Desflurane's Romaniacs Blog

Chronicle of My Participation in the World's Toughest Enduro Rally – Again…

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  • Husqvarna

Trials baby!

Posted by desflurane on May 4, 2013

I finally went ahead and took full advantage of my partner at work – and good buddy in general – David Kang, who I introduced to the wonders of Chalk Bluff last summer. He bought a Gas Gas 300 trials bike last fall, and has said that he would be happy to let me borrow it. I dragged my feet for quite a while, but finally broke down when I had to take my trusty steed in to the shop to have an exhaust mount welded back on. With no bike to ride it seemed the perfect opportunity to broaden my riding horizons.

David parted with the beast quite willingly, claiming that he hardly rides it – except for wheelie practice in his back yard.

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I more or less have done the same for the past few days, but today – being Saturday, and me – not being on call, the scene was set for an epic trials session! I selected Moon Rocks as the location for my adventure.

The actual rocks at Moon Rocks are phenomenal. Absolutely tailor made for a trials machine. The stone’s consistency is somewhere between granite and sandstone, it’s good and solid with a wonderfully rough surface that gummy rubber tires LOVE to stick to. Big slabs of rock rise up from the sand at all kinds of angles with plentiful ridges and ledges that make riding out there an absolute joy! And there are obstacles available to test ANY skill level. For novices such as myself, there are plenty of boulders and low walls to scale and descend, ledges to drop off, etc. For the more extreme riders there are some truly hairy cliffs and sheer drops upon which to cheat death.

For about the first hour I just putted around, getting the feel of the bike, testing out what it was capable of before really trying anything crazy. The more I rode, the more impressed I became with the little bike!

At first it really felt as though I was just riding a kid’s bike. It sits really low, has minimal suspension (compared to a full-sized dirt bike) and the motor is truly gutless (lots of torque however, and thanks to a hefty flywheel weight my buddy installed – it is almost impossible to stall). But after further experimentation I realized that these characteristics are deliberate, and combine to produce bike that is amazingly light, nimble and maneuverable. The ultra-low center of gravity facilitates balance, allowing the rider to keep his feet on the pegs a much greater percentage of the time than on a taller dirt bike (that is the goal of trials riding, after all). While the suspension has far less travel that a big bike, it is very springy, allowing the rider to compress the springs and make the bike hop forward onto or over obstacles with ease. The suspension also seems to be tuned toward maintaining contact between the tire and the ground (or whatever surface being ridded) rather than soaking up big hits. And while the motor and tranny feel like they have been salvaged from an old lawnmower, the massive amount of non-tire-spinning torque becomes a huge asset. Just point the front end up some hideous-looking rock wall, apply some throttle and the bike just rolls right up! Where my KTM tends to break traction and spin the back tire, halting all forward progress – the trials bike continues turning at a more gradual, traction-maintaining rate.

Needless to say, the tires are nothing short of amazing. While any tire would flounder in the loose sand out there, as soon as the rubber touched the rock, the hookup was astonishing. As long as I kept some weight forcing those little knobbies onto the stone’s surface, there was plenty of grip.

There are, of course, some down-sides to the trials bike. The low gearing results in a ridiculously low top speed, perhaps 20 mph. So if you have some distance to cover, you are going to be frustrated.

The lack of hit-absorbing suspension means that the ride is not exceptionally comfortable – even though you are compelled to ride standing (due to the complete lack of a seat). The riding position does not help in this department either. Even with knees bent to take up the bumps I am really hunched over. This results in good weight distribution for quick handling, but this ain’t no long distance machine!

The real beauty, and indeed the whole intent of this exercise, is that the confidence and skills acquired on the trials bike should translate over to my big bike. I have already seen this “crossover” effect in action. I finally got the hang of rear wheel pivots while riding my mountain bike in the driveway. Once I had the feel of what I was trying to achieve, it was pretty simple to transfer the move over to my dirt bike. The same principle has to apply here.

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