I’m going to cover a number of things in this post regarding my ongoing life with an MX400, so here goes with the list:
THE ON/OFF SWITCH – Having to remove and replace the main fuse that keeps the bike ‘electrically live’ scored really highly on the ‘hassle-ometer’, so I’ve added a waterproof on/off switch and it’s a big improvement. It keeps the wiring as simple as it should be, but scores highly on hassle reduction. I don’t know why this bike never had one, but anyway, mine does now. Ha!👍
FUEL SYPHONING – Having not used the bike for a bit, I wanted to clear out the majority of the latest unleaded fuel as it’s known to go off a bit if left to stand, so I wanted to syphon it out without getting a mouthful of fuel. A quick look on YouTube and I was amazed to find a really ingenious and easy way to get the fuel out. I put the syphon tube into the deep belly of the fuel tank and with a Jerry can ready at a lower height than the tank, I pinched the end of the pipe a bit and blasted some compressed air across the pipe hole. This creates a vacuum in the pipe and sucks out the fuel. Brilliant! It’s as a good an idea as using hairspray to get new grips on handlebars!
COLD AND HOT STARTING – These bikes were renowned for starting well when they were cold, but then wouldn’t start when they were hot. Since I fitted the new motor from Ken Deal at Black Widow ATV, I now get the opposite. I still need to use the jumper battery to support the ‘too small’ bike battery when starting from cold to save its power, but once the engine is warm, it’ll start all day on the button without any problem. This is obviously great as I don’t need to carry a jumper battery around the track with me, and although I can’t explain why it’s starting like this, it suits me perfectly.
THE STICKING THROTTLE – In the post when I wrote about running the new engine in, I mentioned that the throttle stuck open at one point and I assumed it had got a load of long grass in it, which was what I pulled out from every small space around the injector area afterwards. Well, it’s done it again! I let a friend ride the bike and he wanted ’to see what it’ll do’ by gunning it across a field. When he closed the throttle, it stuck wide open in top gear. Fortunately, he switched the bike off and we had a look to see why it had done it. The inlet flap that the throttle cable is connected to had stuck open, but then returned after some ‘wiggling of stuff’. It also did it to me about 20 minutes later. I’ve spent some time going through everything and can’t find why the butterfly in the inlet stuck open. I also can’t make it stick open in the shed, so I tested it again across a big field and it was fine, so I ‘may’ have fixed it with the stuff that I did. However, I’m now always at the ready to switch it off should it occur again😬🙄.
BLOWN FORK SEALS – The forks are the only things on the bike that I’ve not had checked, replaced or serviced since I bought it, so finally, after 22 years of riding/not riding, the original seals gave up the ability to contain the oil. Because the bike sits so tall, I have developed a really great system of pulling down the forks about 3 inches/75mm so that I can get it up the ramp and into our VW van. After two recent trips in the van and landing off jumps, the seals cried ‘enough!’. I contacted a company about an hour’s drive away from me called Shocktech (link at the bottom) as they’re a top suspension business here in the UK. My enquiry was quickly answered by them and a date agreed for me to take the forks down to them for a full service, new seals etc. I also took the spare Ohlins rear shock that I got with the bike and which had also blown its seals. The Shocktech team have done a great job and turned around all of the work quickly. I’ve got the suspension dialled in with settings close to the standard set-up in the ‘owners manual’ and it’s fine for my height and weight.
ANOTHER UK CANNONDALE EMERGES – one of the things I haven’t yet got to the bottom of, is exactly how many MX400s and X440s actually made it to the UK. I’ve heard the number of 20 in total, but haven’t had this absolutely verified, so I’ve been counting as I’ve come across them, and including mine, I know of only 4, of which one of these was recently broken up and sold for parts on eBay. This one below appeared on the U.K. TV show ‘Shed & Buried’, as the camera panned around the all of the stuff in a big shed.
AND FINALLY, here’s an observation……..One of the emerging big issues with owning and riding a motocross (MX) bike, and specifically a loud MX bike like my Cannondale, is actually where to ride it. Put simply, and according to the press and our global community, our MX tracks are disappearing, and fast! There are a number of reasons for this ranging from land being reclaimed for agriculture or for new construction, or a clamp down on excessive noise and events, or the financial burden that track owners and clubs have to take on, or just the ‘moto-stereotype-negative-image’ that some of the public have of the MX community. This is not an issue isolated to any one country either. MX tracks are disappearing really fast in the UK, across Europe, and it seems, the US as well. It isn’t just the local tracks either, but even famous GP tracks. Apparently, 4 of the 5 U.K. tracks that have held a British MX GP in the past, have now gone. My local off-road club only runs two MX races in the year, and the other clubs are now mainly trials focussed. Belgium, some say the home of MX, is not excluded from this track reduction issue either. In the 1970’s, Belgium had over 60 tracks across the country, and now there are less than 10 apparently. Scary huh?! From reading several US based MX forums, it looks like there is a similar problem there as well, and even with the massive land space available.
HOWEVER…….Whilst the negative-noise is all about track closures, I’ve actually started to get social media feeds about some new and emerging tracks. HURRAH! So, without any solid data on track losses and new start ups, it basically comes down to perception, and our perception appears to be fuelled by negative news about track closures, when actually, there is some good news on new, emerging tracks. This brings me to my latest track day on the Cannondale. My closest track called Micklefield MX (You can find them on Facebook), is 37 miles/60 KMS away, and has tracks for kids and grown-ups. I took the Cannondale there recently and it’s a great track, with enough marshalls, good facilities and with seemingly regular attendance. The jumps are challenging and the berms are fast. It is well watered and they have a good system of providing 20 minute moto sessions for each skill level, depending on how many riders they have. On the day that I went, it was basically 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off, and as it was the first time that I’d been to the track, I got a good, basic induction from the team there. I went on my own as my riding friends were either working or away, so I took it easy so that both the bike and I returned home in tact. I did 4 of the 20 minute sessions, which was enough for my level of fitness, and as I was on my own, there wasn’t anyone to take any action photos sadly, but next time, there will be! The feature photo was taken of me by a rider in the van next to mine and he’d got some arm pump from his last session and was shaking as he took it. Fortunately, the phone has an anti-shake feature on its camera. The bike worked really well on the track and especially since the suspension has been sorted by Shocktech.
I’m VERY PLEASED with the progress that I’ve made in the last two years of getting the Cannondale fully sorted. This of course, would not have been possible without the help, expertise and parts from the community and people I’ve mentioned in previous posts. The bike always draws a crowd when it’s parked up at a track and it’s a great conversation piece, and way of connecting with people.
The next post will include some more action stuff and more of the MX400 journey! You can read all of my previous posts about this bike by clicking on the Cannondale MX400 menu on the homepage 👍
LINK shocktech suspension: https://www.shocktech.co.uk