and wore it down almost square! I wanted to try the GB this time (It's got maybe 3k on it now) just to see how I liked it, and it has felt a little easier to lean into and grab on with at speed but I can see what you mean at low speeds. We'll see how I like it now when I'm not using practically street PSI offroad :x ope
Nothing to do with being a small rider, cause I ain't so have nothing to offer from experience in that regard, but I have put back on a GB244 on my "street" TW. This 244 is slightly narrower and not the 5.10 Rocky mentions. I still use this TW offroad with this tire but consider it more of my street bike. I've had the 244 on my TWs in the past and one thing I noticed is the 244 whined more on the pavement. All tires whine but the 244 whined (made road noise) a lot more than the 241s I use on my other TWs.
Of course, the whine alone is not a reason not to use it (as you can see I put it back on one of the TWs) it's just something I noticed.
 

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I'll have to go through my videos and see if I have any where I am teaching body english to a new rider.
 
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