Stick a Pro on an XR
Being a kid with no cash flow I have heard my father say many times that "if you would've stuck a pro on your XR400 they still would've kicked your butt." (not that I was complaining about Jimmy's favorite bike ever...) I know that's his wallet talking but it didn't talk loud enough 'cause now I have an '08 KTM 300. Anyway, I thought that it would be kind of cool to see what would happen if you racked up some test with a pro racer on an ancient bike versus some squid on a factory scale race bike and some other vice-versa tests.
Puyallup, WAWhat usually happens when there is a high-level rider on an older bike is that the riding ability trumps the disadvantages of the bikes to a certain level. The better rider will usually win and putting a squid on a factory bike just makes a bigger squid. When I ride the old XR I notice that the brakes are weak, the bike flexes and the suspension is springy, but I still have fun and I can still get along just fine. Some of those older bike traits, even though they are far from what riders ask for, especially in marketing focus groups or judging by what riders are buying at the dealer, actually make the bike easier to ride for the less skilled. So often a novice will ride an older bike better since the last thing they need is top level performance. They need ridability and a machine that forgives the smaller mistakes. And as the bikes get better they also seem to be riding a finer line. That is one of the reasons we don't test MX bikes off-road and don't really ride off-road bike on the MX track. They are not designed for that and they don't work out of their element. And since the riders are asking for the bikes they see their heroes on, sometime they are asking for a lot of motorcycle. I have seen more than one case of a rider on a CRF250R when what they really need is a CRF230F. And last night at the MX track I was riding around on a friend of the magazine's CRF150F and I blew past more than 10 guys on 250 and 450 motocross bikes. Yes, on a stock CRF150F.The real deal is, your riding ability speaks way louder than your ride, but is it pretty cool that we can all build our own trickest ride.Jimmy Lewis