Adventure Riding Techniques
As someone who is only interested in riding motorcycles on tarmac, I purchased Adventure Riding Techniques (ART) to get a better perspective of how to handle different types of terrain and to learn more about riding on dirt. The old adage, "learn by riding on dirt" seems to have a lot of truth in its foundation. Valentino Rossi, Nicky Hayden, and Troy Bayliss are just some of the world's top motorcycle racers with roots grounded in dirt bikes and motorcrossing. I also watched both documentaries, Long Way Round and Long Way Down, and have learned a great deal about motorcycles. I don't have the opportunity to hit dirt trails on a whim, and I never liked dirt bikes, dual sports, adventure touring bikes, or offroad motorcycles but in my quest to improve my riding technique, this was a great start in my opinion.
Adventure Riding Techniques is mostly about technique. There are some chapters concerning proper safety equipment and tips on selecting a proper motorcycle for the journey. As a rider that is more interested in learning more about motorcycles, I found a great deal of value in this book - much more so than Carl Adams' Dual Sport Motorcycling.
The biggest take-away from Adventure Riding Techniques is to stay loose and relaxed on the bike, and to utilize body movement and positioning to maintain balance. Valentino Rossi utilizes his height (albeit, not very tall by absolute standards at around 5'10") to shift the weight around on the motorcycle. In ART, this concept is reinforced at almost every corner. There are diagrams showing the basic positions for each type of scenario which is very helpful. I was apprehensive about standing up on the bike and used to think that it was for showing off (like Rossi's victory lap shenanigans) but increasing sight distance and to handle rough terrain are two legitimate reasons for standing up on the footpegs!
I was pleasantly surprised by the coverage on brake sliding in turns and power sliding. These are generally very dangerous to practice with on tarmac, but being able to read about the procedures and what happens in these situations was a treat. Nicky Hayden's motorcycles were always shown as examples of how each MotoGP rider operates differently. His bikes always had a larger rear disc since he is used to riding on dirt, while other riders like John Hopkins avoid using the rear brake. Doing a clutch dump or sliding the rear tire are essentially two ways of initiating a drift in a 4-wheeled car, so again I like how ART covers riding techniques that aren't quite covered in the MSF courses.
There are some exercises or concepts that are tightly integrated with those taught for road motorcycles. One of them is how to steer and ride very slowly. In Riding like a Pro, the Motorman teaches how to use the friction zone and to drag the rear brake in order to ride at 1-3 MPH. Hahn's Maximum Control also teaches a similar routine. In ART, that concept is very important for certain terrain as well as to limit wheelspin. ART also mentions the need to turn off ABS to get closer to the threshold of locking up the brakes to obtain maximum braking. A lot of new riders are eager to purchase bikes with combined, linked, and/or ABS brakes due to the safety factor.
Placing weight on the outside footpeg in a turn is something that Hough teaches in Proficient Motorcycling, as well as Keith Code in his Twist of the Wrist series (albeit Code calls it pivot steering).
Some of the other concepts come in handy with driving cars on loose terrain. Braking early before hitting loose terrain (like snow, ice, or mud) is important whether you have 2 wheels or 4 wheels as traction becomes the name of the game.
There are lots of great photographs, which seem to complement the lack of text. This is in stark contrast to Dual Sport Motorcycling where I felt there was a great deal of text and information, but it was presented in a way that was lost in translation. I did not like how ART demonstrates lifting a fallen motorcycle. With that method it is easy to hurt one's back, groin muscles, and/or shoulders. In Riding like a Pro, Motorman's method is a time tested method where petite women are able to lift 600+ lb fallen heavy weight motorcycles by themselves. In ART, that method looks very similar to what Ewan and Charley tried to do in the myriad of times they dropped their bike, as well as how MotoGP and World Superbike riders/track marshalls use to lift the bike and it rarely works the first time.
Overall: 4/5 stars, if you have to buy one book for learning about riding techniques on different terrain (non-tarmac) - this is it.