Big, red and mine

After years of obsessing, I finally threw down and bought a really nice moto: the mighty yet refined 2005 Honda CRF450X.

Why I enjoy riding motorcycles

Take everything cool about mountain biking, but remove the pedaling. I enjoy pedaling as much as the next guy, but sometimes you just want to rip and rail and braaap!

What’s the deal with a CRF 450X ?

Take a very mighty motocross bike — the CRF450R — and tweak it for trail riding. Softer suspension, mellower engine, wider ratio tranny, lights and electric start. This is basically your grandpa’s MX bike. Perfect for me because I really dig trail riding, and I have banned myself from the huge MX jumps.

Things I like about it

– It has lots of power, but it’s smooth, easy power. While the motocross models have a very steep power curve and like to go braaaaaap!, my trail-tuned buddy makes power gradually — more like braaaaaap!.

– It handles like a champ. Though the CRF-X is heavier than my old Kawasaki KDX200, it feels smaller. The CRF-X is narrower and made for action, and the frame and suspension are torsionally stiff.

– It’s plush, like a DH bike. The soft suspension might give up some hyper-aggro action on the track, but the bike hooks up like a champ. In sweeping turns where my MX buddies were sketching, the X stayed planted.

– Here in Colorado I can make it street legal. Yes: trail riding from home. The Colorado promise.

– It’s quiet. (See above.)

– It’s red.

Not new anymore

For the first ride I took my buddy to Thunder Valley Motocross in Lakewood, where they recently held a national. MX tracks aren’t my thing, but it was fun to hang out with the boys, and the CRF-X was a blast in the loam. The bike was so easy to ride and such a pleasure — until Two Bad Things happened.

Bad thing 1: I was rolling a jump and — WHAMMO! — a guy landed on me. Yes, he landed on me. Bad scene. He crushed my left radiator ($190), bashed my radiator louvre ($32) and dislocated my left thumb (priceless).

Jackass hit my front wheel and the handlebar came back so hard it tore my metacarpal out of its lower joint. The end of the bone poked under the skin of my wrist. I looked at my still-swollen other thumb, which only recently recovered from a torn ligament, and I was annoyed, to put it mildly.

Such was my bummedness that I grabbed my left thumb with my right hand and pulled — hard. The bone almost went back in … almost … so I actually bashed it upward against my handlebar … whack! … whack! … POP! And the bone was back home.

I rolled down to my van and stewed for a while.

Bad Thing 2: Bear in mind that I’m an addict, and riding fast is my drug of choice. I sat around for a while then tried grabbing a handlebar. Not too bad. So I taped my thumb in place and rode some more.

I was having an awesome time dicing with my pal Jaime: carrying good speed through the turns, BRAAPING the straights and rolling the big jumps. It was all good until I went to pass this woman. She and her husband were putting along on the far right, and I came by on the far left. The track is as wide as a road. Just as I rolled throttle and left the face of a little double, she lost control and crossed right in front of me. YIKES!

I don’t know exactly what happened, but I hit the front of the landing very hard. Thank goodness for yoga. The brand new headlight shroud had broken off my brand-new motorcycle ($30). My left thumb was not happy.

What a crazy session. Was it the magnetic new bike? Was I paying for previous sins? Was I paying for future sins? I dunno, but i’ll tell you this: The CRF-X is getting radiator guards, and as soon as my thumb is healed I’m going to rail it like a champ. On trails, though. No more tracks for a while.

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