Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Stable Grows

Ok so my bike is fat, dumb, and happy.
Older tank, same XR

Problem is, my wife enjoys riding too.  Mostly Glamis and other SoCal dunes on her YFZ before we sold it.  All she had currently was a 1997 YZ 80 - her first 2-wheeled bike.  

I should mention I love two strokes.  I started riding them when I was 13, and pretty much stayed on them until the XR.  Unfortunately something happened during that time, I got older.  Sure I can still huck around my CR250, but god its such a chore to ride anymore.

Anyway my wife is very nearly a midget dwarf little person...she's short okay.  Not just that she's 5' tall either, its because I swear she's a normal sized female from the waist up.  That means finding a bike that fits her is always a challenge. 

The YZ worked, but for a non-aggressive, female rider's first bike, it really wasn't the best choice.  Plus now that I'm trying to get into this dual sport gig, she needs something legal to ride.

Part of me wanted to look at a street legal dirt bike again, indeed I seriously considered a few out there.  Problem is, we're living back in California now, and have to deal with Californian DMV and the California Air Resources Board.  Seriously these two bureaucracies could be the poster children for what is wrong with this state.  I'll try to summarize:  CARB realized that some people were legalizing dirt bikes, and ZOMG the DMV was letting them!  Well these bikes hadn't been specifically tagged for emissions for on-highway use (i.e. the manufacturers didn't pay the protection money).  So CARB insists DMV stop allowing this to happen, and yank all the current plates that the DMV already issued.  The DMV, thankfully, is lazy, and says they'll stop issuing them as of the new calendar year, but grandfather anyone that already got a plate.  This was in 2003.  Because states have to recognize other state laws, you can still get a 2004+ street legal dirt bike, but it has to be plated out of state first, and run through some DMV hoops.  The other option is to find a "cool" DMV inspector that will let you slide without the required emissions sticker.  There's a couple sites online that have a regular DMV inspector and do this for a fee in California.  They only do it to 2002 or older bikes to make it less obvious to anyone looking.  Problem is that you have no legal ground if CARB/DMV ever notices that you plated a bike (any year bike) after the January 31, 2004 cutoff.  You'll lose your plate and can't do a thing about it, even if it was a previous owner that got it plated.  So if you buy any plated bike in California, you need to find out what year it was first plated, if it was out of state, etc.  Hassle...

So ideally then, I was looking for a purpose built, from the factory, dual sport - and it needed a seat low enough that a turtle could mount it.  Lemme tell ya, that's a really short list!  We ended up finding a pretty nice little ride though, a 2003 Suzuki DR200SE with 950 original miles on it:

Sure it looks like its from 1982 with that giant headlight, accordian shock covers, and IDKWTF rear fender, but its a pretty solid little machine.  I especially like that its very easy to ride.  The power delivery is more like a scooter than a motorcycle, which is good for somebody still learning.  It's a tad heavy, and air cooled like my XR which can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it.  I made a few easy adjustments and managed to lower it a tad more than its standard 31" seat height.  As a tribute to CARB, I ripped the California emissions EVAP canister off as quickly as I could.  It will be set ablaze and sent drifting into the Pacific on a raft shortly.  I also replaced the stock tires with something more dirt oriented.  She's now able to get the ball of 1 foot down.  Since I sold her YZ and some other old toys I hadn't been using it was another "free" bike.

Neither my wife nor I have any desire to ride a motorcycle on the street - too many SUV's trying to make motorcycle hood ornaments.  We fully intend to truck our bikes to any trail more than a few miles away.  The plates are just there because: 1) SoCal actually has a lot of small riding areas separated by a couple miles of tarmac.  2) SoCal has even more off road areas that are only legal to plated 4x4's and motorcycles.  Really beautiful places too.  It's my goal to share some of these gems via this blog.

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