Dirt and Trail February 2018

RobRidefast

Dirt and Trail February 2018 issue

Ride More Stress Less

www.dirtandtrailmag.com

FEBRUARY 2018

FEBRUARY 2018 RSA R29.50

18002

9 771815 337001

Pic by Zygmund Brodalka www.instagram.com/brodalka_photo/

FIRST RIDE

SHERCO

125 SE-R

DAKAR 2018: FULL REVIEW

ROOTERS RALLY: 27 DAYS, 3800KM

SPITI AMAZING: TOURING INDIA

NORTH POLE RIDER: SHINJI KAZAMA

FACTORY BIKES: KTM’S MXGP MACHINES


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with a compact shape for everything that lies ahead

lies ahead of you. Find your local dealer at www.

of you. WWW.SCHUBERTH.COM

dmd.co.za or contact Daniel Mulder Distributors

on 011 792 7691.


Gary Franks

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.”

Kenny Gilbert

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.”

Wayne Farmer

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


@SHIFTMXSOUTHAFRICA

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EDITOR: ROLEY FOLEY

Hi Guys

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.

Thats it!

Have a great riding month. See you out there!

Oh yes, big thanks to one of our readers for sending this in:

Morning Glenn,

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

THE TEAM:

EDITOR:

Glenn Foley

foleyg@mweb.co.za

DESIGN:

Rob Portman

rob@ridefast.co.za

ADVERTISING:

Sinead Foley

foleyg@mweb.co.za

Kyle Lawrenson

lawrensonk@mweb.co.za

ACCOUNTS &

SUBSCRIPTIONS:

Anette

anette.acc@mweb.co.za

Office no (011) 979-5035

(011) 979-0053

CONTRIBUTORS:

Kurt Beine

Richard Sutherland

Zygmund Brodalka

Byron Rudman

Sean Hendley

Tristan Foley

Mike Wessels

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

TO SUBSCRIBE

CALL 011 979 5035 OR EMAIL

anette.acc@mweb.co.za

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

Email:G124@mweb.co.za

no 4 Fifth avenue

Northmead

Benoni

011 425 1081/4


ought to you by

Bike responder:

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

082-443-9101

Our Kyle catches a feel.

SCOOTER

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

dealership.

Chat to Alex or Johann

Tel: 079 999 4441or

012 426-2790/2700.

SBS distributed by

WWW.BIKEWISE.CO.ZA


17DAKARS

UNDEFEATED

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

recreation.

Unit 24, Point Business Park. 1 Marinus Road, (off

Koeberg Road). Milnerton

Tel: 021 551 8844 Email: info@mpcustomvalve.co.za

Shimming.

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

information.

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

WWW.BIKEWISE.CO.ZA


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

championships:

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,

club racing.

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

Park.

Smoking pistons is in the South near

factory racing.

Dirt Bronco is on the West Rand – just

outside Randfontein.

The series kicks off at Smoking

Pistons on the 11th Feb.

R500 bucks a race plus then your

WOMSA licence (R200 for the year).

More details:

Xavier 082-457-6962

Tony: 082-340-0226

8 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018

STREET

SBS distributed by

WWW.BIKEWISE.CO.ZA


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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

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ought to you by

New Faces At Bike Tyre

Warehouse

Dewi Evans – Workshop

Manager Fitment

Division

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

motorcycle marque.

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@

biketyrewarehouse.com

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

industry.

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

accessories.

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...

SCOOTER

SBS distributed by

WWW.BIKEWISE.CO.ZA


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.

MX Range:

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

searches for.

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.

Enduro range:

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

WWW.BIKEWISE.CO.ZA


www.husqvarna-motorcycles.com

GRAHAM JARVIS 1ST BRITISH EXTREME CHAMPIONSHIP 2018 (OPENING ROUND)

WINNING FORMULA

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

Trazer 200.

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.

www.sym.co.za

Monster Dakar Theft:

A Monster Energy Honda CRF450 was stolen ahead

of its departure for January’s Dakar rally in South

America.

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!

STREET

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

• Alestrem

• King of Hill

• Lagares

• Erzberg

• Romaniacs

• Sea to Sky

• Megawatt

• Roof of Africa

We wish Travis all the best for the upcoming season!

SBS distributed by

WWW.BIKEWISE.CO.ZA


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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

experts face-to-face.

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

history.

To round up all the action for 2018 - all tickets include

(From R150-R950):

- 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

for beginners

- Opportunity to “Auction” your own motorcycle or buy

“Nearly New” from the team at AutoTrader

- Learn to Ride activities and training with the team

from Harley-Davidson

FOr more information got to www.

southafricabikefestival.com.

SCOOTER

16 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018

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Big

Small Bike

Attitude

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

motorcycle aficionados.

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

they did.

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

fast sections.”

Did they succeed? We travelled to The

Cape to find out.

The Bike

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

exhaust valve.

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

The ride:

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

ALL WELCOME...

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.

www.adventurecompany.co.za

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,

beautiful bushveld!

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.

CONTACT US:

foleyg@mweb.co.za / anette.acc@mweb.co.za

(011) 979-5035 / (011) 979-0053

www.facebook.com/theadvco

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

mailing list...

www.adventurecompany.co.za


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

enduro machine.

Suspension:

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

love it.

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

quickly.”

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 Rally

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

3800 kilometres.

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

Fisher 5.

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

around Lesotho.

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

bike quality.

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

rural coastline.

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

rugged coastline.

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

plantations.

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

told me.

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


STRIKE250 //STRIKE1000

//SECTOR450 //SECTOR750 //SECTOR1000CREW

R67 500 R195 000

R119 900 R147 500

R225 000

WWW.HISUN.CO.ZA

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

Loren Samson.

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

lighter load.

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

Mouth.

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,

tar, etc.

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

South Africa.

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

blessed.

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


MATTHIAS WALKNER

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

born.

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

motorcycle.

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

entries.

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

editions.

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

day 4.

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

weapon.

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

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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

position.

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

long liason.

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

motorbike category.

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

finish line.

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

media darling.

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

truly heroic.

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

Schutte 353

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

it’s like…

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

conditions.

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

sorcery goodies.

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

exhilarating spectating.

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.

Some tips:

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

people share

the vehicle, the

cost is less per

person and

each can help

navigate and

plan for the next

day.

Michnus Olivier.

DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018 47


Spiti Amazing

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

us.

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

beckons.

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

500 Classics.

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

cauliflower curry.

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

chatting.

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!

@motorcycleSA


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

morning clouds.

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

destruction.

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

residents.

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

days.

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

shoeshine.

2 kilometres to Pooh - tell Piglet!

A roadside stop under a cliff

Fuel time

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

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Johannesburg

2001

011 493 6001

011 493 6101

www.kazuma-sa.co.za


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

Japanese tourists.

The local kids aren’t interested; they are

busy selling fossils for a quid a time to the

eager visitors.

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

opportunities.

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 General

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.

The Team

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

comfortable beds

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.

rideexpeditions.com

You need to ride here - you really do

56 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018


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THE CONVERTED

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

potent machine.

What they have done:

Nice Big Block Kenda dual purpose

tyres.

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

the shop.

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

great effect.

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

would.

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: mandy@basefit.co.za 082 461 1443

This one has a Full

Akarapovic ststem.

Genuine KTM

crash bars.

60 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018


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Shinji Kazama

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

of nature.

“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

back then.”

Which trip was most difficult – the North or the South

Pole?

“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

breaking?

“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

thickness.”

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

behaviour pattern.”

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

motorcycle.”

You reached 19,701 feet on Everest.

Is it possible to go much higher on a

motorcycle?

“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

up Everest?

“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

TLR.”

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

adventure.”

“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

specification motorcycle.

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

memories.”

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


BACK TO

2 Factory

MX bikes

WINNING

By Paul Malin

WAYS

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

MXGP class.

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

Herlings bike

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

or both.

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

comparison.

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

perfectly matched.

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.)


Just 1

helmet For the job

J12

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J32

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