RT in the dirt? - BMW Luxury Touring Community
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post #1 of 22 Old May 21st, 2020, 7:22 pm Thread Starter
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RT in the dirt?

I need some advice from the RT crowd.

I am looking to get a better long distance road machine to replace my current Triumph tiger 800. I am very attracted to the RT but expect there will be some light gravel roading in my future. Do any of you ride your RT on good dirt roads and does that seem crazy? Obviously I could get a GSA but I like the idea of a proper touring bike and love the look of the RT. I anticipate 90% paved with some long iron butt type days but a bit of poking on good gravel roads as well. I accept that I would be limited to good dirt roads at worst. I may need to get a little dual sport as well.

I appreciate any thoughts or feedback you may have.
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post #2 of 22 Old May 21st, 2020, 7:57 pm
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RT in the dirt?

Interested in this answer as well. My “off roading” is limited to fire service roads, National Forest roads, packed gravel, and such. Nothing “wilderness.” Asphalt 80% of the time. Seems like the RT would handle that fine, but would love to hear from the experts.


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post #3 of 22 Old May 21st, 2020, 7:57 pm
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Re: RT in the dirt?

The bike should be fine, most of the issues you run into on dirt/gravel are from rider error. Not saying to off road it though lol It defiantly can't handle harsh conditions. But fire roads or packed gravel/dirt it should be just fine.
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post #4 of 22 Old May 21st, 2020, 8:17 pm
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Re: RT in the dirt?

Took my 17 RT down about 6 miles of light sand, gravel roads a couple of weeks back. Was out riding on the paved road, passed the road mentioned above and wondered where it went. Turned around and gave it a try.

Took it very slow and made it fine. I think the only scary part was the light sand with the Pilot GT5 road tires (they are very new too). Also was very conscience of the gravel and didn't want any to kick up and damage the radiator (alone and no one knew my whereabouts).

Went fine and I'm glad I did it.

That said, I've been on local Forestry roads with my KLR that I would not try on my RT.

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post #5 of 22 Old May 21st, 2020, 9:54 pm
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Re: RT in the dirt?

The question is a little hard to answer as it depends greatly on your skills as a rider. Dirt or gravel requires its own level of riding finesse and if all of your riding has been on pavement, the bike will potentially handle much differently than what you're used to. The other potential challenge is, in the event of a drop, picking up what is a fairly heavy machine. While picking up a bike on pavement is one thing and with proper technique is quite manageable, it can be significantly more challenging on dirt, gravel, side of a hill, etc.

The RT will likely handle the type of riding you've described without much difficulty. You will have to make the decision on the other factors I mention.

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post #6 of 22 Old May 22nd, 2020, 8:09 am
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Re: RT in the dirt?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rossland rider View Post
I need some advice from the RT crowd.

I am looking to get a better long distance road machine to replace my current Triumph tiger 800. I am very attracted to the RT but expect there will be some light gravel roading in my future. Do any of you ride your RT on good dirt roads and does that seem crazy? Obviously I could get a GSA but I like the idea of a proper touring bike and love the look of the RT. I anticipate 90% paved with some long iron butt type days but a bit of poking on good gravel roads as well. I accept that I would be limited to good dirt roads at worst. I may need to get a little dual sport as well.

I appreciate any thoughts or feedback you may have.
If you know how to handle heavy bike in gravel, then you will be fine! I have taken my RT on deeply graveled roads on several occasions, and quite deliberately several times, without any issues. Loose grips on the handlebars, and don't fight the bike is the key things. I actually enjoyed the experience. However, if you think that you will be doing a lot of this, then the obvious choice is to go for the GS/GSA.

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post #7 of 22 Old May 22nd, 2020, 8:33 am
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Re: RT in the dirt?

I agree with what the others say. Light gravel and dirt is ok. Heavy and deep gravel not much fun.
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post #8 of 22 Old May 22nd, 2020, 10:08 am
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Re: RT in the dirt?

The biggest issue is that you don’t want to drop that beautiful bike, so your fears make you a less confident rider. The RT shares most of it's DNA with the GS so why wouldn’t it be competent other than that the tires are road tires. This is a video of my wife and I heading to a lodge off the Alaska Highway back in 2013. Two years ago we went to Labrador though we stuck mostly to pavement we did ride a few kilometres on rough gravel with sandy areas and large puddles, or it might have been a stream that ran across the road.



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post #9 of 22 Old May 22nd, 2020, 12:51 pm
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Re: RT in the dirt?

Personally I do not like gravel or sand on my RTs, but I have never fallen on them. I am cautous and careful on them. Some feel that keeping your speed up on sand is better, but they are better riders than i am. I have a friend who did Alaska on his RT.

I do not recommend wet mud, as here in in Zion National Park (not my bike):


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post #10 of 22 Old May 22nd, 2020, 1:54 pm
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Re: RT in the dirt?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffdean View Post
Personally I do not like gravel or sand on my RTs, but I have never fallen on them. I am cautous and careful on them. Some feel that keeping your speed up on sand is better, but they are better riders than i am. I have a friend who did Alaska on his RT.

I do not recommend wet mud, as here in in Zion National Park:

For me the issue of potential damage to the RT is more of a concern. Your picture, Jeff, disturbs me intensely. I do not ride off-road on the basis that my RT is not built to take the sort of punishment that say the GS is. The exposure of the bottom of the engine to stones without the bash plate of the GS would be a concern. (Having said that I have the GS bash plate fitted to my RT.) I would take a GS off-road though. The GS/GSA is designed as a universal machine for long distance touring as well as off roadIng and I’ve made the comparison before that the GS is the Land Rover Defender where the RT is the Range Rover. Both can do what the other does but why would you? It’s horses for courses.

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post #11 of 22 Old May 23rd, 2020, 8:12 am
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Re: RT in the dirt?

Keeping in mind the context of the OP's question, without the extremes - the RT is quite fine on the occasional dirt road, especially hard-packed dirt, BUT it will depend on your own abilities.



Going with a GS/GSA is a choice, but personally I wouldn't do it unless I was expecting to ride a significant percentage of time on unsealed roads. I should point out also that, even though the GS/GSA might seem to resemble the RT, there are several major features of the GS/GSA that makes it much easier to ride off-road. The obvious one is the suspension, with its longer travels and different spring rate, it's very much more tuned to the big bumps (generically speaking) that one expects to encounter off-road. Not so obvious is the fact that the GS/GSA have 19" front wheel, which makes off-road handling very much easier than with the 17" front wheel of our RT! The other not so apparent difference is that the GS/GSA has a lower gearing in the final drive, and that makes very low speed handling a breeze, but of course you would lose out on the top end speed but gaining acceleration rate over the RT! On top of all that, the GS/GSA is actually lighter than the RT, and that would be another factor for easier handling off-road.

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post #12 of 22 Old May 23rd, 2020, 8:48 am
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Re: RT in the dirt?

Many times on shorter gravel roads easy peasy. Nav V took us down a narrow one-way gravel road and thru a creek bed w/ 4-5" of water no problem and lucky for us no big rocks on the way thru the creek, but it was only may a 14' section and we could see well enough. Another time Nav V took me to a deep gravel narrow road w/ a crown and lots of gravel on either side of the crown. That turned out to be nearly 10 miles! An oncoming fire truck kindly pulled over to his side to give me room to not go off the road and thankfully I made it the entire 10m. There was no good way to turn around that wasn't worse than going forward! But yes, I always try to avoid anything that could result in a tip over since A, no way I could hoist it up and B, I don't have crash bars so the drop will be costly. So, I go out of my way to find low risk parking always and so far so good at 43K miles now on a '16 RT ordered new. Best all purpose motorcycle in the history of motorcycles!

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post #13 of 22 Old May 23rd, 2020, 8:52 am Thread Starter
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Re: RT in the dirt?

thank you all, I appreciate the input. I will have to decide if what the GSA gives up in road comfort is made up for in versatility. It sounds like I can make the RT work most of the places I would want it to go. Just have to decide if the benefit on road offsets the loss of flexibility. My Tiger skews a bit too far to the off road side despite being a fantastic all round bike, I just want more LD easy comfort
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post #14 of 22 Old May 23rd, 2020, 2:40 pm
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Re: RT in the dirt?

I wonder if something like the Ilium crash bars front and back would help protect the RT in a dirt road drop? I'm also torn between the comfort and roadworthiness of the RT vs the "universal" capability of the GS or GSA (at the expense of some road comfort/weather protection). I'm not doing any difficult off-roading, just fire roads and forest roads. Did the Dalton last summer on a rented 800GS and that was fine (we kept a close eye on the weather). I think the RT would do fine, but as noted a drop would be more expensive on the RT than the GS, unless there's some way to protect that fairing.
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post #15 of 22 Old May 23rd, 2020, 7:19 pm
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Re: RT in the dirt?

I have a 2011 R1200RT. Before that, I had a Honda 1100 V-twin Shadow ACE cruiser. Neither bike is made for dirt riding (or gravel). I have about the same reaction to having to ride on dirt as I do about riding in the rain. If you see me on my bike in the rain or on a dirt/gravel road, you can rest assured, it was not intentional, and I'm not happy about it. Unlike some, folks I know, I not only enjoy riding, but riding on my terms, and I enjoy taking care of my machine as much as I do using it.

In addition to my motorcycle, I have several vintage cars & trucks. I worked hard to acquire them, restore them, and enjoy them. But...I don't want some uncaring goofball to slam my doors, prop his butt up against my fenders, or use my vehicle for a picnic table. I have a friend who loves dogs. So do I. But, that friend has never spent thousands of dollars restoring a car, and has no concept of how to care for one and certainly not the value of a paint job. Drive into his yard and his dogs will jump through your window to greet you. So, as long as he keeps undisciplined dogs...he either has to visit me, or we meet somewhere away from his home.

I have had my RT on dirt twice riding with my friends. I did it to accommodate them but let them know I didn't like it. Both times, not very far, but enough to cause me to do special cleaning once I returned home. If I want to ride on dirt...I will get another horse, or a lighter machine specifically made for the purpose. I have had my share of adventures challenging hills, curves, and all sorts of terrain. But now...in my mid-seventies...I understand broken bones take a little longer to heal. So, I feel that I am very fortunate to still be able to straddle a bike and go for a peaceful ride on good roads. But...if I were 30 years younger...who knows?

But for now... For off-road on my property, I use a four-wheeler.

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post #16 of 22 Old May 23rd, 2020, 8:13 pm
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Re: RT in the dirt?

I've gotten caught off guard before with the RT on the graveled back roads and actually they handle very well in my opinion; I don't go looking for the challenge but if it happens..go for it.

I've had British, Harleys and Goldwing machines that were all quite capable and fun to ride on the gravel/dirt...If you got off track


Different feel for sure..keep the speed up and light on the bars and then 'ride it' . If you think you can..you probably can, but..If you don't think you can..you probably can't.

Have fun out there this summer!

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post #17 of 22 Old May 24th, 2020, 8:00 am
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Re: RT in the dirt?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rossland rider View Post
thank you all, I appreciate the input. I will have to decide if what the GSA gives up in road comfort is made up for in versatility. It sounds like I can make the RT work most of the places I would want it to go. Just have to decide if the benefit on road offsets the loss of flexibility. My Tiger skews a bit too far to the off road side despite being a fantastic all round bike, I just want more LD easy comfort
Only you can know what is best, but personally, I would stick with the RT. The GS/GSA is also very heavily biased toward off road, that is if you change the stock tires with tires more oriented toward off road. I think that the stock tires are rated 90/10 tarmac/dirt, but OTOH, the RT tires are 100% tarmac.



As I said earlier, the RT can handle even deep gravels, which I had done for dozens of miles, many times. The limitation is that, in deep gravel, I was not able to get past 2nd gear and still feel safe. However, once that road condition had changed to hard-pack dirt, with very few potholes, then I was able to get into 4th and maintained steady 50 mph and still felt quite comfortable. I suppose that I could have gone faster, and in higher gear, but I am the cautious type and likes to keep the rpm on the high side for better controls with the throttle rather than brakes, when I need to adjust speed in either directions.

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post #18 of 22 Old May 24th, 2020, 8:20 am
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Re: RT in the dirt?

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Originally Posted by pipestone View Post
I've gotten caught off guard before with the RT on the graveled back roads and actually they handle very well in my opinion; I don't go looking for the challenge but if it happens..go for it.

I've had British, Harleys and Goldwing machines that were all quite capable and fun to ride on the gravel/dirt...If you got off track


Different feel for sure..keep the speed up and light on the bars and then 'ride it' . If you think you can..you probably can, but..If you don't think you can..you probably can't.

Have fun out there this summer!
Yeah, the first time that I had encountered graveled road on the RT wasn't quite intentional either, but I had it in the back of my mind for sometimes prior, that I should find a gravel road and practice riding in it. The reason being that I love to explore the country back-roads, and one can't tell what one may encounter. That was exactly what happened that first time. I saw a road that I had often passed by, and that particular day, I decided to take it to see where it leads to. It started out OK, then about 5 - 10 miles down the road, the sealed surface started to be quite degraded, which turned into lots of deep potholes, and as I came around a curve, I was immediately faced with deep graveled road that just goes on and on. It seems that the municipality, or county, responsible for the road decided to "repair" the 20+ miles of damaged section of the road by dumping gravel onto the section, and graded it relatively smooth. By the time that I saw the gravel, the RT was in it, and I had changed down into 1st. One thing that I had learned not to do, is to stop in deep gravel, but keep in motion, which I did, and of course making a U-turn isn't even a factor to enter my mind. It would be really foolish. So, I kept on riding, and once I got familiar with how the RT handle the gravel, I gained more speed (for better stability) and got into 2nd but maintaining high rpm for control. I tried my best to stay in the rut that was made by cars that had traveled the road. More than 20 miles of that, and then the road improved into sections where the tarmac had been cleaned away completely, and the surface was hard-packed dirt with no gravels. Happily, I eased up the speed and got all the way into 4th and maintained 50 mph for another 10+ miles where that road intersect a major fully sealed country road.


After that experience, which showed my how well the RT could handle unsealed road, I deliberately takes the bike into clearly visible gravel roads and had lots of fun riding them! My bikes are never garage queens! I buy them to ride, and that is exactly what I do!

Pad. Gajajiva
Solon, OH, USA

2015 R1200RT (San Marino Blue Met.)
2014 R1200RT (Quartz Metallic Blue - Returned to BMW)
2007 R1200RT (Sold!)


Once Upon a Time........
1963 Norton Dominator 650 SS
1960 Triumph Bonneville (T120)
1960 Triumph Thunderbird (6T)
1952 Triumph Thunderbird (6T)
1932 Triumph 500
1952 BSA Goldstar

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post #19 of 22 Old May 24th, 2020, 11:10 pm
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Re: RT in the dirt?

The wonderful GPS has been the biggest culprit in getting me side tracked in the past...they are great gadgets though...I would be lost without

Going across twelve miles of road construction, deep gravel both lanes, on a turquoise and white soft tail HD, she was a beaut, I got behind some slow poke cadgers and ate their dust bad

Well.. out into the passing lane and rolled the throttle back and off we went, after adjusting to the feed back and feel it was an awesome ride....... even the blazzin by with a roar.



One last ride:

..On one of those 'getting caught off guard' rides, the wife and I bailed out on a stretch of ~six miles of construction on the GLH1800 going up the Madison river..the road dude says watch out for the soft spots, motorcyclists not advised..but..go at own risk
To far to go back the way we came, I said.. she said...............O.K. Off we went. Came into the first soft spot, took it easy and got pulled down bad, to stall..almost..said piss on this and yes rolled the throttle back again..soft spots one after another..another and another, finally out at the end of gravel/dirt ready to pick the asphalt back up heres a compound corner uphill 100yards with a potassium chloride truck spraying the dirt coming at me, to settle the dust, no gravel here.
I said ..no way to go back!!..............................she said I know!!


I said....... hold on...she said...............o.k. up the hill we flew, or so it seemed~35-40mph we low sided and up the road we slid..I could feel the unstableness of our body english and it wasn't quite together when we wooshed/wooshed from side to side to make the cornered incline; the signing people came forward and their insurance paid for the MC body parts and I installed. I think I might have had it if the bride had not been along


Thanks for listening-

and always know you can

Dana

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post #20 of 22 Old May 25th, 2020, 10:59 am
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Re: RT in the dirt?

Big heavy (expensive) bikes in the dirt? I don't think so for me.

In 2012 I took a 9 day ride with my girl in Southwest Colorado. One of the days was dedicated to Mesa Verde National Park.

From the visitor center down to the parking lot for the long climb down to the cave village was about a 8 mile drive on a gravel road. Freshly graveled, about 4 inches thick.

I was two-up on a Harley Davidson Ultra, so we were somewhere around 1300 pounds. The front wheel plowed the whole way. Took lots of muscle to keep it up. I was exhausted by the time we got there, and still had to climb down to the cave, and back up, and ride out of there.

I dislike non-paved roads. I absolutely would not ride off-road. I don't like riding in the rain due to traction.

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post #21 of 22 Old May 25th, 2020, 11:34 am
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Re: RT in the dirt?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rossland rider View Post
I need some advice from the RT crowd.

I am looking to get a better long distance road machine to replace my current Triumph tiger 800. I am very attracted to the RT but expect there will be some light gravel roading in my future. Do any of you ride your RT on good dirt roads and does that seem crazy? Obviously I could get a GSA but I like the idea of a proper touring bike and love the look of the RT. I anticipate 90% paved with some long iron butt type days but a bit of poking on good gravel roads as well. I accept that I would be limited to good dirt roads at worst. I may need to get a little dual sport as well.

I appreciate any thoughts or feedback you may have.
Get a dirtbike and ride in the woods for a while. That will cure any fear you have of taking the RT off road a bit. The RT will do it. I've been on some pretty rough roads in the woods due to following the gps instead of common sense. Crossed a bridge with a foot of water over it because it was farther to turn around and go back. 12 miles of forest road in Tennessee. Grip it and rip it. Momentum is your friend on questionable ground.
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post #22 of 22 Old May 25th, 2020, 6:19 pm
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Re: RT in the dirt?

Did a bunch of dry gravel fire roads in Colorado last year with our group. Excepting the fact I was nervous having the bike only for two weeks, it was totally fine on the roads.

You can see some towards the end of my video here

And also this clip here.
https://www.instagram.com/p/B1XxVvWj..._web_copy_link
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