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Discussion Starter #1
Specifically riding your 400 or 650 on gravel roads? And no, not this thread that is speaking about gravel over top of pavement – yes, we all know that's a treacherous situation regardless of the style of two-wheel contraption you're on.


Story time.

I'd had a 15 year long hiatus from bike riding until 2011, when I no longer had a significant other to piss&moan about riding. I was still employed and living in San Antonio. There's lots and lots of small twisty roads to the west and north of SA – out in The Hill Country.

See attached photo – I didn't want a big bike so I bought a new 2 year old 'zuki 800. As with any bike, I added some farkles and 'stuff'.

Loved it! Rode about 7500 miles in 6 months – even skipping long rides in the middle of the Texas summer.

Forced retirement happened. Laid off at age 61 & 3 months. Nice enough severance to get me through until the house sold and I could embark on a traveling tour of the west, towing a trailer and having the Boulevard in the bed of the truck – loaded/unloaded with folding aluminum ramps – easy-peasy BTW.

On my tour of the west I was on the southern Oregon coast on some of their small roads that weave in and out of the various headlands to the west of 101. I was on a chip sealed – no center stripe – narrow 2 lane when it turned to a 3 track gravel road. Stopped and looked at the GPS and it showed that it was a through road – OK – packed gravel in the tire tracks – no issues. I didn't bomb along at 50MPH+, but nicely putt-putted along at 25-30 MPH. Until... Until I came to the section that the county had just spread new gravel over. Not rolled with a roller yet, just a dump truck spreading a 2-3” thick layer of loose gravel.

Needless to say, sitting on a cruiser style bike & not being able to stand on the pegs to allow the bike to move around under you was an ordeal on creepy-crawly with lots of foot paddling to stay upright. I did make it, but a fun time it was not.

Later on, I got on a few more roads here in the Sierra foothills east of Sacramento where the traction wasn't all that great – that's the time I decided that a more gravel road capable bike would be a good thing – enter the BMW GS 1150 that I rode for about 6 months before 'the crash'.

My intro thread has a little more detail on the crash if you're interested.

Anyway, the crash happened and over the past few days I've been sitting various motorcycles & scooters trying to find a seat that won't cause grevious pain to my hips/pelvis. Motorcycles where I have to straddle the seat and put my feet on pegs are an immediate no-no. I do not have to go for even a 2-minute test ride to know that this ain't gonna fly.

The several scooters I've sat, on the other hand, ranged from too much pressure on the coccyx to feeling like sitting on my recliner – near as comfortable as it gets sitting down (post crash). So I think I could physically ride a scooter with a good seat.

But... The guys that sold me the GS – A&S BMW in Roseville (good folks BTW) strongly recommended that I look at a narrow dirt bike – specifically a Suzuki DRZ400 – if I want to get out on gravel roads like I've described above. Scooters and their small wheels/tires are a no-no. This advice from a BIG guy that frequently takes his 1200GS to Baja and SoCal with 6 other buddies and bombs out and about on dirt tracks that I'd hesitate to go on over 10 MPH in a high clearance Jeep. I'm talking baby-head roller rocks and steep drop-offs where it's nearly straight up on one side and the opposite is 100 to 500 feet to the bottom of the canyon.

These kinda roads and NOT what I'm wanting to ride on a scooter.

I'm wanting to be able to go down a graveled county road that might be a 4 to 8 mile cutoff between other 'paved' roads. And yes, too gnarly and I'll turn around and find a more traveled way.

So what's your personal experience with these sorts of maintained county roads? You know the ones, the country runs a road grader over them 2-3 times a year and they smooth the washboards down to something not quite teeth rattling rough.

Can your scoot – 400 or 650 – handle these sorts of surfaces? Can I expect to be able to ride on these sorts of country roads with ease or great trepidation? And just to be 100% positive here, I am not talking about gravel on top of pavement. But pure graveled roads.

Should I give up my idea of getting on a graveled road from time to time and just stick with roads that are at the least, chip sealed?

I wanna get back on two wheels, but I also want to have realistic expectations so I'm not finding myself laying in the ditch 5 miles from pavement just cause the scoot wouldn't handle it.

What say you denizens of BUSA? Too much to ask of the Burgman or within its capabilities?

Thanks in advance for relating your personal experiences.
 

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One thing my '03 400 is not--is an "off-road" (as in paved roads) vehicle. It can be done however it is not one of those experiences that get's you to where you are going with that big "Burgman Grin"...
 

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Discussion Starter #3
One thing my '03 400 is not--is an "off-road" (as in paved roads) vehicle. It can be done however it is not one of those experiences that get's you to where you are going with that big "Burgman Grin"...
Sigh... As I expected.

Perhaps I need to modify my desire to get off of pavement? There's still lots of that 'out there', but there's also those stretches where there ain't any. And it's those that I want to get through - the few miles of gravel between the small pavements.

Thanks Cliff for your input.
 

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Don't go by one opinion- I regularly take the Burgman 650 on unpaved roads.
I do not take the Burgman off road tho it happened by accident.

Those are rocks not leaves...had to channel my earlier trials experience but same principles apply
Because of the low CofG it flat foots easily and never having to shift is nice.





Early days of GPS and buddy's new unit insisted it was a road ....it WAS a streambed. It was more uphill than it looks and I had to gun it a bit but the Burgman's ECVT was excellent ...you just have watch "very slow" as it will release at about 3 mph and catch you off guard going downhill slowly......it's a lot of bike.

Just stay out of the sand and mud. Dry or even damp dirt and gravel is fine tho serious washboard will rattle your teeth.
I've bottomed mine on pavement and off and it always stays stable.....even bottomed out on a frost heave at 150 kph....I did slow down after that one.....gritted my teeth watching buddy's Vstrom float over it.....

My own TomTom app is usually pretty good keeping me off gravel and I was winding through lovely roads in West Virginia ....one led up past a camp, beautiful lake....got narrower, more remote, steeper, switchbackier and I kept telling myself makybe time to turn around but the distance to the turn was not all that much .....less than going back downhill....so I persisted then noticed a very flat line on the GPS and the light bulb went off.

Up and up and up and where do you end??? The Blue Ridge Parkway of course. :D

Had a lovely jaunt along for a few miles and then dropped back down to my motel.

Much fun. I love the random adventures Winding Road takes me on. Kid and I had such fun in Quebec ....little stretches of pure pleasure.

This was a sweet one of many in late fall in West Virginia



IF you have some dirt background. The Burgman 650 is fine for noodling along.

If you don't, get your on pavement skills down and take dirt and gravel in little doses and learn how to brake safely.
It's lovely and will improve your on pavement skills.
 

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Try to avoid gravel like the plague. One more type of road that's trying to kill me. :)
 

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Take it in small doses then when you have no choice it won't kill you ( construction etc )
 

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I have driven my Honda Reflex 250 extensively (thousands of miles) on gravel roads. My advice is to avoid it if you can, and go very slow (~ 20 mph) if you can't.
 

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Ditto to most of the comments. It can be done, but I wouldn't plan on it as a regular mode of transport.
 

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I had a 400 ... Now have a 650. Both are capable on gravel. The most capable of any bike I ever had.... I Think b/c of the auto trans .... Always in the "friction" zone:). So if you don't mind washing your scoot more often hit the dirt or gravel.
Sirkitrider
 

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I think few maintained gravel roads are the excessively soft stuff that is near impossible for me) to ride. Unfortunately, my driveway is soft gravel. I'm going to work in some finer material to firm it up, more like road base. Generally, road gravel has some fines in it so, the rock doesn't float around. I've had my 400 on such and, it did fine.
 

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I do not go looking for gravel roads on my 650's but I will not turn tail and run ether. I had a 20 mile section up in Wyoming that at 45 MPH it was fine till the corners and 20 MPH was it for them. Just take it easy.
 

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If you do go looking your speed and comfort will improve

Good unpaved roads are easy and you can cruise at 45-60 kph or more.

Soft gravel is very tricky on any machine.

Ruts...Burgman has very little clearance and mud and sand fugedaboudit.
 

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Travelled a few miles on gravel roads. OK generally if you take it easy. But one time I was in a hurry took the wrong road and was doing 60mph (100KMH) when the bitumen ran out. A bit of excitement, eased of the throttle and did not touch the brakes until I was down to a reasonable speed, about 20 mph. No hassle, but would not want to do it too often.

Another time friend suggested we take a specific road to their new house as in any direction if was gravel. In fact this turned out to be the longer road and had just been graded so the gravel was rather deep. We made it but could have done without it.

Stay off sand, they don't like it at all. Same for mud.

Good travels.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks For The Input!

I knew these things are not dirt bikes, and I was pretty sure about their off-road capability being near nil, but it's good to see they're not too different than the cruiser style bike in my original post, in that it's not comfortable, but if ya don't get crazy ya can make it.

The owner? manager? at A&S yesterday defined off road as anything without hard pavement. OK... He's in the business of selling premium road and adventure bikes to rich folks that are (sorta) like Harley riders in their own cliquish-ness.

But for me, off road was when I took the dirt bike out into the logging cuts and all there were for 'roads' was the skid trails where a cat and arch dragged the logs out to the loading landing. Anything less? A f'n freeway!

But... sadly, life has intervened and that sort of wild craziness is no longer in the cards.

Bottom line that I see in the thread is this: gravel roads OK, but as slow and as few as possible, but don't avoid 'em.

Thanks for your input!
 

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There is another thread on this forum featuring a tricked-out white 650 with a white seat. Let me put it this way, never mix a white seat with a soft gravel road.
 
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I knew these things are not dirt bikes
It is a good idea for a new scooter product though. If Suzuki could somehow merge a Vstrom with a Burgman.....give it the adventure capability (with side luggage options) of a Vstrom and the automatic transmission (etc.) of a Burgman......could be a very attractive package.
 

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I've ridden both my 400 and my 650 on gravel and dirt roads many times. It works OK as long as the surface is hard packed and not to rutted.

Where you will get into trouble fast is if the surface turns soft. The tires do not have a tread pattern that handles that well at all. If it turns soft and deep you will just dig in and have to push the bike out.

As for as rutted roads, the way the floorboards are set up it's difficult to get your feet under you which can make negotiating those tricky. That and you are dealing with low ground clearance and short suspension travel. As others have said, it can be done but you need to take it easy.

I don't run with fear from gravel or dirt roads but if there is a paved option I will take it every time. If you want to ride those kind of roads there are better options than your typical scooter.
 

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exactly.
If you get into sand or mud....you are in for a bunch of huffing and puffing.
 

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It is a good idea for a new scooter product though. If Suzuki could somehow merge a Vstrom with a Burgman.....give it the adventure capability (with side luggage options) of a Vstrom and the automatic transmission (etc.) of a Burgman......could be a very attractive package.
The upcoming Honda Africa Twin adventure is DCT...and 440 lb....yummy.

 
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