A bit o' Benchracin'

New Scoot?




...So the KTM 250 was a good bike & all, but it was gettin' a little dated. So, like most of us, the thought of shopping for a new, or at least newer, dirt bike sent those chills of excitement up & down the throttle hand. What would it be? Another KTM? Maybe an Asian bike, a Susie or A Kawie...hmmm. 

 Well as is often the case, the reality of the prices of new bikes sent an anti shudder right through my wallet, & it was decided that the search, though still on, would be limited to the used bike section of the market. Now as you all know, the first ads to be eliminated from the search werethe ones claiming " never been raced" .. Which is to say, "never been maintained", and the ones that say "brand new" may not have always been preserved as new, but the asking price usually is!  No, what I needed was somethin' cheap but potent...after all,... Sam Baker was lookin' kinda fast in those days and,...well anyway, cheap & potent was the only way to go.

 After a week or two, I came across an interesting ad in the local paper "Late model CR500, Racer, great shape, fast (they all say that) 1500.00"  Boom !! I'm in!  I mean, sure I'd never ridden a single cylinder, 500cc, two stroke, water cooled, motocrosser, before, but how much different could it really be from a KTM 250...right?  Right.  $1400 later, & I was the proud owner of the (unbeknownst to me) awesome CR500. With the Pro Circuit pipe, ignition mods, what ta hell was that thing.. Roost Boost? Hmmm? raised compression (don't do this one) porting, works this, HRC that...da, da, da...you know, all the stuff that a 125 needs to be competitive...(did I mention that this was a 500?) Well never having had a 500 before, I found that there was another surprise in store ... have you tried to start one of those things?  When I bought it, the owner started it for me so he could "warm it up"... I didn’t notice any unusual technique. 

              DAY ONE    Saturday 8:47AM 

 Having hardly slept the night before, due to the fact that there was a new scooter in the garage, I blinked & squinted hard as the sun flooded under the garage door as I introduced my new X-C bike to the mornin'..There it sat, the bike that would take me to the top of the over thirty amateur class...but not today.  No, not today. I proudly rolled my red beauty out into the driveway in anticipation of a quick jaunt up & down the alley...gas on, kick start lever out...and...Ka-chunk. OK, OK choke on,...Ka-chunk...check for neutral again, Ka-chunka...hmmm...OK no choke... Ka-chunk.  It only took a few moments to realize that indeed this was no 250. The sole of my Nikes just had a flat.  The bottom of my right foot was so bowed up, I could’ve stepped on a beer can & not smashed it. 

 "Heyyy! I see ya got a new scooter"   It was Racin' Jason, my next door neighbor, & another o-30 guy.  "Can't get it started?"  (he rides a 125) "welllll, nowww, you know, new bike, & all, got ta get it's pattern down, thats all."    Ka- chunka, Ka-chunka.   "Maybe you should kick it a little faster" (Jason weighs a  hundred & forty two pounds) as the drop of sweat dropped off my nose & onto the gas tank, I smiled & said, "Saayy buddy, why don’t you come & give it a stab”? Standing with the full weight of his skinny-assed body on the kickstart lever, it remained motionless, as if welded to the frame, then KA.............chu.....nka. with a little hissing sound, as if it were saying.  ”Pa-pleeese“. 

              DAY TWO    Sunday 7:12 AM 

 Jason, & my other (non-ridin') neighbor, Gale, are in their respective driveways watchin'...Ka-chunk, Ka-chunk, Ka-chunka...."Hey Pat, What happened to that white motorcycle?"  Gales' words stung almost as much as the arch of my foot...Ka-chunk...more sweat, some bad words now..."It always seemed to start OK didn't it?"   "mornin' Gale."  I tried to reply as pleasant as possible of course.  I slumped down onto the seat & hung my head over the bars, as to distribute the sweat more evenly over the bike. 

 Back to the garage. 

              DAY THREE 

 The neighbors start gathering at about 7:30 or so, to come out & watch me try to start my new scooter, it's interesting enough, and a relatively quiet pastime for a spring morning.  There's Bob & his wife, in the lawn chairs. Gale is, as usual, waterin' his lawn. I can see the Browns lookin' out the patio door, & of course skinny-assed Jason leanin' against the Suzuki, with his skinny-assed Suzuki hat blockin' the early mornin' sun.  "Hey Pat, wanna cold beer before you start...or don't?" 

 Kachunka.    Kachunkakachunkakachunka..."gotdammit u &%$*&@#"    

"'ol Paul's gotta fife hunert, & he uses a stand to stand on while he kicks it" 

 As the dizziness was about to overcome me, I could hear Jason say, "Cold beer?" 

             DAY FOUR 

 Having exhausted the straight kick, the left footed kick, the on the stand kick, the left footed on the stand kick, the rabbit kick, & the push start (that was a joke) I figured it was time to swallow my pride, & call the prior owner & get instructions, or at least claim that he'd sold me a lame scooter. 

 He was, of course, very surprised that it didn't "start on the first kick". But after explaining to me that there was, in fact, a special startin' technique...which he explained in detail, ( I wrote it all down ) I strode confidently out to meet the crowd of fans awaiting the show in the back yard. 

 Like an Olympic athlete, or maybe the president pushing through the crowd on his way to a podium, I made my way out into the sunlight.  With my instructions in hand, I pushed the mighty CR500 out to The Launch Area...I say launch area, 'cause that's what happens to you when the CR500 pops one time & your leg are locked.  Oh yes, a note here: wear sturdy boots during start procedures on the 500. 

 And so I, following the instructions, now taped to the tank, lined everything up just so, took a deep breath, (so did everyone around me) and gave it my best Bruce Lee kick, and, pop it did. Like A Gunshot! AH-HAAA! It Made a sound!! 

 The Browns opened the patio door. Gale looked up, & released the trigger on his super-hydro-electric-lawn waterin' pistol, & skinny-assed Jason peered around the edge of the garage door, with a cold one in hand, pushed back his skinny assed Suzuki hat & said, "Is today the day?" 

 As I got up and checked the blood flow from my right elbow, I declared, defiantly, that "it most certainly is"!!! 

 Once again on the scooter, one leg on the stand, the other on the start lever, I glanced over at Jason, & gave him the 'double eyebrow raise'...but he didn't return my gaze.  Instead, he was looking hard at something aft of the bike, he started towards it, slightly hunched over, (though not tipping his beer) staring hard again as if it were going to bite him.

   "What?"          “What're you lookin' at?"

  "Somethin' flew outa yer pipe, I think", he said. 

  I spun around, almost losing my balance. And yes, there it was on the driveway, about twenty feet back, mostly covered with black exhaust soot, but with just a trace of blue.  Jason poked at the alien looking slug with a stick. There was a slight trace of smoke coming from the black part... as I looked closer, I recognized the shape as something I has seen in the shops before... 

  an ACERBIS exhaust plug !!!









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