New KLR and new to off-road riding. Tips?

#1
Hey all,

I have always loved the two wheeled life. I have been riding cruisers since before I could legally do so. I was raised by a motorcycle club and my entire family lives and breathes Harley Davidson.

But I live in Alaska now! Time to buy something that can make the most of the minimal paved roads and endless dirt tracks!

So I bought myself this brand new 2015 Kawasaki KLR650!

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And I am loving it!

I took it out on some of the logging roads to see if I had any natural dirtbike skills. Alas I found myself surprised at how even the smoothest logging road was able to toss me around and get me dragged into ruts and such. I didn't go much over 35 and unless I was standing up I felt like I was going to lay the bike down on every bump.

For those of you who are more experienced at this, can you give me any tips? Should I just let the road/trail dictate my path without fighting it? And on corners am I able to lean at all? Thanks for all yall's help!

Robert
 
#4
As someone who did almost exactly what you did but without ever riding a motorcycle..

Start slow.

Realize the bike will "dance" around.. Don't fight it and stay loose. Think about it this way.. Ever see a runaway motorcycle video on youtube? Even without a rider it will gyroscopically stay upright under throttle until it hits a wall through a MX course.. You're the kink in the chain when it comes to staying upright. https://youtu.be/KSVgweZ8BwA?t=32s

If a body part is important to you then protect it(especially at first/but really all the time).

Throttle is your friend. A decelerating bike is much harder to control than an accelerating one. Its not the answer to everything but generally a situation that you think warrants brakes really warrants throttle(took me awhile to figure this one out).

Practice riding in the sand.. You'll fall, it will hurt less(both you and the bike) and IMO its the most difficult terrain you'll come across.. Master the sand = master the bike.

The front brake is your enemy when you're off road. You can lock up the rear at any speed and remain in control.. Lock up the front and you better have wings cause you're going flying.
 
#6
I agree with most of what mrwesson said except about front brake, don't be afraid of that front brake. I am back on a bike after 30 years and one of the smartest moves I made is wear the gear. I wear it and it has saved me a lot of pain because I have and do still fall a lot, partly because I obviously aint that great of a rider and partly because I am pushing my limits, mostly just not very good. Oh and yes you can lean in corners offroad.
 
#7
Most importantly, RIDE RIDE RIDE! Get out there, have fun, and use that thing for what it was made for. Practice slow speed maneuvers, in an empty parking lot like the motor cops. You should be able to do a U-turn at full lock in under 18 feet (two parking stalls). Learning to ride slow will help tremendously on the street. You Tube is full of vids by adventure riding coaches (look for coaches on GS1200s, or vids with Chris Burch - Motorcycle Adventure Dirtbike TV) that have a ton of tips. They ride the big bikes like they're 250s. Go out in the dirt, and practice as much as you can. I'm jealous bro, I sold my KLR and really regret it.
 
#8
I agree with most of what mrwesson said except about front brake, don't be afraid of that front brake. I am back on a bike after 30 years and one of the smartest moves I made is wear the gear. I wear it and it has saved me a lot of pain because I have and do still fall a lot, partly because I obviously aint that great of a rider and partly because I am pushing my limits, mostly just not very good. Oh and yes you can lean in corners offroad.
To be clear I meant while riding off road.

Get in some sand or mud and grab the front brake.. Make sure you're wearing your GoPro :)
 
#9
I'm not going to argue with you. I stand by my original statement don't be scared of your front brake. Dirt bikes come with a front brake for a reason, they are not only on street bikes.
To be clear I meant while riding off road.

Get in some sand or mud and grab the front brake.. Make sure you're wearing your GoPro :)
 

GHI

Adventurer
#10
I concur with the throttle being your friend. Unfortunately, I could not grasp that concept when riding my previously owned KLR in the sand. I never could keep that thing upright. That was many years ago and I chalked it up to being inexperienced in riding off road and probably too short for that bike.

I never had an issue on pavement, but the dirt roads and sand were a terror for me at that time. Now I have a TW200 and it can't really go fast enough to scare me even if I was to dump it. Then again, jokingly, I could probably just stand up on pavement and let the bike ride out from under me if there was an issue coming my way.
 

Wiley

Adventurer
#11
How is the progress coming along? There are MSF courses for off-road, I am planning on taking one, although I am ok (barely) in the rough stuff. I am currently doing 3 weeks in Ecuador, and dropped the DR200 I rented twice within 5 minutes tackling sandy switchbacks. Sand is hard enough, add a mountain and it sucks, plus I had witness both times, after spending an afternoon barely seeing anyone lol. The rest of the off road I did fine, but it was a lighter bike.