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Old 08-04-2018, 09:03 AM   #1
ScottRNelson
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Unhappy I've lost confidence riding in the dirt

I sold my KTM 990 Adventure a couple of months ago, then bought a 1090 Adventure R a little over a week ago. On the street, in the twisties, it feels great and other than the difference in tires feels pretty similar to what I've been riding for the past eight years.

I've found a few dirt roads that head out to farms in the hills and the bike worked as expected on those.

This morning I headed up into the hills for some more serious dirt roads and I just wasn't feeling the confidence that I expected to have while riding those. I was originally planning to do about a 30 mile loop up there, but I wasn't more than about five miles into it when all I wanted to do was get back to pavement. I didn't really have any close calls that would have dumped the bike, but I felt the need for extra caution until I came out the other end.

I think part of it might be that the 1090 is more than an inch taller than the 990 was. It's slightly heavier too, but not by a significant amount. It could also be that I haven't done much dirt riding the past two years other than a few trips to Carnegie (on both bikes).

All I can figure to do right now is switch my XR650L to the dirt tires and go do that loop a few times on that, then try it again on the 1090, being suitably cautious.

I guess I had visions of hero off road riding like the videos show of experts on the 1090 R and I'm just not feeling it. I'll creep up slowly on the serious dirt riding for the big bike, I guess. Can any of you offer additional suggestions?
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Old 08-04-2018, 11:46 AM   #2
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Hey man, I think you'll regain the confidence when you have more comfort, which is derived from more time on that bike on those roads. You've just got a little timidity from "This is different than I've done before."
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Old 08-04-2018, 12:05 PM   #3
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I switch between several different dual bikes and have occasionally felt the discomfort you speak of.
Especially when going to the 950S from the smaller bikes.
That 950S is a TALL bike.

I've found that just putting a bunch of (dirt) miles on the big one helps.
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Old 08-04-2018, 12:05 PM   #4
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I agree with your thoughts of XR time. A lower bike is a more confidence inspiring bike too. Might be worth considering lowering the 1050.
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Old 08-04-2018, 12:06 PM   #5
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Sounds like both the bike and the roads are new to you. If that really is the case, then caution is well warranted. Take your time and get to know both of them, then your confidence will return.
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Old 08-04-2018, 12:54 PM   #6
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I've never ridden a big adventure bike but I would think that you'd want to air down the tires and change the suspension setting from street settings to off road. I find getting the front wheel tire pressure right is critical for my cornering/grip confidence. I'm sure like others have said that more miles will increase your confidence. Maybe some crash bars too if you dont have them already. Who wants to drop their brand new KTM with out protection!
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Old 08-04-2018, 01:32 PM   #7
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Thanks for the encouragement. The 1090 R comes with engine guards, a steering stabilizer, better suspension, and a few electronic helps. The only thing really missing is a skid plate to protect the pipes under the engine.

And yes, roads are fairly new to me as well as the bike. I think just putting in the time is what I need.

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Old 08-04-2018, 01:43 PM   #8
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I had the same thing happen the first time on easy dirt roads on my 990 when I first got it. No confidence - Zero... Felt like a total noob... That was on some Heidenau K60's though and I think your 1090 has knobbies..

I agree like Eric said that some time on your XR650 is in order to get your dirt chops back and get comfortable. Then when you go back to the dirt on the 1090 it might be better for you. That and some extended time riding the 1090 to get more comfortable with the taller height and the weight.

I finally got to some fun and tricky dirt on the 990 w/ knobbies and it was super fun. I had that feeling you described at the end of your fist post about being a hero.. It was a blast, and I didn't really even notice that the 990 is twice as big and heavy as my XR400. I think riding the XR in Baja and on the Sheetiron helped improve my dirt skills so it wasn't so bad on the 990..

I'm not so sure about airing down like Daniel says.. I didn't air down at all on the 990 when I was out and it still handled killer. Probably wouldn't hurt though, but I do hear from some big ADV bikers that they never air down.

More time on the XR is what I think you need to build the confidence.

This is the stuff I'm talking about that wasn't a problem..
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Old 08-04-2018, 02:55 PM   #9
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I also recommend getting a trials bike.
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Old 08-04-2018, 03:46 PM   #10
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I had the same thing happen the first time on easy dirt roads on my 990 when I first got it. No confidence - Zero... Felt like a total noob... That was on some Heidenau K60's though and I think your 1090 has knobbies..
The tires on the 1090 are TKC-80s. I've had Heidenau K60's and I think I had more confidence in those on the other KTM. I'm thinking that's what tire I might get next.

I did some rocky stuff like in your photo on the 990 with a worn set of Trail Attacks, which aren't really dirt tires, even if they have the word "Trail" in the name. It did fine through the steep rocky stream bed.

The 1090 has tubeless tires and I don't know how low I can safely take the pressure. One very good article that I read about pressures in the dirt suggested not to go below 30 psi on a big adventure bike. I had gone as low as 20 on the 990, though. Can you believe that KTM recommends 38/42 for the tire pressure?

I'll fiddle with the pressure a bit the next time it gets in the dirt. The XR650L will get about 15 psi when I take it back up there.
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Old 08-04-2018, 04:41 PM   #11
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For your enjoyment. This is what I DON'T want to be doing to mine (dumping it and picking it up multiple times).


youtu.be/7t8HuLitYfI
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Old 08-04-2018, 05:04 PM   #12
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I'm a fan of low pressures, but not on the big KTM's. They squirm around a lot when the tires go below mid-20's (that's my personal low limit). Also, if you get a flat/deflation in the middle of nowhere it can be a huge pain to change a tube (or in your case patch the hole). I'd say keep your pressures between 25-35. Just go slow until you learn the trails/roads and the bike. Overreaching on either one can get you hurt pretty bad. These bikes can really make you feel like a hero until something goes wrong, then the meter goes to zero real fast.
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Old 08-04-2018, 07:09 PM   #13
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ride by myself a fair amount off in the boonies
on an overloaded bike and guess riding solo
makes me more sensitive/susceptible to a loss of confidence
on any given day ...

... have good days and bad days
for no apparent reason ... find myself
thinking ďwow, Iím just not riding well today ...Ē

usually do what you did, which is rethink my
route or how far/fast I wanted to go that day ...
think riding a different bike on a bad day for me
would just be having a bad day on a different bike ...

... certainly ride like the guy in the video lots ...
get-scared-roll-off-tip-over ... repeat ...

donít have any suggestions because youíre a better rider than me,
but the confidence thing, and how it comes and goes kind of randomly,
is fun to think about ... Iíd certainly be a better rider if I rode
on a dirt bike more, but Iíd also be better if I rode the bike
I have more ... and then Iíd still have bad days ...
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Old 08-04-2018, 07:29 PM   #14
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seat time... that's what I think you need. Oh, and to be thankful that your years of experience are guiding your actions
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Old 08-04-2018, 07:39 PM   #15
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I've run my tires on the GSA down to 22 psi without any issues. You probably won't have any on the KTM either.

That will make a HUGE difference. In fact, it may make the biggest difference.

That and a riding buddy.
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