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  • Doing more with more

    Craig Vetter often talks about doing more with less -- it's the positive socioeconomic philosophy that powers his high-mileage fuel contests. One of these contests, which happen a few times a year, will be at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, featuring the riders and champions of Husqvarna, this July 19-21.

    Terry Hershner is a fan of Craig's. On Friday at midnight, Terry left San Diego headed for Jacksonville, Fla. Terry wants to cross the United States at a record pace for an electric motorcycle rider.

    To make that happen, he has streamlined his 2012 Zero Model S electric motorcycle and has fitted it with extra batteries and chargers. Terry's bike might not be the poster child for minimalist design, but it certainly is cool, and we wish him all the luck.

    You can follow Terry on Vetter's website: If it all works out, he should be arriving in Florida very soon.

    Terry Hershner

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  • Baby Burr: Dual-sport ecstasy in Southern Ohio

    Dual-sport riding is fun!

    One of the many highlights on the AMA Husqvarna National Dual Sport Series calendar, the Baby Burr is celebrating its 24th anniversary this Oct. 6-7 in McArthur, Ohio.

    The event, produced and promoted by the Enduro Riders Association, channels the spirit of the historic Little Burr Enduro that in 1958 was the AMA’s first 250-mile National Enduro before the advent of the AMA Grand National Enduro Championship that was founded four years later.

    All the history of that storied event, and much more, is alive and well today in the Baby Burr -- a traditional favorite among dual-sport riders and local enduro racers. (And not just because entrants get a chance to win a brand, spankin’ new Husqvarna TE dual-sport bike from series sponsor Husqvarna.)

    I’ve personally ridden the Baby Burr several times, and have come to appreciate its flowing routes, challenging terrain, ample mileage and friendly atmosphere. It’s downright awesome to ride trail that isn’t beat up and to see what surprises the club has dug out of its bag of tricks for each year.

    Even better, if atmosphere matters to you, most years the Baby Burr falls at the start of fall-color season. The leaves are just starting to change, creating surreal multi-hued backdrops, but the temperatures are still comfortable enough to ride without a jacket.

    Steve Barber is the president of the Enduro Riders Association. Although Barber’s been at this too long to give up too many secrets about the ride, he does offer some additional details about the event.

    “We have a fair amount of enduro loops on Saturday,” Barber says. “The enduro loops are just that. We used them as timed sections on the Little Burr (earlier this year).”

    Steve adds, however, that the enduro sections aren’t designed to break you.

    “They aren't extremely hard, but we might have some places that might be a problem for a small percentage of the riders,” he says. “We get a wide range of skill levels at these events and want everyone to have a good event.”

    For riders who need a break, Barber says bypasses will be available for the tougher sections.

    “Some riders may not want to enter a section if they are not sure of their skill level,” he says. “I tried to label the enduro loops with brief descriptions of the possible trouble spots. If it’s not labeled, then it's just several miles of good trail, but if someone is getting tired they may want to skip it.”

    Not that you’d ever want to skip it! The other great thing about AMA-sanctioned dual-sport rides? You never ride alone. Sooner or later, and probably sooner, some 17-year-old kid will show up who can ride your bike up that root-infested hill.

    See you in McArthur!

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  • Make mine a 750 Limited Edition

    OK, I admit it. I’m a sucker for limited-edition Suzuki GSX-R750s.

    The 1986 GSX-R750 Limited Edition was stunning with its white, blue and red paint job. The solo seat and fiberglass tail section were all business. And the dry clutch rattle was music to my ears.

    MSRP? $6,499 when the standard model GSX-R750 cost $4,499.

    The dry clutch alone was worth the $2,000 premium. But I didn’t have the money to pony up for the limited. I did the next best thing… at least in my mind.

    In 1987 I bought a brand-spanking new GSX-R750 and then over the years bought the bits from the Limited Edition that would bolt right on: gas tank, solo seat, GSX-R1100 rotors and brake calipers, aluminum heel guards, etc. But I couldn’t do anything about what made the 1986 Limited so special: the dry clutch.

    Then, In 2005, Suzuki came out with a 20th Anniversary Edition GSX-R750. I was lucky enough to be at a press intro where the bike was unveiled but I don’t remember now what made it so special, except for the retro paint job. I do remember wanting it. Bad.

    And I do remember not being able to afford it. MSRP: $9,699.

    Now, I am being teased again.

    Yoshimura R&D of America recently announced all-new Yoshimura Limited Edition GSX-R600s, 750s and 1000s.

    The Yoshimura Limited Edition GSX-R includes a Yoshimura R-77 carbon fiber slip-on, aircraft-grade aluminum CNC-machined hard parts, including a fender eliminator kit, case savers, chassis protectors, axle adjuster blocks, race stand stoppers, steering stem nut, bar ends, engine plug kit and an individually numbered limited edition name badge.

    “With its striking custom paint, EPA noise compliant carbon fiber slip-on and the numerous street-legal hard parts included, owning one of these motorcycles not only makes your exquisite taste apparent, it grants you ownership of an extraordinary piece of Yoshimura history,” the company says.

    I want one. The 750.

    Price? I don’t know. I don’t care.

    I think I’m going to try to get this one.

    For info on the new bikes, see

    Blue Limited Edition GSX-R750

    Red Limited Edition GSX-R

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  • What a concept...

    Husqvarna is positively ancient. The company traces its roots to a 17th century milling factory that built guns for the Swedish army. While that background may not be extremely relevant to the modern iteration that manufactures motorcycles under the Husqvarna banner, it does lend some legitimacy to claims of historical iconicism.

    And perhaps just a little bit of an intangible ability at producing a factory custom.

    The brand, now a property of Germany's BMW, may have sprinkled some of that magic history dust on its latest concept, the "Husqvarna Concept Baja." With perhaps the exception of the headlight/number plate/cheese grater mashup (for my personal tastes, a full-on retro approach would have worked much better), the bike just looks right. It captures the era that American motorcyclists associate with Husqvarna: the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Malcolm Smith from "On Any Sunday" was king and everyone wanted to escape on two wheels.

    The Baja concept bike certainly is a long way from the musket factories of Jönköping, but not that far removed from the sands of Pismo Beach -- and a time when riding was more about the ride and less about fighting for the right to do it.

    Here's the press release...

    January 20, 2012 - New York, NY - The distinct retro flair of the golden age of motorcycling is one that only Husqvarna can genuinely embody. The Husky marque is the definitive emblem of an era, and one that continues to symbolize bold innovation, classic design and timeless passion. Husqvarna's distinctive 1970's vibe is revisited in the Concept Baja - where vintage meets technology, and legendary style is redefined.

    Vintage allure isn't all this trek-touring design has to offer; performance is what makes the Concept Baja truly exceptional. Ideal for the casual rider as well as the committed enthusiast, The Baja will continue the trek well after the pavement ends.

    Husqvarna Concept Baja

    • 650cc single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, four-stroke engine
    • Five-speed wide-ratio transmission
    • Electronic fuel-injection
    • Brembo disc brakes
    • Perimeter frame with progressive linkage swingarm
    • Wheels: 19-inch front, 17-inch rear with intermediate-knobby tires
    • Innovative LED crossbar instrument display
    • Approachable seat height and layout suits wide spectrum of riders

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  • Does it get any better than this?

    This Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 8-9, is one of the original events on the AMA KTM National Dual Sport Trail Riding Series calendar: The Baby Burr National Dual Sport Ride in McArthur, Ohio. Put on by the AMA-chartered Enduro Riders Association, the Baby Burr was founded in the spirit of the club's better-known Little Burr Enduro -- one of the country's classic traditional enduros. Although the Baby Burr is a notch less extreme than its older cousin, on most years it ranks as one of the region's top pure trail rides. At its best, the Baby Burr can be truly epic.

    And this year is threatening to be one of the latter.

    The extended weather report is calling for sunshine through the weekend. Combined with the steady rains that have drenched Southern Ohio the past week or so, trail conditions should be perfect.

    Ohio certainly doesn't have the scenery of Colorado's Rockies, the endless hills of West Virginia, the brutal rock gardens of Pennsylvania, or the unreal landscapes of Arizona or Utah. But what Ohio does have -- in the hands of a forgiving trail boss with access to thousands of acres of private land -- are miles and miles of fresh, barely ridden, perfectly flowing trail that inhabit the sweet spot right between too difficult and too easy. The same Southern Ohio clay that defies hook up, coats your bike with 50 lbs. of dead weight, destroys your goggles and makes mountains out of molehills in the worst conditions, is Mother Nature's gift to off-road in the best conditions.

    Don't believe me? Point your bike hauler (or ride your dual sport) to the fairgrounds just north of McArthur on Rt. 93 this weekend and find out for yourself. It's going to be a good one...

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  • End of the season? I don't think so.

    There’s something about the kids going back to school that has an end-of-the-riding-season feel to it, especially since the major professional series (motocross, Superbike, enduro, etc.) are starting to wind down. If you’re like me, around this time of year, you’ll occasionally be taken off guard by a sense of regret and minor self-loathing that you didn’t accomplish all you should have on two wheels by this time of the year.

    Cheer up, though. I’m here to remind you that the season’s just getting started, particularly if you ride off-road.

    Nothing against track sports such as motocross, roadracing, dirt track or hillclimb (all are absolutely amazing, by the way), but if you want to maximize your seat time, off-road riding and racing is one of the best deals in motorsports. Not only do you get in plenty of miles, but at most events in most parts of the country, you get to ride stuff that’s open just once or twice a year.

    Sure, you have to pay an entry fee, making them more expensive than just going trail riding, but consider what you get: miles of professionally laid-out trail, carefully arrowed routes, a couple hundred riding partners to keep you company, and at sometimes a free meal when you’re done -- oh yeah, and a chase crew!

    For most of these riding opportunities, look no further than local enduro and hare scrambles series (such as the Appalachian Championship Enduro Series here in Ohio). Nationally, there’s the AMA Rekluse National Enduro Championship Series and, for cross-country racers, the Grand National Cross Country series and the AMA Racing West and East Hare Scrambles Championships.

    There are other options, though. The AMA KTM National Dual Sport Trail Riding Series and the AMA Yamaha Super Ténéré National Adventure Riding Series include two-day events all over the country. While these aren’t competition events, many are organized by local clubs that have long histories of putting on off-road races. Route sections often include enduro loops, and several of these events have a reputation for putting even the best riders to the test. (The adventure rides are designed for large, adventure-class bikes like the Super Ténéré and the terrain reflects that.)

    In fact, the only difference between some of these events and an actual enduro is at a dual sport there’s no need for time keeping, and the end of the day won’t include a trophy presentation.

    The best thing, though? There are a ton left on the schedule (dual sport, adventure ride).

    As for me, this coming weekend I’m hitting the second day of the AMA KTM National Dual Sport Trail Riding event, put on by the New Straightsville Enduro Riders in New Straitsville, Ohio. I took my oldest son, Noah, to his first dual-sport ride earlier this year -- a local event organized by the Zanesville Trail Riders. Although our day was cut short by Noah’s clutch going south at the 20-mile mark, he had a good time. Not only did he get a chance to put his motorcycle operator’s permit to use, but he rode several miles with Motorcycle Hall of Famer and former International Six Days Enduro rider Jack Penton (vid below). While Noah may not get to ride with Jack on Sunday, he will have the pleasure of being told that as the son of an AMA employee, he won’t get a chance to win the 2011 KTM 530 EXC -- pretty much the gnarliest factory dual-sport bike known to man -- that’s up for grabs by everyone riding in the national series.

    If you’re in the area, swing by. You won’t get a trophy, but you’ll definitely go home with some memories. And that KTM would like nice in your garage, wouldn’t it?

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  • Ride aware...everywhere

    You'll probably have to wait through a 30-second Priceline commercial when you visit the below video on CNN's website (apologies...), but it will be worth it if the near disaster reminds you be more aware next time you're riding in traffic on your motorcycle:

    The video lacks audio, and the description is missing the "when" and "where," but the warning is timeless and universal to motorcyclists everywhere: Be ready for anything.

    In short, a semi makes an excessively sharp left turn through an intersection, cutting off one motorcyclist in the process, and proceeds to flip onto its side. Parked in the oncoming lanes are six motorcyclists (who were stopped, presumably, due to their own alertness because a green light is clearly visible). Although the video never finishes, the title's implication ("Semi nearly overturns on motorcycles") is that the crashing semi missed the bikers. Here's hoping it did.

    As the weather improves around the country -- and the AMA celebrates AMA Get Out and Ride! Month -- lets remember to ride aware. You never know when and where you might encounter a careening tractor trailer in your path.

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  • So, are you riding yet?

    Hey, we know you don't need a reminder, but we're throwing one out there anyway...April is AMA Get Out And Ride! Month. Spring is here, and it's time to strap on your helmet and hit the trails, road, track -- whatever you like to do on your motorcycle.

    We also want to hear about it. Surf on over to the AMA Get Out and Ride! Month page and send us your stories and photos. We'll toss them up on our blog and show the world how cool it is to go ride! Also, find out about each themed week and what you can do to land some swag -- all in the name of promoting motorcycling. Social media? Yeah, we're there to. Facebook is here: Twitter, here:

    But while all the e-mailing, tweeting and facebooking is fun and all, don't forget the most important thing: Go ride!

    See you on the road!

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  • Cross training

    Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that motorcycles are for more than one thing. It’s no surprise, though. Racers race. Riders ride. Off-roaders go into the woods. Street riders stay on the asphalt. Sure, there are exceptions, but for the most part, we have our thing and we stick with it.

    Specialization is even more the case for pros. That's because most of them, to get good and stay good, have to practice. A lot. That leaves little time for recreation, on a motorcycle or off. The same goes for Iron Butt guys. When they’re slabbing through 500-mile days, or preparing for it, the last thing most of them have on their mind is a local motocross race.

    What all that means is that when we do get time to taste the other side, it tastes pretty sweet. That was the case for some of KTM’s top off-roaders recently who took an afternoon off to sample some of Southern California’s finest roads on the Austrian company’s latest street machines.

    As it seems to be the case these days, if it didn’t happen on video, it didn’t happen. Here’s the video…

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  • Navy SEALs? Sign me up

    So, you thought the Navy SEALs were just about swimming miles through frigid water, living off saltwater and fish guts and learning how to fabricate deadly weapons from flotsam? Well, maybe all that is on the curriculum, but there apparently are dirtbikes involved as well. Check out the "mobility training" video the SEALs posted on their official Facebook page about an hour ago:

    Where do I sign up?

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