Tag Archives: tire balls

Riding in the Snow!

When I was young, we’d ride each time it snowed. Sometimes it was just on a small plot of land next to our house, but we’d ride. I can remember my Father, my Uncle and me going around and around a large figure 8. Once you got the hang of it, you could drift around the corners. Good practice!

Sometime in the early 70’s we got a really big snow that shut down things for days. My Father rode his Suzuki TM-250 to a factory in town where he worked in Maintenance. I’d say he was one of the few people to show up for work!

Basically, riding in the snow teaches you a lot about traction, momentum, and weight distribution. Anyone that rides a dirt bike should try it at least once! Like David said after riding last week, “That was mucho fun!” He’d never ridden in the snow before and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Single Track in the Snow at David's Place
Single Track in the Snow at David’s Place

I’m nearly 50 and at this point, I’ve probably ridden in the snow less than two dozen times. Sure, we get snow in Kentucky, but its occurrence is rare and in most instances there isn’t enough on the ground to justify loading up and heading out.

Out West, now that is a totally different story. Their riding season is so short that they take to the snow in the winter. They talk about snowmobiles with turbos, throttles on both side of the handlebars, and “boondocking” in the back country. Dwayne, out near Tahoe has a KTM fitted with a Timbersled and Gary in South Dakota has knobbies with spikes that are just plain gnarly. Obviously, the snow doesn’t keep them inside over the winter!

Gary's Studded Rear Tire
Gary’s Studded Rear Tire

To this day, one of my most memorable snow riding experiences occurred down near Duganville (bet you don’t know where that is). It was in the early-90s and I had a 1991 Honda XR600. There must have been 18″ or more on the ground and I went down to my friend Bob’s to ride. We had an established loop that was about 7 miles long around his three properties. Well I made the whole loop. I put that XR600 in fourth gear and held it at about 3/4 throttle and went everywhere. Up and down every hill, across every creek, and through each “cedar tunnel” . . . it was a blast! The snow was so deep in most places that I could just step off the bike and it would stand up in the snow with no support. I have yet to ride another bike in the snow that was better than that XR. Period.

The XR600
The XR600

Finally it happened. We got some snow a little over a week ago. Actually, we got a lot for Central Kentucky. There was about 12″ at the house with larger drifts here and there. At the end of the road, the drifts were over 2 feet deep. That was on Friday, and on Sunday, Jesse and I went to ride down in Casey County.

For some reason I expected there to be less snow on the ground down that way but when I hit the Lincoln-Casey line the road went to hell. I was driving the Motovan and it was not in 4WD so I eased on down the road noticing that everything “covered” with snow. I’d say there was 17″-19″ of snow on the ground where we parked. Never a dull moment!

Motovan in the Snow
Motovan in the Snow

I had spent 50 minutes or so putting sheet metal screws in my tires on Saturday evening and it paid some dividends. Regardless, forward motion was slow at times and a bit hard on the bike. A big-bore . . . that is a big-bore four-stroke would probably be the best for “big snow” riding but the YZ went ever place I pointed it.

On the Ridge
On the Ridge

We only covered about 4 miles and 50% of that was just logging roads. Towards the end of the ride, we came down this one hill and the snow was piled up almost 3 feet deep! I almost went over the bars getting to the bottom of that one.

Taking a Break
Taking a Break

The next Friday evening was spent removing the screws I’d installed the weekend before. It was going to be in the mid-50’s on Saturday and at our house, the snow was 95% gone. Mistake. Should have left the screws intact. Every North-North West slope was still covered with at least 6″ of snow. In most places it was more. Totally unexpected. Luckily it was heavier and not as light and fluffy as the previous weekend. We got around well but it was tricky and a bit tiring (see video below).

Bottom line. If you own a dirt bike and it snows at least 6 inches where you live, get out and ride in it. You don’t need to go far, just get out. Don’t be a “fair-weather” rider. You’ll be surprised what you’ll learn and fun will be had in the process!

See you on the trail!

Kenda Equilibrium: Report #3

We now have over 300 miles on a Kenda Equilibrium. It is the 18″ version and I’ve been running it exclusively on my 2-stroke WR250s. Philip used one on the bike he rode in Idaho this summer and I had put close to 100 miles on it prior to that trip. Those miles combined with some recent trail work put it just over the 300 mile mark.

Close Up of the Equilibrium
Close Up of the Equilibrium (~300 miles)

At this point the tire does show some wear, but it still performs very well. I can say this, it does not like the road. It wears down quickly on pavement so keep that in mind. Also, it does not like to be spun as that chews it up too. If you think about it, that is about the same as most trials tires. Their compound does not appreciate spinning or high speeds on asphalt.

As I noted above, Philip (and Jesse) used the Equilibrium in Idaho this summer. Jesse put close to 200 miles on his but Philip did not log that many miles during his shorter stay. They both praised the tire on the sidehills, tackling roots, and climbing over rocks. It also did well when we encountered some damp sections where the trials tire did not.

Another View of the Equilibrium
Another View of the Equilibrium (~300 miles)

I ran the IRC Trial Winner trials tire and was totally pleased except in a couple of damp sections along Germania so it was good to have it along as a point of comparison. Bo was running a Michelin trials tire and was really pleased with the performance too. I was afraid the Equilibrium would shed some side knobs on the rocks but all them were intact even after some crazy rock gardens. Very impressive!

From what I can tell, there are only two very small drawbacks to this tire. First of all it simply does not clean up very well. It is hard to rid the sipes of debris and the lettering dulls rapidly. I realize that has nothing to do with performance but it is part of the total package.

Secondly, it does impact the trail more than a trials tire. It is certainly better than any knobby in that regard, but it does turn up more dirt than the 4″ wide trials tire imprint on the trail.

Other than the two items above, I’m sold on it. I suspect that when the ground freezes it will cease to be so awesome, but we’ll see when the time comes. There is no way you could really run studs in this tire and obviously other tires are more suited to that type of thing.

Now as for racing, I personally have no first-hand experience with it in that type of situation but Travis said he’s seen lots of them on the starting line the past few months. He tried one, the 19″ version, at a few races and has been pleased. His comment was that it worked great on slimy roots and rocks, hooked up good in the ruts, and did at least as good as half worn knobby in the deep mud. I believe his plan was to finish out the season with it in terms of racing.

The Tire Stack
The Tire Stack

The last time we ordered some of these tires they were on back order for a couple months. So after a few weeks of testing the first tire, I decided to go ahead and order some more! Note the three on top of the IRC VE-33 in the photo above. Obviously I was impressed enough to invest in a stockpile! Get one for your bike and give it try!

See you on the trail!

Freezing in July

I guess it is all a matter of perspective. Was it a good thing? Or a bad thing? Depends on your frame of mind and desire for adventure. This all started on a morning in mid-July. The forecast was for cloudy skies and a 40-percent chance of precipitation. We were situated in central Idaho and the plan was to ride up to an old Forest Service Lookout structure. Regardless of the forecast . . . the ground is dry and any rain that fell would only improve traction and knock down any dust. Sounds reasonable doesn’t it?

The higher the altitude the better the attitude. Onward! The ride started out well and we enjoyed some relatively new single track trail that leads to some very nice sweeping views of the Sawtooth Mountains. It was cloudy, but we could see for many miles down Sawtooth Valley and all of Redfish and Little Redfish Lake in the foreground.

Redfish Lakes from a Ridge
Redfish Lakes from a Ridge

We stopped along the way for a snack at just over 9,000 feet above mean sea level. The views were spectacular in all directions but the clouds did put a bit of a damper on it. As we moved forward up the trail I expected to come across some snow drifts on the north facing slopes. But this year, unlike others in the past, there were no snow drifts remaining. I’d heard it was a bad year for snow but a wet spring. Thus, no snow drifts on this trail in 2015.

The next stop was a 4-way trail crossing. The tree that hosted the classic wooden trail signage was literally, laying on the ground. The signage was intact but the tree had seen better days. I noticed it was getting a little windy and a bit more cloudy as we made our way onto the trail that leads up to the Lookout.

Casino/Martin Creek 4-Way (2012)
Casino/Martin Creek 4-Way (2012)

There are some notoriously rocky sections in this trail and we all had fun negotiating the obstacles. At the end of the rock garden, the trail drops down a bit and the starts a steady, switchback laden climb to the top. This is when the “precipitation” began. It was scattered but hard rain fell for the next mile of the climb and then it turned to hail. The hail was small but you could hear it bouncing off the helmet with authority!

Freezing Precipitation on the Camera (Jesse's View)
Freezing Precipitation on the Camera (Jesse’s View)

A couple switchbacks later, the hail transitioned to sleet. It started to cover the trail as we parked our bikes several short switchbacks below the Lookout structure. It was coming down hard and frankly, we were getting wet and it was chilly. So . . . we ran for it! Right up the remaining switchbacks to the structure. Philip was leading but I actually made it up first and crawled underneath the decking of the Lookout.

Next I noticed the grounding cables on the structure and the rods driven into the granite just 2 feet away. Hmmm . . . it is storming on this mountain and I’m beside the lightning rod. At about that moment, Philip climbed up and got up on the deck. I followed and found him removing a panel in front of the door. The door behind it was OPEN! Yes, we all ended up getting inside and out of the elements.

I’ve only visited a couple of these lookouts and this is the first time that was open, fully accessible. The crew piled into the little 12 x 12 (?)  structure and found a wide range of items. There was a little square shelf/counter in the middle and one table against one of the outer walls. There was just enough room to walk around the counter in the middle and unfortunately, only two “chairs” graced the structure. We settled in accordingly as the sleet was pounding the metal roof and the clouds began to envelope the mountain top completely.

Lookout Interior (Pano)
Lookout Interior (Pano)

Two boxes full of glass panes for the windows were on the floor and a box of caulk and window glazing was against the opposing wall. I’d say there were 12-15 gallons of paint, two cordless drills, replacement belts for a sander, some basic tools, small candles, matches, and coolest of all, a Brunton gas stove with 1 and half containers of propane. We took the half bottle and fired up the stove to dry out a gloves, generate some heat, and provide a bit of light. A couple of the small candles had been employed for light as well.

Propane Powered Glove Heater
Propane Powered Glove Heater

After poking around a bit more we found 1/3 a bottle of whiskey, and empty whisky bottle, a couple tarps, a lantern, latches and other small hardware that would be useful for fixing up the places. By the way, when we left, there was still 1/3 a bottle of whiskey!

What we really liked was this piece of paper that was nailed to the side of the counter. It was a hand-written note professing the grandness of the place we had accessed and the value of the structure itself.

It was still relatively early in the day but after about an hour of rummaging around and watching Jesse and Philip take pictures I was ready to head down the mountain. Unfortunately, it was still precipitating. You know . . . the thing that there was only a 40% chance of occurring?

Jesse & Philip in the Lookout
Jesse & Philip in the Lookout

About 20-25 minutes later it all started to subside and we peeked outside. The sleet had just about stopped but we were “inside” a cloud. Our bikes that were parked a couple switchbacks down were not even visible. It was cold but luckily the wind was dying down and we’d all put on the jackets that we’d been carrying in our backpacks. Prepared!

Trailside Parking
Trailside Parking

The group scuttled down the hill to retrieve our bikes and head back towards the Big Casino trail at the 4-way I mentioned earlier. The ground was now wet which made for awesome traction however all the rocks were wet which made it interesting! We crawled back through the rocks and dropped onto Big Casino.

I’d warned Bo and Philip that Big Casino was rocky. It is not difficult, but in places the rocks are relentless. You just have to stand up and negotiate the obstacles or it will simply beat you up. Think you can just get off the trail and go around? Wrong, the landscape is littered with small to boulder-sized rounded rocks as far as the eye can see. Someone picked the path of least resistance many, many years ago!

Philip Negotiating the Rock Garden
Philip Negotiating the Rock Garden

The trail had been clear all the way down, but about 1/2 mile from the truck there was a small tree blocking the trail. Jesse used his big hand saw to get it out the way and we finished up the ride with just under 50 miles on the odometer.

What an adventure! Everyone really enjoyed the trails and the views but the freezing precipitation on the mountain added some extra excitement. We were all a bit wet and hungry so the loading went quickly back at the trailhead. Getting back to town for some food and a shower were high on the list!

This is one trail ride that we’ll never forget!

See you on the trail!

My First Dual-Sport Event

Honestly, I was very apprehensive about this “Dual-Sport” thing as I am not comfortable at all riding on the road.  It scares me. I’ve laid it down going 50+ on a dirt road and can’t imagine hitting the pavement at any speed. But . . . I had been told that this event was closer to an Enduro than any other Dual-Sport event. So with that knowledge we made plans to attend.

The event was staged at Lake Linville in Mt. Vernon, Kentucky, the County seat of Rockcastle County. It was a beautiful morning and the forecast called for perfect conditions. There was very little rain the week before so I figured the trails would be relatively dry for the first Saturday in May (Derby Day).

Unloading at Lake Linville
Unloading at Lake Linville

Unfortunately, we missed the Rider’s Meeting as we were trying to get our act together for the day. I had laid out what I thought was the perfect riding gear combo consisting of some Klim Dakar pants, a vented Klim Mojave jersey with my awesome Klim Dakar Pro Jersey layered on top. That Dakar Pro Jersey is so cool. It may be the most bullet-proof garment I’ve ever owned. This was topped off with some Klim Adventure gloves, Gaerne boots, and my trusty Arai VX-Pro 3 with the classic solid white color scheme. Onward!

At about 8:40, riders started leaving the staging area so we followed accordingly. I had my route sheet, the odometer was reset, and my GPS trip log was reset. Ready to go!

Well the first 6.9 miles were asphalt . . . hmmm . . . I’m thinking “What did I get myself into?” Then, we turned onto a gravel road. The gravel quickly deteriorated and at its end was a left onto some single track trail. Very nice. This section was laid out well along the contours of the hillside and emerged at the top of a hill on a gravel road. The last section was certainly more enjoyable than the first 6.9 miles.

There was a “Key” provided on the route sheet that provided two characters codes for each surface type (i.e., BT – Blacktop, DR – Dirt Road, TR – Trail, etc.) which proved to be useful. However, the variance in what was to be considered a Gravel Road was VERY wide. It might be fresh, 1.5″ deep gravel (very sketchy), well-packed gravel, or some washed-out road bed where gravel once existed many years ago. The later actually turned into a little single track trail as riders consistently picked the line of least resistance.

Point of Interest
Point of Interest

There were also “Advanced Sections” scattered here and there. Those were designated with a green Moose arrow rather than the standard issue orange. Those were the best trails we rode all day. If you took the wrong bike on those trails you’d be miserable for sure. Travis rode his DRZ-400’s’ decked out with gnarly knobby tires (IRC VE-33 on the rear) and showed up quite a few guys on pure dirt bikes!

In each of the advanced sections there were places where a bottle neck would develop. Some guy would “fail” at negotiating a hill or creek crossing and a bit of a backup would slow the pace. In most instances we waited very little or creeped around and up through the carnage. The smell of antifreeze (the smell of KTM’s) lingered at the top of every challenging hill as riders struggled and their buddies reached out to help their fallen comrades. Seriously, (most) everyone was very nice and courteous. Certainly a great group of riders!

None of us had any problems at all with the “obstacles” as Jesse employed his Rekluse and displacement to crawl up and over and Travis just attacked each one on that DRZ as it was his only option! Definitely glad I had my “WR” 250 one those sections.

On the Trail
On the Trail

So all of sudden, my odometer is saying that I’m going much faster than I am. Something is up. I slide my Trail Tech odometer out of the holder and back in real quickly. Still reading the same. When we finally come to a stop I see that it has switched to Km/hr and the battery light is flashing. Geez . . . I picked up the older of the odometers. Oh well. So I get a reading from Travis and start tracking it on my GPS. Now I’m doing math on the fly. I’m not an old school enduro rider, nor am I Bryan Bunch. A few stops, turns and so forth on the route sheet and I was done with keeping track of that info.

At one point we emerged on a familiar looking road. Travis asked if I knew where we were . . . Ah hah! We were on the road that goes back to the main trailhead for S-Tree! We continue along that road for a bit and arrive at the Sandgap Community Park. We’ve driven past here a dozen times over the years when riding at S-Tree. There were nearly 100 bikes there when we arrived and they were still rolling in. Lunch was provided as a part of the entry fee but the local Fire Department took donations in a fireman’s boot at the beginning of the lunch line. Good idea for the locals and the event promoter.

Lunch at Sandgap
Lunch at Sandgap

While heading to the end of lunch line, I came across Charlie Williams from Indy. He was pulling in on his GasGas as we wandered towards the shelter house. We chatted a bit and moved forward for some deserved nourishment and bench racing.

Travis was complaining about a certain rider that had left us behind on a trail ride a couple years ago and Jesse said, “Well he doesn’t have anything on Ross!” Charlie chimed in immediately and concurred, “Ross will do the same and he has the right tools to do it with!” If you’d ridden with Ross you would understand!

We saw several riders at lunch that were once KORHS racers. Many asked what had happened with the series. It is obvious that many folks appreciated what we did, but continuing at a loss is just not the way to go. I appreciated hearing all the good comments. I said farewell to Charlie and we headed on down the road to get some gas.

The gas station was a hoot! There were 45+ bikes there at any given moment for I’d say 20-25 minutes. Jeff was topping off the RMX, Travis fed the DRZ and Jesse’s WR300 had sucked down nearly 3 gallons so far! I saw just as many people there as I did at lunch.

The trails during the afternoon were just as good and from looking at the GPS I could see that we were starting to loop back around towards the staging area. The trail traversed some properties that we’d used for racing in the past and it was neat to suddenly realize that we were at that location!

At various points during the day I turned on my helmet camera. I tried to only use it on the best of trails but ended up getting some footage of paved and gravel roads. The plan was to get several 3-5 minute clips out on YouTube and I’m making progress with 4 posted for viewing thus far. Below is the first of the bunch. Make sure to click on the gear and watch it in HD.

Below are the links to the other 3 in this series:

https://youtu.be/8DyEVUYJutk
https://youtu.be/w7SyETywLJk
https://youtu.be/sE38EsagO8U

The afternoon trails provided more great scenery, had some tricky creek beds, and were laid out to wrap up the event in a good way. The promotors did a great job for sure! At the end of the day, Travis’ odometer said 116 miles and my calculations using the GPS and my odometer reading before it gave out was also right at 116 miles. Other folks said they got 125 miles so I’m not sure if we missed a section or what. Regardless, it was a good time!

My regret at this point is that  I did not go back on Sunday. I hadn’t made plans to do so but will next year for sure! Marty said the percentage of trail vs. gravel vs. road is about the same but it is only 80 rather than 125 miles. Jeff said it was well worth the time and highly-recommended by many of the riders that had gone with him in the past.

My plan is to go again next year! Who’s going with me?

See you on the trail!

Kenda Equilibrium: Report #2

Honestly . . . I’ve never owned a Kenda tire. Kyle and some other folks I ride with like them, but I’ve been sticking with IRC and Michelin for many years. The tires that I’ve been using for nearly two decades have been a good balance between performance and longevity.

As noted in the previous report, I was impressed with the Kenda Equilibrium in the first outing. Well the second outing cinched it for me. I’ll have to say that it is just plain awesome! It has most all of the positive features of a trials tire coupled with knobby-type performance when it counts.

 

Kenda After 2 Rides
Kenda After 2 Rides

I hit every side hill trail, tackled some muddy ruts, climbed a couple rocky ledges, even pushed it a little in the grass. In each instance, it did better than I expected. It’s performance on side hills was impressive. Jesse also noted how it excelled in those situations.

Kenda Equilibrium on the Trail
Kenda Equilibrium on the Trail

The next test will be a trip around the Red Bird Crest Trail. A good 75 mile loop should expose any weak points if they do exist. I can see using this tire for all but 2-3 months a year and it could even do well out West. Jesse said he may try using his in Idaho this year, but for there, I’m still inclined to stick with a pure trials tire.

Actually, I liked it so much, that I ordered another one!

See you on the trail!

Kenda Equilibrium: Report #1

In the quest for the perfect tire that is suited for the varied terrain east of the Big River (Mississippi) I have now acquired a new Kenda Equilibrium. Actually, Jesse ordered two and I got one of his.

The version I have is  4.50″ x 18″ and my first impression was that it is super sticky and the knobs are very pliable. I’d have to say that it is not quite as soft feeling as the Michelin or IRC Trials Tires, but it is significantly softer than the Motoz Mountain Hybrid and the Pirelli MT-43. As for sidewalls, they appear to be thicker than the IRC and Michelin Trials Tires but not as robust as the Pirelli and Motoz which are both DOT-rated.

Kenda Equilibrium
Kenda Equilibrium

A positive point is that the Tire Balls worked VERY well in this tire. It is almost like it was made for them. The shape and size of the carcass is perfect for the balls I use. As usual, I lubed up the tire quite well and put some lube on each ball as I inserted it into the tire. The whole process went quickly and much to my delight, it was a breeze to mount. Just about as easy as mounting an 18″ Trials Tire.

It popped up on the rim with ease and the outline of each ball is visible along the sidewall. Pushing down on the knobs causes it to collapse like a trials tire and the 8 lbs. of air in the Tire Balls seems right on target.

Well I took it for a spin today and was very impressed. It does really well climbing over logs, crossing streams, traversing sidehills, and it seems to hook up quite well in the mud. What really surprised me is how it handled this long uphill that is covered with small loose rocks. The VE-33 does fine on it, but the Kenda Equilibrium rides on top of the loose rocks much like a trials tire. I did a lot of “exploring” today but the plan is to put some miles on it tomorrow.

Kenda Equilibrium
Kenda Equilibrium

I’ll give it a thorough test tomorrow by hitting all our trails down in Casey County. Putting 20-25 miles on in the widely varying terrain should let me know what it is all about.

See you on the trail!

MOTOZ MOUNTAIN HYBRID: TEST #2

A couple weekends ago I stuffed my new Motoz Mountain Hybrid tire full of Tire Balls. Each ball had 8.5 lbs. of pressure and was well-lubed. The inside of the tire carcass was lube up as well. The tire seemed a “little” softer than when I first mounted it up with a tube but that was probably due to it being ridden flat on its previous outing.

This past weekend promised to be warm and it was going to be fairly dry for February in Kentucky. With that in mind, I put the Motoz wheel on the YZ for another test. Just like last time, I took a spare wheel with my IRC VE-33 ready to go.

I got a late start on Saturday but it was sunny and around 50 when I left the truck. Jesse has gone down in to the bottom to start cutting a new trail in the valley. I took an alternate route that was a bit too adventurous but I made it down with no drama and found Jesse working near the creek.

Cutting Trail with the Motoz Mountain Hybrid
Cutting Trail with the Motoz Mountain Hybrid

The tire was doing well but it did not like sidehills, especially those covered in leaves. Rocks, not a problem and creek crossings were great. Traction was good on an all dirt logging road, but get it on a damp sidehill covered with 8 varieties of leaves from Kentucky’s deciduous forests and it just does not excel. This where the VE-33 would have done quite well and a even standard trials tire might have performed better.

While exploring a bit I learned that at times it would just stop hooking up. Slick logs and some loose dirt on the side of a big root ball were giving me fits. I really think it needs to be run with less air or something. Basically, it needs to “squat” more to be effective.

So . . . I think my plan is to give it a rest until sometime next summer when things a bit drier. This just isn’t the right time of year to test a “trials-like” tire in the Bluegrass State. Jesse is going to give a shot with his Tubliss system and about 6 lbs of air. That may be the ticket!

UPDATE (03/26/15) :  The Motoz is no longer on the 18″ rim as a new Kenda Equilibrium has arrived. “Hills Rider” is vacationing down in the desert Southwest and has this to say about the Motoz:

“Seemed like the MotoZ wore down to the depth of the sipes pretty fast. All edges feathered as it wore down suggesting the rubber is somewhat soft. I think it will work good in the hills (Black Hills) but it is a little sketchy down here in some loose rock situations and hard pack with loose gravel on top of it.”

Mine is going to hang out in the “stack” for a while and when the conditions are more ideal we’ll give it another spin!

See you on the trail!

Motoz Mountain Hybrid: Test #1

Well there seems to be lots of buzz surrounding the new MotoZ Mountain Hybrid tire. The sales guy at bike show promises wonderful traction in all conditions, notes the DOT rating, and the 18″ form factor with some nice rim protection. Slavens has a good video on it as well but I haven’t seen any test results.

At just under $100 per tire, the MotoZ appears to be a great deal. Most good trials tires will run you $130+ . . . however . . . when you consider the milage you’ll get it is certainly worth it. So, I ordered one from Slavens and had just over a week from when I placed the order. Not bad considering it was coming from Colorado.

For the first time that I’ve seen, my tire was delivered in a box. Yes, a big flat cardboard box. It also had the paper work shrink wrapped around the tire but that was in the box with the receipt and so forth. Nice box.

One thing I noted is that the box was heavy. After opening it up I was shocked at how wide it really was. And rounded, not flat in terms of its profile. It is definitely as heavy as my IRC VE-33 and the carcass is very tough. Also, I think the knobs are just as tall as the VE-33 but rectangular and distributed across the tire in a trials tire-like pattern.

Motoz Mountain Hybrid
Motoz Mountain Hybrid (far right)

The next evening I spooned it onto a spare rim and for the first time in over 5 years I installed a tube, not Tire Balls, in my tire. It was a relatively quick process that I did just before dinner. When airing it up it literally “popped” onto the rim. That sounded good! You could see the excellent rim protection. But, it seemed really “hard” when compared to the other trials tires in the garage. So, I set the air pressure at 8psi and called it a night.

The weekend rolls around and I am anxious to give it a try. Mid-20s the night before means the ground will be frozen until about 11am or so. After that, the ground conditions will get just plain muddy and nasty. That should be a good test as we typically remove our trials tires after the first good freeze and run a knobby until June or so.

I was the first to get suited up the day of our ride so I headed out for a short loop. It was a still a bit hard and didn’t squat like I wanted it to but considering the frozen ground, it performed no worse than a knobby. After about 1 mile I headed back and let a little air out of the tire. Probably down to 6psi at this point.

Shortly thereafter we all left the truck for a good loop. The Motoz Mountain Hybrid was doing good on most everything that was not totally frozen. The knobs were staying clean and it hooked up in some muddy ruts where I expected it would struggle. Most of the rocks and roots were slick with a fine layer of ice or they were just plain wet. Surprisingly, it did well in those situations.

At about 5.1 miles into the ride we came to a frozen and rocky uphill where there was not a good way to carry your speed past halfway up. Unfortunately, I slid over into the rut and had to crawl up hill over rocks and roots and some frozen ground. Not too stylish, but I made it up. Now waiting on the rest of the crew.

The interesting thing is that all 3 Yamaha YZ’s ended up making it to the top, but not the KTM 250XC . . . The orange bike made it on the fourth attempt as we joked about putting some Yamaha stickers on this bike. More to come on this . . .

While waiting at the top I noticed the tire as low. It was now squatting and an 8″ section was off the bead. Not good! I got the little hand pump out of my Klim Nac Pac and grabbed the valve stem. Hmmm . . . it was loose, spinning in the rim. Obviously torn from the tube. Actually, not all is lost . . .

I’d thrown another wheel in the bed of the truck that morning, complete with a barely worn IRC VE-33 loaded full of Tire Balls at about 8psi. The rest of the crew forged onward to complete a good loop and I headed back down the hill and took the path of least resistance back to the truck. Some tools from the backpack (and the stand I now require to be able to step up into the truck without ripping the crotch out of my pants) were all I needed to complete a wheel-swap in less than 4 minutes.

After waiting around for a bit, the crew arrived back at the barn. Everyone ate lunch and we grabbed some more water. During that timeframe, Jesse applied a Yamaha Sticker to the back of Kyle’s helmet . . . you know, the KTM rider that didn’t make it up the first gnarly uphill? Well both Smith and Dean were having a ball getting photos of Kyle’s helmet and specifically the Yamaha sticker. Their tag-team approach acquired some good photos and video!! See below!

Yamaha Sticker on KTM Rider's Helmet (1)
Yamaha Sticker on KTM Rider’s Helmet (1)
Yamaha Sticker on KTM Rider's Helmet (2)
Yamaha Sticker on KTM Rider’s Helmet (2)

So at the end of the day we’d netted about 23 miles of good riding, enjoyed the great mid-winter weather, and had some good times! Better than sitting on the couch all day!

I know it is cold and nasty, but you need to get out and ride!

See you on the trail!

 

A Fall Tour of the Ky Woods

A young man from Northern Indiana came down to ride with us this past weekend. It’s already getting cold and nasty in his neck of the woods so riding down here in Kentucky was a treat with some warmer weather and great fall colors on display. Below is a photo taken the previous weekend from an overlook we ride past.

Fall Colors in Kentucky
Fall Colors in Kentucky

Currently, all the trails are covered with leaves that easily hide all the rocks, roots, and smaller logs. All those things that will grab your front wheel in a deliberate fashion and remind you to take it easy and pay attention. It is good practice and a perfect time to seek out new trails as the leaves are mostly gone and you can see through the woods a decent distance for a change.

Oak and Hickory Leaves Cover the Trail
Oak and Hickory Leaves Cover the Trail

On Saturday, four us were able to ride together. With two KTMs and two Yamahas in the group the jesting was continuous. Never a dull moment with Jesse and Bo are trading jabs! Our guest didn’t know what he’d gotten himself into but he took it all in stride. The good thing was that we all were riding quiet 2-Strokes as it was the opening day of Deer Hunting Season. Stealth riding with little impact was the goal as we traversed several areas.

The Riding Crew
The Riding Crew
Dropping of a Rock Ledge
Dropping of a Rock Ledge

Building a modern day Yamaha WR250

This is somewhat of a rehash of an older post on the subject of converting a 2006+ YZ250 to Wide-Ratio or “WR”250. The vast majority of the items needed to make this happen come straight from Yamaha. No special machining, no questionable parts, just good old Yamaha components.

I just picked up an extremely clean (like new) 2007 YZ250 and it is undergoing the primary WR upgrade. That is, an entire gear set from a WR450 is being dropped into the cases. Yes, it fits. A Boyesen Water Pump Impeller, TMV Flywheel weight (13oz), and shiny new GYTR 14 tooth countershaft sprocket. A new top end is the wise thing to do while it is down as well. That’s the meat of it right there. A wide ratio transmission in a YZ = WR. It should run over 65mph with 14-52 gearing!

Below is a photo of my other WR250 shown in that older post. It is now sporting Yamaha Blue Camo and a new IRC-VE33 for the upcoming Sandlapper Enduro in March.

2007 Yamaha WR250
2007 Yamaha WR250

That nice WR engine breathes out through an FMF Gnarly exhaust pipe coupled to an FMF Q-Stealth silencer. I pack my silencer about every 2-3 months. Quite bikes are a good thing. When did you last pack your silencer??

Of course an 18″ rear wheel is crucial and one from a WR450 will slide into place like it was made to be there. An IRC Trials Tire stuffed full of Tire Balls makes for unbelievable traction. You just can’t imagine how great a trials tire hooks up until you try one. Tire Balls in the front, some correctly valved suspension, Scotts Steering Damper, and a tall-soft seat foam smooth it all out and make it easy to ride all day long.

This particular new ride actually has a title from Ohio. It now has insurance as well. The plan is to get it licensed. A new Baja Designs LED Taillight and License Plate holder is on the way and an Acerbis Headlight is already strapped to the forks. Thinking about the Trail Tech battery for powering it all up. I just don’t trust those aftermarket stators/coils and E-Line won’t wind them for you any more.

Pictures of this “project” will be posted as progress is made. I’ll pose the same question once again . . . Why can’t Yamaha make this bike? Loyal Yamaha fans and folks that are tired of smelling the antifreeze from their overheating KTM would flock to the bikes!

One last note . . . see the header image on the top of this page. There are 3 WR250s sitting on that trail! Think about it . . .

See you on the trail!