If anyone is asked to name an off-road, or hardcore enduro bike to be more precise, they’ll undoubtedly point at the orange bikes with the famous KTM label stuck on the side. Fair enough because they are, without doubt, the biggest selling brand of off-road motorcycles in South Africa. And, with their ‘2020 Vision’ for next year, no one will argue that they’ll dominate the SA dirt market once again, right?
Now that’s all well and good for the Austrian manufacturer but what about me? I’m not being selfish and demanding attention though. No sir, I’m talking about being ‘forced’, sort of, into attending the recent 2020 EXC enduro bike launch. Unfortunately, my off-road skills are equal to my silk tapestry embroidery abilities, if you catch my drift. Yes, I’ve done it all before, riding many moons ago in Natal with Alfie Cox (and thanks to his son Bradley for helping me down the rough stuff during this launch), even riding Alfie’s precious Dakar bike as well. Now I’m getting on a bit and things hurt more, break and bruise for longer but I was told to ‘harden the fook up’, and get out there, so I did, and yes, I did come home with a ‘black-shin’ as a memento, so begin your unsupportive chuckles now.So, what did you ride to acquire such a painful and rainbow coloured shin you ask, or maybe not? Well only three of these six new models on offer, which are… 150 EXC TPI, 250 EXC TPI, 300 EXC TPI, 250 EXC-F, 350 EXC-F, 450 EXC-F and the mighty 500 EXC-F. There’re also the Six-Day super-fancy limited edition models if you want to be posh and special, which weren’t on offer but your local KTM dealer will show and stock those options. I’m not going to gibber on about each bike and the technical data so go to www.ktm.com to absorb all that stuff, however, I can tell you that this new range is lighter, faster, and stronger than previous models and all of them now have fuel injection, so there, job done, well not really…You see, Riaan Neveling from KTM, who’s raced everything, set out the ‘easy’ circuit with friends around the ADA centre north of Jo’burg, so he is now an evil bast’ in my mind. Indeed, once I returned from the 12km loop and wanted to place my thumbs deep into his epiglottis I asked what the fook was ‘easy’ about that ride, he said, “well it’s easy compared to the Roof”, which is a disgustingly hard enduro event held in Lesotho, if you didn’t know. I mean, WTF! My profanities did seem to highly entertain him and his staff though, so I was more than happy to ‘reward’ them for their launch effort, which was a top-class event. Anyway, thanks for that Riaan and may many ants invade your pants on a daily basis…My next day deliberations weren’t quite as bad because I soon came to the conclusion that I did actually enjoy myself on these ‘mountain-goat’ motorcycles. I only rode three though, the 350 EXC-F four-stroke, the 250 EXC-F four-stroke and the 250 EXC TPI two-stroke. My choice is without doubt the new two-strokes, super-smooth and super-light makes certain terrain riding a pleasure, not fookin big rocks Riaan! In fact, I realised later that through these shocking sections I was only in control of the bike 50% of the time, the other 50% I was being pulled and dragged along like a straw stuffed doll cable-tied to handlebars. Still, the bike never complained…Never mind, as I loved riding through the final forest/bush section with single lane dirt paths and little ditches and stuff fiddling with the ultra-light clutch. To me this was where I belong on these enduro bikes and, to be honest, that section wasn’t long enough. Even through the horrid section I was highly impressed where these bikes can go, in the right hands, and nothing with four-wheels can ever go where these KTMs can.I was also asked to bring a ‘professional’ rider who would be able to attack the hard course so, after a few calls, Joshua Mlimi filled that brief. He’s an excellent MX rider for the KTM SA factory team winning many events already, and most certainly a MX star of the future, so remember his name. Joshua has never tried this type of enduro riding so he was excited to try, I think? So, after riding with all the top riders on the day these were his comments….Joshua Mlimi: I most certainly prefer my MX racing to this type of enduro, but it was my first time out on enduro bikes. I was so impressed with the way they ease through any type of terrain, but I still prefer flat out Motocross where I can see what’s around the next corner. I have a big respect for our factory KTM enduro team after following them around the hills, top guys on all counts. Perhaps it’s time I should invite them to ride a MX race with me, to see how ‘they’ go? I did have a lot of fun though and thanks to KTM for a cool and interesting launch. And, like Bill, I prefer the two-stokes for this type of riding and still my fantastic 250 SX four-stroke for competition MX riding.Well there we go, pathetic injuries aside, these are very special bikes built like a JCB, dare I say! The 2020 EXCs are tough, rugged and better than ever, what more can I say. They’re also extremely attractive motorcycles and it seems such a shame to get them dirty and bash them up on rocks, the exact opposite of my black shin, say arrrrr…
Go to www.ktm.co.za to find your local dealer who should have these bikes on the floor by now, and of course the new 2020 pricing.
Also visit our friends at www.radmoto.co.za for 2020 bikes, clothing, servicing and more….