|Obviously not tyred yet|
The Dirty half dozen...
If you are a motorcyclist or aspire to be one, have you ever had a go at off-road motorsport before? If you are into motorcycles, are looking for a challenge and are wondering what you are really capable of in the thrills, skills and spills department, then look at off-road motorcycling and look no further - you've found it!
Off-road motorsport includes a range of different disciplines so here is a brief guide to getting started and what's out there for you to try. Here is some information about six different types of off-roading, should you be interested in having a really good time, testing your abilities and your nerve, getting fit and having the most fun possible on a dirty weekend - on a motorcycle in the mud that is.
How to get going
There are quite a few different kinds of off-road Sport and the first thing to do is decide which one appeals to you the most, here are your options:
* Motocross: This is a fast sport which takes place on purpose built circuits which are complete with jumps and waves designed to challenge you. Motocross is usually limited to groups with a maximum of 40 riders who take part in lots of short 15 minute races.
|He's got wings|
* Enduro/Hare & Hound: These are longer races, which are often three hours or so long and take the rider across more varied terrain. Riders taking part travel over quarries, rocks and through woods and whatever else the course designer chooses to throw at them to test their resources.
* Trials: This is a slower and more technical sport. Riders compete across 'sections' whilst trying to balance their bikes over logs, rocks - even over buses has been known!
* Supermoto: This is a combination of on and off-road racing. Riders start off on the road before moving on to a motocross track and then back onto the road.
|The grass is always greener on the other side of the track|
* Grass Track: This is run on oval tracks up to 1,000 metres long on bikes with no brakes!!
Have a go, hero!
|looks like fun|
Back to school
|Not sure that one at the back is paying attention|
Here are some links to the schools you could try out:
* MX Try outs - Kawasaki - http://www.mxtryout.co.uk
* AJP Motos 'Experience Days' - www.ajpmotos.co.uk
*Ady Smith KTM Off-Road schools - http://wwwadysmith.co.uk
* Honda: Mick Extance Off Road Experience - www.mickextanceoffroad.com
* Yamaha Off-Road Experience - http://www.yamaha-offroad-experience.co.uk
* Wheeldon Off-Road Centre - Husqvarna - http://www.wheeldontwo.co.uk
What you need and what it costs
|Cast of X men join off-road event day!|
* Full face helmet - make sure it complies with BSI standards - look for the Gold sticker
* Body Armour - plastic armour for your chest
* Clothing - full length long sleeved top with padded elbows and long trousers with padded knees and hips.
* Boots - leather with impact and abrasive protection
* Goggles - full eye protection
* Gloves - with grip for the throttle
* A BIKE
|On the rocks but she looks happy!|
Best to search for the kit on line and find somewhere local to try before you buy.
If you like a lot of mud on your bike join our club..
|A jumping marshal in full flight|
There are three main organising bodies for off-road sport and they all support clubs where riders can get together and run local events. The organising bodies are necessary as a lot of staff are required to marshal the events and make sure that they are safe and a lot of organisation is needed. The events are also not cheap to run and the clubs running them don't generally make a profit but plough the money back into the club to help with future events.
The three organising bodies are as follows - use the links to their websites to search for clubs in your area.
* ACU Clubs
* AMCA Clubs
* BSMA Clubs
A little bit about the bikes...Here is some information about seven of the manufacturers who make off-road bikes, just to give you an idea of what your options are and what's out there.
Our Wemoto reporter was lucky enough to go to an off-road event day organised by the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCI) and try out many of these great machines so his comments on the bikes he tried are included.
Kawasaki: Team Green
Kawasaki's Team Green is a long standing and aspirational name in motocross circles with some of the most successful motocrossers starting their careers in Team Green - for example Tommy Searle who is currently winning MX2 Grand Prixs.
|Small herd of Kawasakis grazing|
Kawasaki say that they try hard to put emphasis on youth development to help promising young riders into careers on Kawasakis.
Our rider tried out a Kawasaki KLX 450R and said:
" This is a very powerful bike, fast and furious but really fun. Probably at its best on fast straight sections where you can really let it run."
"This is very quick and quite harsh motocross bike. It has a very responsive and quick throttle and great easy handling over any terrain"
For more information on riding a Kawasaki bike off-road have a look at their website:
Husqvarna was originally Swedish, then moved to Italy and since 2007 has been a member of the BMW group - making it the world's oldest motorcycle manufacturer with an uninterrupted production history.
|Pack of Huskies|
Husqvarna TE125 is the entry bike in the Off road range. It is a trail bike designed for mixed on/off road use with and electric start and a 4 stroke engine. As it is an A1 motorcycle it is suitable for learners.
Husqvarna TE250 is a true competition bike primarily designed for off-road Enduro but road legal so that users can travel between events on the road. Fuel injected liquid cooled 4 stroke engine but a weight of only 109kgs, providing an impressive power to weight ratio.
Our rider had a go on this bike, he said:
" This was the first bike I tried out and the bike I rode most so I had a chance to really get a feel for it. It really is a pleasure to ride, very easy right from the start. The set up is great with the engine delivering plenty of power and great comfortable suspension - not too hard - well able to do the job."
Austrian manufacturer KTM started up in 1953 and has always focussed on producing bikes for the race track, winning its first national motocross title in 1970.
KTM's mantra is 'Ready to Race'and with the last 11 consecutive Dakar Rally wins to their name it seems they have proved that...
|Ready to race...|
The KTM Enduro range includes eight different models - 4 two strokes and 4 four strokes - the largest range of any manufacturer.
The Motocross (SX) range are pure off-road models for motocross racing. The range offeres 50cc automatic mini cycles for junior racers all the way up to 450cc four strokes for top level racers in the MX1 class.
Cross Country (XC) range are between motocross and enduro and are KTM's 5 Cross Country Models. They have different ratio gears for great handling at lower speeds combined with the ability to cover long distances. With a larger fuel tank as well their range is further between fuel stops.
KTM XC-F 250 - our rider said:
"This was the bike I liked the best. The engine supplied really great power. The bike was nice and tall with fantastic suspension and tackled anything the track and I threw at it, with ease. In my opinion this is a great enduro bike."
KTM XC 200 2-stroke - our rider said:
"This is an animal of a bike! It only has an on and off switch. It is light as a feather but maybe needs a more capable rider to enjoy its full potential! Because it is so light, once the engine has reached its power band this bike flies like a rocket!"
KTM Freeride 350 - this is a not only a brand new bike, but a brand new class of bike - an ultra lightweight, ultra quiet bike designed purely for off-road fun. It is easy to handle, is lower in height and has progressive power delivery making it easy for experienced riders to push themselves and is also perfect for fledgling off roaders as well.
KTM Freeride 350 - Our rider said:
"This was the most fun of all the bikes I tried. The engine is great, with plenty of power. It has really nimble handling and is shorter and lower than the pure enduro bikes. It is also really easy to ride, just jump on, switch on and revel in the pure enjoyment of every terrain you come across on this really versatile capable bike. KTM has mixed a trials bike with an enduro bike faultlessly."
Honda is one of the big boys in the world of off-road motorcycling, with a comprehensive racing programme and countless World, AMA motocross, World Enduro and Dakar Rally titles under its belt. Honda says that what they learn from racing, filters down into production models with technology and performance gleaned from the race track passed on to the consumer.
Honda's off-road range encompasses machines which are suitable for professional riders and amateurs who just want to have a go or develop a fun hobby. Honda run youth racing academies in the UK including the Xtreme Academy and Buildbase Honda Academy.
Our rider tried out a Honda CRF 250 L:
"This is a great motorcycle built with Honda's usual expertise. It has a smooth engine and very soft suspension. It is very user friendly so is a great bike for a novice rider to begin on. A great way to start to experience having fun off-road."
For further information abut Honda follow the link:
AJP, Portugal's only motorcycle manufacturer is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. AJP machines are only imported to the UK by Armitt Leisure Supplies, a division of Frank Armitt and Son Ltd. The brand was officially re-launched at the International Dirt Bike Show in 2011 and there are only 11 active dealers operating in the UK at the moment but there are plans to increase this. The AJP ethos is simple - light weihgt, low centre of gravity and excellent quality suspension leading to superb handling. Another key design feature which was pioneered by AJP is the under seat fuel tank which leads to mass-centralisation. The current model range is made up of three distinctly different models and a range of engines from 125cc to 250 cc.
|Waiting in line|
* The PR4 is full sized with a longer rear swing arm, upside down Marzzochi front forks and a standard 21"/18" wheel set. This bike can also come as a 125 or 200, the PR4 can be ordered as enduro, trail or supermoto in the same way as the PR3.
* The PR5 is AJP's 250cc flagship model. This utilises a development of the venerable Honda XR250 engine but with fuel injection, a 6 speed gear box and electric start. It has Sachs front and rear suspension with piggy-back reservoir rear shock.
All AJP motorcycles are full homologated for road use in the UK and come fitted with 2 year parts and labour warranty.
Family day out
the AJP model range means that there is a bike to suit everyone in the family so the whole family can have a go and a great day out as there will be a bike to fit all of them. They start at £3000 for PR3 125 Enduro and from this month every 125 comes with a free helmet, jacket and gloves which makes the whole package a lot cheaper.
To have a go have a look at the website: www.ajpmotos.co.uk
Yamaha offers a complete line up of 4-stroke and 2-stroke models with a range that runs from 450cc right down to 85cc which offers customers a really wide choice and ensures that everyone can find the bike for them.
Our rider tested out the Yamaha YZF 250R -
"This was a really easy bike to ride but I did not really get on with it, not my favourite."
For more information have a look at the website:
Zero Motorcycles have combined traditional motorcycles with advanced modern technology to create a lightweight, fast and fun electric machine. The motorcycles us Z-force electric power train and a specially designed rigid aircraft grade aluminium frame to minimize weight. Zero have now created two electric models for off-road riding as well which are nearly silent so minimise disturbance to wildlife and people.
|The sound of silence|
Here is the off-road range:
* Zero MX which is exclusively for off-road use. It has more power and harder acceleration enabling it to reach better top speeds.
* Zero X which has been designed exclusively for trail riding, is now also street legal and has lights. It has 33% more power and 75% greater range.
There are some other benefits of electric technology:
* Government tax breaks
* Special access to parking, lanes/roads and riding areas
* Positive attitude from the public, politicians and the government
* Free charging stations
To have a further look at Zero here is a link to their website:
Off-road sport is the most economical way to get into motorsport and, starting with small local events, it is possible to progress all the way to championship level if that is what you want. Off-road bikes can be ridden by children as young as five and most manufacturers make a series of bikes so that there is a bike to fit every member of the family. This makes it a sport which can be enjoyed by all the family and can be a really bonding great fun day or weekend activity. it keeps you fit (1hours riding can burn 800 calories!) which is always an incentive and it provides an adrenaline-fuelled outlet for excess energy which reduces stress levels. All in all its an exciting way to enjoy your weekend which all the family can join in with and the best way to find out is to have a go!
Dirt day afternoon
Thanks to the MCI for their help, information and a great day test riding the bikes! Also to Ray Smith for his excellent photos.