In case you haven’t read any of my previous posts about my Cannondale MX400 journey, here’s a quick catch up, and specifically about the engine. At a very early stage, I had decided to buy a completely new engine built by US Cannondale engine guru, Ken Deal of Black Widow ATV. As I was living in Switzerland at the time, he shipped it to me there. It arrived in a big, blue and white, two-wheeled cooler box. This apparently is how Ken sends all of his engines out to customers. The cooler box isn’t about maintaining a balanced temperature for the new engine, it is because it is just the right size, is strong enough, and it has wheels and a handle. An MX400 motor weighs in at about 40 kilos or 90 pounds, so it needs something robust enough to hold it whilst acting as secure packaging. Hence, the wheeled cooler box is Ken’s choice.

Interestingly (maybe…), the cooler box was designed in 1951 by an American, Richard Laramy of Illinois, who successfully patented the idea of a “portable ice chest”. Whilst his design focussed on keeping food and beverages cool, it has since become a critical piece of equipment in the medical industry. Stuff like temperature sensitive vaccines are transported in these cooler boxes, and particularly in countries where refrigeration is not available and temperatures are high. Ken’s choice of cooler box has two wheels and an extending handle, just like any flight suitcase has, so it is easy enough to move around.

Anyway, back to my ‘engine thread’. I swapped Ken’s new motor with my original and ‘faulty’ motor, which you can read about in the posts below. Rather than just leave the original motor unfixed, I decided to send it to Ken for him to magically repair and rebuild it. This means that I will have two newly built engines, and one bike. This may sound a bit extravagant. However, having left Switzerland, I now live on a small island in the North Sea (The UK🇬🇧) where the MX400 is a rarity, so I’m making sure that THE most critical element of this unique bike, which is the engine, has a strong succession plan should something unexpected happen to the new one that is in it.

I had kept Ken’s cooler box that my first engine arrived in as it was still fully functional as either a (very big) cooler box, or as packaging for my old motor. The latter is what actually happened. I sent Ken his cooler box back with my original engine in it and it arrived safely at his place in the USA. Ken worked his magic on my original engine and then sent it back in the same, original cooler box. This means that this specific cooler box has successfully crossed the Atlantic on three occasions. The approximate distance between Ken’s workshop and my house is about 4,200 miles (6,800 kilometres), so to date, this cooler box could be the world record holder for miles travelled with a total of 12,600 miles (20,300 kilometres). Impressive huh?! I wish I had asked FedEx for the air miles.

Additionally, this cooler box is a piece of sustainable and re-usable packaging. Whilst its days are likely to be over for inter-Continental engine transportation, it is still has the ability to do what it was originally designed and intended for, and that’s for keeping drinks and food chilled. We do already have a portable cooler box, although it is half the size of the one Ken sent me and it doesn’t have wheels, or an extending handle, or a hinged, folding lid.

As this is the 6th paragraph in this post, you might be wondering when I’m going to get around to a ‘latest progress update’, so here it is. I’ve run-in the first engine that Ken sent me and changed the oils. The bike is running really well and doesn’t stall, bog down in corners, cut out, or do any other weird and unexpected things. The only slight mishap during the running-in period was when accelerating along a grassy straight, the throttle stuck open. I immediately hit the new kill switch that Dave Muller recommended and sold me (Phew! & thanks Dave!), and instead of the bike and I launching through a hedge, the bike just stopped as it should. It turns out that the throttle mechanism on the bike had got some long stems of grass in it, and jammed on. It was a rare occurrence I think, and hope, and not a classic Cannondale design flaw/feature.

The original motor now sits close to the bike in the shed and ready for action. I could take out the newly run-in motor and then put my original back in the bike, and then run that one in as well. Alternatively, and based on the saying that goes “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, I’ll keep things just as they are. As for the cooler box, its future is as yet undecided. It is a very big cooler box, and it is only going to be efficient in keeping stuff cool if it’s full, so that means a lot of food and drink for a lot of people, or alternatively, I will find another special use for it.

The next post will be a first report of how the bike and I performed at a local MX track.

The bike, the spare engine AND that well travelled cool box.

Lastly and as two reminders, if you need any Cannondale engine work doing, Ken Deal can be contacted at

If you need Cannondale parts, you can find Dave Muller on any of the Cannondale motorcycle or ATV Facebook groups.

Link to my last MX400 post:

Link to my previous MX400 post:

Link to my first MX400 post:

All photos by the Author