THIS WEEK AT DIRT BIKE
We’re wrapping up our test of the KTM 150XC-W. This bike has been the subject of attention for more than the usual reasons. Yes it’s a new bike, but it came at the same moment in time that the KTM 200XC-W was discontinued. That bike was a dictionary definition of a trail bike, and there’s a current trend away from train bike, toward off-road race bikes. All the KTM XC-W four-strokes were also discontinued this year, leaving dual-sport bikes to do that job.
The good news is that the new 150 is an excellent bike. It’s clearly more aggressive and race-oriented than the 200, but it makes up for it all by being super light. When the 200 was introduced 20 years ago, we actually considered that bike to be a little too race-oriented, at least compared to the Kawasaki KDX200, which was a very big deal back then.
Jay Clark is an interesting guy. He works as a media rep for several companies, including Dunlop, Rocky Mountain ATV/MC, Vertex and Pivot Works. A long time ago, he discovered the best way to woo magazines into covering his products is by building really great looking project bikes. This is an older KTM 250XC-W that he rebuilt into a 270 with a Cylinder Works kit, and then added a bunch of Tusk hardware. Then he offered it to us for a feature. How could we refuse? The bike looks awesome.
This YZ250F belongs to Pete Murray, who will ride it in the upcoming Vet World Championship. Pete is one of my closest friends and an incredible rider in his age group. At the Vet championship, he’s a former class champion in the 30 class, the 40 class and the 50 class. He has his best luck right after a major birthday. Within a few years, guys like Doug Dubach follow him into the class and Pete gets shuffled back into the deck.
TM is a different kind of company. Ralf Schmidt is the U.S. importer, and he knows more about these exotic Italian motorcycles than anyone–maybe even more than the people who built them. Even though the official presentation of the 2017 models won’t come until the EICMA show in Italy next month, Ralf managed to put together a 2017 EN 450 Fi ES for us to test. We haven’t ridden it yet, but it looks great. In the past, TM motorcycles cost thousands more than anything else imported to the U.S. Now, it seems like everyone else is catching up. The 450 sells for $10,895, which is $800 more than a KTM 450XC.
We’ve been working on the 250 motocross shootout for months and it’s finally coming to a conclusion. The bikes are on their way to FMF to be tested on the dyno today. This week we shot the final action photos and now it’s time to sit down and write the story.
The dynamic is interesting. The Yamaha has been a winner for years, but the 2017 Kawasaki is all new and the KTM and Husky have corrected their main weakness. On both of those bikes, the front suspension was a big flaw in the past, but now they have the new air fork. They are still the lightest and fastest in the class. So the Yamaha, as good as it is, could be demoted in the standings as far down as fourth place.
The Honda and Suzuki are unchanged from last year. Both are great bikes for novices, but don’t have the power to compete in the Pro and intermediate classes. They finished fifth and sixth last in the 2016 shootout, and we try to be consistent from year to year. I’m not giving anything away by telling you up front that neither of them will win the 2017 shootout.
AMA HALL OF FAME INDUCTION
For the third consecutive year, the induction ceremony for the AMA Hall of Fame is to be held in conjunction with the American International Motorcycle Expo, an event that brings together consumers, dealers, manufacturers and the world press in one location for global product launches, demo rides, motorcycling seminars and more.
Following the Suzuki-sponsored AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Dinner, the Hall of Fame will induct the Class of 2016. This year’s class includes early American motorcycle designer Charles Franklin, road racing champion Miguel Duhamel, racer and tuner Chris Haines, engine builder Dennis Mahan, race frame builder Jeff Cole, desert racer Jack Johnson, motorcycling pioneer Gloria Tramontin-Struck and dirt track racer Ronnie Jones.
In addition, Dick Burleson will be recognized as an AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Legend. Selected from existing Hall of Famers, Legends’ accomplishments transcend their categories in impactful ways. In addition to Burleson, AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Legends include Mark Blackwell, “Willie G.” Davidson, Roger DeCoster, Torsten Hallman, Bob Hannah, Mert Lawwill, Wayne Rainey, Kenny Roberts and Malcolm Smith.
The U.S. ISDE team is more than halfway to making history. The results of day four are trickling in as I write this and our Trophy Team is still in first place. Italy is second, Spain is third and Great Britain is fourth, all very close. The Trophy Team consists of four riders this year (it used to be six). Taylor Robert is the top individual both in the E2 class and overall. Kailub Russell is second E2 and sixth overall. Thad Duvall is sixth E3 and 18th overall. Last minute addition to the team Layne Michael is ninth E1 and 27th overall. Our Junior world team consists of Grant and Steward Baylor with Trevor Bollinger. They sit in second behind Sweden. The US Woman’s team is fourth.
Here are some videos to catch up on:
See you next time,