Is Suspension Worth the Cost?


Suspension is undoubtedly one of the most critical aspects to your motorcycle, and many people talk about upgrading their suspension.  However, since the cost can be up to $7,000, it’s important to know what upgraded suspension can do for your motorcycle, and whether you should invest in an upgrade.

There is a narrow weight window for stock suspension, which is around 180lbs (rider and gear together).  Some people believe if they add preload and get the motorcycle up to proper sag, they’re in good shape.  However, that may provide for a rough and unstable ride.  It’s most important to have the right spring for your weight and riding style.  Manual adjustments to suspension are only important when you start riding aggressively on the street (in curves) and into dirt that challenges the bike.  Any upgrade to suspension from OEM will be a significant improvement for most people.

@ 12:45.  Process of measuring sag on your motorcycle with a second person.

@ 19:15.  Damping discussion

@ 31:45.  Rant on trail braking

Guest:  Jake Fry owns a BMW R1250GS and wants to know whether he should spend the money to upgrade the suspension on his motorcycle.  He recognizes the importance of suspension and wants to set the bike up correctly for the riding he does.

Discussion Points:
1.  Is it worth the money to upgrade my suspension?
2.  What is stiction?
3.  How do I adjust sag?
4.  What is damping?

Key Takeaways:
– People believe if they add preload and get up to the proper sag, they assume they’re in good shape. That’s not always correct.
–  As good as traction control is these days, we still need to stay in-tune with what the technology does and also what it hides.
– Riders don’t realize the importance of having a riding style that prevents you from running too wide in a corner.
–  Never, ever ride faster than you can see.

References Made:
Woody’s Wheel Works

Touratech Extreme Shocks
Tractive Suspension
Race Tech Suspension
Race Tech’s Motorcycle Suspension Bible (Thede/Parks)
Wilbers Motorcycle Suspension Technology
Trail Braking Presentation in New Zealand

Riding While Hurting: A Talk on Aging


Adapting to the realities of age is important in the ADV world, where it’s too easy to get hurt if you’re not developing the correct muscles, use the correct technique, or your bike is not ergonomically set up.  Fatigue while riding is likely to be a skill issue, a technique issue, or an ergonomic issue.  If it’s none of those, then it will likely be a health or strength issue.

Learn exercises to improve the strength of your midsection, lower back, legs, and triceps – those muscles that are critical for riding comfortably off-road.  Learn how to protect your back when picking up your bike. 

Riser Rant starts at 25:40.  Risers can make a mess out of a bike and people don’t realize the consequences.

Training Rant starts at 30:40.  Most other ADV instructors teach a specific, mechanical formula that does not take into account the individual needs of older clients.

Guest:  David Beverstock lost both weight and strength from an extended stay at the hospital.   He reached out to Bret for advice on how to build his body back up – despite some bad vertebrae – so he doesn’t get hurt while riding.

Discussion Points:
1.  How do I get healthy to be a better rider?
2.  When do I need risers?
3.  Why should I use a partner to help lift my motorcycle?

Key Takeaways:
– The problem with risers is it puts riders in a bad position (hurts the back) or a dangerous position (whiskey throttle).
– Most other ADV classes use a formula that doesn’t take into account individual weaknesses, injuries, age, and bike setup.

Kevin Muggleton/Redverz Tents
Lone Rider vs. Mosko Moto
Monkey Lift
Short Rider

How to Choose a Motorcycle Training Class

How To Choose A Motorcycle Class

Washington State has two state-approved motorcycle basic rider education curriculums.  One is through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) and the other is the Motorcycle Education Program (MEP), which Bret wrote for Puget Sound Safety.  There are some major differences between the two curricula: The MSF courses are formulaic, structured, and linear while the MEP courses are flexible, adaptable, and offer students the opportunity to self-correct.  In addition, the MEP course have increased student volume by 25%.  To best choose a class, choose the one that supports your particular learning style.

Guest:  Kevin Tusler has embarked on his second career; from retiring as the vice president for a project management company to a full-time motorcycle instructor.

Discussion Points:
1.  Why doesn’t Bret teach advanced classes?
2.  What should I look for in a motorcycle training school?
3.  Does the student/instructor ratio of the motorcycle training class matter?

Key Takeaways:
– How are people supposed to improve if they don’t know what the goal is?
– If you understand why you were successful, then you can replicate that success in the future.
– People underestimate the value of humor while learning.

Evergreen Safety Council
Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF)

Motorcycle Education Program

What to Expect as a New ADV Rider

What can you expect as a new ADV rider?

Many people who first start riding ADV bikes can credit their knowledge to riding dirt bikes as a child.  But what if this is the first time you’ve ridden anything in the dirt?  Learning what to expect as a new adventure rider is a subject that few instructors address.

Australian rider, Robert Malpas, is a recent convert into the ADV world and he has some excellent insight into what beginning dirt riders think and feel when they’re getting used to a new terrain under their tires.

Editor’s Error:  Several references are made towards Class 3 riders, including discussion on rookie, transitional, and proficient riders.  This refers to the Adventure Skill Rating System which serves to identify your skill level on different terrain.

Discussion Points:
1.  What can I expect when I first ride off-road?
2.  What ideas are there for improving my fitness?
3.  What ADV gear should I buy?
4.  What advice do you have for improving my ADV skill level?

Key Takeaways:
If you’re new, expect to hear a lot of advice but consider the source.
Look for a common theme from reputable people.
Expect to be uncomfortable with motorcycle movements.
Be open to spending more on safety gear than your motorcycle (watch this video!).
Be open to the idea that you may need other people around just in case.

Adventure Skill Rating System

Are You Miscalculating your ADV Skills?

Are you Miscalculating your adv skills?

Paul Solomonson, dueling counterpart in the recent video “Mosko Moto vs Lone Rider“, talks with Bret about rating yourself as an ADV rider and some of the common ways riders miscalculate their skill level.

Paul Solomonson works with Bret across the United States in teaching ADV training classes.  He is also a state-certified motorcycle and driving instructor and has taught advanced motorcycle skills in the Military Mentor Training courses for the U.S. Army.

Editor’s Note: There may be a couple obscenities scattered throughout, but they were worth keeping in.

Discussion Points:
1.  How good am I as an ADV rider?
2.  How difficult is a particular trail?
3.  How do I rate my skills?
4.  Are faster people better than I am at riding?
5.  What does “Experts Only” mean and if I survive it, am I an expert?

Key Takeaways:
–  Don’t find the limits of your bike while you’re on a trip
–  Those who shouldn’t be giving advice are often the first ones to do so
–  Having to be honest with yourself is one of the hardest things to do

References Made in the Podcast:
Adventure Skill Rating System

Lone Rider Motobags vs Mosko Moto Backcountry Panniers
Learn at Home

Top Tips for Adventure Camping

Top Tips for Adventure Camping

You don’t need to travel far and wide to be an ADV motorcyclist, nor do you need to travel with an expensive motorcycle.  Adventuring is about travel, discovering, and wandering, and these tips will help make your next adventure smoother.