Firstly, and as in the usual format, you get the story first with all of the links at the end of this post, so read on……
I consider myself a bit of an ambassador for my MX400 as well as Cannondale the company and brand. My passion for the MX400 isn’t ever extingiushed, even though the bike has given me a few challenges and that a lot of people think, or have the perception that it is just plain rubbish. During my 3 years of ownership, I’ve approached some of the dirt bike press to see if there is any appetite and interest in doing a feature on the bike. In terms of responses, I either got a ‘polite decline’ or a ‘Hmmmm, we’ll maybe let you know’ response. Most of the content available about the bike is about the history or the poor performance, but nobody has either written about it, or filmed it with any recognition as an iconic MX design classic. Until this month that is.
The YouTube post that features my bike came about purely by chance. One of my YouTube subscriptions is for a dirt bike channel called 999Lazer. I got interested in the channel when I came across a video that was about the project build of a 700cc two stroke MX bike. As I love a two stroke engine, I was intrigued to see the result and if the bike was even rideable with such a massive engine. It turns out that it certainly is rideable, and that project led to some other very interesting 500cc two stroke projects on the channel. More recently, there was a feature on somebody’s very special, private MX collection, which featured some super-rare factory bikes. At one point in the conversation, the MX400 was mentioned as a current/future collectable bike. The presenter, Max, said that the MX400 was on his ‘must ride’ list and if anyone has one, to get in touch. I sent Max a quick message to say that I had one and that if he’d like to ride it and feature it, he was welcome to do so. I got a quick response and within one week, we met up for the first time at Greenfield Dirt track to ride and film the bike. Max and Phil, who both run the Too Fast Films Media Group, were excited to see the bike, and had a fully researched, scripted and planned session for the day.
Greenfield Dirt track in Lincolnshire, has been on my list of places to visit for sometime as it is the epicentre of dirt track racing in the UK, and whilst they obviously have an oval dirt track, it turns out that they also have a great MX track as well. Max and Phil had hired the track for the day so we had it to ourselves for filming and riding, which was a privilege, and made it easy to get the content that they needed for their channel without dodging other riders or people. The Greenfield MX track is a good lap distance, and has some really great and well managed features, which are both enjoyable for a novice like me, or an experienced rider like Max. Whilst Max and Phil took lots of video, they also took a lot of still images as well, and I’m really grateful to Phil for taking the great quality images that are on this post as well as my social media.
The bike worked really well for the day’s riding, with only one small-ish thing for me to fix🙄………..We found that when bringing the bike to a stop or to turn it around with the clutch engaged and the engine on idle, it just stopped unless the revs’ were kept higher than idle level. This engine cutting out also happened in another situation, which I haven’t experienced at all to date, and there’s a good reason for that. As a novice, I don’t fully clear big table top jumps or do big whips, so I therefore don’t spend a lot of time in the air. However, Max does, and on a two occasions whilst riding some big air, the revs’ dropped to idle and it cut out. I’m sure this was surprising for Max when it happened, but as an experienced rider, he landed it well without the engine running. My countermeasure for this problem was to just increase the tick-over, which seems a little higher than I would expect it, but it seems to have fixed the problem🤞.
Apart from this one small issue, the bike ran well, started first time, every time, so when it did stop, it just needed a quick stab of the starter button to get it running again. I really enjoy riding the bike as it’s easy for me to ride with my level of capability, and I love the punch that the engine has as well as how it sounds. The bike has done two MX track sessions in two weeks, and one of them with a fast rider on it some of the time, and I’m really pleased with the way the it is running, and the Ohlins suspension is waaaaaay better than it was thanks to the work Shocktech did for me. This is satisfying to report after all of the work and help that I’ve had to do to iron out and fix some of its genetic design issues. I also think it’s the best looking MX bike on the planet, but I would say that wouldn’t I.
It is interesting to look back at the re-emergence of four stroke bikes in recent MX history, particularly my Cannondale MX400, but also not forgetting others from Husaberg, Husqvarna, ATK, and the legendary Yamaha 400. These bikes were all part of the end for the 2 stroke in MX racing, and crucially, they lay the foundation for the very well developed bikes that are available today, 25 years later. It’ll be interesting to see if the emerging electric MX bikes kill off the petrol engined MX era🤔.
Anyway, I’m really pleased that the MX400 is finally getting the (positive) attention that it deserves and that it is also now in the sight of MX bike collectors. I’m sure that this isn’t the last time my MX400 will turn up in some future media content either. At the end of our filming and riding at Greenfield, I presented Max with a front number plate from my bike to hang on his wall, and in return, he sent me one of those really useful and cool fuel jugs from one of his sponsors, the top MX mail order company, 24MX.
Oh yeah, in all my excitement, I forgot to mention that I’ve created templates for the number boards for the MX400. You’ll see from the pictures of the bike that they fit really well and look great. Fitting them around the different shapes and curves of the panels is at best, an interesting challenge, and best done with the panels fitted to the bike. Anyway, I’ll ask a friend who is in the graphics industry to get a digital map of them so if anyone else needs a set, he can print some off. Number boards are usually one of the first things that need replacing following a crash, a brush with the riders boot or from other bikes’ roost👍
Don’t forget, you can read all of my posts about life with this bike by clicking the ‘Cannondale MX400’ category on the homepage 👍
Links for reference:
999Lazer YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGeesNlaKA8&t=21s
Too Fast Films Media Group https://www.toofastmediagroup.com/too-fast-films
Greenfield Dirt Track https://greenfielddirttrack.co.uk
ShockTech Suspension https://www.shocktech.co.uk