Dirt Bike Diaries: Our Day on the G450X

On Sunday, February 8, ten intrepid Red River Riders trekked into the Bossier back woods hoping to make some noise, scare some wildlife and taste some mud. They were successful at all three.
Local BMW bike rep Mark Jamroz and friend David Hall invited the group to a 4-mile single track loop near Cypress Lake in an area so remote it is both off the GPS grid AND believed by Mapquest to be in the middle of the lake. Jamroz had thoughtfully marked the trail to his dirtbike compound with extra plastic panels from the new BMW G450X, for that ‘just scraped off on that tree I didn’t see’ look.

Adventure addicts David and Jean Hanson, James West, Liz Swaine and Steve Culp, Beau and Michelle Andrews, Charles Jolley, David Moak, Larry Barber and Bob Critcher found their way to the camp and were treated to a first-of-its-kind opportunity...the chance to take BMW’s new G450X out on some great technical trails.

Liz and Steve brought out their KTM 250 and 450 respectively.

Mark and David also had their racing KTMs, so along with the BMW there was plenty of opportunity for fossil-fuel burning, yelling, mud-slinging and vine clinging. James West was the first to jump on the G450X and it put him through its paces, giving James the opportunity to taste the quality of north Bossier mud. In fact, James won the unofficial “Tide: Laundry Soap of Choice” award as most willing to sacrifice all clean clothing to the mud gods.

There are many things we don’t know about our fellow club riders and one thing you may not realize about James is that he has spent more riding time in the saddle on dirt bikes than road machines. In addition to James, Steve Culp, Beau Andrews and David Hanson also spent some time on the 450X, so feel free to ask any of them what they thought.
I asked James and David to give me a short review of the bike. Here are their impressions. First, James.
I had so much fun Sunday it was like being a kid again. I gotta tell you growing up I had one bike, the Honda SL-125. My dad would not allow motocross; money mostly and because it was dangerous, etc. So I became the 4-stroke guy when all my buddies has KX this and YZ that. Ever since then I have always liked the old, reliable, and slow 4-stroke dirt bike. Well my day has come since most all the 2 strokes have gone away for all the various reasons and the 4-stroke dirt bike is what is sold today.It has been a while since I rode dirt bikes. I had a fast 1994 Honda XR250R back in 1998 when Dusty Wheels was open.

Here is my impression of the G450X. As expected this 4-stroke is easy to ride. Starting out, Mark told us first gear was pretty wide, so going real slow took a little clutch control. Once under way power was predictable. A little gas and it would accelerate smoothly, give it lots of gas and the power was there. Our loop was tight, so I only got up to 2nd gear. I don't know how much travel is there but it smoothed out some pretty large mud holes and whoops in the trail without much effort. Overall my impression is it does most everything you would ask an off road bike to do and it street legal so you can ride it to the woods if necessary, as long as it is a short trip.

Now, David.
I started dirt bike riding with an 185cc Suzuki enduro, then went to the TM250MX Suzuki for motocross in around 1972 or ’73. I blew my piston after about a year of racing, so I bought a TM400MX to race while I was waiting for the parts to rebuild the 250cc. The 400 was a handful plus that class at the track was a bunch of crazies! So when I got the 250 fixed I sold the 400 before I got it stuck in tree or something.

I have done a little messing around in the woods, but nothing so tight as the track that Jammer has out there at Cypress. I enjoyed the BMW G450X, very good throttle response, excellent handling and suspension, lightweight and very flick-able. I never got out of 2nd gear, in fact stayed in 1st gear most of the time, just no time to shift or get any speed as the trees and terrain had my complete attention. I did take the bike down the little dirt road we came in on for a bit and it was really fast…but again I only had room to use 1st and 2nd gear then time to hit the brakes, which were very responsive also. I enjoyed the feeling of throwing the bike into the smallish berms and gassing it around when I could hit a berm, I was pretty rusty and my reflexes were a little slow even skipping shifting and braking (the 4 stroke has compression braking, just let off too slow). I was still behind the curve of the bike and track conditions. I was able to go from YEEEHAAAAAAA get it acceleration, to OH MY GOD got to stop and turn, tree, or stump, or deep hole or big slippery root. Great fun and very addictive, but I still like the open motocross track sans big jumps. I think the BMW was a little out of its element on that tight technical one track, it would do much better with some more openness to romp in, get to taste some of that big torque and horsepower.

Thanks for the review, guys.
For more information on the new G450X, go to:
For LOADS MORE PHOTOS taken on our day with the G450X, Go to:

Red River Profile: Drew Newcomer

13 or so years ago, club member Drew Newcomer caught a bad case of wanderlust. Luckily, Newcomer who is a registered nurse, knew his malady was treatable and just what batch of potions to apply.

Interestingly, Newcomer’s first up close and personal experience with BMW motorcycles wasn’t a great one. On an Edelweiss tour out of Las Vegas in 1997, Newcomer was paired with a single cylinder 650 “thumper.” It was not love at first sight nor did it develop into a strong ‘like’ at any point during the trip. So how then was Newcomer finally enticed to BUY a BMW? Well, Drew knew BMW’s reputation for quality and he also wanted something a little different, and those reasons led him to his first and current BMW. In 2003, he pulled the trigger and purchased an R1150R, a bike Newcomer says “isn’t excellent at anything, but is very good at everything.” It’s become his ‘go to’ bike, equally appropriate for his short ride to work at Glenwood Regional Medical Center in West Monroe, the ride to Shreveport for his monthly BMW club meeting or a trek to Utah or Colorado.

His R1150R has 52,000 miles on it and after the purchase of a new set of OEM shocks, Drew is ready for riding season. His plan is to ride. A lot. Each year his New Year’s resolution is to ‘ride more than last year’ but a recent job change threatened to put some of that riding on hold. Drew has gotten used to unexpected life turns. He graduated LSU-Baton Rouge, Texas A&M University and the University of Georgia with a PhD in Soil and Crop Sciences and worked for several years in the agricultural chemical field. When that job went away and opportunities for another looked bleak, he went back to college. In his mid thirties, he embarked on two life changes…he enrolled in R.N. training and a got involved in motorcycles and riding.
His biking adventures have taken him to Alaska once and Europe three times and though foreign climes still hold an appeal (“I just got my passport renewed in December.”) he is currently more interested in exploring the States. His long range plan is to ride in each of the lower 48, and to that end, he is working on a Colorado trip that will bring him back through Texas’ Hill Country in June and possibly New Hampshire in the fall to view the changing colors. The May trip to Barber Motorsports is also on his calendar.

If Newcomer were to win the lottery, he would spend most of it on motorcycles and riding, and the first new purchase might be a Moto Guzzi Norge that has recently caught his imagination. But until that time, Newcomer will enjoy his BMW and a Suzuki SV650 that usually sits forlornly by as the BMW gets the daily exercise. “So many roads, so little time,” says Newcomer.


1. When did you start riding motorcycles? Age 39, 12 years ago.
2. Why did you first start riding? I had put a lot of time, money, effort, and heart into relationships that went to crap, so I said, "to hell with it, I am going to buy a motorcycle."
3. What types of bikes have you owned? (If more than 5, please, just list the highlights!) Yamaha 535 Virago, Honda Magna, Honda VFR, BMW R1150R, Suzuki SV-650.
4. Favorite bike of all you have owned and why? The Beemer -I have seen lots of the country with it and haven't stopped yet!
5. Do you have a single best motorcycle-related story? No single best story that I can think of but the Red River Riders trip to the Hill Country is one of my favorite grouprides. I have ridden in Europe several times and that has been a big highlight as well.
6. Is there a bike you WANT to own? Why? Looking at a Moto Guzzi Norge fairly lustfully right now -- also the Suzuki Bandit 1250 ABS -- I have to have a reason??
7. Best commonsense motorcycling tip to share with the group.
Don't let a group dictate how you should ride!!!
8. Your favorite movie and why: The Electric Horseman, Music and Lyrics, Paint Your Wagon. Different genres; liked them for various reasons; am into romantic comedies lately.
9. Your favorite restaurant and dish: No favorite - like Italian, Japanese, a good steak now and then.
10. Anything you would like to add: Harley riders do say one thing I agree with ----- "If I have to explain it to you, you wouldn't understand."

Jammer Jams the Competition, Takes First In LCCS

Red River Riders’ very own Mark Jamroz placed first in his class and 8th overall in the first race of the new Louisiana Cross Country Series (LCCS) in Geismar, Louisiana. Jamroz, the local Area and Community Manager for BMW Motorrad USA, took the new BMW G450X dirt bike with him to Geismar, but toasted the field on his KTM 300. He reports track conditions were grim…it had rained for two nights prior to the race so the track resembled a thick black gumbo.

The Senior Class (over 40) event was a timed 1-1/2 hour race. Jamroz completed five laps and beat the second place finisher and his good friend, David Hall, by ten minutes. (“But who’s counting?” says Jammer.) The Geismar event is the first of a series of races to be held in Louisiana and Jamroz intends to make all of them that he can. Next up for him is a National Enduro meet that happens March 29th in Forest Hill outside Alexandria. Road trip, anyone?

For more on the LCCS events, go to http://www.acadianaracing.com/

David & Jean Take on The Queen...Wilhemina, That Is.

(Ed. note: Jean and David Hanson wrote up this ride report to share with the group. We all know that Jean and David do not blink in the face of riding adversity, they just order more pie. They are my heroes.)

Jean and I decided to take a small trip on Valentines. She reserved a room in Mena at the “Lime Tree Inn” after finding that Queen Wilhelmina Lodge was full. That actually was a good thing as we saved some money and the Queen was in the clouds, windy and cold, while down in Mena it was sunny and not so windy and warmer, plus more places to walk.
Our route from Doyline was Minden-highway 159 north to Arkansas 19, Magnolia, 82 to Hope and I believe 27 mostly to Mena. We pretty much had the roads to ourselves the whole way.
We had several light showers going up between Magnolia and Hope and north of Hope, but they didn’t last long. The temps, while in the low 40s, were not as cold as you might think. We were running heated grips and dressed warm with lots of layers.
We arrived in Mena 5 hours after departure from Doyline, having made 2 fuel stops.
Before checking in at the Lime Tree Inn, we ran up to the top of Talimina and stopped at the Queen Wilhelmina lodge. I think there were 2 others in our side of the motel, it has 3 separate buildings with a restaurant and buffet. Turned out to be a great place to eat, seafood night on Fridays!

Saturday morning, we left at 37F via 71 north then 28, and 7 to Ola. Nice little fuel/food stop in Ola and small bike shop “Twist-N-Grip”. The owner gave us a map to Magazine Mountain State Park, the highest point in Arkansas. We set off for the lodge on top of Magazine Mountain via 10 and 309. They had sanded the upper parts of the switchbacks, so it was cautious going. We stopped at the lodge and walked around and took pictures.
On the way down the mountain I made a few short comments on the bike- to- bike radios to Jean and she did not answer. I had lost sight of her in the many turns and switchbacks, so was just about to turn around to go check on her when I hear, “ I AM BUSY!” Turns out she can’t reach the little mic button with her thumb when making steep tight turns in the mountains. Job well done, Jean!

On the way back we took the long way to Ola via 27 north to Dardanelle, then south on 7 back to Ola.
On the way back to Mena, we took 27 to get another view; this has to be one of the best roads in Arkansas with many twisties and hills.
Sunday morning found 34F so we took a nap in the room after another breakfast buffet at the Lime Tree Inn restaurant.

We left around 9 am with temps starting to rise above 38F. We were back in Minden about 1:30pm to find I-20 east bound closed and traffic being routed through Minden, welcome to Louisiana! We rode 700 miles in total, it was a very enjoyable trip, Arkansas rocks for the nearest point to get into twisties!

(GPS Route of the Mena adventure)

People, Places & Bikes

One thing you can say about our little group...we love bikes. We love them so much we have formed our own little southwest Shreveport micro economy in the buying, selling, trading and customizing of them. We like nothing more than to welcome new bikes and new members to our fold and this month we have both.

Our Newbie Member: Ron Franks from Henderson, Texas, was at our February meeting and we hope will be able to join us on a regular basis. Ron rides an LT. Welcome, Ron!

Our Newbie Bikes: Jean Hanson is the proud new owner of a cherry red F650GS Twin.

As you may recall, Jean's last bike was a Kawasaki Ninja 250 so this bike is already proving far more versatile, especially over long distances. Jean has written up a great report talking about some of the options she researched and added to her new bike and we will post that story next month.

Liz Swaine is honoring the Swaine-Culp family "sell one to buy one" agreement by putting her K1200S sport bike on the market after purchasing the Namibia Orange R1200GS at SMS. This was a purchase that literally came out of nowhere, Liz says. One pretty day she and Steve stopped by SMS to chat and Liz asked to test ride the cool-looking black with white pinstripe R1200R. Afterwards, she hopped on Mark Jamroz' R1200GS and was completely smitten. "This bike wasn't even on my radar," says Liz. "But when I pulled back into the parking lot laughing with a big grin on my face I knew it was a keeper. I think this is going to be a great bike for rides of any distance!"

Red River Ride Plans & Upcoming Events

Those of you present at the last club meeting know that one of the goals of 2009 is to provide more shorter distance group rides for members. Our club has never been short of folks who like near-Iron-Butt-length outings (“Let’s ride to Memphis for lunch, I know a BBQ place there!” “Good idea, we’ll leave from Darrell’s at 7 a.m.!”) The plan for ‘09 is to offer some half-day rides for those who aren’t keen on 12 hours in the saddle or who have a spouse with a Saturday ’honey do’ list. To that end, James West and Wiley Pollard have volunteered to road captain two rides each month. One ride (weather permitting) will be a lunch ride after our regularly scheduled club meeting on each first Saturday. The other will be scheduled for the third weekend of the month. Another option is to take part on the second Saturday of each month with the First Baptist Church group (ROCK) for their scheduled ride. (By the way, James, Charles Jolley, Liz and Steve and Catherine and Wellborn already ride with this group and report they are good folks who like bikes and love to eat!) These rides will be posted to our yahoo group and on the board at SMS, so take a look and take part. We’d love to have you join us!