We’ve reached the midway point in our massive Mini Moto Project Bike Series after reviewing both the Editorial/Content bike and the Graphics/Tech hopped-up XR. Next up we have the Team Motorcycle Superstore XR50 Project Bike, which is led by Don Becklin and Simon Blair.
The first two bikes in our mini shootout were designed to be solid, well-balanced machines. The Content XR, the first bike reviewed in our shootout, was designed to be a well rounded machine with upgrades primarily to the engine and suspension. The Graphics/Tech team took a similar path, but chose to drop the majority of their money into an aftermarket frame and other chassis improvements.
Never a group of guys that want to follow the leader, the Superstore team decided to take a non-traditional route when building their bike and buy the majority of parts on eBay. The theory was that they could save a tremendous amount of money and use the extra dough on more accessories and hop-up parts. While the plan seemed to be a good idea, Don and Simon quickly found that the popular auction site has a few sellers that are less than trustworthy.
The first item the Superstore team purchased were a set of refurbished XR70 forks. In the picture on eBay they looked like they would do a sufficient job of suspending the front end. However, as soon as the fork showed up it was clear it had seen better days. We first suspected they weren’t tip top when fork oil started to stain the floor of Don’s office.
Attempts at squaring the deal with a seller, who goes by the name of Jackmehoff, resulted in defensive behavior and various threats. Ultimately, a chargeback was issued and the fork was returned. Buyers beware: you can find cheap stuff on eBay but you might have to deal with someone like Jack, and there’s no guarantee on what you’re buying.
The Superstore won the bling wars, with a sick set of One Industries graphics, and plenty of annodized aluminum to boot.
Eventually, Don and Simon conceded that their eBay plan was a logistical nightmare and they had to start back at square one. Unfortunately for the rest of the teams in our shootout, Don had no desire to lose the battle for mini supremacy, even if it meant blowing their budget by a couple thousand. Numbers be damned, it was time to make the Superstore machine the baddest of the bunch.
The Superstore squad opted to fix the fork problem by purchasing a Sano Bombshell fork. The fully adjustable fork is made from T6-6061 aircraft-grade aluminum and offers up six inches of travel, and is a pound lighter than the stock XR50 fork. At $999.95, the fork would have normally taken up half of Superstore’s budget right away, but we’re dealing with a very competitive team. The team motto quickly became: “Budgets? We don’t need no stinkin’ budgets!”
Don and Simon went on to strengthen the stock frame by adding frame braces from Hanebrink, which improve rigidity and strength. They hoped their bike would hold up to the rigors and demands of full-size adults and further improved overall strength with the addition of a Hanebrink extended swingarm. The aftermarket component is made from super tough aluminum and is a full four inches longer than the stock swingarm.
The budget was officially thrown out the window when Superstore purchased a set of killer red-anodized aluminum BBR wheels. Not only did they look trick as hell, but they are much stronger and hold up to the demands of a full size rider and are a half pound lighter than the wheels that come stock on the XR50.
A Sik50s high-rise handlebar kit brought the bars up to adult level, while a tall seat assembly from BBR got their butt off the ground a little bit. A Paoili Rear Shock took over rear suspension duties, which is the one area where the Superstore bike needed some help.
Over the table top and going up hills, the Superstore machine didn’t stay as planted as the Content and Graphics machines.
Once the Superstore squad had a tougher chassis, they took aim at the engine. The other teams boosted power and torque with the help of big-bore kits, and Don and Simon weren’t about to be beat down the straights. An 88cc big-bore kit from Takegawa gave them the grunt to hang with the rest of the bikes and a Sik50s CDI Rev Booster allowed the engine to reach its potential. Opening up the intake and exhaust into the newly revamped mini is an aftermarket air filter and FMF T-4 Exhaust.
There are plenty of extra goodies on the Superstore machine, which make it the sickest, aesthetically, of the four machines in our shootout. A set of Acerbis plastics and One Industries graphics provide eye candy, rounded out by a Sano Systems gold chain. An IMS extended shift lever allows for better access with the foot.
The total tag on the Superstore mini totaled a whopping $3003.69 when all was said and done. Yes, they failed to come close to the $2000 hop-up budget set up at the beginning of the Mini Moto Project, but they did have one killer bike.
Obviously, riding the Superstore bike was a blast, but we have a few bones to pick with the newly rebuilt XR, mostly regarding its suspension. When we were ripping around John Lawton’s mini track for our initial ride impression we found the Superstore machine exhibited skittish behavior when it was launched into the air. As soon as the bike left the face of the jump, the rear end tended to drift to one side or another. Even the best riders in our group experienced the phenomenon. Softening the rear preload helped calm this behavior, but the Paoili has no damping adjustments and the problem remained an issue.
Overall, Superstore created a bad-ass machine, but much to the delight of the other teams that stayed within budget, it wasn’t the best.
In our next installment we review the fourth and final machine in our Project Mini Moto shootout, the Warehouse mini. Tune in to see what happens when every dollar available is poured into the engine and the 107cc beast goes up against machines designed to be all-around runners. Can the fire-breathing mini monster take the title? Stay tuned.