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DATE: March 30th, 2002
What a beautiful day! We reached a high of 60 degrees today with a little bit of gusty wind and lots of sunshine! It was a GREAT day to break-in my X440S. Starting tomorrow we'll be under a winter storm watch with possible accumulation of 4-6" of snow! Boy am I glad I got to ride today.
Ok, here's the low-down on my first extended riding experience with the 2002 Cannondale X440S.
First I went to my local riding club and used our small MX track. It's basically a single-lane track with a couple table-top jumps, a couple of doubles, 3 whoops and 4 bermed turns. The soil has a lot of clay in it and was still moist, in some places, from rain we got earlier in the week. I'm very familiar with this track and all of its features from riding on it with my XR650L. I followed the manual's procedure for break-in (2 ten minutes rides and 2 15 minute rides allowing the engine to cool between each ride).
For this ride I tried not to lug or over-rev the engine and did not hit the jumps very hard/fast. I also only used half of the throttle at most and I didn't do that very much.
Basically I just kinda lolly-gagged around the track getting a little faster with each lap. Can you say instant throttle response? Remember how I wondered if the power would be as good as my modified XR650L? Well, it was not quite like the XR....it was a LOT better!
I was getting really stoked about this bike and this was only the 1st of 4 rides for the day! The suspension seemed a bit stiff. I did not touch it because the manual says to get 1-hour break-in on them before making any clicker adjustments. The next time I go riding I will be setting the sag and adjusting the suspension for me and my riding style. The bike felt very controllable to me and I could obviously feel the weight difference from my Honda. The gearbox felt a little bit notchy. I couldn't find neutral with my foot or hand while the bike was running. It took me quite a while to find it with my hand after shutting it off. As others have mentioned the motor does make a lot of noise (gear whine).
Scott my brother-in-law, who was timing me as well as getting some video starting working on an inside berm in one of the flat corners on the track. I got to help break it in on this run. Mind you, I've never raced MX before and railing a berm for me is something new and that I need to practice on. None the less, the 'Dale helped me look somewhat experienced in this area! This time around I started clearing the table top jumps (30 ft) as well as the doubles (20-25 ft). Man, those Ohlins really work GREAT!!! I flat landed a couple of times and can only remember bottoming out the forks twice the whole day! I regularly bottomed-out my Honda on this same track (no surprise). It is so nice to now be riding a bike that can really handle what I like to do. My Honda was great but not designed for this kind of stuff. One place where the XR650L really stands out is the seat. The X440S has a gripper seat, something I had to get used to but I really like it! Of course, the 'Dale really allows me to get up on the tank in corner to weight the front wheel. Something I could not do very easily on the Honda.
Ok, now it's time to push this puppy a little bit and get a feel for what it can do. I still don't thing that I ever used more than half of the throttle although the manual says you can you 3/4 of it. By now I'm really starting to feel good on this bike and I'm ready to push it as far as I want to go. I was buzzing along and a couple of guys on two-strokes began following me (KX125 & YZ250). Scott stopped me at one point to tell me to quit racing with these guys and I told him I wasn't. I wasn't even using that much throttle. He thought I was racing them because I was getting out of the corners a little quicker and those guys were really revin' their bike to keep up. Scott and I both agreed that all the power I was getting out of the motor was getting to the ground. I had very little wheel spin at any point on the track. It was at this point that I couldn't stop smiling under my helmet. This bike is AWESOME and I do not miss my Honda at all! I am so looking forward to my next ride with this thing where I can really try to ride it to its capabilities. I was very impressed with the flight characteristics of the 'Dale too. Several time I would miss my timing of the lip of a jump and either nose dive or pull a mid-air wheelie. Never did I feel like I was going to lose it. I've done that on the Honda before and I would just begin praying! As I get more time in on the 'Dale I will begin working more on moving the bike in mid-air to adjust for landings. So far, NOTHING has disappointed me about this bike.
By this time I'm telling Scott, "You gotta ride this thing, man!" "But I'll warn you, don't ride it unless you want to buy one." I rode the bike for the first 10 minutes of this ride and tried to ride it as hard as I could within the break-in limits given in the manual. I did the whoops a couple of times. These whoops aren't like your normal ones. There's about a 3-4 gap between each one and there are only 3 of them. But once again the Ohlins just soaked this stuff up and made me feel very much in control. Scott was done working on the berm by this time and video taped me for the 10 minutes that I road. We got some pretty cool video. I'll see if I can get some of it on the web for people to check out. I'll have to edit out the part where Scott and I are giggling like school girls because of how much fun we were having on this bike. Now came time to hand it over to Scott. The first double that Scott encountered on the bike he cleared with no problem at all. He told me that he felt very good on the bike and didn't need much time to adjust to its power and handling. That's the cool thing about the 'Dale it creates confidence with its user-friendly power band and forgiving characteristics of the suspension. Scott was having a ball and told me he was very impressed with the bike. All in all we had a great day!
The X440S is a very good bike for someone who's ready to try some MX action. It has the power and handling needed for MX but it so easy to use and handles so good that anyone who's ridden a dirt bike can hop on it and feel good. There's a little compression braking but nothing like my XR650L had! I learned today that this bike like to run fast. I even got all the way to 5th gear, something I've never done on my Honda on this track. Granted the gearbox ratio is a lot narrower on the 'Dale than on the Honda.
My next project is to drain the engine and tranny oil and replace it as well as clean the 3 filters in the motor. I also bought a CRK8EG plug to put in now that it is broken-in. I also need to work on the steering head. Even after riding today it was still pretty tight. I will give the detail of the oil change after I have completed it. I will tell you what oils I used as well as how long it takes me.
Well, I better get to bed so I can begin dreaming of my MX career on my X440S!
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