Hello from Sweden. Husqvarna’s world press launch is in progress and I got an invitation to go to the birthplace of Husky to test the new models. Most of the MX and off-road Husqvarna models have already been released in the U.S., but the one that has me the most intrigued is the new TE300. For 2017, Husqvarna broke its two-stroke offerings into two different lines. The TX series is for racing and the TE line is for trail riding–or perhaps more extreme racing. The TE will be softer and have smoother power delivery.
The Husky TE300 is similar in concept to the KTM 300XC-W, and is street legal in some countries. But there are a number of mechanical differences between it and the KTM. The biggest is the linkage rear suspension. The KTM uses a no-linkage PDS rear suspension system on the XC-W. KTM does have a linkage version of the 300 two-stroke in the 300XC, but that bike is much stiffer and more race oriented. The TE300 is the one bike that differs the most from its KTM counterpart.
This time of year, we literally have more test bikes than we can ride. We can fit about five or six into each issue of the print edition of Dirt Bike, and we generally post initial impressions on dirtbikemagazine.com. Here are some of the bike lined up for testing right now, and some of the photos that might not make the print edition of Dirt Bike..
BACK IN THE DAY: MOJAVE PHONE BOOTH
Back in the ’90s, only dirt bike riders and a few miners knew the number. It was (714) 733-9969, but no one would call it because no one would answer. It was a phone booth at the junction of two dirt roads in the middle of the Mojave Desert, miles from the nearest settlement. If you wanted to call home from the middle of a desert dual-sport ride in the days before sat phones, there it was—fully functioning, if somewhat weathered. The phone was installed long ago to service miners, but was mostly forgotten in the late 20th century. Mining dried up in the area, and even dirt bike rides were less common in the area after the California Desert Protection Act created the Mojave National Preserve in 1994.
That changed as the Internet age bloomed. In 1997, the phone number was published on a website, and it became an underground sensation. People would call the number just to see if someone would answer. On the other end, travelers would venture off Interstate 15 about 12 miles and wait to see who would call. Complete strangers would have pointless but novel conversations. At one point, the phone number is said to have been spelled out with rocks so that it was visible from an aircraft. At the height of the Mojave phone-booth phenomenon, the phone rang nonstop 24 hours a day. The phone booth became internationally known outside of the dirt bike culture.
In 2000, the Park Service and Pac Bell got tired of it and disconnected the number. Soon afterward, the phone booth was removed. But the legend would not die. The location was well-documented: latitude 35 17’9.269” N, longitude 115 41’4.042 W. Pilgrimages were made, monuments were erected, websites popped up, even feature films were created around the mystique. Finally, in 2013, a group of phone-technology enthusiasts—yes, there are such groups—brought back the number, now with the 760 area code. It connects to a conference line, so if you call it any time, day or night, there will be other people to talk to, in the true spirit of the original phone booth. Go ahead, give it a call. And, tell them you’re a dirt bike rider looking for Kelso Station. Some people will get it, others won’t.
SEAN COLLIER RIDE ALONG
Check out Sean Collier’s second 30 Pro moto from Mammoth on the mighty KX500.
See you next week.