Wednesday 6 December 2017

In search of unicorns


or Santa Claus, 

or the Easter Bunny.....

Yep looking for something mythical that you suspect doesn’t really exist.

In our case a dirt bike suitable for the vertically challenged

No sooner had Grainne passed her test and got a new bike, she fancied another one!

Perhaps I should explain, once she had got into biking, the next ambition was to be able to come out trail riding with me, no problem with that I hear you say, well not in theory but it is when you’re only 5’3”. Dirt bikes are not generally compatible with those of shorter than average stature.

Add into the mix that even at only 160kg, Grainne finds her BMW G310R inordinately heavy and this has already resulted in a couple of “lying down in car parks” moments!

So the other week we set off to Motorcycle Live at the NEC (that’s the trendy name for we all still call “the bike show”) unfortunately this involved another horizontal moment when the Beemer stalled leaving a (much needed) coffee & breakfast stop (it was fooking cold that day), as soon as it starts to topple, Grainne simply doesn’t have the strength to hold it. No doubt it will become easier with more experience but a potential problem for leaving tarmac where balance is more of an issue and the potential for landing on your ear, that much higher.

So we proceeded to hit every bike manufacturers stand to try anything that looked remotely like a dirt bike. Unfortunately this just seemed to result in numerous instances of Grainne sitting on bikes with her toes dangling at least six inches off the floor!!!

I had envisaged that the KTM Freeride would fit the bill, a hybrid between a trials bike and an enduro bike. But sadly not as the seat height of 915 mm proved far too tall and the feet dangling in mid-air scenario was repeated.

There were a couple of potentials by the end of the day, A Honda MSX125 (known in other markets as the Honda Grom) not a dirt bike but built the style of one and inspired by the old Honda Monkey Bike and critically knobbly tyres are available for its 12” wheels. Importantly it’s light (101 kg) and low (765mm seat height) but still possessed of decent ground clearance (especially if you get the older model with a high level exhaust) you can also pick up these older models for under £2K, so with a littler bit of modification, maybe?

Another candidate was the Herald Scrambler, these are Chinese made bikes imported into the UK and rebuilt by Herald to UK specs and hopefully the levels of reliability we expect these days but rarely see from China. A Street Scrambler rather than a proper dirt bike, it did meet the low seat height and relatively low weight criteria (although actual figures were unavailable) and was shod with some knobbly(ish)  tyres and is less than £3K new. The down side was a very low exhaust that would be unlikely to last long off road and did I mention they’re made in China?

The further downside we discovered is they have yet to be introduced into the UK market so not actually available at this point in time.

One positive note was that after the excruciatingly cold ride up to Birmingham where Grainne was seriously in envy of my Keiss heated jacket and heated grips, we scored a good deal on a jacket for her and some heated inner gloves. This of course saw me in the bike park after the show (thankfully indoors and well lit) attaching the jacket connector to the battery of Grainne's BMW before we could ride home, both of us now comfortable rather than hypothermic! 

Meanwhile the search for unicorns continues…..

PS: Of course Santa Claus exists, although the jury is still out on the Easter Bunny!

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