The Dirty Dozen: 12 Inconvenient Truths of Off-Road Riding

In Blog, Motorcycle Trip Packing & Planning by Julian8 Comments

Every day Toby and the team bounce into the Ride Expeditions offices to bring the wonderful, flowery and thoroughly beautiful world of motorcycling alive through epic motorcycle tours. Sometimes life is so peachy, we’re even tempted to include a poetry section on our website to print the many poems that our loyal fans send in …


But this week we bring you a reality check  – the truth about your obsession – things you need to know if mo’cycles are your thang . These are facts, not alternative facts ….

Your partner doesn’t love bikes as much as you 

No matter how enthusiastic they may pretend to be to keep you happy, your significant other really would much prefer to be doing just about anything else in the world rather than holding a torch while you check the valve clearances. Although they’ll definitely know how many bikes you’ve got, and in extreme cases may know what makes they are, just vaguely recalling the colours is more likely.  And they are definitely not interested in yet another riding video you’ve found on You Tube …

OK so we know a tiny proportion of you might have a partner that rides, but these are like unicorns and even then rarely share the same level of obsession that only men are capable of.  But be happy, if they loved bikes too much you’d have to buy two of everything rubbish!

Bored woman

Age matters

No matter how much you kid yourself, the final digits on your birth date can’t be denied. It will get harder to stay fit, you will have to watch what you eat to keep the moobs at bay, and hair will grow out of your ears – fact. In the meantime, riding is a fantastic leveller. Although winning against children is a nothing to be proud of  – though nonetheless satisfying – once you get over 30 thrashing a rider ten years younger than yourself is deeply, deeply satisfying. On the flip side, being outridden by someone decades older than yourself is humbling in the extreme – we know, we got whooped by a pensioner on an EXC125 in the Welsh Two Day Enduro a few years ago.

Never mind – you can always take up Vintage MX ….

Elderly dirtbikers

Cheap Tools, Bad news.

Filling your garage with shrapnel from the Pound Shop is a crime against motorcycles – you should be slow hand clapped out of the club. If you’ve shelled out seven large on a dirt bike, then the least you can do is use some quality hardware on the beast.

And although it can’t turn a ham-fisted chimp into a GP grade spannerman, a box of top-notch toolage will give you a fighting chance of half competent maintenance. Mind you the weird thing is that whilst you can always find the crappy pair of pliers from Ranjani Discount Warehouse, the beautifully crafted 8mm Fro T bar disappears quicker than raindrops on a hot header pipe

Bastard bolt

An extension of Sods Law means that if a bolt is stupidly tight and so inaccessible you can only get a tenth of a turn on it, it will be made the softest metal known to man and will convert into a shiny blob of infuriating slag at the drop of a hat. And can you get a hacksaw to the little sod – can you hell! 

The infuriating law also applies after you’ve struggled your way through a complete gearbox rebuild, only to find one spare circlip glistening on the garage floor….

Rounded bolt

The Shocking Truth

KTM Suspension - is yours set up right?

You will never, ever, ever adjust your suspension as much as the manufacturers think you are going to. Don’t get me wrong, the detail freak in us all still wants dials, anodised pressure release valves and all manner of knurled dials to admire, and you might just about understand the principles of compression and rebound damping, but the cold fact is that most of the infinite adjustment that the engineers cram into our bikes springy bits will remain as untested as the Popes nether regions.

It’s the washing machine principle – 40 programmes available, you use whites or colours.


and we love it!

We run the best motorcycle adventures across Asia – from traversing the winding mountain roads on a Royal Enfield in the Himalayas to bashing through the jungle on a dirt bike in  Vietnam. It’s what we do, and we do it very well.

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Four stokes are easier to ride than two strokes

Four stroke engine

Although it may pain the old giffers out there to admit it, modern four strokes, particularly the 250’s, are truly astounding machines with performance way beyond what you could imagine from such a tiny engine. And whilst the wining crackle of a smoker is still an evocative sound to us oldies, the visceral booming of the thumpers as the valves do their thing is imprinting into the minds of the next generation.

But they’ll never really understand the visceral joy of hearing and smelling a Maico 490 running on Castrol R …

Two stroke Maico image

Loving free stuff is not a crime

Look round any motorcycle event or show and there are legions of normally rational men fighting to get their hands on anything that’s being given away like a horde of blood-crazed zombies. A free can of Monster – worth queuing up like a tramp at a soup kitchen – a copy of the No Toil DVD on how to clean your air filter – I’m prepared to push small children aside! We’ve still got a Fox bandana from the 2006 Motocross of Nations – despite the fact all British guys look a complete knob in a bandana. And don’t even talk to me about free stickers – the true Nirvana of stand giveaways! We’re sorry but if you’ve tired of the joy of free stickers, you’ve tired of life. 

Stickers - yes please

Breaking Bones Sucks, Big-time

X Ray

Not just a little bit, I’m talking a MacDonald’s Thick Shake with a hole in the straw. Whilst the actual snapping of bits your skeleton may feel like the most painful thing ever  – OK so let’s conveniently overlook childbirth – it’s a positive walk in the park compared to the wobbly pasty mush that you limbs become after being encased in a plaster cast for four weeks.

And you can forget coming back to riding in a month – break your wrists on the trail and you’ll be lucky to be wiping your own bum effectively within six weeks….      

Pink is for Heroes. Only

No, not the suspiciously butch Mrs Carey Hart. We’re talking about that Barbie coloured riding gear that occasionally rears its metrosexual head in the catalogues. The only way you can get away with pink is if you are on a Supercross track and you are faster than greased weasel poo in a catapult. Period. Everybody else just looks a complete Lord or a colour-blind fashion victim or both.

OK, riders like Ryan Dungey or Ken Roczen can carry off whatever they like, so reaching for the fuchsia zebra-print is an acceptable and intimidating racing strategy – it says ‘I’m so good I can dress like a clown and still beat you’.

For the rest of us – it’s not the nineties and you’re not Damon Bradshaw so unless you are raising money for Breast Cancer Research – step away from the pink. 

And for the girls that means you too – you are not Dirtbike Barbie.

Pink riding kit

Motorcycling is not cheap


Ok so you must never let your partner know, but riding bikes is a tad pricey. Whilst you can kid yourself that after you’ve bought the bike, it’s only petrol and occasional oil change, the reality is more frightening and financially crippling than a tank of diesel at a motorway services.

But no matter how curious you might be as to how much you really are spending, never write the numbers down; never tap it into a spreadsheet – because it will be found. Oh yes it will, just like that flirty text to the cute secretary at work that you thought you’d deleted. Enough said.

All bikes are adventure bikes

Despite the manufacturers of the world jumping onto the Adventure bandwagon with the enthusiasm if a drug addict in an unattended pharmacy, the creation of this sector is all smoke and mirrors, a marketing device to capitalise on the current demographic of the motorcycle market. The reality is that the styling of the bike does not determine whether you can have an adventure on it. Ride Expeditions organises tours on Royal Enfields,  Kawasaki KLX300s and Honda CRF250Ls– is one better than the others? Of course not, they are just different.

Motorcycle tours Cambodia by Ride Expeditions

Similarly, guys like Nathan Millward have ridden epic adventures on an Australia Postie bike and Nick Sanders has ridden round the globe on everything from an R1 to a Super Tenere. All over the world people take all types of bikes from Hondas to Harleys on fantastic journeys without ever worrying whether the marketing guy from ‘Blue Lemon Creative Agency’ thinks their bike is really an adventure bike.

If it’s got two wheels and you are on an adventure, it’s an adventure bike.

Adventure bike image

You cannot ride bikes forever

There will come a time when being winched onto your bike like a pensioner into a bath is maybe not the ideal weekend. Yet before that point, there really is no excuse for having a bike in the garage and not riding the fricking thing. A staggering number of you reading this own bikes yet don’t ever take them out from week to week – how mad is that? There is no excuse – join a club, get yourself organised and get riding.

Get organised for an adventure motorcycle tour in the Himalayas with Ride Expeditions

You might even join us on one of our epic adventures!

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Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017 Toby Jacobs
Acknowledgements: Various, Nathan Millward, Husqvarna


  1. Amen to that brother, riding since 1969, now 62.7 and still riding. Honda 650, Yamie 450 WR, KTM 500 Excf plus all the road stuff. One thing hope your wife never sells your bikes and kit once you die for what you told her it cost, yee ha.

  2. I wish I still had my 1978 Maico 400. It was the ultimate motocross / enduro bike at the time, for me.

  3. Someone had to leave a thirteenth inconvenient truth – the gravitational pull of rocks.

    In South Africa as “rock suck” is the phenomenon through which you see a rock (or lurker) from 50 metres away yet still manage to T-Bone your front wheel into it often having a little get-off as you go. They are simply impossible to miss.

    Gravitational rocks abound near any photographer (along with false neutrals as you’re trying your McGrath styling) and climb to the surface whenever you are near event spectators. Other countries have reported “Tree suck”, Mud Suck” and various other guises of odd gravity-based riding issues. An inconvenient truth.

    1. Author

      Like it Ian – we may need to include that in a second list. Target fixation is dealt with in our Basics guide to off-road – it’s a depressingly common syndrome!

      Come on one of our tours and it’s easy to focus on the scenery!


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