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October 1998

I Don't Get It...

Ok, I’m the first (right after my wife) to admit that I’m a hardware junky. I have a cell phone, a pager, a PDA, a GPS, a laptop, two UNIX workstations, 5 PCs, a scanner, color printer, ISDN, gigabytes of disk space, and hundreds of megabytes of RAM. It doesn’t stop there, there’s big TVs and Surround Sound™. Moving to the garage, we have power tools galore. A table saw, band saw, power miter saw, jig saw, and just about every power tool you can imagine. There’s the three-piece Craftsman rollaway full of nearly every tool imaginable. There’s an air compressor with a full assortment of accompanying pneumatic tools. I have three motorcycles, none of them stock. The modifications I make to everything I own are strictly limited only by lack of funds (and the lack of my wife’s permission).

However, I sit here reading some of the latest "print" dirt bike magazines and I can only wonder "why?" What am I babbling about? It’s all of the new aluminum, titanium, & unobtainium dirt bikes. Ya know, I really don’t want a "works" bike. You must be thinking "what kind of idiot is this guy?" Well to begin with, I can’t spend $6000-$10,000 (or more) on a new bike. Why? Because I couldn’t afford to modify it. Why would I take a brand new, high-tech machine that’s far better than I could ever push to its limits? Because "I have to!" It’s a genetic defect that I must live with.

There’s more to it than just that. An aluminum frame? Yeah, how long would that last me? As often as I crash, I’d guess not long. Fuel injection? That sounds just like something that I need to fail somewhere in the middle of Baja. The same holds true for the new "Throttle Position Sensing" carburetors. Bleeding edge is just not what I’m looking for in a dirt bike. I want lightweight, low cost, simple, and most importantly reliable! Then, and only then, will I spend ridiculous amounts of money to screw it up.

My RMX250 is a prime example. In stock form this was one of the most fun bikes I’ve ever ridden. However, it was a little down on power. After several modifications, such as an FMF RAM valve and an FMF pipe, the bike was completely unusable. After moving to a Boyesen RAD valve, a new carburetor, and a Pro-Circuit pipe, the bike is fun again, and I’m not really sure if it’s any better than stock. Of course it must be, after putting that much money into it.

Another good example is an acquaintance of mine. He spent about 5 digits on a Harley. He spent another mid-four digits "fixing it up." While at a party he took me outside and started it up - CATHUMP, CUTHUMP, CATHUMP, and silence. He went on to explain enthusiastically "this thing is so tuned it won’t even idle!" Nearly $20,000 and he has a bike that won’t idle. If it weren’t a Harley he’d be my idol. Now, upon reflection, this actually brings to mind a couple good rationalizations:

  • If it won’t idle, it’s "tuned."
  • If it runs well through throttle then falls off, it’s optimized for low-end.
  • If it has "tank slapping" headshake over 50mph, it’s set up for the woods.
  • If it won’t start, it’s an exercycle.

Ok, so I might feel different if I raced, but how many of us are actually racers? How many people buy dirt bikes to race? Most everyone I know uses them for trail riding, not racing. Actually on second thought, I’d feel the same if I did race. Unless of course one of the big four (or is it five or six? You get my point) wanted to give me a couple bikes every year, along with a mechanic, crew, etc. Like that’d happen anytime soon, other than in my dreams…

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"High Sides" by Ev'Mon
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