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Found 9 results

  1. The magazine recently purchased a 2000 Honda XR650R motorcycle with less than 1000 original miles on the bike. An honest and forthright previous owner could not start the engine, and given the mileage, we agreed that the problem was stale winter (ethanol) fuel—which had eaten up the plastic tank screen! I trailered the cycle home and looked forward to restoring the fuel system and completing the dual-sport conversion process. The motorcycle will be an HD video shooting platform for remote backcountry documentary filming and off-pavement event coverage, so the XR650R's low mileage seemed a huge asset. After 20 hours of prepping the cycle for a Nevada dual-sport inspection, including some minor tuning and checking out the bike's general condition, I discovered that the 650 thumper engine would not start. Consulting two friends with XR650Rs, I assumed that my starting technique was the culprit. A heavy cardio workout later, it was apparent that the compression was lacking. I did a quick compression gauge check and discovered a 95 PSI cranking compression issue. (To assure an accurate reading, make sure the auto-decompression mechanism is not holding the valves open when performing a compression test!) My next step was a cylinder leak down test, which I have covered in detail with an HD video how-to feature. (Click here to view the HD video how-to procedure and results!) The leak down test pinpointed leaking intake and exhaust valves; a look inside the cylinder (through the spark plug hole) also indicated scoring at the upper wall of the Nikasil cylinder plating. Time for an upper engine tear down, which I cover as a step-by-step HD video: Click here to see the how-to series at the 4WD Mechanix HD Video Network's freshly launched "The Off-Road Motorcycle Channel". So, how did a "bulletproof" Honda XR650R motorcycle, with less than 1000 miles since new, end up with a worn out set of valves and leaky piston and rings? The answer is two-fold: 1) the motorcycle had an incomplete "uncorking" job with a partial "Honda Power-Up Kit" installed and 2) a leaking aftermarket air filter had seeped abrasive dirt into the air stream and through the engine's intake system. The air filter issue is notorious for pitting valves, scoring an upper cylinder and damaging piston rings on motorcycle and automotive engines. An incomplete uncorking calls attention to an ever important problem for any motorcycle engine modification: the need to re-jet the carburetor to compensate for improved intake flow or a less restrictive exhaust system! The "Power-Up Kit" opened up the exhaust cap on the muffler and reduced exhaust backpressure (basically an HRC end cap). The cycle is a non-California model, so there was no restrictive "D" molding in the intake manifold grommet. (The non-California intake manifold is considered the unrestricted air intake, often sold as the upgrade for better breathing.) The pilot jet had the Power Up Kit's #68 sizing, though not the specific "68s" style. However, for some unfathomable reason, the main jet in place was still the ultra-lean, original 125 main jet! The most important ingredient in the uncorking process for a Honda XR650R motorcycle engine is the unrestricted rubber intake manifold and a jetting change to a 175 main jet and 68s pilot jet (base line at sea level). Exhaust modifications help further, the stock OE muffler's exit flow and end cap are ridiculously small for a 650 thumper! How important is the 175 main jet and 68s pilot? Important enough to be the OEM jet sizing on all Honda XR650R engines sold outside of North America! The U.S. engines were leaned to the limit by E.P.A. requirements, and California models (XR650R AC designation) were even more restricted by a draconian reshape and air flow restriction in the rubber intake manifold and the intake air box. So, this uncorked, non-California model had its exhaust opened and uncapped—plus the removal of air intake box restrictors. The EPA regulated (non-California) cycle already had the open, round intake manifold. It was in severe need of the 175 main jet, however, which the dealer neglected to install with the power tuning! The result is clear. Despite the low mileage, this engine was busy overheating its upper cylinder and valves. Upon tear down, which you can follow in the HD video linked above, the engine's upper cylinder looked more like a Baja 1000 Race finisher than 1000 miles of reasonable recreational riding. Fortunately, the previous owner had used quality lubricant and changed oil filters regularly. The XR650R's unique liquid cooling (the only XR to ever offer it!) also helped minimize damage and isolate the wear to the cylinder plating, piston skirts, rings and valves. The main engine assembly is still in near-new condition. I'm now in the process of rebuilding the upper engine. The head and cylinder have been sublet to L.A. Sleeve Company. My approach will likely be an alloy iron/chrome/moly, patented L.A. Sleeve liner in place of the factory Nikasil. Though many are fans of Nikasil, I'm not thrilled that's its only a "plating" thick. This Honda XR650R has a lot of work ahead, and it must be ultra reliable. I may consider a Stage 1 Hot Cams alternative, mainly to eliminate the auto-decompression mechanism on the OE camshaft. Compression ratio will remain the stock 10:1 with the new upgrade piston, enough squeeze for higher altitudes and the limit for kick starting and long piston ring life! Quality machine work, a fresh cylinder and upgrade piston choice, renewed valves and proper assembly technique will have this motorcycle living up to its legendary reputation—with a 175 main jet and 68* pilot jet in its Keihin carburetor! Follow the rebuild how-to coverage at the magazine's The Off-Road Motorcycle Channel—in 1080P HD video! *Note: The carburetor had a straight 68 jet installed, and I will see if the 68s is necessary. There is a difference in the flow between these two varieties. Honda's Power-Up Kit does call for the 68s and also a needle change if necessary. I will fine tune as needed, though that would be anticipated at northern Nevada. Our home base is 4,500 feet elevation and high desert; the average/mean elevation at Nevada is 5,500 feet! Moses
  2. With Nevada's now enforceable OHV registration and permitting process, many dirt motorcycle owners are at a crossroad in the Silver State. Nevada law now requires registration of a dirt bike, ATV and other OHVs for use off-highway. There is an annual renewal of the use permit, similar to a "Green Sticker" at California and other states. Owners of dirt motorcycles built since 1976 must register the motorcycle and have the option of purchasing a title. Until recent years, Nevada did not require mandatory title issuance on the sale or resale of an off-highway motorcycle. As a result, most cycles require a VIN inspection and acceptable proof of ownership or purchase. See the details at the Nevada OHV Commission's registration website page: http://nvohv.com/registration/. You will find additional links there. There is another option, no longer available in some states but currently still a prospect at Nevada: The conversion of a dirt bike for street use with a street-use title, registration, a motorcycle license plate and mandatory insurance. Until recently, dual-sport conversions were popular at adjacent California; however, the conversion of off-highway "dirt" motorcycles (deemed "off-road use" by the cycle manufacturer, DOT and EPA) has not been allowed within the Golden State since February 1, 2004. There are two exceptions: 1) motorcycles built prior to 1978, and 2) 1978-up cycles with less than 50cc displacement. Note: According to the current regulations, California dual-sport conversions were acceptable on motorcycles built through model year 2002 if the conversion was completed and paperwork submitted to the DMV prior to February 1, 2004. From January 1, 2004 forward, the DMV has required "verification" or proof that the motorcycle came with an EPA and/or California emissions label for on-highway use. This ruling about "verification" went into effect on January 1, 2004, with a one-month "grace period" during that month....If there was a street title issued within these timeframes and the cycle has current registration and street use insurance, the cycle is still legal for highway or dual-purpose use. The internet is rife with rumors, anecdotal stories and speculation about the fate of California plated dual-sport motorcycles converted after January 31, 2004. According to a statement that reflects the actual California DMV regulations, some have good reason to fear: statement of the rulings. If you're puzzled, contemplating a dual-sport conversion or considering a cycle purchase intended for California registration, read the statement and at least know where you stand. Check with the DMV about whether "grandfathering" applies when an earlier dual-sport conversion goes through a title/ownership change. Nevada is clear and sensible on the dual-sport (on- and off-highway) motorcycle conversion topic. Assuming you have a motorcycle operator's endorsement, you can ride a converted, licensed and properly insured dirt motorcycle on a public highway or any off-pavement public access roads. You will pay for a street use motorcycle title, annual registration fees and required insurance. In states allowing conversions, an acceptable dirt motorcycle must meet the legal requirements for a street motorcycle. This includes a mirror(s), a brake light activated by brake application, turn signals, a headlight (hi-low beams with a switch may be mandatory), D.O.T. approved tires, a horn, speedometer/odometer (in most states) and an acceptable exhaust tone. Some states want a license plate light of a specific brightness, and other conversion items may need to meet D.O.T. standards, like the directional signals and headlight. At Nevada and most other states, not exceeding the exhaust noise limit is just common sense, since a ticket can be issued for excessive noise. So, to ride a strictly dirt motorcycle (non-dual sport) on public land at Nevada, anywhere in the backcountry or off the paved roads, you must register and permit the cycle through the Nevada OHV Commission guidelines...There is reciprocity with other states if you're already permitted and visiting Nevada, so you may not need a Nevada permit for short-term riding at Nevada. Check the Nevada OHV Commission website for the permits honored. If you choose to convert your cycle to dual-purpose (dual-sport) use with a street use license plate, make sure you know the equipment involved. At Nevada and other states that allow conversions, you will wind up with a road-use title, annual registration renewal notification, and you must maintain proof of insurance (road use type) for both registering and riding the motorcycle. Warning: If you plan to cancel the insurance on any street legal vehicle at Nevada, make sure you surrender the license plate to the Nevada DMV first! Otherwise, expect a large fine. If you are interested in doing a dirt bike dual-sport conversion, while the opportunity still exists at Nevada and other states where reason prevails, check your state's regulations and explore the conversion kits and components available from sources like Baja Designs. Kits fit a variety of popular dirt motorcycles. Much to Nevada's credit, click here for a clear FAQ about the OHV permitting policy and the various exemptions from the OHV permit requirement—exemptions include any motorcycle licensed for use on a public highway, whether a "street" bike, factory "dual-sport" or a "dirt off-road" motorcycle converted properly (meeting State of Nevada and DOT regulations, street equipped, insured and license plated). See the FAQ for clarification—Nevada shares the details. Moses
  3. Every once in a while we stumble onto some down to earth humor and genuine entertainment. All dirt bike riders who are now 50-or-older or will someday be that age will appreciate this 8-minute time out. Congratulations to these Down Under riders who know how to have a good time—and obviously have their priorities in order! Enjoy! Moses
  4. In the 1990s, we began riding Honda XR dirt motorcycles. In the early '90s a modest $75 worth of parts invested in a Honda XR75 became youngest son Jacob's first motorcycle at age 12. Oregon friend Kirk donated two core bikes to the cause from his stockpile of old Hondas. When we returned to the high desert country at northern Nevada in 1994, my logical companion for Jacob's XR75 was a used 1983 Honda XR200R purchased from the Reno dealership. Jacob soon outgrew the XR75, and I outgrew the XR200R thumper. Jacob inherited the XR200R when I found the right four-stroke bike, a very well prepped 1984 Honda XR350R built by Rick Sorensen, a professional Airframe and Powerplant aircraft mechanic and owner of an independent motorcycle shop at Yerington, our hometown. Rick built the machine for his daughter Tasha to potentially race hare-and-hound, and she prized the machine. Tasha went to college, and while a student, she offered the bike for sale. Knowing how much energy and upgrade equipment Rick had put into this purpose built machine, I gladly paid Tasha her asking price. The bike received my respect as well, and it continued to deliver everything from bona fide desert enduro riding at speed to tight, single track trailing on the steep, off-camber switchbacks leading to mining claims at Black Mountain. The XR350R was a great teacher, its Pro-Link rear suspension, advanced forks for the era, rugged tubular steel frame and bulletproof four-valve, single cylinder engine were predictable and ample. In the day, a six-speed gearbox and advertised weight under 250 pounds had made the XR350R popular alongside its potent yet beefier XR500R counterpart. Rated 22.4 horsepower by most accounts, the 1984 engine featured some upgrades yet still maintained the progressive dual carburetors for the twin intake port, four-valve head. From a tuning standpoint, the dual carburetors were condemned by many, as this was the period when single cylinder engines commonly had only one carburetor. Although the rumor mill is rife with attacks on these twin-Keihin carburetors, I have never experienced trouble with this design. In fact, the tune that Rick Sorensen set was so precise that the only cause for rebuilding these carburetors came a decade after acquiring the machine. My rebuild had nothing to do with a deficiency in the carburetors but rather the result of leaving ethanol-laced gasoline in the bowls too long and ruining the pilot jet on the primary carburetor. I "blueprint" built and staged these carburetors, and the performance went right back to Rick's original aims. I've had several opportunities to part with this machine, offers from those who know its virtues and steadfast ability to pull off a great day's riding, anywhere and anytime, from High Rock Canyon to Johnson Valley when I covered the King of the Hammers race in 2012. Appreciation for its consistent performance and exceptional reliability has kept me from letting go of this machine, which is now relegated to occasional recreational riding since the acquisition and build of the "Big Red Pig" Honda XR650R. Our youngest grandson, Camden, now 2-1/2 years old, calls the XR350R "Little Red Pig" and the XR650R the "Big Red Pig". My '84 XR500R restoration project, while under a dry tarp at present, is nonetheless the "Middle Red Pig"—or simply "Middle". Honda XR350R Specs.pdf It's pointless to compare the air-cooled Honda XR350R to the XR650R, the latest CRF450X or KTM 350. The vintage XR350R four-valve thumper has nowhere near the power hit of an XR500R, XR600R or the liquid cooled XR650R. However, for many riders, the XR350R can be the weekend desert enduro bike with a low initial purchase price and far less maintenance cost if in good condition with a credible history. These bikes perform trouble free for years, and they wear out slowly and predictably. Parts are still available for most areas of the cycle. Used pieces or improvising are sometimes necessary. I ride my XR350R to stay in good physical condition and to maintain agility and survival reflexes for both dirt and asphalt motorcycling. Easier to throw around on dirt than heavier machines, the bike provides excellent terrain feedback and continuously works all five of my muscle groups! My most recent workout on the XR350R was a test of the Enerpulse Pulstar PlasmaCore spark plug this morning. I filmed my ride with the GoPro Hero3 mounted in a Chesty harness. The edited video default is HD 1080P, and if you have the bandwidth or can stream Vimeo on the big screen through your Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast or Amazon Fire TV player*, enjoy the scenery! (Otherwise, there's the subtler SD play option.) *Note: If you have one of these streaming players, simply do a search under "4WD Mechanix". You'll have access to the 190 videos now available at the Vimeo 4WD Mechanix Video Network Channel! If you have a smart television or large computer monitor, simply go to the Vimeo Channel at: http://www.vimeo.com/channels/4WDmechanix. The riding venue begins just ten minutes from the 4WD Mechanix Magazine office...Take a 15-minute ride with me as the XR350R ascends from a high desert elevation of 4,000 feet into the nearby mountains and wild horse country over 6000 feet. This is what desert enduro motorcycling is all about! See why this three decade old "friend" has remained my recreational dirt bike and exercise outlet for nearly twenty years now... Moses
  5. Well, I rode the Honda XR650R motorcycle this morning, not unusual in itself, as I've been trying to rack up miles on the top-end engine rebuild in time for Fall riding. One thing was unusual, though. At 204 miles since the rebuild that included L.A. Sleeve machine work, the bike has reached a whole new performance level! The magazine's Honda XR650R top-engine teardown and inspection. My morning riding venue is typically rural highways, both two-way traffic two lanes and divided highway four-lane. I've been on dirt with the Michelin T63 tire tests and have much more planned, this Fall will be extensive dual-sport riding both on- and off-highway. Customarily, these cooler morning rides have been intended to run the engine up and down the light load and rpm scale, nothing stressful, just steady rpm stretches mixed with changes in speed and load. The beginning to present: Our XR650R evolves from a desert bike with a dual-sport conversion into a bona fide video filming platform and road/trail adventure profile bike! Take a ride with us. Still in the break-in phase, this cycle is already "badass"! I've continually added weight to the bike, though this was not my original plan. Sleek and race-bred, these bikes look quite "cool" stripped to competition desert enduro form. In our case, though, the dual-sport conversion and additional TCI Products racks with Nelson-Rigg bags have been a necessity for carrying our video filming equipment. The motorcycle is highly versatile and can also serve as a "support" bike for backcountry group riding at remote areas like Moab or the Black Rock/High Rock Canyon. All of that said, I should probably weigh the bike "wet" with the racks and bags (at least empty) to answer a fundamental question: Why is this bike evolving into the most badass of any dirt bike I've ever owned and ridden? Despite the add-on items, and my current dry weight of 178-180 pounds, the Honda XR650R just keeps getting stronger! This motorcycle clearly has the best roll-on throttle, from idle to higher rpm, of any desert enduro cycle in its class. This performance applies in any gear, at any throttle position opening and regardless of roll-on road speed! No wonder these motorcycles dominated the long Baja races until Honda pulled them... Note: Sprocket gearing is 14/48 (stock N.A. enduro form) with the tires described in the Michelin T63 tests. Some XR650R models, like Australia export, have taller gearing. This bike tops out at over 100 mph, and that's plenty, thanks! Worth noting, with this gearing, that speed comes up remarkably fast. Collaboration with L.A. Sleeve reaped big results. The cylinder head rework, iron/moly/chromium cylinder liner plus quality replacement parts help account for the bike's impressive performance! A Hot Cams Stage 1 camshaft adds to the impressive torque output. Part of this is tune, which includes the official N.A. Power Up Kit ("uncorking") and use of a Hot Cams Stage 1 camshaft with L.A. Sleeve head and cylinder work. I'm looking forward to comments from Greg and David about the performance of their Honda XR650R machines, as the acceleration and on-tap torque—idle speed up—of the magazine's machine is quite impressive. The camshaft obviously plays a role, and we need to compare this machine with two XR650R models that are "uncorked" and without the camshaft upgrade. Frankly, this Stage 1 camshaft that eliminates the auto-decompression mechanism on the camshaft has no downside. I can start this engine cold or hot in one or two kicks, using the handlebar decompression lever for manual tick-over. So, I'm waiting for others to jump into this discussion. How does the Honda XR650R compare to the best contemporary 450cc and 500cc class four-stroke enduro bikes? Is the XR650R new enough technology to excel over a field of later bikes with less displacement yet higher compression and EFI? Would anyone with another make and model desert enduro bike care to comment? I'd like to objectify my experience, as frankly, this bike really does act badass! Moses
  6. The Hot Cams Stage 1 cam for our Honda XR650R motorcycles sounds to be exactly what I'm after in power. In the past more power equaled more fun. That still holds true today, but to a lesser extent for me. I definitely will have to put in the Stage 1 cam if the bike shows wear in the top end anything near what yours had. It's good to know there is still more good power to be had even if I don't really need it. As far as that auto-decompressor, I only use it because that is all there is on my xr500r. It is a real pain trying to use to bump start the 500 even when it is on top of a good hill. I've been an Oregonian my entire life. I've barely moved a mile from where I grew up, but the change in population, traffic and rat race in general is extreme to the point of looking to move when I retire. I love Eastern Oregon, friendly people, beautiful country, you live in the outdoors. There are drawbacks of course or everyone would be moving there. All of my riding in Eastern Oregon is in conjunction with camping, which was in the vicinity of the Strawberry Mtns this year. I look forward to doing more exploring of the Steens and even the more remote Trout Creek Mountains someday. We generally ride out there on the remains of old jeep trails, roads that are no longer on any modern maps and sometimes I use Google earth to look for ways in and out of certain areas. My son led us into one area last year where we didn't get our bikes out for 3 days. We had to hike out cross country (I have a good sense of direction) for over 12 miles much of it as the crow flies, getting back after midnight. That was a bit reckless and won't happen again. I used the remaining bike at camp to explore an alternate route coupled with quite a bit of hiking to get the bikes out. Western Oregon as you know is a completely different climate and very different riding. We rode in the 70's out in the Burn, now the Tillamook Forest. Where we used to run in the Trask is now gated since Weyerhauser bought out Willamette Ind holdings there. We ran a lot where the Trask Mt ISDT was held, and would seldom see another rider. The best riding I ever experienced. I'm not sure where to go now. I'm trying to get 2 of my old riding buddies to ride again, One of them has an 80's TT600 and still rides occasionally, and may know of some good areas and the other still has his TT500, but hasn't started it in a very long time. Interests often change, but I will keep trying until I hear a no answer. I have never ridden the dunes, but my stepson who is into quads has been asking me to come. It is not close and finding that much travel time has not been easy. I'm interested in what you find when you dig into the 84 XR500R. It has a totally different engine than my 82 model. Did you know the 82 xr500R has a reed valve? I have been experimenting with the rear suspension on my XR500R. I've given it more sag and in doing so lowered it quite a bit. It was sprung too stiff for my weight and while much smoother than the ol BSA, I think I can make it fit me better with some tuning, but I will sacrifice some comfort for good trail riding ability. The reason I went with the 82 xr500r over the 84 XR350r was the over heating factor. I was afraid I could burn it up on slow trails in the summer heat. It has adequate power and a much better front brake, but I thought better suited to running fire roads to keep air moving around the engine. I should look into jetting but it does run smooth. I don't remember if I ever checked the plug. I'll have to do that. You can smell the heat coming off the engine when every other bike with us is normal. Greg
  7. There's a loyal following for many of the "adventure-touring" motorcycles, cycles like the KTM 990 Adventure or BMW F800GS and 1200GS. On the other hand, many dirt bike riders are now turning to "plated" dirt bikes, bridging the gap between asphalt and a desert enduro bike. Do we need to draw a literal "line in the sand" about what makes a legitimate off-pavement motorcycle? I have ridden this '84 XR350R for nearly two decades and also own an '84 XR500R. Despite growing parts availability issues, these bikes are failsafe mounts for open desert riding. For the magazine's 2012 King of the Hammers coverage, I took the XR350R to Johnson Valley. A dual-sport conversion for plating this cycle has been considered, if so, highway riding would be limited. I would not hesitate to take this machine over the Rubicon Trail and often ride to remote desert and mountain reaches! For decades, I have ridden dirt bikes (primarily Honda XRs) in single track woods and open desert. I have ridden on asphalt for over half a century, beginning with motorcycles like a vintage BSA 650 Lightning, a Victor 441 and a Rocket III 750. More recently, my highway cycles were an older BMW 80GS boxer, a Honda GL1500 Goldwing and a BMW Kll00LT. Despite my respect for high end adventure touring motorcycles like the KTM 990 Adventure, I have an opinion and will share it: Serious dirt bike riding requires a true dirt bike—adventure-touring bikes, even the best of them, are no match for a true enduro motorcycle off the pavement... KTM, Yamaha, Honda, the Christini AWD DS and others now offer serious dirt motorcycles that meet DOT and EPA highway requirements for street legal use. (I do not include Kawasaki's KLR among "lightweight" dirt plated bikes, as the beloved KLR650 has crept from 325 pounds to a porky 432 pounds in recent years!) As an open desert and single track woods rider, I am drawn to these bikes. Unless a lot of asphalt is in the plan, I believe a true dirt bike with D.O.T. approved knobby tires is the best mount for serious off-pavement use—and moderate distance road riding... Contemporary dirt motorcycles with minimalist D.O.T. equipment weigh under 300 pounds. An adventure touring beast can run over 500 pounds, in particular a road-ready machine like the BMW 1200GS. While I truly appreciate the handling, safety and highway agility of a BMW motorcycle, jerking a 525-plus pound motorcycle out of a sand trap is not my idea of a good time...For those who do think of this as an "adventure", I heartily recommend Warn Industries' new line of portable winches designed for adventure touring motorcycles. Admittedly, the plated dirt bikes are minimalist and intended that way: A KTM 500 EXC tips the scale around 250 pounds...These machines remain true enduro motorcycles. Slightly higher in weight is the AWD Christini, coming in at 288 pounds with two-wheel drive traction, a worthy trade-off and ready solution for those sand traps! Before adventure touring motorcycle aficionados boycott this forum, let me add that I have owned a BMW 80GS and a BMW K1100LT. Each was terrific—on the highway. "In the day", I owned BSA motorcycles, including a 441cc Victor, and despite the Victor's lighter weight, it was a stodgy motorcycle off-pavement. Today's dirt motorcycles would run circles around a Victor—or any other vintage "enduro" or "scrambler" motorcycle with vertical rear shock-coil springs! So, I'm raising these questions: 1) Is there a place for adventure touring motorcycles off-pavement? 2) Can a rider on a lightweight dual-sport with DOT knobby tires survive much time on the asphalt—if so, how much? What are your views on each motorcycle design?...Join this forum and share your off-pavement experiences and preferences! Moses
  8. 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! Moses
  9. As you might guess by now, I also ride dirt motorcycles—a lot! Our Honda XRs have been terrific desert and single track bikes, my style is desert enduro and slower-speed rock maneuvering. Nevada has enacted an OHV "permit" program for ATVs and dirt motorcycles. By July, its an annual permit on the off-pavement motorcycles or converting either my Honda XR350R or XR500R to a street legal dual sport with a license plate and insurance. With the dual-sport approach, I've considered upgrading to either a converted XR650R or a current factory dual-sport. I am steering away from the weighty adventure-touring motorcycles, I'm after a legitimate, lighter weight dirt motorcycle platform. Poking around, I like the KTM 350EXC and 500EXC, though each comes with severe MSRP sticker shock. The Christini 450 DS also caught my eye. The Christini chassis hosts a powertrain and chassis with a strong resemblance to Honda's CRF450—add to that the patented and competition-proven Christini AWD system. Yes, that's two-wheel drive for a motorcycle! Rave reviews and competitive laurels include the successes of Geoff Aaron in brutal off-road races like the Iron Giant and Wally Palmer taking on the XGames at EnduroX and MotoX Step-Up! Less known is the Christini DS, a 49-State legal motorcycle for dual-purpose, street and off-pavement riding. At 288 pounds, with this kind of power, AWD and a competition-proven chassis design, the Christini may well be my choice. (See the Christini cycles at www.christini.com.) Stay tuned, all-terrain is my thing whether a built-up 4x4 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, our XJ Cherokee with 6-inch long arm lift suspension, a vintage FJ40 Land Cruiser with a 383 stroker V-8, a rock buggy, or on a dirt motorcycle—two driving wheels on a moto? Wow, you'll want to know more about this one! Expect ongoing updates here. The magazine has committed to more dual-sport and OHV coverage, and my personal angle is dual-sport desert and overland motorcycling. Whatever cycle I choose, expect 1080P HD video coverage. Yes, the goal is way more off-pavement destination four-wheeling and motorcycling. Stay tuned at the 4WD Mechanix HD Video Network! As this unfolds, expect updates and helmet cam views from the single-tracks...Join this forum, and let's share our experiences with dirt and dual-sport motorcycles!—Moses My XR350R has been a workhorse! I used this bike to cover the 2012 King of the Hammers Race at Johnson Valley, California. This cycle has been my primary desert bike since the mid-1990s. I also have an XR500R. Both the 350 and 500 are 1984 vintage with Honda's Pro-Link suspension, still a functional design to this day! An XR650R would be a nice alternative for a dual-sport conversion.
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