The first rule of riding in dirt is to stand up. That allows the bike flop around without alarming you and your weight adding to the movement.
It also gives you a better look ahead for obstacles.
However, it is difficult to stand on a cruiser, so we suggest just remaining seated.
And don’t bother dropping the tyre pressures unless you are riding in sand. You won’t puncture a tyre if you are going slow.
Gravel busting tips
So here are 10 things you can do to ride your cruiser on dirt:
Breathe. You will get through this, but first you have to breathe deeply, relax your shoulders and handlebar grip, and don’t get too stressed. The more relaxed you are, the less likely you will overreact to any bike movements. It’s important to let the bike squirrel around a little bit.
Leave a gap. If you are in a conga line of traffic, don’t tailgate. Leave a fair gap to the motorist in front and if you are being followed closely by a vehicle, turn around and ask them to back off while you get through or they could run over you if you do drop the bike.
Be smooth. Accelerate, change gears, brake and steer smoothly. Sharp inputs can have drastic effects.
Don’t paddle. Keep your feet on the footpegs. This gives you more control. Paddling with your feet will only slow you down and may not prevent you from falling, anyhow. However, a low cruiser will still allow you to have the odd dab at the ground for added stability.
Look ahead. Don’t look down or that’s where you will end up. Keep an eye ahead so your bike goes where you are looking. It also helps you identify any obstacles such as ruts, mud or deep gravel.
Accelerate. Ride into the roadworks very slowly so you can gradually increase your speed without having to touch your brakes. By applying a bit of throttle through the roadworks, you control the bike though the back wheel and keep pressure off the front, preventing it from tucking under. If the road ahead is sand, you may be in a bit of trouble as that requires a light front end and acceleration. But it can be done with some practice and bravery pills!
Don’t brake. Only if absolutely necessary, should you apply the brake. And then, it should be smooth and mainly rear brake. If you have ABS, that’s actually an advantage in dirt when you are sporting road tyres!
Turn slowly. If the roadworks goes around a corner, you will have to turn, but try to make a big arc through the corner by staying in the outside wheel track.
Pick a wheel track. Even if you go around a corner and need to arc out the angle a bit, try not to get out of the wheel tracks as these are drier and firmer.
Don’t stop. Most riders drop a cruiser when they stop in tricky situations. Try to keep the bike moving, even if very slowly. Rely on that big flywheel and maybe slip a little clutch to monitor your speed.
(Thanks to my mate Peter Davis who rode his Honda cruiser up and down this steep gravel hill for the video.)