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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am not a very experienced rider, so dont have much to compare it to, but my 2014 F6C is SUPER unsteady in gravel, I mean practically unrideable and just limping it through gravel is a white knuckle experience. It feels WAY more stable on either grass or dirt.

The first time I hit a gravel road on it I was going about 5-8mph and turning VERY gently, and as soon as I hit the gravel it tried to slide right out from underneath me, I nearly dropped the bike and barely caught it.

Is this normal? Or likely so bad due to my tires? Or maybe something else?

Front is a Cruisetec 130/60 B19
Rear is a Michelin Pilot Road GT4 180/55 ZR 17

Thoughts?
 

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I have not experienced this issue. I still have the stock tires. Are you sure it's the bike, and not your apprehension of riding in gravel? They told us in our safety class Saturday to maintain firm but flexible steering in gravel and grates. Just a thought.

Richmonder
 

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I fully agree with the both of you. That was one of the first things I noticed about the Valk when I first got it. I have had all kinds of bikes, by many makers, and never felt that feeling Joel described more than with this bike. (Original tires with 7,000 un-abused miles.) I have tried the same techniques you mentioned, Richmonder, and it does help. Especially on scary grate-covered bridges in the wet, but that sketchy feeling is still pronounced. I just wrote it off to being older, more careful and vulnerable, and not putting in the miles I used to. Whatever, I feel it, too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
I am really good about riding relaxed and loose on the handlebars, and I wasn't scared at all the first time I rode on gravel. I had just ridden about 2 hours, so was nice and relaxed and very comfortable on the bike. I was just cautious about my speed and so I slowed way down and turned in very carefully, as I wasnt sure how much grip I would have compared to the paved road. The bike immediately tried to wash out from under me and counter steering into the slide combined with a lot of brute strength were the only things that saved me from dropping the bike right there.

Even after that point I had assumed there was something odd about that section, possibly the transition where the gravel was on the paved road, and so I kept trying to ride carefully, but more naturally on the several miles of gravel road I ended up traveling, and it absolutely did not work.

Every time I tried to speed up to 10+ mph and carefully countersteer to turn it immediately tried to wash out. I ended up just crawling down the road in first gear at 5mph or less for several miles.

I have tried gravel roads again since then, being super conscious to stay light and relaxed on the bars, and the same thing happens every time.

The other day I rode down a gravel driveway that was maybe 150 feet long and the bike was just all over the place and I almost dropped it twice, again brute strength and physically catching the bike with both feet down was all that saved me. I actually circled around through maybe 300 feet of grass and around a building to do a Uturn instead of trying to do it in the gravel and felt 100% fine. I could have driven through the grass all day with no issues, but the gravel was a nightmare.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Just trying to figure out what is going on and resolve it. This has happened with both the stock front suspension and much stiffer Racetech front springs and enhanced damping, the rear suspension is stock.

I assume this cant be normal, because if this is the way all motorcycles handled in gravel no one would EVER ride a motorcycle on gravel.
 

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I guess it depends on the gravel. Crushed gravel is no problem, but deep pea-sized, or golfball-sized chunks that roll, bug me on any bike, even with a few years of dirt bike experience. On metal bridge grates, that straight centerline down the center of the front stock tire really sucks, so that was the first thing I got rid of, as it tries to track any lines in the road and so causes excessive shaking on bridge grates. That centerline tread pattern also tries to follow any pavement seams or tar snakes, and perhaps that's why about every other tire vendor avoids that centerline in the tread. Also, any heavy bike is a bitch in sand or very loose surface, maybe that's why most dirtbikes are 125 - 250 with just a few up to 500cc or so, but those larger ones are typically more toward enduro.
 
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I assume this cant be normal, because if this is the way all motorcycles handled in gravel no one would EVER ride a motorcycle on gravel.
And I've come to accept that. Some of the "cross-over" bikes with smaller engines and overall lower weight absolutely seem to love being thrashed on gravel and dirt, yet can still cope with city streets much better than the tires of the 70's. The Valkyrie simply is not happy with that, in my opinion, although I'm sure with stunt-bike training someone could make the Valk look like a ballerina on ice. My GPS automatically avoids gravel/dirt roads and tollways. None of them are made for enhancing the enjoyment of my bike trip. My cars are the same way and have different purposes. One has tires that are absolutely not allowed in gravel. I knew that when I bought them and don't feel miffed about it. I use my F-250 in those conditions. I wonder if the technology of modern-day motorcycles has jaded us sometimes. Do we really expect a motorcycle like this to be a combination trail-bike/cruiser/dragster? I've seen Goldwings fording streams, but don't like the idea of immersing a hot engine case into cold water. Call me crazy. Get a JEEP. I love my Valk for what it is and don't really care about what it isn't. No offense intended to anyone with this post.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I am talking about a flat, maintained, crushed gravel, county road in Texas, not some crazy up the side of a mountain goat trail. This is a road a lowered civic on low profile performance tires has never had an issue with. Picture as optimal as a road can get without being paved.

Keep in mind I am not looking to dance off-road on the bike, I am just talking about driving close to the speed limit on a maintained gravel county road. This particular road has a speed limit of 35, if I could safely do 25-35 on the straights and slow down a bit to go through the gentle corners, that would be fine.

Here in Texas I might stumble upon gravel roads as part of the only path to get somewhere, and most of them are not marked as such in Google maps. Turning around and canceling a 8 hour road trip 5 hours in because a few miles of flat maintained gravel road isn't very viable here.

Just looking for ideas here about what could help. Has anyone done anything to their bike that made gravel roads more stable?
 

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Since you asked, going darkside helped for the crushed gravel surfaces you describe, wider contact patch seems obvious I suppose. I went down the switchbacks of the Moki Dugway (SW of Moab on the way to Monument Valley Moki Dugway, a graded dirt switchback road with breathtaking views in UT) last year without a problem. That said, here in N TX, I usually avoid county roads, and there are usually FM's going close enough to where I want to go without having to wash the bike afterward.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I can for sure see how that would help, especially if you went double darkside with a wider front tire.

I am REALLY considering going darkside, basically just waiting for my existing tires to wear out a bit as my rear tire was brand new when I got the bike maybe 1500-2000 miles ago, and my front tire looks pretty new as well.

I am curious, has anyone done a wider front on this bike? I know lots of people put wider rear tires on the front of normal GL1800s, but I cant imagine 19" rear street tires for a motorcycle are that common...

As far as the gravel roads go, there are a few I really can't avoid, but the particular road I have in mind is literally the only road that leads to my grandmothers house, which is otherwise a fun couple hours of riding that is great to take my bike on, then a few miles of grueling limping through gravel at a walking pace.
 

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I can for sure see how that would help, especially if you went double darkside with a wider front tire.

I am REALLY considering going darkside, basically just waiting for my existing tires to wear out a bit as my rear tire was brand new when I got the bike maybe 1500-2000 miles ago, and my front tire looks pretty new as well.

I am curious, has anyone done a wider front on this bike? I know lots of people put wider rear tires on the front of normal GL1800s, but I cant imagine 19" rear street tires for a motorcycle are that common...

As far as the gravel roads go, there are a few I really can't avoid, but the particular road I have in mind is literally the only road that leads to my grandmothers house, which is otherwise a fun couple hours of riding that is great to take my bike on, then a few miles of grueling limping through gravel at a walking pace.
Correct, not many options for 19", so your logic is also why I run bias ply 130 instead of radial that only comes in 120 or Dunlop with that centerline tread pattern. I found out the "HD" in Shinko 777 HD actually stands for "Heavy Duty", so that's where I landed after trying the Mich Cdr 2 and 3. I ran one for 19,000 miles on front, but someone (Britman?) just reported his lasted only 1/3 of that. Wondering if the supply shortages mean the tires are more likely to be fresh off the press and therefore a little softer than one that's sat on the shelf of a year or more. I started logging the date stamps from the sidewall in my maintenance log, the one I have mounted was 1 year old when I mounted it, and the next one I bought as a spare was only 3 months old. I used to here of people returning brand new tires because they arrive 5 years old! OK, sorry for going off on the tangent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Double darkside as in car tire in the front too? Is that feasible at all?
What inflation are you running your tires at. I'm guessing that with overinflation the bike will be more bouncy and unstable on gravel.
I think "Darkside" usually just means any tire on a motorcycle that isnt intended for that purpose. Double Dark seems to be a term that denotes a rear motorcycle tire on the front and a car tire on the back. Seems to be pretty common for "Double Dark" Goldwing riders to use a BATTLAX BT-45 on the front and whatever

I believe I was running 38/42 for the first gravel road, I have since dropped down to 36/38 and it doesn't seem to make a significant difference, at least not significant enough for me to notice.

I do try to keep my tire pressures pretty high, down here in rural Texas the freeway speeds are pretty nuts, and with me, all my bike accessories, and gear I am probably pushing 1200lbs. Averaging 90-100mph for a few hours straight with 1200lbs on lower air pressure tires sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.
 

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Correct, and running car tires on both back AND front is referred to as 'total dark' on sites such as ROLL'N DARKSIDE (Car Tires on Motorcycles) and Darkside Wing Riders where there is a ton of knowledge and a database of thousands of users, showing what tires they run, what psi and on what bike. Total dark is very rare. Fun fact: until the 1960's, virtually all motorcycles had narrow car tires front and rear ! Gotta love the propellers on the front of this rig:
Tire Wheel Automotive tire Motor vehicle Vehicle
 

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I am not a very experienced rider, so dont have much to compare it to, but my 2014 F6C is SUPER unsteady in gravel, I mean practically unrideable and just limping it through gravel is a white knuckle experience. It feels WAY more stable on either grass or dirt.

The first time I hit a gravel road on it I was going about 5-8mph and turning VERY gently, and as soon as I hit the gravel it tried to slide right out from underneath me, I nearly dropped the bike and barely caught it.

Is this normal? Or likely so bad due to my tires? Or maybe something else?

Front is a Cruisetec 130/60 B19
Rear is a Michelin Pilot Road GT4 180/55 ZR 17

Thoughts?
I've ridden my bike over maintained dirt passes and it does fairly well. I had to pay attention to it every minute though. Not something I'd do every day.
 

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I am not a very experienced rider, so dont have much to compare it to, but my 2014 F6C is SUPER unsteady in gravel, I mean practically unrideable and just limping it through gravel is a white knuckle experience. It feels WAY more stable on either grass or dirt.

The first time I hit a gravel road on it I was going about 5-8mph and turning VERY gently, and as soon as I hit the gravel it tried to slide right out from underneath me, I nearly dropped the bike and barely caught it.

Is this normal? Or likely so bad due to my tires? Or maybe something else?

Front is a Cruisetec 130/60 B19
Rear is a Michelin Pilot Road GT4 180/55 ZR 17

Thoughts?
It's not a tire issue. The bike is massively front-heavy and both the new and the old valkyries have the issue. If the gravel is loose the bike wants to push/slide. 2" gravel is the worst. I haven't found a solution at slow speed and just stay off gravel. I have a two mile gravel driveway that I am going to be riding the bikes on soon (I have a '98 and a 2015) and I am dreading the patches of 2" gravel. I am pretty sure if I put crusher on top of the 2" it will solve the issue.
 

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I am not a very experienced rider, so dont have much to compare it to, but my 2014 F6C is SUPER unsteady in gravel, I mean practically unrideable and just limping it through gravel is a white knuckle experience. It feels WAY more stable on either grass or dirt.

The first time I hit a gravel road on it I was going about 5-8mph and turning VERY gently, and as soon as I hit the gravel it tried to slide right out from underneath me, I nearly dropped the bike and barely caught it.

Is this normal? Or likely so bad due to my tires? Or maybe something else?

Front is a Cruisetec 130/60 B19
Rear is a Michelin Pilot Road GT4 180/55 ZR 17

Thoughts?
I have over 100k miles riding various big bikes. I just got my ‘98 Valkyrie last year and YES it does not handle well on gravel or loose dirt. I think it has to do with the weight distribution (low center of gravity, fering/windshield, hard side bags and raised “queen” seat and trunk.

that’s my 2 bits on it!
 
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