As riding season approaches, and more DBT tests and reviews are released, I’m sure your inbox is already overflowing with ‘what bike should I buy’ questions. And as much I want you to believe that this is a email discussing the finer points of bike set up or skill development. This is essentially just another ‘what bike should I buy’ question.
I’m a 26 year old, six foot 180 pound, intermediate, off road racer. I come from a generation of riders who have predominantly rode thumpers, and I fit that demographic to a T. I am coming off a 14 350XCFW that has packed me around Idaho single track, and got me across the finish line at several enduros and GPs. As much as I loved the 350, I was looking for something new with a lighter feel, when I came across a deal on new TE250 I couldn’t pass up. While I still have mixed feelings about the number strokes my primary bike has (I will save that for another day,) this email pertains more to my secondary bike.
I usually try to ride motocross 1-2 times a week, for the conditioning and seat time. And I am fortunate enough to have a second bike dedicated to moto. A 2006 CRF450, that’s due for replacement. Even though the mills on the 350 and 450 are “relatively similar,” I still struggle switching between these bikes and have developed some bad habits. I want to short shift the 350, and over rev the 450. Not to mention my battle with differences in chassis and handling characteristics. If I struggled this much with engines that are designed to compete against each other, what’s going to happen when I throw the new smoker into the mix?
My question to you is;
What are your thoughts on how different riding disciplines on completely different bikes affects overall rider development? Should I practice what I race and pick up a TC250 and learn how to quit being lazy? Or would I be better off to stick with what I’m comfortable with and put my motos in on a 250F/350 to condition myself to throwing around a more planted bike?
I would like to ad that I’m a avid visitor to the DBT site, and I throughly enjoy all of the content your team produces. Thanks for all work you do, and thank you for taking the time to read this.
Every bike has characteristics and traits that may suit you and some don’t. And as you are finding out by riding a variety of bikes, you start to notice some of those traits more and more. That is a good thing and a bad thing. Having been a test rider most of my riding career I know how you feel and this is what allows us to pick bikes apart as well as appreciate how good they have become.
I’d suggest a few things. First is to switch bikes more often and maybe even take them and ride them in the same location on the same day. Get comfortable switching bikes and make sure you practice adapting your riding technique for each bike’s strong points. If you are successful with this, maybe you can keep a variety of bikes around. I know I do and I pick and choose the bike with the traits and characteristics that will bets suit the riding I intend to do. If you just struggle (and I know a lot of riders who can’t adapt) then maybe you are more of a one bike guy and you’ll have to decide which one suits you the best.
Next is learn how to modify your bikes to suit the styles you like. On the CRF450 vs. Husky 350 issue there are ways to tune each of those engines to produce a slightly different power spread, especially getting the 450 to rev further. In this you may find it difficult in switching brands, as a lot of times major traits and layouts of the bikes are pretty brand specific and can not be “measured”. It is a feeling thing and again, some riders may not be happy switching. Going to a two-stroke will only further the gap but I have yet to see a particular bike make a rider less lazy, save for a 125cc.
Then there is the option of pushing the reset button all together. Your riding description is a perfect candidate for a KTM XC or a Yamaha FX or X. These bikes can do it all and stock need very little work to span the spectrum of racing in single track all the way to being great at the track. If you have a moto specific bike and a trail specific bike and switching is giving you fits, maybe simplifying is the way to go.