Go Back   Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB > Technical, Bike forums > Equipping the Bike - what's the best gear?

Equipping the Bike - what's the best gear? Anything to do with the bikes equipment, saddlebags, etc. Questions on repairs and maintenance of the bike itself belong in the Brand Specific Tech Forums.
Contact Overland Solutions for all your custom modifications and setup for overland travel.

Giant Loop Motorcycle Saddlebags & Motorcycle Tank Bags: Panniers, Soft Luggage for Adventure & Sport Touring

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 14 Sep 2005
Registered Users
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Vancouver, B.C. Canada
Posts: 93
Street bike seeks dirt friendly tires

Recommedations(general and specific)would be appreciated for tires which would fit my street bike but give me a bit of a leg up on rougher gravel and dirt roads. Two friends and I did a satisfying trip from Vancouver to the Yukon this summer and are now contemplating a run down the Baja and further into Mexico. We hope to get off pavement to some extent. The other two bikes are dual purpose singles but mine is a pure street 750 Kawasaki ZR7-S, a much under-appreciated, smooth, simple, reliable,standard-ish motorcycle which makes an excellent long distance tourer with bar risers and a higher windshield. I am loathe to dump it in favour of a vibrating thumper.

Some gravel stretches on the northern voyage taught me that the bike can handle them, but slowly and carefully. I'd like to improve the off pavement handling and speed if possible, and the only practical option seems to be a change of tires. Any suggestions received with thanks.

Norm

Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 14 Sep 2005
Steve Pickford's Avatar
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Oxford, UK
Posts: 1,027
Depends on wheel sizes: you may be able to fit a 150 off road tyre on the rear but tye front may be a problem? You could have to use a rear tyre on the front?

Four cylinder engines don't normally provide the right sort of traction for off road use - be wary of going too fast.
__________________
My photos: www.possu.smugmug.com
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 15 Sep 2005
Registered Users
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: bristol, uk
Posts: 60
don't know about tyres, but the engine in the zr7 is bombproof. maybe not such a ridiculous choice...
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 15 Sep 2005
Steve Pickford's Avatar
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Oxford, UK
Posts: 1,027
Quote:
Originally posted by scdan3:
don't know about tyres, but the engine in the zr7 is bombproof. maybe not such a ridiculous choice...
Nothingto do with reliability. Correct tyre fitment & choice is important.

Regular four cylinder bikes are far from ideal when riding offroad. Twins & singles are better, longer time between the power pulses to the tyre. All of this is well documented should you care to research it.

__________________
My photos: www.possu.smugmug.com
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 16 Sep 2005
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Seguin, Texas, USA
Posts: 463
I assume you have 17's front and rear. You may want to check out the tires on the new Buell Ulysses.
__________________
Andy Tiegs
http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/tstories/tiegs
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 16 Sep 2005
Registered Users
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Flagstaff, AZ, 86004
Posts: 39
I have had friends use the Avon Distanzia (I'm getting those the next time I need tires) and be very happy with them. They made them for the Super Motard bikes, so you get a grippy tire that handles dirt/gravel roads and comes in 120/70-17 for the front and up to 160/60-17 rear, both radial.

Matthew
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 21 Sep 2005
Registered Users
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Vancouver, B.C. Canada
Posts: 93
Thanks for all the replies. Some useful information here.

Norm
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 30 Sep 2005
Gold Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: albury nsw australia
Posts: 329
i saw a guy who was riding a gsx r 750 to cape york in north of australia he removed the lower fairing and had made fork exteders to raise the front,but it looked like a nightmare to ride and the guys with him on there bmw.s were always waiting for him , i think the whole power thing was just wrong even though it was lighter than the gs 1150 beemers
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 1 Oct 2005
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: London, UK
Posts: 638
mission impossible 2 - worst pile of crap of a movie I've seen for ages, but they had a Ducati and a Triumph on what looked like T63s or Deserts.
I got almost as far up a ski run on a GPz550 as I did on a knobbly KLR650. no snow and big back-flip off the KLR!
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 1 Oct 2005
Registered Users
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Vancouver, B.C. Canada
Posts: 93
Clarifying my question further...I'm notlooking to cope with anything beyond reasonably flat dirt and gravel roads. I am looking to overcome that insecure somewhat squirrely feeling that holds my streetbike to less than 40 unhappy kph under those conditions. And that feeling, intuitively does seem to come from the tires, not the suspension or geometry of the machine. On a temporarily gravel stretch of the Alaska Highway this summer my 650 KLR co-adventurer came blasting by me but he was riding on knobbies. I do suspect that if you were to put pure street tires on that KLR he'd be just as slow as I was.

I considered purchasing such bikes as the 650 Vstrom and the 650GS but no one ever persuasively explained to me why those machines would deal with half decent dirt/gravel roads any better than my 4 cylinder Kawasaki (other than tires).
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 3 Oct 2005
Registered Users
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Flagstaff, AZ, 86004
Posts: 39
The Distanzia's will be great on gravel/dirt roads, that is what they are really made for (mixed surface Super Motard tires available street legal).

To answer your question about why the Vstrom or 650GS would do better, it is not just the tires but the wheel size. If you look at successful road race bikes, they have 17" front wheels. If you look at successful off-road race bikes, they have 21" front wheels. If you look at successful flat-trak bikes (dirt oval), they have 19" front wheels. The slicker the surface, the longer and skinnier you want your contact patch. For best performance on tarmac, you follow the road race bikes. For best performance where there are no roads, you follow the true off-road bikes. If you are on dirt roads that get graded once in a blue moon and have ruts, then you follow the flat trackers, since that is what they race on.

You should be fine on your bike with decent dual purpose tires (the Distanzia, again, being one of the only ones that will fit). You won't be as fast as you would on a DL650 of F650GS, but you will still have fun. I would personally keep the bike you have. If you have so much fun on your trip that you want a bike designed more for that kind of trip, go shopping when you get back.

Just my two cents.

Matthew
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 3 Oct 2005
Grant Johnson's Avatar
HU Founder
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Dec 1997
Location: Vancouver BC Canada
Posts: 4,576
Somehting that is VERY important to improve the feel of a street bike on dirt/gravel rtoads, is to lower the tire pressures.

Dirt bikes often run as low as 6 psi in the mud, or 12 psi on gravel roads. I'd drop the pressure on your street bike to around 20psi - you'll find a huge difference in how it feels, and by not going quite so low, give your rims some protection.

Carry an electric tire pump to bump the pressure back up when you hit the pavement, or if you're young and strong carry a quality double action bicycle pump.

FWIW - 100mph on good gravel on a pure street bike is quite possible - lower pressures and experience go a long way - so get the tire pressures down and practice!

Changing tires to something less street oriented isn't a bad idea either - lots of good suggestions above.
__________________
Grant Johnson

Seek, and ye shall find.

------------------------

Inspiring, Informing and Connecting travellers since 1997!
www.HorizonsUnlimited.com
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 14 Dec 2006
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 3
Question Completely clueless

I was looking for info on the internet about the differences between dirt bikes, street and trail, and regular motorcycles. I do not own a motorcycle but would like to purchase a used one, inexpensive and comfortable to ride from PA to Alaska. I also of course have to buy weather appropriate gear, a helmet, learn to ride and get a motorcycle license. This is something of a long term project. I just moved to PA from Alaska a couple months ago.

Any suggestions on where I can access more information?
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 14 Dec 2006
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Widnes, England
Posts: 8
Hi Littlewolf, I`m new to this site , myself, but from what I`ve read on the forums you seem to be in the right place for advice. Don`t worry about being a newbie, we all started sometime, just keep asking questions of everyone and soon you`ll collect everything you need to make the right choice of bike. Easiest one to answer for you tho is whats the difference. Well, think about what kind of roads you`ll be riding. Dirt bike for dirt roads, street bike for street etc. Personally I`d be looking at something with not too much power (yet) four stroke engine, light weight. Maybe something like 400cc enduro/ trail bike. Whatever you do tho`, keep the dream alive and you`ll get there.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 14 Dec 2006
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 1,520
I would suggest you do an msf course.. it will help get your licence, and reduce your insurance. the best riding you can do is with any old ( preferably single cylinder) bike in a field. learn to ride fast, and slow doing very slow figure of 8's and 'drifting it on corners at speed. This will improve your reactions when you graduate to the road. remember to become equally familiar with both right and left turns
Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 Registered Users and/or Members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


 
 
 

NEW! HU 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar is now available! Get your copy now for some terrific travel inspiration!

HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!

Horizons Unlimited 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar.

"The calendar is magnificent!"

"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"

We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!

Next HU Eventscalendar

See all events

 

Latvia to Australia, an inspirational 5 month journey full of unexpected adventures!


Renedian Adventures

Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!


What turns you on to motorcycle travel?


Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!


New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.


Books & DVDs

amazon

All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!




All times are GMT +1. The time now is 12:23.