Ah, 1983. What a year to be alive!
By Matt Cuddy
The BLM weasels weren't active yet, big four stroke twins were still roaming the desert, looking for a 2 stroke meal, men in their 70's, still at it.
Honda came out with the CR480R, and it blew everything off the track, me included. If you could get away with it, or ride through the headshake, it was like a rocket. I was bummed.
My trick Gas Curnutt straight up-and -down rear shock, Zokes off a '76 Montesa VR370, giant skid plate, Muria 3 gallon tank with the view stripe, my 1976 360 Pursang JPR replica wasn't cutting the mustard. I could stay with, and sometimes beat the new Japanese stuff with the mighty Pursang, That was until the 480R came out. Instant antique. The last time at the dunes night MX, I had a for sale sign on it, in the back of my Datsun. Some kid wanted to buy the rear tire. Thanks.
What should I get? Since I had been almost laughed off the track at Indian Dunes, I decided to fade away somewhat, and got a four stroke dual purpose bike.
Of course that bike was the dual carb 1983 XL600S. Looked mean, oooh pro link, leading axle Showas...trick engine, and a wet weight of 310 pounds.
I drove it to work all the time, Glendale to El Segundo. One time in the rain, some snot in a 280ZX tried to beat me to the next off ramp, and that dual carb (one year) took off like a Pontiac with a Qudrajet, and I was gone, the front fender was wrapped up. Next to the instrument panel. Worked like a fairing. Of course I gave my best ersatz back straight flat track lay on the tank, one hand on the throttle, the other behind the combo front-fender-instrument panel, holding lightly to the fork tube. The primary carb was a dinky 17mm Teki, with the secondary a 30mm Kehin. That meant when both carbs were working, it had total 47mm's of dual carbs, along with acceleration pumps.
I WUZ GONE
But try that same amount of speed in the dirt, and you were in big trouble.
First the forks started to fade, 39mm wimpo forks overheated and returned to their Dreamcycle roots. The rear wheel started making a wide swath, and you tank slapped through the mighty desert. Ops, a road berm.
Road berms and my 1983 XL600S didn't get along. Wonder what all those burn marks were on my back? It was like, "Oh no, I'm doing seventy across smooth desert, and here comes a road berm...sigh...
No matter what I did, my body position, downshifting and yanking on the bars, gassing it, I would always eat it big, and the bike would land on me. Once I had dirt underneath my goggles.
You'd hear the forks loudly bottom, and seconds later the overtaxed rear shock would bottom, seize up, never could figure it out, and over you'd go, trying desperately to get away for the 300 pound tumbling motorcycle. Bad medicine.
So I had Noleen Racing fix the forks, shock, and I put a giant knobby on the back.
And it climbed everything, sometime one stroke at a time. Finally traded it for a Virago. The Honda almost killed me every time I rode it, but nothing climbed hills like that 600.
And that's the truth.