We’re now a few weeks into the COVID19 outbreak here in the U.S. If you’re holding down the couch at home, I have some epic crash video on tap for you… But first, I’m going to monologue a little bit about goings-on with the 250L and events leading up to race weekend.
A few weeks back was Round 1 of the new Kentucky Cross Country Racing series (KXCR). Considering the amount of time I spend adventuring around the Bluegrass, it goes without saying my interest was piqued the moment I heard rumors about a new cross-country series. Whiskey River (IXCR) was the hardest race I’d done to date, that combined with the fact I’d sat mostly idle through the winter, I was ready to hit some virgin single-track at the earliest opportunity.
Over the winter I also made a few more modifications to the TooFatty. A buddy was selling a set of fat bars, so I picked those up cheap and removed the heated grips at the same time I installed them. The stock risers are molded into the top clamp of the triple-tree so I spent $30 on some Pro-Taper 7/8″ to 1-1/8″ 3/4″ risers (sorry, that’s a lot of quotation marks); just the right height for me to race at (I’m 5’10”), but too low to spend a whole day “adventuring”. To shed weight, I also unbolted the factory tool compartment and removed the rear luggage rack. Late in the fall last year I also snapped the aluminum folding shift pedal I installed when I first bought the bike. After multiple incidents of bending the shifter, I decided to order a steel folding shift pedal from Honda (CRF250L Rally part). While not a perfect solution, at least the steel pedal will bend back… a few times.
I also removed the charcoal canister (very similar to how I removed the EVAP canister from the Scrambler). During the Whiskey River race, I had considerable trouble keeping the bike running after several crashes. Despite being fuel injected, it seemed like the bike was getting flooded or vapor-locked. While picking up the bike late in the race I noticed fuel dripping from one of the drainage tubes. I had a suspicion that the charcoal canister was getting full and causing a vacuum problem for the fuel tank. After removing the Evap canister I experienced no so issues after similar crashes on local trails over the winter. While I’ve not tackled it yet, I will likely remove the Secondary Air Injection System (SAI) at my earliest convenience. The SAI on these bikes is a bit more complicated than the Scrambler, but it’s still a bunch of excess hoses and electrical bits adding weight and taking up space under the tank.
After some mishaps on some nondescript trails in Kentucky, I managed to damage the rear turn signals so badly they needed replacing. Thus, I finally broke down and paid for a TST Industries tail tidy. I hated the stock tail light assembly from go, but I hate mud up my back and let’s be honest, I knew it was only a matter of time before the terrain claimed a turn signal and I needed to spend a few bucks anyway.
That fateful December trip to the Bluegrass also spelled the end for the factory clutch. Toward the end of the ride, the clutch started slipping really bad above 45MPH; fortunately, I was already on the way back to the Jeep. I got parts in hand quickly (hat tip to Honda of Fairfield), and thanks to another solid video from Attention Deficit, I removed the judder spring and installed a fresh set of friction plates and steels. For those interested, I ordered all the clutch parts for a 2013 Honda CBR250R; unlike the 250L, the CBR does not use the judder spring but all of the other parts have identical numbers. For those unfamiliar, the CRF250L makes use of a “judder spring” (look up Belleville washer) to make the clutch engagement “smoother” for new riders. I liked the clutch engagement in stock form, so I never bothered to change it. At least I thought I liked it, now that I have swapped all of the clutch discs for the CBR250R setup, I will never go back. The 250L is a serious tractor now with low gearing and a new clutch. It used to stall out on hills and so on, but now it climbs at will. That’s a good thing because I needed the torque for the carnage about to take place at Russell Creek:
While I was far more prepared physically, Russell Creek was significantly more difficult than my prior two races. I’d spent the weeks prior running 3 days a week, but there’s no denying the hardest part about racing the fat bike is picking it up. I’d previously spent some time sliding around the local river mud and some fine Kentucky Clay, but I’d never spent 2 non-stop hours in the slop. Jerry the Tigershark took a pretty good beating on that hickory tree late in the race but finished nonetheless. I still want a dedicated racing machine, but just as in previous races, I was still the weakest link, not the bike. Despite her portly physique, the CRF250L handled every obstacle and put power to the ground when I needed it, I simply didn’t have the endurance to stay on the pegs and keep the bike pointed in the right direction. As with previous races, I learned a hell of a lot, and can’t wait for the next round. I’ve spent the last two nights getting things tuned up in the shed, Jerri should be ready to rip after an oil change a new set of rear brake pads.
Lastly, I want to shout out to a couple racing buddies. First my buddy Jeff Fueling, I think he now has more race finishes than I do. He helped me out on the trail after a failed hill climb and also helped an injured racer off the trail. I also want to shout out to @tjmiller31, I spotted his WR250R on the side of the entry road before the race and was curious how things went. Turns out this was his first race ever, glad to see more people hitting the trails. I can’t say it enough, the racing community is a very welcoming one.