So you just got your new adventure bike, and you’re eager to hit the open road and head over out of town to the numerous scenic locations just outside the metro. Or perhaps, you’re looking forward to tackling some off-road terrain and light trails aboard your new ADV machine. First of all, it’s great that you’re intending on using your new adventure bike the way it was designed to be used. However, if you are new to the sport of motorcycling, it’s understandable that an adventure bike’s sheer size and heft can be intimidating to you. That said, it could be helpful to take things slow, and get a feel for the bike before heading out somewhere far. Here are a few tips to help you along the way.
Adjust the bike to suit your preferences
Nearly all adventure bikes on offer in the market today come with a certain degree of adjustability. Some high-end models like the BMW R 1250 GS, come equipped with electronically adjustable suspension, as well as a slew of other features which adjust the way the bike rides and handles according to your preferences. With this in mind, it’s always a good idea to adjust the bike’s suspension in such a way that you can get both feet on the ground comfortably and confidently. It also helps to adjust other features as well, such as your clutch and brake levers, the angle of your handlebar, and your rear view mirrors. Remember that riding a big bike is a physically taxing activity, and being comfortable and at ease goes a long way in keeping your ride safe and enjoyable.
If you’ve purchased a more premium model which comes equipped with loads of high-tech electronic features, it may be a wise idea to ensure that all rider aids, such as traction control, ABS, and wheelie control, are activated. It may also be helpful to set the bike to the lowest power mode, in order to prevent any unwanted surprises, especially when you move on to doing the next few items on this list.
Now that you’ve got your bike all set up, it’s now time to protect ourselves and our bikes from any untoward incidents. By this time, we assume you’ve already acquired a full set of riding gear. If you haven’t, then it’s time to head on over to your nearest motorcycle gear shop and pick out a set of gear. For helmets, it’s recommended that you get either a full-face or a modular unit, in order to have maximum protection. Mesh type armored jackets, gloves, and riding jeans are a good option, as well, especially considering our country’s hot, tropical climate. Lastly, a pair of moto-specific riding boots can also save you from a world of pain, should things go sideways unexpectedly.
Apart from protecting yourself, you could also invest in a set of crash cages, crash guards, and axle sliders for your motorcycle. It’s unavoidable, especially in adventure riding, that your quest for success will lead to beyond the confines of paved roads, and into the uncertainty of riding off-road. In times like these, having adequate protection for your bike can spell the difference between you riding home, and calling for rescue after your bike has become a heavy paperweight after a slight tip-over.
Practice low speed maneuvers
Before dipping your toes in the exciting world of adventure riding, it’s very important to gain confidence in handling your bike in low-speed situations. After all, when the terrain gets pretty gnarly, it’s often safest to dial down your speed and focus on things like proper line selection and maintaining your balance. That said, practicing tight, low-speed turns, and sudden changes in direction in a closed and controlled environment, such as an empty parking lot, or an empty lot in your neighborhood, can pay dividends in the long run.
There are loads of tutorials to be found online designed specifically to help you learn how to do low-speed maneuvers on an adventure bike. It is, however, common for tiny mishaps and spills to occur while practicing. After all, we’re looking at machines weighing over 500 lbs here. This is where your safety gear and motorcycle protection come into play. With the proper crash guards and sliders fitted, a bike can tip over and not even get a scratch.
Take it slow
Getting on the bike and practicing your skills can get a little intimidating. The stress and tension can build up, and can result in you being unnecessarily stiff on the bike. As is the case with most sports, you just need to take a deep breath and relax. Being tensed up on the bike will result in your inputs being very rough. In motorcycling, smoothness is the key. It also helps to keep a calm and zen-like state of mind every time you ride your motorcycle. Adventure bikes are very flashy machines, and chances are you’ll have eyes glued on you every time you take your bike out for a spin. Don’t allow this attention to pressure you into doing something you’re not ready for. As the saying goes, ride like you have nothing to prove.
If at the end of the day, you’ve followed all the above steps, and yet you still can’t seem to master handling the heft of your adventure bike, don’t fret. Everyone learns at their own pace. The worst thing you could do at this point would be to throw in the towel and quit riding. As the age-old saying goes, practice makes perfect. Perhaps you may want to keep riding on the road for the time being until you’ve gained the confidence to ride off-road. Once you do gain the confidence, take it slow, and start by riding on light gravel roads before tackling any of the gnarly stuff. Motorcycling is all about fun, developing your skills, and exploring the world around you. Take your time, have fun, and most importantly, ride safe.