The new features are bound to lure anyone who was on the fence of buying a new dirt bike, into the dealer to snag the latest and greatest model. With every advancement in dirt bike technology, it would seem that the industry is making older bikes irrelevant. But are they?
Now, I'm guilty of convincing myself that a newer bike would be the answer to my riding woes. After all, some of the new technology will make up for what I lack in skill right? Riiiigghhht. But is the latest and greatest dirt bike REALLY the answer? Here's an experience that made me think....
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE hopping on a brand new dirt bike and turning a few laps. Of course, it always seems that once you do that, you look at your bike differently and wish you had the other. I guess it's kind of like everything else in life...you want what you don't have.
At my last motocross race of the 2017 season, I lined up on the gate, went to start my bike and heard a quick "snap". Awesome! Turns out the kick start ratchet gear snapped the lobe off inside the outer case of the motor. As I pushed the bike back to the pits, my good friend told me just to take his bike and race it. Sweet!
So I hopped on his 2017 CRF450 and went out and finished my moto (I ride a 2016 KX450F). I loved the bike and the fact that the suspension was set for my weight and the levers and bar bend were similar to mine, were added bonuses! The bike had a great feel to it and I ended up coming back to the pits wishing it was mine.
My second moto of the day I ended up riding a different friend's bike. Another 2017 CRF450. This time, the experience was altogether different. The bike felt stiff, the bar bend wasn't what I preferred and the power delivery was different due in part to the FMF exhaust system. But man did that back tire hookup! Overall, it was a VERY nice bike, but I just didn't feel comfortable on it.
So, two of the same exact bikes, felt TOTALLY DIFFERENT.
SO WHAT'S MY POINT?
The experience I had racing those two CRF's made me think about something. It wasn't really that the first bike was a brand new model that made me like it. What made me like it was the fact that it felt comfortable. The owner had set up the suspension for his weight, which was close to mine, and the controls felt familiar and made it easy for me to ride.
SO, WHAT IS ACTUALLY IMPORTANT? A NEWER BIKE OR THE WAY A BIKE IS SET UP?
This sport can be pretty darn expensive. If you're racing, it can be even more so. Throw an $8k-$10k dirt bike purchase on top of that and you are heavily invested in the sport. But what about older bikes? Are they still relevant?
The short answer....... ABSOLUTELY!!!
Go to any amateur motocross or off road race and see the variety of bikes on the starting line. Some of these bikes are 15+ years old. Some of them are older 2-Stroke dirt bikes and with the exception of the latest developments by KTM and Husqvarna, 2-Stoke engines haven't changed all that much over the years.
So, my advice is
GET THE DIRT BIKE YOU WANT AND MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU!
Check out this 12 year old YZ 250 that was rebuilt from the ground up.
Get the dirt bike you want, whatever it may be, and set it up for YOU. Whether that's a brand new Fuel Injected
4-Stroke or a 10+ year old 2-Stroke. Dirt bikes can be outfitted with almost unlimited aftermarket parts and modifications to tailor a bike to anyone's personal preferences. Don't feel like you have to get the latest and greatest bike just to be competitive. It's just not true.
You can rebuild these things from the ground up and spend all the money you want getting it set up just for you. Buying an older model bike and rebuilding it, will still cost less than half of what you would spend on a brand new machine. So, no matter what your preference, bike set up is key!
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