It’s Getting Crowded on the Scrambler Farm

As I’ve said multiple times on the new podcast, we live in strange times. Fortunately, motorcycling at its core is a solo sport. “Social Distancing” on a motorcycle is easy, and for many, the whole point. For the protection of my wife, I spent the early days of the (Ohio) “Stay At Home Order” keeping to myself, meanwhile I stumbled on some local trails that became my saving grace. Flogging Jerri the Tiger Shark for everything she’s worth, I found release, if not serenity along the single-track paths through the dense woods. Between the first round of KXCR prior to “lockdown”, and polishing off-road skills on local dirt, I started to feel the limits of the CRF250L’s capabilities, if not simply the intended purpose of said machine. I mentioned in my long-term 250L review , my eyes had already started shifting to a more suitable machine for a dirt Muppet.

So I bought a new bike

By new, a mean another; in addition to. While I felt Jerri deserved a better life than being thrashed near the redline at the local hare scramble, she certainly still has her place.

For all the points I made about the 250L’s strengths, I told the wife I didn’t want to part with the 250 because it does a job that cannot be replaced by a race bike. To my shock, I’m still living indoors (for now). A day after bringing home the new steed Jerri was already back to work, teaching my sister-in-law how to ride a motorcycle. I expect we’ll still spend a lot of time on the trail, as the new bike will not be suitable for riding endless hours on pavement or carrying luggage and the Kentucky Adventure Tour is high on my priority list this year, especially after NE24 was canceled.

Ellinor the Buzzsaw

I’m pretty thrifty, or well, “cheap” depending on what we’re talking about. As much as I wanted to roll down to the local KTM dealer and pick up a 2020 KTM 300 XC-w TPI, that was simply not in the cards. I rode most of KTM’s off-road line last fall, along with select Sherco models, a friend’s Beta Xtrainer, and an extended test ride on a KTM 350 XCf-w on some of my favorite bluegrass byways. Husqvarna TE250 CreekAfter all that, I felt I had a pretty good grasp on the type of bike I wanted, but it was a matter of finding something in my price range (AKA cheaper than a divorce lawyer). I bookmarked pretty much every 2-stroke woods bike in the Tri-state, along with Yamaha WR250f and Honda CRF250x models nearby. In the end, I wanted another Honda, but I wanted a 2-stroke more. Unfortunately Honda gave up that game a long time ago, and Yamaha’s YZ250x is hard to find for what I was willing to pay. I had a good deal on a used KTM 300 XC-w lined up, but couldn’t pull the trigger in time. Fortunately I had a buddy that was ready to part ways with his Husqvarna TE250 (to buy a KTM 350 XCf-w). When the wife said “go to the bank”, there was a trail of flames for two miles leaving the driveway. The 2015 Husky is essentially a copy of the KTM 250 XC-w, with exception of linkage rear suspension and polymer rear subframe (and other nuances). I’m not crazy about orange, but understand that KTM is (arguably) the leading game in two-stroke enduro motorcycles, so I wanted “made in Austria” stamped on the smoker I brought home if it was possible.

Two is greater than four

Brace yourself, conjecture follows. Unfortunately, I did not grow up riding two-stroke dirt bikes. I now believe that is the “correct” way to teach motorcyclists (as kids, starting on dirt bikes, preferably 2-strokes in early stages, but not necessarily first). Husqvarna TE250 LogBut without a long monologue about “learning to ride”, I watch the World Enduro Super Series (WESS), the Cross Training Enduro channel on YouTube, and see the other bikes that I’m racing against at the local hare scrambles. While I don’t think I have a shot at every becoming someone like Graham Jarvis, I do want to get into slower, more technical riding off-road. In that realm, I believe two-strokes dominate, purely because of how they function. I like the way a 2-stroke woods bike transitions left and right faster. The explosive power of the smoker is also intoxicating; while I also like the “ring-da-ding-ding-ding” song the expansion pipe sings. Lastly, as dumb as it sounds, I believe the two-stroke will be cheaper and less work over the life of the bike versus a comparable 4-stroke. I may be eating crow down the road, but that’s where my head is for now. I probably have 5-10 hours on the new steed as of now, so I’m sure there will be a lot more to talk about after the first race coming up later this month. Stay Tuned.

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12 Responses to It’s Getting Crowded on the Scrambler Farm

  1. Bud says:

    Congrats on the new ride. When you get the go ahead to buy a motorbike don’t dally.

    • Drew Faulkner says:

      I don’t normal subscribe to the beg for forgiveness than ask for permission mantra… but I flirted with it this time. As of this moment. n=3 until I get a garage.

  2. Tim Burke says:

    Congrats on the new steed. I’m following this because I too like the Huskies and don’t want to drink the orange cool-aid (I know, its simply a brand thing… I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon simply because everyone else is… this is simply my headspace). I think I’m looking for a Suzuki DRZ400 for all the obvious reasons. I expect I’ll get one soon. Cheers!

    • Drew Faulkner says:

      I thought long and hard about upgrading the CRF250L to the DRZ, but the weight made me think that bike 3 would be necessary to race efficiently. That outside the formula, I think the DRZ is a solid buy for just about anyone. A set of dirt wheels and a set of sumo wheels and go to town.

      It’s funny how KTM “feels” like it has a polarizing effect on the motorcycle population. I frequently refer to them at Dirt Harleys for that, and many other reasons. In the world of 2 strokes, it’s tough to pass up a KTM built product. To my knowledge, Beta and KTM (products) are imported in a fashion that makes getting a street title easier. That’s obviously a big selling point for me. I want to spend some time on the Beta 200 rr at some point, and see if that’s the TE250’s ultimate successor, but we’ll see how that plays out. With that, I really wanted KTM’s PDS shock on the XC-w bikes. Some guys like Linkage rear suspension better, I personally don’t feel a significant difference and it’s one less thing I am going to break crossing logs and rocks. That said, Jarvis has linkage suspension so…

  3. Stryker ADV says:

    Congrats on the Husky, I’ve been kicking around the idea of picking up a WR250 as a trail bike. I’ve been out of racing for quite a long time and I was never good at it but I did notice that my Suzuki RM250 did give me an advantage at times over a lot of the 4 stroke bikes. Now if only I could of used that advantage a little better.

  4. jimmytmoto says:

    Beautifully written and articulated. Care to share any thoughts on the Beta Xtrainer that you rode? As a 56-year-old shorty the specs and description tick a lot of boxes for me but I’ve never been on one.

    And 100% agreed on the dirt Harleys thing – I’ve been saying that lately! 10 years ago guys my age would wander into a Harley shop and plop down their cash for a bike and all the branded accessories. Now that money is being thrown at KTM dealers. I never would have called that one.

    • Drew Faulkner says:

      The Xtrainer is incredible. I was tooling around with it in my friend’s yard just the other day. I find the frame to be a bit small for my taste. The Xtrainer (and the Freeride) are both like 7/8 scale dirt bikes. The Xtrainer is incredibly light, and the suspension is ultra plush. I would have a blast with that bike in certain places around Kentucky and locally at Dayton Dirt Riders. My only concern with that bike is that I don’t think is would hare scramble as well as a full sized enduro bike. It would do it, but the suspension would be really taxed on the fast sections. I would still own one for sure, but not just yet.

      • jimmytmoto says:

        Thanks, that really sounds perfect for my application – forgiving for trail riding, some technical stuff, and occasionally spirited riding (but not racing) – all in a bike that won’t wear me out. Now to win the lottery…

      • Drew Faulkner says:

        Story of my life…
        I’m hoping at some point I’ll have a Beta around. I really like their bikes, but they’re not cheap and they’re rare as hens teeth on the used market.

  5. Simon says:

    Well, as an old fart I grew up with 2 strokes and I still love them. My first off roader was a BSA Bantam 175 2T and what fun!! And then a Suzuki GT185 road bike, happy days. Off road is pure FUN!!!

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