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DATE: MARCH 25th, 2002
OK Iíll try this again. Wednesday I wrote this long review, at least an hour of work, and during the last few keystrokes my cordless keyboard flaked out and closed the page on me. It was that easy and my review gone. Man that sucked and to top it off I was leaving for 4 days so I had to wait till today to try again. So here we go. I warn you this is a bit long.
Had the day off Wednesday so with about 12 hours of actual ride time on the bike I decided it was time to mess with the suspension to see if I can soften things up a bit. First I measured my ride height and static sag. Here are the numbers I got with my weight at about 175lbs with gear measuring the middle of the rear axle bolt and middle of rear fender bolt:
Bike on Stand: 641mm
This gives me a ride height of 95mm which is right in there and a static sag of about 42mm which is just barely out of the 30mm +/-10mm recommended. I left it alone for now.
Next I moved over to the clickers. A lot of people said the suspension on the E was setup more like the X440s and they were right. My settings were as follows and I changed them all to the recommended E settings:
Fork Compression: 12 changed to 18
Shock Compression: 17 changed to 23
When I sat on the bike and I could already feel it was a bit softer when I bounced on it. Got the gear on and headed down the street through a subdivision that blocks the entrance to some nice riding. You know the bike seems loud when Iím riding it througha subdivision but not too many people turned there heads as I rode through so it must not be too annoying. It sure is a lot quieter than all the Harleys around.
OK I hit the trails and making those changes to the suspension has softened up the front a bunch. Also the front tracks the ground a little better in the small bumps instead of kind of forcing itís way through them. The rear seems to squat a little more when Iím on the gas which is way cool. As some of you know I have been dealing with a traction problem possibly due to my low weight and stiff suspension and this might make the difference on those steep snotty slow speed hill climbs. I don't have any around so that test will have to wait.
I need fuel so I ride over to the local AMPM and fill up with exactly 2.0
gallons burped. Here is where burping your tank is a pain. My last fill up was
42 miles ago. So that puts my last ride at 21mpg which is way lower than my
33.5mpg I got a few rides back. Now Iím wondering if my tank wasnít burped all
the way last time or if I really rode that hard and got 21mpg? OK I rode that
hard. We will leave it at that.
Now Iím off and I head for the railroad tracks. On the way itís mostly bar wide stuff with manzanita on either side. One mistake and youíre a shiskabob (sp). Already I notice the front is really softer and tracks the bumps really well. However it might be a little too soft now because I do get a little washout on the front once in awhile that I didnít have before. But not much. Another thing I noticed is that the bike turns even easier than before. I can easily go to the top of a berm and turn on a dime and come back down feeling like I'm in complete control. Before with the stiff suspension at times I felt a little tall in the turns and felt like I was bounced out of my line like the forks were a couple broom sticks. Now it squats and allows for a much smoother turn for me. Like others have said the faster you hit things (ie turns, bumps, jumps) the smoother the bike feels.
Another thing I noticed was on a few small jumps my front tracked right over the jump like it was a small bump and wouldn't launch. The rear rebounded too much almost hitting me in the butt and causing the whole bike to nose dive. This is the opposite of when the forks were stiffer because before it wanted to sky the front end and make the rear feel like itís going to pass right under you on the same jumps. So this is actually a good thing because now I know the front is just slightly too soft and all I need to do is click it back a time or two and I should be dialed in for my riding. This will help the very slight washing out thing and allow me to get more spring off the small jumps. If the front gets too stiff again then Iíll try the rebound and lessen the kick. This suspension is just palin awesome how well it feels and makes the bike react. I can't say enough about how good it feels.
OK now I noticed the front tracks the bumps very well due to the softer suspension but it does twist a little more at high speeds now. Like I said earlier a little more stiffer in the front might be the trick. I found this small berm that turned towards a 2 ft high log with a dirt ramp on one side. The Dale handled beautifully through the turn and with 60ft of runway I got my E Dale to fourth gear and flew off that sucker at least 25 ft. Boy did the bike just float off the log and sail just like the jump wasnít even there. VERY SWEET! I got to get a pic of this sometime for you cause it looks way cool.
OK now off to the railroad tracks. Itís basically the only place close I know
of that has a semi straight flat dirt section for me to check my gear speeds.
Itís a little bouncy and really not too long a stretch but hey itís all I have
for now. Basically here is what I got with what seemed like the same engine rpm
without revving it out too much and close to where I would shift with my stock
tires and 13/50 sprockets.
Some of this is by five day old memory so I could be off a little. Also the Panoram may not have had time to register correctly before I let off but I tried to keep the rpms going for a few seconds before I ran out of room.
Since my bike is an Enduro model I wouldnít mind a shorter first gear for the really tight stuff. It wouldnít take much shorter but my only alternative is to mess with my sprockets which moves all my gears down in speed and makes me have to shift more. I wouldnít mind a slightly taller third thru fifth either because shifting through second, third, and fourth already seems to go by a little too quickly due to all the power of the Dale.
Now to go try a little trail we found near my house. Itís about .58 miles long loop. It starts with an up hill straight up along some power lines that gets you to fifth gear with a 2ft rut near the end that you have to jump. Itís bumpy but super fun. Then you come out and hit a 90 degree off camber turn thatís about as wide as a street so you can pick any line you want. I prefer to shift to third and hit the inside line a little and then itís an all out fifth gear drag race for about 400 feet up to the top of the hill. The tricky thing is that itís a big sweeping left hand turn up the hill and there are three water bars that throw you side ways into gravel each time you jump one. You havenít lived until you hit a low sideways jump into gravel at 50mph. Itís an absolute riot! Then with little warning itís a full on stop down to first gear as you enter the bar-width overgrown section of this track. At the entrance its super slippery then itís a couple ďSĒ turns and a 100ft straight through a tunnel of brush. The person with the biggest you know whatís wins the race here. One handle bar into the vine type brush and your history. Then you make a hard left and head down the hill. Itís slightly more open with a half dozen turns so the speed is as fast as you can handle without hitting a tree. As you head down you jump a couple ruts then launch off a berm and your back out in the open again where you started.
Anyway Iím sure we all have a track or trail like this somewhere. The reason I bring it up is because I have been timing myself on this track. And here is my progress.
On my old XR250 my fastest lap ever was about 1:39 seconds. The bike did great in the tight stuff but got killed big time in the up hill straights.
My "E" model Cannondale with the mostly X440s suspension setup was about 1:32 seconds. It was faster than my XR but not like I had hoped. I tried it numerous times and I was much faster than the XR in the straights but felt about the same speed as the XR in the tight turning downhill stuff the turning did feel a little awkward sometimes due to the stiff suspension.
Now with the recommended "E" suspension settings as stated in the manual I tried my Dale again. This time I could just fly. My time was a way faster 1:21 seconds. That was 11 seconds quicker than my stock settings and a whopping 18 seconds faster than my XR250! My buddy on his DRZ could do it in 1:26 seconds. Now this is more like it!
I know with some more practice with my Dale I know I can hit the middle teens with this bike. I keep gaining a new level of confidence every day with this bike. Confidence I could never get with my XR.
Anyway sorry for the book. Hope you enjoyed it and see you on the trails.
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