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Technical Articles Page

Advice, Reviews, Information on a random array of products

Test of the Camelbak Mule Drink System
Test of the New Gas Gas Pampera
Test of the Suzuki Freewind
Honda XR Owners Beware
Goan Enfield
Dreaming of Brad Lackey
Setting Up Your Suspension
Reg Prescott's Top Tips!


Camelbak M.u.l.e. drinks system (medium-to-ultra-long-endeavours)

I bought this system to replace my older one, which was only a litre in capacity, with limited carry space. I found that on a good days trail riding a litre just wasn't enough. The new system is capable of carrying 3 litres and has a good amount.of carrying space for those essential spares. Starting from the inside; The bladder itself is much improved from the older design, there are markings on the bladder so you can mix the drinks accurately.I usually stick to cordial and water, but you can mix whatever you like and get the calibrations perfect! The aperture is also an improvement, big enough to get your hand inside, thus making the cleaning a doddle. It will also allow you to put ice or fruit in with the juice, handy for the Pimms lovers! The bladder sits very snugly in the packand is sealed In with a Velcro's flap. The drinks tube can be fed through a hollow on either shoulder strap depending on which side you prefer The back of the pack has several pads which would act as on armour against your spine in the case of a tumble, which is a sensible touch I thought. There are four pockets Of varying sizes, the largest of which could carry a set of waterproofs. The next one is big enough for a pair of winter gloves and also boasts some elasticated sleeves. l keep a spare plug in a holder (Acerbis) in one and my keys, pencil tyre gauge and odds and sods in the other. A handy extra is a sewn in clip to attach the keys to, so you don't lose them when ferreting around in the bag. The smallest pocket is still large enough for a food reserve, plenty of room for the crushed crisps and chocolate bars. The last pocket is an open mesh type which is situated around the main bag and is extremely expandable and would be capable of taking a shirt or sweatshirt for when things get too warm. The main pocket has straps on the sides so as you can let the pocket out or tighten it up, while the mesh pocket has a bungee type cord fed though it almost like an elasticated lace, to hold things securely. The shoulder straps themselves are nicely padded and totally adjustable, and incorporate both a waist strap and a chest strap, so whatever load you want to carry it will be snug to you and not bouncing up and down when the going gets rough! I've had this Camelbak for several months now and am thorou(jhly impressed. I was never a lover of back packs, but this combinat ' ion cif a drinks systerh with a sensible amount of storage is yet another bit of essential kit that I wouldn't be without, on road or off.
The Camelbak Mule was supplied by Andy Spencer. RRP £59:95. Members price£50:95.
Also available from Andy are the complete range of Camelbaks or alternative drinks systems starting from £28:95 to £79:95 Also available are a range of spares and accessories for these products.

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Having recently taken delivery of a 250 Pampera M0 from Andy Spencer of Behind Bars, these are my first impressions after a 100 km ride, taking in lanes around Rugby and Daventry.
This has got to be one of the easiest off road bikes I have ever ridden. Immediately was impressed by its light (90Kg) weight and relatively low seat height.
You don't need a step ladder to get on it, and once you're on its easy to reach the ground for a quick dab. Handlebars look a bit cheap and, whilst I've never understood the passion for "designer" handlebars, I will probably change them for something a bit higher and stronger, as standing Lip for any length of time becornes a bit tiring. Suspension is ideal for rrie ? no adjustments other than Ore?load on the back! Low speed handling is good, undoubtedly because Of the maChine's trials heritage. I've yet to ride it fast over a bumpy surface, but I would guess that the relatively steep steering head anole might limit your enthusiasm in this direction. A nice touch is the cut?outs under the seat which mean that if you do manage to bury the back wheel there's something for you and your mate to lift from.
The engine characteristics of the 250cc liquid cooled two stroke engine are perfect for green laneing, power delivery is smooth and progressive with a very wide power band and no power valve to jump up and bite your ass! Simply select approximately the right gear, open the throttle and it goes, Lifting the front wfleel to clear obstructions or to enter Ern unknown puddle is a cinch, just Move your weight back a touch, give it some gas and up she comes. Beling a two stroke it is not blessed with much engine birakIng blit the rear brake, a Hebo 4 pot calliper, makes up for this with loads of "feel". On tarmac the front brake is impressive too, andI felt a lot safer riding on country roads than on the DTI75MX where you always had to second guess the state of the road and its occupants.
I've never ridden a bike with a hydraulic clutch before and I'd always assumed that a well lubricated and adjusted cable set up would be just as good, but I weis wrong. The amount of fine control you can achieve is unbelievable and is a real bonus in the technical bits.
The bike came fitted with Michelin T63s front and rear. These are a fairly chunky trials type pattern arid provided good grip on the relatively dry lanes that we rode. We didn't encounter any Uphill or really snotty sections so I'll reserve judgement for now.
There ate, as with any bike, some downsides. Firstly the tank capacity is only 6.5 litres and it went on to reserve out at Helidon, however I managed to ride the 23 mile back to Coventry without filling up. Clearly the designers have decided that if you have a limited range you need an early warning. When we got back the electronic speedo showed exactly I0Okm,and there were fumes left in the tank, so by my calculation it does about 44 mpg (why do we still quote mpg instead of Km/Litre?) but I guess this wil improve once its run in. The folding footrests are nice add wide but, can you believe It, the right hand one has only about 15 degrees of movement before it fouls the brake pedal. This is such a glaring error that I'm wondering if there should be a different peg fitted on this side, for sure if the bike goes down heavily on the right it's going to damage the brake lever.
In conclusion I would say that I'm delighted with the bike and the price (£2750.00 on the road). If you're put off by the thought of a bike which weighs 1/2 ton, needs 10 minutes notice to start the engine, and leaves you no change out of 4 grand, then this is worth a look. We're off to the Isle of Man next week so I'll let you know what 4 days of serious riding has produced when we get back, Thanks to Andy for excellent service and qood luck in your new venture.

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The Gentleman’s Conveyance
200 miles on Suzuki’s single all-rounder.

There has been a lot of discussion lately about the direction big trail bike design is heading. It seems that just as the UK market is waking up to the BTB’s undoubted advantages, the manufacturers are heading off up an altogether more tarmac based design alley. Recent arrivals inevitably have lots of plastic, large twin cylinder engines (generally de-tuned sports lumps), stiff suspension, huge brakes etc. etc. and would be more suited to the roadster/all-rounder bracket than the trail bike niche.

With the above in mind, I was intrigued when I got the opportunity to ride out with “The Boys Who Can” onFreewind Cockpit their Robin Hood Roost, a tour of Nottinghamshire’s minor roads and easier trails, aboard Suzuki’s single-cylinder BTB – the XF650 Freewind.

The Freewind is a road-biased BTB using the air cooled SOHC engine from the long running DR650. Old technology to be sure, but wrapped up in swoopy bodywork, rolling along on 17”/19” wheels held in place with non-adjustable suspension and resplendent with a flash looking LCD speedo/rev counter bearing more than a passing resemblance to a Fiat Tipo dashboard circa the late 80’s. Electro!!

Once on the bike, it was easy to feel at home – usual Jap stuff, one-down four-up gearbox, push to cancel indicators, dash mounted choke, all good stuff. The gear ratios give the bike a reasonable amount of thruch, but there is little chance of wheelie fun – even jumping off kerbs barely gets the wheels airborne, with the tyres seemingly sucking themselves back down to earth as quickly as possible. Once underway there is little point in revving the motor, much better to roll along at a suitable pace and let the engine tell you when to swap gears. The Freewind in the Peak District

All very relaxing even though Freewilly must be pretty low geared. All I managed was a pretty unimpressive 95 mph, disappointing for a 650 with so much bodywork, I reckon.
Still, the combination of Pirelli MT80 tyres and those budget forks will dissuade any rider from spending too much time at the top of the speedo – the whole lot gets a bit squirrelly if you really decide to press on. Enough to draw comments from fellow riders, it must have looked scary stuff at times. I recall one incident with a Dommie in close pursuit when both ends seemed to let go at once, a little unnerving to say the least and when the gearbox followed up with a false neutral at the very next corner my single-cylindered pal decided to clear off out of the way. In fairness, in normal use the Freewind is docile and predictable. It only misbehaved when pressed hard during the cut and thrust of a BTBc ride out, and only then occasionally.

The biggest surprise of the day was on the first unsurfaced road – despite the road looks and odd sized tyres, the XF is actually a pretty nifty trail bike. The low power and easy delivery, not to mention the low seat and weight (claimed 162kg dry), give the rider an easy time on the loose stuff. Only the tyres let the bike down – that and the cost of replacing plastics should the worst (inevitable!) happen. It speaks volumes for the handling that I was sent up front on the trails with the £600 Dommie, as the twins were having a bit of a torrid time of it (especially off-piste in the woods, getting around fallen trees).

Overall on the day the Suzuki gave around 45 mpg. Given the 18.5l tank then 180 miles should be possible, but for me at 6’ this would be a cramp to far – the sixty miles to the meet was enough for me, thanks very much. That’s more to do with the low seat than any vibration or wind blast. The tiny screen does a fair job of keeping the blast over your head (almost) and the engine’s single balance shaft does an excellent job of keeping Vibration White Finger (or white anything else for that matter) at bay.

Back home and out with the pressure washer and TFR – I had kind of promised the owner I wouldn’t be doing off-road, so a good wash was in order to hide the evidence. Thankfully the placid single scrubbed up very well, always a sign of quality build I reckon. Particularly impressive are the sleek looking black rims to the wheels, but everything was gleaming in no time with a minimum of fuss or elbow grease.

A quick search of Autotrader returns a few XF’s for sale, it would seem £2500 would get a clean, low miles bike with a few choice extras (luggage, heated grips etc) and for that sort of cash the Freewind makes a lot of sense. OK, no-one will fall in love with this bike but as a progression, or a commuter, or for anyone a bit short looking for a decent Adventure Bike I would happily recommend a trial on a Freewind. Easy going, affordable, well appointed and with good DR references it really is a Gentleman’s (or woman’s) Conveyance.

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Having sold my dirt bike and been away from the "off road scene" for nearly a year I thought it was time to get another bike so the hunt was on.
Just as luck has it a member of our club was selling his Honda XR 250 (no names mentioned). So a phone call was made and price was negotiated and a purchase was made. It is a 1997 XR 250, with no tax or M.0.T. I collected the bike a few days later and in the garage it went. The weekend arrived so decided to check over for the M.0.T.all was well except for some excessive play in the swing arm bearings. Ok I thought that’s easy enough I will just replace them. So I set out to strip down and this is where the trouble's started.
Now the swing arm is held together with a high tensile bolt and spacers which locate through the bearings via hardened steel collars and the whole assembly was seized solid, and I mean seized. Every effort was made to try and free them off but to no avail so my only option left was to "CUT".
Now because they are hardened, a hacksaw blade is useless. I managed after some searching to find a cutting wheel small enough to fit without damaging. Size, about 2inch diameter and 2mm thick. Now this was going to be a very careful exercise trying not to damage the frame or engine casings, after 2 hours of cutting she was free with little damage to either. (Beware the spacers which go into the engine casing are not available separately, or so my Honda dealer says.)
Now with the swing arm free I was able to access and knock out the old bearings and reassemble with new ones liberally greased of course.
So let this be a lesson learned, a lack of maintenance in this department in my opinion was the sole cause e of this to seizure so it is my advice that anyone who owns an XR to strip and grease the swing arm at least once if not twice a year. They do come apart easily (if not seized) and is well worth while doing. Take it from me, if anyone does find themselves in this situation and would like some help or advice then please don’t hesitate to ask me.

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For all you people out there reading this for whom "Goa" is a prefix to "way", Goa is a small independent state off the West coast of India. If you haven't been yet, it’s a useful experience.
The sun shines all day, the sea is body temperature and the nights are warm.
One of the local delicacies I was determined to sample was the Enfield India 350 Bullet. They are hired out by local businesses along with 100cc Yamahas, Hondas and other local produce. Cost is about a tenner a day - Yep £10 per day.
If you ask around among the local lads however, it may be possible to "borrow" one for less, depends on your haggling skills and how tight you are to save a few pounds.
This route though, is not officially recommended due to legal technicalities like insurance and safety etc.
Straddling the bike, my first impression was of a low centre of gravity and overall lightness, I'd expected it to be heavier, it looked heavier than it felt at rest.
All the usual switches, indicators, lights and a (well polished) horn button were well located and easy to operate. (As they say.) Celestine, its owner, showed me how to operate them. For some reason, I felt surprise when the lights shone, the indicators indicated and the horn honked. So surprised I forgot to check the brake light.
He explained the starting procedure. Fuel cock in the inline position, ease the (fixed) kickstart down until top dead is reached on the compression stroke. Decompress by pushing the thumb operated lever mounted under the clutch lever toward the headstock, a gentle push on the kickstart and release the lever.
Ready now thought I, for heroic acrobatics, leap off the seat in a mighty lunge down on the kickstart to spin the motor over. Celestine, facing the back of the bike, put his right foot on the 'starter and pushed, in a full swing down that ended with the back of his calf against the footpeg. The bike sat there, rocking gently on its centrestand, ticking over at one beat per second.“
’With a big wide open Goan smile, he left.
At this point the hero snicks carefully into gear and thunders in the genteel British way off up the road, in the midday sun of course. C’ept it stalled. Twice. Nor would it start for me the way it had for Celestine. Surprised? No, me neither.
Flywheel inertia started the thing eventually, as easily as a small 2-stroke. The right hand gear change I'd prepared for mentally, but not a one UP, three DOWN.
This sorted, sweaty and a little irate we thudded, not in any way genteel, off up the road. In the hot midday sun.
I'd decided to wear protection whilst riding, especially after seeing at first hand, families of farm animals wandering freely. Cows and pigs mainly, some dogs and humans inevitably. And that Universal constant - Taxi drivers. I watched helplessly as one such reversed his Omni (Bedford Rascal type) minibus out into the oncoming traffic of a main thoroughfare and stop in the middle to get out and vigorously berate the unfortunate rider of a YB100 that had dented the side of his bus as it bounced off. This is Goa, India, folks.
Up-shifting to change down gear was not as smooth as downshifting to change up, especially when I needed to brake a bit urgently and instinct overtook the brain to the right foot. Every shift up accompanied both a curse on old agricultural machinery, and a praise to some deity or other for the protective clothing. (Plimsolls).
Having torque as opposed to power was interesting, third gear was useful for most roads, from just under tick-over up to discomfort, which was usually too fast and therefore a good control measure. A big step between third and fourth gears made top only an option between some villages, or on one of the National Highways. Where, in addition to the normal hazards like being overtaken four or five abreast, forced into the side by oncoming trucks, (-national sport), and choking on thick black clouds of diesel fumes, you can be very badly sunburnt.
Especially on yer peely wally white bits that never normally see the sun, like insides of arms, elbows and thighs. You may not realise this due to the air cooling principle, so wrap up, cream up or put up.
Relaxing into the ride is not easily done here, so much is happening all of the time, making riding long distances quite tiring quickly. Stop often to relax limbs and mind, and top up with non-alcoholic liquids. Plenty of time for a good drink at the end of the day, with bottles of local ale at around 70 pence a litre.
The Enfield was an easy bike to ride, it was quite an old one, rattly and shaky in the engine and chassis but solid and reliable in an oddly endearing way. Rather like one of those old mowers to be found in rural cricket clubs, that someone’s Great-Great-Great Grandad donated just after the war.... Boer war.
Hazards are where you find them and surprises everywhere, so its comforting to have a back brake that can be relied upon if not the tyre, road surface, off road surface, front brake.... never did find out if the brake light worked.
Foibles apart, once used to the Enfield it was, as well as interesting, a lot of fun, well suited to its environment. Taking it out of its adopted Indian environment is -if I may express an opinion- being unfair to it, like placing a Jap or Italian de rigeur in its place. The word we're looking at here is expectation - don't have any. It’s an old British ex pat., a de rigeur from another era, possibly.
The Indian National Highways system were set up to bypass everything, like the British motorways, but with only two lanes, one each way. On level even stretches, the Bullet chugs along fine, I never could open it up to "see what it could do", the mechanical threshing noises from the engine tugged too sharply at my conscience.
And hell, the pace of life in India is well suited to it so why subject it to an alien set of hypothetical parameters. At a guess, due to a busted speedo cable, 50 to 60 mph was the most comfortable speed for this rider and 'er on the back. The road surface was smooth in places and undulating all the time, this occasionally topped out the front forks, and bottomed the rear shocks. Rider and passenger comfort was not good, the seat is narrow and not too well padded, and watch your nuts on the tank over some of those bumps. Given the seeming lack of power, it often surprised and on one occasion amazed us by chugging and grunting its way up a variety of steep hills, long power sapping climbs and undulating switch-back tracks through the jungles.
Engine braking wasn't, as wasn't acceleration, both concepts were gradual as was almost everything else about the bike except running out of petrol, which is sudden, and having no reserve, final.
Exhaust note is a rich booming bass from an echo chamber look alike of the old Burgess silencer. All this plus fuel consumption you couldn't curse a moped for (until you forgot it ran on petrol), for less than £2.30 per day -- potentially.
Would I have an Enfield India Bullet?
In the U.K., no. Definitely not, I would be content with a sound recording of one being ridden in its native India.
In India? Yes. Definitely; with a custom made saddle.

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Summer of ‘76’ [the hot one], I worked in Studley as an engineering apprentice and lived in Wythall, transport at that time was a Yamaha DT 125.
I knew contractors were removing turf and topsoil in Houndsfield Lane so I went to investigate after work.
To my delight, there were mounds of earth and turf in varying sizes all across the field and I had the time of my life for an hour or so.
Next day at work all I could think of was the previous evening’s fun and dreamt of my “Brad Lackey” jumps, as soon as worked finished, I rode straight to the field in Wythall.
Work had progressed but the majority of the “M.X” track seemed intact, so off I set around the field. After a few minutes I lined myself up for one of the bigger mounds, it was only as I crested it that I realised half of the “jump” had been removed and it was a hell of a drop for the little twin shock Yammy.
Consequently I had a dented tank and balls as big as “Brad Lackey”.
P.S..I promised Andy this ditty ages ago and only found time to write it recently when I locked myself into a bank secure lobby, C’est la vie!
Steve Donovan

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A few weeks ago Alan Weaver sent me piece on setting up rear suspension, which I thought was informative and could be of interest to quite a few members. So with Alan's permission I have added too and made a few changes, and what follows is the joint effort.

A lot of nonsense is talked about suspension, if you listen to everyone at meetings, enduros, out on the trail or down the pub, either you would'nt have a clue where to start or you would spend a small fortune with a self appointed specialist getting your bike set up.
There are a couple of basic things you can do yourself which should help get the correct set up for you and your bike which won't cost you anything.

If you were competing in enduros or moto-cross events you may wish to change springs and fork oil to suit your weight and riding style. However as we are talking about trail riding we will work on the assumption that you have the standard springs and fork oil as specified by the manufacturer of your bike.

The following procedure will set Race Sag(riding sag) and Static Sag.

You will need someone to help you take the measurements. For each measurement bounce the rear of the bike a few times and take a few and use the average.

1. Put your bike on a stand with the back wheel off the ground and measure from a point close to the rear wheel axle to a point on the rear mudguard slightly forward of the vertical. This will give you measurement A.

2.Take the bike off the stand and put on level ground. Sit on the bike in a central position with all you riding kit on, boots, bags, tools, drinks etc. with one foot on a footrest and the other on the floor just for balance not weight bearing. Now measure between the same two points as above. This will give you measurement B.

3.Get of the bike and bounce the rear a couple of times and allow to settle. Measure the same two points again. This will give you measurement C.


A - B = race sag

Example A measures 610mm
B measures 510mm
C measures 585mrn


A - C = static sagp

610 - 510=10Omm race sag

610 - 585=25mm static sag

Race sag should be set at between 25-30% of the full suspension travel. The following can be used as a rule of thumb.

125-500cc Static sag should between




Adjust your rear shock spring accordingly. Once you have made any adjustments, stand to the side of your bike holding the handlebar grip with one hand and bounce the bike up and down using your foot on the footrest. As you bounce check that the bike is going down horizontally, i.e. the front and rear suspension are moving the same distance. If they are not then some further adjustment may be needed to either the forks or rear shock.

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Reg Prescott's Top Tips!

(scrounged from the net so don't blame us if your bike explodes!)

If your bike is running poorly, or not running at all, it probably has a carburettor problem - or three. Once properly jetted, carburettors don't need much attention, but there are a few parts that do wear out and should be replaced as operation hours pile up. Lots of strong-running bikes have been fouled-up by unneeded or improper carburettor "service," so you should know what to do-and what not to do. Here's what every rider should know before he even thinks of fiddling with his bike's carb.

1: Some "carburettor problems" might not be caused by the carb. Hard starting, poor throttle response at high or low revs, plug fouling and poor idle control are more often fuel, fuel supply or engine problems. Carbs rarely develop problems suddenly; so don't tear the carb apart before you're sure fuel is making it to the carb and that the engine and ignition are working right.

2: Constant or excessive fuel leakage, "dead" small-throttle response and frequent plug fouling are common carb problems. Once you're sure the carb is the problem area, you'll have do some disassembly to find the cause(s). You don't always have to remove the carb from the machine to service it. On most, loosening the intake tract clamps and turning the carb will give good access to its parts.

3: Pilot jets plug on improperly stored bikes, causing "dead" small-throttle response. Remove the jet and clear it with solvent and compressed air. Avoid using wire, as it can distort the precisely - sized hole in the jet. If the hole is enlarged, the jetting will change, which could cause additional problems.

4: Worn or dirty float needles, incorrect float height settings or leaky floats cause excess fuel leakage and, in some cases, frequent plug fouling. Remove the float needle by pulling out the float hinge pin and the floats. The needle may come out with the float assembly or you may need to grab it with your dainty little fingers. Look for dirt or other debris or signs of wear on the tapered needle tip. It should have a perfect cone shape.

Carbs that have seen years of use can develop wear at the nozzle area. The nozzle is replaceable on older carbs. Most press out. The nozzle is cast as part of the body in newer carbs. All you can do to correct for the wear is run a "leaner" needle-or replace the carb body.

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