The October tear sheets are in the house. In the hard-copy world of paper magazines, tear sheets are the final step before the newsstand. At every step of the process before this, you can make changes and corrections. It just gets more expensive as the on-sale date approaches. But by the time unbound tear sheets come to my desk, that issue is history. In fact they usually appear at deadline for the next issue. So it’s a good time to give the www.dirtwheelsmag.com audience a sneak preview of what will be.
      October’s emphasis is a shift in gears from the high-performance, high-dollar stuff that you typically see in magazines. We paid more attention to budget mods and entry-level quads. The cover reflects that. It features a 250 sport comparison between the Suzuki, Honda, Yamaha and Arctic Cat 250 four-strokes. We used a mix of test riders from real beginners to seasoned (but young) riders. The cover photo is funny; it shows 19 year-old Kayla Strauss staring in horror as the more experienced Neil Rhodes gets air not more than five feet from her head. Photographer Brad Howe didn’t have any mercy, either. He made the four riders repeat the scene maybe 30 times. I think he had the shot after the second pass. The rest were just for the expression on Kayla’s face.
      Another story that reflects the tighter budgets of these times is called Best Deals on Best Wheels. I called up big dealerships all over the country to find out what the street price is for non-current quads. It turned out that there are some amazing deals out there. The problem is supply; the dealerships that have higher prices have lots of inventory. The dealerships that have low prices are running low on non-current models. So I’m not sure if the exact deals we talk about in the story are still available. But the lesson is clear: great prices are out there if you call around. Here in Southern California, the best deals were at Chaparral Motorsports, Bert’s Mega Mall and Malcolm Smith Motorsports. In the Midwest, Honda of Troy and Service Honda had great deals. In the Rocky Mountains, it was Fay Myers. Of all those, the best website that actually shows prices is www.chaparraledealership.com.
      There are some fun tech stories in the book, too. Cain put together everything you need to know about camo and in another case, the story was prompted by a hideous get-off at Milestone MX. Gary Jones’ oldest son Greg crashed our project Suzuki R450 and made it ugly. He didn’t do his shoulder any good, either. We decided it was time for a facelift and Gary was happy to show us how to make an old quad look new again. Another tech story is all about batteries and how to keep them fresh. Russell Johnson of Power Source Products was a great source of information here. On a side note, I had no idea what to use as a lead photo for this story. Batteries aren’t exactly glamorous. So I spent a few hours in Photoshop making lightning bolts shoot out of a quad. After I was done, Brad pointed out that the quad I used for that photo doesn’t even use a battery. It was Dustin Wimmer’s works Suzuki. So it goes.
      New machines are included with coverage of the 2010 Polaris and Kawasaki line ups, and tests of the Arctic Cat Prowler 550 H1 and the lead-free and legal DDR 70cc mini ATV.  Overall, it’s a good issue with lots of stuff. Check it out; it will be on the stands in a week or so.

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