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Posts Tagged ‘Motocross’

A classic Yamaha ad said it all in 1978

Do you remember when the last time you ask yourself… “What was I thinking…?”

I’m sure everyone reading this post right now will immediately jump to a time in their life or place where they can remember an incident created by some questionable judgment.

I can remember an instance on my trusty Yamaha YZ400 that I often referred to as “Ol Yeller” – that bike really helped me perfect the art of sliding on gravel after failing to negotiate a bend in the road at high speed.  At the time I was thinking in slow motion how this isn’t so bad… I’ll just slide toward the right into that nice green pasture.  No fence, no worries.  Just then the motorcycle (which was out in front of me) flipped up in the air and changed directions mid-stream while I dropped several feet into a creek bed with a thud.   I remember staring up at the blue sky and hearing the quiet sounds of nature — birds chirping and the sounds of a bubbling brook that was shortly followed with a wet sensation in my pants.  It wasn’t what you think!

The "'Ol Yeller" - 1978 Yamaha YZ400

The world came to a standstill and other than suffering from a severely bruised ego I only noticed a little trouble breathing.  I sat up (helped by a fair amount of adrenalin) in time for my buddy to arrive and ask “Dude, what were you thinking?”  I should have ask myself that question just before gunning the YZ throttle and I did ask it a number of times daily when later I learned and suffered through the recovery of a couple cracked ribs.

I picked myself up and sloshed out of the ice cold creek (remember that wet sensation?), checked that everything seemed to be in place, located the Yamaha and rode with a bent handlebar and warped front wheel back to Lee’s Camp on the OR coast range where we started the day.   It was a painful ride and ended an otherwise rather good riding day.  It’s provided some good camp fire stories over the years.

Had the anti-OHV group, Wildlands CPR been in the area I’m sure they would have used my incident  as a poster-child example for off-road harassing of wildlife and destroying vegetation.

How about you?  Do you have a “What was I thinking” experience?

Photo courtesy of Yamaha.

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Opening scene of Semper Ride

Opening scene of Semper Ride

I’ve blogged previously about the folks in the armed forces, the increased number of motorcycle accidents and dealer responsibility.  The military draws many parallels with motorcycling and with overtly male-dominated advertising the stats are very clear.

Military personnel have a higher fatality rate than the civilian population which is too high!  In fact, Yamaha launched and I commend them for doing so, an ad campaign specifically targeted to members of the military due to the increased number of riding accidents.  And let us not forget that the amount of female military personnel on active duty has increased from a 1.4% in 1970 to over 15% to today.  Although women make up only 10% of all riders they represent about 25% of new motorcycle purchases.

In a broad effort to promote more responsible riding the U.S. Marines have produced Semper Ride, a film and web site designed to catch the attention of young soldiers.  The seven minute movie combines big-action and a message on riding safety from stars such as Jason Britton, Keith Code, Jeremy McGrath and James Stewart.  The movie from One Eyed Bird Entertainment, uses a mix of educational and rider-to-rider advice from experts in freestyle motocross, racing and stunt riding.

The movie is very effective in conveying the message of riding responsibly, no matter what your experience level.  After watching it I felt compelled to purchase a dirt bike and hit Sand Lake!

Photo courtesy of U.S. Marines.

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Yamaha YZ400

Yamaha YZ400

Three years ago I sold my (purchased new) 1978 Yamaha YZ 400 to a good buddy.  At the time I was downsizing and making room in the garage for other more active projects and the bike received little ride time.  My buddy had plans to ride with his kids and though there are days I regret selling the ‘ol yellow buzz bomb, I know it has a good home!

The vintage MX was clean, ran very strong and was most reliable.  Meaning it would sit for months in the garage and within a couple three kicks blew blue smoke on any neighborhood kid brave enough to stand next to the ride.  I recall that Yamaha expanded on a good thing with the 1978 YZ’s as it became very stable with the box section aluminum swing arm and longer travel (at both ends). The bike was a bit heavy (tipping the scales around 240 lbs.) but long gone were the cracks in the frames, common with the previous (non-Monocoque) designs. The rake was also a bit long which made that year YZ400s better at cross-country than in motocross.  The bike was always more motocross(er) than I had skills.   Get cocky and it reminded me of broken ribs near Lee’s Camp…so, I’d back off the go-juice!

Speaking of dirt bike riding and the main point of this post – I want to raise your awareness on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).  It bans numerous youth products with lead content and prohibits selling them.  Simply put the consumer product law passed last year bans the sale of quads/ATVs, dirt bikes and associated accessories for use by young people (Youth 12-15).  This was the response from our legislators after the outrage and calls to do something when U.S. toy companies allowed China to ship lead-laden toys to American toddlers. 

micHowever, these ‘youth’ products are prohibited for no good reason, and quad/dirt bike manufactures have demonstrated that they should be excluded under the law, however, they have yet to obtain an exemption from our “big”…yeah, they are working for us… government!  Clearly the provisions of the law place an unfair burden on the Powersports industry and it’s yet another example of broad-brush legislation with no thought about the unintended consequences.  I’m unaware of any child suffering lead poisoning from chewing on an ATV fender, foot peg, motorcycle seat, or handle bars in any garage?!  So how did this new set of economy damaging laws get passed?

Last Saturday, the CPSC approved the sale of vehicles designed for 12- to 15 year-old riders, units that had been previously banned under the CPSIA, however, the recent statement was simply a verbal clarification that CPSC staff believes that Y12+ ATVs are not subject to the law…not a written exemption or reversal and causing confusion for retailers.

Industry members and enthusiasts have sent thousands of e-mails to Congress through ARRA and other letter-generating Web sites like the motorcycle industry council.  If you want to stop the ban on youth dirt bikes, ATVs or quads please visit the web sites and weigh in on the topic.

Meanwhile I’m going to think about hard-core motocross bikes from KTM….where’s that brochure?

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