Sunday
Sep102017

When Is Too Hot Too Hot?

Gettin’ Hot!!!

As the temperatures started to reach the 113* plus range in Arizona we decided it was time to head out for the cooler weather normally found on the summer tour of Idaho, Montana and Northern California. It has not worked out like I thought yet, it is smokin’ HOT Everywhere!

So the mobile ghetto got loaded with all the necessary equipment (toys), mountain bikes, off road motorcycles, dual sport bike, compound bow, shooting supplies and a few other odds and ends to make it a non-stop fun filled road tour. There was one thing missing, a bit hard to believe there was no motocross bike!  Not by choice mind you. I had sent my KX 450 suspension off to have a cryo-treating process done, since I had had the opportunity to try it on another bike and was thoroughly impressed. I figured 5 weeks would be enough time, oops, apparently not. So the show must go on or the Rolling Circus must Roll, however you say it. But think of the possibilities with an empty slot in the moto section………………  First stop, Helena Montana to visit MJ (Montana John).

We do a little riding, but only a little cause MJ doesn’t like the heat much and Helena is smokin’ hot for the locals. Jeez, it is all the way into the 90’s!!!!  I am thinking this is great and MJ is thinking he wants to stay in the shade with a cool beverage. This leaves me with too much time on my hands and I of course gravitate toward the motorcycle section on Craigslist. I figure I should start planning for the future, any moto guy can see this makes sense right? After all I just sold my 2013 KTM after 2 years with 18,000 miles on it. The first one was almost bulletproof so I replaced it with a 2014 almost new exact copy with just over 1000 miles on it in January.  The 2014 is already showing 7k on the odometer and who in their right mind would wait until the last minute. This ain’t Christmas shopping boys!

As it turns out there are several newer, low mileage, low time 500 xcw’s on Craigslist in the Montana area. Whaaaaaat!  I can’t believe my good fortune. So I whittle down the list to the most desirable 3 and start contacting the owners to take a look at these. I ended up buying the first one I looked at because it was a basically new 2016 with 396 miles on it!!!!  Poor guy hadn’t made it to the first oil change when he tipped over and dislocated his shoulder and had to have surgery to repair it. So he was not going to be needing it for almost a year, that made him more than happy to deal to get it gone. I was the proud new owner of a nearly new KTM 500 xcw. So now my problem of having an empty moto slot in my trailer is solved. That’s what I do, solve problems!

Along the way I was fortunate enough to meet and ride with the Legendary J.N. Roberts! For those of you that don’t remember J.N. he was an off road riding/racing hero waaaaay back in the day, with countless off-road wins on his resume. My mind sees J.N. on an iconic poster that Honda printed as an advertisement with him riding their new flagship the Honda XL 250 Motosport released in the 70’s. It was a single cylinder 250cc four stroke. I will always remember that photo with J.N. jumping the bike in the desert. What an honor to meet and be invited to ride on his 1400-acre ranch. It ended up being just him and I riding his cross country loop of about 20 miles. We, well I had a great time and stopped along the way to take in panoramic views and for him to show me his shooting area since he knew I liked to shoot. I would love to have a shooting gallery like his, with gongs and targets at all distances for rifles and handguns. We rode and messed around for a couple of hours before making our way back to his place. We said good bye and set up another ride a couple days later through the hills over to Lincoln for lunch and gas. By the way if anyone is wondering J.N. Roberts still hauls the mail and his bike of choice is a Beta 2 stroke.

A few more days of riding and visiting and we get hammered with an Earthquake! Lincoln, Montana is the center and is just over the hill from Helena. MJ and I ride there through the hills for lunch and gas. If you remember a ways back in time, Lincoln is where they caught the Unabomber. I found out where he had his cabin and did a ride by but everything has pretty much been erased to thwart looky loos like me. Anyway, the earthquake was in the middle of the night and felt just like someone had run into the mobile ghetto with a car. It seemed like a good time to move on, you know aftershocks and all.

So we fold up the big tent and head for Idaho, maybe it is cooler there.

#33

‘of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt’

Monday
Aug212017

#33 Tests the Golden Tyre!

 

Golden Tyre

When was the last time someone came out with a front tire that you heard was the latest and the greatest?  I had been hearing some noise from the off roaders about such an oversize (90/100 21) front tire so in an effort to keep the MX43 readers from having to wait I found a couple and tried them on a couple of different bikes. A KTM 500 XCW and a Honda XR 650 L were at the opposite ends of the scale and would give me a wide range of riding/testing.

This is not an inexpensive tire with a $124 retail list. I found them for $95 delivered to my door. So away I go on two different bikes over sand, rock, hard pack, shale, powder and anything else I could find.

I noticed a different front feel right off the bat but was not immediately sure if it was better or not due to the wide variation I rode throughout the very first day. I liked the way it turned in sand, also in loose shale rocky terrain. However, I was not as satisfied on the hard pack especially with rougher ground, like ruts.

I did like the way it dampened impacts on rocks and harder objects due to the oversize 90\100 profile. It was like softening your suspension a bit.

Now back to the sand. It turned quite well there with the taller, wider foot print. For you REALLY Old Timers you may have had the opportunity to run a 3.25x21 Cheing Shin back in the day. If you did you probably rode in the desert and that is why you ran the oversize front tire.  Well think of this 90/100x21 as a modern day Cheing Shin. Very similar characteristics with a leg up on the harder ground due to rubber advancement and modern technology. So in the desert and in sandy/loose conditions it scores very well over the standard size tire.

As I moved on to more trail oriented riding I found things that were not as appealing. It was a bit heavier steering on harder ground, almost like a slightly low tire. The other thing I found was the tendency of the oversize tire to follow the contours of the terrain. By this I especially mean ruts. I could feel the tire grab the side of ruts and feel a bit less stable there. So for trail riding I would prefer a standard size front tire.

Both bikes (KTM & Honda) yielded the same results.  I did discover the taller tire would come in contact with the front fender and the head pipe on the KTM, so slipping the forks up in the clamps was limited by tire rub. The Honda had no such clearance issues.

Overall the tire performed quite well in its element with limitations when used for other purposes. Since it seems to be an off road tire I did not take it to the MX track, so if you have an interest in that and give it a try let me know how it works there!

#33

‘the pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change, the realist adjusts the sails”

Wednesday
Jun212017

What's Your Brain Worth?

Helmets

How good is yours?

A long time ago I remember seeing a Bell helmet advertisement that said, “if you have a $10 head, wear a $10 helmet”, or something very similar.

That ad was run more years ago than I care to remember; But it stuck with me so obviously it was a well thought out ad. Boy have times changed, with helmets now ranging in price from a cheap $79 to approaching $750 for the latest and greatest in quality and technology that also doubles as a fashion statement as they have literally become works of art!

I see some absolutely beautiful helmets these days on the road, at the tracks and in the desert. But since I spend so much time on a bike, in so many different locations and types of riding I also see some very scary looking things on peoples’ heads. If I were independently wealthy I would carry around high quality helmets to trade people when I see them. Sometimes I cringe when I see such so called protective gear.

I have destroyed several helmets and suffered more concussions than I care to remember, uh, maybe I can’t remember! Lol.  So I am speaking from experience while I stand on my soapbox here and rant. What spurred me to write this tirade was a recent week long off road trip with a group of riders that ended on a sour note.

Our group had ridden several hundred miles over about 5 days and was on the last 40 or so miles before arriving at our motel for the night. We were all looking forward to a shower and a nice meal with the daily B.S. session where we all could tell how fast we went and how high we flew! Unfortunately, just before we reached the pavement to ride into our motel, one of our riders named Jeff crashed and took a serious blow to the head. He was knocked unconscious and would not regain consciousness until sometime the next day. It turned into quite the ordeal to stabilize, monitor, extract and transport him to medical facilities.

It has been almost 2 months now and Jeff is doing better at home but is not back to being himself yet. This is one of the most scary, long term serious head injuries I have seen.

It was purely coincidental that some of us on this trip had been discussing helmets, quality, cost, protection and age just the day before the incident. Someone had questioned why a helmet with all the certifications like SNELL and DOT stickers and only cost $99 was not as good as one that sells for $600 with exactly the same certifications.

While cost alone is NOT a rating for a good helmet, you generally get what you pay for in the helmet arena to a point. Now here I go on my soap box. I have worn decent helmets and VERY hi quality helmets in my 48 years of riding. I have also crashed on both types and whacked my noggin hard enough to destroy more than one helmet! Both the decent and the hi quality ones. So I am speaking from experience when I tell you I can tell the difference in energy transfer and dissipation when channeled through the hi quality helmet. It is noticeable and worth every penny when it finally happens and rest assured if you ride enough it will happen. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news!

I recently put it to one of our doubting Thomas types that was concerned with over spending on a helmet this way. I buy a top of the line helmet for around $600. I can wear that helmet safely for 5 or so years if I take care of it and barring any big crashes. That breaks down to maybe $125 a year to give myself the best odds possible to keep participating in my favorite sport.  I wish my auto insurance was that cheap!

Just food for thought, how good was your helmet when you bought it, how has it been treated, how old is it and what is your head worth? We can fix bones, stitch gashes and even repair joints most of the time. But unfortunately no doctor has been able to fix a head/brain injury yet. A good helmet is our best line of defense for participating in the sport we have chosen because it is our passion.

I hope if you read this it made you think, I am really glad you can, probably because you have a good helmet!  Ride safe.

#33

‘Experience is the hardest kind of teacher. It gives you the test first, and the lesson later’