Gravel and Motorcycling

by Michelle Grant
(Victoria, BC, Canada)

Me and My Harley 1200

Me and My Harley 1200

Hi I am a novice rider ie.700km new. Things are going quite smooth although a couple spills in the parking lot and and one on a very steep hill. Learning to ride the motorcycle has been the freedom I've always craved. With 4 kids I just needed to get out and do something on my own and with my husband.

The last ride we took I was turning off onto some gravel to rest and I thought I was going slow enough to get onto it safely. Well needless to say it wasn't slow enough. I figure I was going 20km in first. The bike jerked right out of my hands to the left and down I skid. Thankfully I had my leathers and helmet I still hit my head and scraped my hip. but it could have been worse. Will this stop my from riding? I don't think so, I have learned a life lesson. I have enrolled in a safety course so that maybe those corners won't be so daunting but as for the gravel... please slow RIGHT down before approaching it.

Thank you for this girl ride web site. It's great to see others girly stories

Comments for Gravel and Motorcycling

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Apr 25, 2010
Dirt BIke
by: Anonymous

I learned on a dirt bike on gravel, but I still travel very carefully on a street bike. I think with a dirt bike you get used to the squirrelly tail, so it makes you a bit less apprehensive with the street bike. But still, a tire rolling off a large piece can make for a spill. Lots of great advice here!

Jun 12, 2009
See if You Can Find a Mentor
by: megaira

See if you can find an experienced rider to hop on your bike and ride it on gravel in front of you - it's not to make you feel that you should be able to just go do what they're doing, but to give you an idea of what your bike can do and take a little of the fear edge off. My husband did this for me on my bike - ran all over. I was still scared to death to start out, but it helped get rid of the gremlin telling me it wasn't possible to make a turn in that space, etc.

If that's not an option, here are a few tips:

- David Hough's Proficient Motorcycling is a great book and gives some good tips and an understanding of what happens to your bike in less secure traction.

- As others have said, keep off the front brake and use the rear (not enough to skid). Just like a bicycle in gravel.

- No sharp turns and as you learned: slow speeds. Try to hit the gravel as straight on as possible. Look for the flattest area you can see, as well, initially. Coming off of gravel, if there's a ledge or bump to go over, try to hit that as straight as possible as well.

- Remember to look where you want to go. Try to keep your hands light, and your weight low on the pegs if you can. The bike is going to sometimes feel a bit squirrelly - keep reminding yourself: breathe, relax. Sometimes a little throttle (power to the rear tire) can straighten you out a bit.

- Find a gravel parking lot and practice a bit - there's lots of different surfaces there - slippery packed dirt, ruts, washboard, slushy gravel - it is worth taking the time to practice a bit so you don't find yourself startled and tense...you'll also be able to trust yourself and the bike a bit more. Parks are a good bet to try it out.

- A dirt class is definitely not a bad idea, if you can swing it.

- Try to avoid mud puddles if possible. Puddles are usually pretty slick under the water - not good starting out.

- With parking lot practice, practice feathering the clutch - it'll help quite a bit in managing your bike on gravel.

Overall: practice! Good luck!

Jun 03, 2009
by: Anonymous

I hit the gravel two weeks into riding - in front of at least 50 old school hard core bikers near Phoenix Arizona! TOTALLY embarrassing. But I learned to not hit the front brake on gravel and also to not try and do a sharp turn either. I didn't try gravel for several months again until I was out riding with two couples and they went to a popular outdoor place - I noticed the gravel and dirt and my heart started pounding lol But I went slow and didn't make any sudden turns or stops and did fine

Jun 03, 2009
by: Anonymous

I did the same thing on my first road trip. I was going slow but used front brake. If you used your front brake probably what caused it. Fortunately I was wearing all the gear and didn't get hurt. Glad you didn't get hurt either and don't give up.

Jun 03, 2009
Nice Bike
by: Rene L.

Nice bike Michelle. Congrats on becoming a new rider. I absolutely vote yes on your plan to take the MSF course. You will get so much valuable safety information and gain confidence to make your riding much more fun.

Good luck!

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