It seems odd, but often Dirt Wheels subscribers get the new issue before the editors. Sometimes motorcycle shops get them sooner yet, as their copies are delivered first class mail. As a result, we often receive letters and calls about stories that we didn’t think had been read.
      The July 2010 issue is out there in the real world, and one of the first things that hits you is a shootout of 450 cross-country quads. The main point was to compare the all-new Yamaha YFZ450X with the existing fleet of 450s, most of which had no changes for 2010. As with all Dirt Wheels shootouts, there’s a story behind the story. Gathering up five machines from five different manufacturers is always tough. In this case, the toughest was the Can-Am DS450. BRP had arranged to have us pick up a test unit at Chaparral Motorsports in San Bernardino, but the DS seemed to get lost in the paperwork. As deadline approached, we still had no Can-Am.
      That’s when we put in a call to Johnny Leach at Motoworks. Johnny is the dynamic CEO of the young company, and he’s usually willing to help. The Motoworks race team had a army of DS450s awaiting conversion into full-blown race machines, and he looked the other way when we snuck in the back door and took one.
      The testing began at Cain’s house in the mountains north of Santa Clarita. We literally shot the still photos in his yard, then rode straight into the Angeles National Forest. It doesn’t get any better than that. There were flats, there were breakdowns and there was one completely missing rider at the end of the day. In other words, it was a perfect day of riding. And at the end of it all, there was a surprise shootout winner.
      Later, when Brad and Cain were shooting the project Teryx as it passed a field of spring flowers near the same area, they were stopped and berated by an environmentalist in a Prius. She was annoyed simply because we were there. Why is it always a Prius? 
      Our cover subject was the Highlifter Mud Nationals. The guys at EPI Performance helped with this project. It was in their own best interest; almost all of the competitors were using EPI clutch products. The Mud Nats are huge, attracting over 11,000 participants. The photos are wild–quads with wheels as tall as small men standing straight. Closer to home, we had a test of Suzuki’s quiet but capable Z400. This is a quad that never really got it its credit for starting the four-stroke revolution and showing that high-performance quads could (and would soon) be practical for manufacturers to sell. Justin Jones was the man in the photo.
      On the tech side, there’s a piece covering  the world of manual clutches–it will be followed by a story on CVT clutches in a future issue. There’s also a glimpse into the world of GPS. Yes, it’s a very full issue.
      We need rest.

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