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  • getting into off-roading

    hi - I've been riding about a decade now and have done a few multi day trips around BC, the Yukon, Alberta and Montana. I'm increasingly curious about going off pavement and exploring the plethora of gravel roads arounds here. Are there any 'must-read' books out there about this? I'm a complete noob in this department, but I have a dream one day to ride to the Arctic ocean, which would involve taking on the Dempster highway from Dawson City, Yukon, to Tuktoyaktuk, NWT.

    I have a honda cb500x, which is a street bike that seems like an adventure bike until you look closely. What do you folks think would be the minimum prep for such a bike? I know someone who does extensive off-roading on this bike and only has a bash plate, engine guard and some reasonable tires. I think he even started with the bike strictly stock, and simply let his tire pressure down a bit.

    thanks.
    2018 Honda CRF250L ('Rhonda')
    2015 Honda CB500X ('Betty')
    Previous bikes:
    2009 Ninja 250 ('Saki')
    2007 Honda CBR125
    http://www.vancouvermusictheory.com

  • #2
    You can go quite far on gravel with reasonable tires. I got started on my F650GS with just stock ADV tires, not knobbies.
    When life throws you curves, aim for the apex
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    08 Spyder RS SM5 "big Bird" \ 12 S'TtripleR "stripper" \ 02 VFR800 "big red" \ 09 KLX250-S
    Sold: 97 Ninja 500R / 03 SV650N / 01 Ducati 750SS / 73 CB350-Four / 03 BMWF650GS / 08 Gixxer600 / 09 KLX250S "Gumby" / 06 Thruxton "crumpet" / 91 VFR750 /03 Gixxer6 the bass boat
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    • #3
      I am a by no means an off road king, nor do I ride particularly fast off road, but I ride and have ridden on gravel and dirt roads a lot. Switch up the tires with something a little better for gravel and dirt. You don’t need to go full on off-road tires, but you do need something that is a good 50/50 or 80/20 tire for confidence. Lowering the pressure helps them grip better but unless you have rim locks don’t go too low if you have a tube tire. Gravel is scary at first because it makes your rear tire go all squirrelly sometimes, but remember physics will make it line back up. And recognize that you aren’t riding a dirt bike and to learn your bike’s abilities and limitations. Spend some time learning the physics involved and it will help out a lot too. It’s a motorcycle and traction is what we care about, but what you do to maintain traction on dirt and gravel are sometimes a little different.

      A good book for getting some of the basics of off-road riding is How To Ride OffRoad Motorcycles. It will give you some basic techniques that will translate well to dualsport riding, but it is for dirt bikes. But it’s a good instructional book. Best thing to do though is find a gravel or dirt road and ride. The more you do it the better you will get. Then you can look into doing crazy mods to make your bike a super adventure bike. The Rally Raide kit from Giant Loop gets top reviews for the CB500X.
      2017 Honda CRF250l
      1982 Kawasaki KZ1100 - Sold
      2001 KLR 650 - Sold
      2004 ST1300 - Sold
      2002 Honda Shadow 750 - Sold

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      • #4
        If you check out the CB500X thread and the Rally Raid CB500X thread over at advrider.com you can see lots of examples of how people are setting up these bikes for off road and gravel road riding.

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        • #5
          One of the better videos I've found is "Dual Sport Riding Techniques" that covers some basic techniques off road. DSR (Dualsportriding.com) doesn't have it on their website anymore but you might hunt down a copy.
          When life throws you curves, aim for the apex
          sigpic
          08 Spyder RS SM5 "big Bird" \ 12 S'TtripleR "stripper" \ 02 VFR800 "big red" \ 09 KLX250-S
          Sold: 97 Ninja 500R / 03 SV650N / 01 Ducati 750SS / 73 CB350-Four / 03 BMWF650GS / 08 Gixxer600 / 09 KLX250S "Gumby" / 06 Thruxton "crumpet" / 91 VFR750 /03 Gixxer6 the bass boat
          my Facebook, SpeedShotsPhotography
          MITGC #22

          "I have seen fat kids on Segways go through corners faster."

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          • #6
            As well as a bash plate and engine guards I would consider adding hand guards such as BarkBuster. The odds are high you will drop it and hand guards can prevent you snapping your levers off. Off road boots to protect your ankles would also be at the top of my list.

            Like you I have an adventure'esque looking bike (Versys) that is really just a street bike with taller suspension. I'm not sure what the suspension is like on the CB500 but the Versys suspension is more suited to a race track than a rough forest road, so bumps and potholes can be scary. I ended up buying a KLX250S to learn to ride offroad and I've dropped that bike more times than I can count and it doesn't care. Once I gained some skill on the KLX I was much more comfortable taking the Versys places it shouldn't be. In short, while you can learn this stuff on your CB500 you might learn faster if you get a bike more suited to the task.

            Lastly, if it is an option I would try and take a dirt bike class. Personally I always learn so much more from hands on instruction than reading or even YouTube videos.

            Good luck in your travels. You have a world of great roads to explore on your doorstep.

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            • #7

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              • #8
                Hand guards will also help protect against breaking levers and/or fingers if you should bump into a tree. Not that such a thing has ever happened to me, of course.

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                • #9
                  thanks for the replies. I think I'm gonna start with a rally raid engine guard, new tires and hand guards. I can take it from there.
                  2018 Honda CRF250L ('Rhonda')
                  2015 Honda CB500X ('Betty')
                  Previous bikes:
                  2009 Ninja 250 ('Saki')
                  2007 Honda CBR125
                  http://www.vancouvermusictheory.com

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                  • #10
                    You can get the Rally Raid stuff from rmabtc.com here in Canada. Not sure if it's cheaper than ordering from Giant Loop or directly from Rally Raid in the U.K., but at least you don't play the will-they-or-won't-they-charge-me-customs-fees game.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mad Matt View Post
                      You can get the Rally Raid stuff from rmabtc.com here in Canada. Not sure if it's cheaper than ordering from Giant Loop or directly from Rally Raid in the U.K., but at least you don't play the will-they-or-won't-they-charge-me-customs-fees game.
                      Good to know, thanks.
                      2018 Honda CRF250L ('Rhonda')
                      2015 Honda CB500X ('Betty')
                      Previous bikes:
                      2009 Ninja 250 ('Saki')
                      2007 Honda CBR125
                      http://www.vancouvermusictheory.com

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                      • #12
                        I found this book helpful ... https://www.amazon.com/Essential-Gui...rds=carl+adams
                        The best thing you can buy for your motorcycle is gas.

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                        • #13
                          Get a “disposable” bike. Get a bike as lightweight as your wallet allows. Might as well get a thumper. Something in the “sub 275 lb. class.”
                          Get something that has a dealer nearby. You may need parts as you “ride.”
                          Get offroad appropriate gear. Get something to protect your rib cage. Don’t use your street oriented safety gear. It’s the wrong tool for the job.
                          Don’t ride alone.
                          Don’t ride out to your riding area. Take a truck or trailer. Take pics and explore safely.
                          Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens.

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                          • #14
                            CB500x is fine for riding gravel roads and stuff like that. Get a DS tire and possibly some lever guards. You can spend a lifetime exploring gravel roads in BC. You don't need a bash plate or rad guards unless you plan on hopping logs and riding on big rocks. If you are planning on hopping logs and big rocks, the CB500 is never going to be a good bike and you will quickly run into its limitations on the trails around Vancouver. A good dual-sport like a WR250R is actually quite capable offroad and would be a better starting point. If you can, a dedicated Enduro is better still, but you will have to transport it to the trail. The best thing you could possibly do is get a trials bike and join the local trials club. Nothing will teach you off-road riding skills faster than trials.

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