V-Strom Dirt Test

Yesterday I took a ride out Plomosa Road, which has a few hills and curves that are fun. When I got back into Quartzsite I decided to see how the V-Strom would do on Old Yuma Road, which is a dirt road down the back side of the La Posa West and Tyson Wash LTVAs. I’ve done it many times on the KLR with no problem, so it was a good benchmark for the V-Strom’s current dirt capabilities.

My expectations were low since it’s currently on dedicated street tires, something I plan to change when it’s time for a new set. I took it slow, and although I didn’t have the grip that a set of tires designed for any dirt whatsoever would have, it did okay. The bike, itself, did rather well. More appropriate tires would give it some solid capability in easy-to-moderate dirt.

I saw my friend Willow was home — you can’t miss her rusty old van with a giant slug painted on the side — so I stopped and said hello. I also got to meet her cats, who Lister and I had inspired her to adopt. A few more friends soon showed up on minibikes and invited me to join them on a short ride to the Quartzsite Golf Course. Logan said the roads didn’t get much worse, except maybe for one short soft section across a wash. I decided to go for it. I was already more confident in the V-Strom’s dirt capabilities than I had before I took Old Yuma Road. Plus, if I ran into trouble and/or dropped the bike, I’d be with other people who would help.

In a swarm of both gas and electric minibikes, the V-Strom was the 800-pound gorilla. We took it slow, and I brought up the rear. I had a few moments the rest of the way down Old Yuma Road, specifically in soft sections where the front tire washed out, but each time I managed to recover. We took the turn down Pipeline Road, which is literally the road that follows a gas pipeline. Things got a little more rough and sketchy here. It definitely put my suspension to the test, but I never bottomed out or lost control. I appreciated the KLR’s Cogent Dynamics suspension a bit more, though. They have one for the V-Strom as well…

We reached the golf course without my dropping the bike. This is nothing formal, but a full 18 holes that local residents have set up in the middle of the desert. Of course, there’s no charge to play. I seem to have impressed the minibike riders by making it down Pipeline Road without dropping the bike. I guess I’ve picked up some skills from my KLR experience along the way. However, I didn’t wish to repeat the experience, especially because the most sketchy part was an uphill on the way back rather than a downhill. Thanks to Google Maps on my Apple CarPlay unit, I easily plotted a course back to the pavement and returned to camp that way.

I’m thankful for this experience. Not only was it a fun ride with some friends, but it also taught me what my new bike can do by pushing a few limits as safely as possible. I’ll enjoy the dedicated pavement tires while they last, but I’m also looking forward to replacing them with some tires capable of easy dirt to improve those capabilities as well.

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