Some fixations with two-wheeled transportation-and at times girls-always brings back the cliche "It's like a moped, they're a blast to ride until your friends find out." However, some of those bizarre two-wheeled oddities generate cultlike followings. Case in point: the Honda XR50R craze.And when it comes to my personal self-indulgent lust for the strange-motorcycle strange, that is-I am the worst. If you've been an avid reader for a spell, you may very well be aware of my fascination for hybrid minicycles with 100cc to 150cc four-stroke engines stuffed into their belly and any sort of outlandish backyard, parking lot or warehouse-style motorcycle racing. Let's just say that when you look up abnormal, peculiar or bizarre in the motorcycle dictionary, you will see an image of my face right next to the first Honda ATC 90. Like the ATC, which was misunderstood at the time, I too am often misconstrued when I start ranting and raving about one of my favorite subjects like a schizophrenic who lost his meds.Almost a year ago I started pointing at European magazines like a monkey wanting a banana. There were images of guys pitching motocross bikes sideways into corners on pavement, and it was called SuperMoto or SuperMotard. I said, "Hey guys, check this out-SuperMotard." They looked at the magazines, then at me, and said, "More like Super Retard." They were joking-I think. I tried to keep everyone intrigued by reminding them how cool it was back in the day when the ABC Superbikers ran at Carlsbad Raceway each year and aired on the "Wide World of Sports." Who can forget announcer Sam Posey?My great idea sat on the shelf at first since the consensus leaned toward the fact that Europeans can be a little strange. At the time, my peers and a few department heads figured the sport would fizzle here and never take off as it has in Europe. One year later and that fizzle is starting to spark; and before long, we may even see fire.Two nationals series have erupted for 2003: the SuperBikers2 series and AMA SuperMotard-style series, which some local promoters have called Super TT. No matter how you slice it, this form of racing is more fun than ...So what is the sport all about? This form of motorcycle racing intertwines three of the most popular forms of two-wheeled racing: motocross, roadracing and dirt track/flat track/speedway racing. And because there are several styles and types of machinery, you don't necessarily have to go out and change your wheels, brakes or suspension. There are classes that feature stock 21-inch front and 18- or 19-inch rear tires, although it is recommended you change tires to a dual-sport up front and a dirt track in the rear. Dirt track guys run the same setup as they do for their form of circle track racing, with 19-inchers in front and back. In the premier classes, up to 450cc and the Open, each bike is often required to utilize 17-inch tires in front and rear.Most events feature between 75 and 85 percent pavement and approximately 15 to 25 percent dirt. Most dirt sections are flat with rolling-style TT jumps. However, the SuperBikers2 series stated they're going to throw in dirt sections with tabletop jumps and possibly whoops.The tires usually start off as roadracing-style rain, slick or slightly grooved. From that point on, most racers groove their tires depending on the amount and style of dirt sections that have been laid out. A lot of guys run a rain tire up front that doesn't require grooving.My curiosity got the best of me, so when I received the green light, it was go time. Since I shattered my ankle more than a year ago, I have been sidelined as a spectator, and the desire to twist a throttle was overwhelming. My moto days are pretty much history now, so I wanted to find a way to avoid jumps and bumps.There are a few bike manufacturers that sell ready-to-race motard-style machines, but most of these bikes are obscure, which would seem to make locating parts difficult. We decided to use one of the most popular motocross bikes around, the Honda CRF450R. Our mount was an '02, but after we updated it with an '03 cam, a rear link, a subframe and a seat it was ready for more transformation. A few phone calls later, we discovered that motard parts are very much alive and easy to acquire. White Brothers had the hookup with complete 17-inch wheel sets as well as some incidental swag; RG3 dialed in the suspenders and dropped them 1.5 inches; Braking sent over some sick motard brakes and a four-piston front caliper; Magura produced an oversize master cylinder; and, finally, Bridgestone handed over the roadracing compound tires.When it came to our project, we wanted it all. That's why we went the distance and installed a Baja Designs Quick-Release Dual Sport lighting kit. Baja Designs also rewound our ignition to power the dual-sport kit. Some states may not offer a license plate for the CRF, so it is wise to do a little research before diving into the dual-sport kit.Because I enjoy getting my hands dirty, I built the project myself. Other than fabricating a few brackets and hand-cutting the front fender and fork guards, the parts fit together fairly easily. I had to invent a few components-such as a front brake reservoir, since most roadracing bikes come equipped with their own remote reservoir. A quick call to Pro Circuit solved this problem, and I took its rear billet-aluminum KX125 reservoir and used it for my front brake system.With the bike complete, I was missing one important element: riding gear. It is probably not a good idea to ride on pavement in standard motocross gear, although a few guys do, plus I wanted to look the part as well as play the part. Alpinestars is the closest motocross relative that offers roadracing-style leathers and gloves. Moto boots and helmets are staple items in the sport.With the bike ready to go and gear lined up, I just needed a place to ride. Since the sport is a little new in the United States, local motard tracks are almost impossible to find. We can pretty much guarantee you won't see the word motard in the phone book. Go-cart tracks are some of the first places to turn to. I was fortunate that Apex Racing (888/367-5278; www.apexracing.com) owns and runs the track in Perris, California, and they let me ride there. Huge parking lots work, too, although you better make sure you have permission from the owner or you could come away with a healthy ticket. Some guys with racing experience, off-road or pavement, just dive right in and head to a local race. Since there are more and more series popping up, opportunities to ride are expanding.As I am attracted to strange forms of racing, I had a little experience riding on pavement going into the project; after all, I once raced Yamaha YSR50s. Riding a full-blown motard bike is a little odd at first. The brakes on my bike are so powerful that two firm fingers on the lever can easily lift the rear wheel off the ground-at any speed. The rear will lift long before the front wheel skids on the pavement. A friend of Mike Metzger's father learned the hard way after taking off on one of Metz's motard bikes and grabbing a handful of brake. The bike spit him over the front so fast he didn't have time to react. And never ride a motorcycle without a helmet-he learned that lesson also.After you get a feel for the brakes and the direct power to the ground, the fun begins. It is difficult to explain how exhilarating it is to ride one of these machines. Watching guys like dirt track expert Joe Kopp or roadracing legend Doug Chandler pitch their bikes into a corner at speeds is unfathomable. No matter how fast you ride, you'll find the sport to be the perfect blend of all three avenues of motorcycle racing.For dirt guys or anyone with time on a dual-sport, the learning curve is pretty short. For the most part, you ride a motard bike very much the same as you would a dirt bike, although you want to avoid spinning the rear wheel or locking up the rear brake going into corners on the pavement. The dirt sections are very tricky, too, and demand some caution as well as clutch and throttle control. Maximum speed usually doesn't exceed 70 mph, but there are tracks that allow bikes to hit the triple digits for a split second. For desert racers and some grand prix racers, this is nothing new; they often race across the dirt doing anywhere from 70 to, sometimes, 100-plus mph. The dirt sections in a motard race are more like second- and third-gear sections.I can't say enough about this form of racing. To me, it is like motocross-plus. But my tastes are a little twisted. The popularity of SuperMotard in the United States is still fairly uncertain, although this sport has a deeper pool of riders to pull from. Motard draws racers from motocross, roadracing and dirt track. Contributing editor Donnie Bales raced the 21/19-inch class aboard his YZ426F with a Maxxis dirt track tire on the back, and couldn't wait to go out again. This is definitely one of those don't-knock-it-till-you-try-it deals. And once you try it, you will be hooked.