Freedom. It is the spirit that drives us to ride motorcycles, and we attain that feeling in ways as diverse as our choice of machines. Of course, freedom in highly organized societies can become a relative thing. Unless we are riding entirely on private property (and sometimes even then), we are restricted by laws governing our sport. Those on custom cruisers are limited by equipment regulations, sport riders by speed limits and off-roaders by land use restrictions.
Science historian James Burke's 1985 BBC-TV documentary series, "The Day The Universe Changed", documented key moments in the development of science and technology, and their effects on our perception of the world. Had Burke issued an episode tracking pivotal points in motorcycling in the United States, the day the Yamaha DT-1 250cc Enduro was introduced 40 years ago certainly would have qualified.
Manufacturers generally select premium locations and luxury accommodations when it comes time to introduce their newest addition to their line. We may travel to Monza in Italy, the Baviaanskloof in South Africa, the rain forest of Costa Rica, which is all well and good. Imagine my surprise when Kawasaki took me to the mile marker 11.5 on desolate Arizona state highway 74 in the Sonora Desert, up against the foothills of the Hieroglyphic Mountains. There, circled well-worn travel trailers awaited, which would be home for the duration.
Off-road riders who cut their teeth on dirt bikes in the mid-1960s have borne witness to the rise and fall from favor of the two-stroke. From Joel Robert's first FIM motocross championship in 1964 on a CZ to Suzuki-mounted Ricky Carmichael's AMA Supercross title in 2005, two-strokes ruled the premium series, earning their dominance the hard way—going head-to-head with the reignin thumpers of the era until they developed enough sophistication to be superior performers.