Dual sport riding is great
fun. However, without the proper attitude and preparation, a Dual sport ride can
become a nightmare. Here are some tips to ensure you have a safe and successful
ride. Most of these are common sense, while others may not be thought of until
it's too late.
go riding unprepared or alone!
A Dual sport
bike can take you a lot of places. Because of their larger fuel capacity you
can travel much farther into the wilderness than non street licensed dirt bikes.
If you're 70 miles from nowhere you need to be able to deal with situations
that may arise. A ride that starts out on a mountain road can end up on a voyage
of uncharted trails and fire roads. Modern dual sport bikes are very reliable.
However, there are some things that can go wrong. Here are some ways to prepare
for those unfortunate happenings.
- Flat tires.
While I have only experienced one flat tire in 30,000+ miles between
teh three bikes I've owned, this is the most likely cause of trouble for any
bike. Important items to have in the event you have a flat tire are: three
tire spoons (sometime two just aren't enough), a spare tube to fit the front
tire, a patch kit and a method for inflating the new tube once the repair
is completed. For inflation I recommend a dual action cylindrical style pump
used by mountain bikers, they're small and lightweight. I carry mine in my
fanny pack. The tube for the front tire will work in either tire until you
get home. The patch kit is needed if you have another flat. Try a trial run
at home, remove and replace the tube, tire, etc. so that you know how to do
it when a real need arises on the trail.
- Spark plug.
Although it isn't likely that a four stroke bike will foul a
plug, always carry a spare just in case. If you and you bike part ways and
the bike lands "rubber side up" on the downhill side of a sidehill
trail, it can be difficult to restart, especially if it isn't returned to
"rubber side down" status fairly rapidly.
- Check operation
of your lights. You may leave early in the morning and fully
expect to return before dark, but who knows what situation may occur to cause
delays. You may have a breakdown or find a new trail or road to explore. If
you're headlight dies, riding back in the dark is difficult. I always carry
a spare headlight bulb. Newer dual sport bikes have the advantage of using
a replaceable bulb in the headlight assembly, so a spare bulb takes up very
little room in a fanny pack. Properly pack the bulb to prevent it from becoming
damaged by loose tools, etc. Carry a spare taillight bulb also.
- Be alert.
Road washouts are easy to find on a dual pport ride, but you want to find
them before they find you. Ride cautiously in unfamiliar areas and be on the
lookout for obstacles that may cause problems. Also use caution when riding
a known trail early in the riding season, who knows what damage may have occurred
during the winter, such as a washout or tree across the trail. If the obstacle
looks somewhat passable, but is serious enough for you to stop and inspect
it while you try to chart a course around it, it is probably best to turn
back. Its better to return during a later trip in hopes the trail will be
repaired than risk injury if you don't make it around the obstacle.
- Fuel. It's
real easy to lose track of time on a dual sport outing. One road leads to
another and before you know it, you're a 70 miles from nowhere and running
low on fuel. Reserve won't help much in these cases, so it's always important
to keep an eye on your fuel supply and know your approximate fuel range and
plan accordingly. Always fuel up when possible, even if you still have half
a tank left. Many times I have ridden much longer than originally anticipated,
and found a new trail or road to explore only to have to turn back because
I didn't fuel up at the previous opportunity.
- Never ride
alone. In case of emergency, it's always better to have more
than one person on a ride. Of course, the best scenario is having more than
one bike along for the trip. Besides being better for safety purposes, riding
in a group is much more fun.
list for a complete listing of items that you should carry while riding.
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