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Dualsporting is an awesome thing! You can go just about anywhere, see scenery that the average Joe or Jane would never have a chance to view, and ride both street and dirt, depending on your preference. With its popularity, dualsporting has a whole new outcropping of riders, too. Many riders are completely new to the sport and may not know some of the tricks of the trade. Below is a list of suggestions and ideas that will make your next dualsport adventure more enjoyable. Yes, these tips lean heavily toward the dirt side of dualsporting, so you new dirt riders can actually apply some of these tried and true ideas to your dirt bike, also. There are also some road bike tips. All of these ideas may or may not apply to you, so just pick and choose. Of course a BMW GS rider may not care about chain lube, just as a Suzuki DR rider may not care about a fairing. These ideas are not the gospel of dualsporting, but are intended to let the dualsport rider retain a high SPG (smiles per gallon) factor. Happy dualsporting!
- Carry a small, functional first aid kit. Doesn't hurt to have a small snakebite kit too. Murphy's Law: If you have it, you won't need it!
- Carry a roll of mechanic's/bailing wire and a roll of Hundred-Mile-Per-Hour Tape (a.k.a.: Duct Tape). Those two items will fix most anything.
- Carry more tools than you think you need. Of course, towing a rolling Craftsman Toolbox behind your scoot is overkill and makes your bike handle like a water buffalo. What tools to take you ask? When you work on your bike at home, ONLY use the tools in your toolkit. You will eventually acquire the proper amount of tools that you may need on the trail. Murphy's Law again. Also, don't forget things like a Swiss Army knife, etc. to help with many types of fixes and repairs.
- Run heavy-duty tubes and enjoy considerably fewer flats.
- Carry a minimum of two tire irons and learn how to fix tires out on the trail or always ride with some poor, unsuspecting, tire-changing friend, whom you will eventually be indebted to for large sums of bribe money.
- Carry a spare tube and make sure it's a 21-incher. A front tube will also work as a rear tube if needed. You can carry it on your fanny pack or backpack. CycoActive [800-491-2926] makes a cool little tube bag that mounts to your front or rear fender that makes one less thing for you to carry on your bod.
- Carry a pressurized can of tire repair spooge. If you get a pinhole leak in a tube, this can of goo may get you home without having to actually disassemble the tire to repair. A car can of this stuff will work, but are bulky, so get a smaller can at your local bike shop.
- Tighten the clutch and front brake lever perches just enough so that they can rotate in a crash without breaking the lever. Even better, install Bark Busters or something comparable like the Acerbis Handsavers. Aside from saving you from pinballing between trees, you will never have to buy replacement levers again.
- Install plastic hand guards over the Bark Busters. This doubles as wind protection to the fingers on a cold ride and will keep rain somewhat off your gloves. If you have the hand guards that come back over the top of your grips, BE SURE to hack saw a slit on each side of each guard, so the top flexes forward. This way if you go over the bars, your hands won't be stuck inside the guards, therefore breaking your wrists. Ouch!
- Use medium strength Loc-Tite on most every nut and bolt on the bike so they don't vibrate off at the least expected moment, unless you're riding into a cave and need to find your way back out. Use the red stuff for the gnarly, larger bolts.
- Carry some spare money in your toolbag, preferably loonies and a twenty. Forgetting to bring your wallet makes it difficult to barter for petrol with a gas station attendant, woodcutter or logger.
- Bring matches and store them in a zip-lock bag. Better yet, get a compact survival kit. If you break down at the summit of Mount Everest, a fire will be your best friend.
- Always carry a map. This way if you get lost, at least you'll know what state you got lost in. Better yet, get a good map and make photocopies. This way the original map is still legible, last longer and you can fold the photocopied map into a pretzel if you want. They may even help in an emergency if you need to build a fire.
- Get an odometer that has a trip meter that resets (forward and back) in tenths or be really trick and get an enduro computer. This makes riding a dualsport event a breeze. Moose Racing and ICO have excellent computers that also works as a speedometer. Computers also allow you to sync your speedo to match the unit used to lay out an event. In other words, speedometer error is then kept to an absolute minimum, plus it's always easy to resynch back up with a roll chart should you get lost.
- Bring raingear. Remember this is the Maritimes and rain is a way of life (along with webbed feet & rust).
- Carry some cold weather gear. You can always remove clothing, but donning it when you don't have any is ugly. Hypothermia is cold and can be a sneaker. You can also buy a newspaper and stuff it inside your jersey and pants for cheap insulation. Surgical gloves help keep the pinkies warm, also.
- Carry goggle or face-shield cleaner. Pledge furniture polish and a small terry-cloth towel work excellent, fill in the divots on the lens or fairing shield, plus the Pledge will make rain bead up and run off the lens in the event of showers. Your friends will also comment how you smell "lemon fresh."
- Use a no-fog cloth on the inside of the goggle or face-shield lens. You can only hold your breath for so long when you fog up in cold weather or rain. Use the aforementioned Pledge on the outside of the lens.
- Carry a neck kerchief. It can filter dust from your lungs, help keep branches from cutting your jugular or just plain keep your neck warm. Plus it makes you look like John Wayne.
- Get a map holder. CycoActive has some really nifty ones that mount to your forearm or crossbar, so you don't have to constantly pull the map out of your jacket. You can read while you ride. GPS's work well too! Just remember to carry spare batteries and keep them dry.
- Run DOT legal knobby tires if possible. This applies to those folks that are more into the more-aggressive, off-road style. Most stock dualsport tires are wimpy once dirt is encountered and heaven help you if they meet the smallest area of mud! If you have a dirt bike, run your used dirt knobbies on your dualsport bike. This way you'll get twice the life. Just don't plan on doing any road racing…
- Don't modify your exhaust unless it makes it quieter. Everyone hates loud bikes, especially those who don't ride and they vote, too. This is motorcyclings' worst enemy and I cannot stress this enough. Less sound equals more ground! Promote Team Stealth. Sneer at anyone with a loud bike.
- Wear riding shorts under your pants. Aftermarket companies make these and they will make your cheeks much happier after a long ride. Bicycle shorts also work, but make sure they have something like chamois in the buttocks area. Monkey butt bites!
- Don't ride by yourself. Your worst riding buddy will suddenly become your best friend when you break down in the middle of Timbuktu. If you do go ride by yourself, let someone know where you're riding before you leave. A rescue unit makes for an unhappy sweep crew.
- Carry a camera. Dualsporting allows you to go where no one else can and provides numerous scenic vistas that you'll want to take home.
- Bring along some food & water. It's surprising how good even an old, moldy, half-eaten Powerbar tastes when you're hungry and convenience stores with gallons of thirst quenching fluids are not too plentiful in the forest (fortunately).
- If you run old-style, conventional forks, install Race Tech's Gold Valve Emulator fork mod. This nifty little unit will make your ho-hum conventional fork work like a cartridge fork and is well worth the money.
- Carry a small, wood saw or wood zig so that you can cut small logs out of your path. This is especially important in spring after the heavy snows have dropped small trees across main paths. There are many types of compact saws available at your local hardware store, whether folding or chain type.
- Buy or make a headlight lens guard. Plastic, driving-light lens guards can be purchased at auto parts stores and can work okay, but Meier Plastics, Dual Star (www.dual-star.com) and Steahly Off-Road Products also sell some sano Plexiglas lens protectors for many dualsport bikes. Price a new headlight lens and you'll become a believer.
- Use an O-ring chain. They will last many times longer than a standard chain, so the benefits more than outweigh the slightly higher cost.
- Connect a wire or chain between the frame and brake pedal. Do the same between the frame and shift lever. This will keep small sticks and low flying creatures out of these sensitive areas and protects them from bending like string cheese. Many aftermarket companies make these items, also.
- Run heavier springs on both ends. Most dualsport bikes are horribly under sprung and will wallow like a sick jersey cow when dirt is encountered. Stiffer boingers will actually make your bike ride smoother and softer when set up properly.
- Make friends with your local welder, you never know when you may need a quick fix.
- Wear comfortable protective gear like a chest protector, elbow guards and knee guards. It's worth it in the long run. My motto is: Pain Hurts, so dress for the crash and not for looks.
- Buy a good quality, rather-large enduro jacket. Buy it big enough so that you can wear shoulder pads underneath. Also, make sure that it is fairly water resistant and has plenty of pockets. There are a few dualsport jackets out now that have built in plastic shoulder and elbow pads that are ideal, also. Many jackets, like the Moose, have huge zippers that allow you to partially unzip your jacket for extra ventilation.
- When riding a dualsport event that is using a rollchart, use bright highlighter pens to mark the danger sections on the course chart beforehand. This way you will be better alerted before you confront the dangerous sections.
- Always run scotch tape over the entire full length of the backside of the rollchart. This way if it starts raining and the chart gets wet; it won't tear apart like soggy pancakes.
- Install an aftermarket air filter. Most dualsport bikes are fairly restrictive on the carburetor intake side of things. By opening the airbox a bit and installing a less restrictive air filter, you may even gain a few ponies. While you're at it, do this old desert-racer trick: oil only the "inside" of the foam air filter. This way when you're in a very dusty ride, the filter won't pack up solid. The filter will still be able to breath, even though riddled with dirt.
- (For older bikes with drum brakes) File down your brake shoes. Get a file and file grooves from side-to-side at a 45-degree angle on the actual pad. Make the grooves about one or two inches apart from each other. These grooves will channel water off of the pads after a creek crossing. This was mandatory for old Husky riders. The reason they were fast on wet events was because they couldn't stop!
- Lube anything that moves. Use light oil like WD-40, Bel-Ray 6-in-1 or silicone spray to lube important moving points after you wash your bike. Items to oil are kick-starter pivots, folding footpegs, bar levers, shift levers, brake pedal, side stand, etc.
- Run lower tire pressure when riding mostly in the dirt. A good range is about 15 to 25 psi. for dualsporting, depending on the tonnage of your bike. The extra traction is worth it off road.
- Next time you change your tires, be sure to install rim locks on both rims if your bike is not pre-equipped. This will keep your tube from slipping in the rim and allow you to run the lower air pressure. Oh, and don't forget to rebalance the rim with some girthy spoke weights, once the rim locks are installed, otherwise the wheels will shake like a paint mixer down the highway.
- Oil those cables. Most bike shops will gladly sell you a cable luber thingy and, combined with a light lubricant, you'll be impressed at how much easier that clutch lever is to pull in afterwards. Your bike will even feel faster!
- Carry spare items in your tool kit like various nuts, bolts and a spare spark plug.
- Carry a good quality backpack. You really won't notice it that much while riding.
- Wear earplugs on long rides, if you wear a dirt helmet. The little foam type are ideal and comfortable when riding long sections of pavement while getting to your favorite riding area.
- When riding on dirt roads, treat them like pavement and ALWAYS stay on the right. Becoming a hood ornament for a Peterbilt truck can really ruin your day.
- Install a larger aftermarket gas tank. Clarke Products is one company that has a large selection. Some dualsport bikes can only go about 75 miles before they are gasping for petrol. Knowing you have plenty of gas helps if you end up lost in the middle of nowhere.
- Install an inline gas filter. The stock fuel petcock filters may not have the filtering capabilities that you would like. While you're at it, drain your carburetor float bowls at least twice a year. Why? The fuel filters will keep out the crunchy mung and drool, but won't keep out water that might be in the gas. Allowing water to sit at the bottom of the float bowl long term allows the formation of things best left unsaid.
- ALWAYS pick up your trash and pack it out. Set a good example of dualsporting and pick up someone else's trash, too.
- Drive with your headlight on high beam. You will be noticed from farther away and have less chance of a head-on collision.
- Keep the racing with your buddies to a minimum. At least keep it down when there is any non-motorcyclists around. They see it as a dirty, loud and unacceptable sport. Change their minds.
- Carry a spare throttle cable. In a pinch, you can shift without a clutch, but you need a throttle cable.
- Don't ride on private property without permission. ‘Nuff said.
- Get to know your Forest Service representatives and rangers. They know all the little back areas that most people don't and can suggest a good ride. Also, make them aware of dualsporting and our needs as responsible forest users.
- Go to an auto parts store, buy a package of metal, valve-stem caps and install one on each tire. Make sure that they have the fitting on the end of the cap that allows you to remove the valve core. Besides allowing you to reliably remove the valve core in the event of a flat, it will also seal in air if the core has a leak.
- Buy foldable mirrors. Acerbis makes a small unit that mounts to your bars and will quickly fold out of the way, should you decide to hit some narrow trail. Baja Designs and Meier Plastics sell an even better one that folds out of the way completely and won't vibrate.
- Run smaller turn signals after you break your originals. The rear blinkers seem to have a face-off with inanimate objects first. Many aftermarket companies sell smaller blinkers that work great and don't stick out like a shish kabob. White Brothers now sells a flexible mount for these blinkers that allow them to take an impact in a more reliable fashion than the stockers.
- Carry some "Mountain Money". When you're out in the middle of a deep, dark forest and nature calls - a roll of toilet paper beats poison oak any day. Plus, when you're the only one who was smart enough to carry Mountain Money, you could conceivably sell it for $5 a sheet to your riding buddies!
- Carry a towrope - another Murphy's Law.
- Carry a three-foot piece of spare fuel line. You can store it most anywhere, even inside your handlebars. When your buddy has petrol and you don't, a three-foot piece of tubing makes life beautiful when transferring gas.
- Use Sno-Seal or Mink Oil on your riding boots to keep out Ma Nature's fluids. Unfortunately it keeps moisture in too.
- Carry a hack saw blade and a small pair of wire cutters. You'll find stray barbed wire in the darndest places. Also, never ride through any fire pit. At some point, somebody has probably burnt up a tire, therefore leaving wire chords lurking in the ashes, just waiting to wrap themselves around your spokes.
- Be a positive image for the sport. We already have a less than acceptable image to non-riders. Be polite, non-confrontal and happy. Wave to everyone. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
- Use trail courtesy and be polite to other forest users. They deserve to be there too.
- Carry a compact space blanket. If you have to spend the night on a mountain, you'll use anything to stay warm. Some sporting good stores also have portable hand heaters. Once activated, these things actually generate much needed heat.
- Be politically active and let your politicians know about our sport. Let them know it is a wholesome, and acceptable family sport, and that we're not a bunch of stereotyped Hell's Angels (no thanks to Marlon Brando).
- Use Bag-Balm, Gold Bond or some form of topical ointment on your lower cheeks to help prevent monkey butt. If you can stand the verbal abuse, Vaseline also works well.
- If you're a heavy sweater, (and can stand yet more verbal abuse) attach a women's sanitary napkin on the top inside of your goggles. This will absorb copious amounts of perspiration that would normally drip into your eyes or the inside of your goggle lens. The napkins will also aid in healing gaping cuts and scrapes, should the need arise.
- On dusty rides, squirt a small amount of baby oil on your goggle foam. This will aid in keeping dust out of the inside of your goggles much like your bike's foam air filter with filter oil.
- Use sunscreen on your face. Wind and sun can make your face as dry as a lizard's belly. Don't forget Chapstick on your lips.
- Use reflective tape or day-glo paint on your fanny pack tools. This way you will always know which tools belong in your toolkit. An added feature of the reflective tape is being able to find them on the ground or at night.
- Carry a small flashlight so you can find your tools at night.
- Carry a 35mm film canister as a container for spare nuts & bolts, razor blade or hand cleaner.
- Visit you local store and get a small, dinky tube of hair shampoo (one of the eval/demo sizes). You can use this to wash off your hands, should you need to do repairs along side the trail.
- Carry a set of jetski gloves with you for inclement weather. If you end up riding in the rain, these gloves somehow still keep your pinkies warm.
- Carry a spare master link and chain breaker FOR YOUR CHAIN. Don't be caught with a master link that fits the wrong chain! (Don't ask!)
- Carry plastic zip-ties. Smaller zip-ties have a million uses. Six or seven large heavy-duty zip-ties (spaced around the wheel) work well for wrapping the rim and tire if you get a flat that is unrepairable. This will prevent the tire from coming off the rim. If you have no tube (or the one you have stopped working), pack up the inside of the tire with as many sticks and twigs as you can cram in (an old desert racer trick). This will give you a virtual bib-mouse insert to get you home.
- Make or buy a front fender extension. This really helps keep spooge from peppering your goggles when riding in the wet.
- Don't use the little valve stem nut when installing a new tube. By leaving it off, you will be able to see ahead of time if your tube is slipping around inside the tire.
- Use a Ski-Gee on your goggles. A Ski-Gee is a miniature windshield wiper for goggles that attaches to the thumb of your glove. It can be purchased at your local ski shop.
- When approaching oncoming riders, let them know how many riders are behind you (in your group). Hold up two fingers if you have two riders behind you, etc. A clenched fist or showing a zero says you're the last one. Refrain from using the middle finger if there's one more rider behind you. Doh!
- Run a pre-filter on your airbox, such as Factory Foam. This is wide, porous foam that can be cut to fit the top of your airbox. Be sure to oil it just like your regular filter. It's easier to swap out one of these than swapping out a complete filter.
- Coat your bike before wet or muddy rides. Spraying liberal doses of Pledge furniture polish or WD-40 on the underside of your fenders allows the mud to fall off quickly. Spraying WD-40 on the motor does the same thing and the mud will spray off with water afterwards.
- Use duct tape to waterproof the edge of the viewing window on your roll chart holder in case it rains. Don't forget to make a small drain hole at the base of your rollchart holder should water actually get inside it.
- Mount your roll chart holder on the left side of your handlebars so that it is easily accessible with your thumb while riding. This way your left hand can keep a death grip on the bars.
- Wire your grips to the bars. Before installing grips, insert glue on the inside and then safety wire them to the bars afterwards. This will prevent the grips from coming off in a wet event.
- On disc brakes, use an anti-squeal compound on the puck side of the brake pads. This will keep them from calling all the neighborhood dogs in a 20-mile radius when you come to a stop. Anti-Seize also works.
- When the wheel is removed, coat the axle with a thin coating of Anti-Seize compound and then apply liberal amounts of marine grease on top of that. Your bearings will last much longer. Oh yeah, when you do replace your wheel bearings, replace them with double-sealed bearings, not the single-sided ones that come with most bikes. If your dealer can't replace with these, take your stockers to a local bearing store and they can set you up.
- Use shim washers on your carburetor jet needle. Most dualsport bikes have no needle jet adjustment and run too lean. By inserting a tiny washer under the clip, the needle can be raised, which can richen the mixture.
- Carry a tube of 5-minute Epoxy or other liquid metal. This can seal or weld most anything in a pinch and will let you get home if you bust a hole in your motor cases.
- Install a one-way, vent-tube valve on your gas tank overflow hose to save gas. Just cut your overflow tube and insert. Be sure to install it in the proper direction!
- Fill your brake fluid master cylinder to the top of the reservoir, leaving no air. This way you will not have air in your brake line if you tip your bike upside-down in a crash. To keep from boiling you brake fluid on long downhills in the summer, be sure to install the best high-temp, DOT 4 brake fluid too. Motul makes some great stuff.
- When changing tires, be sure and lube the beads with soapy water or something like silicon spray. Tire changing is worlds easier then. Also, before mounting the tire, use baby powder on your tube and the inside of your tire. This allows the tube to seat inside the tire without pinching or wadding.
- Zip-tie the spokes where they intersect. This prevents a broken spoke from causing more damage if it breaks.
- Use die-electric grease on the inside of the spark plug cap. This will allow the cap to be removed easier while sealing out moisture. If you foul a plug, use a knife to clean out the carbon and retry it.
- Put a small amount of silicone rubber on the screw threads before re-installing them into the plastic items like tail light and turn signal lens. This keeps them from backing out without being too tight (basically a sloppy version of Loc-Tite).
- For you folks with radiators, run only distilled water with antifreeze. This will keep corrosion to a minimum. While you're there, add the proper amount of some great stuff called WaterWetter. Redline Oils makes this stuff and it helps keep your favorite motor from reaching meltdown, i.e. running cooler.
- DO NOT use Armor-All on your seat. Unless you want to put some on Greenrider's seat and watch him slip-and-slide in his saddle all day like a drunken jockey!
Edited by Kelsow.
© 2003-2011, Nova Scotia Dual Sport