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. After 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). But 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.