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I've had my '02 EX500 for a little over a month now (my first streetbike!). I love everything about motorcycling, but what draws me most is touring; especially the idea of adventure touring. l'd like something like a KLR650, but as a 5'3" dude, the EX500 is a far more short-guy friendly bike :D



Most of my riding is on-pavement, but around here there are lots of well-maintained dirt/gravel roads. Has anyone ran a tire like Metzeler's Tourance on a Ninja, and if so, how did it work? I'm not looking to ford raging rivers or tear up mud bogs - I would just like to be able to feel a bit more confident on gravel.

Is this a bad idea on an EX500?

Cheers,

Darren
 

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I understand what it feels like to ride past a dirt road and wish I felt that I'd enjoy being on it. I don't think it's the tires. With my limited dirt road experience on the Ninja I say it's the suspension and the geometry. I'll be interested to here what others have to say.
 
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Re: Tires for occasional gravel use (like Metzeler Tourance) a bad idea on EX500

How fast do you want to go on gravel?
 

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I think higher, wider bars would help more than tires would.
 

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Re: Tires for occasional gravel use (like Metzeler Tourance) a bad idea on EX500

http://www.openroadjourney.com/articles/110.asp

http://www.vtwinmama.com/gravel.htm

http://www.motorcyclementor.com/public/164.cfm
How do Riders handle gravel in a turn when you are going from a paved road to a gravel one?

I encounter this situation every time I ride; the road leading to my driveway is gravel and marked with some pretty big potholes, a few right at the edge where the pavement meets the gravel. The paved road connecting to this gravel road is a straightaway with a 35 mph speed limit, so while I am slowing to make a safe turn, people behind me are accelerating (or trying to, if they're not on my tail).

Thanks, Chris


Pete replies: Good Question, Chris. Actually, it's several questions since you're dealing with multiple events happening simultaneously. Let's start with the cars on your tail, making you feel like you have to rush the turn.

While you are still on the pavement, some distance from your turn, I gather from your description that you are checking your mirrors (good) signaling with both a turn signal and the brake light (good). I would only add here to begin slowing plenty early so the car following has lots of time to react to your intentions; resist the temptation to rush things and slow down only at the last moment trying to be a nice guy and not hold up traffic.

You are a legitimate road user; don't put yourself in jeopardy because someone appears impatient. Nor do you want to pull way over to the shoulder (in the case of a right turn) or hug the center lane (in the case of a left turn); this only encourages them to share your lane and squeeze by. Also, be very disciplined about checking your brake and stop lamps prior to a ride; sounds like your life depends on knowing they are working.

Now, if gravel has spilled from the side road onto the paved road's surface, it most likely has compromised your traction. You'll have to take the turn plenty slow, looking well through the turn (not down at the gravel or potholes), elbows relaxed, and just a light touch on the grips.

Already have the tranny downshifted as you slow for the turn, get your braking all done and out of the way before you actually begin the turn, though you may find it useful to ride the rear brake pedal lightly through the turn to compensate for any lack of smoothness with the throttle.

You'll get the hang of it. Don't forget to remind yourself to relax. The motorcycle does not steer well when you are tense.

Fred added: The area of the turn-in, where gravel is resting on top of pavement will be a lot more tricky than the gravel road where the gravel is resting on more gravel. Crossing the gravel on pavement might require a vertical or nearly vertical bike to keep from losing it, vs a basic gravel road, where it is quite ok to have some lean.

Thanks Pete and Fred!
 

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Re: Tires for occasional gravel use (like Metzeler Tourance) a bad idea on EX500

See bottom section at: http://www.totalmotorcycle.com/school-SectionFive.htm

Route Number Ten: Happy trails to you!

Well, if you "mastered" the highway then you really should be ecstatic with your motorcycling skills! In fact, you could now go almost anywhere you so desire, slowly extending your range all the time and visiting different cities, towns, and places along the way! Get excited, because these are going to be exciting times for you!

So on to Route Number Ten. Sooner or later you are going to want to go off of (or will run out of) paved road. There is more unpaved road in the world than there is paved, so it is best to be prepared for it before you have to do it without this practice.

Off-roading on anything but a Dual-Sport, Dirt-Bike, Motocross or motorcycle with dirt tires on is going to be challenging, but is very rewarding as well. Pavement has a high traction percentage but that doesn't mean dirt/rock/wood/gravel roads do not. It is a different type of traction and your riding needs to be adjusted for that. Even experienced bikers practice once a year off-roading on their street bikes to get better at it. Your bike will feel a lot "looser" and will want to "wander" around a lot more than on the road. This is just the front tire finding improved traction on loose rocks/gravel/dirt and as long as your front tire is moving in the direction you want to go, no worries, you won't fall down.

There are a few tricks to make off-road riding easier such as standing up on the front pegs to keep your center of gravity high up than the bikes and it will be easier to keep the bike under control. Shifting up a gear so the rear wheel has less power to slide and spin around, if you do find your rear sliding, you can "rooster" the back wheel (give it gas so it digs in and rocks fly) to regain traction. Going fast enough so that your bike not only has better traction than going snail slow but also better balance. Sometimes going 30km/h (20mph) is better than going 5km/h (2mph). Do not TENSE up, lock your arms or panic, as long as the bike is moving in the direction you want it to go, you are fine. It is best to remain loose, calm and focused on the situation.

The off-road levels of difficulty you can practice are: (each one get a little more challenging to do)

Level 1: Dry broken pavement (very old paved road)
Level 2: Dry wood and cobblestone road
Level 3: Dry smooth dirt alleyway/road
Level 4: Dirt/Rain**
Level 5: Hard packed small gravel
Level 6: Loose dirt
Level 7: Loose packed small gravel
Level 8: Hard packed (semi-dry) mud
Level 9: Loose packed normal gravel
Level 10: Sand
Level 11: Loose packed large sized gravel
Level 12: Loose wet mud/Standing Water*
Level 13: Wet wood and cobblestone road/wet manhole covers/wet metal
Level 14: Snow on road*
Level 15: Ice on road*

You may find some harder/easier than others, everyone is different and I put them in order I myself found.

· *Water/Snow/Ice can be quite dangerous to ride in because not only is it a lubricant and does not offer but it also can hide hazards (holes, grates, rocks, metal, etc). Crunchy snow offers better traction than other types. It is best not to ride in snow/ice or flood conditions for any reasons.
· **Rain is not that bad to ride in compared to dry pavement. The trick is not to ride in the first 30minutes because all the gas/diesel/oil is being washed off the road surface (slippery stuff). Wait 30 minutes and you have nice clean (but wet) pavement that offers about 80% of the traction dry pavement does. Apply your brakes slower and allow more stopping time. It is best NOT to use your front brake as heavily and rely on your rear since your front tire can lock and loose traction in the rain, a 20%F/80%R is a good mix. Do all things slower (acceleration, turning, braking) and you will enjoy riding in the rain; just do not forget rain gear!
· Adding water to the road on an already bad surface usually makes it even worse. (e.g.: Level 2: Dry wood and cobblestone road versus Level 13: Wet wood and cobblestone road)
· Adding frozen water (snow/ice) is even worse than adding water to an already bad surface.

Remember: Do not TENSE up, lock your arms or panic, as long as the bike is moving in the direction you want it to go, you are fine. It is best to remain loose, calm and focused on the situation. This is a challenging exercise an the only way to get better is to practice it over and over again in your own time rather than panicking when faced with an unexpected off-road detour and having vehicles behind you.
 

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Re: Tires for occasional gravel use (like Metzeler Tourance) a bad idea on EX500

I ride on gravel road all the time. I rode about 20 miles on gravel this weekend (out of the 1,100) this weekend were on gravel, maybe more. Not that big a deal, really. My Metzeler Lasertecs served me just fine, but admittedly I take it pretty slow on loose gravel.
 

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I don't know much about Metzeler's Tourance tires, but I do know that I frequent dirt roads on my stock tires. Haven't really had any problems, and I really don't go much slower than I do on the pavement, except around the turns. Kind of fun actually. Just stay loose and trust your bike :)
 

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Seems like if you rode a majority gravel it would really help. Tires are the major component effecting the traction available on a given surface. I know my Pilot Powers would be horrible on gravel. I know I've driven a truck off road in street tires and it was much worse than offload studded tires. Tires make a big difference if they are matched to the intended conditions, but are a compromise when out of their element.
 

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Re: Tires for occasional gravel use (like Metzeler Tourance) a bad idea on EX500

Here's a story on one guys search for better tires, mold-release, & breaking-in tires.
It does include a section where driving on gravel seemed to change the tires for the better. -?-
http://www.webbikeworld.com/Motorcycle-tires/michelin-pilot-road-2/

Tire types...
http://www.tire-information-world.com/motorcycle-tires-ii.html

Riding on gravel-
http://www.openroadjourney.com/articles/110_2.asp

Ad for Continental tires designed for gravel, etc.
http://www.ascycles.com/detail.aspx?ID=47709
 

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What a great thread. :)

Thanks for those links MrSciTrek.

I too have the Lasertec's and haven't had any problems. But like SOG, I slow way down.

I think I've read that guys are using Tourance tires on the Versys to make them more dirty worthy? I'm pretty sure they
are also used on the KLR 650's to make them less dirt and more road oriented.

That Ninja 500 Mugwump posted a pic of is from: www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=171094



Related with overlap:

Dirt Roads - www.ex-500.com/index.php/topic,7466

EX-500 as a Dirt Bike - www.ex-500.com/index.php/topic,410.msg3374

Dual Purpose EX based 500? - www.ex-500.com/index.php/topic,7575
 

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Avon Distanzia's on a Ninja 650 R

This guy is running Avon Distanzia SM's on a Ninja 650 R and seems to like them quite a bit. I may have posted this link before in another thread. It's got some other tires mentioned including the Tourance. Not sure about sizing compatibilities.

www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=329717
 
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