So, I have a fun little MX track out back behnd the house. It’s not Glen Helen or Washougal, mind you. But, it a 1/2 mile run of twisties, hairpins, off-camber up and downs, a couple of short straights and 3 jumps in a flat pasture. No table-tops, no doubles or triples, no long whoop sections. Didn't want to "beat" myself up, just wanted to walk outside my back door and have a barrel of FUN on any day. Its good therapy!
It’s time to call in the shootout team. So I broadcast "open track" and several guys promptly arrive at 8:30 am two Saturdays ago. A nice mix of bikes come with them; a new 08YZ450F, an older KDX250, and a new KX85 with one of the fastest 12 yr olds in Tulsa race circuit...I mean FAST! Oh and another guy shows without a bike...figures he's just gonna ride mine! There's always one in every crowd…
Ok, let's roll...and wake up some neighbors!
I have to start on the WR450F. It’s just so good on the track. The motor is a rocket launcher. And, it feels 100% dirtbike. You can basically put it in 2nd and just rip it. You can go to 3rd in the straights if you want. But don't really need to. The throttle is endless. Man...I love this bike. It’s such an adrenaline rush. It defines: "when in doubt, gas it." Any gear, just blip the throttle and you'll launch over whatever is in front of you. Great bike in the dirt!
So, I reluctantly hand it off to an impatient Krabill and climb onboard R². Here we go. Now, it finally feels down on power. I have to remind myself, it’s "only a 250." So, the bike is comfortable....wait, it’s really comfortable. And, it feels light. Feels light as, or maybe lighter than the WR450. For real. On paper, it’s about 40 pounds heavier on the scale. Out here in the dirt...well, I already said it. Turns well, a little stiff on the bumps (its new and I haven't touched a clicker one bit). Let's hits some of these jumps. Aahh...it’s ok. Solid. Little heavy on the landing...but balanced. It’s really "OK". A little better than I expected, but not the 450, of course.
Then, something happens that changes the game. That little 12 year old snot cut the track, came up behind and passed me in a corner and gave me a roosting! Now, that's just bad behavior from a guest. I’m gonna have to teach that boy some manners. I peg the throttle, and run R² hard to finally catch up with that turkey. I'm screaming the revs 1st thru 3rd. Hitting jumps HARD, sliding thru turns grabbing deep. I'm on his butt! But the kid is good. I can't get around him. He's fast. I finally back off cause all of a sudden, I remembered "I'm only on a 250 street bike"...and it’s barely broke in. Oops!
That's when it hits me. There are two completely different motorcycles in the WR250R. First one exists below 4,000 rpm and is nice, docile, and sweet. Feels like you have always expected a little 4-stroke street bike to run. Predictable and easy going. Second bike exists above 6,000 rpm. It’s a fire breathing monster that keeps wanting more. I would come out of the hairpin turn with the throttle hammered and R2 would scream like a jet engine and just flat out GO....maybe GO² (that's Go - Squared, if you're catching on). Now, I've got to go back onto the track and verify this again. My only thoughts are: "Wow...this is just a 250 streetbike?!
Next, I start running behind Krabill on the WR450. Pretty much keep pace with him. But, he's a dang good rider and can turn fast and low. He seems to like WFO a lot...gave me several dirt showers. But, I'm really surprised how well the R2 handled and performed on the little track test. I don't think I would go enter a motocross race with it. You could if you wanted to. And, you probably could finish with a respectable result in bottom half of class. You're not going to win. But, you'd have fun. You'd survive. You'd turn a lot of heads. But it’s not a race bike. If you want a true race bike, go buy one. Used ones are everywhere cheap. Then you don't mind crashing them so much. R² is just too pretty to smash in the dirt. Then again, it handles so well I might not ever go down on it. Just saying…
Next, I get on the DR350. Its solid, it works, but feels heavy. Never felt heavy before. In fact, I liked it before. But now, I really notice a difference. Doesn't turn as well, doesn't accelerate out of turn as fast. Too linear a powerband for racing on the track. I kept getting passed. Didn't get passed by anyone on R2 after I gave her heck. And, once again, I'm all stuffed down into a pocket...cramped up. Which affects my ability to ride well. This is sad. I really liked my DR before this test. Thought I had a real keeper for the Rainbow Trail, and hard single track around home. Everything is relative in a comparison. Got to let the chips fall where they may. It is what it is. I'm just telling it like it is...sometimes it hurts.
Time to get on the KLX250. Ooooo...yeah...I'm upright again. Comfortable riding position. Nice torquey bottom end. Unfortunately, the KX 80 passed me again, while I was trying shift thru the gears and get some speed. This thing might climb like a billy goat, but it sure takes a while to get moving on the track...even when I pin the throttle. But, it’s still a nice ride at a nice pace. Great suspension. Loves the bumps and jumps. Not too heavy, not too light. Very predictable power and handling. I could go plenty fast enough to have loads of fun. It seemed to take all the beating I wanted to give it. I like this bike..still. What a relief. I was afraid of what I thought might happen. But clearly, hands down, it couldn't keep pace with the WRR. I do have one solid decision from this: The KLX250 is the absolute perfect bike for my 15 year old son. No wonder he loves it so much. Btw, he is 5-11, 160 lbs, and a very good rider. He crawled out of bed (cause we woke him up with the noise) and wanted to try R² on the track. Nope...get on your own bike. R²'s mine. Life's hard.
I kept track of my lap times for posterity. Here they are:
WR450F = 1 min 14 sec.
WR250R = 1 min 17 sec. (stock Bridgestone Trailwings)
WR250R = 1 min 16 sec. (Dunlop 606 knobby on retest)
DR350S = 1 min 21 sec.
KLX250 = 1 min 20 sec.
Little Snot (KX85) = 1 min 13 sec. (the benefits of youth!)
The stock tires felt slick. But maybe it’s all in our head. We never went down. And, I only shaved 1 second off my track time with the knobby. Granted, I like the more planted feel in the dirt with the knobby. But, the stocker is better than everyone gives it credit. The lap times don't lie!
Personally, I'll keep the knobby. It will be needed in sandy and muddy times ahead....Next Up: Krabill on the MX Track