The universal truth about children is that you feed them, and they grow. So, after an extended time with the Honda CRF125F, my daughter started to look like a giant on the bike and needed to move up. A year prior, she’d tried the Kawasaki KLX140R L and found it intimidating because she couldn’t easily touch the ground when astride it. Well, adolescence took care of that issue, and along with growing, she expanded her riding skills, making her first reaction to throwing a leg over the KLX one of “Wow, it fits!” before heading off to ride in our favorite desert OHV area.
Kawasaki pulled the covers off its first ever electric vehicle, and as we expected, it is a new powered balance bike for young riders called the Elektrode. Designed for riders as young as three years of age, the Elektrode is positioned as an entry point for future motocross riders.
Kawasaki has dropped teasers for its first electric two-wheeler, with an announcement date of June 7. The 15-second teasers released on social media channels show images of a young rider and a dirt course, ending with the tag line: “The Good Times are electric.”
Four years ago, I bought my first real dirtbike (the 1978 Suzuki TS185 my friends and I passed around as kids didn’t count). It was a 2009 Kawasaki KX250F modified for desert trail riding. Foolishly, I bought that bike before I had a way to transport it to the desert that it had been modified for, or anywhere else really. At that point, I hadn’t owned a truck or any other four-wheeled vehicle for nine years. As numerous motorcycles made their way in and out of the garage over that time, I hadn’t felt the need or interest to own anything more than a few streetbikes thanks to southern California’s year-round riding season.
Tractoring up the single-track ascent, switchback after switchback with relative ease, a few thoughts ran through my head. One, this thing’s street-legal. Two, it’s kicking ass on this trail. Three, two-strokes aren’t the only machines that can be comfortable doing technical trail work. Admittedly, I’ve become somewhat smitten with my own two-stroke dirtbike, so much so that I had forgotten just how well a four-stroke can handle similar terrain, despite having begun my off-road riding career on a four-stroke 250.
The 2019 KTM 690 Enduro R fills a niche within a niche. Ask riders of different disciplines where the 690 Enduro R falls among motorcycle segments and you’re likely to get two different answers. To off-road riders, the 690 is an adventure bike. Its big Single is smoothed out by dual counterbalancers, and a nice electronics package sets it apart from the 350 or 500 EXCs and two strokes available in KTM’s enduro/dual-sport range. Ask the same question to a street rider and you get, “It’s a dirtbike”. Dirtbike ergos, dirtbike looks, a big ol’ 693 cc Thumper, and its relatively small size – compared to 1290s – place the Enduro R in off-road territory for asphalt-locked motorcyclists.
In the neither fish nor fowl department at SEMA this week, Segway has announced the Dirt eBike X160 and X260, which the company lists as a hybrid between a dirt and mountain bike. However, the inclusion of pegs instead of pedals places it exclusively in the lightweight dirt bike market, in our MOpinion. Segway appears to be gunning for more: “Its standard customizable design allows for most motorcycle-level modifications and meets all requirements necessary to be considered a performance electric dirt bike.“ In other press materials, Segway states that it is clearly looking towards entry-level riders.
Husqvarna has entered the electric motorcycle market, launching the new EE 5 electric dirt bike as a 2020 model. The 2020 Husqvarna EE 5 is designed for young riders, with an all-new electric powertrain that claims an equivalent performance level to a 50cc gasoline-powered dirt bike.
Just once I’d like to hear a manufacturer come out and say, well, this new one’s a little slower and heavier than the existing model. That never happens. The thoroughly redesigned KX250, Kawi says, is the MOST POWERFUL KX250 TO DATE, in 23-point type! Now it’s packing an even more oversquare and revvier engine with World Superbike-derived finger-type cam followers, housed in a new and improved aluminum frame, suspended by the latest in KYB suspension components. It’s all topped off with Kawi’s excellent Ergo-Fit system of adjustable footpegs and handlebar position, and embellished with fresh new plastic. How much would you expect to pay? $7,799.
In 2015, after Euro brands had been long dominating enduro and GNCC-type racing, Yamaha stepped into the game with a serious contender, a closed-course off-road competition model to do battle with the Austrians and others from tree to tree around an enduro course. The Yamaha YZ250FX is heavily based on the YZ250F motocross bike, but has been outfitted with essential off-road racing components, some of which would be costly to impossible to build out yourself. For 2019, the field is becoming more crowded with Honda’s new CRF250RX and KTM’s 250 XC-F. How does the Yamaha stack up to an increasingly competitive class? We made our way to the California desert to find out.