Adventure bikes didn’t interest me until 2010. Until then, I spent most of my moto life riding sportbikes and training/testing on road-racing circuits.
Due to my past, transitioning into the ADV world arrived with multiple challenges.
Two initially stick out—retraining a mindset that only focused on road-racing techniques and the psychological challenge of riding larger ADV bikes off-road. Then came the challenge of swapping between the on- and off-road techniques without a conscious effort.
While already into my 30s, I skipped the usual learning on a smaller off-road bike. Instead, I went big—and super heavy—with a 2002 Suzuki V-Strom DL1000. This bike’s design catered to comfortable upright touring with a few gravel roads here and there. This to me was the perfect platform to truly build skill upon as I tested the ADV scene out, seeing if it was a good fit for my passion-driven moto lifestyle. If not, I thought it’d make a good plow or snow bike.
After my first tour, which included many fire roads, I was more than obsessed. I modded the V-Strom heavily, and after a two years of disciplined self-training through books and videos and classes with the RawHyde Adventures and Jimmy Lewis, I could comfortably take the Strom off the road without worry.
I still have the same love for sportbikes, though, so my current training involves practicing both on- and off-road techniques to ride bigger adventure bikes safer and faster. Nowadays, my ride is the KTM 1190 Adventure R, which to me is the best outright big ADV available.
Most ADV riders I encounter, whether on a new local group ride or big adventure rally, arrive from an off-road background. And when we’re ripping country asphalt, questions surface about my on-road riding style on the bigger adventure touring bike.
The following are the first techniques I discuss, each arriving from the world of sportbikes and road racing.
A quick note: These techniques are best for bigger adventure bikes (BMW R 1250 GS, KTM 1290 Adventure, Triumph Tiger 1200, etc.) shod with at least 50/50 (50 percent on-road, 50 percent off-road) or more street-oriented adventure motorcycle tires. These modern ADV tires offer more traction and feel on-road than a full-out sport tire did 20 years ago. Adventure-motorcycle tire technology improves yearly, allowing riders like me who crave ultimate confidence on and off the road to push the limits further.
I’ve spent the past two years testing multiple 50/50 tires, from the Continential TKC80 to the Bridgestone AX41 to Pirelli Scorpion Rallye STR to the Dunlop Trailmax Mission, and continue to question how they are so good at sportbike speeds and, after taking out a few PSI, super-capable off-road.
With that note aside, the following are some simple strategies borrowed from the sportbike/road-racing world that will help you ride faster on the asphalt and safer.