This is a recurring argument every time the subject of modern-day adventure bikes is discussed. “It’s too big and too heavy to take off road.” Those are words I’ve read countless times and have even used myself when talking some of the segment’s most important players. personally, it’s always been more out of concern for my ability to pick the bike up should I drop it than for its ability to perform off-road, but I plead guilty nonetheless.
It’s the one thing that makes the purists nostalgic for the Dakar’s golden age, back when the bikes weren’t so heavy and the engines weren’t so big. Nowadays, adventure bikes have to pull triple duty between being good commuters, good tourers, and good off-roaders, something we started doubting they can all achieve perfectly. According to Ducati Enduro Academy trainer Beppe Gualini, however, we’re wrong to think big modern dual sport can’t pull their weight on the trails.
Ducati is making sure we stay well informed and well entertained during the quarantine with its Ducati Caffè YouTube series. After test rider Andrea Rossi showed us a few workouts we can do from home, it’s Beppe Gualini’s turn to give us a few tips on how to take any big adventure bike off the beaten paths without breaking anything.
In Gualini’s opinion, there’s no such thing as a dual sport too big or heavy to for off-roading. It’s all a matter of technique. As he explains in the video, of course, you need to adapt the way you ride to the size of the bike—you can’t ride your Multistrada 1260 on the trail the same way you would a Honda CRF450L, for instance. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
For instance, in a curve, you can’t use your foot as a pivot or as a safety like you would on a smaller enduro—that’s when you tip the bigger ADV and drop it. Instead, you have to learn to shift your weight on the footpeg located on the side of the bike that faces the outside of the curve. That’s also when the whole “look where you want to go” trick plays the most important part. He also touches on obstacle jumping, emergency braking in low traction situations, hill climbing, and downhill riding. The key thing to remember that it’s mainly about understanding where the weight is and learning how to counteract—no matter how weird it feels or looks.
Ultimately, it’s not about whether the bike can go off road or not, but about whether you can ride it off road or not. Ouch. Lesson learned. Once the series comes to an end and life resumes, we’ll have learned an awful lot from Ducati. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go apply some ice on my bruised ego.