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Help cornering in sand


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Hello all in thumper talk. Brand new to all this and could really use some real help. Brand new to riding a dirt bike. Got in to the sport because of my 2 boys. Oldest is 13 and has little to no fear, my youngest is 9 and is really catching on quick. So as a dad if they can??? Why couldn't I? So I found a used 2013 KTM 125 and love it! Only been to a track 3 times since I bought it. There is a field that is near our home that I go up to practice. It's flat, soft sand, and kind of a short oval. My biggest problem is turning in this soft stuff. I had my oldest watch me and at first the front end seemed to push? So I adjusted the fork settings and adjusted my body position. It really helped but feel slow? How the heck do you carry speed, not wash out, or slide the rear out. I'm getting my butt kicked by my oldest ( which I'm actually very proud of him) I'm 44 years old and weigh 168. Want to learn the right way and have a blast with my boys. Any help or advice would be awesome.

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First of all, congratulations for forming Team HaveDirtWill Ride!

 

125s are a blast to ride, but also a real challenge because of how narrow the powerband is and how suddenly it comes on. Finding traction (to keep the rear from getting away from you) takes technique (throttle control, gear selection, covering the rear brake, body position and much more). But sand is a great surface to train on because it is loose and resistive and slows the dynamics down enough that it becomes easier to grow comfortable when things are loose and out of shape.

 

The best thing you can do is find a companion and mentor to give you advise and instruction. I have in mind Paul Clipper. His book, The Art of Trailriding, is the best compendium of instruction and advice I have ever found. It is Kindle only, but the cool thing about that is that you can have it with you all the time on your phone! You'll appreciate Chapter 8, Traction, where he talks about Shane Watts on his 125, blasting by top riders on 450s by keeping the rear wheel hooked up and tracking while the other guys were putting all their horsepower into impressive (but unproductive) roost. Trust me, this book is great. The title might be misleading, because the trailriding Clipper is writing about is enduros, GNCs, hare and hounds and other competitive two-wheel competition. I've read it through many times, and still learn things from it. Of course, if your boys read it too, they'll still be spanking you, but at a higher level of skill!

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brake early, throttle through. Don't be afraid to weight the front either, i like to sit forward right over the tank, leaning forward head over the bars. Inside foot forward and in, not out and dangling. Also, exaggerate your lean going into the corner. Use your lean to turn, and the front wheel to maintain balance. This requires you to carry speed.  That's the learning curve with sand, the faster you can go, the easier it gets. It just takes seat time.

Edited by Die_trying
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Thanks so much for the advice. I have been trying to master this and...well just ain't found my rhythm yet. Normally what I have done is approach the corner in 2nd, use rear brake and clutch, down shift to 1 and try to rail through and the ending result is me on my butt lol. I guess the old saying is true that if your not falling, you ain't trying lol. I will look for that book and see if I can't find a mentor to help, thanks again. Any tips on the fork settings? I had looked up an article in the MXA mag that had done a write up about my specific bike and have tried to go off those guide lines. Of course I'm a noob to a lot of this so not only I'm I trying to get the bike where it should be but learning the proper technique myself. I have a ton of respect for the folks who do this day in and day out. After riding a street bike for years, what an eye opener the off road world really is! It's by far the most fun work out I have had.

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I find first gear useless in sand, and rarely use second. Wheel speed and momentum is your friend when in sandy areas. like stated above, saddle time and you will get it.

 

If you truly want to become an expert in the sand  take a vacation to some sand dunes. We have some excellent choices here on the Oregon Coast.

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Thanks Dune, I have been trying it in first gear, I am gonna take all the advice given and will definitely try second or third. Would love to see Oregon, never been there. I'm here in Colorado, head east to find the sand, head west to find the rocks. One of the biggest things about my sand cornering is the front end seems to want to push and the rear and is sliding out. This all could just be me and I'm not afraid to admit I have a lot to learn. My goal is to keep up or even beat my 13 yr old lol

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Thanks Dune, I have been trying it in first gear, I am gonna take all the advice given and will definitely try second or third. Would love to see Oregon, never been there. I'm here in Colorado, head east to find the sand, head west to find the rocks. One of the biggest things about my sand cornering is the front end seems to want to push and the rear and is sliding out. This all could just be me and I'm not afraid to admit I have a lot to learn. My goal is to keep up or even beat my 13 yr old lol

 

Where in Colorado? I have to go West for both rocks and sand!

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For cornering in sand, I almost always stay in 3rd. 2nd if it's a really sharp corner. Lean over really far. Falling over in the sand doesn't hurt nearly as bad, so get brave with how far you can lean over.

It kinda depends on the bike and the gearing what gear you have to be in, though. You definitely wanna keep that back tire spinning all the time.

If you're going to be riding dunes, make sure to get a paddle tire! I can't imaging riding on the sand without a paddle. Especially with a 125 2-stroke... 250 2-stroke is juuuust enough to get around in the dunes IMO.

Edited by Thinlineggman
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Sand-the powder of dirt biking. First and foremost-grip the tank with your knees...grip it good. Balls against the tank- never sit back on the seat. As you start to enter the corner lean back and exit leaning way back and never get off the tank. You will notice the amazing control when you do this but easier said than done when trying to dial in every corner. Explanation: Ever notice that when you ride downhill in the sand the bike gets squirrelly? That happens because you are no longer on the throttle pushing the front tire through the sand. The front tire doesn't like to roll in the sand and to make things worse you aren't getting good traction. Gripping the tank gives you control; leaning back gives you better traction which makes it easier to get the front to roll. You will know when you didn't do it right when the front tire turns too hard into a turn and your weight gets thrown over the front; your front is pushing through the sand sideways now and you almost go down. Try not to think "keep the front lite". Think "more traction". I love the sand, I love it when it gets tracked up, I love it when it's in my hair 🙂

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  • 1 month later...

Try taking wider corners at first. Get out of first gear.

No braking or slowing anywhere. Maintain or accelerate the entire corner. Push down hard on the outside foot peg and look ahead a minimum half a corner.

Get your inside leg up. Sand is terrible about grabbing your foot and pulling it behind you. Now you're all off balance.

It does sound crazy but the faster you go the easier it is.

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in general, point the front wheel where you want to go, let the back end break out if necessary. keep the RPM up, use the clutch for speed/traction control, so the motor doesn't bog down. if there is a berm, use it to your advance, steer low into the bottom of the berm and power out, once you nearly around. keep the speed up. The Art of Trail Riding", as mentioned before, has good tips on technique, also, there are instructional videos on youtube. 

Edited by cynicryder
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All of your responses have been great and well appreciated. But now am a little confused...as recommend went on you tube and read and watched many videos and this is where I'm not understanding. As someone mentioned "sit forward on tank" and one of the last posters recommends standing? As for flat corners, I have been sitting forward, weighting the outside peg and getting on the throttle on the exit of corner. This has been the form I have been practicing. I totally agree 2nd gear has been my favorite.

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Your boys brains are like sponges.  Once something works they will repeat it without thinking, without knowing.  Their minds and reflexes adapt quickly.  If they like the sport their learning curve is going to be like a rocket ship.  At our age are learning curve is, well.......   just keep practicing.  The good thing is you enjoy getting beat.  It's going to happen a lot.

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