I’ll admit it. Sometimes an issue comes out and I have second thoughts. Maybe a photo or two wasn’t as good as I wanted, maybe a story didn’t come together like it should have. But not the November issue. This is just the opposite, there’s so much material in this one issue it was tough to choose a cover shot. The photo that won was a shot of the 2010 Yamaha YFX450X. This is the narrow, trail-oriented version of last year’s YFZ450R, complete with fuel injection and an aluminum frame. New models always win on the newsstand.
But we could have put the KTM 250 on the cover just as easily. This is a project put together by CT Racing, and it features a KTM 250SXF motor in a KTM ATV chassis. It was an amazingly effective machine, and was even better than a full-size 450 on many sections of our test track. It’s biggest shortcoming was that it couldn’t clear some jumps like a big machine. Mark it down right now--within a few years, this will be a major class in sales and racing.
One subject that did make the cover was the Polaris Sportsman Hunter Special project that Cain put together. It’s linked to one of the more memorable cover lines of the year: “Turn your ATV into a bass boat.” The story shows Cain hard at work fishing and wearing a silly hat. He says he was using a hook and bait, but we know better. He didn’t want to be disturbed by some rude fish yanking on the line.
There was nothing staged about the UTV camping trip, though. Cain and Brad started organizing this months ago. In fact, it’s an annual Dirt Wheels event where the staff travels miles and miles into the mountains near Bishop, California to sleep in tents and eat freshly caught trout. Here’s my confession: I didn’t go. Yes, I was busy at Dirt Bike with other projects, but I’m afraid I’ve lost my spirit of adventure over recent years. That trip would have been a dream just a few years ago, but maybe I’ve simply had my fill of sleeping on the ground and eating with a pocket knife. Actually, I’m a little disappointed in myself, because they had a great time. The highlight was when the Arctic Cat broke a tie rod and they loaded its front end on the back of the Big Red, and drove out in six-wheel drive. Good stuff.
Technologically, the Ranger EV test is fascinating. This is a legitimate electric UTV with a 35-mile range. You might think it’s little more than an expensive golf cart, but Brad took it everywhere he would have taken a regular Ranger.
Dustin Nelson was the star of a story that I put together. We got to ride the Yamaha 450 that he uses in the WORCS series, and that was a blast. But the most interesting part about the story is his recount of how the YFZ450R came into being. He’s a test rider for Yamaha, and proposed the development of a new racing machine. Much to his surprise, Yamaha built it, just as he wanted. The result is the R, and by extrapolation, the new X model.
The issue is also packed with tech stories. Gary Jones showed me how to put in a new axle the easy way, Paul Thede showed how to rebuild a shock at home, and another story has everything you need to know about air filters. The real problem with doing so much in one issue it that we have to do it all again, next month.