FIRST-TIME DIRT BIKE RIDING2010 HONDA CRF250X OFF-ROAD
Posted October 18 2009 09:39 AM by eurotuner
Filed under: Editorials
As we’ve already established, I’m a two-wheeled regular, using my Yamaha R1 to either commute to work or carve canyons whenever possible. That’s one of the biggest advantages of living in Southern California, compared to my native Britain where motorcycling in the dry was more of a lottery than a choice.
As I mentioned in a recent eurotuner editorial column, I’ve
always wanted to ride off-road but never had the opportunity until recently.
The open deserts near Los Angeles provide a gigantic playground if the bikes
are green-stickered to comply with local fire regulations. However, the downside of this location is the potential for ridiculous summer temperatures.
To be honest, I knew better. However, my companion for the adventure steamed headlong to an area about 50 miles from Death Valley. The area got its name from your chances of survival if you were caught in its blazing heat. And let me say up front, had I known it was 105 F when we pulled the bikes from the Toyota Tacoma and donned my Shift Racing gear… well, I wouldn’t have pulled the bikes from the Toyota Tacoma and donned my Shift Racing gear!
With single-digit humidity, dehydration was a serious problem and I took prolonged breaks to chug water. Fortunately, we’d taken the precaution of bringing several gallons of H2O as well as first aid equipment.
We’d also taken the precaution of outfitting ourselves with safety gear from Shift (www.shiftracing.com). They have boots, helmets, armor,
jerseys, pants and gloves everything you need to avoid hospital treatment on your
Unfortunately, it’s a great deal more clothing than you want to wear in these temps but the shift Squadron jersey did a great job of wicking away moisture and keeping you cool. The Squadron pants are more enduro than motocross gear, complete with useful pockets and plenty of ventilation flaps to get the air moving around. Without these well designed garments I couldn’t have contemplated the heat.
You definitely can’t skimp on the safety gear when you’re off-road, so we had Shift’s Barrier gloves plus knee and elbow guards, chest/back/shoulder protection and the rugged Shift Combat boots. The company even does its own helmets, and I figured the colorful Riot helmet would allow the air-ambulance to pick me out from a greater distance!
The entire ensemble cost around $660, which was definitely money well spent and I was happy I didn’t get to test any of its safety claims in person.
After the complexity of clambering into the gear, the Honda CRF250R and 450R models
were ridiculously easy to ride. They use Honda’s new battery-less fuel injection system to increase power from the single-exhaust Unicam engines.
We’d have been better off with Honda’s X models with electric start, rather than the kick-start on these motocross R machines, which had limited access to the trails we wanted to use.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of my first off-road experience was the amazing traction from these machines. The only obstacle to forward progress seemed to be your own courage. We encountered absurdly deep sand,
jagged rocks and vertical climbs but nothing fazed them. The same can’t be said
of the rider, but at least I kept it upright and in one piece.
Starting at $7149 for the trail-riding CRF250X, the 450X is only $7899, making it a relative bargain if you like off-road fun at high speed. However, I’m off to get some instruction in the art of sand-plugging, so check out my next blog.