Daydreaming of Dirt

My total off-road riding experience is roughly equivalent to the tiny trace of dirt you could scrape from between the lugs of my barely worn AXO motocross boots. I didn't learn to ride on a Z50 in my parent's big back yard. I didn't spend adolescent weekends leaping tabletop jumps, or wheelying over tree-stumps in some backwoods enduro. My first bike was a Honda CB500, complete with clubman handlebars. I was a café racer before café racers were cool (again), and to this day I can count the times I've actually ridden off road on three, or maybe four hands. I've spent more hours riding motocross bikes across frozen lakes than I have in actual dirt.

Maybe it's novelty, then, that explains why I can't get Husqvarna's new TR650 Terra out of my mind. Ever since attending the press launch in Spain last month I've been daydreaming almost obsessively about that do-it-all dual sport. I didn't even spend that much time on the Terra. Maybe 50 paved miles, followed by just 10 miles—if that—on proper dirt. Still, even just this short stint was enough to ignite my imagination and make me realize that I need—yes, need—an off road-capable motorcycle in my life.

Like I said, I've got no nostalgia for dirt bikes. If anything it's the opposite: Three of my dozen-odd off-road adventures have ended with broken bones. But I do have deep and fond memories of another form of all-terrain adventuring that resurfaced after riding the Terra. Once, in a life before kids, my wife and I rode bicycles from Canada to Costa Rica. We rode our racing mountain bikes modified for touring duty with broader gearing and intermediate tires—the pedal-powered equivalent of a modern dual-sport motorcycle. And we rode those bicycles everywhere—a 50-mile stretch of the Dewdney Trail across the Canadian Rockies, the length of the Pacific Coast Highway, a portion of the Baja 1000 course in Mexico, and deep into Guatemala's El Petén jungle. There wasn't any place—paved or otherwise—those bicycles couldn't go.

It was exactly that sense of unlimited adventure that I recognized during my short time aboard the Terra, as that bike transitioned effortlessly from divided highway to poorly maintained backroad to unmarked, unpaved, off-road trail. And it's that same promise of possibility that keeps planting the Terra into my every daydream, as I ride around the Midwest and increasingly notice otherwise invisible gravel roads, railroad right-of-ways, huge tracts of National Forest and other public-ish land that I'd previously blasted right past on my sportbike. Time spent on the Terra tells me my next step is to venture even further afield, and start exploring off-road.

Word to the rest of the Motorcyclist staff, then—I've got dibs on the TR650 Terra as my next long-term testbike. It's finally time to break in those AXO boots.