Ok, let’s start this group session together now and say out loud:

“I give myself permission to sit down when riding my adventure bike.”


Really, a whole post on how or why to sit on an adventure motorcycle? How hard can it be, right? Actually, not hard at all. We all have that experience. Except, not quite. A good body position makes a huge difference in how you handle the bike in tough situations, so that this won’t ever happen to you. 👉

Ok, that’s not true, I just saw a cat and a motorcycle in a gif and had to put that in here.

Seriously though, sitting down when riding off pavement is a great way to save energy so you can ride longer and further. And with the correct body position, you can soak up little bumps and go around corners without loosing the front and crashing.

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When to sit down

Could you believe I have spent a lot of time figuring this out? Really, I did. Because I would hear and read that you just about need to standup whenever you are not on pavement. But, then I watch guys like Nathan Millward (around the world on a small scooter) and Sjaak Lucassen (around the world on a 150HP R1) and no way are they standing up on those bikes for days on end. And they are still alive…

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Relax! It is ok to sit down when riding off pavement. Photo by Nomad Bikers on Unsplash

For me, I sit down whenever I can do so safely. That means: if I am riding a well graded road, good visibility, and relatively low speeds, going in a (more or less) straight line? I sit down. It is just easiest and most comfortable to do hours on end and saves energy.

And you can still go around a corner sitting down on unpaved roads. Without the front wheel sliding from underneath you. If the corner is not too sharp and you can see through the corner, I usually sit down. And sharper corners can often still be taken sitting down when speed is reduced.

How to Sit Right

“Ok, now you’re just joking, right?”

Na-ah! There are some key differences between riding in a seated position on pavement or unpaved and it has everything to do with grip of the tires.

Road tires are very capable of sticking to the tarmac, even at serious lean angles. As long the road surface is pretty clean, you’re golden. Most riders enter a corner with a bit of counter steering to lean the bike over, then they tend to lean into the corner, with the bike. A bit sportier and you move your shoulders more in the direction the corner takes you, maybe even hanging off the bike a bit towards the inside of the corner. Racers do this, so the bike can stay a little bit more upright, allowing a bit more grip (and therefore speed) through a corner. But, if the tires loose grip at some point, there is very little you can do to prevent a rapid involuntary dismount.

Cornering like that on a loose surface such as gravel or sand, is not recommended. The front wheel will probably wash out quickly, resulting in another of those involuntary dismounts. So, how to prevent that and still carry some speed through a corner? Basically, you do everything opposite to cornering on pavement:

  • Lean the bike into the corner, but keep your body perpendicular to the ground. Spine and head straight up.
  • If need be, move your butt cheek on the outside of the corner off the seat.
  • Move as far forward on the seat as you can to load the front wheel as much as possible.
  • Do not use counter-steering to lean the bike into the corner. Briefly weight the inside footpeg to tip the bike into the lean, then move weight on the outside peg to load the contact patch of the tire.
  • Bonus tip: Don’t stick your inside leg out though. Does not help much with heavy adventure bikes, and it get nasty quick if your foot catches something in the rut and your bike lands on top of it.

The main goal is to keep yourself over the part of the tire that is touching the road surface. Very similar to the way many of us learned to do figure 8’s and slalom when taking lessons. Except in those exercises, you never had to move your butt on the seat. Now you do.

That way you are loading those two contact patches as much as possible, increasing grip. And if you do loose traction, you have a better chance of staying on the bike as the bike will move sideways with you, instead of rotating away from underneath you.

Go Practice!

A good way to practice this, is to find an unpaved, open space and practice those figure 8’s or slalom’s again. Do not use a lot of speed, so you can focus on your body position. Then apply it to a nice open but unpaved road and enjoy your new energy saving, confidence boosting riding technique. Onwards!