Kawasaki KLX300 Dual Sport Ride 2021

The North American bisport cyclist (Equitem ludo double) is one of the most varied and enduring creatures in the motorcycle kingdom. Periodically they migrate in large numbers, visiting remote areas, spending weekends exploring backcountry roads, participating in a “Run” or “Rally.” They are often found in wandering shrines. called OHV parks, sometimes with their young offspring. More mature specimens will venture hundreds of miles from their nests, enduring all kinds of hardship over rough terrain. They are a different breed, gentlemen.

Big Bear Dual Sport: Annual Ride
Hard Way runners depart early from Big Bear Mountain Ski Resort.

For the past 27 years, dual-sport cyclists from across the Southern California region have flocked to the San Bernardino National Forest to participate in the two-day Big Bear Run (BBR), hosted by the Big Bear Trail. Riders Association.

Having been around since the 1980s, these guys know a thing or two about the extensive trail system in and around Big Bear Lake. The Big Bear Run is also part of the Beta AMA National Dual Sport Series, and it has a well-deserved reputation as one of the toughest among 16 events across the continental United States.

With over 400 participants of all ages and sizes, there is something for riders of all skill levels, even the most die-hard. However, the BBR is open to everyone. The family atmosphere is at its height, with motorhome pitches available.

Big Bear Dual Sport: club ride

If camping isn’t your thing, Big Bear has a plethora of comfortable accommodations within walking distance of the event. If you have a plated bike with a spark arrester and an AMA membership, you are welcome. Membership in the Big Bear Trail Riders Association is encouraged, and the organization is a great resource for those looking to hike the trails in this area.

The whole event starts on Friday afternoon. Riders can check-in, enter, collect GPX routes and take the tour with a growing list of suppliers which included Kawasaki, Honda, Dunlop, Yoshimura, Barkbusters Handguards, Fox Racing, IMS Products, Mitas Tire, Motoz Tire, Poway Powersports, REACH Air Medical Services, Ricky Johnson, Rottweiler Performance, and San Diego Powerhouse. There is a lot of loot lying around and raffles on Saturday night.

Big Bear Dual Sport: GPS Trail Tech

This is not an old fashioned rally with markers; The organizers provide complete GPX files that divide your respective route into four unique parts, prominently marking turns and gas stops. Trail Tech GPS navigators were commonplace in the BBR paddock. A modern smartphone with the Gaia GPS app could also help you get through the day – just make sure you don’t drain your battery.

Big Bear Dual Sport Routes

For 2021, four routes were on the bridge: the Hard Way, Advanced Easy, Easy and Adventure. These routes are updated every year to keep things fresh, and the terrain varies wildly. They run the gamut between easy forest dirt roads, fun jeep trails, two groovy tracks, the excellent single track, some of the best twisty roads SoCal has to offer, rock sweeps, rocky climbs, and rocky climbs. rocks. Oh, dear Lord, the rocks.

Another Hard Way competitor charges through one of BBR’s many rocky sections. Kiss the rock, folks.

Those looking to put both rider and machine to the test will no doubt be looking for the Hard Way, a grueling 200-mile hike that combines some of the area’s most challenging terrain. To paint a clearer picture of the difficulty, 57% of Hard Way’s 205 entrants this year managed to collect all of the checkpoint tickets and earn the coveted finisher plaque. In some years, this number can drop as low as 30 percent. Dive into YouTube’s rabbit hole to watch brave runners try their hand at sections like 38 Special if you need more proof.

The Advanced Easy route totals approximately 135 miles, the majority of which is off-road. The route is a proverbial sample of what the San Bernardino National Forest trail system has to offer: lots of fun, smooth trails through the forest, lots of engaging two-lane routes and, of course, a few. tough rocky chunks. The Advanced Easy route dotted with a few Hard Way sections just to increase the difficulty.

Big Bear Dual Sport: Alpinestars

Meanwhile, the Easy Route overrides the difficulty number and focuses on an easy-going experience, spanning over 125 miles. Finally, the adventure route covers over 135 miles of amazing asphalt riding, plus a few off-road sections adapted to the ADV to get a little dust on those saddlebags.

Tres Amigos and the 2021 Kawasaki KLX300

Being a predominantly road motorcyclist, I sparingly dip my toe into the world of dual sport. While my hunting grounds remain limited to well-maintained places like the Hungry Valley State Vehicle Recreation Area (aka Gorman), the BBR is one event I’ve wanted to experience for years. When I got the call from Kawasaki’s PR supervisor Brad Puetz to join him, as well as editor Ryan Adams of Motorcycle.com famous for the ride, I was in it.

Since I don’t get dirt under my fingernails too often, a motorcycle like the 2021 Kawasaki KLX300 is a perfect companion. It withstood the demands of trail running and in many ways had a few advantages over performance-oriented dual sport machines. It has decent horsepower and a sturdy chassis. Best of all, the new KLX300 has a much lower seat height than your average 450cc + high performance dual sport. All in all, this is a great bike for someone who needs to focus on riding technique.

We have made only two modifications to our KLX300 which are otherwise of bone origin. We rode the Dunlop Geomax MX52 grip tires (not DOT approved) which helped tremendously in the dry and dusty conditions we get here at SoCal. Plus, Trail Tech GPS units kept us on track.

The 27th edition of the Big Bear Run

If you are one of the bold people who tackle the hard way, your day will start no earlier than 6 a.m. and no later than 7 a.m. The runners line up to collect their first tickets before leaving for the great unknown. Good luck, my friends, as I shudder at the thought of waking up so early on a Saturday.

Big Bear Dual Sport: Kawasaki KLX300

Meanwhile, we took the Advanced Easy route and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at a local fine dining establishment known as 7-Eleven. Our camels filled to the brim, we left at 8:30 am late in fashion, although I encourage the riders to leave earlier.

We didn’t set the trails on fire with our pace, nor did we ride particularly slowly, and we still didn’t get back to camp before 6pm. the journey will take all day. Pack extra snacks and be sure to stock up on fluids at checkpoints and gas stations.

The Advanced Easy route begins by exploring a winding asphalt, winding through the mountain village, where we were able to stretch the throttle cables of the KLX300s and cruise at freeway speeds before descending into a nice little single track route. . This was our first glimpse of the rock strewn trails which provide a bit of a challenge throughout the day.

Once that was checked off the GPS list, we ventured into the beautiful area of ​​Holcomb Valley. We explored huge fire roads and a few jeep tracks through the forest, while passing through impressive rock formations, all of which are welcoming to novice riders.

The third section incorporated a taste of the Hard Way. A tough, rock strewn single track trail followed by a few loose rocky hill climbs that challenged someone of my average off road skill level. This is where the KLX300 starts to shine for someone like me.

Thanks to the lower saddle height and smoother suspension, I was able to ride doggy style without too much difficulty. Sure, more power would have helped at different stages of the race, but I saw more of a dual sport competition bike buckle or trip where the KLX300 didn’t.

Taking breaks to hydrate, snack and relax is the key to success on long hikes. Word to the wise: pack more than you think you will need.

This is also the section that made me wonder if the organizers were playing fast and freely with the definition of Advanced Easy. Big Bear Trail Riders secretary Miguel Burgi said a more suitable middleman could be used next year.

With the end in sight, the final 55 mile stretch offers rockier trails the KLX300 has swallowed up, as well as twisty fire roads that are just my style. After dealing with rocky pieces that I find difficult, it’s nice to settle into a groove and find your flow.

At the end of our ride, the odometer on my Kawasaki KLX300 was showing 137.8 miles. When I look at our route, there were only a few particularly difficult spots along the way. What is difficult is the duration in the saddle, associated with those rocky areas that drain your energy. The real struggle is staying hydrated, focused, and maintaining a steady pace so you don’t exhaust yourself during such a long ride, which just happens to be the highest mileage I’ve ever done off-road.

After consuming my body weight in dust, we returned to the paddock at 6pm and had a chance to reflect on the day. It was a challenge, of course, but achievable and something that can only be enjoyed once you put on the boots. With all of that under your belt, it’s time to enjoy the Riders Banquet on Saturday night and swap trail stories with friends. It’s the end of the 27th edition of the Big Bear Run, so I’ll see you next year!

Photograph by Ben liebenberg, Brad Puetz, Lindsay Stanley and Nic de Sena


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