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Old School Riding Techniques - New School Bike

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Dwight, I very much enjoyed reading your bio. At 49 years old, I have traveled a very similar path. I share your heros and love for off-road racing. Unfortunately, my dreams of becoming an ISDT/ISDE rider never became reality (sidetracked by desert racing). Through reading your bio, I imagine what could have been had I stayed focused. Congratulations on your accomplishments! You have my respect.

I purchased a KTM 450 EXC last May. I’m thrilled with the bike and have had a great time riding and setting it up. Now that the bike is 100% I’m working on getting myself up too speed. When I bought the KTM I had not ridden/raced since I sold my 1984 Husky 400 XC. Yup a 20 year layoff. Over the past year I have lost 50 lbs and am definitely in better shape than I have been for years.

My problem is making the switch from the old school riding techniques acquired racing Huskys, Pentons and KTM for 15 years, to adapting to a bike that does everything differently and requires totally different input from the rider. I am so programmed to ride with much less suspension, on a bike that slides rather than tracks, that I feel like I’m fighting the bikes handling, rather that flowing with the bike.

As I said before, the bike is set up very well. The suspension is spot on. The tires stick like glue. The layout (bars, seat and pegs) is perfect to my style and size. It’s not the bike.

Is this a common problem (old school to new school) or is it more physiological than physical? What suggestions can you make to help with the transition? What Techniques can I work on? Any input will be greatly appreciated.

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Hey welcome back! :cry:

I went through the same thing a couple of years ago, after a 20+ year layoff. For me it was just time on the bike. I just had to realize that a modern bike will take care of so much that used to knock the old school bikes all over the place. Now I'm able to relax and let the bike do it's part of the work. I'm sure Dwight can be a lot more help on this, but like I said, for me I just had to ride enough to adapt and get comfortable. :cry:

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It's all about finding this bike's "sweet spot." Most new bikes are very similar in their riding characteristics that its 90% rider & 10% bike. Sounds simple but it isn't.

For me (43), riding is a lot of work. My buddy (42) who's been racing for years is so relaxed on his machines, yes machines. Really doesn't matter what he's riding. Dirt bike, quads, class 1 cars. Very fluid and fast. I can only hope to be half as good as that. I've only ridden big bore dual purpose Thumpers until I picked up the '02 WRF last June. What a difference! Just the (lack of) weight alone is inspiring. One thing I that I found out is the newer bikes like to be ridden fast. The suspension technology is so much better now.

Lots of good info here at TT. I've learned more here in the last year than in the past 20. Good luck & keep the rubber side down. :cry:

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I have done some similar things. Layed off ridding for many years. Family issues, kids, wife doesn't understand bikes except that they are dangerous. And "Her kids aren't getting hurt on those death traps"! Anyway now kids are heading off, I'm just over 50 ;):D That sucks! But now I'm going ridding! :o I have always had 2 smoke dirt bikes so this is my first thumper. DRZ400. It does take some different style, Like I needed to loose 50 lbs, so far I lost 40 and counting. I'm back in the jim almost every day(wife likes that). Blood pressure down (except when I ride :D ). I find some that many things come back quickly, some don't. One thing I really noticed is when in doubt, don't let off. My old DT-1 would kill me if I hammered it when in trouble. The suspension etc couldn't take it. The DRZ400 saves me if I don't chicken out. It can do things I can't, and that saves me. I have become a believer in the new crash gear like knee pads, elbow guards, and the stuff from Skeletools. Remember when cowboy boots and a helmet meant you were race ready? :D My wife thinks it is just a middle age crisis :p . I just rode with a couple guys that are in thier mid 70's, and I couldn't keep up :) They said the only time they have weight problems is when they don't ride regularly :) . Oh well I'm off to Moab today. Ride safe, ride often,stay young :D

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Oldmanb777 thanks for the encouragement! It amazes me how may of us "Old Guys" are getting back into riding. It's good for us and it's good for the sport. We may not bring earth shaking speed, but we bring a lot of experience and some damn good stories.

Since I first posted this thread, I've discovered that my problem probably is not old school riding technique vs. new school bike, but rather 2 stroke vs. 4 stroke riding technique. Riders tell me they're jumping back and forth between vintage and current bikes, with far less adjustment than jumping between current 2 & 4 stroke bikes.

So is the key to my success mastering the technique of riding a 4 stroke?

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Take the time to get you & your bike connected. I do the same deal, riding vintage bikes versus new eqiupment all the time, although I've never quit riding there is a adjustment period. Take the time to learn your new machine, ride to have fun & don't worry about being fast!!, stay in your comfort zone & have fun. :)

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Welcome back. First set your suspension up correctly by the " Golden Rule" . This applys only to KTMs . Make sure you have the correct springs for your weight. To check the rear spring is easy. Set static sag at 45mm, then sit on bike. Have someone check your rider sag. It should be about 115mm to 120mm. If more than120mm you need stiffer spring. If less than 110mm go to lighter spring. Static sag is best between 45mm and 50mm but can be as little as 40mm. Stock fork springs work for me , I weigh 176lbs. I use a 9.2kg spring on rear.

Also go to a more predictable tire like the Pirelli MT16 on rear. This tire will allow you to slide predictably. I use the MT16 front, MT83(Scorpion Pro), and MT18 on front end. Set your suspension up as plush as possible but not a soggy baby buggy ride.

You want the bike to do the work for you. Sit more forward than you are used to and get those elbows up.

Good luck,

Dwight

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