Dirt bike Japanese style!
I rode a Honda XR 250cc dirt bike at the ’86 ISDE held at Mende, France. It was bored out from an XR250 model to 280cc to compete in the up to 350cc 4 stroke class. The inspiration to ride this particular bike came from being passed by an American guy, Drew Smith, in the previous years event on a similar bike, he was riding like a bat out of hell. I was riding a 510 Husky and he left me for dead.
What other mods to this particular dirt bike…
I had a friend who was importing trick parts into the UK from an American company called XR’s Only. This was set up by a top Californian dirt bike rider by the name of Al Baker. He supplied a bigger piston, a camshaft with a hot grind, a flat slide Mikuni carb, a Roost Boost ignition enhancer, a White Bros header pipe with a Supertrapp silencer and that was just for the motor! I actually used a modified stock silencer for the 6 days for two reasons. 1)The Supertrapp was just too loud. 2) I thought the stock item would be easier to replace if damaged. We also reworked the rear swing arm by increasing the length by 1.5 inches, altered the rear internal damper settings, which made it more compliant with European type terrain, stuck in a couple of White Bros springs in the front forks plus all the usual dirt bike modifications, like front and rear quick detachable wheels, (using only one spanner) don’t forget, you need to be able to change tyres in a couple of minutes, not a couple of hours, the stock Honda dirt bike usually takes a lot longer to do this.
Was it a good dirt bike?
Nah. It was b####y awesome, not only did the engine scream like a banshee, it also handled like a dream. Prior to the 6 days, I had run it in a local event with the unmodified swingarm only to have the bike spit me off on a sharp downhill and it would shake the steering if pushed to fast on forest roads, the longer swingarm changed all that, now it tracked straight and true but was still short enough to thread through tight nadgery.
I think the main reason for achieving my silver medal and 7th in class that year, was due to the fact that the bike took everything that was asked of it and delivered without missing a beat.
ps. I may have contributed something to the event, make your own mind up…
The video, featured below, shows how far the Enduro dirt bike has developed just from 1988 to 2006
Honda CRF450X Off Road Enduro Dirt Bike
Long Live The Dirt Bike!!!