Moto Adventurer Unscripted: Can You Hear Me Now?

Considering my most recent post, it goes without saying I listen to a lot of podcasts. I’ve been debating about starting a podcast for several months now. MotoADVR Unscripted IconIn light of recent events, most people are sitting at home, including myself. Thus, I decided to seize the opportunity to sit down with a few friends and chat about life and motorcycles; so today you can now listen to the first 4 episodes of “Moto Adventurer Unscripted“.

As with other projects, like the YouTube channel, I’m not entirely sure what direction this will finally take and unfortunately this is one more thing that will likely take time away from writing. That said, I think now is a prime time to get into podcasting. With traditional “live” broadcasts struggling to stay afloat, I’m looking forward to offering a new outlet for motorcyclists, adventure seekers, and otherwise outdoorsy folks.

Right now “the plan” is to host long format podcasts with individual guests (something akin to Joe Rogan). I like the idea of two people sitting down having a casual conversation about things that interest them (not always motorcycles). I prefer the natural environment and letting the conversation flow in whatever direction the guests take it. This is, of course, the infancy of this grand idea, so we’ll see where it lands over time.

For those inclined, you can find “Moto Adventurer Unscripted” on Anchor, Stitcher (pending), Pocket Casts, and Spotify. I’m looking to have it syndicated on additional channels as soon as possible. I’d also love to hear not only feedback about the show, like “upgrade your equipment!” and what platforms you want to listen on; but also the names of guests you’d like to hear from. Please leave comments below or hit me up in e-mail with what you think!

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More Ways to Motorcycle: Indoor Two-Wheeled Entertainment

At this point, most of us are at least two weeks into some form of COVID-19 “social distancing” routine. For some folks, that might mean the motorcycle is parked for a while. In my case, I’m trying to get out when I can, but there’s no question the riding is a bit restricted.


Not long after government “Stay Home” orders were released, I started receiving various text messages from friends asking about the motorcycle podcasts I listen to. When I’m not moonlighting as a moto-blogger, I spend my days sitting at a CAD machine for forty-plus hours a week. Needless to say, I consume a lot of motorcycle related audio to fill the silence. Working from home the last couple of weeks, I’ve exhausted most of the new material, but I wanted to share with folks the various outlets I listen to.

Motorcycle Men Podcast

Ted Kettler and his brothers sit down every other week or so and shoot the breeze about motorcycle stuff. Ted usually publishes an interview on the bi-weeks with various motorcycle personalities. If you recall, Ted interviewed yours truly a little over a year ago. That interview is actually what spurred my interest in motorcycle podcasts. Ted has interviewed an incredible number of guests over the last five years, including Alonzo Boden, Charlie Boorman, Robert Pandya, Graham Field, and countless others.


Brap Talk

Jensen Beeler of Asphalt and Rubber hosts a weekly podcast about motorcycle industry news. For those unfamiliar, right around the 2008 recession, Jensen Beeler passed the bar exam but struggled to find work as an attorney. He started a website in his basement which soon became his full-time job and is now one of the best motorcycle publications available. Jensen is joined by co-host Shahin Alvandi. Shahin is a former manager at various motorcycle dealerships, Ducatista, and adventure enthusiast; images of his “Lucky Strike” Multistrada can be found on all reaches of the interwebs.


2 Enthusiasts Podcast

Before BrapTalk, Jensen Beeler hosted the 2 Enthusiasts Podcast with co-host Quentin Wilson for about 3 years. If you like Brap Talk, go take a peek at the 2 Enthusiasts archives; the personality dynamic is a bit different, but the overall feel of the shows is the same. It’s also interesting to go look back at breaking motorcycle news of the time in today’s light.



When YouTube becomes a Podcast. Revzilla’s YouTube Channel is arguably one of the greatest reasons the online retailer was so successful. Revzilla took it a step further by hosting a roundtable discussion between three of their normal video hosts to discuss hot motorcycle topics (Spurgeon, Joe, and Lemmy). That YouTube bit was later repackaged into a podcast, including material that was normally left on the cutting room floor.


Adventure Rider Radio (and ARR Raw)

Since 2014 Jim Martin has hosted a podcast dedicated to adventure riders and their passion. Jim publishes an episode of Adventure Rider Radio (ARR) weekly, including stories from the road with world travelers, riding techniques and tips from motorcycle instructors, and interviews with industry personalities providing gear and services to the adventure community.


Motorcycles and Misfits

From Santa Cruz, California, Liza, Miss Emma, and a swath of personalities talk about repairing and restoring motorcycles at the “Recycle Garage”. Various guests passing through Santa Cruz often join the show and the entire crew discusses hot topics and quandaries as motorcyclists. Beyond chit chat, Miss Emma is also a veteran mechanic and goes deep into the weeds about the mechanical operation of motorcycles, how to diagnose various issues, and epic explanations of the history of motorcycle companies and their bikes.


Dirt Bike Channel

Kyle Brotherson launched his podcast recently after having several years of success on his YouTube channel. Similar to Highside/Lowside, much of his content is on both platforms, but the podcast is recorded separately and tends to go further in-depth considering he doesn’t have to hassle with video. Dirt Bike Channel is obviously what the name suggests, which is not particularly inclusive of street-legal bikes; however, there’s a lot of information about off-road riding, along with interviews of some of the industry’s best riders and manufacturers.


Dirt Bike Test

Sit down with Jimmy Lewis for Taco (and Tequila) Tuesday. I’ve just started listening to this podcast in recent weeks, but similar to others, Jimmy sits down with various (famous) personalities and talks about bikes, riding, and experiences. He had Johhny Campbell and Ricky Brabec on in recent episodes, both of which I highly recommend.


Cleveland Moto

The Yin to Motorcycles and Misfits Yang, Phil Waters of Cleveland Moto hosts a show with an entourage of various Cleveland personalities to discuss craft beer and everything motorcycles (and scooters). The gallery of personalities is quite vast, with tastes in riding and motorcycles to boot. Phil is also extensively knowledgeable of older motorcycles and frequently dives into the details of wrenching and motorcycle design.


Beyond Audio, I also “listen” to several YouTube Channels. Depending on the content, I will often circle back to it after work and catch the video portions I missed.


While I’ve never walked into a store, I would say FortNine is the Revzilla of the great white north. That said, their video department is drastically different. Ryan “F9” hosts the channel and covers whatever motorcycle topic that enters his head; from the best waterproof gear to the best chain cleaners/lubricants, to the pros and cons of mounting a car tire on your motorcycle. Brace yourself, Ryan pulls no punches.


Beard Model and Adventure Specialist… who am I kidding, Steve’s a real dude riding and crashing real motorcycles we all want to ride. Steve no shit races adventure bikes and publishes video for the masses to enjoy. He also does reviews on some of the latest adventure machines.

Attention Deficit

From Central Ohio, Tanner brings a hometown, authentic feeling to youtube. Like other channels here, he and his girlfriend cover a myriad of motorcycle topics, do wrench videos in the shed, all the dank whoolies on the CRF250L, along with some trail riding and live shows.

Brake Magazine

I found Brake Magazine a while back when looking at T7 vs. 790 videos. These guys put together some top-notch videos with hot on/off-road machines.

Cross Training Enduro

Orange Koolaid drinking dirt muppets need not apply, but if you’re an uncoordinated Gumby like myself, this is a one-stop shop for how-to videos for skills you should practice in the back yard and on the trail to pump up your off-road game. Even if you don’t ride a dirt bike, the Aussie dry humor never gets old.


This is just a list of the channels I frequent the most, I could easily publish a list triple this size if I included them all. What are you doing at home to stay sane these days? I’m sure some folks are still working at the office, some are still riding. Even if that’s the case, what moto-media outlets do you like best? Leave a comment below and let the masses know what they’re missing out on.

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CRF250L Races a Mudder: KXCR Russell Creek

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.

KXCR CRF250L MotoADVRA 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. CRF250L Bent Shift Pedal MotoADVRThe 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.

CRF250L Evap Canister MotoADVRI 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. CRF250L Evap Canister Removal MotoADVRI 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.

CRF250L TST Industries Tail Tidy Loose MotoADVRAfter 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. CRF250L EBC Clutch Plates MotoADVRI 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. CRF250L Rocky Creek MotoADVRI’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.

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Kentucky Adventure Tour: Interview with Jeff Stoess

g0355107I brought home the Scrambler in mid-summer 2016. Still fitted with street tires, Not long after I found myself staring down a mud field I dared not cross for fear of dumping the bike in the mud or getting stuck on a subsequent obstacle and having the cross the mud field a second time. That was my first excursion up Spaas Creek Road, an off-road adventure I vowed to conquer, and the beginning of my “Adventure Fever” in eastern Kentucky.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, Spaas Creek is actually one of the most northern trails on the Kentucky Adventure Tour (KAT). For those unfamiliar, the KAT is a 900+ mile dual-sport route around Kentucky. The majority of the route is unpaved, including optional “hard” sections. The KAT also dips briefly into West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennesse.

Over the last two years I’ve spent more and more time riding portions of the KAT, but I’ve still not finished the entire loop. Considering the swell of attendees to Red River Scramble, combined with my own interest in the KAT, I sat down with KAT founder, Jeff Stoess, to talk about the route in greater detail.

Jeff is a Kentucky native, Honda Trans Alp Jeff Stoess KATborn and raised just outside Louisville where he still lives today. In his youth, Jeff spent time racing cross-country hare scrambles all over the U.S. A few years back Jeff decided to tackle the Trans America Trail on an XR600. When the trip was over, he pondered the challenges of riding the route and then getting his bike back home. After going through the hassle, he thought perhaps east coast riders would benefit from a local route; a more challenging route that makes a loop and can be run in either direction.

DR350 KAT Hard 4 Jeff StoessNeedless to say, a great deal of work went into putting together the KAT. With that, the route is also very fluid, as Jeff likes to remove pavement in lieu of additional dirt tracks whenever possible. Jeff maintains a GPX file that includes points of interest, hazards, and recommended food and lodging locations. Jeff and I obviously went in-depth on all of those topics. To catch my entire Jeff, head over to my recent YouTube “video”.


DR350 Kentucky Adventure Tour Jeff Stoess

Note: I recorded our interview, and then “dubbed” footage of the my recent trips along the northern sections of the KAT (with the help of my buddy Bill DeVore). If you’re at the office or working around the house, just listen to the video. If you’re interested in the terrain conditions, take a peek at the video while you’re following along, whatever works.


More on the Kentucky Adventure Tour:

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How Do You Adventure?

Between racing and rubbing elbows with folks in the local motorcycle community, the impressively diverse nature of the motorcycle population has really grabbed my attention as of late. In a world where senseless (keyboard) arguments explode on social media about motor oil, tires, and who makes the best adventure motorcycle, folks need a rude awakening. Most folks DON’T motorcycle the way you motorcycle.

And you know what? That’s okay.

He’s the other dirty secret, those folks that ride a different bike, in a different place, at a different speed, might know something you don’t. Moreover, you might even discover you enjoy riding the way they ride, it’s just that you haven’t been exposed to it yet.

“I don’t want to ride a little 250”, something I never said, but probably thought; yet now I want to ride a 250 about every other day. Triumph Scrambler Citico Road MotoADVRThree years ago, I enjoyed wrestling the 500-pound high-pipe-café-racer through the trails and I thought that was as good as it could get. Then I took a small bike on single-track… and then I raced a small bike… and now I’m hooked. Admittedly, I’m weird, I love riding small bikes, so much I’m even considering buying a one-two-five two-stroke. And yet, I also enjoy riding twisty pavement and I still get silly kicks out of playing in the dirt with the trusty Warthog.

So, in an attempt to spread the gospel of “all motorcycles are awesome, and all kinds of riding are fun”, I wanted to talk a little bit about how I like to “Adventure”.


“Adventure” means different things to different people. For me, it’s mostly doing something new, typically in an unknown place, likely including some level of risk (i.e. motorcycle involved), and lastly I sprinkle in a little randomness by throwing out the plan from time to time.

If I have my druthers, I pack the bike the night before. Invariably, I end up lying awake all night, trying to suppress the excitement of the next day’s ride, then roll out of bed before dawn. Triumph Scrambler Simon Kenton Bridge MotoADVRAssuming things go as planned, I’m throwing a leg over the bike right at twilight. A good morning ride with the sun poking through the trees just as the fog starts rising from the cornfields is heaven on earth for me. The direction is almost always due south, and while I typically have a destination in mind, these days the “path” to said destination is more flexible than ever. I used to plan every stop and every route days in advance. Nowadays I carry a 20oz fuel bottle and keep a general idea of where local gas stations will be.

If it’s not overly obvious, I’m usually an adventure “day-tripper”. I fantasize about the idea of living off the bike for weeks at a time. Unfortunately, the reality is that I have a wife with a health condition and like most mortals here in the Midwest, I have limited vacation time. It’s going to happen eventually, but I need things to calm down a bit at home in the meantime.

CTR Ride Home MotoADVR

I also have another dirty secret to share. Despite 6 years in the Army and riding my bike for 365 straight days… I hate being wet. Seriously, it ruins my whole day (so much for being a water sign). I wear rain gear religiously, I “shower test” all of my rain gear right after buying it. I don’t mind riding in the rain (for the most part), but at some point, some piece of gear gives up the ghost, and your feet are crotch end up being soaked. No Beuno.

All that aside, the biggest peeve I have it trying to break camp in the rain, pack the bike, and move out when it’s pouring. I could write an entire article about “all-weather travel”, so let’s just say that (if I was young and single again) I would just as soon quit my job and live off the motorcycle. When it rains, just take a lazy day and read a book. But that’s a goal that will have to wait for at least a couple more years.

Similar to my taste in motorcycles (I love them all, for different reasons), I also enjoy group riding, almost as much as I like riding solo. Sharing the experience with other riders, especially if I’m playing the tour guide, is something I really enjoy. Ashley Road Trio MotoADVRGroup riding off-road offers another layer of safety and I feel like folks are more willing to challenge themselves when they’re not solely reliant on self-rescue if things go pear-shaped. Obviously, you need to have that understanding with your group before you start ripping down creeks and over boulders. That’s actually what this is discussion is all about; promoting conversation about what you like and understanding what others prefer.

I like to get outside my comfort zone when the time is right, but I also love to stop and take photos, and sometimes just stop and listen to the silence; especially when I’m deep in the woods. Honda CRF250L Pumpkin Hollow DBBB MotoADVRI find I skip out on photos when I’m group riding, while at the same time I fear I’m WAY too focused on riding and not “resting” and “talking” when I’m with a group. I tend to lean on helmet communicators as a way to socialize when riding, that way stops are shorter and more distance can be covered. That turns a lot of people off, and thus I enjoy riding alone in a lot of circumstances.

Worse still, I typically eat at gas stations or pack food on the bike so I can maximize seat time. It’s not uncommon for me to grab a biscuit for breakfast at the first gas stop, eat a cliff bar or a sandwich on the trail for lunch, and then grab a quick burger in a parking lot at dinner, hoping to make it home just after dark. Honda Africa Twin KT2016 MotoADVRFor what I can’t do over multiple days I tend to jam into one day. 500 miles in the saddle and diet of “speed dogs” is certainly not for everyone (nor is it helping my waistline). In my case, this evolution came out of riding solo, not what caused it. I’ve said it before, for as much as I enjoy sharing the experience, I also find serenity when riding down a deserted (dirt) road all by my lonesome. If something goes wrong, it’s completely on me (mostly) to fix the situation and continue the journey. That sounds like a nightmare for some, but for me, it’s empowering.

So this standard “adventure” procedure for me right now. Three years ago it was very different, as I suspect it will be even more different three years from now. What about you? Do you prefer to ride solo or with your friends? Is the ride to the “destination part of the fun or do the truck and trailer make for better action on the trail (or pavement)? Are the food stops the best part of the trip or is it a snack in the woods? Do you like riding the big bikes because they’re challenging and can do it all or do you like the small bikes so you get deeper in the holler? How do you adventure?

note: If you don’t ride off-road, it’s still “adventure” and I still want to hear from you.

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Progressive International Motorcycle Show: Interview with Tracy Harris

With a press pass in hand, in addition to the show, I got the opportunity to have a little back and forth with the folks behind the scenes at the Progressive International Motorcycle Show. IMS Cleveland Discover The Ride MotoADVRWhile in the past I’ve been mostly preoccupied with the hottest new bike at the show, I admit I’ve seen the exhibition evolve a bit each year, especially in the last two. While we, unfortunately, didn’t get the chance to shake hands and have a longer discussion, I did get the chance to exchange e-mails with Tracy Harris, Senior Vice President with Progressive International Motorcycle Shows. Below you’ll find the transcript from our short exchange, where Tracy, much more eloquently, expands on my comments about Discover the Ride, along with wider details about IMS. 

(In case you missed it, you can also see my write-up on the rest of the show HERE)

Moto Adventurer: Besides manufacturers and new models, what’s new at the International Motorcycle Show for 2020? 

Tracy Harris: This season the tour has stops in eight cities across the U.S., IMS Cleveland Discover The Ride Afar MotoADVRincluding Denver, a market we have not been in for years. As we continue to display the hottest gear and vehicles at each stop, this year we evolved our popular show attractions. Back for the second year, Discover the Ride is now a more complete program both at the shows and beyond, with increased guidance from our NewTo2 hosts and local riding schools. We also introduced new DIY workshops at the Vintage at IMS where attendees can learn from their local garage builders and experts how to restore and build custom bikes. Additionally, the SHIFT area at IMS is also expanding with great new moto lifestyle brands like Revzilla at the show. 

MA: What has average attendance been like for IMS Cleveland the last few years? 

TH: Across the tour, including Cleveland, we’re seeing minor shifts up and down annually in our attendance—but overall the attendance has remained consistent and reflects the state of the industry. While sales have been flat and baby boomers are slowly aging out of the market, there is a shift towards a new audience of younger riders.

MA: A lot of news articles have suggested that new bike sales are down, have you seen any correlation between these types of stories and attendance? 

IMS Cleveland opening crowd MotoADVRTH: The industry is in the midst of a demographic shift. As baby boomers are aging out, millennials and Gen X’ers are entering the market, many of whom are actually entering the industry through the secondary/used market. In fact, we saw a 25% increase of younger attendees (under the age of 35) in the past four years (2014/2015 through 2018/2019 tour) in addition to an increase in female riders.

MA: There’s been a lot of focus on attracting new riders to the sport as of late, what changes or features has IMS added in recent years (or this year) to help attract new riders?

TH: In addition to providing a platform for attendees to connect with their local riding community to share their passion for two-wheels, it is our mission to continue to grow the motorcycle community and ensure those interested in learning and becoming riders are given the opportunity and tools to do so. Discover The Ride Wheelie Simulator MotoADVRLast tour we launched “Discover the Ride,” a first of its kind program in the Powersports industry, specifically designed to introduce riding motorcycles to consumers of all ages through a New Rider Course, educational seminars within New To 2, The Kids Zone, and a dyno and Wheelie Experience. By the end of the season, more than 2,000 potential brand-new riders participated in the Discover the Ride course with more than 6,800 overall participants.

Following Discover the Ride’s successful implementation into the 2018/2019 IMS tour, this year we introduced an extension of the program dubbed “Next Steps.” Next Steps represents an evolution of the program by helping new riders get trained as part of their journey to becoming formally licensed. In alliance with the Academy of Motorcycle Operation (AMO) – an organization that provides quality motorcyclist training in a safe, positive learning environment – AMO has offered IMS-sponsored courses. As Discover the Ride helps riders identify that they want to ride, Next Steps takes the extra step of breaking down more barriers to entry by getting new riders formally licensed.

MA: I’m obviously a big adventure enthusiast, so I’m anxious to check out “Adventure Out!” this year. I also see “Shift” and the “Vintage Garage” sections listed at the show this year, how have these new features been received (Cleveland and elsewhere)?

IMS Cleveland Vintage Garage MotoADVRTH: Motorcyclists are part of a tight-knit community with multiple lifestyle segments depending on what you’re passionate about. SHIFT has been met with a great response from our attendees that enjoy the new modern gear that fits their personal taste, tour-wide. Vintage is always a top-rated attraction at the show. This year, we gave Vintage a tune-up with the addition of restoration and DIY workshops. I highly recommend attendees check out the vintage bikes while at the show and speak to the preservers who are a wealth of knowledge!

MA: What’s your personal favorite part of the show?

TH: We launched IMS in 1982. In our 39th year, we are proud to be the nation’s largest consumer motorcycle tour providing motorcycle enthusiasts access to hundreds of the latest models from top manufacturers and premier aftermarket brands. Cleveland IMS Discover The Ride Zero Parked MotoADVRIn addition to being able to meet and build a relationship with local dealers, IMS is a special place for enthusiasts to connect with their local riding community and share their passion for two-wheels. In recent years, I personally love how the shows have evolved to become truly experiential. No matter your age or skill level, we have something at IMS that helps you grow as a rider and become part of a tight-knit community.

MA: Aside from weather and local vendors, what makes the Cleveland show different than say Chicago or Denver?

TH: The Cleveland riding community is one of the strongest. For most Cleveland attendees, IMS Cleveland serves as a reunion where friends meet and discuss their latest riding adventures—all the while getting to see the latest models from their favorite OEMs.

MA: Are there future plans or changes to the IMS that you can share with us?

TH: Every year we explore how to continue the evolution of IMS, and those discussions are guided by the on-site and post-show research and conversations we have with our exhibitors and attendees. Right now, the research is not finalized but rest assured, the IMS team strives to make the show better and more fun each year.

MA: Has there been any discussion about trying different locations for future shows, like Columbus or Cincinnati?

IMS Cleveland Adventure Out BDR MotoADVRTH: There is a thriving and passionate community of motorcycle enthusiasts in every city we travel to and we’re always striving to reach as many people that love riding and the lifestyle of it as possible. Every year we work with our partners to determine the best markets for that year. We recognize there are passionate communities of motorcyclists across the country; we’re always looking for and considering new opportunities, such as our return to Denver this year.

What sets IMS apart from other motorcycle events?

No-Mar Tire Change MotoADVRTracy: Compared to other events like rallies, IMS is a one-stop-shop for all a rider’s needs. From the latest helmets to stylish jackets, we have it all. Nearly half, 47% of our attendees make purchases at the shows, spending an average of $488. The most popular purchased items are riding gear and parts & accessories. Moreover, 44% of IMS attendees have reported that they are in-market to buy a new or used vehicle, and 75% of those say they plan to do so within the next 12 months.

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Progressive International Motorcycle Show: Cleveland in a New Light

One of the first stories I covered here on Moto Adventurer was the “goings-on” at Progressive International Motorcycle Show (IMS) in Cleveland. Considering typical Ohio weather in late January, it’s nice to fill up an otherwise snowy weekend with a some two-wheeled eye candy. Thus, between Cleveland and Chicago, I’ve attended every IMS each winter since just prior to launching the website.

IMS Cleveland IX Center MotoADVRThis being my seventh show, I have to admit things were starting to feel a bit “familiar”. In prior years, I would typically day trip to Cleveland, ogle over the new bikes I wanted to see, chit chat with a few buddies about the latest and greatest, and then endure the three-hour car ride back home. To shake things up his year I applied for a press pass. With badge in hand, I decided to slow things down this year, stay the night for once, and take a deeper look at what goes on at the show.

Have you brought a non-riding friend to a motorcycle show?

You should. Seriously.
Needless to say, I consume a lot of motorcycle media. I sit in front of a CAD computer for 40+ hours a week, which gives me a chance to listen to a lot of podcasts and keep up with moto-headlines during my lunch break. A while back I caught a podcast about the “Give A Shift” initiative. IMS Cleveland opening crowd MotoADVRIf we believe all of the headlines, motorcyclists are dying breed. Between economics, limitless entertainment outlets competing for your dollars, and a culture that’s becoming more risk-averse by the minute, fewer and fewer riders are entering the fray. When I was a kid we rode bicycles everywhere. While I do live on a busy street, I seldom see a kid on a bicycle anymore (I arguably see more adults on bicycles than kids). If we as riders don’t expose our friends and future generations to the motorcycle world… they won’t find it anywhere else.

What does this have to do with IMS Cleveland?

Funny you should ask, while I missed out on the opportunity to meet him in person, Robert Pandya, the guy who started the Give-A-Shift initiative, was on-site in Cleveland. In conjunction with IMS, Robert helps manage the “Discover The Ride” program, a program designed to give potential motorcyclists a taste of the riding experience in a safe and controlled environment.

Discover The Ride New to 2 MotoADVRFolks that sign-up to for “Discover-The-Ride” get the opportunity to ride a power assist bicycle around an indoor course, offering the first sensation of the motorized, two-wheeled travel while demonstrating they have the balance necessary to ride a full-size bike. From there, attendees are provided with safety gear and get the chance to take a specially programed Zero FXS electric motorcycle around the practice track (this is obviously the abridged version of the program, you can find more details here).

Per my comments, Discover the Ride isn’t just for adults, there’s also a program for the kids. In the Kids Zone, youngsters get a chance to scramble around a dedicated track on Stacyc electric balance bike, with or without power assist based on skill and competence.

Just outside the Discover the Ride area, an entire aisleway was dedicated to approachable current-year models from various manufacturers. Suzuki New on Two Wheels MotoADVRConventional language for these bikes used to be “entry-level” or “learner bikes”, but admit I’m trying to avoid those terms as much as possible these days. While I feel the wind is changing direction, I fear that some new riders in this country still feel judged for riding smaller bikes among their more “experienced” peers. After riding “big bikes” for the better part of a decade, I decided what I really needed was a 250… I recommend more folks give it a try, but that’s a story for another day. At any rate, bikes like the Rebel 300, the Grom, SV650, and the VanVan200 were all lined up just outside the practice track for folks to try on for size. That VanVan with those big beach tires was so popular, I never managed to snag a photo of it by its lonesome. Considering my personal affinity for the TW200, I can see why.

So what else is going on at the show?

Adventure Out Ducati Desert Sled MotoADVRSo you brought a friend and have exposed them to motorcycle fever and want to see what else was is going on. I’m naturally going to nudge you in the direction that leads away from the pavement. In the last couple of year’s IMS launched “Adventure Out”, a section of the exhibit floor dedicated to adventure riding. Inside the Adventure Out area, you can attend a series of presentations geared toward adventure riding and travel.

Adventure Out NEBDR MotoADVRThis year Backcountry Discovery Routes launched a new section in the northeast (hence NEBDR). For those unfamiliar, Backcountry Discovery Routes is a 501c3 non-profit that specializes in creating suitable touring routes that include on and off-road travel through rural America for dual-sport and adventure motorcyclists. Standing in the back of the “picnic area”, I listened to Tim James (Board VP with BDR) and Jocelin Snow discuss the finer parts of adventure riding, some backstory behind the BDR non-profit and their mission, a few notes about the Mid-Atlantic BDR, and a tease of the Northeast BDR.

Bret Tkacs Adventure Out IMS MotoADVRI also got the chance to see Bret Tkacs in the flesh while he discussed best practices when packing for adventure touring. Spoiler: take less stuff. But seriously, Bret got into the finite details about managing luggage and living off the bike during his travels. In a second session that I missed, Bret discussed more “tips and tricks” of long-distance motorcycle travel from his tours of South America, Africa and beyond; from handling border crossings, “bribes”, and things to consider when selecting the right bike for you.

In a side conversation, I chatted with Bret and his wife Christina about Bret’s usual day job as a motorcycle instructor and some of his antics on youtube. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing more of Bret “off-script” on the interwebs in the near future.

IMS Cleveland Vintage Garage MotoADVR

For more pavement oriented folks, IMS has beefed up the “Vintage Garage” over the past few years. While I didn’t get the opportunity to sit through one of seminars this year, similar to Adventure Out, Vintage Garage has featured speakers and DIY workshops to help encourage folks to get their hands dirty, or perhaps pick up some expert tips for an upcoming project you’re working on (perhaps that final touch to your submission to Garage Brewed?).

What about the bikes?

Harley Davidson Pan America Glass Case MotoADVRTaking my first steps into the exhibition area, I was immediately greeted by Harley-Davidson’s new Pan America (and Bronx). Akin to the expansion of “Adventure Out”, it’s obvious that the adventure craze has really taken root in today’s motorcycle community. The whole idea of a Harley-Davidson adventure bike would have been preposterous no more than two years ago, and yet there it sat on display for the masses.

Unfortunately, with glass cases protecting both prototypes, photos simply don’t do either machine justice. Harley Pan America Booth MotoADVRI’ve been reluctant to write anything about the Pan America up to this point, considering the number of other articles already covering the topic, but I admit I’m excited to see what Harley-Davidson is going to do in this space. I’ve read a lot of noise in various comment sections about how “heavy” this bike looks (does the R1250GSA look heavy?), and endless remarks about the polarizing aesthetics of the front fairing. I tend to find the adventure “beak” ugly and superfluous… but freely admit that love is very much in the eye of the beholder (agreed, the Pan-Am looks like Bender). As far as the Mo-Co is concerned, I’m much more concerned with what the bike can do than I am about aesthetics.

Harley Davidson Pan America cockpit MotoADVRStanding next to the glass case, the Pan America appeared smaller and more slender than I pictured it based on the press photos. From what I can tell outside of the glass, the bike looks the part; tubeless spoked wheels, Brembo binders, supple suspension travel (for a Harley sitting in a display case), crash bars, V-twin engine, and chain drive. All things I like in an adventure bike.
Harley Davidson Scrambler Concept MotoADVRI admit, with 1250 cc’s of displacement, TFT dash and a bar and shield on the tank, I suspect the Pan America will be out of my price range for a considerable number of years, but I still want to see how this new addition influences the market. Moreover, considering my passion for scramblers and barebones adventure bikes, I’m hopeful there’s a 950 V-twin in the pipeline with less whiz-bang.

And then there’s that other adventure bike on the opposite side of the spectrum. Yamaha has been teasing the new Tenere 700 for literally years now. In Cleveland, I finally got a chance to see it in the flesh (sans the protective glass case). Yamaha Tenere 700 Decal MotoADVRWay back when, I went down to Cincinnati to test ride the (then new) XSR900 at a demo event. A triple with retro styling, I was infatuated from go, but I had to wait to ride that bike for several hours due to the high demand. I consoled myself by taking an FZ-07 for a spin in the interim, a bike I knew nothing about. Despite riding the XSR900 and the FJ-09, at the end of the day it was that peppy 700cc P-twin that really captured my soul. And now Yamaha has put a long set of legs on that bike with a matching set of knobbly shoes. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m unabashedly smitten with this new Yammy. The T7 is probably the first bike I’ve lusted after since bringing home Rosie the Scrambler (that and about any two-stroke these days).

Similar to the Pan America, sitting motionless on the carpet, the Tenere 700 checks all the boxes. Yamaha Tenere 700 RF Qtr MotoADVRAggressive adventure setup with longer travel suspension and 21-inch front hoop with a 18 in the rear, the reputation of the beforementioned 270° crank parallel twin (much like that British mill I love so much), and that oh so slender frame and “rally” style fairing. Those new LED headlights look sick hidden behind the transparent “rally mask”, and to my shock, there are actually designated handholds on the rear subframe so you can get a firm purchase on the bike when you need to pull it out of a hairy situation. I’m happy to say the latest ADV machine from Yamaha comes with everything I want in a motorcycle and nothing I don’t. The new T7 comes with ABS standard and an “ABS off” button on an otherwise vanilla LCD display. No rider modes, no traction control, no TFT Dash, no Netflix or Apple car play. If you’re looking for a no-frills adventure motorcycle, it has arrived; at a dollar less than ten-large to boot (more Tenere 700 photos below).

Good things come in small packages

Honda CRF250f MotoADVRAfter drooling over the latest twin-cylinder dirt cruisers, I found myself captivated by the dual-sport and trail offerings in the Honda and Kawasaki booths. In case you missed it, I covered the CRF250L at great length recently. Walking around the Honda booth I was surprised to find Big Red had dropped the CRF230f (former sister to the 250L’s predecessor) and has brought a new 250 cc air-cooled mill on board for off-road only riders looking for a red bike.

Kawasaki KLX230 MotoADVRDespite my best efforts to keep up with all the latest moto-news, I somehow missed the recent Revzilla article about Kawasaki’s expansion in a similar fashion with a 230cc trail bike and a street-legal sister machine, the KLX230r and KLX230 (respectively). Along with the KLX250, that now gives Kawasaki two flavors of quarter-liter street & trail machines for prospective buyers. At $4600 with fuel injection, the green 230 comes in about 600 greenbacks cheaper than Yamaha’s venerable XT250.

While not street legal, Kawasaki also launched the new KLX300 trail bike. In a world where I feel more off-road offerings edge closer and closer to full-spec race machines, it was refreshing to see the KLX300 boast a stat sheet just short of European specifications at almost half the price. Beyond my recent article about the shifting tides of the dual-sport market, I’m anxious to see where these new trail “play-bikes” are going.

You Meet the Nicest People On Motorcycles

Not pressed for time, it was interesting to sit back and look at IMS in a different light. I’ve spent days combing over photos and scratching notes about how to describe this year’s show. As much as I was hung up on the new dirt worthy machines, I think I was more captivated by the conversations and relationships forged over the weekend.

Zero Motorcycles SR-S MotoADVRStanding in the Zero booth chatting with my buddy Tim Burke, we met Scott and Dan from Motoclectic Magazine. From upstate New York, these guys have been pounding the pavement for the last year or so, working to bring local, image-focused motorcycle stories to the masses with their grassroots magazine. Some folks may say that print is dead, but I’ll argue that when done right, folks will gladly throw down some bills for a magazine that inspires. Dan and Scott both said that they’ve taken inspiration from Iron & Air, but focus on that local feel so readers relate to the characters of the stories.

Circling back around after shooting photos of Discover the Ride, I caught Phil Waters interviewing Tim for an upcoming Cleveland Moto Podcast episode.Zero Motorcycles Cleveland Moto Podcast MotoADVR If you’re a podcast listener, but unfamiliar with Cleveland Moto, I recommend you look them up. At any rate, Phil is incredibly knowledgable about Zero. I gotta tell you, his passion for electric motorcycles is almost infectious. I stood around the booth chatting with Tim long enough to notice that at no point was there not a crowd of 3 or 4 standing around Phil, trying to absorb all the information coming out his mouth (to Tim’s credit, he probably would have experienced the same, had I not been monopolizing his time.).

Per my previous comments, I had similar experiences with Bret and Christina Tkacs, a couple of side comments with Jocelin Snow (including an explanation on why the ladies take selfies holding their phones so high in the air, thanks Jocelin), and lots of conversations and even a few beers with over a dozen friends of mine who also attended the show that weekend. In previous years it was about seeing “all the bikes” and gathering “all the photos”. This year, despite all those paragraphs above, it was definitely about the people. There are a lot of great bikes out there, but there’s also a lot to learn from your fellow motorcyclist, regardless of how, when, and where you ride.

Further Reading: Interview with IMS VP Tracy Harris


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Crashing into 2020: Reflections on 2019

Normally about this time of year, I’m sitting on the couch sipping coffee, looking out the window, watching snowflakes fall. Temperatures of have been near record highs the week of Christmas but family commitments and the joys of homeownership have spent most of the time in the driver seat. That said, I still want to “put pen to paper”, not so much to publish stereotypical “resolutions”, so much as to double down on long-standing goals that seem to have been sidelined over the last 12 months.

“Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.”

Working out some sort of outline for this post, I went back to look at what I published this year. Ironically, the first post of 2019 was “What is the Future of Motorcycling?” That post started a trend of projects related to the motorcycle community as a whole that continued throughout the year, including a handful of other ideas that are still simmering on the back burner, anxiously awaiting a day with fewer obligations. Considering the imminent arrival of an adventure bike at local Harley dealerships in 2020; whilst, I’m looking for an affordable two-stroke, “The future of motorcycles” is still as perplexing today as it was a year ago, if not more so.

“Ride a dirt bike; it’s the most fun you’ll ever have hurting yourself”

I saw that meme a few weeks ago. I got some hearty laughs out of that one.

If you’ve been following along YouTube, my epic dismount (ejection) during the John Vincent race has become part of my new intro.20191231_160114.jpg With my knee and shoulder bothering me quite a bit over the couple weeks, it was even more humorous when I realized I spent a fair portion of 2019 looking up at my bike from the ground (including about a dozen times on the most recent recon trip to the Bluegrass). Fortunately, most of the cases have been low-speed and without injury.

That said, there’s no denying the big slide last February has had somewhat of lasting effect on me. While mostly unconscious, I suspect one of the reasons I’ve spent more time in the car as of late, is because I don’t trust the weatherman much these days. It’s really interesting how “once bitten, twice shy” tends to ring true with so many things in life. Moving the bikes out to the “pig pen“, combined with heavy doses of “life” has certainly kept me out of the saddle. However, there’s no denying that when the mercury hovers around the magic temperature as it was in early December, I was pretty gunshy about riding on all those cold, damp mornings.

Video killed the radio star, but the blogger too?

Per my comments above, I’ve been wrestling with a lot of video projects as of late. I spent about two weeks shooting and editing Jerri’s long-term review.CRF250L Shed MotoADVR Obviously, I’m really excited by the reception from dedicated followers, along with the rest of the motorcycle community; but at the same time, I admit I’m concerned about splitting my audience. That and trying to evenly divide my limited “free time”. Video has been a lot of fun over the last year; I’ve put a lot of effort into improving the quality of content I’ve posted here on the website and on YouTube in general. I do however find it interesting how writing and photography still seem to be a much more relaxing pastime.

School of hard knocks

2019 proved to be a year of “learning”, starting with the before mentioned crash. Once my shoulder was ready to ride again, I finally got a chance to adapt to riding a much lighter bike. My eyes were opened, not only to how lightweight motorcycles are awesome but also how weight and power have such a large impact on the pace at which you learn new skills.

That same concept is taking form off-road as well. The 250L is a lightweight adventure bike, but it’s a heavyweight dirt bike.CRF250L Cold Iron Fork Bill Devore Off-road skills are obviously much different than pavement skills, and racing the TooFatty ramped up the learning curve fast. I’ve been working on a story of how off-road skills can transition to pavement skills, but not so much in reverse. Moreover, the skills and techniques learned in the dirt will make you a much more confident street rider. It’s all about managing traction… but more on that later.

Learning at this pace also comes at a price. Like riding every day, more riding means more wrenching. This year I replaced the clutch in the Scrambler, along with a host of other items I covered a while back. The 250L certainly fairs better off-road but racing is still hard on equipment. After my most recent excursion into the Kentucky wilderness, I’m pretty sure I’ll be replacing the Honda’s clutch sooner than later. It’s possible the clutch slipping is just the judder spring, but we’ll talk about that when the day arrives. Turn signals and mirrors have also taken a beating this year. A dedicated dirt bike will (mostly) fix those issues, but until that day arrives, I still need a street-legal machine that can do both.

Fortunately, with the new shed out back and thanks to a propane heater, I finally have an opportunity for “winter projects”.


About that Moto Bucket List…

Skunked… Bupkis…
…but it’s funny how things play out. I managed to skip everything on the bucket list this year, but I’m happy with how things landed. Harley Heritage Softail Triumph Scrambler Stecoah MotoADVRMy plan was to spend a week on the Kentucky Adventure Tour in September, but instead, I spent 4 straight days riding with my Dad in some of the best roads in North Carolina (hopefully I’ll finish that story). I didn’t get a team together for NE24, but Jerri and I finished both IXCR events. Commitments and the wife’s health kept me close to home most of the year, so I focused on improving video content and delving more into “motorcycle philosophy”.

The KAT, NE24, and racing in general are my big priorities for 2020. Exploring the finer parts of The Motherland is pretty much a given every year. Given the opportunity, I want to take a trip out west to Colorado, but I’m not sure if vacation time and commitments will allow. From afar, there seems to be a distinct difference between east and west coast riding and I want to experience it for myself to understand.

So far, Red River Scramble is shaping up to be bigger than last year. Route recon and rally prep typically take up most of my spring, but I’m not complaining.Honda CRF250L Clifton Road MotoADVR It simply breaks my heart to go ride new routes for the rally… or checking trail conditions on abandoned roads I love. Yeah, that part is awesome. Paperwork can be a drag, but most of that stuff is baked, and the reward is listening to people talk about their adventures and how much fun they had getting lost. This year I’m hoping to get more photographs of people riding and sharing stories. Either way, it’s tough to have a bad time on a motorcycle down there (assuming you know your limits).

Needless to say, my plans for 2020 are more like concepts than plans really. Not sure if that’s accepting the reality of life’s commitments or just enjoying the journey as it happens. “Letting go” has led fun adventures over the last two years, something I’m embracing with age I suppose.

So what are your riding plans for this year? New bike coming home to the stable? A motorcycle vacation you’ve been wanting to take for a while now? Or more ad-hoc rides with the usual suspects?

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Red River Scramble: Adventure Calls

With less than 140 days to go, I decided to put together a little “promo” video for Red River Scramble. Over the past three years, I’ve not taken nearly as many photos or videos of the event as I’ve wanted to. Fortunately, with the help of some loyal attendees (thanks Bill and Jeff!), I managed to splice together a 2-minute highlight reel of what’s to be expected on some of the “Adventure Loops” at this year’s Scramble.


If I can piece together more footage, I also want to cover some of the Dual-Sport and pavement options available. I want to avoid a lengthy video that’s predominantly from my perspective, so I may need to reach out to the community to get a more diverse selection of footage and photos ( for those interested).

It’s like 50 degrees outside at the moment but I expect winter to settle in any minute now. I’ll be making more reconnaissance runs to the Bluegrass at every opportunity between now and May. We already have a few new (revised) routes published, hopefully, I’ll uncover more in the time allotted; I suspect folks will enjoy blasting down Fixer-Leeco Road regardless.

As always, I love hearing feedback from the community about the kind of riding they’re looking for. If you’ve been to Red River Scramble in the past, hit me with what you’ve enjoyed most about the event so I can continue to provide an entertaining “adventure” for folks that make the journey.

Red River Scramble Registration:

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Honda CRF250L Long-term Review: Life on the Too Fatty

A few weeks ago James left a comment on YouTube asking about everything I’ve done to the CRF250L since I bought it. In the back of my mind, I’d already been debating doing a long-term review of the 250L; after upgrading some video equipment and software I decided to finally give it a go.

Considering that the average watch time on my YouTube videos is less than two minutes, a lot of content lands on the cutting room floor. For folks that are looking for “the long story” I also wanted to publish a long-form blog for a more in-depth look at life on a CRF250L.

Bike Modifications

First, to answer James’s question, what have I done to the bike versus stock? When I bought the bike it had a little over 2,000 miles on it. The previous owner(s) had installed various items (listed below).

  • Two-Brother’s Exhaust
  • Zeta Hand Guards
  • Seat Concepts Seat
  • Pro Moto Billet Cargo Rack
  • Flying Tiger Graphics

CRF250L Train Trestle MotoADVR

I, unfortunately, did not get the stock seat or the stock exhaust. The Seat Concepts seat is probably 80-90% of what I expect from a seat, especially on a bike like this. I do however wish I had the stock seat so I could use that if I plan on racing, blasting local trails, or just commuting to work, that way I can save the “upgraded” seat for long days in the saddle. The Two-Brothers muffler sounds excellent. That’s, of course, a matter of taste; I like to hear the “Braaap” of the engine when I’m flogging the 250L around the backroads, but that’s not for everyone. Off the street and the race track however, I wish I still had the factory exhaust. There are a number of “trails” on the outskirts of the city I want to explore for photo opportunities, but I want to avoid any “Imperial Entanglements”. The aftermarket “silencer” is anything but.
Modifications I’ve done:

  • GoCruise Throttle Lock
  • Tusk Folding shift lever (Fits CRF150R)
  • Honda steel folding Shift Lever (from CRF250L Rally)
  • Oxford Heaterz (Heated grips)
  • ROX bar risers (2” only use for ADV riding, remove for racing)
  • RAM Mount 1” ball handlebar mounts x2
  • Pro-Taper 7/8” bars (CR High Bend)
  • Flatland Racing Skid Plate
  • Flatland Racing Radiator Guard
  • Double-take mirror (still need a second one)
  • Giant Loop Exhaust Heat Shield
  • Kriega Luggage OS Base (“back-bone”)
  • 13 tooth front sprocket
  • 42 tooth rear sprocket (still use stock chain length)

The 2014 CRF250L came with a traditional steel shift lever. I guess Honda assumed the majority of 250L owners weren’t venturing too deep in the woods, that was mission two after heated grips.

CRF250L Clifton Road MotoADVR

Oxford Heaterz have been game-changers on the Scrambler, so to extend the “dirt season” I bought a second set for the 250L straightaway. Evolving from adventure riding a Scrambler to riding a (more) proper dirt machine took time. At first, I felt like my hands were totally in the wrong place for standing up while riding the 250L, so I installed a set of 2” ROX bar risers. ROX risers add a lot of flexibility, you can bring bars closer or further away from you depending on the bike. After getting more acclimated to the skinnier bike, I found the risers were problematic for riding the bike hard off-road, especially on the hill climbs. Swapping risers out is a cinch, so I remove them to race and put them back on for “adventure” duty. I ran the stock Honda bars until my little mishap back in February. The Honda bars bent like tinfoil in the crash, so I bought a set of Pro-Taper bars at a local store so I could go out and ride that weekend. The Pro-tapers are lighter and a direct bolt-on replacement. That said, they have the crossbar that looks cool, but is somewhat problematic considering the busy “dashboard” I have. I expect I will swap the 7/8 bars for a newer set of 1-1/8” to 7/8” “fat bars” in the future; which unfortunately means the expense of new adapters/risers and so on.

Street Bike Pros

The 250L is only one year newer than my Scrambler, and yet comes with a handful of creature comforts that are not included on a bike almost twice the price:

  • Digital dash
  • Fuel gauge
  • Helmet lock
  • Locking tool compartment
  • Locking gas cap

Service Intervals on the 250L are every 8,000 miles; which is actually longer than the intervals on the Scrambler.

CRF250L broken asphalt MotoADR

The Honda’s quarter-liter mill also sips the gas when you stay off the highway. I’ve not sat down to do the numbers, but I’ve heard high sixties and seventies tossed out on various forums. The stock suspension is also pretty plush for street duty. I cross the heart of the city during my morning commute; while not Detroit, Dayton does a pretty lousy job of patching potholes so that dual-sport suspension makes for a much smoother ride.
I find the steering on the Scrambler to be a bit lazy, whereas the 250L’s 21″ front makes for very “precise” steering through the twisties. Now, this is also a matter of taste, some folks will find the 21″ front wheel “twitchy”, and that “precision” does fade away once you get the bike up to interstate speeds, at which point it wants to “stand up” pretty much all the time.
The 250L’s engine came out of the CBR250R. While I’ve not had the pleasure of riding the CBR, I assume it’s as predictable as the 250L with smooth throttle response and linear power delivery. The 250L has about 18HP (22 on paper), so it’s very forgiving for new and returning riders. In a similar vein, as a dual-sport, the 250L is built to withstand some punishment. Like a dirt bike, it’s expected owners will drop this bike on the trail, so it’s not a big deal if you forget to put the kickstand down in the parking lot or have a low-speed spill at a stop sign.
CRF250L Jackstand MotoADVR

While not exactly built with dirt bike DNA, the 250L is still really easy to work on. The wheels are designed to be changed easily, which would be expected from an off-road race bike, and oil changes are a breeze (despite cartridge oil filters). I usually get services done on the Honda in about half the time I spend working on the Triumph (sans 200 pounds doesn’t hurt either). Parts are also cheap. Brake pads and oil changes are both half what I pay for the Scrambler. Being a Honda, I have access to something like four dealerships within a 50-minute drive, and OEM parts are cheap and easy to get online.

Street Bike Cons

The 250L’s max speed is about 80~85 mph. I have no beef with riding the highway to work through some 65 mph zones, but I don’t feel comfortable with sustained speeds above 70 mph for more than about an hour. I suppose the engine can handle it, but ultimately I just don’t think it’s good to run the bike that high in the rev range for that long.
CRF250L Dayton Commute MotoADVR

I’m ambiguous about the rev range because the 250L doesn’t come with a tachometer. I guess I’m old school, I like dual analog clocks. The digital dash is nice, it’s easy to see how fast I’m going, but I really wish I knew how hard I was pushing the engine. Especially because it’s not uncommon for me to spend an entire day on the bike.
That locking tool compartment is really awesome. You know what would be more awesome? If there was a factory Honda tool kit in it. For every other country on earth, Honda ships the 250L with a tool kit to do basic maintenance tasks. US built 250L’s have a slightly lower MSRP, but no tool kit. I’d really like to have a conversation with the decision-maker over at Honda USA so I could understand what that’s all about.
While I have no qualms about riding the 250L just about anywhere, I admit it could use a little more poke. The 250L is down a few ponies compared to the other bikes in its class, like the WR250. It gets the job done, but I’d give up such long service intervals for just a little more juice.
Speaking of juice, the Honda will sip the gas when you’re putting around the backroads and trails, but if I’m running 60+ from home to Kentucky I need to make sure I find a gas station every 100 miles or less. Admittedly, I’m typically ready to take a break every 100 miles, but there are certainly places in rural America where it’s tough to find a gas station and I wish I had just a little more reserve.

Dirt Bike Pros

At 34.4 inches, the Honda has reasonably low seat height (DR200 and XT250 are lower). Now, some folks are still going to say the 34 inches is still really tall, I’m 5’10” with a 32-inch seat height, once I sit down on the 250L and the suspension settles, I can flat foot the bike no problem.
With an MSRP of $5,200, the 250L is the cheapest bike in its class. While five-grand isn’t exactly cheap, that’s really affordable compared to a dedicated dirt bike.

The 250L is also fuel injected. In the street bike world that’s nothing revolutionary, but off-road, there are still a lot of bikes rocking carburetors. On the same note, I know some folks want the simplicity of carburetors, but I have a hard time complaining about the ease of starting the 250L on cold winter mornings.
Per my comments above, the service manual says to change the oil every 8,000 miles. That’s eons by dirt bike standards, many of which hover around 8 hours. The 250’s sister bike, the 450L requires a lube job every 600 miles.
With the seat concepts seat, the 250L is long-distance comfortable. In the last year, I’ve done multiple 300+ mile days on the saddle, and at least one 500 mile day.

CRF250L Great Miami River MotoADVR
Per my comments about being forgiving, the 250Ls linear power delivery really shines off-road. I love power sliding the rear wheel and riding on-the-pipe as much as the next guy, but there’s something to be said for reliable, predictable power to the ground when there’s no trailer waiting on you back in the parking lot.

Dirt Cons

Tanner from the Attention Deficit calls the CRF250L the “Too Fatty”. That nickname is pretty apt considering the 250L is the heaviest bike in its class at 320 pounds.
The “low” seat height I just mentioned also comes at a price; the 250L has about 10 inches of ground clearance. That’s plenty for dual-sport and adventure riding, but when I’m chasing my buddies with orange bikes around the woods it takes a lot more finesse to get over those logs.
Honda CRF250L Clay Single Track MotoADVR

As just about any other 250L review will tell you, that plush suspension I love on the street starts showing its weaknesses when ridden hard off-road. With 9-inches of travel, thus far the Honda suspenders have been well suited for my flavor adventure riding, but I admit I’ve started to notice their limitations at John Vincent. The stock travel is plenty for recreational riding, but when competing against real dirt bike adjustable forks with 12-inches of travel, the Too Fatty is clearly outgunned.
Speaking of those logs, lofting the front wheel with the stock gearing (14T front, 40T rear) takes more effort than I think it should. That linear power delivery is great, but much like my Scrambler, it’s mid-range power, so the 250L doesn’t have the meaty low-end grunt or outright horsepower to be pulling dank whoolies without a little help.

Living with the CRF250L

Like I said in the video, I wish this bike was lighter. I wish it had an extra gallon of gas. I wish I didn’t have a reservation about riding three hours on the highway (I’ve towed it… then I’m in the car for 3 hours which is worse).

CRF250L Gravel Pit MotoADVR

I wish this bike would loft the front wheel with less effort. And I wish this bike’s suspension spec was a couple notches higher. Unfortunately, that bike really doesn’t exist. You can find a used CRF250L as low as $3500. For that price, you can buy a KLR or a reasonable dirt bike. The KLR, DRZ400, and XR650L all bring a lot to the table, less weight is not one of them. I’ve been eyeballing a few XR400’s on the market, but that does mean I’ll have to live without EFI and the “magic button”. Already owning a Honda, my first thought was upgrading to the 450L. I’ve seen quite a few barely used ones listed for a couple grand under MSRP. That bike would probably do exactly what I want it to do; it’s also about 35 pounds lighter than the 250, but as I mentioned above, I’ll be changing oil every other weekend. That in itself isn’t that big a deal, but what about valve maintenance? I’ve heard a few comments from folks talking about “adventurizing” the KTM 500 EXC (in lieu of the 690 Enduro), which is arguably a competitor to the CRF450L, but in both cases, I’m mostly concerned about the frequency of valve maintenance (I’d love to hear comments about this topic). The trouble is, the 250L is just about smack dab in the middle between adventure, big-bore singles, and 250-pound un-plated dirt bikes. It’s hard to find a bike that dabbles in all of these disciplines that costs less, requires less maintenance, and can still cruise the highway without drawing attention from the constabulary.


I will also say the WR250R (at least on paper) is everything the 250L is, and more. However, “better” does come with a price; from the listings I’ve seen, the WR commands about a $1000~1500 premium over a comparable year 250L. I was seriously considering that switch until I finished the Race at John Vincent. $1000 more could get me on a bike with fewer el-bees and a little more poke, but it would still be 45 pounds heavier than a lot of other bikes on the starting line. That combined with the hassle of trying to sell/trade the 250L, I’ve started window shopping for a dedicated dirt bike.

CRF250L Beta Xtrainer Shawnee MotoADVR

Assuming my body will keep putting up with it, I want to keep racing. I really enjoy gnarly woods riding, so I’ve been flirting with the idea of bringing home a 2-stroke as a third bike; assuming I can successfully negotiate with the Minister of War & Finance. If I brought a third bike home, I would then have an “extra” bike so I could take one of my buddies riding in the woods that doesn’t have their own off-road machine. Having the 250L around also means I have a very capable bike that doubles as a teaching tool for friends that want to learn how to ride on or off-road, or buddies that want to sharpen their off-road skills before jumping on their 500-pound adventure bike.

KTM 690 Enduro MotoADVR

If I had a dedicated dirt bike in the shed, I could potentially see trading the 250L for a KTM 690 Enduro or something of that ilk. The new 690 engine (also in the 701) is counterbalanced, so it won’t be as buzzy on the pavement. The 690 only weighs about 20 pounds more, which is a small concession to pay for a bike that’s arguably better in every category except price and weight. Right now the price delta is high enough that I’m not interested in pursuing it; combined with the fact the last thing I need during a race is 20 extra pounds to pick up.

Despite wanting more performance out of the CRF250L, the bike has done everything I’ve asked it to do. Any trouble I’ve had with the bike in the woods up to this point has been my lack of skill and my lack of conditioning. I admit, similar to wrestling and adventure bike in the woods as your first off-road experience, the 250L is probably retarding my learning curve a little bit, but for the most part, both of us are fat and my conditioning as of late is laughable (motocross is the most physically demanding sport, I’m just saying).

For the money, it’s really hard to find a more appropriate bike (for me) to replace the 250L. As I said, it’s a great bike to commute, adventure ride, explore a little deeper in the woods, and teach someone else to ride. The 250L has done 500 mile days without complaint, and I’ve still ridden the next day. If “jack of all trades master of none” is a trait you appreciate in motorcycles, the 250L has you covered… and thus I shamelessly have two swiss army knives parked in the shed.

CRF250L Twin Creek MotoADVR

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