I’ve been quiet as of late. As you might have guessed, I’ve been busy working, and riding year round. No I have not fallen on my head, studded the tires on one of the Yammies, and hit the streets, nope, I found Hesus…no wait, that’s not it, it’s off road bikes.
I’ve been riding since I was a young and stupid shit kicker (15). Many bikes have come and gone (note to self: make a list). I’ve owned plenty of street bikes, dual purpose bikes, and a touring bike or two. Never owned a cruiser (thank gad), or a dirt bike. Not really sure why I never got into dirt bikes, but there you go.
At any rate, I finally pulled the trigger on a used 2008 KTM EXC 450. Why the 450 you ask? well mostly because I had no clue about dirt bikes. Zero. I figured I needed a plated (street legal) DP bike. Now, there’s nowt wrong with the 450. Stupid amount of power, surprisingly reliable (after I adjusted the valves, and rebuilt the carb-it started and ran great), electric starter for those tricky situations, and a back up kicker.
I found the following out rather quickly:
- Even though, I’m a competent road rider, I completely sucked off road. The smallest obstacles, crossings, climbs presented problems for the first few rides. My non existent off road technique shone. No matter, ride by ride, the skill grew, along with confidence. Off road riding requires a lot of skill and practice
- The 450 is huge for trail riding, and for a off road noob. All gubbins that came on the bike (turn signals, mirror, rear tail light/fender) were broken in the first 4 hours on the bike. What I also figured out that with all the power and zero skill, I never made it out of second gear.
I bought the exc in May 2015, put roughly 30-35 hours on it, and sold it on. The ‘new to me’ bike is a 2011 KTM XC 300. Yes a two stroke. My first ever. Reason for it? Everybody and their dachshund has one. Dead easy to maintain. Put premix in the fuel, change the tranny oil every 10 hrs, look at the top end every 100 hrs, and change if needed (which is easy to do, any semi competent muppet i.e. me, can do the job) at a cost of about $350 USD. As the bike was used, I spent the next few months replacing/checking all the main components, and getting the bike to where I would like it to be. Wheel, swing arm, heim bearings all replaced. My first closed cartridge fork service, along with some tasty SKF seals. The bike was also shod with tubliss system, as I hate tubes, and like the fact that you can run zero pressure and still have a great seal on the entire rim.
I’m not going to go into specifics about the bike. Plenty of reviews and opinions out there. For me, it has more power than I can ever use, suspension is great, and tough as nails. The starter design is horrible. No matter, I bought a second hand oem case, and deleted the starter. This bike can by stared by a 90 pound weakling. In the 30 or so hours of use, I have not missed the starter…much.
This has opened a whole new world of motorcycling for me. Since we’re located at the door of the rocky mountains, any which way you point the car/trailer/bike (as long as it’s not east 🙂 ) you’re good to go
The really big plus of off road bikes? You never really go any faster than 60km, save for the few open stretches where you’re flat out in 4th…Since you’re not balls to the wall all the time, you can ride in colder temperatures. On my road bikes, if the road are relatively clean, and the morning hovers around zero Celcius, I ride. I have a good assortment of all weather gear, and heated gear to keep the cold out. When it comes to the dirt bike, some decent under garments that keep the warmth in, and you’re good to go to about -10C.
So what do you do in the dead of winter in Canada? You stud up your tires, man up and go riding in the woods. Seriously, this is the best type of practice you can get when riding off road. It’s loose (doh!) totally unpredictable (did I just run over a log, or a dead badger?!), and exhausting. I’ve spent half the winter on the 450, and the other half on the 300. Riding ranged from soft fluffy snow, anywhere from inches all the way to two feet of powder. Johnny and his dad spent some time prepping a ice track behind their house, which was sooper fun. As a bonus, the worn studs are still serving me today, to ride trails that are frozen over, slushy, for added grip. Once they wear out, I’ll remove them, and finish off the tire, without studs. The three of us are currently trying out various lenghts of kold kutter studs (1/2″ for front, 5/8″ for back). I’ve had good success with these, at a relatively low price ($200 both tires studded). Life depends on how hard you are on the throttle, and what the hell you ride over. I’m loosing studs at an alarming pace now, since I’m riding a mix of ice, rocks, shale, mud, and hard pack. I’ll do a proper write up on studding tires, once we figure out what the hell we need to do to make them last.
Some excellent folks below, doing great work for the sport
A big thanks to the guys from Cross training Enduro Skills from Ooooostralia. Truly great videos showing how it’s done. I’ve spent countless hours watching and re-watching their videos, then attempting to re-create said killer moves, with limited success. Keep up the great work guys, much appreciated.
Slavens Racing. Not only are the instructional video’s fantastic (anything from product demos, to top end rebuilds), the service is first rate, and they ship world wide. Great selection of KTM, husky, Beta parts. Thanks to Slavens I won’t even bother posting how to blogs, as the guy covers it extremely well, and in video format. Awesome. The above is not a plug for Slavens. I’ve dealt with them, and I was very happy indeed.
oh, my crap youtube channel here: