Ride More Stress Less
FEBRUARY 2018 RSA R29.50
9 771815 337001
Pic by Zygmund Brodalka www.instagram.com/brodalka_photo/
DAKAR 2018: FULL REVIEW
ROOTERS RALLY: 27 DAYS, 3800KM
SPITI AMAZING: TOURING INDIA
NORTH POLE RIDER: SHINJI KAZAMA
FACTORY BIKES: KTM’S MXGP MACHINES
Passion, newly designed.
Passion, newly designed.
There is nothing stopping you. The C4 represents
There is nothing stopping you. The C4 represents
the the new new benchmark benchmark for for touring touring and and sport sport riders riders with
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of you. WWW.SCHUBERTH.COM
dmd.co.za or contact Daniel Mulder Distributors
on 011 792 7691.
Director Enduro World (Michelin
EWXC and Mountain Madala’s)
“Michelin have really got it
right with this new tyre. It’s
like gummy-tyre-traction but
from a tyre that doesn’t squish
around on the fast sections.”
Multiple national champion
“I was really impressed with
how the tyre handled the wet
muddy rocks, my traction
never broke through out the
time in the mud. I would highly
recommend this tyre to any
Enduro rider to ride enduro as
well as extreme events.”
Multiple national champion
“this epic tyre never lets loose
and i am so confident in this
tyre’s traction that i would
recommend it to any Enduro/
Off Road rider”
MICHELIN Enduro Medium
EXCLUSIVELY DISTRIBUTED IN SOUTH AFRICA BY SECTOR SPORTSWEAR - 031 313 2660
EDITOR: ROLEY FOLEY
Serious one this month - and unfortunately this brings the
whole social media aspect into focus.
We noticed a thread about the guys drinking and riding at one
of the popular venues up here in gauteng... lots of bashing
going on and doff behaviour and and and... It’s been a long
time since we have needed to comment on this - but it needs
to be said.
If you drink and ride, you are a chop - you are probably going
to hurt yourself, get lost, fall over - or hurt someone else who
is riding in your vicinity.
Please, asseblief and all that stuff - don’t be DOFF.
It just messes up our lekker sport.
Have a great riding month. See you out there!
Oh yes, big thanks to one of our readers for sending this in:
Hope you enjoy this!
His is my son Luan on his bike! He found the stickers in my
bike stuff that I got at the Christmas ride and made me stick it
onto his bike!
CONTENTS: FEBRUARY 2018
Office no (011) 979-5035
Dries vd Walt
28: COVER STORY: 2018 SHERCO 125 SE-R 24: FEATURE: ROOSTERS RALLY RAID
38: RACING: 2018 DAKAR 48: WORLD RIDE: TOURING SPITI VALLEY
CALL 011 979 5035 OR EMAIL
Digital or hard copy.
60: FIRST LOOK: TRAX KTM 1090 S 68: TESTED: KTM’S FACTORY MXGP BIKES
2 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
Piston and Gasket Sets
Cranks, Conrods and Camshafts
Cylinder Kits, Rebores, Main Bearings and Clutch Plates
VALVES,STEM SEALS AND SPRINGS
no 4 Fifth avenue
011 425 1081/4
ought to you by
First on the scene
We have featured this lot before: It all started 2 years
ago. A group of volunteers got together with the idea
to provide a service that will get a paramedic to the
scene of an accident in record time on the back of
a motorcycle. The project started in collaboration
with the ER 24 group. As time went on, the business
changed with them volunteering their services for
cycling events and so-on. Some of the riders went
and did first aid and paramedic courses. They now
work with all of the big medical response companies
– and their main service is to secure the scene of
an accident, or whatever and to stabilize the patient
before the Ambulance or medic arrives. These are
a great bunch, it’s still voluntary and the group has
grown exponentially. Talk about putting your passion
to great use!
Our lot joined them for a first aid training course.
Extremely professional, naturally with the focus on
what to do in a motorcycle accident scenario.
They are always looking for new members and
volunteers – if you own a motorcycle and this looks
like it might be up your alley – get in touch. Johan
Our Kyle catches a feel.
4 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
Menlyn Motorrad opens
Menlyn Motorrad is now open for business. Located
adjacent to the N1 highway, the new Menlyn Park
Megamall and Menlyn Maine urban lifestyle metropolis,
is the new destination
for the BMW Motorrad
Chat to Alex or Johann
Tel: 079 999 4441or
SBS distributed by
THE MOST VICTORIOUS MOTORCYCLE
BRAND IN DAKAR HISTORY!
What does it take to win 17 consecutive titles in the world’s toughest
rally race? After years of battling the Dakar, we can attribute our victories
to one thing – sheer READY TO RACE spirit.
CONGRATULATIONS TO MATTHIAS WALKNER AND THE ENTIRE
RED BULL KTM FACTORY RACING TEAM!
Please make no attempt to imitate the illustrated riding scenes, always wear protective clothing and observe the applicable provisions of the road traffic regulations!
The illustrated vehicles may vary in selected details from the production models and some illustrations feature optional equipment available at additional cost.
Photo: KTM Images / PhotosDakar.com
ought to you by
The famous Martin Paetzold
Cape Towns Suspension
Guru… Martin Paetzold
MP Custom Valve is a well-established suspension
specialist in the Cape. “Our passion is in the science
and black art of improving the handling of your
motorcycle or ATV, providing you with a safer, more
controllable and enjoyable machine” says Martin.
Dirtbikes are essentially competition machines straight
from the factory but manufacturers don’t always get
it right every year or make the suspension specifically
for you. They can improve your suspension whether
you are competing at the highest level or riding for
Unit 24, Point Business Park. 1 Marinus Road, (off
Koeberg Road). Milnerton
Tel: 021 551 8844 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
2nd Gear Dirt Bike Rental
– Ride it like you own it!
2nd Gear Store has added a new branch to their
business by renting out MX and outride bikes.
“We have one KAWASAKI KX250F and one
KAWASAKI 450F for track riding and we also have
two KAWASAKI KDX 200’s for the guys that would
like to ride Maraisburg etc.” says Kevin Moran.
“All our bikes are prepped in our workshop and
ready to ride.”
They also have a wide range of pre-owned MX Kit
available for rental for your day’s riding, from boots
to protective gear to goggles and helmets. All your
needs are catered for when you decide to join your
friends or family who enjoy a day’s ride at the track
or on an outride.
You may be the friend who would like to try an
outride or the guy who used to race and would
like to give it a bash again without the expense of
owning and maintaining your own bike. They also
cater for year-end functions and team building
events with full rider training. Guided tours and
outrides for total beginners!
Contact Kevin on 011 794 6588 for more
2nd Gear Store – Specialised in used mx kit and
full race ready workshop – specialising in mx bikes
Bike set up. 2nd hand kit, full Race ready workshop,
2nd gear specializes in performance modifications
on all dirt bikes and professional mx and enduro
setups to make your ride far more enjoyable.
6 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
SBS distributed by
ought to you by
CPR Racing, Cape Town:
When we zipped down for the Sherco launch in The
Fairest Cape, Cecil Penney and his team took care
of us. They have a really well equipped and stocked
shop, with the full Sherco range. A great selection
of pre loved bikes of all brands, a decent selection
of accessories and a full workshop for whatever
you need. Great bunch of guys!
26 dawn Road, Montague Gardens. (021) 551-0446
JHB’s Inland MX
Grass roots racing
We bumped into all the guys from
the various MX tracks around JHB,
sitting around a table at the Ridgeway
Racebar, took a spy pic and asked what
they were up to.
It turns out that they have a whole inland
series planned for 2018 with a total of
nine races – 3 races at each track. Fun,
A week before each race, you can
practice at the respective track for a
discounted rate - as long as you have
an inland licence. Classes for everyone
including the ladies.
ERORA is on the outskirts of Kempton
Smoking pistons is in the South near
Dirt Bronco is on the West Rand – just
The series kicks off at Smoking
Pistons on the 11th Feb.
R500 bucks a race plus then your
WOMSA licence (R200 for the year).
8 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
SBS distributed by
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YOUR ADVENTURE STARTS HERE!
Break free from all the boundaries of todays life with the new HORNET ADV.
With all the advantages an offroad helmet has for exploring new terrains, yet with
the comfort of a full face helmet at the same time, the Hornet ADV is your perfect
companion to join you on all your small and big adventures.
Optimum Safety. SRP from R7400.00 excl VAT
At Dealers across South Africa
DISTRIBUTED BY AMP
www.ampsa.co.za / 011 259 7750
ought to you by
New Faces At Bike Tyre
Dewi Evans – Workshop
Dewi is “Old School”
having raced in events like
the Roof of Africa in the
early 70’s when you still
had to change your own
tyres during the race; so shaving the rims for quick; fast
and easy changeover was the trick of the day.
Dewi knows his stuff when it comes to off road rubber
& mousses; so if you need any advice on off road tyre
set up for your particular off road discipline, pop in or
give them a call on 082 463 1041 or 011 205 0216.
Warren Frazer – Manager BTW Shop Online Division
Warren joins the BTW group coming across from
Direct Deals to head up the BTW Online Shop
division; Warren has a wealth of experience in the
Ducati’s new theme
park: Big kids read on…
Time to leave adulting to one side and book a
ticket overseas! Ducati is pairing up with Italy’s
second-biggest theme park vendor, Mirabilandia to
open a new area in its Emilia-Romagna based park
that, as you’ve guessed, will be dedicated to the
With a 35,000 square-meter area to play with, the
park will be getting the addition of a Ducati roller
coaster, VR attractions, a simulator and also kids
attractions. The aptly named Ducati World will also
mark the first time that a motorcycle brand has
teamed up with a theme park.
“Ducati World will give visitors a chance to live an
exciting journey inside the brand”, said Ducati’s
Licensing and Corporate Partnership Director,
Alessandro Cicognani. “Thanks to this agreement,
together with Parques Reunidos we’re developing
the first motorcycle themed area in an Italian
amusement park. Mirabilandia’s location, at the
heart of the Motor Valley, adds further value to this
project dedicated to fun.”
Of course, an area that’s dedicated to a motorcycle
brand wouldn’t be worth its salt if it didn’t feature
at least a few motorcycles as well. There will also
be a showroom that will be dedicated to displaying
some of Ducati’s most iconic machines and models,
so after you’ve had your fill of the roller coaster, you
can go and drool over some top metal too.
There will also be a Ducati themed restaurant for
those who are silly enough to eat before riding
10 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
online sales environment
and will manage the
online techies & liaise
with product suppliers
to ensure online have
the stock to service
the market. For any
online related enquiries
contact Warren on 065 854 0192 or online@
Talent Dube – Fitment Technician
Talent has joined the workshop fitment division as a
fitment technician and although he has been in the
tyre fitment trade for
6 years he is currently
undergoing the BTW
group technical training
course where he hopes
to qualify in June so he
can join the top technical
fitment team in the
the coaster, we’re not sure if they’ll provide sick
bags if this is the case though. You’ll also be
able to top-up your collection of swag too, with
a shop dedicated to selling Ducati clothing and
Hold your horses before you rush to book your
tickets for next year though, as the Ducati World
area of the Mirabilandia theme park isn’t expected
to be ready until 2019. Nonetheless, we’re excited
for it and will hopefully crack the nod to at least
one Ducati launch by then...
SBS distributed by
ought to you by
Gibson Tyre News:
SGS Motosport and Rim was started in November
2011. It’s a father-son run business. They are a
motorcycle accessory import company with a focus
on wheel related products.They now import the
Gibson range of motorcycle tyres.
There have been some major changes made to
Gibson tyres range for 2018.
MX1.1 Front Tyre - The alternating centre block has
a V shape design and has been engineered with a
focus on providing a stable contact with the ground,
to offer riders a reliable consistent feel that every rider
MX3.1 Rear Tyre - Larger Tread radius, for optimum
durability at the base of the tread. Strategically
placing the bow tie outer row of knobs, enabling
constant contact with the ground when the bike is
faced with adverse camber conditions. Centre block
has been engineered to allow a large contact with the
ground, whilst still retaining great clearing properties
due to the spacing of the centre block. The 3.1 is
designed for soft/intermediate tracks.
MX4.1 Rear Tyre - The Gibson MX 4.1 is the Ultimate
all terrain tyre that works on hard pack conditions
12 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
and muddy conditions by offering a constant contact
with the ground whilst still clearing the dirt with its
engineered spacing of the block. We use a softer
1.5mm cushion layer underneath the tread compound
to act as a shock absorber upon hard landings and to
offer a consistent feel under changing terrains.
MX5.1 Rear Tyre - The Gibson Tyre Technology MX
5.1 Is the ultimate Sand tyre. Rigorous research and
development by track side technicians has enabled
us to provide a unique sand paddle design. An
increased level of rubber on the side knobs increases
cornering traction and stability. Sharp paddle design
with a reinforced shoulder to support under hard
landing and braking.
TECH6.2 - Tech 6.2 offers a light weight flexible
carcass with high tear strength polyester to ensure
maximum traction without comprising durability and
safety. The tread design has been tailored to offer
all that the modern Enduro rider needs. On softer
terrain the tyre applies its own self-cleaning properties
to ensure maximum traction on soft/intermediate
terrains, but when transferred to a harder terrain the
Tech 6.2 still performs outstandingly well due to its
innovative block structure. Available in 140/80-18 in
Intermediate, soft and Super soft compounds.
TECH7.1 - The man behind the patented, Gibson
Moutech Speedy mousse, JJ, “Luigi Mazzoni.
Gibson’s mousses use Air Chamber Core Technology
“ACCT” and promise a higher life span as well as
plenty of grip.
Their look is unusual because they feature rings
around the tyre as well as being hollow inside.
Most recently, German Tim Apolle, won both
heats of the opening round of the Maxxis FIM
SuperEnduro World Championship in Poland and as
a result, is leading the first round of the FIM Europe
SuperEnduro Cup. 75 riders from 22 nations were on
the start line.
SGS Motosport and Rim - 031 537 3569.
SBS distributed by
GRAHAM JARVIS 1ST BRITISH EXTREME CHAMPIONSHIP 2018 (OPENING ROUND)
BUI LT T O GO
A S FA R A S
SMART APPROACH FE 250
DAR E T O TA
The FE 250 is the smallest capacity 4-stroke in the enduro
line-up. The small capacity means it is very lightweight and
shines in tough technical terrain while delivering a torquey
and manageable 4-stroke performance. Combined with class
leading WP suspension, selectable engine maps and Magura
hydraulic clutch, the FE 250 features an array of premium
components for unsurpassed quality and reliability.
THE 2016 2-STROKE ENDURO MODEL RANGE.
The joy of the ride is often in nding routes that nobody else has used – rea
destinations that few others would dare to aim for. The 2016 Husqvarna Mo
2-stroke enduro bikes rely on exceptional agility, a broad powerband and li
weight – letting you easily explore wherever you choose to go.
Please make no attempt to imitate the illustrated riding scenes, always wear protective clothing and observe the applicable provisions of the road traffic regulations!
The illustrated vehicles may vary in selected details from the production models and some illustrations feature optional equipment available at additional cost.
Photo: H. Mitterbauer
FREESTATE - Husqvarna Central, Bloemfontein – (051) 430 1237
Holeshot Motorcycles, Boksburg – (011) 823-5830
Belville (021) 945 8019
MPUMALANGA - Vans Husqvarna, Middleburg – (013) 282 0766
ought to you by
Sym’s new adventure bike:
The mini adventure segment is hotting up with BMW,
Suzuki and Kawasaki all releasing 300cc adventure
bikes and now Sym are getting in on the act with the
The Trazer 200 is a lightweight adventure bike that
Sym say is built for beginners who want a bike that
can tackle any road. The Trazer has a 183cc single,
which produces 18bhp and 12ftlb of torque. It has
19in/17in wheels and off-road tyres, as well as longtravel
suspension. It also comes with ABS and in true
off-road style, the rear wheel ABS can be disabled…
Is it coming here? We sure hope so, we need more
quality, cost effective entry level machines.
Monster Dakar Theft:
A Monster Energy Honda CRF450 was stolen ahead
of its departure for January’s Dakar rally in South
Thieves broke into a lorry at the port in Le Havre,
France, where the vehicles destined for the Rally in
Peru are shipped from. After forcing their way into the
vehicle, the thieves made off with the bike and also
three helmets belonging to the team.
The value of the rally bike has been estimated at an
eye-watering €300,000 (£264,000, or LOTS of Rands.)
It was set to be transported to Peru, this year’s event
and was all ready to leave when the thieves struck
sometime between Wednesday, November 22 and
Thursday, November 23. It was due to leave for South
America on Monday, November 27, where it would be
for a month as it crossed the Ocean… see it does not
only happen here!
Travis Teasdale joins Beta’s
extreme enduro team
Beta is glad to welcome Travis Teasdale into its
Factory Team for the 2018 season.
14 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
The young South African rider will compete in all the
major Extreme Enduro races in 2018.
Teasdale has already achieved some excellent results
including second place at Hell’s Gate and Roof of
Africa in 2017.
“I’m very excited, this is the first time in a Factory
Team for me,” said Travis Teasdale.
“Been part of the Beta family for the 2018 season is a
great result and I am still nervous to start riding.
“I hope for a very good year and I would like to thank
Beta for this great opportunity.”
For Teasdale, the programme for the next season will
involve the following races:
• Hell’s Gate
• The Tough One
• King of Hill
• Sea to Sky
• Roof of Africa
We wish Travis all the best for the upcoming season!
SBS distributed by
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ought to you by
Tickets now on sale For
the SA Bikefest
The SA Bike Festival, returns to the legendary Kyalami
Grand Prix Circuit from 25-27 May 2018.
Organisers have announced that tickets are now
on sale and visitors can again expect another huge
variety of the newest biking trends from the world’s
top brands alongside live music, test rides, training
courses, 2-wheel action and stunts, kids activities,
Joburg’s favourite food trucks plus the best in lifestyle
and merchandise. The three-day event attracts over 20
000 riders, collectors, motoring enthusiasts and their
families from all over the country for one extraordinary
weekend where consumers can be entertained and
educated as well as learn, try and buy from a multitude
of manufacturers and brand leaders, meeting the
To benefit the dedicated bike clubs, fans and followers
of the festival, the first 2000 Standard tickets are
just R150, and those who book early will join the
#SABikeFest Inner-Circle giving them first access
to the circuit test rides, adventure off-road rides,
latest news and industry updates, special offers and
value-adds from participating brands and exhibitors.
Thanks to an array of innovative brands and returning
sponsors, 2018 sees new and exciting ticket packages
and special offers to boost even more added value to
the visitor experience, plus offered at 2017 prices.
New for 2018 - The All Action Kid’s KYALAMI PIT
ROOF! A space full of entry level cc motorcycles,
electric scooters, pocket bikes, ride on & arcade
games, funfair food, soft drinks and much more!
Whether you have kids or are a kid at heart, this fun
filled area has something for everyone and is well lit
and secure so that visitors can stay on longer and
enjoy the festivals full activities with all the family. ALL
visitors will also be able to access to the pit roof to view
the full circuit’s activities and FMX #FlightNight.
The SUNDAY CHARITY RIDE takes on a new route this
year and still provides the opportunity for the public
to ride the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit on their own
motorcycles on the 27 May. This year the donation
choice is yours. We continue our relationship with RIDE
FOR A REASON – CLAWS AND PAWS with the ticket
contributions starting at R50 per person, however
visitors are also able to participate in our RAMBO
BLANKET DRIVE where the proceeds will go towards
purchasing blankets (R149 per blanket) for local
Gauteng communities for the fast- approaching 2018
winter months. The RAMBO bike clubs, dedicated to
this annual cause, will distribute the blankets together
with groceries to these communities in the weeks
following the festival and together we are uniting with
the aim to deliver the highest number of blankets in
To round up all the action for 2018 - all tickets include
- Festival Guide and Dunlop Lanyard
- Access and variety to test ride the latest and most
popular motorcycles around an international race
circuit from Husqvarna, Suzuki, Honda, Harley-
Davidson, Zontes, Yamaha, Indian Motorcycles, and
KTM to name a few (R100-R160 per ride)
- Opportunity to purchase Adventure Ride Outs on a
2km off-road course from our favourite machines, with
guidance from the experts from KTM, Honda, Suzuki
and more. (R100 per ride)
- Grandstand seating to view Monster Energy’s
second instalment of the night-time FMX stunt show
#FlightNight and our favourite trials biking brother duo
The Le Riche Brothers.
- The Martini MotoGP Bar
- Access and voting of the RocoMamas Custom,
Vintage, Classic & Retro Motorcycle Championship
with international custom judge and builder from
Germany, Frank Sander, and local Classic expert,
Robert Coutts, from the 2 Stroke Club
- Flat track racing and Scooter and Commuter testing
- Opportunity to “Auction” your own motorcycle or buy
“Nearly New” from the team at AutoTrader
- Learn to Ride activities and training with the team
FOr more information got to www.
16 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
SBS distributed by
1222 Pretorius Street
Hatfi eld, Pretoria
Tel: (012) 342-8571
SA’S PREMIUM MOTORCYCLE & ACCESSORY BOUTIQUE
Are you geared for the 2018 season?
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• ACCESSORY DIVISION
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Full range of
2018 MX &
S h e r c o l a u n c h e s t h e n e w 1 2 5
“What a stunning little bike!” This is the general consensus from everyone who rode the new bike at Zone
7 where our Kyle Lawrenson went to test the little Six Day and rub shoulders with some of Cape Towns
There are few things in life that are
quite as cool as opening a 125
2-stoke wide and letting that little
motor sing. Everyone who has ever ridden
and RM or a YZ will bear testimony to the
sheer joy of railing through a berm and
flicking these lightweights around.
But that is usually in the context of
motocross, not off-road. And, while no one
is winning pro level races on 125s in MX any
more, off-road is even more dominated by
either big-bore two strokes or four-stroke
machines. But don’t tell that to Sherco. Or,
we could tell them, but they would build the
125 SE-R anyway and we are really glad
Very often the bigger machines are a bit
of a handful for the younger riders, ladies
and smaller riders, so perhaps a 125 starts
looking quite attractive…
Sherco’s reasons behind the new 125 are
all about trying to catch younger riders into
the Sherco brand as much as filling a hole in
their own model line-up. It’s about growing
as a manufacturer but also giving dealers
a bike to catch the kids with. Sherco’s aim
was “to make a rideable bike, smoother and
more progressive power delivery so the little
SE-R can hold its own in the tight, rocky
stuff as much as it can flat tap through the
Did they succeed? We travelled to The
Cape to find out.
The new Sherco features a completely new
125 two-stroke engine, which has been in
development for one and a half years. It
meets Euro 4 emissions laws, thanks to
some clever work on the carbureted engine
with its new electronic power-valve.
Instead of a standard power valve that
is mechanically driven and is essentially
a sliding door, the Sherco’s design is a
rotating drum that, according to them, has
better sealing, more precise actuation is
less prone to sticking, and is electronically
controlled by the ECU.
The new bike is electric start only, with
no kick starter. The starter is housed
underneath the engine and protected by the
18 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018 19
Paul Symons from PSP Protective
stuff down the ramp...
Sherco’s regional rider Sam Hallet
bash guard, it’s a very neat and tidy design
by Sherco engineers.
The motor features a six-speed gear box
and has an electronically controlled exhaust
power valve, similar to the system used on
TM Racing. The 125’s motor is specifically
designed to have better cooling than their
past bikes with the water sleeve having a
ribbed internal shape for more surface area
and a special water chamber under the
21 inch wheel up front, 18 out back.
Ground clearance comes in at 335mm with
seat height 950mm and fuel capacity is 9.5L.
Rather than just using the same frame
that the other engine displacements use,
the 125 gets own half-perimeter chromemolybdenum
piece. It uses pretty much the
same geometry but is just a tiny bit smaller
and has a head angle that is reduced
by 0.9 degrees. This results in an overall
15mm shorter wheel base than all the other
models. When talking to the Sherco guys
about why they did this, they basically said
they wanted to double down on agility and
nimble handling. Since 125s aren’t used for
crazy high speed, therefore don’t need to be
too concerned with high-speed stability, the
thought process is - why not make it even
quicker to turn and slice through the forests.
And that’s just what it does.
to a very cool MX and Kiddies track. There
is also a man-made enduro track stacked
liberally with tyres, logs, trees and all sorts.
There is a little Quarry – with some steep
slopes to ride. The enduro track is probably
15 kilometres long, well laid out zig zags
through the trees onto thick – well sand and
lots of bushes.
Heaps of fun – but quite a lot of PT on a
small cc bike.
Ergonomically, the bike is quite tall – a full
sized bike. The sculpted seat is comfy and
relation from bars to seat to pegs all makes
sense. Sleek and sexy, in typical European
fashion. The little race clock is a great touch
– and the new 220kw happy button worked
faultlessly all day.
At 93 Kg’s dry, the bike feels very light.
Combined with it’s low weight and overall
lack of reciprocating mass, the 125 SE-R
is as nimble as any bike that we’ve ever
ridden. Just a little nudge with your knee
and the bike will lean over. Whipping the
bars back and forth through tight trees took
tiny effort and even when we got a little
shakey and had to make a quick correction,
it responded immediately. This bike always
seems to feel in control. Not at all nervous
like some of the old MX machines.
On the odd occasion that the guys got
stuck, we watched them muscle the bike
out of the logs and tyres with a minimum of
If you have never ridden at Zone 7 before –
this is what it is like. Lots of sand – as in lots.
Then there is a bit more sand that takes you
Wring the 2-stokes neck - she screams.
20 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
BIKES / QUADS/ SIDE X SIDES
COME JOIN THE FUN
Dates for 2018.
The plan is to also do a couple of Dual purpose rides for the
big trailies, we will keep you posted.
We are just awaiting confirmations here and there – but come
and join the fun – some of the best trail rides you’ll ever do.
August 25th – Day ride
Oct 5th Durban 2 JHB in the dirt – a whole new route, we
are busy with the recce and will keep you posted.
October 27th – We’ll host a day ride.
November 16th – Lesotho.
December 1st - Sunfields ride, Balfour.
So – lots to keep you busy!
Weekend Jan 26th – Waterberg Mountain Ride -
Naboomspruit. A firm favourite, rivers, sandy trails, rocks,
Sat 17th Feb – farm ride in Parys. Always lekker!
March 3rd – Cosmos Ride on the East Rand. A long beautiful
ride, scenic, rocks, rivers - and we’ll see lots of Cosmos.
March 24th - Day Ride Greylingstad
April 27th – Tentative Swazi Mangala long weekend – a two
day ride across Swaziland. Fantastic fun.
May 26th - Day ride in or around JHB.
June 16th – Youth day ride – South of JHB.
June 29th – Tri Nations – SA, Swaziland Mozambique…
an amazing adventure.
email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
(011) 979-5035 / (011) 979-0053
Come and join the fun!
(011) 979-5035 - 072-177-0621
082-870-6134 - 083-314-2203
Email us and we will
add you to the
fuss, largely thanks to the light weight. This
is a huge bonus for more technical trails.
But, how does this little engine shape up
for harder enduro?
Flip the mapping switch to soft (map1)
and the bike produces great gobs of
torque – perfect for creeping up and down
the mountain trails – and it does not stall.
The power is smooth and strong and
you don’t need to wring its neck to hop
logs and so-on. So for a light person who
would like to ride more techy stuff – we
reckon that this bike is a winner. Going up
the loose, silty, rocky uphills we didn’t have
to wring its neck and it made good traction
the whole way.
Map 2 – hard, changes the bike for faster
stuff. It can still climb, but the bike revs more
and when you open it up, it takes off like a
cat out of the toilet bowl. More motocrossy
and huge fun to ride. And the best part
is that the power is extremely linear – we
weren’t falling on our faces then having to
clutch it to get back to the meat.
They tell us that all of this lekkerness
comes down to the new power valve system.
In practical terms, this translates into
smoother, broader spread of usable power,
which is exactly what you need from a 125
Suspension is 48mm WP front forks with
300mm travel while the WP rear shock has
330mm of travel. All Sherco models use WP
suspension but the 125 is the first to use the
Xplor fork. This is the same fork that is on
KTM’s EXC-F models and is WP’s latest offroad
offering. The main benefit of this fork is
its adjustability. The clicker settings operate
similar to a cone valve system and each
click makes a substantial difference. On
this day, they taped the clickers to standard
settings so that riders could not fiddle.
Everyone we chatted to commented that
the stock settings are on the hard side, but
the more aggressive you are, the better it
feels. We know that the Xplor system is
good and nobody had any complaints. Set it
up for your weight and riding style and you’ll
Some riders opinion
Paul Symons: “ Light, nimble, which is
expected on a 125. Power delivery is
smooth and once open, it has great get up
and go. Soft mode gives you the confidence
to climb! The suspension feels quite hard,
but the harder you ride, the better it gets. I
personally don’t like the stock Domino grips,
they are quite a hard compound. All in all I
really enjoyed this bike.”
Braam Compion: “Love the soft map, the
bike simply won’t stall. Torque is amazing,
the bike pulls off in 2nd easily which is
perfect for endure riding coz it does not
break out. Light, instant power in fast mode
with a very forgiving front end. It turns so
Sam Hallet: “ Like ice cream on a hot day.
Delicious! Plenty of power on the hard map
– more than the average rider needs. On the
softer map, the Sherco is no 300, but it slots
perfectly into the 200cc class. I’ll repeat
what the others have said, it’s very difficult
to stall this bike with very user friendly rolling
inertia. The handling is magic, it goes where
you point it.”
Kim Rew: “The bike is probably a bit tall
for me, but I believe that it can be lowered
quite a bit. I really likethe smooth power –
such a nice bike to ride.”
Small Bike. Huge Fun.
R99000.00 - www.toyscom.co.za
The crew fron CPR,
the Sherco dealers
in Cape Town.
22 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
Roosters Charity Rally Raid 3000kms challenge 3 Dec – 13 Dec.
Motorcyclists are such cool people. There are so many great initiatives that take place. This was a ride
on Honda’s 250 Rally’s to raise funds for the Jordan old age home – and what an adventure that was!
Neil van der Ross tells the story: He did 3233KM’s in 7 days. The Fishers rode for 27 days and covered
The plan was to ride my XR650L and meet my old racing
mate Kevin Fisher on an adventure ride through the Wild
Coast. My plan was to locate him via a tracker unit that he
had activated and to ride a couple of days in the Kei only.
We first spoke in June 2017 when he was in the process
of buying a CRF250L from Honda West Rand. I thought it
odd he was looking at a 250cc. When we met again a month
later, he was buying sprockets at a bike shop. I asked him to
please send me an email detailing the December ride. He did
not fully disclose who was going on the ride and that it would
only start in early December. He said he would keep me in
the loop. On the 28 November I was on my way to Kyasands
taking the back route when I came across four trail bikes. All
loaded with gear. They had stopped on the side of the road
leading down a dirt road. I made a u turn and came back to
see if all was okay. I did not recognize anyone immediately.
At the back of the group was an adult I went forward to ask if
she was okay. When I saw it was Gazelle (Kevin Fishers wife),
my brain clicked a gear and I immediately knew it was the
24 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018 25
At the start - the Fisher five.
Kevin confirmed they had fast tracked
their ride as rain was forecasted over the
following days. I told him that my plan to
come find him down on the Wild Coast was
still a reality, but I could only depart after a
charity function on 2 Dec. I was a bit dizzy
with the encounter as I was en route to go
collect rubber for my XR650L. Kevin’s crazy
idea to take his family from JHB to CPT on
the dirt was whirling around in my mind.
Utter, utter madness. My pre ride nerves
around my preparations began to kick in.
That night I logged onto the link via the
whatsapp that Kevin sent me to track him.
He had already made it Koppies pass near
VDBijl that day, dodging the rains.
Kevin’s plan was to ride 150-300 per day
depending on terrain, weather etc. On the
30 November I went into Honda West rand
to buy a spare 21 inch tube for my XR650.
Speaking to Helena at Honda she offered
me the latest CRF250 RALLY to ride and do
a test for a promotional campaign. Helena
also said the bike had 2961kms on the clock
and it would need a service at 6000kms.
Three thousand kilometres to Kei and back
was doable, but would need some serious
mathematics going by dirt.
The Fisher 5 were five days ahead. Riding
A gear clicked in my head about the
3000km trip and turning it into a challenge
for charity. I made a couple of calls and very
many charitable people in motorcycle circles
decided to come on board with pledges
per kilometre for the challenge. I was blown
away by the sequence of events. My Jordan
home exec got pledge lists emailed and a
designer came in to make up the header.
Before I left on the 3 December more than
15k was pledged. The pressure was on.
On Sunday 3 Dec I loaded the CRF250
RALLY onto my bakkie and I headed for
Ladybrand to drop off my bakkie with
Charan Moore. The Plan was to save
370kms both ways thus adding up to
3000kms challenge. Good plan. Getting
on my bike to leave, Charan told me to
skip the two day ride around Lesotho and
go through Quachas Nek border about 60-
70kms from Matatiele.
I could catch the Fishers who were
stopped in Port Edward at a good mate
Derek Purcells place. Port Edward is about
200kms from Matat. Good plan. But I did
not pack my passport. At the Hobhouse
sign I turned left to the border. I cruised
through stopped in Roma to refuel. Lesotho,
my favourite riding country is being tarred
all over. The road from Roma to Ramabanta
used to be dirt all the way to Semonkong.
Now its tarred, Superbike and adventure
Sad, as far its rural nature is lost. But hell,
it’s what is called progress. I stopped in
Semonkong and filled up at the trading post.
I parked amongst the pack mules. I also felt
packed like a mule. I had brought way too
much clothes and gear with a hikers pack.
The Rally cruised silky at 128kph,
anything above that brought vibration out
the single cylinder. It did manage a top
speed of 154 down one hill. This bike was
for cruising and soaking up the views on
26 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
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the Lesotho passes. No scary moments
braking hot into the sharp switch backs
in the mountains. Large trailies or large
displacement engines will hate the tight
sections to Semonkong to Quachas Nek.
The 250 made those roads fun and safe
at speed. The new tar from Semonkong to
Quachas took over two hours. I was warned
about the speed bumps. Lost count at
about six to ten per village. Damn painful.
I did not want to risk a front puncture
because most speed bumps had a sharp
edge on the bottom lip, so I took it easy.
There was a kicker on some too. Quachas
Nek is a typical African trading post, animals,
taxis, humanity, bustling, hustling etc.
Outside the trading post is a dirt road to a
remote border crossing. The silent exhaust
note of the Rally made my exit effortless
to the RSA side. I rode mostly dirt to get to
Matatiele and Fuelled up.
Fuel consumption on this bike was crazy
less than R100 bucks every time.
I hit the tar from Matatiele, through
Kokstad on tar because of rain. In Harding,
full rain and mist was the order of business
up until Bizana : 30kms of rural township
before Port Edward. Treacherous in the wet.
Thankfully the rain ceased.
I stopped at the ocean at 17.00 for the
obligatory picture and location post for my
wife’s nerves. I Met the Fisher 5 and it was
a sweet welcome, as I had saved five days
and was keen to ride the Kei with them.
Derek Purcell a legend in local circles
has been inviting me for more than decade
to visit him and ride the Wild Coast. Again
Divine intervention. Sigh! Good to see him.
He was ill at the time and seeing him raised
his spirits and mine.
It was a tough day that started at 5am. (
11.5 hours , 391kms as per google maps).
We left Port Edward Tuesday 5 Dec after
9am and headed for Mboytjie. Deep into the
Dirt highway all the way. Words cannot
give justice to the beauty of the Wild Coast.
It was drizzling in places, roads were
slippery as SNOT. This slow going did not
dampen the adventure and beauty of the
It was raining with a huge taxi traffic
jam as we entered Lusikisiki . It started
about 1km before the CBD. It was lekker
to tip toe through the madness. I led the
way while Kevin rode shotgun. Locals just
stared at us. Animals scattered. Chaos
personified. Hooting is required, the
language of chaos. Sic.
We Stopped at the only garage to fill up
and dodge the deluge. A cheese vetkoek
( called magwiena) with machine coffee
never tasted so good. From Lusiksiki we
headed for Mboytjie through the isolated tea
plantation called Magwa. A visit to Magwa
falls was the plan for the next day.
Our group took it easy, there was spills
and thrills throughout the wet day. After
we checked into our abode, a clean eight
sleeper bungalow, we went to sample the
Transkei Pepsi at the local down the trail.
For dinner we had a chicken braai Kevin’s
style that went down really well and was
proper way to end a great day. It was
drizzling the next morning when headed
out to visit remote Magwa Falls near the tea
You would think you were in India riding
through those beautiful plantation’s.
Local pickers in orange and yellow rain
suits were picking tea in the light drizzle.
Quite a sight. After a puncture repair at the
falls, I think number five according to Kevin,
we headed for Coffee bay via Hole in the
Wall, a landmark place that I was excited to
finally see. It is a spectacular as everyone
From there we stopped briefly in Port St
John to fill up. A trading town with small
shops all over. Our rest stop would be in
Coffee Bay back packers that night. A
private bungalow with double bed had my
name on it. We slept well.
The next day, the sun came out and we
could dry our gear before heading out onto
the wet trails. Kevin took us on various
routes, some of which the Windsor Royals
rode some years ago. His knowledge of
the area is vast with all tours he done in
At the entrance to Baviaans.
Beautiful Magwa Falls
En route to Xora Mouth
Even the Braai grid was loaded
Everyone took a tumble...
Into the Eastern Cape
Into the reserve
Jess catches a kip
Loading the bikes in Cape Town.
28 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
//SECTOR450 //SECTOR750 //SECTOR1000CREW
R67 500 R195 000
R119 900 R147 500
Andre 082 771 3040 / Sales: Avril 083 284 4201
Technical: Fernando 071 895 9567
Muddy trails through the forests
Outside Gordons Bay
Port St Johns
Slippery and wet in the tea plantations
the area. The ride from Coffee Bay to Xora was the
tester for the team. It was a mild to hot enduro track.
Up hills down hills, river crossings, jungle bush thick
vegetation. Not even a 4x4 would get through the
deep jungle paths. For myself and Kevin it was not
so bad, because of our racing backgrounds, but for
17 year old Jessica , Chris 15 years, Josh 13, and
Gazelle their mom, it was a stretch. I saw worry in
some eyes. Despite this, their riding confidence was
growing after each kilometre. We got to the Xora
mouth around 16.00. Kevin and I rode the kids and
Gazelles bikes down the slippery hills and various
river crossings. We celebrated every challenging
section we conquered. One bike drowned during the
day. I came close to drowning on many occasions
because of the height of the CRF250 RALLY.
Touching the slippery rocks in the river current was
near impossible with both my boots. I had to dig
deep into the balance department. I take my hat off
to Gazelle to embark on such an adventure after only
starting to ride only two months before. The kids had
ridden bikes from a young age.
Xora mouth and a friends family house was a
welcome site for us. It was a long day for the riders.
We all were exhausted. But the stories and triumphs
of the last three days made up for tough moments.
The Fisher 5 were going to spend five days at the
estuary. For me it was only three days as I would need
to carry on with my 3000km challenge. Three days of
fishing, good food, good company, karaoke renditions
and lots of war stories eventually ended. I had a
great time with new friends and some old ones. I said
farewell to my Fisher Family at 6.45am and left for my
solo challenge across Wild Coast to Kei mouth for
my next stop. From Mdawbeni onwards don’t expect
strong signal, my google app did not work. I was
heading for Willowvale to refuel. My landmarks were
Mbashe River, Three Bridges, Cats pass , Morgans
bay and then into Centani. I ended up Elliotdale first
70kms off course. Eventually I found my way back
through rural roads to the Willowvale refuel.
There were stunning open sections, but then my
sense of direction left me and I ended up going north
toward Butterworth to get back on track. Locals
hardly speak English so it made for interesting
dialogue. After Butterworth I found my way to
Centani trading post about 30kms before Kei mouth.
30kms from Mazeppa bay. I Filled up in Centani and
headed for Sea Gulls resort, a place I last stayed in
2012 for a previous National Enduro. Damn it, the
road was tarred from Centani.
Anyway, once again, that is progress.
I bumped into Deon from the Scatterlings
Adventure bike group in Seagulls pub. We hit it off
with great conversation about adventure riding.
The Seagulls Wild Coast pub has the best views on
the rugged coastline. The 250’s appearance in the
parking lot started many a conversation amongst
the bikers there. Deon tells me that they are spoilt
for choice when it comes to adventure riding down
here. The ride to Sea Gulls was a breakfast run for
the locals. I headed out with the group of about ten
riders to Kei mouth ferry to cross over the Groot Kei
river back into ‘’old RSA’’ . The group stopped at
30 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
another watering hole in Kei Mouth town.
Unfortunately the famous ‘’ Bush Pig ‘’ was
closed for their Christmas party, so I missed
to opportunity to see it. I was almost
tempted to ride the 100kms to East London
with Scatterlings, but decided to recharge
for my next day’s ride to Jeffreys bay via dirt.
I still needed to plot a route. Spending
time in the pub with the guys, stories of
Baviaans and the surrounds filled me with
intrigue and some anxiety of doing a solo
adventure. I fell asleep listening to crashing
surf outside my bungalow at Whispering
Waves resort next to the golf course. A nice
place- affordable too.
The next day I left Kei Mouth and headed
for Grahamstown on tar. My trip mileage
was on 1463kms and I tried to best
minimize excessive dirt mileage till I got to
Baviaans. I detoured after Grahamstown
towards Patterson rode past Shamwari
game reserve onto the Addo Elephant
Park side of Port Elizabeth. I arrived at my
mate Myrons workshop and did some load
shedding. I had not used my tent or air
mattress, so they were first to go. Next was
clothing items and one tyre lever and some
tools. The load lost made wonders for an
upright attack of Baviaans kloof. I then rode
the back routes along the coast, under Van
Stadens bridge, towards Loerie and the
Gamtoos river Mouth outside J Bay.
I stopped at Island Style back packers
(top notch place) and booked me a sea
facing double for R200. Compliments of
The next morning I left J BAY at 7.45
and arrived in Patensie around 9am to
fuel. At Patensie I asked the pomp joggie
if he has seen any bikes heading towards
Baviaans and he said five guys had fuelled
and headed that way. I arrived at Baviaans
Kloof entry gate at 9.45am and paid the R60
entry and filled out all the forms. The entry
ladies were friendly and said I was the only
vehicle to enter the kloof. Wow. Stories of
the guy that died two years ago played on
my mind. Apparently he rode off the side
of a drop-off and broke both legs, a post
mortem declared. He was missing for ten
days. Because signal is zero in the reserve
I rode cautiously. I did see one guy on a GS
coming through the park a couple minutes
later. I almost stopped to chat but my mind
was rather preoccupied with the six hours
mentioned on the signboard to cover the
160kms to Willowmore ( by 4x4) . Deon
said to be aware of animals and especially
the lone water buffalo that is present at the
one river crossing. True to his words I rode
into the snarling, grunting beast charging
at me before the longest river crossing. He
sidestepped me into bushes whilst I froze in
panic. I killed the motor and pulled up to get
a picture of this beast , so I could share my
broek skeur moment. He stood briefly in the
scrub about thirty metres away enough for
me to get my shot before his loud snarling
signalled his disappearance.
Somewhere in the Wild Coast
Wild Coast slip n slide.
The famous Hole in the Wall
This is a bunch Neil met at Seagulls near Kei mouth..
Baboons are everywhere in the park. I saw duikers and dassies
a plenty. Eventually I got to the longest water crossing, its level
was down and it was a third of its normal length, according to
my mates. In the rainy season its slippery and a challenge. The
CRF Rally made it easy over the section. I counted 15 wet river
crossings, and triple that amount were dry. The Kloof in the rain
could be one hell of dangerous place thanks to the debris from
previous down pours. My riding pace picked up as I rode the low
lying sections. I loved the ride of this lightweight. My confidence
was brimming now riding at 80kms plus was sign that I forgot
where I was and what trouble could be lurking ahead. A word to
self and I settled down to cautious pace. I encountered one family
4x4 group on coming in the concrete sections laid down on the
steep ascents and descents. Definitely good for the 4x4 guys
in the wet but dangerous for two wheelers because it made an
artificial track with a dangerous ‘’middel mannetjie’’.
Once I exited the park I saw the police station, an artist stop
and café. I saw no other human activity for the day. The distance
from the park exit to the Uniondale / Willowmore split is a hundred
kays plus. When I got to the split I had one bar of fuel left. I
ignored my tripmeter and called my mate Ricky Phaal in George
about 140kms away to get advice. He is a seasoned dirt biker.
He advised me to ride slow on the dirt till I reach the Uniondale
tar road. My tank capacity was 10.1 litres. Reserve was 1.9litres.
I limped into Uniondale and my trip read 302kms. It was 2.45pm.
When I filled it tank, it took 7.99 litres. Do the maths - 37.79kms
per litre. Incredible.
After Uniondale I headed for Kammanassie road as per Rickys
advice and rode dirt all the way back to the R62. A desert highway
but with dangerous blind corners. The farmers on that road are
Dakar material. I Jumped off the R62 and headed into Montague
pass , a short cut into George. This is Rickys backyard. The pass
is old, steeped in history and worth riding. It was my second time,
my last was 38 years ago. I Arrived in George and met my mate at
Ricky it was 17.00.The longest day in the saddle. Ricky grilled me
a sirloin on his famous indoor braai and I washed it down with a
merlot. We kuiered like when we first met 38 years ago.
The next day I left George said my farewells to Ricky and Linda
and stopped on the Outeniqua pass to look down on Montague
pass and my final view of the Indian Ocean. It sure is beautiful.
I headed up N9 to Graaf Reinett and my mileage was looking
ominous. I arrived at Grafies at 11am in time for a brekkie at the
Spur. Murraysburg and onto Nieu Bethseda. The excursion of
110kms to this desolate location was recommended by my mate
HZ. Thanks Howie, I have to go back and do it justice next time.
Ancient buildings and the Owl house areg the main attractions.
Through Lootsberg pass, the 250 pulled easily up the hills with my
We rescued this little girl who was stuck at the river
The last hand operated ferry in SA over the Breede
The Ferry over the Kei River
The boys took turns operating the ferry.
32 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
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BBS D&T Jan'18.indd 1
2017/12/14 11:22 AM
The Honda clocked 3000kms 10kms
before Aliwal. It was 16.28pm. I headed for
Zastron via Wepener and Hobhouse. When I
got to Hobhouse it was 5.55pm and the fuel
station was closed. The local police came to
enquire my presence.
I explained my predicament. They said
I can call them if I run out. The CRF was
flashing on reserve. I limped to Ladybrand
and arrived at 18.30. 223kms riding into the
headwind from Aliwal. It was tough going
and the fuel consumption was high because
I had pushed above the speed limit.
This CRF250 RALLY punched above its
weight throughout the 3000kms challenge.
During some places on this journey I met
many adventure bikers and shared my
experiences, most guys told me I was a
nutter. My wife would tend to agree with
that lable. One group of GS riders we met
asked ask for route suggestions near Port
St John. The moment that we mentioned
it was a bit muddy with some slippery
downhill’s, they thanked us gratefully for
not sending them that way.
This CRF bike is an entry category into
adventure. As a commuter to work, it will
save you a fortune on fuel. Fuel injection is
a plus with the power delivery silky smooth
from the bottom through the rev range.
It’s definitely not a long distance tar type
adventurer. It is a pure adventure, thrill
seeking tool. Every piece of veld or open
space will call you on this Rally bike. The
metal tank is an item I would change for
longer range tank and I would definitely fit a
set of crash bars. The height is aggressive,
ladies will suffer if they under 1.65. The bike
has four decent luggage posts coupled near
a long rear fender which makes loading soft
luggage a breeze. Suspension on the bike
worked for my 70kgs with luggage. It will be
trial and error with much heavier riders.
The big question I get asked is why
Honda has not make a 450. Weight
reduction is the new direction the adventure
market is taking with more models
appearing like the GS310, Versys X300,
KTM390, etc . The CRF250 Rally looks like
its Dakar bigger cousin, and mimics it. I’m
sure a 450 is in the pipeline. I sure hope so.
I followed the Fisher Five story every day
when I returned. They headed from Xora
mouth to Morgans Bay and then on to Kei
They then went on to East London on the
dirt, where Kevin had his fork seals replaced
by a very efficient Honda Imola. The Fisher
Five (FF ) then went on Begha (day13) and
onto Port Alfred via game farms into Port
Elizabeth where they overnighted and then
carried on to stay at Van Stadens resort.
FF then went up the to the start of
Baviaans Kloof and camped at Kudu camp.
The following night they stayed at Uitspan
at the exit of the reserve. They travelled
through Uniondale and rode Prince Albert
Pass into Knysna. From Knysna they rode
to Hartenbos near Mosselbay. Tar dirt, dirt,
With just over 3000kms under their
belts on the 31 Decthey left Hartenbos
for Witsand backpackers. Then it was on
to Malgas to cross the Breedt river Pont.
Something you did not know – this pont
is hand operated and the last of its kind in
The next stop was Cape Agulhas then
Struisbaai back packers. On the last day,
day 20 they rode 275kms on tar to CPT to
visit Gazelles family and end the trip. They
Spent two nights in CPT and then loaded
bikes onto the train back to JHB.
The family Disembarked at Krugersdorp
station 8 Jan 2018.
What a cool adventure!
A few Thanks:
Helena of Honda Westrand for arranging
the CRF250 Rally, huge thanks to the
following donors for the challenge:
Wayne de Doncker of Brazen Freight.
Shaun Eachells of Rawson Properties. Nic
Goslar of Team Ikageng. The Pietersen
Family. Mark Chirnside Family. Rhyno of
Paddys Pub and Grill. Romeo from Dejavu
Nightclub. Jabu from Grapevine Pub.
Hennie Borraine of Xtreme Panelbeaters.
John Moodey ,Lloyd Alvis, Shaun Starr,
Patrick Graf, to mention a few biker friends,
there are so many and my family.
The R20k we collected exceeded all
expectations. Jordan old age home is
Next year we go bigger.
Trip complete - the bikes are offloaded at Krugersdorp station
34 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
African Road Block
Neils costs on the Honda Rally:
Covered 3233kms. Fuel bill R1615.
Average consumption 32.87km per
litre. Luckily no flats.
Team Effort and a drowned bike
The Honda clocks 3000. Challenge completed
DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018 3 5
2018 DAKAR WINNER
KTM makes a clean sweep of the 2018 Dakar Rally
By Renette Rauch
The Dakar Rally is considered
by many to be the most
dangerous, most difficult, and
most grueling race on the
planet ... And for good reason.
The annual rally raid has taken place
(almost) every year since 1978, established
by French racer Thierry Sabine. His
inspiration for the event came in 1977
when he got lost during a race through the
Tenere Desert of Libya. While he was trying
to find his way, he came to the conclusion
that the area would be a perfect test for
racers from across the world.
And so, in short, the Paris-Dakar Rally was
182 competitors started the inaugural
event from Paris, France. 10,000km and 74
vehicles made it to the finish line with Cyril
Neveu the first one there, riding a Yamaha
The event’s reputation as the ultimate test
of both man and machine spread and
it rapidly gained popularity worldwide.
Within five years of its outset, over 400
competitors were on the entry list. In
2005, Dakar hit its peak with a total of 688
Due to terrorist threats and deaths, the
2009 African Dakar was cancelled, never
to return to Africa . South America happily
took over the baton, the local spectators
lapping up the event and playing huge part
of the Dakar’s continued success in South
America which in 2018 celebrated its 40th
Dakar and the 10th held in South America.
This years race revisited the famously
treacherous Peruvian Dunes. It’s capital
Lima was the launch pad on 6 January
2018, moving up to the Bolivia mountains
where most of the stages would be run at a
height of over 3000 meters and then on to
the last few days in Argentina with a mixed
bag of terrain. The finish was in Cordoba
on 20 January 2018.
Marc Coma, the race director of Dakar, has
burst his seams creating a very tough tricky
route to fox man and machine and indeed
38 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
the general consensus was that 2018 was the most
difficult Dakar of them all, even by the Car winner,
Carlos Sainz, who also raced some of the African
One of the highlights of this dramatic race was being
thrown in the deep end without a run -up from the
very first moment of day 1, which saw an attrition
rate of about a dozen riders due to impossibly high
dunes with steep blind drop offs. Riders like Joaquim
Rodriques, who spectacularly overshot a sand dune
by 10 meters and landed on his back ending his
Dakar dream on day 1.
Stage 2 carried on in the same vein and the soft sand
on the very high dunes meant that only sheer grit
carried the riders over the crests. Many car and truck
drivers were not so lucky as there was no run up from
the bowls up the almost vertical sides of the dunes
and many had to sleep in the dunes and assist each
other to pull the others up or alternatively get pulled
up by helicopters. Navigation was tricky from the getgo
and with 230 km of very thick and loose sand our
Willem du Toit
Sunderland on the charge.
sadly he crashed out.
DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018 3 9
David Thomas ran out of fuel and had to
watch all the riders he had passed come
flying past, but he duly executed option
B and spend the next few days clawing
his way up the standings .
Honda’s exciting Spanish rider Joan
Barreda easily took the lead on the
notorious stage 2, snatching away last
year’s KTM winner Sam Sunderland
‘s early lead. Yamaha’s beacon of
hope, Frenchman Adrien van Beveren,
executed a flawless and graceful
race in the first 70 % showcasing his
fantastic sand riding skills. It was great
to see other brands vying for a sip of
the champagne air of the KTM riders.
But this is Dakar and nothing was set
in stone as each day bought a shake
down and surprises, reshuffling the deck
of cards quite brutally as leader Sam
Sunderland fell out with a big crash on
He tried to carry on, even with with a
compressed vertebrae. But to no avail.
This opened the field for Van Beveren to
shoot to the top, which he managed to
sustain until the fateful 10th stage .
Matthias Walkner rode a perfect,
calculated race, only winning one stage,
allowing other riders to win and open up
the next stages, while he followed in his
measured but no less fast pace all the
while watching his navigation instruments
like a hawk. In the draconian stage 10 he
garnered the respect of many when he
refused to follow Argentinian Benavides
lead up the wrong river but instead took
his time to follow the road book precisely
and not be overcome by the desires to
win stages at all costs. His ability to stay
focused on the roadbook and to trust
his own intuition was to be his secret
It seems the adage of only riding at 80
% of one’s riding capacity does not
apply to navigation - only 100 % will
do, a wisdom aptly applied by Walkner
who secured his victory on this stage to
set the stage for his eventual win. Van
Beveren also took the golden road but
sadly, during his misguided attempts to
catch the non-existent front runners who
were lost, he got caught out by the white
rocks hidden in the sand that tripped
40 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
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up so many of the competitors including
Svitko and the strong female rider Laia
Sanz. Van Beveren had a horrific fall 3 km
from the end of the special on day 10.
Many were saddened, none more so than
Yamaha who had earlier in the week seen
top rider Soultrait also exit the race.
Toby Price, Joan Barreda and some of the
other top riders also followed Argentinian
rider Kevin Benavides up the wrong
riverbed. The churned up tracks left by the
cars, compounded by a cap reading that
almost matched that of the wrong route,
meant that the riders lost at least forty five
minutes. A fatal error never to be recovered
from in this Dakar .
Walkner won the stage and took over at
the top, leading Spaniard Joan Barreda by
39 minutes. Unfortunately for the Spanish
Honda factory rider the snowball effect of
old and new injuries, mechanical problems
and crash damage to his bike saw him
exit the Dakar at the end of Day 10. A
crushing blow to this lighting fast rider and
his many fans. He has been plagued by
bad luck and mechanical problems in all
his Dakars. This was meant to be his year,
but it was not to be. He never quite made
up the time despite his heroic efforts. He
retired before attempting stage 11, leaving
his many fans wanting for. Barreda leaves
with some fanfare as he achieved 20 stage
wins which puts him in a special league
with professionals like Peterhansel with 33
stage wins on a bike, Cyril Despres with 32
and, Marc Coma with 24 wins.
Toby Price came 2nd in his Rookie Dakar in
2015, won in 2016 but in 2017 a bad fall in
4th Stage put a premature end to his race.
He came back to fly the Australian flag in
the 2018 edition . He raced well but was
outwitted by Marc Coma’s navigation in
Stage 10 and had to settle for third place
after Walkner and Benavides.
Spanish privately funded Himoinsa rider,
Gerard Farres Guesl placed 5th in his
swan song race on his KTM and French
rider finished Antoine Meo finished in 4th
This year, two marathon stages for bikes
where on the first night they have no
support and they have to suffer the same
fate as the Malle Motos daily staple of
repairing their own bikes. Luckily for the
riders, both the Marathon day’s second
stages were cancelled and they faced a
The female riders were well represented
this year but injuries plagued them after
falls and only two ladies finished , Mirjam
Pol from the Netherlands in 75th place
and Laia Sanz in an unbelievable 12th
place. Rosa Romero Font also succumbed
to the hidden rocks of Day 10, but was
game enough to carry on another 100 km
to complete the stage. Sadly the medics
Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota
Giniel de Villiers, Dirk von
Zitzewitz 3rd overall.
The Hero 450RR Rally Bike
Gerry van der Byl 129
42 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
etired her as her wound was too close to
her femoral artery.
This year had a bumper pack of 8 South
African competitors of them in the
In the car category Hennie de Klerk and
Gerrit Schutte in Volkswagens, 28th in the
general standings, won the rookie award
despite many challenges.
Our ever consistent 2009 Dakar winner
Giniel de Villiers came 3rd. Of the 15
Dakars he has raced, he has made top ten
in all but one and shone on the podium
steps 8 times. To make up the pack
of South Africans car drivers was ace
navigator and technical specialist, Robert
Howie was co-driver for Argentinian Toyota
driver Lucio Alvarez with a 10th overall.
Wessel Bosman, Lesotho rider also made a
valiant attempt but sadly he lost the battle
in stage 5. Our four motorbike riders all
flew the South African flag proudly over the
Husky mounted David Thomas returned
with a vengeance back from a premature
exit in stage 4 of the 2017 Dakar - you
might remember the story, he shattered his
knee in 7 places. Even though his leg has
only 80 % healed and he had not been able
to ride a motorbike till two months before
the Dakar 2018. David climbed up the
standings every day despite mechanical
problems, and running out of petrol in
the arduous dunes. He remained positive
and kept his cool as he fought the brutal
forces of nature and especially the freezing
wet muddy conditions at 4700 meters in
Bolivia that tripped him up last year. The
Dunes sucked up the bike’s petrol and at
that altitude, the bike has almost 30 % less
power. His sand riding experience made
up for the problems he experienced and
he finished a fantastic 36th place overall,
despite dunes that are so big he couldn’t
have dreamt them up.
DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018 43
Dakar rookie, Willem du Toit
who won the Dakar Challenge
engineered by our local Amageza
Mastermind, the late Alexander Nel,
decided to focus on conserving
his body, KTM and fuel for a good
finish rather than chasing standings.
As no Dakar can go unpunished
he too suffered from navigational
mistakes, a broken road book, dust
and trucks passing him at high
speed, and massive sand dunes in
sand so soft you would sink away.
But for the Upington Mercedes
Benz Dealer, the sand and heat was
easier to conquer than trying to stay
warm and safe in the cold, muddy,
faster-paced rocky tracks in the
altitude rich mountains of Bolovia.
The hardy 38 year old of two young
children kept eating away at the
kilometers till a well-deserved finish
in a respectable 58th overall place
in Cordoba .
As if the Dakar is not hard enough
by itself, Capetonian , Donovan
van de Langeberg raised the bar
even higher by racing in the wholly
unsupported and notoriously
difficult Male Moto category . This
meant that the 37 year old engineer
had to work on his KTM at night
when other riders could rest and
sleep. He did this with such a
positive attitude that he became a
He competed in the Malle Moto
Original with Oliver Pain and the
Robin Hood like Lyndon Poskitt
who bought the real Dakar to
millions of Dakar-hungry fans.
Pain and Poskitt have both done
a supported Dakar before they
attempted and conquered this
challenge. This was Donovans first
attempt. Quite something!
His sleepless nights did not start
at the Dakar . For a year he had
to chase sponsorships late at
night when his young family slept.
Donovan can certainly rest on his
laurels after his amazing 54th place
in the unsupported category in this
devil of a race.
And how about the 50 year old
Knysna local, Gerry van der Byl?
He is an average rider rather than
a racer, which means that he had
to dig deeper into his reserves than
most of us will ever know, especially
considering his lack of sand riding
experience. He ended up riding for
much longer than the other riders,
getting back very late at night and
with very little sleep. Leaving again
at first light conquer the treacherous
sand dunes now heavily churned
up by all other riders and in many
instances also by cars and trucks.
No one knows how Gerry did it,
least of all himself, but he did it. He
will probably spend the rest of his
life wondering how he finished this
monster of a race that that tripped
up so many professional and battle
hardened riders many times his skill
set. His grit and determination is
The riders were relieved and very
happy when they finally finished the
2018 Dakar Rally. Can you imagine?
These guys are all legends in their
own rights. What a legendary event.
The pinnacle of Off-road racing?
Hennie de Klerk & Gerhard
44 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
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The Dakar experience 40th edition
Elsabie and Michnus Olivier
followed the Dakar as
spectators, they share what
The biggest excitement every year after
Christmas and New Year is the Dakar that
starts early in January. It is a good start to
the year, to see the best of the best race
over 2 weeks in very demanding off road
Actually seeing and experiencing the Dakar
life is a pipe dream for most. It is for most
people on the other-side of the world and
definitely not a cheap endeavour. So year
after year for the few weeks in January we
only get to see the 30 minute highlights
that the French allow us to see of this epic
odyssey every evening. And then an entire
year before the next with only glimpses of
the preparations done by teams!
We were still in Ecuador working our way
South when one morning Elsebie, while
doing some route planning, mentioned that
the Dakar rally will start in Lima, Peru this
year. It was only about 2000km or so away
and we immediately changed our plans
to get to Lima the day before the Dakar
started. There was just no way that we
could not try and see at least some action
of the Dakar rally when we were so close.
It would be a dream come true!!
Travelling with Suzie and Kelvin, two
British motorcycle overlanders we met
in Colombia, we hit the road to Lima and
with good luck we made it the afternoon
before the Dakar started. Lima traffic is a
chaotic mix of unskilled, insane drivers and
wannabe kamikaze pilots who are trying to
kill each other with their atrocious driving
skills. We got our own bit of adrenalin prior
to the Dakar race. Arriving unscathed at
our hotel, we just parked our bikes and
made our way to the Dakar Parc Ferme.
Surely it could not be that busy, I mean
Peruvians must be at work as it was only
about 3pm on a Friday afternoon. Well,
apparently not. Peruvians are insanely
besotted with the Dakar. Parc Ferme is
a huge area where all the vehicles are
parked after being scrutinised. This area
hosts a massive exhibitors area with
various brands and sponsors showing
their stuff. People are in a festive mood
and everything Dakar related is being sold,
even fake ‘official’ merchandise which
was, in my opinion, of better quality than
most of the official stuff.
We were drooling over the motorcycles
lined up in their own area when we caught
sight of Lyndon Poskitt, still tinkering at
his bike. He was the only rider still there
that afternoon. The rest of the guys had
all retired to their hotels to prepare for
the start the next day. I called Lyndon
to please come over for a photo and a
chat, and with a big grin he called back
to wait a minute he will be over soon, he
just wanted to put the ‘condom’ over his
navigation system. He is a friendly, well
spoken dude, and happily chatted away
for almost 20 minutes telling us how he
felt. He unfortunately sported a severe
case of the flu and had to see the Doctor
every day to get clearance for the race.
Lyndon is one of the guys riding as a Malle
Moto. Traditionally known as the Malle
Moto class but rebranded as the Original
by Motul in 2018. Unconfirmed only
around 20-30 competitors are allowed to
compete in this class each year. They are
given an area to work on their own bikes
and an area to sleep at each bivouac. They
are also given transport for their packedup
tools, a parts locker and sleeping gear
between each stage. Apart from that,
the Malle Moto riders are on their own.
They are doing what the Dakar was in the
early days. They have no massages and
back-rubs from crew. These guys are as
hardcore as they come, Chuck Norris got
nothing on them.
The cars, trucks and quads were parked
in their respective areas and in starting
order. Seeing the cars first hand up close
was a jaw dropping experience and I felt
like a kid in toy store. The top runners like
the Peugeot 3008 DKR are big cars. Just
looking at them they have a wider and
longer wheels base than a big double cab
4x4 pick-up like the Ford Ranger. Their
tyres are massive 37/12.5 - 17’s. The
Toyotas also look just as big. The trucks
were mind-bending. They have tricked
out parts like their suspension and the
cabs inside are all made up of navigational
We spent the rest of the afternoon drooling
over - and staring in awe at these beautiful
machines that would be hammered to the
maximum in gruelling conditions over the
next two weeks.
The day of the start, the entire circus
moved from Lima to a small coastal town
about 200km South, via the PanAmerican
highway. Our decision was to rather not
see them leave Lima but be at the start
of the special stage in Pisco, where they
would do an easy 30km loop in the dunes
just to get them warmed up. We left Lima
at 6am to avoid most of the traffic and
already there were an amazing amount of
people in a festive mood heading out to
Pisco. All along the 200km route, people
were setting up food stalls and parking up
with camp chairs and picnic stuff waiting
for the Dakar vehicles to pass.
As we rode the Pan Am down to Pisco
people for some reason thought we were
part of the Dakar and waved frantically
and were screaming at us. Obviously
46 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
our adventure bikes and us in our twatsuites
looked like we somehow had
to be part of the event. It was such a
wonderful experience to see the Peruvians
exuberance and be somehow part of it.
The Dakar bivouac is a massive city of
banner flags, busses, off-road transport
trucks and temporary shelters. Thousands
of people drove into the sand dunes as far
as they could. Set up tents and anything
that could offer shade while waiting for
the special stage to start. There were food
vendors and fake merchandise sellers
everywhere. Beers and cold beverages
were consumed en masse.
As the first bikes got away, the top riders
did not disappoint, they got off the line
like bats out of hell and even risked
jumping the dunes, catching huge air.
The light bikes looked like they were
gliding on water with a bit of a rooster tail
behind them. The cars were next and to
see them for the first time pull away and
make up speed on deep soft dune sand
is nothing short of mind-blowing. The
howl of those V6 twin turbo engines is
exciting, goosebump stuff. Nothing else I
have seen on race tracks prepared me for
this spectacle. Like F1, this was the top
pinnacle of racing and technological fun.
The trucks pulled away last, and if ever
there was a thing where your brain does
not believe your eyes it is witnessing those
behemoths pulls-off and charge over the
sand. They pick up speed faster than most
garden variety crotch-rockets and it looks
like a massive invisible hand is pushing
them at an incredible speed over the sand.
That is pure torque for you!! And do not
think they will take it easy over the crest of
the dunes, nooo!!! They just lift off a bit and
bulldoze through the sand. Jumping that
9 ton V8 monster with no problem. The
beautiful noise they make is other-worldly.
It is a deep growling, angry noise from the
fire pit of Satan.
Late in the afternoon as the sun set over
the ocean in the distance and the dust
settled, we decided to camp in the sand
dunes with the massive lights illuminating
the Dakar bivouac in the background.
This is where things got interesting.
Following the Dakar circus is a small Dakar
rally on it’s own. The information for the
liaison stage and special stage only gets
released late in the evening at around
8pm and followers can get rudimentary
info on the Dakar mobile app. It gives info
on roughly where they start, where they
end, spectator points, which is the special
stage, liaison stage and the distances. We
had to decide where we wanted to be and
where the best viewing would be with the
limited information available.
So, for example if the liaison stage was
90km away, we had to be on the road
before 6am to where we thought would
be a good point to watch. The routes are
mostly tracks - we are not allowed to be
on them and have to go off-road to find
places where we think a good view can be
found. Most of the tracks lead into proper
off-road terrain where normal 4x4’s and
our loaded overland bikes cannot easily
venture. Luckily, for the next two days the
Dakar was based in San Juan de Marcona,
a coastal town, and we could wild-camp
on the beach and make it to some good
spectator points about 60km away. It still
meant getting up at 5am, packing our
tents, finding water and food for the day
and heading out to the desert.
The sand in the desert had a layer of hard,
small sized pebbles and stone which
kept the powdery fesh-fesh underneath
from turning into an eternal dust storm.
But once the first front runners ripped up
and broke that layer, it is a dust hell. The
rear-enders have a huge disadvantage
as they have to not only contend with
the dust and the track, but also ruts and
invisible obstacles underneath this baby
powder dust, making it more challenging to
navigate and ride/drive.
Our decision to stick with long sleeve
shirts, pants and covering our faces and
heads with our buffs and large rim hats
paid off. The suffocating dust and sun
could make it a long hard day. This time
around there were no spectator barriers
and it was up to us to stay out of harmsway
while the racers went past at warp
speed. It made for spectacular photos and
There is a definite difference between
the top sponsored factory teams and
the privateers. The top teams will finish
a 250km special stage in 2 hours or
something close and head back to the
bivouac for the rest of the day. The
privateers take longer as they go slower
and are generally more cautious and have
to contend with the more difficult track and
terrain left by the front runners.
We could only follow the event for 4 days
but it was an incredible experience which
I hope we can do again at least once
more time. The mood, vibe and overall
atmosphere made it an unforgettable
burned into your brain experience.
If you do decide to follow the Dakar try
and do it in a car. It is a very romantic idea
to follow it on a motorcycle but it makes
things just a little bit more complicated.
We could not leave our loaded bikes on
some parts of the highway unattended.
With a 4x4 it is easier to go into places
where a loaded bike would be more of a
struggle. Wearing bike kit all day is not as
nice as wearing lightweight, cool clothes
and not having to haul bike kit along. Also
for camping each night and carrying food
and water, a car makes it much easier.
Having 2 or 4
the vehicle, the
cost is less per
each can help
plan for the next
DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018 47
R I D I N G S P I T I V A L L E Y , I N D I A
Julian Challis has been a motorcycle journalist for twelve years, writing predominantly for off-road titles.
He owns five motorcycles – two KTM 250EXCs – 2013 and 2001, a 2007 Honda Fireblade, A 2011Yamaha
Tenere and a 1995 Yamaha TDM 850. He also collects 1950’s Bakelite clocks, an obsession not shared or
indeed entirely appreciated by Mrs Challis. He shares his experiences on a recent trip to the Spiti Valley in
India… On some very classic motorcycles.
Our route is entirely blocked. Facing us
is a huge brightly coloured truck, its wheels
a foot deep in the fast running water. The
driver’s door is wide open but the driver is
nowhere to be seen. Behind the truck, a
line of 4x4s and other trucks sit patiently,
occasionally tooting their horns just to
show willing. To our left, an enormous river
thunders past, it’s murky water crashing
over treacherous rapids. To the right is a
massive boulder field, the huge rocks having
broken free from the cliffs that tower above
At times it’s easy to imagine that we are
in a mountain section of the Dakar Rally.
But this is the Spiti Valley and this is the
main road between Kaza and Sisu in the
Indian Himalayas. And it is one of the most
incredible roads on earth.
The trip had started a dozen days earlier
and marked my second foray into India.
I’d persuaded Nico, a Bristol trail rider to
join me, leaving a chilly Heathrow Airport
for an overnight flight to Delhi. Landing at
Indira Ghandi International at 6.30 AM. We
aren’t the chirpiest travellers, and picking a
cabbie that knows little of Delhi’s geography
certainly doesn’t help.
The following day starts stupidly early
as we have a long and death-defying taxi
ride up to Manali, dodging everything from
feral cows to oncoming vehicles on our
side of the carriageways. 14 hours later we
arrive at our hotel and after a swift beer, bed
In the morning it’s time to catch up with
our fellow travellers on Ride Expeditions
new tour of the Spiti Valley. Ali is a massage
company owner from Australia, Garry a
fellow Aussie who owns his own brewery,
Bruce, an architect from Washington DC
and finally Chris, a returning British ex-Pat.
With the introductions done it’s time to ride
the bikes for the first time for all except
Chris, who’s elected to do much of the
tour in a chunky Suzuki 4x4 with Ramu,
our travelling mechanic. Bruce and Garry
have opted to ride the Himalayan, while the
rest of us including sweep rider Topi and
company owner Toby are on Royal Enfield
Later, the evening meal is at Johnson
Lodge, dining on delicious trout plucked
from the rivers that surround the town. Amid
the conversations, Bruce’s revelation that he
is experimenting with rinsable pants marks a
level of intimacy we are not expecting …
46 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018 47
A motley crew right there
Bright and early the next day, it’s time
to set off. With the truck loaded with
our luggage, spares and fuel, we head
south towards Kullu. The heavy rain has
caused landslides that threaten to engulf
the road and we dodge water and mud
in equal measure. Slicing through the
busy streets of Kullu, it’s the usual slalom
around every type of vehicle and livestock,
from overloaded rickshaws to chickens
meandering through the traffic.
Lunch is at a roadside dhaba to Nico’s
horror, who at times could struggle to
be any more Italian. It’s the first of many
vegetarian eateries on the tour. “If this goes
on for too long I will bite a cow,” he informs
Toby as we down the lentil dhal and
Soon after we travel through a three
kilometre long tunnel, with no lighting in
the dark expanse, I’m regretting my dark
race visor. Once out, we hang left and
away from the traffic. Immediately the
scenery takes an upward lift as we follow
a steep valley. After negotiating a bustling
hillside town, the landscape becomes
more wooded and more European. We
climb up through cool forestry, the hairpins
becoming more challenging every minute
as the track turns from blacktop to rough
track. Bruce and Ali have little off road
experience, and it’s proving challenging
for them. As we squeeze past a bulldozer
repairing the track, Ali slides off her
Enfield and seconds later our Washington
correspondent has done the same.
Topi, Nico and I have resorted to
standing on the rear pegs of the Classics
to soften the ride. It’s good enough to
take us the final part of the climb up to our
first overnight stop – the Raja guesthouse
perched over a precipitous drop. We dump
the bikes and within a few moments cool
beers and hot pakoras arrive – perfect.
After dinner, it’s only early, so as the
others take to their beds we took a walk up
the hill, sat on the road among the fireflies
and spent an hour or so watching stars and
In the morning it’s an early start and we
are off by 9 AM. The rough track climbs
to a beautiful temple at the very top of
the ridge before dropping back down.
Garry sttands for most of the time on his
Bruce, Ali, Julian, Toby, Chris, Topi and Garry
48 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
MORE THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE!
Himalayan, but Bruce is glued to the saddle
like the rider on a remote controlled bike
toy. The scenery is stunning, though we are
so high that much of it is still draped in the
As we round a corner, the traffic has
stopped as overnight rain has caused a
landslide over the narrow road. As we
watch, a battered earthmover is shovelling
the racks and soil out of the way. Within a
surprisingly short time, the route is clear
and we dart through, passing a local bus
full of smiling, waving locals.
The road to the valley floor is epic,
sweeping ever down through endless
switchbacks. Nico and Ali are developing
an on-bike romance belting ahead like
some Royal Enfield-riding Bonnie and
Clyde. We regroup at the bottom of the
valley as a 4 x 4 goes past with a man
sitting casually on the roof rack. The main
road is lined with hundreds of auto repair
shops and it’s easy to see why. Ahead a
large crowd of people are peering down
towards the river looking at a car that
has just plummeted to almost certain
Towards the end of the day we turn
back off the main road and cut up the side
of the valley along a deeply rutted and
stony track. The Classics bounce and slip
their way over the obstacles and Chris is
powering the Suzuki with the enthusiasm
of a Finnish rally driver. When we reach the
village of Sarahan, we’re all hot and sweaty,
happy to trade the bikes for cold beers.
Before dinner, there’s time for a wander
round the tiny village. Bruce and Chris
head for the Temple, while Nico entrusts his
face to a cheery barber for a bit of smarten
up. He wants to charge £1.50 but Nico
manages to haggle him up to £3.
While we are out, leaving the lights on
and windows open has converted our
room to a moth and beetle sanctuary. In
a truly bizarre moment, Garry turns into a
psychopathic insect killer. “It’s somewhere
between an FI flag waver and Zorro” he
shouts as he smashes his towel around
our room, raining death on the winged
8AM and we’re on the bikes again,
breakfast lightened by Bruce mistaking the
serving bowl of cornflakes for his own bowl
and thus consuming around a kilo of cereal.
We head down and continue along the
valley where the road is carved into the rock,
travelling through astounding and intensely
worrying undercuts. The worry is further
cranked up as we pass a house-sized rock
that has recently fallen onto the road.
Approaching a massive hydroelectric
dam, we cut right to another valley. The
Bruce heads for the hills on the Himalayan
4 x 4 driving in India is great fun Ali waits for the traffic to pass
40kg of peas right there
50 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
Powering to Chitkul
road follows an incredible series
of hairpins to climb the precipitous
valley walls on the way to Chitkul far
up in the mountains. The protection
on the side of the road is limited
thanks to the intermittent barrier
guarding the sheer drop.
We lunch at Chitkul where
a steady stream of Mo-Mo’s –
delicious little filled dumplings
and noodles arrive. Remounting a
tad fuller than intended, the road
continues up through stunning
woodland with crystal streams
and rivers. We stop for a border
check, where an ageing policeman
emerges from a shed to check all
our passports. An hour or so later
we pass back through the same
checkpoint but the official has gone
home, his rope barrier coiled neatly
to one side of the border.
Retracing our steps, we press
on to our next stop at Kalpa, the
road varying between billiard
table smooth and grapefruit-sized
boulders. We pass through a
construction site where families
are quite literally making gravel.
From the teenagers to pensioners,
dusty faced locals are hitting larger
rocks to make them into small
rocks –at times it’s clear that India is
struggling to move forward into the
same world as the West.
We exit the main road to climb
up to Kinner Villa, where we have
a day stopover to sort visas. The
hotel owner, a man with more than a
hint of Basil Fawlty - greets us from
a slight haze of afternoon drinking
so ever the polite travellers, we join
him in a pre-prandial beer. After
eating, Mr Fawlty sets up an altar
fire on the terrace and we sink more
Kingfishers under the stars.
The rest day passes quickly. We
head into town to get the permits,
and Bruce uses the journey down
to work on his hairpin technique to
avoid either heading for oncoming
or near stalling on exits from
questionable gear selection. By the
time we’ve fought through the Indian
Building regulations don’t apply here
Buddha watches over the vast landscape
DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018 51
ureaucracy, his progress back up is much more
effective. Mine is nearly marred by disaster as a cow
decides to have a spasm as I pass it, the beast’s
horns missing me by millimetres.
In the morning, suitably refreshed, we drop back
down to the valley floor and head towards the first
checkpoint. As we hand in our paperwork, less
organized tourists without the relevant forms are
being turned away. Running on pure schadenfreude,
we fire up the Enfields and leave them behind.
Our destination is Nako, a remote village high
in the mountains. It’s a truly jaw-dropping place, a
green jewel set into the barren landscape. We’re
staying in luxury yurts overlook the tiny village, and
down below us the people are harvesting peas from
their immaculate terraces. Garry sees if he can lift
the bags that the locals are carrying, but stops when
he realises that the 40kg or so may wreck his back.
The village itself is like a step back in time –
almost medieval - with tiny streets, cattle living
under the family homes and smiling children playing
in between the ancient houses. In the centre, there
is a large lake stocked with fish, with neat allotments
around the outside completing the self-sufficiency.
One thing that stands out is the complete absence
of litter, a plague that the Asian subcontinent seems
unable to resist. Nako is a truly magical place, and
as we eat dinner before sitting round a fire pit under
the vast sky, we wish we had more time here.
The day starts as we climb for an hour or so
before dropping down a series of around fifty
hairpins to road level. The cows that roam the
roads in the lower country have been replaced
with donkeys, but their road sense is no better as
we negotiate tight curves over huge drops. When
we reach the valley floor, the road is unexpectedly
good and we make swift progress. The route is lined
with beehives perched on the rocks and dusty road
gangs. Again it’s families toiling away in the hot sun,
young babies temporarily stored in JCB buckets
while mothers move massive masonry into place.
We reach the official checkpoint into Spiti Valley,
and we’re all a bit excited. That enthusiasm is soon
tempered by border guards waving rifles at us and
telling us not to take photos. Once through, we hit
the throttles and press on to Tapo, a large town built
around an ancient monastery. An elderly Irish tourist
helpfully informs us the building is 126,000 years
old, an impressive figure that would place when
mammoths roamed the earth. Her guide corrects
her to a more believable 1026 years.
To commemorate the monastery, I buy prayer
flags for all the bikes, but Bruce turns them
down, explaining, “I’m just not an early adopter”.
The afternoon brings a gradual drop down to an
enormous alluvial plane, the vast thundering river
extending over the entire valley floor. A gentle climb
brings us to Kaza, where we are due to stay for two
With the electricity out for the afternoon, we take
a trip into the town, purchasing travel essentials of
washing powder, rum and crisps. Nico also invests
another 100 rupees in an extremely thorough
2 kilometres to Pooh - tell Piglet!
A roadside stop under a cliff
Banjar Guest House
Heading back from the shrine in the Spiti Valley
52 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
200cc’s of pure power
ready for any terrain
all terrain vehicles
32 Hulbert Street
011 493 6001
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Lunch in Spit Valley
Julian clears the steel pipe and heads for the shore
Although the next day is a rest day, we
take the bikes out for a trip to the highest
village in the world, which, naturally is
supported by the highest post office. We
eat a weird lunch of cheese, peanut butter
and mustard sandwiches while Nico makes
a spirited attempt to climb the hill on the
trusty Classic, his return was greeted by
rapturous applause from the ubiquitous
The local kids aren’t interested; they are
busy selling fossils for a quid a time to the
And so the dawn breaks on the day
we’ve been travelling for. A brief slice
through deep ravines and gorges and we’re
into the Spiti Valley that we’ve been waiting
for – and boy does it deliver. Sweeping
roads take us ever higher into epic scenery,
and as the river crashes along below we
continue upwards towards the snowline.
At the top of the pass we’re greeted by a
huge Buddhist shrine bedecked in prayer
flags, as a herd of Yak oblige us with selfie
The road drops down quickly to the
valley floor, but the scenery does not let
up. Cliffs covered in vegetation with epic
waterfalls tower above us like we’re in
Middle Earth. The road has everything
from soft sand to sweeping gravel roads;
water splashes to entire sections that
disappear under rivers. We paddle and
struggle our way through, the grins never
leaving our faces.
The climb out of the valley comes
almost too soon, but the herds of wild
horses makes a fitting exit video. As we
finally hit the main road we know we’ve
shared something special today.
Our evening is spent in Sisu, the
combination of cold beer and hot food the
only things we need. The following day
we will return to Manali over the Rohtang
Pass but no matter how epic that road
might be, it’s not going to be able to
compete. Spiti Valley has to be one of the
best routes in the world and riding it on
these bikes has been a moment that will
stay with us forever.
How do I go on this trip?
In the winter, much of this terrain is made
inhospitable by snow, so you really want to
visit in the summer months, so that’s after
the monsoons in July and before the cold
starts in late September. The terrain is both
beautiful and epic, with landscapes so vast
it’s almost difficult to comprehend.
How to get there
If you fancy going on this tour, it’s an
easy process. Ride Expeditions sort
everything out from the moment you arrive
in India, so all you need to book are your
flights to New Delhi, which are around 5000
Rand from Johannesburg
Shop around on the flights but don’t be
tempted to go with multiple transfers just
to save a few bucks – it’s a false economy
if you arrive in India and your riding kit is
in Thailand! You’ll need to get an e-Tourist
visa for India, which can be processed
online a few weeks before you travel and
costs around 1000 Rand.
There’s a long taxi ride from Delhi to
Lunch stop in Chitkul Nico gets a shoe shine Topi collects the local herbs
People wagon in Delhi
Nico chats to the hitch-hiker
This photo cost us 50 ruppes
54 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
Sweeping roads and a bit of litter - classic India
Nico is unnecessarily transfixed by a road sign
DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018 55
Manali to start the tour, or you can opt to
fly to Kullu, just an hour away from Manali.
Either way Ride Expeditions will organise the
taxis from either Delhi or the airport in Kullu.
Food and Lodging
As this is an all inclusive tour, then
you don’t have to worry about sorting
accommodation or food, all you pay is the
for your evening beers. The tour stops at
a variety of places from bespoke camping
to family run hotels all with good food and
If you chose to go solo, the hotels can
vary from fairly basic to pretty good, but
in the remote locations then don’t expect
five star luxuries. Food is good but mostly
vegetarian and nothing like as spicy as
Indian food outside India. Keep an open
mind and you’ll eat well. Oh and don’t ask
for a beef burger – cows are sacred here!
Roads and Biking
So the roads in India are extremely variable,
ranging from freeway smooth to Dakar
Rally rocky, all of which can be within the
same mile. The traffic is also extremely
unpredictable with all roads shared by
vehicles, people and livestock. Speeds are
thus fairly modest, a pace which is ideally
suited to the Royal Enfields. The Classics
hark back to the fifties in everything from
looks to performance, a good thing when
there is often a 500m drop to the side of
the road …
Outside the towns, traffic is relatively
light but the roads demand a ‘proactive’
approach to overtaking!
This is not a ride for a novice, but one
our party, Ali, had only been riding for two
years and neither she or Bruce had ridden
any amount of off-road.
Again if you decide to take on this ride
without the help of a tour operator, be
extremely careful where you hire bikes from,
and be entirely sure you have sufficient
experience to take on this type of terrain.
Tour Operator Ride Expeditions www.
You need to ride here - you really do
56 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
KYALAMI GRAND PRIX CIRCUIT
25 - 27 MAY 2018
CIRCUIT TEST RIDES
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Trax KTM’s 1090S Adventure conversion
The other day we took Trax’s invitation to heart and went to “kuier for ‘n Koffie.” While we were there we
noticed a pretty unusual looking adventure bike lurking in the corner of the showroom.
Turns out that it is an “adventurised”
1090S, and the transformation from
a very street oriented motorcycle to a
more rugged off-roader changed the
whole look of what is – already a pretty
What they have done:
Nice Big Block Kenda dual purpose
Genuine KTM crash bars.
Genuine KTM 1090R screen.
Full Akarapovic exhaust System.
And then they have had it wrapped to
look – well a bit less plain and to brand
Why did they do it?
Well – there are a couple of reasons.
The first is that South Africans do prefer
more rugged looking motorcycles – so
this is a fairly simple transformation with
The second is the fact that some riders
find the standard R a bit long in the leg
– tall and a bit intimidating to sit on. The
S comes smaller diameter mag wheels
which makes the bike a bit lower and
more manageable for shorty’s.
The S is a bit faster than the R in
standard trim thanks to some electronic
mapping – so, doing this you get the
faster road mapping.
58 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
The standard S is prone to headshakes on gravel – the
addition of the damper sorts this out.
Above all of this you still have a very rideable, good
looking KTM that turns heads everywhere.
We took the bike for a blast all around JHB and Pretoria
– probably 200 KM’s odd with a bit of gravel and the
obligatory river crossing and we have to say that this bike
is so typically KTM.
Powerful, fast and ridiculously good in the dirt.
Yup, even with the smaller mag wheel up front, you’d be
hard pressed to find fault. The front suspension between
the R and the S is different – but we had no complaints
and a couple of the guys commented on how good it
feels. And we probably rode it a bit harder than most
The Knobby tyres do make as bit of a noise on the tar and
at excessive speeds (which we guarantee you will do),
you do pick up a vibration but it’s nothing untoward – to
be expected from aggressive tyres like these.
Whilst we did not fling the bike around a race track, we
had no complaints with the road handling.
Our opinion – a great idea. Purists might complain about
the mag wheels – but experience dictates that mags are
fine – just stay out of the big rocks. We rode this one in
everyday traffic, highways and byways and we zipped
around our adventure test track her .
We are really impressed at just how good this bike feels.
Go and take it for a ride. Tell them that the Koffie is on us.
Trax KTM: (012) 111-0190
ONLINE: firstname.lastname@example.org 082 461 1443
This one has a Full
60 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
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PEOPLE IN MOTORCYCLES:
We live in a time when there isn’t the possibility to do something for the first time. Shinji Kazama has an
astonishing list of “first time in history” adventures. But you probably have never heard about him.
Shinji Kazama (born 26 September 1950) is a Japanese motorcyclist and adventurer who rode to the North
and South Poles on motorcycles.
He is the only person to have reached
both poles on a motorcycle, reaching the
North Pole on 21 April 1987, and the South
Pole on 3 January 1992. Kazama’s trip to
the South Pole set an overland speed record
for the journey (24 days) which stood until
2005. He also set records for elevations
reached on Mount Everest (5,880 metres
(19,290 ft) in 1985, 6,005 metres (19,701 ft)
in 1986), Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Fuji
by motorcycle. In 1982, Kazama became
the first Japanese national to finish the
Dakar Rally. He won the Dakar Rally in the
500cc class in 1984. In 1987 he won the
Rallye des Pharaons in the 250cc class.
His son Shaun kazama Raced this years
Dakar this year on a WR450.
In 2004, while again participating in the
Dakar Rally, Kazama was struck by a big
rig, mangling his left leg. He was flown to a
hospital in Paris, where the leg was saved,
but Kazama was left reliant on a cane to
walk. In 2007, Kazama was appointed a
goodwill ambassador for the United Nations
World Health Organization “Bone and Joint
Decade” (2000-2010).In the same year,
Kazama undertook The Trans Eurasian
Continent Tour, covering 11,250 miles
(18,110 km) (from Vladivostok to Cabo da
Roca, Portugal) in 52 days. In 2008 and
2009, Kazama drove a Subaru Forester
from Alexandria, Egypt, to Cape Town,
South Africa, to promote the Bone and Joint
Decade. In 2009, he traversed Australia.
From May to September 2010, Kazama
and three other physically challenged riders
journeyed from the South Pole to the North
Pole using motorcycles, bicycles, dog sleds
and boats, starting off from the southern tip
of Chile and finishing in Lund, Sweden.
We had a chat with him:
It all started when he first rode his brother’s
motorcycle when he was 14.
“I tried to ride it up to the top of a steep
hill,” Kazama says. “I had gone 150m and
couldn’t ride any further so started pushing
it and when I reached the top I thought
‘What a view!’ I was fascinated by the view
from the top of the hill and so I became
obsessed with riding a motorcycle in nature.
That view remains in my memory.”
62 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
When did you first come up with the idea of riding to
the North Pole and why did you want to do it?
“I first thought about it when I reached the finish line in
the Paris-Dakar Rally in 1982. I often used to think deeply
about the attraction of riding a motorcycle when I was
editor of a motorcycle magazine in Tokyo. I thought the
attraction of riding a motorcycle is actually the attraction
“To me, the horizon is unique and interesting - I feel
an irresistible attraction to the horizon. My reason for
participating in the Dakar Rally was to meet the horizon
of the Sahara and I was finally able to reach it. But when
I reached that horizon I felt that I had to get out - I felt a
vague sense of terror about remaining in the same place.”
You think that The Roof is tough.Can you
even begin to imagine what it was like...
Was it difficult to get permission to ride a motorcycle
to the Poles?
“I was able to get to both the North and South Poles
without permission. Anybody could enter the Poles freely
Which trip was most difficult – the North or the South
“The South Pole was more difficult but the North Pole trip
was a lot colder than the South Pole. It was -54°C.”
Why did you choose a Yamaha TW200 to ride to the
South Pole and what modifications did you make to it?
“The Yamaha TW200 was still under development at the
time. Honestly, it is best to ride on a caterpillar on snow and
ice but for me it had to be two wheels. A motorcycle is at a
big disadvantage on snow and ice because it’s supported
by only two points so I chose the TW 200 because it has
very wide tyres. The modifications I had to make cost 14
million yen (That’s lots!). All of the parts had to be modified
in order to function properly in extreme cold.”
With his Honda Trials bike
heading up Everest
What were the biggest problems you encountered
with the bike during your two polar trips?
“On the North Pole trip I was riding along and suddenly
the front wheel fell into the ocean. If I had fallen in, I would
have gone to the bottom of the ocean, which was about
6,500 metres (over 20,000 feet) deep at that point. And
it was so freezing cold that I just couldn’t have done
anything about it at all.”
Did you ever get accustomed to the cold or was it
something you had to constantly battle?
“I didn’t get accustomed to the cold. On the contrary, there
were moments when I feared for my life. I couldn’t even
stand when the temperature went down to minus -45ºC
in March. A banana becomes as hard as a hammer and a
plastic bag becomes a spray of mist and then completely
disappears when the temperature drops below -26C. The
coldest temperature I rode in was minus 54C.”
What clothes did you wear when you were riding?
“I was wearing clothes made of Gore-Tex with an inner
cotton lining that was also being used by an expedition
to the Himalayas and which could tolerate extremely cold
weather (Dacron cotton by Dupont). I prepared clothes
from various materials - sleeping bags, fur, tent canvas,
woollen socks, woollen gloves, a woollen face mask etc. I
needed to take a lot of stuff.”
DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018 6 3
don’t feel anything for. I felt nostalgic seeing
all the shapes and colours of the aeroplanes
that carried relief supplies to me. Perhaps
fear goes away when people become
extremely sad and isolated.”
“I learned that the clothes made by
natural material such as fur and wool were
the best for protecting yourself in extremely
cold weather. Also, the tyres I used on the
North Pole trip were mostly made from
natural rubber because if I had used normal
ones, the blocks on the tyres would have
come apart due to the cold.
Did you encounter any polar bears?
“Fortunately I didn’t meet any polar bears
but I saw the tracks of one in the snow. I
didn’t have a gun with me but for sure it’s
better to have a rifle or a .45 Magnum just in
case of emergency.”
Was there ever any danger of the ice
“The iced surface of seawater is called
‘new ice’, just like with tar. I wanted to ride
gracefully up to the North Pole but actually
I had to push my bike a lot when we were
on ice. Salt water ice usually does not
break easily so I would say that ice with
a thickness of around 20cm should be
able to hold a motorcycle. But most of the
ice we traversed was only about 10cm in
How did it feel to know that you were the
first human being ever to reach the North
Pole on a motorcycle?
“I was so exhausted that I think I reached
the North Pole mostly by chance in the
end! Honestly, my only thoughts were “I
don’t have to push my bike anymore! I just
wanted to go back to my warm home as
soon as possible.”
Did reaching the South Pole feel like
more of an achievement?
“Five years after I reached the North Pole,
I also reached the South Pole. My heart
filled with pleasure that I had reached the
two Poles by motorcycle. I told myself “I
conquered the earth with a motorcycle!””
Did you ever feel scared when you
were so far away from civilization and
completely surrounded by ice and snow?
“Rather than feeling fear, I could not help but
love the human “civilization” that I usually
What if you had been badly injured? How
would you have got help?
“As soon as any emergency occurred I was
supposed to contact the base camp which
was located about 1,700 kilometres away.
A chartered rescue flight was scheduled
to come if I could wait for about half a day.
But the charter flight fee is serious - I would
have had to pay the airline for a round-trip
flight and it would have cost 8 million yen
(That’s also lots!)”
How difficult was it to ride on ice for such
a long journey?
“It was so hard I almost died! I had to push
the motorcycle, day after day. It could take
an hour to go one metre but then in the next
hour I might go 10km. The schedule for
those journeys could not be predicted at all
and there is nothing as painful than a trip in
-50ºC that you don’t know when it will end.”
Did you ever fall off your motorcycle?
“Rather than falling off the motorcycle, there
were many times when I could not ride it at
all due to the deep snow or because of big
rocks all over the surface of the ice. Most of
the time my trips to the Poles were just pure
hell, pushing my motorcycle.”
How many hours did you ride for each day?
“In April, the sun in the Arctic is continuously
above the horizon for 24 hours a day but
I decided to divide my daily schedule into
three parts. I spent eight hours riding my
bike then I used the other eight hours for
sleep and rest. The remaining eight hours
were spent preparing for my trip in the
morning or setting my tent up and preparing
for rest at night. I tried to set a regular
Was riding up Mount Everest even more
difficult than riding to the poles?
“It was a different type of difficulty. In the
deep snows of the Arctic and Antarctica I
had a very rough time because very often
I could not ride due to the tyres being
buried in the snow. On Mount Everest,
where the oxygen concentration is low (it’s
only 40% compared with normal oxygen
concentration), the power of the motorcycle
dropped to 40% as well. So I had a hard
time lifting and pulling the weight of the
You reached 19,701 feet on Everest.
Is it possible to go much higher on a
“Above that point the rock face is sheer
vertical. I repeatedly experienced fainting
and collapsing. I tried to be calm and waited
until my breathing got better each time
while I kept pushing the motorcycle with full
power in thin oxygen until that point. I even
had to resort to pushing the motorcycle to
the upper part of the mountain, like I did at
the Poles. Eventually I told myself “I have
worked hard enough. I will forgive myself for
stopping here.” I finished at 19,701 feet. I
may have gone a little more.”
What was the hardest part about riding
“The most difficult thing was just to keep
riding towards the top of the mountain while
maintaining the motivation to continually
overcome altitude sickness and decreased
physical strength. Since we knew from the
outset that I could never actually reach the
summit of Everest on a motorcycle, it was
an adventure of fighting with myself and
constantly asking myself “When will you put
an end to the challenge?””
Why did you choose a Honda TLR trials
bike for your Everest trip?
“Because it was very light and the body
was extremely slim and also because it
had a quieter exhaust sound than the twostroke
Is there anywhere you would still like to
conquer on a motorcycle?
“The next goal is to ride on the moon on
a motorcycle! At first I was just a boy who
liked motorcycles very much, then I started
thinking “Why do I like motorcycles?”
I learned that the answer is this: The
attractiveness of the motorcycle is the
attraction of nature. In order to see such
attractive nature, I rode my motorcycle to
64 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
the horizon all over the world and my slogan was always
‘Shoot for the Horizon!’”
“The Sahara Desert was wonderful, especially as I could
see 360 degrees of horizon view, but I wanted to explore
the ultimate horizons. It took five years to stand on both the
North Pole and the South Pole where all horizons intersect
at a single point. I could see only north from the South Pole
and I could see only south from the North Pole.”
“By the way, ordinary time does not exist at the Poles
because all the international datelines converge there. At
the Poles I had reached two points on the surface of the
Earth that are ‘sphere surfaces’ so they’re different from
a simple horizon and I thought to myself ‘The North and
South Poles are the terminal stations of my motorcycle
“Immediately afterwards I started to think that I would
like to see the whole spherical body of the Earth in its
entirety and, since then, I have dreamed about going to
the moon with a motorcycle. The human imagination, and
dreams, are eternal.”
Can you still ride now or is your leg too badly injured?
“I can’t ride as well as before because my left knee and
ankle are disabled and don’t bend well and my feet can’t
rest in the usual position. Even though I competed in the
Baja 1000 mile race in America for 2 years, my physical
challenge is still ongoing. But I’m planning to participate
in the Dakar Rally again.”
What bike do you ride now?
“I currently own about 20 motorcycles but my favourite is
my Yamaha WR450.”
Shinji Kazama at the Ceremonial Pole, along with
Frederick McDougall at the South pole.
The YAMAHA TW200 Special
Does riding on a normal road feel very boring to you
now after all your adventures?
“As long as I head to a place with a dream then I enjoy
riding motorcycles anywhere. It is the best feeling - to run
like the wind!”
How do you spend your time now and where do you live?
“I run my own company in Tokyo and work on social
contribution activities and new adventure lines throughout
the year. I also manage a non-profit organization called
Chikyu-Genkimura. In January 2019 or 2020, I have a
huge adventure project where we will gather people with
disabilities from all over the world and take them to the
South Pole with ice sledges. Recently, I just built a house
on the hill of my home town in Yamanashi prefecture. I
often spend time there with my family.”
Which of your achievements on a motorcycle are you
most proud of?
“To be honest, they all rank about the same but I would
say the trips to the North and South Poles are my greatest
Shinji with his son Shaun.
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DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018 65
2017 KTM FACTORY TEST Veldhoven, The Netherlands
66 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
By Paul Malin
What a year 2017 has been for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing! The Austrian manufacturer claimed both the
MXGP and MX2 titles at the hands of Antonio Cairoli and Pauls Jonass, collected team of the year in both
classes and picked up both manufacturers world championship awards in the process.
To help celebrate its success and to share the moment, the Red Bull KTM Factory bikes were put to the test at
the annual KTM media test day in the Dutch sand of Veldhoven, just days after the final MXGP of the season.
The 2017 FIM Motocross World
Championship season will go down in
history as a memorable one for Red Bull
KTM Factory Racing for a number of
reasons. It was a year that saw Antonio
Cairoli claim his ninth world title after
two seasons hampered by injury. Jeffrey
Herlings took to MXGP as a rookie and
despite a spate of pre-season injuries
which saw ‘The Bullet’ get off to a slower
than usual start, the Dutchman followed
his teammate Cairoli home, showing
that there is still more to come from the
three time MX2 world champion. More
importantly though, it was the first ever
world championship title for the KTM 450
SX-F with Cairoli making his own piece
of history in the process; the Sicilian has
now taken a 450 SX-F and 350 SX-F to
world championship glory in the premier
In MX2, the Latvian Pauls Jonass picked
up from where Jeffrey Herlings left off, by
winning his first MX2 world championship
in convincing style, in what was a year
of ‘firsts’ for the former EMX85, EMX125
and FIM Junior World Champion; PJ41
scored his first double moto win in Qatar
and became the first Latvian to win a
MX2 GP and the first from his country
to win a professional world motocross
championship title. Whilst the teams get
on with preparing for 2018, let’s take a
closer look at the two MXGP machines
that conquered the world in 2017.
DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018 67
2017 KTM FACTORY TEST Veldhoven, The Netherlands
Tony and Jeff: 450 MX GP.
After seven years with Red Bull KTM
Factory Racing as a MX2 rider, the time
had come for Jeffrey Herlings to move
into MXGP. Under normal circumstances
he would have moved ‘next door’ to the
De Carli side of the race awning; but
never one to follow, Herlings preferred
to stay put with the team he knew and
worked so well with which meant for the
first time, there was a 450 SX-F under the
MX2 awning at Red Bull KTM, something
of a logistical headache for Technical
Director, Dirk Gruebel: ‘It was a challenge
yes, because now I have less time for
my MX2 boys. I’m constantly back and
forth, up and down. Each session is now
double. After Free Practice I don’t even
make my way back to the truck to speak
with the boys after the session.’
Despite this, Gruebel still managed
to oversee all aspects of everything
technical and when the season first
fired into life at the international races,
both Cairoli and Herlings bikes were
very similar, so too was the speed of
both riders. But then Herlings crashed
and broke his hand which caused him
something of a set-back. That incident
alone changed the outcome of the
season as well as the bikes that were
ridden by the two teammates.
The 2017 KTM 450 SX-F that took Cairoli
and Herlings to the top two places in
MXGP has had a good innings. Cairoli
first brought it to our attention in 2015
at the MXGP of Spain where he took its
first ever race and GP victory. Back then
it was a pre-production 2016 model. This
season saw the ‘model ’16 project’ come
full circle, and did exactly what it was
expected to do; to win the MXGP world
championship. In total this KTM 450
SX-F has taken twenty-nine race wins,
seventeen overall GP victories has taken
second overall twice in the championship
standings and won the world title in its
final season in its current form.
To the naked eye, both Factory 450 SX-
F’s look the same, but it’s the tiny detail
that sets them apart. Both riders use
Renthal handlebars with Tony running the
FatBar (827) as opposed to the Twin Wall
(997) preferred by Herlings.
Cairoli has a smaller seat, cut away to
allow him to sit more into the bike. Jeffrey
has a higher seat to accommodate his
taller physical build. When you throw
your leg over the bike and start to check
68 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
2017 KTM FACTORY TEST Veldhoven, The Netherlands
out the ergonomics and the general
riding position, you can’t help but feel
the difference in the front brake tension
as well. Cairoli runs with a 9mm pump
whereas Jeffrey favours a much stronger,
more aggressive feeling that comes with
a 10mm pump.
Having said that, TC used to use a
10mm pump back in 2015 so it was
interesting to see how he has opted for
slightly less power on the front brake.
The difference is that Tony’s has a slightly
softer feel to it when you apply the brake;
Jeffrey’s is more akin to that of a road
race bike; solid, to the point where you
question if it’s even possible to have
such an aggressive brake, especially
for off-road. Handlebar position is also
slightly different with Herlings running his
‘bars slightly more forward in the clamp
because of his height.
The biggest differences are when you
get out on track and try to ride these two
Factory KTM 450 SX-F offerings, and to
say they are radically different would be
a massive understatement, and had it
not been for the pre-season injury that
Herlings picked up, this article might
have been very, very different indeed. So,
let’s start with Tony’s.
Tony Cairoli’s bike
First impressions of Antonio Cairoli’s bike
are always very similar, in that he knows
what he wants from his motorcycle.
He likes a bike to feel small, hence the
lower seat for instance, but despite that,
his bike still feels very ‘normal’ to the
average person; normal as in anybody
can sit on it and ride around on it and
feel like it’s their own bike, ergonomically
at least. Gone are the days though where
TC prefers the smooth power that the
350 SX-F used to offer him, instead
he likes a much punchier engine more
befitting of the moniker 450 SX-F. It is
powerful yes, but it is still relatively easy
to ride and control. You can open up the
power gradually and feel the legs it has
or alternatively, whack open the throttle
and let the power grab you in an instant.
The factory 450 SX-F comes equipped
with four gears, but on the day, there was
no need to reach such heights; second
and third is where it’s at, especially third.
Even from the not-so tight turns, you
could use third and let the power just
take you to where you wanted to go, and
it just keeps pulling as well. It has a good
overall balance and feel to it.
Cornering was a breeze and so too was
DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018 69
the movement around the bike even
with the foot pegs raised by 5mm (the
same as Jonass and Prado in MX2). As
for suspension, TC has made changes
over recent years, certainly since 2015,
mostly due to a linkage change. In 2015
he ran his WP spring forks at 4.6 whilst
his rear spring was set to 42kilo. Now
however, with a new linkage for improved
progression he is running a stiffer fork
at 4.7 with the shock being 50kilo. It
doesn’t really alter the overall ride height
according to WP, but It’s amazing to
see how a linkage ratio can change the
overall feel of the suspension. However,
the circuit was not so bumpy to get a
good overall feel, but on jump take-off
and landing both the front and rear WP
units worked in harmony, and overall the
whole bike was about as well-balanced
as they come. To sum up Tony’s ride, it’s
powerful but very easy to ride. He has
power as and when he needs it, a bike
that turns on a dime if he chooses and a
weapon that still gets him out of the start,
with fifteen holeshots in total in 2017. An
all-round, fabulous motorcycle.
70 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018
2017 KTM FACTORY TEST Veldhoven, The Netherlands
Chalk and cheese! A well-known British
phrase, used to describe things that are
polar opposites. And this is the case
between the two 450 SX-F’s of Tony
Cairoli and Jeffrey Herlings. Again, the
obvious differences have already been
mentioned; ‘bars, ‘bar type ‘bar position,
seat and seat height preference. All was
pretty much the same until February
when ‘The Bullet’ found himself on the
injured list. When Jeffrey returned back
to action, his pace and his confidence
had been shot to pieces. His confidence
was at an all-time low, so too was his
head; this was something we’d never
seen before from the three-time champ.
Technical Director, Dirk Greubel had to
act and he had to act quickly. ‘Until the
crash pre-season the two bikes were
very similar but then afterwards when
Jeffrey struggled we had to bring him
back on track because he was doubting
his set-up and Tony was winning week
after week, whereas Jeffrey didn’t. He
hardly cracked the top ten and that was
for him, mentally pretty hard to take, but
luckily we could turn him around with a
lot of testing; we made a different bike
set-up for him compared to Tony.’
When he says ‘different’ he doesn’t
just mean slightly different, he means
completely different. Having ridden
Tony’s bike first, a bike that was nice and
smooth and easy to ride, riding Jeffrey’s
was a shock to the system. The biggest
difference and the most notable was the
power delivery; it was like a switch. On
for go, off to stop! It was hard-hitting
and it was instant, and the kind of power
that wanted to rip your arms out of your
sockets. It was a rocket ship and more.
In fact, there are not enough adjectives to
describe this kind of power for this kind
of motorcycle, but here are a few; crazy,
unforgiving, relentless, awesome, scary,
phenomenal … you get the point! To ride
it you have to be super-fit, super-strong
The other major change was the frame
set-up, and this is more notice able when
you get on and ride it; the bike has a
tendency to want to run a wider line, it
doesn’t want to turn tight as effectively
as Cairoli’s. This is because TC and JH
run different frame set-up’s. When we
say different, it’s all geometry related,
as Greubel points out: ‘Jeffrey has a
different type of frame, we tried different
suspension settings, even the AER Fork.
DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018 7 1
The frame geometry is different. The front
end and steering is different. The angle is
different but also the way the front part is
made is different. He has a slightly longer
wheelbase as well. Jeffrey likes to attack
the track and stay more on the outside
and be fast there, railing berms and
stuff. Sometimes Tony turns on a dime
and makes a direction change but that’s
his riding style. They have two different
riding styles and as a result, two different
bike set-ups but both are fast.’
In terms of overall suspension, both
riders also run totally different settings
with Cairoli opting for a 4.7 spring rate
up front with a 50 kilo spring at the rear
due to a different linkage that gives a
more progressive feel. Herlings on the
other hand is running a standard linkage;
his spring is 48 kilo with much harder
forks at 4.9. Two years ago on his MX2
bike Herlings ran 4.4 / 45 and last year,
with a different linkage ran 4.6 / 54 by
As a result, and in a weird way, this
is exactly how you want a factory
bike to be; powerful, uncontrollable,
phenomenally fast, something that
stands out from the crowd, something
that you can never own or ever want
to ride for more than a lap, despite
just having had the most thrilling and
exhilarating lap of your life. For some,
this kind of bike comes at a price, and
we are not just talking about the price
tag, but more about the physical exertion
needed to control it. From Herlings side,
he has upped his game, he has put in the
hours, he is fitter and stronger than ever
and certainly much fitter than he was
at the start of the season. This bike is
unique to him, and how he races it weekin
week-out beggars belief. But it works
for him and as a double-act and they are
Technical specification 450SX-F. Engine Type: Single cylinder, 4-stroke Displacement: 449.9cc Starter: Electric starter
Transmission: 4 gears Fuel systems: Keihin EMS with EFi Control: 4V / OHC Final drive: 14:48 Cairoli / Herlings 14:49 Sprockets: Renthal
Chain: Regina Clutch: Hinson, Wet multi-disc clutch, operated hydraulics Frame / Subframe: Chromium molybdenum / Titanium
Handlebar: Renthal, Cairoli FatBar 827 – Herlings Twin wall 997 Seat: Selle Dalla Valle Front / rear suspension: WP USD 52 MA / WP with
linkage – TC 4.7/50 - JH 4.9/48 Triple clamps: Neken Suspension travel: 310 / 300mm Front / rear brakes: Brembo, Moto-Master Disc
brake 260mm / 220mm Front / rear rims: Excel, 1.60 x 21” / 2.15 x 19” – Kite hubs Front / rear tyres: Pirelli, 80/100-21” / 120/80-19”
Silencer: Akrapović, Titanium Filters: DT1 (Cairoli, Coldenhoff) TwinAir (Herlings) Race fuel: ETS Tank capacity: 7 litres (approx.)
Weight (without fuel): 100.2kg (approx.)
helmet For the job
Henderson Racing Products - 011 708 5905