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Discussion Starter #1
My primary residence is at the end of a mile long dirt/ gravel road at with a 4-5% Grade ?
As well as our Montana cabin being on a 4 mile long gravel road with a fairly steep last pitch of driveway. The plus is that neither county road sees any traffic, and the county roads are in pretty solid shape. The driveways are a bit washboardy with a pothole or two, but not rough.

Two throw in a teaser to me. Our cabin is near Red Lodge MT. which is the gateway to the Beartooth Highway which seems to be Bike Touring Heaven. Also hwy 78 going off the Interstate looks pretty fun for a Bike as well!

Getting ready to buy a newbie intermediate bike (was thinking Triumph Bonnie or Vulcan or Boulevard or such).
Then once I got comfortable doing day rides for a season or so was thinking of something I could drive to our cabin 500 mile away for a few day stay.

But I just now realized the gravel/ dirt roads are something I should think about in what bike I get. I would HAVe to be able to negotiate them EVERY time I ride. Am I limited to those adventure touring type bikes?
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I probably should also mention that my only Bike experiences were 40 yrs ago ( I'm 57) on a Tote Goat and Honda Trail 50.
My inseam of only 30.5" may limit me to not too tall bikes.
I am 5'10" weigh about 195 or so and stay reasonably fit with weekend Hikes withe the fam. I would only ever ride by myself, even if I do the couple of day touring type trips to our cabin.

I would eventually love to own and ride a Harley, just more that I think about it, an 800 lb Bike with bald tires going up and down those driveways/ county roads (even very slowly) does not give me the warm and fuzzies.

I do plan on enrolling in a Stars course as soon as my dislocated hand heals up. (Don't ask).
 

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Gravel roads are passable by street bikes, as long as they are reasonably maintained. Care has to be taken riding on them since the amount of traction is reduced.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Gravel roads are passable by street bikes, as long as they are reasonably maintained. Care has to be taken riding on them since the amount of traction is reduced.
Thanks so much ! Yes the gravel road parts that I would ride over are maintained, but there is a section of each that has a grade, not extremely steep, but lets just say in winter when the snow hits we need 4 wd to get up them. Even at grade they are OK?
 

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Deep gravel or mud is going to cause problems of course, but as long as you keep the speed at a sane level, the grade won't effect things much.
 

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Dusty conditions will require the chain be cleaned and oiled more often and the oil should be changed a bit more often as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I now have had the chance to query a local acquaintance that has ridden a motor bike for 15 years and daily commutes, my nephew who only has a couple of years of street bike experience, and a local Triumph/ Motoguzzi sales person. The acquaintance and my nephew are familiar with the stretch of gravel/ drive that I would have to traverse each time. I also described it to the sales rep. All three suggest that a mid size Adventure touring type bike is the way to go. They suggested while I indeed COULD take a touring bike up and down those stretches being careful, but the crux would be would I WANT to, or be willing to do that each time.
 

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An adventure bike would handle rough roads the best. That's what they are built for.

You still need to stay mindful that traction is lessened on loose surfaces, regardless of what type of motorcycle you are on. Lower than normal road speeds are called for on gravel.
 

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Yeah your terrain description sounds like it was made for an adventure bike. But an adventure bike may not fit "you"

A popular adventure bike like a Kawasaki KLR 650 has a seat height of about 35". Similar with a dual purpose bike like a Suzuki DRZ 400..

I think you should stick with considering a cruiser or standard bike format. As long as you take the gravel roads really slowly & carefully you should be fine. After all we're not talking about crossing plowed fields, correct? ;)
 

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Take a hard look at what you are considering. Sit on one at your local multi-brand dealer. Can you reach the floor when you sit on it? If not, what are you going to do when it wants to fall over on you at a near stop? I have to deal with a 29 inch inseam so many bikes are way out of my reach. If you want a touring bike, I can tell you that my 907 pounds wet Victory Vision is quite capable of negotiating almost any road with its street tires as long as I am patient enough to drive it in first or second gear at low speeds. I do not enjoy doing that but if I had to do it in order to ride a tour bike when I got to the end of my driveway, I would. A 35 inch seat height is not practical for anyone on the road. Nobody can reach the ground on that bike aside from NBA stars, and some of them would have trouble.
Your 500 miles day is what my bike was built to do. You are obviously going to need to trade off the long distance ability and comfort with your residence roads. I'm sure glad I don't need to make that decision.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Yeah now I have been going back and forth on this. I did sit on a couple of Triumph and BMW Adventure touring bikes at dealerships a couple of days ago. I did understand that those bikes tend to have tall SH which challenges my 30" inseam. The one Triumph Tiger 800 I could put both feet down flat footed.
I guess to go that route I would assume I would also ride other dirt roads to explore, and honestly I am not interested in dirt riding at speed. So I think I will take the advice and re think the Light Touring or Mid Size cruiser or touring bikes. It kinda would make more sense to get a bike suited to 98% of your riding. Thanks All!

Have always loved the Triumphs growing up, so I am going to start by looking at The America LT, but will probably explore other mid size touring bikes as well. I have some time, as I recently dislocated my right hand on a fly fishing outing, and it will take at least 4-6 weeks before I can take the stars course and use that hand meaningfully.
 
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