In the September 2010 issue of Dirt Rider, hitting newsstands any day now, you’ll find a story (“Readers Rule!”) on four bikes that we borrowed from four of our readers, fixed them up the way we saw fit to make better bikes for their needs, then tested the bikes against one another to see what the modded bikes had turned into. We wanted to give a great opportunity to a few of our readers, but also show everyone how different bikes can be tweaked to work better for different needs. We thought we’d get an opinion from the four lucky bike owners after their ‘new’ bikes were returned to them, so here is one of four reviews, straight from our readers, of what they think of their Post-DR-Reader-Bike-Build-Story machines!
Sivan Zuckerman’s Story
It was hard not to get excited when Dirt picked my 2007 CRF250 for a magazine bike fixup. The answer of course was “yes.” One does not think twice when handed the winning lottery ticket, but just like the lottery, the chances of this project becoming a reality seemed too farfetched for me to take seriously, “We will take your bike and upgrade it, maybe some new suspension, maybe some motor work, whatever we think it needs, oh, and it’s all free.” Really, what are the odds?
A few months later we met at Milestone Ranch MX for the last ride before Pete Peterson took the bike off my hands. As I was consistently losing about a second a lap to the Magazine editor on the vet track I started to really notice the flaws my bike was exhibiting trying to chase down Pete’s 2010 Suzuki. He was effortlessly flowing in and out of the rough corners where I was having a hard time just holding my line. The CRF’s front end was all over the place and when accelerating out of a turn it would try to stand up and jump the rut. That yellow bike was getting away, so maybe a suspension upgrade would not be such a bad idea… That’s when it fully hit me, this was really happening. A free bike build by Dirt Rider. I’d won the lottery!The wait was painful, but then the day arrived when I’d get my ‘new’ bike. The first thing I noticed when picking it up from the Dirt Rider office was the face lift. I’d given them a tired-looking Raggedy Ann and was picking up a curvaceous Angelina Jolie. With new Acerbis hand guards and front disc cover and new skin by Factory FX, the bike looked like it belonged at the outdoor nationals. RG3 had revalved the suspension and put on a new linkage. Dubach Racing lowered the radiators and repaired and repacked my Dr.D Ti muffler, Kenda put on fresh knobbies and the new Acerbis injection molded seat topped it all off. Suddenly it felt like X-mass.I picked up the bike on Thursday. Waiting for the chance to take Angelina to the dance made that Friday the longest day of the year.
At Piru MX track that weekend my arch nemesis Steve “Jump” Mills and I got to play at being Dirt Rider testers. OK, this is where I get all giddy. Piru is our favorite weekend ritual – tacky dirt that lasts most of the day and well-groomed man-mad and natural terrain obstacles. It does not get too bumpy or too rutted and offers a little of everything – perfect testing ground, especially since this is where I will be riding most weekends.After a few test laps we pulled the bike off the track. The front end seemed a little nervous so we set the sag at 99mm, adjusted the fork rebound one click and proceeded to have fun… I mean worked really hard at testing the new ride,It is almost impossible to evaluate individual components when you get them all installed at one time. Is it the linkage, the suspension, or the new seat that makes the difference? Hard to tell, all I can attest to is the quality of the complete package.
With the sag set and the front end settling down the bike was hooking up, be it on a straight or in a corner, it just stuck. With what feels like a lower center of gravity (lower radiators?) and very planted suspension (most notably the rear) it goes where you want it to go with very little effort. Laying into a turn feels easier and once there it stays balanced – gone is the tendency to stand up and jump the rut. The ride is so balanced in fact that it sometimes feels like the bike wants to stay where it is more than it should, especially on jump takeoff. Lean it over and it will stay leaned over, keep it straight and it will stay straight. It was a little strange at first but when I got used to it, it gave me more confidence to throw the bike around. On hard acceleration out of a flat turn the rear slides around very predictably now. The tires just seem to grab much better than before and I found myself standing through fast sweepers with complete control. Over-jump a landing and it will send a decent jolt through the bars but the bike never bottoms and there is no bouncy rebound, nothing wild, just a firm planted feel.Now, during the two and a half months that Pete “on time” Peterson had the bike, I was getting my fix riding my son Jaime’s YZ125. People who say that riding 2-smokers make you a better rider are not just drinking their own premix; riding an underpowered machine teaches you to take the long way around things – keep momentum going or you will be rolling the next obstacle. Riding a super light bike tempts you to take new lines you never thought possible on the bigger toys because your inertia would have carried you past them. Now that I rode these tight inside and fast sweeping outsides for weeks, I was trying them out on the CRF almost without thinking. With the new easier-turning 250F they all seemed to have been designed with this machine in mind. Changing your line in mid turn is just a matter of changing you mind. There is no need for an official request typed in triplicates – just look where you want to go and the bike is there.
The Acerbis seat is as hard as a rock with the bike on the stand but the unforgiving feel disappears at speed. The hard foam surface keeps you on top instead of in the bike; it makes the bike feel a little taller which works great for my longer frame and makes it easy to move about without having to push yourself up and over. You just unweight your rump and slide and the grippy material grabs and holds you in place once you settle. The grip works so well that it actually took my pants off during hard acceleration. In my book, this is a track-only option. A long off-road trip with this seat you will put your butt in a sling.Dr.D did an outstanding job rebuilding the muffler. They welded a minor crack, installed a new tip, repacked the muffler and polished the tubes like new. The power feels stronger and the sound is sweet.A note about the hand guards, I always thought they were unsightly and an unnecessary expense on the track unless it is really just gravel. That is until I got these Acerbis guards. They are light, out of the way and offer ample protection for anything short of a tree trunk. It is just one less thing to worry about when you are caught in a 450′s hail storm.
On the second weekend the bike felt more familiar and seemed to work even better. I was getting more comfortable with the setup and I was pushing the limits a little more, overshooting the landings a little more, taking uncalculated risks a little more, no, strike that, I was doing some straight-out bonehead moves and getting away with it. On the front section of the track there is a tight combination of hard left turn to a step-up to a double. I was coming out of the left hander setting up for the step up and the Squid in front of me cased the top of the step-up. I jumped to the left of him, but as I was taking off I noticed that he was drifting over into my line. I pushed the bike even further away and ended up landing in the loose dirt just off the main line. Bonehead move #2 was when I decided to still jump the immediate next double. It was a short run and I held the throttle wide open, doing a great Barcia sound effect, the bike skidded on the loose stuff and launched sideways off the face. Now, I almost cleared it. I was “only” 10 feet short, and the bike landed sideways bottoming (finally) both front and rear. As I was trying to choose between a regular ambulance or a helicopter ride to the hospital I noticed that I was still upright. The suspension did not bounce, it just hopped straight, and since my throttle hand was frozen wide open in fear, this probably looked like a real pro move, (some guys were giving me the thumbs up from the side of the track). Let me put it plainly – if this was the stock 07 CRF suspension, I would be dictating this from a hospital bed. Is this suspension worth every dollar I did not spend on it? Yes it is!!PARTS LISTParts And PricesRG3: www.rg3suspension.com
Fork and shock revalve with Gen 2 Smart Valve fork piston, fluids, seals and etc.: $788.37
Link cam and tie-arm with bearings: $439.95Dubach Racing: dubachracing.com
Radiator lowering kit: $49.99
Muffler repack (and refurbish) service: $59.95Acerbis: www.acerbis.com
Spider Evolution front disc cover: $29.95
Spider Evolution front disc cover mount: $29.95
Vented Uniko hand guards: $38.95Factory Effex: www.factoryeffex.com
DX1 custom graphics: $189.95
DX1 Monster 2 custom number plate backgrounds: $54.95Kenda: www.kendausa.com
Washougal Sticky 80-100/21 front tire: See your dealer
Washougal Sticky 100-90/19 rear tire: See your dealerMoose Racing: mooseracing.com
Aluminum shift lever: $39.95Maxima: maximausa.com
530MX engine oil (1 liter): $16.00
MTL trans/clutch fluid (1 liter): $8.00ProFilter: profilter.com
Ready-to-use air filter: $9.95
Total Cost Of Fix-Up (Not Including Tires): $1,955.86
Total Man Hours: 4