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Discussion Starter #1
OK - I've been riding for years and have always struggled with this particular situation, but with a big R1200GS it is even more challenging.

Downhill on a track that is mostly larger (baseball size) loose rocks and gravel.

I turn off the ABS, I go for first or possibly second gear (engine braking), I move my body weight back and I stand up (possibly a mistake). All of this I do by reflex on dirt roads, but on the lumpier rocky stuff, I find that the front wheel just grabs, turns the bars and the bike wants to take a nose dive.
So I try the slower approach and sit down with feet touching off on the ground as needed, but then I lose the benefit of the engine braking and must rely on real brakes. Unfortunately my right foot is busy keeping the bike up so I'm left with front brake and a slipping of the clutch to try and take advantage of some engine braking. Then the back wheel locks up and the engine stalls, destabilizes the bike and once more it wants to take a nose dive.

On small trail bikes my strength and weight overpower the lighter bike and I can throw things around.
Also, the smaller, lighter, trail bikes are not a $30k BMW so I'm less concerned about it taking a little nap on the side of a track.
I've got crash bars and cylinder head covers, but still, she's too nice to have sideways on a rocky track.

OK - to all of you more experienced off-road riders!
How do you tackle this type of riding situation on your pride and joy?
 

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For me, I try to always keep front wheel turning, weight back, crouching or seated, and try to move fast enough to keep feet on pegs ( feet on pegs as much as you can in any situation). In a near fall situation, we had old adage: "when in doubt, gas it". Throttle tends to stand bike up and lighten front. My .02:smile2:
 

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We ran into this in Colorado last summer. First, it depends how steep this trail is? If it's steep enough that the rocks come rolling down the hill with you and you really can't stop the bike, gentle on the back brake, steer straight down and and don't try to outrun the rocks!! If it's really not so steep that the rocks start to slide with you, then you can use both brakes although I focus heaviest on my rear brake and keep the bike under throttle so it's moving forward. Never put your feet down; you need them on the pegs for balance and braking. And if they're out beside your bike instead, odds are they're going to get broken!! And depending on your "butt-pucker" factor at the end of the experience, you'll know if you want to try it again!! I'm like you, I'd way rather take my Husaberg down those trails than a $30,000 Beemer!! But these bikes are incredible and they can handle this stuff really well, you just can't think about the $30,000!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Funny you should say that, although we are from Australia, we last experienced this type of terrain when we were in Colorado and Utah earlier this year. Maybe it's a US thing. 0:) You guys have the most amazing roads and off-road in the US. We had the privilege of riding outside of Moab on the Schafer Switchbacks and the White Rim Trail. We also loved riding the Burr Trail in Utah.

Back to the topic at hand though, I agree with all of these tips and yes, I just need to get over the thought of dropping the bike. If you don't drop your bike (when off-road) you are probably not making the most of the trail. So they say.
My wife also rides a big GS and although she struggles on the loose stuff, she carves up the dirt like a professional.

I'm going to continue to practice the feet on pegs and crouching approach and see how things go. I feel much more stable when I'm up on the pegs.
Having said that, on this loose surface, coming into a tighter corner is always going to be a challenge. :surprise:


We ran into this in Colorado last summer. First, it depends how steep this trail is? If it's steep enough that the rocks come rolling down the hill with you and you really can't stop the bike, gentle on the back brake, steer straight down and and don't try to outrun the rocks!! If it's really not so steep that the rocks start to slide with you, then you can use both brakes although I focus heaviest on my rear brake and keep the bike under throttle so it's moving forward. Never put your feet down; you need them on the pegs for balance and braking. And if they're out beside your bike instead, odds are they're going to get broken!! And depending on your "butt-pucker" factor at the end of the experience, you'll know if you want to try it again!! I'm like you, I'd way rather take my Husaberg down those trails than a $30,000 Beemer!! But these bikes are incredible and they can handle this stuff really well, you just can't think about the $30,000!!!
 

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Risers will help a lot in this, if you don't have risers, it will be tough. Get the tallest risers possible, GSA can take 2" without changing the cables.
Risers help you RELEASE PRESSURE on the handlebars, and prevents you from leaning on them,

so move all your weight to the back back, your butt over the passenger seat, knees bent, standing is better than sitting because you will have lower center of gravity, and just let the bike go where it want to go. I would not sit in such a situation, it will be harder to control the bike, and in case you lose control, or stall, if you are sitting you may hurt yourself when you drop the bike. If you are standing, you just walk away from it.
Also Do not go in second gear!, u will loose all your engine braking, you must be IN FIRST GEAR, AND i would not mess with the clutch at all. because you could get scared and pull it, and then you will gain speed, then you will panic and push brakes and stall and fall.

also be careful not to mistakenly pull the gas! and be careful NOT TO STALL. use rear brakes and like 1 finger on the front.

If by mistake you over-brake and stall the engine, when you let go off the brakes, the bike will start again cause you are in first gear. (thats why you should NEVER pull clutch during descents, unless you are stopping)

So to summarize!
1- GET RISERS, 2" OR TALLER!.
2 - STAND, IT WILL LOWER YOUR CENTER OF GRAVITY AND YOU ARE SAFER.
3 - FIRST GEAR, YOU MUST STAY IN FIRST GEAR, NO CLUTCH, NO NEUTRAL NO SECOND GEAR.
4 - USE THE REAR BRAKES TO SLOW DOWN A BIT, BUT THAT WON'T DO MUCH, YOU CAN CONTROL THE BIKE BETTER BY LIGHTLY USING THE FRONT BRAKES, JUST 1 FINGER ON THE front BRAKE, THE REST OF it ON THE HANDLE BARs AND LIGHTLY TAP ON IT.
5 - DO NOT PLACE YOUR HAND ON THE CLUTCH, because if you stall the engine will not start again!. you will done!.

good luck
 

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Agree with the standing, risers, body position and braking comments. One other thing, you (and your bike) go where your eyes are looking. If you're watching your front tire, you'll go down. Eyes up and out in front 15 - 20 feet depending on speed, and let the bike move around under you.
 

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I don't thinks so!

2 - STAND, IT WILL LOWER YOUR CENTER OF GRAVITY AND YOU ARE SAFER.




Common Mistake.
Standing will NEVER LOWER your Center of Gravity, How can it.


Have a look at the following article.
"Weighting the pegs" does NOT lower your center of gravity! | Best Beginner Motorcycles




Some interesting reading bellow.
Does standing lower a bike's centre of gravity? - Motorbike Writer


And this one.
https://www.reddit.com/r/askscience/comments/3056ec/does_standing_on_motorcycle_pegs_lower_your/
 

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GDAYJR makes a good point, your center of gravity doesn't change. In fact, center of gravity is irrelevant for the most part. But the handling of the motorcycle changes dramatically when your feet are on the foot pegs and your ass is in the air versus when your ass is on the seat and your feet are in the air!!!! And the point made about the 2" Risers is absolutely bang on; these will allow you to lean back that much more which helps get your weight off that front wheel when you need to.

And I'm glad to hear you enjoyed your tours through Arizona and Utah, they're beautiful. For what it's worth, if you haven't explored northern Idaho yet, it's well worth the trip. I've been all over this continent and every time I come back to the Panhandle, I wonder why I bother with the rest of it!! Safe travels!!
 

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if all your weight is on the pegs, the center of gravity does change. It becomes lowers.

i dont care what that article says, this is basic physics.
When you stand, all your weight is on the solid portion of the bike too, not on the suspension. Try this test, get an RC plane (remote control plane) and play with its battery location and see if the center of its gravity changes or not. if you don't fly rc plane, post this question on RCgroups.com. :D. hehe.
Now we can argue on this until the cows come home, but i dont have that will to do so. do as you please.


there is a great reason why bmx and stunt riders, do their stunts STANDING and that is ULTIMATE CONTROL.
If you are sitting there is not much you can really do and you cannot control your weight backward forward and leaning etc...
 

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You and the bike are two parts of a system. When you are sitting in the middle of the the saddle the two parts of the system are pretty tightly coupled. What happens to the bike happens to you and vice versa. The COG is pretty static. When you start moving around on the saddle you are reducing the coupling between you and the bike. That influences the location of the system COG. When you stand on the pegs you loosen the coupling even more which gives you greater control over the location of the system COG.

Unless you are putting your body position lower that it would be when sitting you are not technically lowering the COG. And that is actually unimportant. What is important is that by moving around on the pegs you are can move the COG of the bike-rider system such that it is OVER the contact patch. That gives you both better traction on the loose stuff and more control at low speeds.

Instead of talking about lowering the COG (which always causes discussion) talk about moving the COG. I don't think you'll get any arguments (but I could be wrong!).
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The great thing about this forum is the amazing and passionate level of feedback and input we get from each discussion thread. Thanks to all who have replied.

I had not given much detailed thought to the COG thing, but what I do appreciate and what was mentioned here is the importance of keeping the COG dynamic. Side to side and front to back is possibly much more important than the elevation.

But, let's leave that topic aside, I'm still a little unclear on the engine breaking and stalling side of things.

So, I'm going down a slope and the ground is loose rocks/gravel. I'm up on my pegs, bum back and I'm moving my body side to side as I allow the bike to move beneath me. Not too tight on the bars and knees engaged. I have the ABS turned off so that if it does brake traction it won't release the brakes (assuming I'm using them) and send me flying down the hill.
If I am in First Gear and the bike is able to engine brake, it is because the load and drag on the rear wheel (friction to the ground) is enough to override the lock-up. But on this type of loose surface it is almost guaranteed that the ground will not provide the resistance required to drive the rear wheel around against the engine compression.

As a result, the rear wheel locks up and the engine stalls.

The question I still have is, what to do in this situation.

1. Feel the bike about to stall and slip the clutch?
2. Let the bike stall, allow it to pull itself to a halt and then start all over again?
3. If it is too steep and too loose (rock and gravel surface), the bike may keep sliding with the rear wheel locked, engine stalled and the front wheel turning. In this case do I just ride it out or start to apply some front brake?
4. Or slip the clutch to stay on the engine braking threshold (maximum engine braking and avoid stalling), use a little front brake without grabbing or digging in with the front wheel, and let the bike find its own way down the slope?

It's such a complex and dynamic situation and hard to capture in words.

I remember when I did my BMW off-road course, they showed us how to go up steep slippy faces, stall the bike half way with brakes and no clutch, and let the engine hold the bike on the side of the hill. Then we had to turn 180 degrees and go back down without starting the engine. That was challenging.

This down hill on loose stuff just has me a little foxed.




You and the bike are two parts of a system. When you are sitting in the middle of the the saddle the two parts of the system are pretty tightly coupled. What happens to the bike happens to you and vice versa. The COG is pretty static. When you start moving around on the saddle you are reducing the coupling between you and the bike. That influences the location of the system COG. When you stand on the pegs you loosen the coupling even more which gives you greater control over the location of the system COG.

Unless you are putting your body position lower that it would be when sitting you are not technically lowering the COG. And that is actually unimportant. What is important is that by moving around on the pegs you are can move the COG of the bike-rider system such that it is OVER the contact patch. That gives you both better traction on the loose stuff and more control at low speeds.

Instead of talking about lowering the COG (which always causes discussion) talk about moving the COG. I don't think you'll get any arguments (but I could be wrong!).
 

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2 cents, 4 cents, 8 cents, and here is mine.

I don't want to add Gasoline to the fire so I am not commenting on the specific things I disagree with here. There are some. At the same time their are also some good points. Some times in the same post, and some good advise with the wrong reasoning. Ok, I am not an expert, there just to let everyone know. Here is how I do it, then once I am done doing this I often drop my bike. This is for you and any one else whom may read this thread so I am expounding a bit. Im glad you enjoyed Colorado, very pretty.

Stand, this gives you a lot of control with weight shift on the bike. I'm skipping the CG part of the argument, either way it will provide a pivot point for your body in relation to the bike and that point is much lower, it allows you to lean the bike under you adding more turning by leaning effect. It will de-coupple (as it is often said) your weight/body from the bike. it also provides you with "Extra suspension" commonly known as your knees, in my case until they give out. As the bike jostles around under you you can have relaxed knees and arms and shoulders (I squeeze with my knees for some added stability) and you don't get thrown around so much. this leaves you ready to correct and look on to the next obstacle. This really does work when you get into the grove of it (sorry I had to) you are nice and stable and your filling stay in your teeth and the bike is just flicking around and when the front pops three inches to the right or left and back again and again and again you you kind of just sort of float along. their is a nice standing position (which is a bit annoying to me to stand in for any time, I have knee and back problems, and bad shoulders) that has your back in the right location and hands and knees etc often called the "attack position" (or natural, or start, depends on who's training manual you are reading last.) it would not be a good idea for me to try and tell you how to do it there are others better at this just look it up, it is one of those things better seen and felt than described. but to get into this balanced position you may need or want to adjust your handlebars around, or add or remove risers. etc. not every one needs risers, and some need different types, but they can (and depending on the type) help some people. while standing you can also move far forward and backwards (assuming no passenger, while you can ride rough roads with a passenger while both are standing that is quite advanced stuff) which (avoiding the CG part of the argument) help you account for momentum changes at the very least, part of the balanced thing. on down hills particularly rough If I am riding I'm standing, pedaling I'm sitting.

Unless it is very steep or extremely schetcye or I made a goof. I ride the bike down, paddling down to me is exhausting. enough momentum to get over the obstacles with out having your momentum sapped by the rocks but not hardly any more. I am constantly adjusting the clutch as needed of course it is depending on how tough the hill is. too fast is seriously frightening to me. their are times I am on the break (rear mostly) without pulling in the clutch. depending on what year your bike is (oil or water, from my limited experience [only a little time on water cooled] oil has far more engine breaking and the engine will lug lower without stalling) you can slow and drag quite a bit at times.

Speaking of dragging I do drag the rear wheel, I am not farad of the rear break not a problem. their are times where the hill to steep and the rolly polly's are to big and polly (loose rocks over loose sand is the worse) where locking or dragging the rear wheel will just halt the bike. so their are exceptions to every rule. I am very careful with the front break! remember Squeeze don't grab, same for the clutch actually, and for the rear break ill say press don't' stomp. though I have been known to stomp depending on what I see.

Dragging your rear wheel is a good thing to get comfy with, a quick way to stop and handy in turns (so I'm told) you can practice this on flat good gravel road, little locks of the rear break at moderately slow speeds. start when standing, butt back, shoulders loose and elbows out, squeeze with your knees. lock the rear and off of it again during strait and level, keep at it till comfortable then hold the lock for longer until just about stopped. then you can work your speed up just a bit don't get wild unless wild is your style (your choice, your bones, your bike). After you are bored with this over a month of practicing, put a little lean of the bike into it (see leaning below, unless I forget.) Don't lean your body just the bike and a LITTLE. the bike will turn into the lean with the bars state, stop the turn before getting to far out, once you are getting quite big turns stop the turn (but still slide) turn into the direction of travel and you will get used to this after a while. once you are comfortable here you will be much more comfortable on those downhills with larger loose rocks. though this will still not take away the pucker factor completely, or it has not fully for me. the more comfortable I get the more I push so I end up back in that same feeling. wait that is my problem.

leaning the bike and not you. well the easiest way to do this is on a grass or dirt field or parking lot. take it easy at first. lean the bike by pressing on one peg more than the other. I think of it as removing weight from the other peg. be loose on the handlebars. the bike will naturally (due to the shape of the tires) turn in just a slight amount, don't fight this let it do so. it is a very small amount. at first just press (or de-weight) the peg a little, almost no input or holding on the bars. little left, little right, etc. you can then do this anyway and get used to it. and also you can do this (if someone doesn't know) while seated, on any road's etc. off road this will let you turn the bike sharper when you do this weight shift lean along with turning in (turning bars) and counter weighting etc.

if you stall the bike and it is still going forward just roll your thumb up and hit the start button, a little crack is all you need, don't look at the start button just get used to it and it will come naturally. of course if you stalled and got stopped at the same time well that is just stopped. you can't always avoid it, I am just letting you know that just because the engine clunks it you don't have to stop. get used to hauling the clutch in quickly and crack the starter. speaking of clutch, cover your clutch lever at all times. I actually specifically do not cover the front break on steep downhills for the opposite reason.

I would strongly suggest you take one of the off road training courses, most of the major ones are very similar. someone mentioned Rawhide, which is not in Australia but BMW offers their off road corse and it is fine likely one of the best. the only other ones I know of are in the USA So not so useful to you, in the midwest Gateway BMW puts on a mini course each year and I can't remember the group whom they hire but they will tell anyone whose wants to call them. etc. either way a structured course that covers these things can be very beneficial and so much better than any advice any of us can give here as they can give direct feedback. and help you adjust your bike if needed. tell you if you are standing well, practice leaned turns, break slides, sand, trees (over them when they are laying down, not eating them) and yes downhills etc.

If you can have less weight on your bike that is helpful, if it is lower down it is also helpful as well as forward on the bike (front of the panniers, or bags)

don't nessacarly have the tallest setting on your suspension if you have an adjustable bike. have it as tall as you need it but still have a good confidant ability to get a foot down. if you still think that is to low get a good skid plate. it will be worth it. and for you shorter guys and galls don't be afraid to lower your bike, they are tough just put a good skid plate on it and (at least for the guys) stop working about your manliness, you are not going to look very manly struggling on a tall bike then falling over. (ok that was a dig at some people I know whom I ride with out of St. Louis area, but it applies)

if possible (this is harder than just saying it. in real life) get some friends (mates?) and practice. a lot. my single biggest problem is long gaps of not riding or only riding on pavement for a 13 minuet commute. this means that a little scream comes out the first time I get back on the gravel, but after a few miles I am good again. same thing for coming around the corner switch back and nose down, brief bit of panic then back to riding. and all is fun again.

and keep in mind that we really don't know what kind of hills you have been going down, you may well be taking hills that all of us here would be turning around and running from. as for me loose downhills are the worst situation. or mine at any rate. they bother me the most and not surprisingly I feel the most unstable, same stretch of hill going up and I don't feel like doom is along for the ride but down always get's a rise out of me. Hey, one comes with the other.
 

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You and the bike are two parts of a system. When you are sitting in the middle of the the saddle the two parts of the system are pretty tightly coupled. What happens to the bike happens to you and vice versa. The COG is pretty static. When you start moving around on the saddle you are reducing the coupling between you and the bike. That influences the location of the system COG. When you stand on the pegs you loosen the coupling even more which gives you greater control over the location of the system COG.

Unless you are putting your body position lower that it would be when sitting you are not technically lowering the COG. And that is actually unimportant. What is important is that by moving around on the pegs you are can move the COG of the bike-rider system such that it is OVER the contact patch. That gives you both better traction on the loose stuff and more control at low speeds.

Instead of talking about lowering the COG (which always causes discussion) talk about moving the COG. I don't think you'll get any arguments (but I could be wrong!).
+1 on that. that's what i meant with LOWERING THE COG.
 

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The great thing about this forum is the amazing and passionate level of feedback and input we get from each discussion thread. Thanks to all who have replied.

I had not given much detailed thought to t

This down hill on loose stuff just has me a little foxed.
The downhill grade will really pull the bike down and you will NOT STALL in first gear, until you get on a big rock and that stops you. if that's the case, then your speed is TOO SLOW.
you really have to time your throttle on these, if you feel like you are rolling over the rocks, let it roll, if you see a small hiccup that may make you stall, then give it little gas.

I would not mess with the clutch here because it's not easy to control the clutch well while standing on a rocky terrain descending. I would leave the clutch out of it unless you feel that you are 100%% stalling, then pull the clutch to keep the engine on and release quickly, if you did not get momentum from that, jump of the bike and let it go down. If you are standing, it's easier to get off the bike, Just 1 leg on the ground, hold the rear brakes to lock it and the bike will slide down naturally, the bike goes down between your leggs and you walk out of it. watch my video here, where i realized the situation is too shitty and i just dropped the bike to avoid going down in the ditch, This is my klr not my GS.
The terrain was not rocky, i just hit the middle of the road and it was SUPER SUPER SANDY, my tire pressure was too high because i'm too confident with this bike i did not deflate the tires so i lost traction.

IT'S OKAY TO LET THE BIKE GO DOWN thats why you invest so much money in so many gears and covers!. actually that's the first thing you learn in rawhyde, HOW TO DROP AND PICK UP YOUR BIKE and it's NO big deal if this happens.

enjoy the ride! don't worry and don't over-think about it. just do it and you will succeed, if you don't succeed, you will have a memory to discuss with friends. I remember the rides i fell and i dropped the bike in more than the rides that i just went thru quickly with no challenges.

:D. good luck.
 

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At the BMW Off Road Performance School, we stood on the pegs for the entire class. They taught us that your butt should never touch the seat in any kind of technical terrain. Let out the clutch and go straight up to standing on the pegs and do all maneuvering from a standing position. We did many steep hill descents even doing trials stops in the middle of the descent and changing directions and it was always standing on the pegs and using the front brake. Of course, that was all after they taught us to get comfortable with sliding the front under braking.

I did a long ride in September that included some very technical and challenging sections that went on for many miles. Softball sized rocks, some bigger, deep ruts, and all on sometimes steep climbs and descents. There were a few times when would make it to the bottom of a hill and wonder how in the world I made it without dropping the bike repeatedly. I really think the BMW school made a big difference in my approach to how to ride a big bike like an enduro and there are some distinct differences that they teach that seem to work for me.
 
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