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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just took my bike out on dirt for the first time and am wondering a few things.

I've never ridden a dirt bike and I think I'm stating the obvious when I say that while the Scram is capable on dirt, you(I) still need to take it easy. It's big, it's heavy, and if you're on a mountain road like we have around here with lots of loose hairpins, you need to be very cautious. I felt like on the really sharp ones, I needed to make sure I was at the lowest speed for the turn before I entered it, then I could throttle to get through loose stuff. It feels like if I had 5mph more than that, things could get sketchy.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to want to get the single seat with rack, I wouldn't mind having a tank bag on a trip, but for a sunny day up in the mountains I'm thinking having my gear behind me would be best. I'm also thinking that I need to get a skid plate, and the grill for the headlight.

I'm just looking for input from you Scramblers who Scramble, your experiences with it and any tips that come to mind.
 

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Don't have a Scrammy, but my Bonnie's seen plenty of dirt/gravel. My avatar pic ain't from a roadside pullout.

First up, if you aren't standing on the pegs (knees bent, of course) for anything even mildly challenging, do it. Steer with your feet/knees (and butt when you are sitting), keep your hands just strong enough on the bars to control your throttle and keep your balance. Let the bars float side to side for the most part. Avoid the front brake, if you lock up the front wheel on dirt/gravel, unpleasantness will ensue. Control your speed with your throttle as much as possible, the rear brake if you need a little more than engine braking, and the front as a last resort and very gingerly.
 

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It's hard to test your limits on a bike you really don't want to drop.
If I had a dirt bike I'd probably break my legs every ride...

Anyway, a lot of it depends on your skill level and your equipment.
I've been riding single track mountain bikes my whole life, and while a 500lb street bike is much different, there are techniques that are similar, granted I haven't done any singletrack on the scram. I've done some pretty hairy forest roads though, some that felt more like a dried up riverbed of class 2 rapids.

Start with your tires. Are they 100% street or part dirt. I have the stock bridgestone on the front and a metzeler Tourance on the rear.(Not the greatest for loose surfaces)

I'll ride gravel and dirt, but like you say, pretty gingerly around hair-pins.

A lot of the forest roads around here get used pretty heavily and have serious washboard and potholes. All are obstacles that will help make you a stronger rider when you learn to negotiate them properly.
One thing I like to do is slalom the potholes. You'll get more comfortable leaning a bit on the surface you're riding and loosen up.

Keep an eye out for changing surfaces though. your bike will handle differently from hard packed dirt roads with gravel on them and then running into the occasional pit of soft dirt with gravel on it.

#1 rule: Engine braking.

Use your front brake as sparingly as possible and watch your grip on the rear.

I'll usually ride on the seat, but when you are about to drop into a 10" deep pothole at 30+mph you'd better get up on your pegs.

Also, when you are turning, or even leaning a little, keep your inside leg extended up out by the front fork.

Check youtube for some dirt riding tips and just practice.

The first time I really rode an aggressive and uneven forest road I was pretty tense because my bike was brand new and I didn't want to drop it. on my way back down the road I was much more confident.

Now I ride pretty aggressively on loose surfaced roads. Just practice and keep it just within your limits each time.

I've locked up my rear tire on some forest roads recently and each time I do I feel I get better at keeping my bike in control while I'm sliding, It's kinda fun even though it makes your but pucker a little.

Locked up my rear on dry pavement the other night approaching a stop light too fast. Having that practice on dirt roads is just good conditioning. Learn your limits and stay in control.

Oh, and if you don't have riding boots, get some. You need a boot or shoe with a steel shank in the sole to keep your ankles/feet from being crushed by your bike.

Happy riding, wish I had some open Utah to explore!
 

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Hi UtahFox,

I do have a Scrambler, I do about 10% off road which mostly consists of logging roads since I'm in the pacific northwest. I just ditched the trailwings and although I read a lot about how bad they were, I never realized it until I actually had to replace them because of the crappy uneven wear to the point of being deadly. After some research, I went for the Kenda 761s - so far they are awesome. ( I also have TORS, and removed Airbox, larger jets, KN filter as well) It's been a slow mod project since the start but am trucking along...


As for the scrambler in the desert? check this out http://youtu.be/unaRkye1OBk
The infamous Jack Pine Scrambler. Nice mods, great cinematography.

Good luck in your adventures!
 

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I've taken my bonnie in the scrambler direction, with upgraded suspension, Tourance tires and wider bars.
Also some engine mods, and I'm starting to learn to roosting thru the turns on 2nd gear. Progress is a bit slow , as i don't want to drop my bike either, and got no crash protection (e.g. engine bars) yet.
But, having fun, and I'm sure cutting my teeth on the gravel makes me a better rider on tarmac as well


need more info?: here's 900 pages to read thru: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=141616
 

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It looks like a stock stand on a block of wood to me.
 

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Wow, that is awesome. I work on the phone and haunt these forums all day while dreaming of being on my bike. That thread will fit the bill nicely :). Thanks.
Yeah, that's the mother load. The ADVrider Scrambler thread is excellent. You'll find plenty of riders over there that enjoy taking their Scramblers off pavement, and some who have pushed them too far. Scramblers are great bikes for gravel/forest service roads but they have their limitations.

If you want your Scrambler to feel more "manageable" off road the short list of changes includes upgrading the suspension (front and rear) and different tires. Reading through the ADV thread will help you work on the long list. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Yeah, that's the mother load. The ADVrider Scrambler thread is excellent. You'll find plenty of riders over there that enjoy taking their Scramblers off pavement, and some who have pushed them too far. Scramblers are great bikes for gravel/forest service roads but they have their limitations.

If you want your Scrambler to feel more "manageable" off road the short list of changes includes upgrading the suspension (front and rear) and different tires. Reading through the ADV thread will help you work on the long list. :D
Yep, putting along forest roads, well within the limits of my bike and myself is where its at for me. My bike is also my daily rider, so new suspension is pretty far down my list. I will be settling for living vicariously through others at the extreme end of what Scrams can do. I still want to race to the cafe, don'tcha know. :D
 

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Really, decent suspension will help for any usage. Getting the front sorted out in particular helps around town when you're doing a lot of stopping and low speed turning. With a little research and patient experimentation, you can get your front end pretty well tuned for essentially the cost of a bottle of fork oil, a day or two of amateur labor, and your beverage of choice. Decent rear shocks cost a bit more, but are worth the money as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Really, decent suspension will help for any usage. Getting the front sorted out in particular helps around town when you're doing a lot of stopping and low speed turning. With a little research and patient experimentation, you can get your front end pretty well tuned for essentially the cost of a bottle of fork oil, a day or two of amateur labor, and your beverage of choice. Decent rear shocks cost a bit more, but are worth the money as well.
You're talking to a newb here. What would the practical effect be like replacing them?

There's one thing I can think of, but I don't know if its normal or not. I'm kinda small, 5'10" and about 160 pounds. If I stop fast, or use a little too much front brake when I really don't need too, the bike does tend to dive a little and rock back and forth. I'm guessing what you're talking about would tidy up that response?
 

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Suspension tuning is a huge can of worms, and while I've fiddled with it a bit, I'm not expert enough to write a dissertation. There's info out on the 'net about it, or check around at local motorcycle shops, particularly the racing variety and keep an eye out for a suspension clinic being offered. They tend to be more geared toward racers, but the basics still apply.

Front end dive is one of the problems a little front end work should help sort out. For me adding about 5ml to each fork of 30w fork oil did the trick nicely, along with installing Thruxton preload adjustors (which are very nice, and about $60 from BikeBandit, but the same effect can be had by cutting down the spacers or adding shims), but I check in at 220#, so that's probably too much for you. Adding oil effectively stiffens the spring rate, and thicker oil improves damping. Between my front end tweaking and a pair of Hagons in the rear that are properly set up for my weight and riding style, my front only dives if I really go crazy with the front brake. If you do any homegrown mods on the front end, the main thing to remember is to do it in very small increments.
 

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Stock suspension might be all that you you need if riding at a moderate pace on smooth roads. But riding frostheaved, potholed roads - or gravel / forest roards places bigger demands on the susp.
my gripe with the stock front and rear suspension is that it "locks up" on sharp hits, transmitting all the energy into the chassis (and me) instead.
This in addition to being soft otherwise.
 
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