The Enduro Experiment

Rolled Cage

Published in the September 2013 Issue September 2013

As though riding and testing as many ATVs and side-by-sides as we can isn’t enough, Dirt Toys test rider Nate King and myself decided to pick up a couple of enduro bikes this spring and spend the summer riding single track trails around the mountains of Idaho, Wyoming and Utah. Here’s how it went:

Nate and I picked up a pair of matching 2013 Husaberg TE300s from Rexburg Motor Sports, our clos- est Husaberg dealer, in April. Klim set us up with sets of its Dakar and Mojave riding gear.

By May, some of the mountain trails had opened up from the snow- pack melting. We started riding single track between trips to the sand dunes with UTVs. Nate and I each have a long background in dirt bikes, both owning a few motocross bikes in the past. But single track was new to us. We were quick to pick up on its ad- vantages: narrow trails limit your blind corner encounters to only other dirt bikes. And the occasional horse...

By the time June rolled around, we had already racked up some miles and were ready for the high mountain trails, the ones where you get so high you can look down and see all the people who don’t have hobbies.

As the weeks passed, the trails got more and more technical. We’re about the same pace, so rocky technical sec- tions slowed us both down. Or put us both on the ground in some cases.

By this point, we’d added a few power enhancements to both bikes, like head work, exhaust valve springs, jetting and some other tricks we’d learned along the way from guys like Brock Buttars in Logan, UT, and Dustin Pancheri in Idaho Falls, ID. We’d also added radiator braces, steering stabilizer, bet- ter tires and dialed in the suspensions. Out of all that, the radiator braces have been worth their weight in gold con- sidering how many times these bikes have hit the rocks.

In July, we clocked enough miles on technical trails to get a little cocky. We took one trail that we hadn’t been on that followed the steep side of a ridge for miles. It was extreme by our mea- sure. We were killing it. There were painful moments. We had our share of laughs at each other flying off the trail and tumbling down the slopes, through rocks, green overgrowth and downed timber.

We had arrived. We were enduro riders.

Or not. A couple weeks after that ride, I went out on a ride with a local group of fast riders. I knew they were fast, I knew their rides were hard and I knew their trails were technical. The mistake I made was thinking I was on common ground.

We left the truck and started up a trail ... a lesser-known single track trail that these riders knew of but I hadn’t seen on the map. Half an hour later, we were sitting on a rock ledge looking at 200 yards of the ugliest trail I’d ever laid eyes on. I never knew this stuff ex- isted. I watched two pro-level riders go through this steep switchback section that cut across a cliff band that was 50 feet high. One bad move, one blip of whiskey throttle, and you’re falling off a cliff like a drunk mountain goat. I was so glad I was just there to take pictures of the switchback, not actually riding it.

I packed away the camera, hopped back on my bike and started back up the trail. About 20 yards up, I was negotiating a rock outcropping and high-sided. Like a slow-motion blooper reel, I tipped out over the abyss of the creek below the trail, the bike’s suspen- sion giving me added elevation as I began the free fall to the rocks below. Landing on rocks hurt, but not nearly as bad as having a 230-pound bike land on my leg a split second later. No inju- ries, but I had to deal with the reality that whatever I thought I knew about single track enduro up to this point wasn’t much. That, and the fact that I’d just fallen off a very steep trail only 35 minutes into a 6-hour ride.

So how has The Enduro Experiment worked? Flawlessly. We’re addicts now. And we have the bruises to prove it.

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