Nearly every motorcycle sold in India is built to ply on the black stuff. In its stock state, it won’t go too far if you take it off the road and twist the throttle to exceed crawling speeds. However, its abilities can be unlocked if you make some changes to make it more adept while handling challenges off the road. Before you start thinking of making additions though, there are components which your motorcycle will need to part ways with. Let’s take a look at what these changes are before you are ready to go out there and kick some dirt.
Disclaimer: Off-roading is fun, but dangerous too. Make sure that you undergo some training before trying extreme stuff, wear all the necessary safety gear, and always be within your limits.
Off-roading requires your machine to be robust, yet, as light as it can be. The first items to come off will be cosmetic components like fenders, any fairing, the saree guard, and if there’s a centre stand. If your motorcycle comes fitted with a chain cover, that will need to come off too as the chain will need room to flex when your bike tackles undulations like it has never seen before. Mirrors will have to go as there is nothing to see in the rear except for the dirt you kick. Electrical components like any switches you no longer need, the horn, and the turn indicators will have to sit out as well.
The stock head and tail light and the instrumentation console can also be removed and be replaced with aftermarket options which are lighter and tougher. If the stock saddle dips just where the fuel tank ends and rises up towards the pillion area, replace it with a flat seat. This will allow you to sit higher, offer an additional surface for your inner thighs to grip and control the bike when you’ve stood up, and allow your bottom to slide back unhindered when you need to transfer weight towards the back.
Stock tyres will have to be replaced by knobblies which will offer more grip on a loose surface. Alloy wheels may look fancy and for being lighter, are great for on-road duties. However, they’re prone to crack and could even break, depending on what your bike hits and how hard it hits it. Replace them with spoke type steel wheels. They might be heavier but offer more flexibility and absorb shocks better.
You may consider welding a brace between the existing handlebar or replace it altogether with a purpose-built aftermarket unit. Knuckle guards, grips and lever protectors are a few more additions which will complete the picture. The engine will need protection too as there will be a lot of debris wanting to pierce through its casing. You might have to fabricate one or purchase an aftermarket skid plate if it’s available readily for your motorcycle.
Off the road, your feet play a vital part in steering the motorcycle and need to be anchored in place when they stay on the pegs. Replace the standard stuff with those spiky, aftermarket units which offer more grip. Some even offer scope for adjustment if you have to tweak your riding position.
Standard front forks will have to make way for something which offers more travel and is built tough. Cap things off with a beak type fender which sits high up. Likewise, at the rear too, if you know that the standard swingarm might not last the distance, consider replacing it with a sturdier unit along with purpose-built suspension components which match the geometry of your modifications. Invest in a lighter, petal-type disc setup if the standard brakes aren’t good enough. However, if your motorcycle is fitted with a drum brake at the back, you must replace it with a disc as the rear brake is a vital controlling component when riding off the road.
From the point where it leaves the outlet till where it meets the muffler, consider protecting the exhaust pipe as a flying rock could easily create a rupture when the metal’s too hot. The best thing to do will be to get some help from an expert who can fabricate an aftermarket pipe which curls inwards immediately near the outlet, stays high up, and travels parallel to the bike’s wheelbase before plugging into a high mounted, upswept exhaust can.
Off the road, your motorcycle will need a healthy dose of initial and mid-range power to accelerate better. The easiest way to improve that is by fitting the biggest possible rear chain sprocket. You may also replace the one up front with something that has more teeth, but ensure that chain movement isn’t hampered if you do that. Install a high-quality air filter which will allow the engine to breathe better and get an expert to tune the fueling accordingly.
Once your motorcycle is ready, turn the attention towards yourself and invest in high-quality off-road riding gear which will protect you in the event of a fall. Whatever you do, do not venture into the unknown by yourself as unlike a busy road, if you take a fall, you will be far away from any assistance. Kicking dirt will be safer if you indulge in the activity along with like-minded friends or participate in any such events which happen around you.