Well, I've finally finished building up the stock '01 XR650R that I got in trade for my built XR400R this summer. It was time for a shakedown run to ensure everything is tip-top for the LA-Barstow-Vegas ride in a couple weeks. I managed to wrangle my way north of all the fires here in SoCal, taking back roads up to Gorman so I could take her out in the Hungry Valley OHV Park. It's been a couple years since I've been on a dirt bike so I took it easy for a while, sticking to the power line road that circles the OHV park. Eventually I started getting my dirt legs back, and began exploring some of the more fun trails (of which there are several). My favorite is the Northern most loop in the place called Mesa Loop. It is very narrow, but steeply banked with lots of elevation changes, some rocks, some roots and lots of switchbacks! It is exactly the kind of trail you throw the bike into turns, stick your leg out and "gun it" so the back end can fishtail around the turn. ...too much fun. In fact, at the end of the day, I just had to swing back up there for another loop before heading to the truck. I returned the BRP to stock gearing, which is probably too tall for a tight place like HV, but then ...the XRR is too big for that place anyway. Dropping an uncorked XR650R into Hungry Valley is like dropping a great white shark into a goldfish bowl!!!  The XR4 had a similar problem with gearing, but didn't have the torque to overcome it, leaving you no choice but to gear it lower, and lose top-end speed. The big XR doesn't have this affliction, which is why I wanted to trade up. Even with the tall gearing, I was running 2nd gear most everywhere. At one point, I even hit 3rd and 4th, but even on their longer fire roads 60 mph felt too damned fast in HV, so it was back to 3rd for speed, 2nd for most everything, and first for really tight stuff. I made it a point to visit the long, whooped out sand wash on the Eastern edge of the park so I could see how the pig behaves and get my steering damper dialed in. The good news is, the big bike takes to sand a lot better than the lighter 400 did. I also now have an open terrain setting and a sand setting for the damper, and they are only 4 clicks apart. ...the bad news is, my absence from dirt riding was apparent in the sandy whoops! lol The only issue is that the temp sensor on my Trail Tech, Vector computer doesn't work. I'm going to call them Monday; it's just a plug & play sensor, so if it not working, it probably means it's defective! lol All in all, the bike ran flawlessly. The suspension is maybe a tad soft, but soaked up everything I threw at it, and I do love me a plush suspension off-road, so I'll leave it for now. The thing pulls like a freight train and will rip my arms off if I'm not paying attention. It actually has better torque than the big KTM 950 (which is more of a rev-hungry engine anyway). I had the presence of mind to bring my little Sony point & shoot and snap a few photos (I added some captions). They are all here: http://zenmoto.smugmug.com/gallery/6564806_eaKNB#P-1-20 Feel free to leave comments; it's good to know someone is actually looking! My favorite shot of the day though, right here for those too lazy to view them all: Thanks, Dale Notes:  I wish this was my analogy, but it's actually from an NFL commentator describing what it was like having Dick Butkus playing in the NFL.