We have been very fortunate this spring here in Michigan with record temperatures in the upper 70s and 80s for a few weeks in a row. Although my personal track is still sitting with mini fish ponds in the corners, there are a couple local private sand tracks that are rideable almost all year. One of which has the deepest sand of any track I have ever ridden and is in its best form the day after a major rainfall. We had an unusually nice day midweek and 3 of us decided to get together to ride as a last minute decision. Not gonna lie, I was stoked.
Upon arrival, I deemed it necessary to gear up in my 2001 McGrath No Fear gear as someone may mistake me for him on my 2-stroke. I’m just happy it still fits. I topped off the tank with 100LL from the airport mixed 40:1 with Amsoil Dominator and fired it up. I gave it plenty of time to warm up as you should with any motor new or old. The temp that day was lower 60s so I was expecting it to be a little lean off the bottom. I proceeded to click it in first and made a couple of loops around Ryan’s yard just to make sure everything was operating correctly. It loaded up quite heavily while I was warming it up and this was also a good way to clean it out without free-revving the crap out of it like you see so many people do. The motor will clean out faster under load and free-revving isn’t good for any motor. After a couple of shifts I headed out into the bottomless sand.
It was a huge surprise how early the power came on. I couldn’t believe how broad the power band was. I anticipated peaky power that created a lot of work to use. It honestly felt like the same power curve as the 250f that I had spent time on. Don’t get me wrong, it was easy to bog in a turn if you were a gear too high, but learning to shift again will cure that issue. I’m a bigger guy too, probably at the point that I should be riding a 3/4 ton bike so I might need to add a tooth to the rear at some point. We will see, I believe anyone could run the stock gearing. All-in-all it was really fun playing around roosting, and clutching really for no reason other than it made me feel like a kid again.
The suspension sucked monkey butt. Remember in my last entry that the suspension was done by Enzo for freestyle. That means it was sprung and valved for falling out of the sky and landing on pavement, neither of which I plan to do. After setting the sag it handled better, but because the front was so ridiculously hard, it made it difficult for me to do anything with the bike. It wanted to push, then knife, then the rear would try to swap. When I finally got it straight it wheelied. It was kind of like hanging on to a greased pig. At one point, I came up short on a step-down and when I landed I immediately was bounced right off the track into the trees. It kind of reminds me of when I rebuilt the forks on my RM 125. They didn’t move either and I acquired 3 fake teeth and the average crossbar scar on the bottom of my chin as a result. Did I mention that the sand here is deep? I’m sure that my problems with handling that day had several influences. 1. Winter was not good to me. 2. The sand is really deep. 3. I’m on a new bike. 4. The suspension is really hard in the front. 5. The sand is really deep. My next step is to contact Ryan Arthur at Speed Technologies for some help. He has tons of experience, quick turnaround, and great customer service. I personally have never had anything done by him, but I know plenty that have and the general consensus is that he is the guy to go to.
Rewind a little bit, I would like to discuss my fuel and oil selections. I elected to run 100LL av gas for a few reasons. It’s really easy to get. Just buzz buy your local airport with a fuel jug and they are happy to pump you a few gallons as often as you like. There is no need to store drums that take up space, no need to worry if you are going to use it all in a season, and no worry if your drum is contaminated. In the past I’ve referred to av gas as “white trash race gas” because it is really nothing special. Even though it is called LL (low lead) it has substantially more lead content than off road leaded race fuel. That can lead to few issues, but lead fouling is the main one. The high lead content can build on the spark plug electrodes and cause a week or less accurate spark so changing the plug every few tanks is a good idea. The lead is what gives this fuel its higher octane rating. Another reason for running this fuel is safety. Av gas is ethanol free and also has additives to resist moisture and it stores well. Each of those characteristics help prevent pre-detonation issues. Old gas, water, and ethanol all are common causes to blown motors. This generation YZ was known for “pinging” under hard load which was attributed to two things. To lean of needle jet, and a little bit too much compression. It was recommended to change the needle to the N3EW which came standard after 2008. The dome was reshaped for 2011 lowering compression slightly and also freeing up a tiny bit of horsepower. For the price of roughly $1-$1.20 a gallon more than the crap we burn in our cars, it is worth the couple extra dollars per can to run fuel that you don’t have to worry about. Plus there is an airport almost everywhere, it helps me sleep at night, and not to mention it smells bitchin’.
As far as oil goes, I’ve done some research in this department also. I’ve even done a crude independent study on a few oils that I was considering in my jet skis. Different characteristics are more desirable in different powersports for sure. The biggest one for me with jet skis was corrosion protection naturally with all the water going on there. With dirt bikes I feel like a clean burn may be crucial with power valves. Hands down, castor oil has the highest film strength, but the worst corrosion protection and it makes a ton of carbon. Any petroleum based oil will provide you with high corrosion protection, but provides the least film strength. It burns cleaner than castor, but will still require a lot of power valve maintenance. In years past, the concern with synthetic oil was the lack of protection to rubber seals during idle time. Over the years that has changed and synthetic oil provides a clean burn, high film strength, and decent corrosion protection. There are a million different types of synthetic oil out there. I have not used a bunch of different kinds, but of the ones I have used, I feel Amsoil gives me the best average of all. I’ve torn down Amsoil motors that have a slight red hue on everything which tells me it’s doing a good job sticking. One downfall to synthetic is it will take a substantially longer period of time for the piston rings to properly seat. Depending on the rider, I sometimes have used a petroleum 2 cycle oil for break in, then switch to whatever the rider wants to burn later.
I should be getting some suspension work done and I’m also going to try out some Factory Effex custom printed backgrounds soon, so watch for the next write up here at PPS Moto.