When we think of taking motorcycles off road on trails and tracks, we could be forgiven for thinking that only big ADVs or Enduro/Motocross bikes would be suited, however this could not be further from the truth.
At a recent motorcycle show I heard a chap talk about off road riding on small bikes on the adventure riding stand…and what he was saying is what I have been screaming about for years.
In fact it would be true to say that any motorcycle, moped or scooter could easily handle the off road environment and might even be a lot better than most of the bike you would normally associate with it.
I have always been a great advocate of ‘any bike, anywhere & any time’ I don’t think that you should stop yourself from any riding activity just because you riding a certain style or type of bike. If you want to take your Harley to a race track, then why not? OK, you’ll be a lot slower than all the rest, but it doesn’t mean you can’t and as long as it is safe for all riders, then go have some fun.
The same for any road bike can be used off road too, especially if we’re talking mainly compacted trails that are not too challenging. And when I say challenging, I mean not overly steep terrain, deep and narrow ruts or obstructed by fallen trees or large boulders.
However that being said, if the bike you are riding is light enough, then even in the tricky elements, you could always just physically pick it up, throw it over the obstacle and carry on your merry way.
That is the beauty of a small cc bike, even a moped. They are light – easy to pick up when you drop them and will squeeze through any gap too. Really good on fuel and very easy to manhandle on the trails with a low centre of gravity…all the things that are good news for the off road world.
Now, let’s be logical here. I’m not talking about doing big jumps or riding through rivers, but more getting out or the muddy trails and just getting dirty for a few hours, days or weeks. Nothing too technical but a real hoot and you’ll be riding the same trails as any other ‘off road capable’ bike too.
One of the limiting factors is tyres, ground clearance and power in most people’s eyes. However most road tyres will do off road trails quite easily especially when dry. They mostly only suffer in the wet on slippery clay surface and riding up or down steep inclines. But that is the beauty of a small bike. If it gets stuck or can’t get through, then you can easily just get off it and push the thing without needing a defibrillator at the end of it.
Ground clearance can be an issue too. You really don’t want to be bashing the underside of your bike too often. Squashed exhausts or broken sumps isn’t fun, however in 99% of the cases you can pick a route to avoid these dangers…and when not, once again pick the bike up and carry it or just turn around.
Finally most people will argue that they need the grunt for off road riding but unless you want to ride faster off road and go climb vertical dirt banks, the power available is wasted. You only need the power to move you and the bike along. The extra power will just enable you to go faster and easier in difficult terrain.
Slow and steady winds the day in the off road world especially for those wanting to take in the views and not be so concerned about plumping their ego.
Could a Honda Cub C125 go off road and be good at it. Of course it could. In fact most of these 1 million bikes sold have been used exclusively in areas of the world dominated by unpaved roads…so what does that tell you. However if you can get hold of a Honda CT125 with some knobbly tyres…you’ll be golden.
I wager any cheap moped, scooter or small displacement bike would easily tackle most tracks and trails and make it a lot easier for the rider and much more fun too. Try checking out some YouTube videos where mopeds are flung along some dirt tracks or which ride on by stranded big ADVs.
You might be surprised at what you see and this may change your perception of what these little bikes can do and how much fun you will have too…but the best thing of all is that these small bikes will not cost you a lot fo money at all. If you drop them, they are easy to pick up. If you damage them, they are easy and cheap to fix. If you total them, they are cheap to replace. It’s a win win situation all around.
Still not convinced? Go check out Dorothy’s Speed Shop in North Devon, UK