My dad grew up riding dirt bikes. I grew up riding dirt bikes. I began riding in 2008 on a Honda XR100. Since then I’ve mostly ridden bigger four stroke enduro bikes; a 1993 XR600R, 2004 XR650R, and a Husqvarna FE501S. It is hard to pick favorites from this lineup, however the XR650R always stands out.
The XR name was Honda’s branding for their models of off road motorcycles from 1979 to 2004. Current models use the CFR name, however the XR650L is still produced. (not to be confused with my discontinued XR650R) The “L” is one of the longest running unchanged production models in the history of motorcycling and is still available today exactly as the 1992 model specifications.
My dad became the second owner of the 650 in 2008. At the same time I got my first bike, the XR100. The previous owner of the 650 took care of it, “uncorked” it, invested in a Baja Kit and jumped through the legal hoops to get the “off-road only” machine titled for road use. I’m not sure why my dad bought this street legal XR specifically. He never used if for on-road use, but I’m glad he happened to pick one that had already been converted.
In the early days of motorcycle riding I was always disappointed when the cycles would run bad or break down. Dad and I hardly maintained the bikes. Middle school William thought noting about jetting carburetors, adjusting valves, or preforming oil changes. The typical maintenance routine was to wait till my uncle Teddy from Mississippi would visit the cabin once a summer and perform all necessary bike maintenance. My dad knew how to do some mechanical work on the bikes, but he’d rather take it to the dealer and pay thousands of dollars for maintenance tasks I now knock out myself in less than an hour.
Pictured above in 2009, the XR600R was more or less retired when my dad bought the 650R. This is the only photographic proof I have of it being ridden between 2009 and 2016. In august 2016 the 600R got a refreshed carb, engine tune up, and paint job by yours truly.
At this point I had long out grown the XR100 and had since sold it. Dad and I rode the 650R and 600R respectively. Somewhere during this time the 650R’s carburetor decided to spit out one of the jets thus making the bike inoperable. Dad took it to a Honda dealership in New Braunfels, Texas and they ultimately did more harm than repair. The bike went in for service needing a new pilot jet and an oil change. It was retuned with the Baja kit wiring disconnected,(cut, not just unplugged) an ugly green kill switch zip-tied to the handle bars, and major oil and gas leaks all around. Dad retuned it to the shop. 6 months later they returned it in working order, but still with a destroyed Baja kit and the dreaded green kill switch.
In November 2016 my dad bought the Husqvarna FE 501s new from Santa Fe motorsports. We immediately fell in love with it. Being 40lbs lighter than the 650R, the Husqvarna handles very nimbly and feels quick.
Not much has changed since purchasing the Husqvarna. Somewhere between 2016-2017 I began to get my close friends interested in cycles and I began sharing some of my experience with them as they got the hang of things riding up and down my street.
In August of 2018 four of us embarked on an epic two-week cross country road trip with the three cycles in tow.
Our route was San Antonio, TX > White Sands, NM > Taos, NM > Grand Tetons NP > Yellowstone NP > Bozeman MT > Glacier NP > Yoho NP, Canada > Vancouver, Canada > Seattle, WA > Bonneville Salt Flats, UT > Buckskin Gulch, Kanab, UT > Taos, NM > San Antonio, TX. (This road trip will be given a post of its own soon…)
The trip was great fun and gave us some great dual sport riding experience.
This brings us to present day and conclude my personal history in regards to motorcycles. After the conclusion of the road trip we have all returned to our everyday lives as college students. We are already planning epic trip No. 2; to the Alaskan north. This time just on cycles. Stay tuned.