Backroad Ramblings: Operation Resuscitation

September 30, 2011
Jason Giacchino
Jason Giacchino
Contributing Editor| Articles|RSS

A freelancer and published novelist Jason is currently the editor in chief of Mountain Bike Tales digital magazine and holds a State University of New York degree in applied science with a minor in journalism. When not hunched over a computer monitor, he can be found playing outside in the suburbs of Buffalo, New York.

Abandoned motorcycles
Our Rambling Man only got one season with his 2008 Polaris Outlaw 450MXR before life’s distractions set in – forcing the ATV to sit neglected for far too long.  

Were you to arrive at my community on Saturday morning of Labor Day weekend this past year at, say 8 a.m., you would have found a typical suburban cluster of any town USA. The serene hum of window air-conditioners would surround you and the traffic lights in the center of town would have stopped flashing intermittent red and returned to their usual tri-color arrangements. The mist of the night would quickly disappear around you – a sign that we were once again in for a bizarrely unseasonable hot day. And amidst all the tranquility there would be a faint trail of cussing leading directly to the area behind my house. You see, I was performing that most dastardly act of resuscitating a machine that ended up sitting way longer than anticipated, and if there’s anything that can be said for this type of project based on past experience, I was expecting one step forward then two steps back.

Let’s back up a bit so I can try to justify my unpardonable act of neglecting an ATV that’s been nothing but exemplary since joining my quiver several years ago. The quad in question was actually a KTM-powered Polaris Outlaw 450MXR purchased in September of 2009. Making way for the freshly redesigned 2009 models, the area dealers were making room by discounting the 2008 models. Never one to pass up a discount, I picked up said machine and spent the crisp fall evenings reworking the intake and adding a Yoshimura exhaust.

Set up for aggressive trail riding and moderate MX use, I rode the ATV quite a bit in 2009 and briefly in the early summer of 2010. But then life saw fit to offer a long series of distractions that kept me out of the Outlaw’s saddle. Among these: the lure of other bikes, ATVs and restorations along with a wedding, construction of a garage and so on. While all of this nonsense was taking

After dusting off a few mold spores the Outlaw only had flat tires and a dead battery, but otherwise it was good to go.

place, the Outlaw sat patiently in the back yard under a few tarps secured by bungee cords. Upon completion of the garage, the neglected 450’s day of awakening had arrived. This takes us back to that Saturday morning and how a year and a half of abandonment can have the most disturbing consequences.

Upon initial unwrapping, which was oddly reminiscent of an archaeological dig, the following observations were immediately apparent: tires dead flat, footpegs covered in orange fur thanks to a neighborhood cat apparently setting up shop in the foot-guard wells and seat speckled with some sort of black stuff which cannot be removed – I suspect a mold or fungus of some sort. The battery was also dead as a doornail, naturally. Finally, the chassis seemed to have developed the type of moaning and creaking normally associated with haunted houses.

Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to drain the fuel before laying the old girl to rest, so that meant a full carburetor cleaning wasn’t necessary. What was necessary, however, was a laundry list of menial tasks including tire inflation with a compressor running on extension cords back to the basement, lubrication of countless joints, rockers and linkage points, a check of the oil, coolant and air filter, addition of fresh fuel and finally a jump start from my pickup. Amazingly, the ATV roared to life with a throaty exhaust note that immediately reminded me this wasn’t OEM territory. In fact, that hum of window air conditioners was momentarily lost to the reverberation generated by the 450cc Single; sweet morning music surely unappreciated by all the groggy neighbors within a half-mile radius.

Dazzled by the surprising lack of complications thus far, I had to push the limits of good fortune and take the rejuvenated machine on a quick jaunt through the woods before parking it in its new home. For a mile or so the experience was sheer bliss. Roost was flinging in large loamy tufts, the handling was both smile-inducing as well as a reminder of how good a properly dialed-in piece of equipment could feel. And that exhaust note which, while imposing at idle, absolutely sang in the upper reaches of each gear.

After marauding in the woods our rambler managed to bring all the fun to a halt via sloppy clutch work and dead battery.

Of course keep in mind that the battery, which had been completely lifeless five-minutes prior, didn’t exactly have adequate time to collect a charge from the alternator. In some cosmic coincidence this thought occurred to me roughly 1/8th of a second prior to my popping the clutch and stalling the vehicle instantly. With the type of hopefulness that inspires gamblers to purchase one more lottery ticket, I turned the key in hopes of the faintest flicker of the neutral light on the instrument cluster. Nope. Dead.

What followed was a hike back to civilization to summon my angry wife, who had been sleeping. Taking her expensive truck off-road to the scene of the incident, we provided a well needed jump-start and returned home. That part went without hitch and the Outlaw looked great in its new spot in the garage. Sadly, a few lingering effects of my irresponsibility have since manifested. Among these: tires that slowly leak around the beads and an oil leak that I suspect is being caused by the valve cover gasket. Long story short, it was an awful lot of work to get this thing moved a total of roughly 15 feet. I’m hopeful that I can get out there and perform the required maintenance in a timely fashion, especially now that I have a place to work.

But I better drain the fuel, just in case.