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Behind the Vintage Tour Cross

Prepping vintage enduros for a 350-mile road trip and race requires more than just good planning; you need good parts and gear, too. Photos by Seth DeDoes.

Two days and 350 road miles hauling luggage followed by a day of motocross racing is a lot to ask of a trio of 42- to 48-year-old vintage enduro bikes and their riders. For this reason, we took as many precautions as possible before departing to ensure a safe and successful trip. Here are some of the specific products we needed and the suppliers who supported our adventure.

Tenacious Tires: Regardless of displacement or horsepower, ultimately, a motorcycle’s tires do all the work. They must grip wet and dry pavement, and on the MX track master hard-pack, sand, mud and loam. Fortunately, Dunlop makes a wide range of dirt-loving knobbies, including the DOT-certified D606. Available in numerous sizes, modern Dunlops well satisfied our needs, and amazingly fit the old bikes nearly to a “T.” Best of all, they finished the long tour with little wear, and then with pressures lowered, worked great on Hollister’s Grand Prix track. Go to dunlopmotorcycletires.com

Fail-Safe Chains: Old drive chains that look okay externally can be internally compromised by rust — with possible broken links the result. This can be way more than just inconvenient, as a broken chain can puncture an engine case or worse, lock the rear wheel. To avoid this, we fitted Regina Professional Cross Supermoto chains before our trip. Designed for modern bikes, they were totally capable of handling the output of our classic engines. The Honda needed a 530 chain, while the OSSA and Suzuki took the more common 520 size, which we trimmed to fit with a Regina chain breaker. Go to reginachain.net

John L. Stein rigs up lights on the go after the lighting coil on his OSSA failed.

Essential Oils: Lucas Oilmakes lubricants for every motor application imaginable. We stocked up with Semi-Synthetic 2-Cycle Oil, 80W/85WTransmission Oil, Synthetic Fork Oil, Chain Lube, Contact Cleaner, Brake Parts Cleaner and Tool Box Buddy (a multipurpose aerosol) for our pre-ride servicing. And then used it all — including Slick Mist Speed Wax — on the road and during our frantic repairs in the pits. Go to lucasoil.com

Racy Numbers: Besides our personal gear attached to the bikes, the piece de resistance was three sets of racing number plates and custom Fastlane MXVintage Ovals graphics. Super easy to spec and order online, the durable 9×11-inch graphics were likewise simple to apply. Go to fastlanemx.com

Creative Storage: Unless you ride a tourer like a Gold Wing Interstate or BMW R100RT, safely bundling a sleeping bag, clothes and incidentals onto a classic bike can be trying. We found a great solution in Aerostich’s Tank Panniers. The tough, semi-rigid 1,000-denier nylon bags dropped effortlessly over the Savage’s gas tank, and across the rear of the XL350 seat. The included bungee cords — plus some additional Aerostich heavy-duty bungees — safely secured both panniers and sleeping bags. To the tail section of the Pioneer, I attached a Cortech Super 2.0 Tail Bag, whose soft neoprene pad protected the original Spanish lacquer and pinstripes. Go to aerostich.com and cortech.net

Riding protected

Selecting riding gear suitable for both touring and motocross proved a challenge, considering that in our case, temperatures ranged from the 40s to the 80s. Packing layers, and then choosing the right helmets, jackets, boots and gloves, proved key. Here’s a selection of products used on the inaugural Vintage Tour Cross.

Hand-Picked Helmets: Owing to the combination of road and track riding, Randy and Deborah both elected for HJC’s DS-X1 full-face, dual-sport adventure helmet with flip-up visor, which they replaced with Scott goggles at Hollister. Well acquainted with unexpected swan-dives onto terra firma while dirt riding, I chose the DOT-certified Bell Moto-9 Carbon Flex, which additionally protects against glancing blows that can result from such low-speed falls. Happily, though, the OSSA and I stayed upright on both road and track! Go to hjchelmets.com and bellhelmets.com

Do-It-All Goggles: On the MX track, Scott Hustle MX goggles with Chrome Lenses gave everyone good comfort and UV protection, while guarding against airborne dust and rocks. Although during the long highway days, my dirt-oriented helmet’s open eye port added some wind blast around the face. A car racer, Randy was smart to bring a couple of balaclavas; donning one reduced airflow over the face, lowered audible noise, and added warmth. Winner! Go to scott-sports.com

Stein and crew work on Randy Pobst’s Suzuki after a piston failure.

Snug, Safe Jackets: For the tour, Randy wore a Tourmaster Transition 4 Jacket and I chose a Cortech Sequoia XC Jacket. Both feature a 600-denier shell, internal armor, various pockets and vents, and zip-in thermal liners that earned their keep on the cold first evening above Ojai, and the next morning in Taft. Deborah went more traditional, snuggling into a Cortech Women’s LNX 2.0 Leather Jacket. Go to tourmaster.com and cortech.net

Dirt-Ready Boots: Protect your feet offroad, and you’ll be a happy rider. Randy and Deborah both used Cortech Accelerator XC boots for comfort on the road combined with safety in the dirt. As a modern MX rider, I went with pro-caliber Alpinestars Tech 10 boots. They’re heavy but ultra-comfortable, and most essentially, offer major protection for feet, ankles and shins. During my second Hollister moto, I hyperextended one foot in a rut and remain convinced the boot spared me real injury. Go to cortech.net and alpinestars.com

Cool Jerseys: We all wore padded jeans on the road and motocross track, but for breathability during the races, we packed lightweight Alpinestars Racer Supermatic Jerseys. Worn over body armor, they provided good abrasion protection while wicking away sweat. Randy and Deborah both tested the jerseys when they hit the ground during their MX races, and happily came away unscathed. Go to alpinestars.comJohn L. Stein

Published on Apr 16, 2018
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