Saturday, February 23, 2008

Bikes I Have Loved, YZ-250E

This may be the only photo of me riding my YZ-250E. The photo and bike are 1978 vintage. This photo was taken at an enduro at Red Mountain in the Mohave Desert. I can’t remember the name of the enduro. An enduro is like a car rally in the desert, there are checkpoints and you have to arrive on time at the checkpoints.
The photo was taken by one of those trackside photographers that try to sell you copies and send you a little teaser photo. Well this is the teaser photo.
This bike was a true motocross bike. In 1978 the professional motocross riders, like Bob Hanna, rode stock YZ’s and the bikes were raffled off to the crowd after the race. The bike was tall and fast. The power band was like a light switch, full on or full off. The bike was so tall, I could barely tiptoe the ground. I put on a speedometer from a Yamaha IT, which was a slug compared to the YZ.
In enduro riding of the time you used a roll chart to keep on time. The roll chart was a scroll of paper in an aluminum holder on the handlebars with the time in minutes on one side and where you should be on the other.
As you rode you would check your watch against your speedometer to tell where you should be in time and space.
This was all fine and should be simple, but, and there’s always one isn’t there? Digital watches were just coming out at the time; it was almost impossible to see the second hand on a regular watch. Digital displays were small and very hard to read while you were bouncing along a desert trail at speed. The speedometer was small and hard to read for the same reasons. The paper in the roll chart was also problematic. More than once it tore or got wet and went to pieces.
It was easy to stay on time when the trail was easy and the speeds low. When speeds were higher and the terrain harder it was almost impossible to stay on time. The Yamaha was the perfect bike. Fast and agile with long travel, the suspension soaked up huge bumps with the, then new, monoshock suspension.
I also used the bike for motocross until I had a bad crash and broke my collarbone, but that’s another story.

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