My recent comments on dual-sport motorcycles became the prelude to our latest acquisition: a Honda XR650R motorcycle for the 4WD Mechanix Magazine vehicle fleet! There's a long history behind my relationship to off-road motorcycling, which began when I acquired my first purpose built desert motorcycle in 1971, a 1969 BSA B44 Victor.
In the mid-'eighties, my editor at Argus' OFF-ROAD Magazine was Rick Sieman, better known in motorcycle circles as Super Hunky. His legendary roles as both the Senior Editor at Dirt Bike and AMA Veteran Class Plate #1 were Rick's other credentials. When Rick encouraged me to ride the Mojave Desert with him at speed on Husqvarna and KTM motorcycles, I was sold!
Over the last two decades, I have owned and ridden a variety of motorcycles, both highway and dirt types, finding the emerging dual-sport models increasingly more practical for off-road travel and journalism. My interest in motorcycle adventure travel with dual-sport cycles has also grown steadily.
Our vintage '84 Honda XR350R has served well since the 'nineties. More recently, it has provided video access, I used it to cover events like the King of the Hammers and hard trails footage.
I'm a Honda guy, and the XR650R has been on my radar screen since the cycle earned icon status in "Dust to Glory". (I confess to at least a dozen reruns of the motorcycle segments in that film, along with numerous reruns of the "Long Way Round" and "Long Way Down" travel documentaries.) When a 2000 XR650R became available with ultra low miles (just over 700 original miles!) and an extraordinary history, I took the leap—right into ownership of a BRP ("Big Red Pig")!
In its earlier life, the bike had been "plated" in Texas as a dual-sport conversion and boasted a Baja Designs kit. The owner, a former F15 pilot and motorcycle enthusiast, had no time in his career to ride the motorcycle. After years of garaging the bike, he elected to sell it—and the magazine now has a new thumper dirt motorcycle in its stable!
My 19-month-old grandson calls the XR650R the "Big Honda", and the XR350R has become the "Little Honda". A liquid cooled Honda XR650R was chosen over the KTM, Yamaha or even a Honda CRF450 for its desert enduro record and long distance stamina. The aim is a street legal dual-sport, light enough to do the desert and trails right while having the power to carry gear and video equipment as a filming platform.
This is the start, and you can track the dual-sport Big Red Pig, the magazine's latest off-road vehicle project, at the forums photo gallery...Count on much more to come as the BRP gets readied for its chores and the single tracks!