Riding on Gravel and Unsealed Roads – Motorcycle Safety

motorcycle riding gravel off road

Keep Your Distance From Other Vehicles
Practice On An Off Road Bike

Off Road Motorcycle Tyre

Because you are avoiding the need to brake suddenly on gravel, it is necessary to keep a safe distance from other vehicles.
If group riding, it is a good idea to spread out so that the dust has time to settle, allowing a clear view o
f the other riders.

Cruisers and Sport bikes have tyres designed to grip a sealed road over the greatest surface area.
For this reason, inexperienced riders should learn on an off-road dirt bike or road trail, before attempting to ride a road bike on gravel.

The off-road tyres allow the loose stones between the tread (knobbies) to provide more traction on unpaved surfaces such as loose dirt, mud, sand or gravel.

Don’t Tense Up
Smooth Accelerator Operation
Rear Brake Only

motorcycle riding gravel off road

When riding on gravel it is important to not tense up, to operate a smooth throttle and to slowly apply the brakes.
Most riders and instructors use the rear brake only, and say, if you have to brake, avoid the front brake, and brake gently.
Make your turns wider, turning too sharply can cause loss of traction.

When mentioning not to tense up, this includes relaxing your grip on the handlebars. Please watch the following videos for further understanding.

Road Positioning
Road Surface

motorcycle riding gravel off road

There are usually two lines/grooves in a gravel road that have been firmed down by trucks and cars.
This is safer to ride on than the deep/loose gravel in the centre and on the edges of the road.
With the edges being soft and a mound in the centre of the road, car tyre tracks can provide a safer riding experience.
Keep in mind, however, just like on a sealed road, this surface can still be slippery especially when wet.
If the gravel road does not have tyre grooves, try to ride where the gravel is less dense.

Look Well Ahead Up The Road
Do Not Steer Sharply
Steering Wobble

Off road motorcycle

Don’t focus too much on the road surface, just like on a sealed road look well ahead.
Remember the following saying…
“Look where you want to go and 9 times out of 10 that is where you will go.”
Ensure you don’t steer too sharply or brake quickly, as wet or dry, the surface is slippery.
Because of the loose surface you will have to get used to some wobbling of the steering.

Maintain A Safe Speed
Match Speed With Conditions Ahead

Dirt Motorcycle

The best speed is slow and steady, especially if you have not experienced gravel.
Select and maintain a safe speed to match the road surface, slopes, corners etc.

Remember it is safer and more stable to be moving. Riding on gravel can be an enjoyable experience as long as you always remember to follow some basic safety precautions. There are many locations that are only accessible via unsealed roads, so it is a good idea to become used to travelling safely on these roads.

Conclusion: Learn gravel on a Dirt Bike and when you have had much experience on the road riding a Road Bike, then you may be ready to ride a Road Bike on an unsealed road. We recommend that New Riders should not learn on gravel.

Difficult Surfaces

A number of surfaces can provide a slipping hazard for motorcycles, particularly if the road surface is wet, including painted lane markings and steel surfaces such as manhole covers. To ride safely on slippery surfaces:

Reduce your speed, so that you require less space to stop

Reduce the amount of lean on the motorcycle when riding curves. This is done by slowing down and/or leaning your body into the bend.

Tip: On wet roads you may gain more traction from riding in the tracks made by the car in front of you. However, look out for oil that often collects down the centre of a lane.

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