In life change is inevitable. The same is true for technology of every kind. As time goes on things change, sometimes it is good, sometimes not so much. If we look at the advancement of Dirt Bikes, we have moved from 500lb Harley Davison Hardtails,
to slightly lighter BSA and Triumph Desert sleds,
to dual shock Japanese dirt bikes,
to the current crop of ultra light, single shock, single cylinder, 300 foot jumping dirt bikes.
At this point we could ask the question is there really anywhere else to go? Is all that is left to do just small changes in frame and engines? We can look at the new Honda CRF450R, a great bike, but is it really all that much different then all the other dirt bikes out there. The basics are the same, some things got moved around but is it the same leap forward that the dual shock to single shock was? Is it the same as moving from no rear suspension at all on old Harleys to the 3-4 inches that Triumph had?
The big question as I see it is what happens when a company is truly innovative? I look at the Husky TE449/511. Husky decided to throw out the rule book and make something different (yes I know they stole it from BMW but just hang with me). The gas tank in the back, the sprocket on the same pivot as the swing arm, air box in the front. Now David Knight couldn’t ride the thing, but is that because it is truly bad or is it because most of us that ride were brought up on more traditional bikes that have different handling characteristics? Take a kid with no other riding experience and natural talent (like Knight), teach him to ride solely on a Husky TE449 and you would have an award winning champion on a “impossible” bike. And what doesn’t work in racing may work in other things, like Dual Sport riding.
Yamaha has been one of the chief innovators of things that work that are different, such as one of the first mass produced single shock dirt bikes, and now they have the backwards engine. Yeah it is different then other bikes, it steers with the front wheel more, but is that necessarily a bad thing? With the new crop of riders coming up that have not been riding a “normal” bike their whole lives, maybe now is the time to try something new? I love innovation, it is one of the things that makes America great, we embrace and encourage new ideas. Before we decide if something isn’t good just because it is different, maybe we should try it out, give it a shot, todays “weird” is tomorrows normal.