Do the Ton, On the Dirt. A tale of a cafe enthusiast finding dual sport fun.


Keep er' Between the Ditches
Will it do the ton on the dirt? I don't know, but at full bore it sure feels like it.

Chapter One: The Pig
I caught the dual sport bug after a trip to spring thaw a few years ago (2017 iirc) and saw the "dirt bike" gang come back to the cabin tired, sore, muddy... and grinning from ear to ear. I was riding a 1984 VF1000F interceptor which excluded me from such a dirt laden loop with those guys. Missing out, I knew i just HAD to find a dual sport bike. It came in the form of a bone stock 2006 Suzuki DR650se. I must say I lucked out on finding that bike, as I knew nothing other than that it had showed up on Facebook marketplace after typing in "dual sport" and it was under my $2k budget. That machine was my entry into my now-favorite type of riding; dual sports.








After wallowing the ever capable and constantly farked, if not heavy dr650 through some miles of dirt, red Georgia clay and asphalt, (about 6,000 combined over the last 2.5 years) I decided that I wanted to go a bit of a different direction in my dual sport machine. This was a multi-factor decision, based on the current stable and my riding needs. I gained a DL1000 V-Strom over the winter, which will take much of the "long distance highway" needs away from a dual sport that I own. The DR650 did that well, and now it doesn't need to. The next factor was weight. At 365 lbs at the curb, the DR650 wasn't a light bike, by dirt standards. If i kept it upright, it would tractor through what felt like anything. If I didn't keep it upright, it used up most of whatever energy I had left in order to pick it up and keep moving. So, after several years of great adventures, memories and rides, it went to its new home.

Chapter Two: The Stars Align
The timeline is fuzzy.

For the sake of the story, and due to the fact that its not completely pertinent to telling tales of Adventure, I will omit some of why part of this particular bike made it to me, and perhaps talk a bit more about "how". After a 4 hour round trip to Kiser lake, I ended up with a $150 "chunk" of 1998 Honda XR400R in my garage. It was a frame, swingarm, engine and oversize Clarke Tank. It was purchased to use the power plant for another project, but luckily, I am slow, and another piece of the light weight dual sport puzzle presented itself before I could complete said project.


The worlds foremost Honda "XR" enthusiast, long time DTT member and a close friend of mine @Mr.E sent me a Facebook marketplace listing for a well farkled, Tennesse street titled 1998 Honda XR400R with what another friend of ours @Kanticoy would describe as a "pre-exploded motor". The XR400R was not a street legal bike from the factory, so the fact that someone had gone through the street titling process was a tick in the "pro" column for me.

Ephraim knew that I had the frame and motor moth balled away, and we had even talked about how unlikely the prospect of finding an XR400 with a blown motor would be just a few weeks earlier, as they are known for reliability. Usually even a clapped out specimen yields a badly worn chassis with still running motor. I am glad he found this one though. He was even kind enough to collect me the bike and bring it to me in Knoxville TN, where I was passing thought to visit family in Georgia. I purchased it for $450.



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To be continued .... TO BE CONTINUED??? Jeez, I had just poured a cup of coffee and settled into my favorite chair and you take a break for dinner?
Chapter Three: The Mashup

"Look, I was gonna go easy on you as not to hurt your feelings
But I'm only going to get this one chance"

Here I sat, with cold winter weather, a dual sport shaped hole in the stable that I fool-heatedly filled with a sportster, and a pile of thought-to-be while not-proven-to-be usable xr400 parts. In a funny turn of events, both big chunks of bikes that I drug home, both miles and months apart from each other, ended up being a 1998 model. Also between the two bikes, I initially had to buy nothing aside from a stator gasket. That doesnt include later farkles and a new set of tires.


After a few evening of swapping parts, cleaning little by little and double checking everything for tight, I had a running bike. It may be a hair low on compression, and it may be a little rough around the edges, but a street titled, running xr400 for $658.29 ($8.29 was the cost of the stator gasket shipped) it doesnt have to be pretty.


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That looks perfect. I know a guy with an xr650 that. Ight wanna trade when I get the 750 rebuilt....if he still has it.
Awesome story, can't wait to read more! I've long since had an eye out for a XR400. Sub 300lbs 400c bike. Seems like a ton of fun!
Chapter Four: The Ride

"Hey brother, there's an endless road to re-discover"

Covid-19, Murder Hornets and Travel Bans really put a damper on riding in the dirt. Several #dothetonhitsthedirt rides were postponed or cancelled due to the crazyness that is the world today. Early this year, while the rural Ohio fields remained un-plowed and the air remained crisp and cool, fellow DTT member @Drey6 made his way up to the family farm from Columbus with his trusty PE175. What a sweetheart of a bike, and very capable as well. Plenty of loam was slung, and the xr400 was christened with its first official drop thanks to a moss covered farm bridge adjacent to a small farm cemetery. All was as it should be.


Spring break was meant to be a big jamboree at Prentice Cooper near Chattanooga TN, but the Rona had other plans. I was forced to wait until Spring Thaw, which took place this year around the Canton North Carolina area. A group of 16 miscreants met there 2 years ago, armed with dual sports and reckless disregard. Several hundred miles of dirt "roads" later, we had all arrived back at camp safely, if not a bit bruised. That was it, I was hooked.

Fast forward two years to this past weekend, time had come to try it again. The group was a bit smaller this year. There were 4 of us that left out in the original group. @Mr.E was on board his freshly assembled xr650l, @CCRider was jockeying his dr350, @john83 was at the helm of his xl250 and I climbed aboard the xr400. Off we went down the pavement and headed towards Hurricane creek trail. The funny thing (to me) about this road is that you enter it from interstate 40. There is no on ramp. You come to the end of a guard rail and turn immediately left onto the "road", which turns quickly into rough trail only passable by jeep or dirtbike. The group saundered along quite well up to the first photo opp inside the old school bus body that had long ago somehow made it farther down the trail that I can explain. It has since turned into a bullet riddled shell of what once was.

Left to right: @CCRider @Hurco550 @john83 @Mr.E


While getting back onto the bikes, we encountered another group of dual sporters headed the opposite direction, One such rider was aboard a triumph scrambler, More power to that dude, I wouldnt have had what it takes to keep that bike upright on that stretch of road, On down the trail, Mr.E's XR650L had decided that it had had enough of the hot day and lean condition of the carb tune. (remember this bike had 3 miles and a few back yard hot laps on it before departing on this epic adventure). While tractoring up a hill, the old thumper seized up and said no more. While sitting along the trail deciding what we were going to do and how we were going to get outta there, the old girl cooled off enough to un stick itself. In true honda fashion, a few turns out of the fuel screw, the old girl rode herself out of the trail and another 100 miles back to camp.

From there we headed down max patch road and met up with @Kanticoy and @haircuttergirl and their families. We hiked up to the top of the hill, and not a single picture does the view justice. "toto, I dont think we're in Ohio anymore"

Left to right: @Hurco550 , Ash, @Kanticoy , Denise , @john83 , @CCRider , @Mr.E @haircuttergirl and mal.



From there, Kanticoy on his crf250l and his wife Denise on her tw200 came along and we rode up to buzzards roost road, another one that is a road best suited to be used by a dual sport of 4x4 truck. Once at the top, we hiked down a path to a little photo opp overhang. Yeah, that little road down there.... thats interstate 40. We were a ways up there.



The next day, John and I decided to make a loop and see how the old xr400 would handle the twisties. The first stretch of road woulve been well suited to to rain gear, but even so, the bike handled admirably in spite of being on knobbies in the rain. Once we got to a gas station to wait out the rest of the rain drops, we traded bikes and I got to chase John around on his 1250 bandit while he carved the roads on the xr400. I dare say we were both pleasantly surprised with each others machines.


After loading up, I drove about 4 hours west to Chickamauga Georgia where my inlaws live. The second day there, I decided that I had done a dual sport ride, a really twisty pavement ride and I NEEDED to see how this old girl would handle some real gnarly territory. Houston Valley OHV area in rocky face seemed a good place to start. I'm happy to announce that this bike eats the gnar for breakfast. Hill, mud, rocks and ruts (often all at once) were a roll of the throttle away from conquered. I tried to not get to rowdy as I was riding some very sparcly populated trails solo, but man this thing is hard to ride conservatively. Also worth noting, the ONLY thing that changed between these rides was the amount of pressure in the tires. No gearing changes or otherwise. Im convinced, this is the one for me... or at least "a" the one.


Many miles of windshield time later, and a well earned trip through the carwash, the xr400 is back in the shop and ready to go on the next adventure......

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Nice write up, nice to see some faces to go with the names I'll often see. That's a great looking riding area you got there, I'm just trees and ocean is nice though.
Great story! Keep it up and you're even going to turn ME into an off-roader!
Ha! I know! My buddy had one he had some super aggressive mud tires for his was fun! Now he has a stock one again I need to get from him!
Man I wish I could have made it out there this year. Next year! Also, I need some knobs like those on my drz.
This is resurfacing in me an unhealthy latent desire for a TW200.
Ha! I know! My buddy had one he had some super aggressive mud tires for his was fun! Now he has a stock one again I need to get from him!
Denise on her tw200 did great out there. It made me want to jump back onto my tw200 project.

Man I wish I could have made it out there this year. Next year! Also, I need some knobs like those on my drz.
Quite a few of us are running those Tusk Dsports. Kiley, Tim, Chris and I, and I think Ephraim may grab some too. They are a good value so far.
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