Fear Reduction

Hi - Two months I bought an '08 TW200 (big fat knobbies!), took and passed the basic MSF course and I'm getting pretty comfortable riding around town and in traffic. I'm a new rider and I'm having a little difficulty overcoming an irrational fear of riding on dirt and gravel roads.

Since the TW was made to go off road too, my buddy and I go on the back roads so we can make it to the woods. Of course this means dirt and gravel roads. Here's the problem, as soon as I leave the pavement and start on dirt or gravel I feel the slight difference in how the bike is handling and I go white-knuckled on the handlebars. I don't wanna go much above 30 or 40 and I take it really easy on the turns, almost to the point that I don't have to lean the bike at all. I seem to be afraid of the front wheel kicking out on me in the dirt or gravel. In my teenage years I dumped a moped in exactly this manner and got a little road rash. Maybe that's why I'm skittish now.

My buddy, who is a much more experienced rider says not to worry about it, that I'll be comfortable in no time.

Are there any words of wisdom out there? How much can I count on the front-wheel traction to keep me from dumping it?

Make sure to switch your riding style. Feel free to get your feet off the pegs, and drag the hell of your boot on the inside leg during the turn; I think this will make you more comfortable if you aren't doing this yet.

You have to relax. You will go down easier if you don't. Just go your pace until you are comfortable. Not sure what a TW200 is, but it is not for really humping off road. So take it easy and enjoy.:thumbsup:

Make sure to switch your riding style.

Move up in the saddle, weight the outside peg, keep your outside elbow up, look ahead to where you want to go (instead of looking for a place to land if you crash!)

Fear will decrease as confidence increases.

Confidence will increase with practice.


I agree with fcr, relax! The TW is a pretty low bike, and not half bad for beginning riding. The front tire will push a bit on gravel and dirt roads, as you don't have the same amount of traction that you have on the street. The deathgrip you get is because you feel like you're losing control of the front tire, because in reality, you are! You just have to learn to accept it. Don't feel bad about crawling around the corners though, as it will eventually come to you.

Your buddy is right, the fear goes with seat time. The front tire will impress you with how much it can take. Also when it does give you can still recover the bike, it just takes practice (read: Dumping it several times).

I haven't ridden a TW but I bet those big round tires are different on gravel you might play with tire pressure 3 psi can make a big difference If you bought it new there is a good chance they are over infalted

Great replies!

I've lowered the tire pressure to ~20psi. The dealership had 30. Why do they do that? It's not safe!

I know dumping it a couple times is inevitable, I just don't want to!

Someone said putting your feet down is a part of off-roading. I can see how that's true. I had the back tire kick out on me once on a muddy road. I instinctively slammed my foot down and the bike righted itself. Is that normally how it's done?

yessir! you did the right thing, and probably avoided ditching it because of that. May I suggest when going into a turn to keep your foot down near the ground, so theres less difference between your foot and the dirt, this can help avoid knee and ankle damage, which can happen when you bring your foot down quickly from the pegs to the dirt.

20 PSI sounds high for the dirt. I know that Yamaha recommends about 15 for the YZ250F and I run 12 in hardpack and on trails. In the sand I will sometimes go as low as 8.

Also a good thing to do to keep the front end from breaking traction in the dirt is to lay off use of the front brake. This can be hard to do - especially since it's the right thing to do on the street. But in the dirt, the front brake can cause the front wheel to wash out if it's pulled too hard. And then you're on your a** - ask me how I know. :thumbsup: Sticking to the rear as much as possible (particularly when lining up for a turn ) will at least keep you upright. Admiiteedly it's a bit unnerving when that rear tire locks but you jsut get used to it.

ease into riding offroad at your own pace. forcing yourself to do something you're not comfortable with will more than likely lead to a crash.

ride ride ride. That's the name of the game. you can only learn so much by reading on the internet. Listen to your more experienced buddy, but don't take his word as law. Watch him and ask him to let you follow him so you can see his techniques for cornering. Experiment with cockpit setups (bar position etc...) and go out and ride. Remember that on-road and off-road body position are rather different. Grab that tank with your thighs, and RELAX and go slow at first. Also, the more weight you have on the front tire in a corner (generally), the better it will handle. Watch MX racing too (a lot), not only is it fun and entertaining to watch, you can also learn body positioning and all that stuff.

Cheers and have a blast!

i dunno i think gravel/dirt roads are fun. locking up the back brake, gettin it sideways revvin it up and dumpin the clutch... well im on a 125 pretty light bike....

with the tw the tires will give you plenty of grip on the dirt and that. the tires on thoses are like monster bike tires.

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