99 Dualsporting Tips
By Tom Niemela
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.
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!
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.
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
heavy-duty tubes and enjoy considerably fewer flats.
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.
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.
a pressurized can of tire repair spooge.
If you get a pinhole leak in a tube, this can of jizm 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.
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.
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!
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.
some spare money in your toolbag, preferably one-dollar bills and a
twenty. Forgetting to bring
your wallet makes it difficult to barter for petrol with a gas station
attendant, woodcutter or logger.
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.
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.
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.
raingear. Remember this is
the Northwest and rain is a way of life (along with webbed feet &
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.
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.”
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
a neck kerchief. It can
filter dust from your lungs, help keep vines from cutting your jugular
or just plain keep your neck warm.
Plus it makes you look like John Wayne.
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.
DOT legal bumpy 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 bumpies on your
dualsport bike. This way
you’ll get twice the life. Just
don’t plan on doing any road racing…
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.
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
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.
a camera. Dualsporting
allows you to go where no one else can and provides numerous scenic
vistas that you’ll want to take home.
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).
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.
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.
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 (800-800-2363) also sell some sano Plexiglas lens
protectors for many dualsport bikes.
Price a new headlight lens and you’ll become a believer.
an O-ring chain. They will
last many times longer than a standard chain, so the benefits more than
outweigh the slightly higher cost.
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.
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.
friends with your local welder and have him fabricate a “pipe snout”
for the end of your exhaust so that it points the exhaust downward, and
away from ears. There is no
reason for it to point upward or straight back!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
spare items in your tool kit like various nuts, bolts and a spare spark
a good quality backpack. You
really won’t notice it that much while riding.
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.
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.
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, Washington.
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.
pick up your trash and pack it out.
Set a good example of dualsporting and pick up someone else’s
with your headlight on high beam. You
will be noticed from farther away and have less chance of a head-on
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.
a spare throttle cable. In
a pinch, you can shift without a clutch, but you need a throttle cable.
ride on private property without permission. ‘Nuff said.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
a towrope - another Murphy’s Law.
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.
Sno-Seal or Mink Oil on your riding boots to keep out Ma Nature’s
fluids. Unfortunately it
keeps moisture in too.
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, some maroon has probably burnt up a tire,
therefore leaving wire chords lurking in the ashes, just waiting to wrap
themselves around your spokes.
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.
trail courtesy and be polite to other forest users.
They deserve to be there too.
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.
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
Bag-Bomb, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
a small flashlight so you can find your tools at night.
a 35mm film canister as a container for spare nuts & bolts, razor
blade or hand cleaner.
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.
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.
a spare master link and chain breaker FOR YOUR CHAIN.
Don’t be caught with a master link that fits the wrong chain!
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.
or buy a front fender extension. This
really helps keep spooge from peppering your goggles when riding in the
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
the spokes where they intersect. This
prevents a broken spoke from causing more damage if it breaks.
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.
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).
you folks with radiators, run distilled water only.
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.
NOT use Armor-All on your seat. Unless
you want to put some on your buddies seat and watch him slip-and-slide
in his saddle all day like a drunken rodeo!