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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi Everyone!
Went for a long gravel road ride today. I am having real problems with the front tire skidding around on the gravel. The gravel is about 2 in deep recently graded. Tire tracks from cars were the worst. My front tire wouldn't climb out of 1/2 inch deep tire tracks. Very disconcerting skidding the front tire along a shallow rut like that at 50mph. Very difficult to controll the bike too.
Tried different tire pressures from 10 to 35 psi with little change. Scaled the bike on the way home 265 front 530 rear with me on the bike. I have a Pirelli MT21 on the front and a Mefo Explorer on the rear. Things were a little better standing, but not much.
Looking for constructive input!
Regards....Justjeff
 

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2" deep, recently-graded gravel with tire tracks from cars? That's a tough surface to ride on comfortably, man. I doubt there's really much you can do to make it more pleasant besides just waiting for it to pack back down after it gets some vehicle traffic. When I was a kid I thought road graders were cool. Now I don't care much for them because they mess up my roads!
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
I am riding on the same roads I did last year, same gravel. Can't figure what changed. I was comfortable at 50mph on this stuff then. I will pull the MT21 off in the morn and put the Mefo on the front and see if there is any difference.:character0029:
Crap thing about the gravel, they grade the sides up onto the middle so the loose gravel is on top of the hardpack in the driving lane. Like riding on marbles on top of concrete!
Regards....justjeff
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yeah. I had the Mefo's on for about 5000k. The rear developed a defect and while waiting for a warranty replacement I bought and installed the MT21's. That was way late in the year I don't remember any tires on the bike being this squirrley though. Maybe it's not the tires. I was happy how well it handled on gravel last year.
Regards....justjeff
 

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i would think an agressive tread with little to no wear is your best option for that stuff i know when the tires start ging bald gravel is like marbles bad. the front washing out is going to happen with fluffed up stuff if it's deep enough regardless of tread. i know this from all the blowsand down here crap piles up to a foot or more in some places. hard as hell to get through that stuff.
 

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Sounds like your technique is good....speed, gas on, weight rearward. Agree with Planalp and Scrapper but will add the following if you have not already done so.

1) Check the steering head bearings for looseness / binding / tight spots. (free).
2) A fork brace may help. (semi-cheap).
3) Steering stabilizer. (expensive). I've never actually seen one on a KLR.

Is your bike loaded the same as the last time you rode on this?

When you say "Like riding on marbles on top of concrete" I know what you mean. The old stinkter gets as tight as you wish the bike was.
 

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You'll find that here and it sucks - loose gravel on hard pack. MT21 front tire is an excellent tire, so it's not that. Is it possible you're just out of practice? That happens to me.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the replies Guys!
I thought it was being out of practice at the beginning of the year, now I am beginning to think I never knew in the first place!!
I just can't get my head around the front tire skidding along rather than climbing out of a 1/2 inch deep tire track. Went about 50 feet on one memorable skid at speed with the bars turned about 5 degrees while going straight. It isn't like tire track in loose gravel has rigid sides like a dry mud rut. I am sure we have all gotten trapped in those!
Will check steering head bearings today, bike has 10000k on, don't hurt to check!
Regards....justjeff
 

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As far as I am concerned they don't make a tire to handle new gravel over hardpack. It is an ass pucker situation no matter what you are running.... I just try to stay in the shallowest groove.
 

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Hit that stuff a bunch of times myself... Other than just kind of letting the bike go where it want's to and staying loose I don't think there's much you can do. I ran about 5 km's of that stuff last summer with my son on the back. I was scared to slow down or try to turn around for fear of dumping us both on the road! I wonder though, would a bike with a wider front tire be better or worse on loose gravel? :rightsidecar:
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Well it is heartening to hear other people have as much trouble with it as I do.
I have 10k each way of gravel on my commute and much more on the weekends when out exploring. At +2000k this year I should be back in practice by now!
Regards....justjeff
 

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I hate graders.... Put 2 days of hard rain on top of that and it is even worse. Ask me I know how to spin out (wipe out) on those.
 

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i do alot of side road riding, mostly i just let the bike go with it. more apt in my case to dump the dame thing if i was in control...lol
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I started today by checking the bike over. Nothing was loose,bent, cracked, misaligned, too tight or missing. So I removed the Pirelli MT21 and installed the Mefo explorer on the front and went for a ride. The total today was about 250k mostly gravel backroads.
Either the MT21 is the worst gravel tire ever made or the Mefo is the best, or both.

I had no problem on any type of gravel I rode today and the front tire was the only thing I changed. After riding a while and gaining some confidence again, I went looking for the toughest gravel I could find, recently graded with various tire tracks. The Mefo went where I pointed it. I purposely crossed and recrossed tire tracks with barley a hint of wiggle, just as it was last year. At one point I unexpectedly hit a soft, more deeply rutted, low area, stood up, gassed it, and powered through.

The mefo has about 50% tread and the Pirelli is nearly new.
Maybe the Pirelli is a great sand/mud tire but it gets it ass kicked by the Mefo on gravel. I also know the Mefo gets its ass kicked by the Pirelli in sand and mud. Now if I could only find a tire that will do all three!
Best Regards....justjeff
 

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Send your mt21 here, I like'm! :)
 

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Your experience would lead me to believe that perhaps a more aggressively-knobbed front tire is more of a detriment when riding in deep gravel than a smoother tire.

I guess it makes sense. If the gravel is so deep the knobs can't get down through it to a more firm surface, maybe they're worse because they're always "biting" into the gravel more than a smoother tire which tends to move over/through the gravel more smoothly.
 

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Who knows? I just think no tire can work when it is running on marbles. "Freshly graded" sounds good to me. The stuff that kills me is right after the gravel truck dumps an 1"+ of 3/4+ gravel on the road... I owned a pair of Mefo Explorers and is the nicest road tire I have had on the KLR but IMHO total junk on anything but asphalt. To each his own. The Dunlop 606s I have now are noisy and squirrely on the road and are OK off road. The best 50/50 tire I have had to date are the Michelin T63s. There is a pair sitting in my garage waiting to replace the Dunlops.
Gravel? Treat it like sand, it just hurts more on the get offs.....
 

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Discussion Starter #19
What they do around here is scrape the loose stuff from the sides onto the middle, resulting in a surface like you are describing Brian, for miles. I agree about the offroad capability of the Mefo, that is why I replaced them with the MT21's. Though great off road and good on pavement the 21s definitely don't like the type of gravel I ride most. So now I'm stuck looking for tires again. Does anyone have a tire they like both on gravel and off road? I'm not too concerned about pavement as I do not do much riding on it.
Thanks for the replies!....Justjeff
 
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