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By: Jason Giacchino
Email: offthepegs @

February 2009 - Off The Pegs

A Brief Tribute to the Recent Past

Yamaha YT125
Yamaha YT125

I’ll be the first to admit my bias toward the sport/performance segment of the ATV market. I came up through the ranks on equipment so basic it was considered old school even when it was new. The transition from three to four wheels was welcomed by me personally as I had just about had my share of low speed tip-overs and swims in the farmer’s irrigation ditch on account of the engineering deficiencies of my 1981 Yamaha YT125 Tri-Moto.

I bring up this ancient history because I’m continually awed by the recent explosion of technological progression our sport has experienced. I suppose like anything else in life, it takes having experienced the original to fully appreciate the evolution involved, and I was really made aware of this reality this past fall as the 2009 models were trickling from the factories.

I was fortunate enough to have been able to log some lap times in on some of the most anticipated of these 450s and came away impressed despite going in with extremely high expectations. Just before winter hit pretty hard, I was testing some of the new models at an open motocross practice at a semi-professional race facility outside Rochester New York when I made the startling observation that I was sharing the track with a pack of ATV racers under the age of sixteen. Mounted on their YFZs and KFXs, it is quite unlikely that any of them have even straddled a three-wheeler (or for that matter seen one), or spent $20,000 in modifications in an effort to extract every last ounce of performance from a fifteen year-old Honda 250R. As good as today’s race equipment has gotten (and I can attest, it is really good), is it possible that there are countless riders who will never be able to fully appreciate it as they’ve never experienced what used to pass as cutting edge?

I suppose the same argument can be made for just about everything; there aren’t too many auto enthusiasts who can compare the experience of driving this year’s Corvette with a Model T and these same kids who never got to dive headlong into an irrigation ditch while their three-wheeler tumbled past likely never used a payphone, remember a time without the Internet, watched black and white television, or stayed up all night playing Atari until the joystick broke, either. Yet I can only assume the joys of surfing the net, texting their pals with their own cell phones, watching their favorite shows on an LCD display, or racing quads on their Playstation 3s are no less significant.

And while I don’t want to come off as some old grouch trying to teach the later generation about yesteryear, I can justify my ranting on account of the fact that right now, in this very moment, we all benefit from the manufacturers’ surge in performance interest. The only catch is that the cycle never really stops and twenty years from now, when ATVs hover above the track’s surface on magnetic pads, the kids of today will wonder how riders of the future can fully appreciate what they’ve got without experiencing the rough and tumble gasoline-burning, ground-shredding machines they grew up with. You could try to explain it to them, but somehow it’s just not the same.

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