On the spur of the moment, almost anything can sound like a good idea if it's portrayed in a certain way. This time, not only did I utter the right words but I pitched them with an appropriate amount of conviction to the bosses at ATV Rider. There were times during that meeting when I could swear I was chewing on my boot because I had put my foot in my mouth. But I was given the green light.
I hope you have heard the word supermoto by now. But if you haven't, it's a hybrid of motocross and roadracing-usually 80 percent dirt and 20 percent pavement. The weapon of choice in the United States is typically a 450cc (sorry to say the words) two-wheeler. However, in Europe, ATV supermoto racing has been around for a dog's life; just ask ATVR publisher and former pro quad racer Sean Finley. He doesn't like to talk about it, but as a young lad flying a mad mullet he made the trek to Europe to compete in his first supermoto quad race back in 1987. The French picked up on the idea from the ABC Superbikers special event that took place once a year from 1979 to the mid-'80s. They took the part-pavement, part-dirt concept of racing and called it SuperMotard (motard is a French term for biker). By the late '80s, they began to race quads as well as motorcycles.
With the sport gaining traction in the United States, it was only a matter of time before quads would become the staple entity. As a supermoto aficionado, I was blown away when Southern Nevada Supermoto announced a major race at Buffalo Bill's Resort and Casino on the California-Nevada border. The Stateline Supermoto Challenge was probably one of the first official supermoto quad races in the States, or at least the largest. The event featured two ATV classes-Amateur and Pro-on Saturday and two-wheelers on Sunday. Being the first of its kind, the race had a run-what-you-brung structure, with anything from stock sport quads to full racers. The race circuit fed through the back parking lot of the casino and out into the desert through a short TT and motocross section before jumping back onto the pavement. Top speed on the front pavement straight probably topped out at around 80 mph for some.
Now this is where the tale really gets juicy. I am a two-wheeler by trade but wanted to be part of supermoto quad history. ATVR Tech Editor Todd Canavan was all over the idea, tossing me the keys to a Kawasaki KFX400 and telling me to have fun. That was like giving sports car keys to a 16-year-old-something bad was bound to happen. Since I had a limited amount of time to build a full racer, Canavan outfitted the sport quad with Alba Action nerf bars, Douglas wheels, Hoosier tires, a Big Gun exhaust and a deadman's kill switch. With supermoto quad ignorance flowing through my veins, I figured this setup could possibly be the ticket.
For two-wheel supermoto, we run the softest tires available, and I figured they must also work for quads. Boy, was I wrong, and so were many others. After the first practice session there was a mad dash to tear off the gummy tires and throw on rubber that broke free on the pavement. The soft-compound TT tires worked great on the hardpacked dirt, but on the asphalt the underpowered KFX didn't have the ponies to spin the tires when exiting corners. Not to mention the stock axle on the Kawie was narrower than a supermodel's waistline. So I reached for a wider axle and a different set of wheels from my spare parts box but then recalled I brought only three things to the race: the quad, my gear bag and a toolbox. I was pretty much up a creek at that point, but I made the best of the situation by airing up the tires to 25 pounds and deciding to just have fun.