RUST started the year at its Portugal base. First bike on the bench for Warren and Pedro was the 2015 KTM 200EXC that was given a top-to-bottom rebuild in preparation for rides to come. One of the biggest differences – after the Stillwell Performance suspension – was the Lectron carb.
Pedro did some test riding on the KTM and loved it – took him back to his younger days racing two-strokes in local enduros and Baja type races
There was a Portugal-Spain-France-UK road trip back from Portugal. In Biarritz we stumbled upon the DUST Garage where the super-keen guys were repairing old bikes, making scramblers of others. Cool dudes.
The weather wasn’t quite so kind back in the UK, but JB and Alex found themselves enjoying an early Spring ride around the Norfolk coast on a pair of scramblers – the Triumph Scrambler 900 and Ducati Desert Sled. Sometimes low-key and chilled just works the treat.
Two RUST associates set off on big rides in 2017. First out of the traps was JB’s GS Trophy colleague Andy Dukes. He set off with the intention of a 12-month circumnavigation with stops to run marathons along the way. But when he got to the end of his first leg at Kuala Lumpur he realised this was not going to work, so sent his F 800 GS home in a container and instead plane hopped continent to continent hiring/borrowing local bikes as he went. And yes running those marathons. Good lesson there – it’s your life, your ride, do it your way.
KTM had two good attempts at killing JB in 2017. First attempt was by making him test the new TPI models at no lesser a venue than Erzberg. JB took two hammering crashes – one at the very top of one of the big climbs – but survived, albeit battered and bruised.
GS TROPHY 1
JB found light relief in watching others crash altogether heavier bikes. A trip in June to the Black Forest in Southern Germany for the German qualifiers for the GS Trophy was super-relaxing, even when racing around on a loaned R 1200 GS Rallye.
Late Spring, Warren and Pedro (with Alex and former TBM editor James Barnicoat in tow) headed to central France for the classic Trefle Lozerien enduro. They had an absolute blast, even if Warren finished with stitches in his arm. They vowed to return – every year we pen the Tref into the RUST calendar – but have not made it yet. There’s always 2021.
THE LAUNCH THAT WASN’T
Quite possibly the most oddball launch ever came when KTM decided to relaunch their Freeride E. No test riding involved. And the shortest least spectacular (indoor) demonstration ever. And very little by way of advancement for that matter. However, a visit to the Red Bull museum was mildly interesting.
KTM’s second attempt on JB’s life was through not so much an invite as an instruction to attend an extreme enduro class led by Jonny Walker and Taddy Blazusiak in Spain. Naturally it got very hairy.
July Behl was the next RUST associate on a big ride. July shipped his BMW R nineT Scrambler to Alaska and over five months rode (and ate) his way North-South across the Americas. He is now, you’ll be happy to hear, weighed down with a family and mortgage and proper job in the suburbs of London.
TOM ON THE ROCK(IE)S
Former European enduro champion Tom Sagar helped RUST with three tests in 2017. His high point, quite literally, was the 2018 Husky TEi launch in Canada, where of course he put all the other journos to shame with his skills. He could write just as well, too.
Just as the year was winding down, BMW asked JB to cover the International Female Qualifier for the GS Trophy, in South Africa. There are tougher gigs. 23 women from around the world attended and were stretched to their physical limits doing stuff none of us guys would do given a choice. Definitely some tough cookies among them.