Sand and the XR650L


57 replies to this topic
  • sgifford

Posted November 30, 2005 - 01:36 PM

#1

OK. I've read several posts on the subject, but it's still something of a mystery to me.

I've spent a fair bit of time riding in soft sand with my 'L' in a riding area near Dallas Texas (Muenster). I also just spent 2 days riding in sandy washes in the mountains east of Phoenix. I still can't get comfortable riding in soft sand. The bike wants to wallow and swim around in the sand.

A less experienced (but fast-learning) rider was behind me on my son's XR250R. He could stay close to me in the sand, but up on the rocks and trails I could easily leave him behind.

Is it the geometry of the 'L' that makes it difficult in sand? It can't purely be a factor of weight, can it? Example: I ride with a friend (approx. 280 lbs) on his KTM 450 (250 lbs). Total riding weight is approximately 530 lbs.

My total riding weight is 200 lbs (me) plus my piggie (350 lbs +/-), for a total of 550 lbs. Only 20 pounds difference in riding weight, but he's much more comfortable and faster in the sand than I am.

I've tried some of the suggestions I found on this forum ("ride with weight forward"; didn't like that. "More subtle steering with the front wheel"; that works. "Steer with the rear wheel"; hard to do when the front is plowing, etc.)

I know I need to let the bike float somewhat, but I'm still struggling to keep from feeling like the front wheel is about veer to one side or the other, sink in the sand and send me on a brief flight! :applause:

(I have similar experiences in the Texas gumbo mud.)

I'd be interested in any comments.

Seldon

  • creeky

Posted November 30, 2005 - 03:08 PM

#2

The L suffers from flexy forks. The addition of a fork brace (I like SRC) will do wonders for this bike.

  • XR650L_Dave

Posted November 30, 2005 - 03:13 PM

#3

My sand experience has been with a MT21 rear, and a teraflex rear, an MT21 front, and a pirelli scorpion pro front.

With an MT21 front you can only hope to survive, with a more aggressive front its better, but it still wallows like a bastard.

With the teraflex rear that sucker would hardly steer if the gas was pegged, so I adopted a strategy of WFO, let off a little, turn, WFO, etc...

What also helped was if I didn't go too straight- if I wiggled the bars back and forth a bit while going "straight" it would help to keep the front end from starting to dig on one side, and then continuing to dig on that side, causing the bike to lean.

Strange that the L wanders so much in the sand on the level, but seems to climb sand hills quite well and stably (man I miss having a decent hillclimb around!). Perhaps its not the weight, but the distribution. Maybe the L carries more weight on the front tire, proportionally speaking, than other heavy bikes that perform better in the sand.

Maybe that's why it can climb like a bastard without looping out!


Dave

  • don87xr600

Posted November 30, 2005 - 03:16 PM

#4

steering damper will solve your sand problems

  • rokklym

Posted November 30, 2005 - 07:20 PM

#5

Is this what your talking about?
http://rokklym.smugm.../30271015-L.jpg

http://rokklym.smugm.../30271016-L.jpg

http://rokklym.smugm.../30271018-L.jpg

I wish I knew all the answer on the sand issue. I think a fork brace an possibly a steering dampner would help and maybe heavier springs or oil in the forks.
Like xr650l_dave said, the wiggling the bars actually does help, but it may be all mental because I think that we tend to overgrip and stiffen up in sand and the wiggling helps keep things loose. A light grip on the bars and the weight on the pegs helps alot.

This fall I rode with a newer MT-21 on the front and a completly worn out Dunlop D606 in the back and I was able to ride like Mouse McCoy throught the sand, that night I put on a new rear tire and the next day I had trouble in the sand.. I think it was becasue it raised the back of my bike. I wonder if softening up the rear spring would help?

  • edssco

Posted November 30, 2005 - 09:43 PM

#6

I don't want to go into the sand again !
It felt as the front end was way to heavy
(dig in)
and the bike felt like it was real slippery
and out of control.
I said to myself yea this bike is a big fat pig.
No more sand for me .
I did find out keep your body back on and hope for the best,
and handling can be better than power !
I later got better tires !
my $.02
Ed

  • Baxter650

Posted November 30, 2005 - 09:54 PM

#7

Add a layer of fist sized rocks and it gets way more fun. Im going to try the fork brace because i to feel that the forks are lacking in rigidity.

  • al_piv

Posted December 01, 2005 - 08:28 AM

#8

On my KTM the front end use to push alot in the sand.
I have re-valved since then and learned (the hardway) how to run in sand.
Keep the front end light, lean back while standing and use the power of the machine to get through the thick stuff.

  • sgifford

Posted December 01, 2005 - 10:13 AM

#9

Thanks for all the feedback. I'm going to get a fork brace and see how much difference that makes.

I have learned that it works best for me with my weight toward the back. I've evolved from hating the sand to being able to stay upright in it, but it's a lot of work. I'm hoping I can tweak the bike and my skills to progress to where I actually enjoy it!

  • J_Daniels

Posted December 01, 2005 - 06:08 PM

#10

I say this every time this issue comes up (which is a lot!). -Let some air out of the front tire. I just about live in the dunes, and I never have more than 5 psi in my front tire. Floats like a dream, doesn't plow badly, relaxing if you stay up on the speed; I can easily ride one-handed down to about 10 mph. If you have mixed terrain such as desert riding, you won't want to go as soft as I do in the dunes- but with a beadlock, most terrain can be handled with about 10 lbs. Obviously, if you are on rides with big rocks and then sand, you will end up with rim damage at these low pressures. But running low air on the front for even a short distance in the sand is a great teaching aid, it will help your confidence in the sand; and being loose and comfortable is the key to conquering the sand! Give it a try and good luck!

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  • Countdown

Posted December 01, 2005 - 06:40 PM

#11

steering damper will solve your sand problems


I wouldn't ride a Honda with out one. They are short with steep heads. Damper also does wonders in dried mud ruts on 4WD roads.

  • xr_stamm

Posted December 01, 2005 - 06:47 PM

#12

Why does everyone feel the need to go buy a new part when riding difficulty arises? I get a bunch of sand up here in Michigan too. I still hate it. But, I have learned to adapt my riding to be able to stay upright, and keep an okay pace through it. Sand takes practice and technique, not parts. Ask yourselves honestly, do you think you are going fast enough in the sand, cornering hard, to flex the forks?

  • sgifford

Posted December 01, 2005 - 08:01 PM

#13

I'm not sure if I'm flexing my forks, but I hear really positive results from guys who have installed a fork brace. I do know that a simple low-speed tip-over will twist the forks enough that I have to find a tree or fence-post to use to straighten my steering.

Since the fork-brace seems to help a lot more on bikes with smaller diameter tubes than it does larger tubes (XR650R), it seems to make sense.

In general I mostly agree with what you're saying. It's the reason I'm developing my skills to ride my 'L' where less brave souls fear to tread! :-) I don't need no steenkin' light-weight girly 250 to climb this steep rocky trail! :applause:

  • rokklym

Posted December 01, 2005 - 08:16 PM

#14

Why does everyone feel the need to go buy a new part when riding difficulty arises? I get a bunch of sand up here in Michigan too. I still hate it. But, I have learned to adapt my riding to be able to stay upright, and keep an okay pace through it. Sand takes practice and technique, not parts. Ask yourselves honestly, do you think you are going fast enough in the sand, cornering hard, to flex the forks?


While you are right to a point that you should try to upgrade your skill rather than your bike, you still need a good platform to start off with. The XRL is a big heavy bike with scrawny forks and it really should have a brace! grab the front tire of an XR650L between your knees and give the bars a turn..the flex is crazy!

  • ztsd

Posted December 03, 2005 - 09:09 PM

#15

Why does everyone feel the need to go buy a new part when riding difficulty arises? I get a bunch of sand up here in Michigan too. I still hate it. But, I have learned to adapt my riding to be able to stay upright, and keep an okay pace through it. Sand takes practice and technique, not parts. Ask yourselves honestly, do you think you are going fast enough in the sand, cornering hard, to flex the forks?

I haven’t ridden dirt for 20 years, but I use to ride a lot of sand. If the bike isn’t setup for it it’s a PITA... Sand requires big knobbies at low pressure, proper technique and a relaxed style... Lean back a little and don’t try to over control the bike... Let it find it’s way within limits of course...

I found that leaning back and gassing it on the straights works good. For the corners, move the weight forward some to make the tire bite and gas the back around... However, without the proper setup on the bike, you’ll crash a lot.

Once the bike is setup, sand is fun... If it isn’t fun, your not setup for it... Kinda makes sense doesn’t it?

Oh, to get a feel for it, try to pick the front wheel up on a straight and see how the bike feels... I also seem to remember that the faster your going the better the bike floats over the sand... You might want to try that also...

  • sgifford

Posted December 03, 2005 - 09:42 PM

#16

I do OK on straight sections. There I can gas it, keep my weight back, and let it float around. What's difficult are turns where there's a big berm of soft sand. I can't stand, because of the turn, and I can't really just blast around the berm the way I would on dirt or hard-pack, because the front wheel wants to plow in the sand.

I am interested in seeing what kind of difference a fork brace makes. I'm going to try the ones from rswracing.com. Running with very low air in the tires really isn't an option for the places I ride. I go from sand, to rocks and back.

  • LotsOfBikes

Posted December 04, 2005 - 04:12 PM

#17

Is this what your talking about?
http://rokklym.smugm.../30271015-L.jpg

http://rokklym.smugm.../30271016-L.jpg

http://rokklym.smugm.../30271018-L.jpg


ROKKLYM!!

Just looking at the pictures you posted pi$$es me off!!!

I've been in that exact situation numerous times on my '95 L and it not only drains you to wreck, that BFP seems to gain about a billion pounds and is nearly impossible to pick back up.

I've just gotten good in the sand with my 650L. I still will lay it down on occasion when caught offguard. It is still a very hard workout just to keep from crashing.

Really,, Great pics!! :applause:
.

  • motomonte

Posted December 06, 2005 - 08:04 AM

#18

Rokklym,is that tube in front of your skid plate some kind of tool carrier.i havent seen one of those since the Yamahas of the 70"s.Really usefull.

  • XR650L_Dave

Posted December 06, 2005 - 08:55 AM

#19

Rokklym,is that tube in front of your skid plate some kind of tool carrier.i havent seen one of those since the Yamahas of the 70"s.Really usefull.



Looks like a section of PVC pipe with a threaded cleanout cap.

D

  • creeky

Posted December 06, 2005 - 12:32 PM

#20

Why does everyone feel the need to go buy a new part when riding difficulty arises? I get a bunch of sand up here in Michigan too. I still hate it. But, I have learned to adapt my riding to be able to stay upright, and keep an okay pace through it. Sand takes practice and technique, not parts. Ask yourselves honestly, do you think you are going fast enough in the sand, cornering hard, to flex the forks?


If you have the opportunity to ride two XR650Ls back-to-back, under identical conditions, one without a fork brace and one with, you will know what we are talking about.





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