It’s a new year which means it’s time once again for the world’s most grueling off-road endurance race, the Dakar Rally. Celebrating its 40th edition, the 2018 Dakar Rally runs Jan. 6-20, starting in Lima, Peru, crossing into Bolivia with a rest day in La Paz, and then entering Argentina for the finish line at Cordoba.
Honda’s 2017 CRF250R has been a perennial contender that has come up just shy of its peers when in the engine performance and suspension departments. With an all-new, electric-start, DOHC engine and a chassis layout that mimics the 2018 CRF450R, the 2018 CRF250R is poised to make a serious run at 250cc motocross class honors.
Yamaha tantalized the American dirtbike press with the unveiling of its all-new, electric-start, WiFi-equipped 2018 Yamaha YZ450F about a month ago, and we haven’t stopped drooling over the photos and technical specifications of the bike since then. So, when Yamaha offered us the chance to sample the YZ for ourselves to see if we thought it had a chance at regaining the top spot in the 450cc motocross class, we jumped at the chance, which came on an oven-like day at the world-famous Glen Helen Raceway in Southern California.
I’ll be honest: I’d never heard of the Suzuki XF650 Freewind before. But as I was digging through the archives, looking for this week’s post, when I came across this beauty I knew it was the one. A Suzuki V-Strom before there ever was one, the 1997 Suzuki XF650 Freewind could easily make the case as being the V-Strom’s predecessor. Off-road-ish styling, psuedo knobby tires, street and dirt intentions – all of those are traits the V-Strom carries. Heck, both even have 650(ish)cc engines! How is it like to ride? Here’s our man Yossef Schvetz with the answer.
There I was standing in the middle of nowhere, watching my riding partner, certifiable Glamis Dunes freak Scott Shaffstall, have a blast while skiing one of our shiny Honda Africa Twins in some sand dunes in the middle of nowhere in Southern Nevada during AltRider’s 2017 Taste of Dakar adventure ride.
KTM is introducing a new two-stroke engine with a fuel injection system to its 2018 EXC enduro lineup. KTM calls the new technology “Transfer Port Injection” or TPI, with a new 250 EXC TPI and 300 EXC TPI arriving in European showrooms this summer while North Americans will have to wait until late fall for the 250 XC-W TPI.
As we jump in the vault for this week’s Church feature, we travel back to 1997, a time of change and consternation amongst off-road enthusiasts. Why? Because this was the year California really cracked down on two-stroke off-road motorcycles. A look at showroom floors today reveals (thankfully) that two-strokes haven’t exactly died off, but are far from prominent. Instead, the four-stroke era kicked in, and here we have a test of some modest trail bikes – the 1997 Honda XR400R and Kawasaki KLX300R. Far from speed demons, both bikes are fun on the trials. How fun? Let Len Nelson tell you…
I’ve read it a thousand times and probably written it a few hundred: If you want to grow your motorcycle skills, get a dirtbike. Most people who aren’t so familiar with knobbies might think that means one of those $9,000 450cc monsters capable of leaping tall orthopedic wards in a single bound, but what you really want is a bike like the ones they train people on at Colin Edwards’ Texas Tornado Boot Camp, Rich Oliver’s Mystery School, and others. Okay, well, those happen to be Yamaha TT-R125s, but now Kawasaki has a new competitor for that little beast in the form of its “all-new” KLX140G.
It’s more than a little ironic that Yamaha, the company that ushered in the modern era of four-stroke dirtbikes and contributed to the sounding of the death knell for two-stroke motorcycles, has recently unleashed the best new two-smoker we’ve ridden in a long time. The YZ250X is the company’s first two-stroke off-road racer in nearly two decades, and it’s a winner right out of the crate.
Husqvarna announced a completely redesigned two-stroke and four-stroke enduro lineup for 2017. The two-stroke TX125, TE250 and TE300 and the four-stroke FE250, FE350 and FE450 all receive a new frame and subframe design, WP suspension, redesigned airbox and lighter, more compact engines.