European Enduro Championships in Finland by Joe Wootton - 12/08/2015
"This was the hardest event I've ever done. The going was extreme and relentless, the tests were physical, and the terrain was a mixture of sand and rock. The first test was all on rocks, constantly bouncing on top of rocks. The second test was more of a soil based track with more of a flow to it with a couple of steep rock climbs and the third test was a motocross sand test, with some huge bumps all round the track.
Day 1 and I started off steady, I was almost a bit shocked at first. The terrain was a lot different to what we have here, it almost felt like learning how to ride again. The second half of the day I picked up the pace but with some very fast Fins in my class, I could only manage a 4th. However my nearest rival in the championship finished 4 positions behind me in the race so it wasn't such a bad result. Day 2 was a day of mistakes. I couldn't put a lap together without making a mistake, and with such strong riders in my class you cannot afford to make any. All the tests where getting a lot rougher by now, there was getting less soil between the rocks and the holes where getting deep. I struggled and had only a 6th place to end the day. I'm pleased with the overall weekend though because it put me into 2nd in the Championship going into the last round in Germany at the end of October. Thanks as always to Freestyle, Wyn, Husqvarna, my Mum and Dad, and all my sponsors for their time and support."
by Joe Wootton
MX Nationals at Hawkstone Int. by Mitch Lewis - 12/08/2015
"The MX Nationals penultimate round at the famous Hawkstone Circuit.
We arrived on Friday evening after a long journey to Hawkstone and set up camp. The weather was hot and sunny all weekend.
Saturday Morning, Qualifying started off really well in the first half and managed to set the pace. Unfortunately I had an incident on the top of Hawkstone Hill. Causing a few injuries and a damaged bike, which led to a 2nd place qualifying position.
Dad got the bike washed and carried out the repairs following on from the accident and thankfully the bike was ready to go in time for the first race.
I had a bad start to race 1. At first I had a wasp in my race shirt and got stung on the inside of the arm, then a poor start left me in a mid pack position. I pushed hard and made passes to get into 2nd place, the gap was too big to the leader and second place was my finish result.
I had a good start to race 2, which left me in a good position to fight for the lead. I sat behind the leader for a few laps and got a good rhythm going, I then decided it was time and put the hammer down. I started to pull away in the lead setting the fastest lap of the race 2 in the process. However after a couple of laps my arms started to pump up. This is not something I normally suffer from so I backed off a little. Luckily the hard work had been done and I took the chequered flag. Thats an awesome feeling and makes it all worth it.
In race 3 I got an average start, made a couple of passes and pulled up behind the leader. I passed him and set what was to be the fastest lap of the weekend in our MX2 Expert class, then my arms started pumping again! I pushed on trying to ride loose as possible but the arm pump was not yielding.
Banks and I had a good battle, but a bit of bad luck with a back marker and Banks came through. My arms were knackered and did not have any thing left in them to fight back so was forced to settle for second.
Before race 4 we made a couple of changes to the bike set up to see if this would help my arms.
An average start set me up and I was working my way through the pack when my arms started pumping again! I couldn't believe what was happening and felt frustrated that I had to settle for second again.
The bike however never missed a beat all weekend and I am so excited about the FC 250 2016 model soon coming.
Overall race result for the weekend was 2nd. A good weekend in all but frustrating to be suffering with arm pump suddenly!
I have been in touch with Dan my trainer and he said he has a couple of methods to try that should help with this so fingers crossed my next event should run smoother.
Thanks of course to Freestyle, all my sponsors and supporters, my Mum for her help and to my Dad for keeping the bike going for the 2 days!"
By Mitch Lewis
British Enduro Championship at Knighton by Joe Wootton - 05/08/2015
"My goal for the weekend was to be in the top 5. With such a strong class it's always going to be a challenge but I felt confident I could achieve this goal because I have been training hard leading up to it. I felt good on the bike, and throughout the day I was putting some good times together which placed me 4th leading into the last two tests. Both test were grass, but one had a nice extreme section which I really enjoyed. Going into the back to back at the end of the day I knew there was not much between 3rd (David Knight) and me in 4th. I gave it my all, but fell short of 3rd by 2 tenths of a second. My best result at a British so far though!
At the end of day 1 Jamie McCanney was in the lead, Steve Holcombe in 2nd, David Knight 3rd and myself in 4th
Day 2 came and after walking one of the tests the night before I was determined to get a top 3 in this days racing. Everyone had upped there game, so I pushed that bit harder than the day before. It was going well, because after the first lap the top four of us were only seconds apart. Unfortunately I think I was pushing a bit too hard and made silly mistakes, which made me loose sight of the top 3. After a steady start, Tom Sagar was getting faster as the day went on. He was putting on the pressure. I ended the day in 4th but only a second in front of Sagar.
Jamie McCanney took the Championship class overall for the weekend, David Knight 2nd, Steve Holcombe 3rd and myself in 4th.
Very pleased with how my riding is improving every weekend. My next event is this weekend coming up in Finland for the next round of the European Enduro Championship where I'm currently in 3rd place.
Thanks to Freestyle for your support, Wyn for all your coaching, Husqvarna and all my sponsors and of course my Mum and Dad and family for their help through these weekends."
New Blonde on the Block: What to consider when buying your first bike! - 09/07/2015
So with all the excitement over the 2016 Husqvarnas coming out it seemed only right to move onto the subject of purchasing your bike. Not that I am looking toward getting my first bike, I still much prefer 4 legs than 2 wheels but it got me wondering..what are the key things to look for when getting your first bike?
I brought this question to our sales manager Simon. He has many a rider or non rider come to him wanting to find the best, first off-road bike for them. They may or may not already be familiar with bikes, be it (quite often) a road bike or sometimes a learner pit bike. But when moving onto the full sized Husqvarna/KTM/Yamaha (whatever your flavour) there's more to think about than just what colour you like best. There's so much to consider that it is often difficult to know where to start so we have put together a few key points of what to think of first.
To start with the model of bike you choose will be very dependant on what you plan to do with it. A motocross bike is a specimen built for competition riding with sharp, immediate power ready to speed you out of corners and up over jumps. Brilliant for track riding and racing, however not suitable when you want to go up steep hills, through woods, round twisty enduro courses that require softer power delivery and suspension. This is what an enduro bike is for and is very good at. The more gradual acceleration keeps the grip in the tyres and allows you to go anywhere. If you have ever tried to ride up a steep muddy hill on a motocross bike you probably wouldn't have got very far with the short, sharp torquey power making the tyres instantly slip and slid all over the shop.
Motocross bikes are also not often road registered and are very difficult to get registered. This means you will not be able to take it out green laning or trail riding.
Two stroke or four stroke is another kettle of fish altogether but comes under the category of model. It is often personal preference, some people will swear by 2 stroke, and other will only ever ride a 4 stroke. A 2 stroke will be easier and cheaper to maintain, the 4 stroke is a more complicated engine. However 2 strokes require oil to be mixed with the fuel which means trail riding you must carry oil with you, you can't just fill up at the nearest BP. We would often recommend having a feel of both to decide which you find more comfortable.
At our Husqvarna test day in Wales on the 26th of July we will have many new customers looking to try the 2 or 4 stroke of a similar size engine to make the final decision for them. Difficult to judge but yet another thing to consider.
Secondly, engine size is a big factor. We have so many road riders coming through our doors talking about 1000cc beasts and getting a little put out when we suggest to them a 125. However off-road is a different ball game entirely. You are in this to have fun and what is not fun is having your arms pulled out every second. Also taking a bike off road is nothing like on road, with the different ground conditions, rough terrain and obstacles such as small rocks, ditches etc even a supposedly “flat” field can make you hit the deck within seconds soon as you hit a slight bump.
Off-road riding involves so much more balance and weight control than you could ever imagine. The slightest little undulation in the ground can throw you in one direction and the bike in another.
This is in no way intended to put you off because that is indeed the enormous fun of riding off-road, it is simply to emphasise the need for a small engine until you are able to make the most of the deceptive power an off-roader has under its belt.
Lastly don't be put off by how high the seat feels when sitting on it. It is designed to be tall, and not designed for you to be able to put your feet down. However if you are really worried or are not the tallest of people we at Freestyle have designed a specialist linkage kit which allows the bike to be lowered to your specification. It is able to be fitted to Husqvarnas Motorcycles from 2014 model year onwards only and is not available from anywhere except Freestyle making it a completely unique product.
I could go on and on about different makes, models, brands, different tyres you can put on, what to look for in a second hand bike but maybe those are things which should be covered in their own blog.
For now I will leave you with these initial ideas of where to begin when choosing your new machine.
1. Do you want MOTOCROSS or ENDURO. What do you want to do, where do you want to ride? Consider the different types of power that is given to you by each model and whether you prefer 2 or 4 stroke. If you are interested in coming a long to our Test day in Wales on the 26th July just get in contact with our Wales branch to book your place. Hopefully this will help secure your decision.
2. Engine size. If you are new to off-road it will be a surprise how much power is hidden in that 125. Don't be put off if you currently ride a 1000cc beast on road. Trust me, you wont be disappointed!
3. Lastly, size isn't everything. If they are too tall or if you just don't feel safe not being able to put your feet down, we can help. Also remember, part of the fun is in the falling off and they don't weigh half the amount of your BMW adventurer. Just contact either of our branches to find out more about the unique linkage kit, only at Freestyle
We hope this helps and takes a little guess work out of this exciting sport. Our ethos revolves around fun and without the proper information fun can so easily be ruined. It wont be the dream you thought it would be without the correct machine.
Also please remember your fun will be instantly ended by injury if you are not properly protected. Always wear a helmet when riding your bike and if possible boots and armour as well. Falling off is a lot less painful when you have a lovely Shoei lid and Leatt gear to take the brunt of it!
Joe Cadwallader wins at Fat Cats BSMA Nationals - 07/07/2015
"We arrived at Fat Cats Saturday morning and the track was perfect. It was well watered and smooth and I felt confident but a bit nervous.
The first race I had a mid pack start then made some good passes on the first couple of laps, I managed to get back up to 3nd with 4 laps left. I tried to make a pass for second pace which meant I had to go around the out side burm. Not many riders used that line so it was soft which meant my front end tucked and sent me over the bars! I got back on though and still fought back for 3rd in race 1.
In race 2 the track was rough so it suited me more. I had a bad start and on the first lap I came through to 10th. I got in to a good rhythm and started to make good time up on the leaders. Mid race I managed to get into 2nd chasing down Oliver Constidine, I made the pass and pulled 20 seconds clear on him to win the race!
I had 4th off the gate in the third race of the day. I put in good 3 laps and went in to the lead then from there I focused on staying smooth and not losing to much energy because the track was especially rough, I managed to keep the win though which I was pleased with.
In race 4 the track was flat with no lines and I'm not the best on these tracks. I got 5th off the gate then made some good passes to get in to 3rd. Because I had a good points lead all I wanted was a 3rd in the race and thats what I finished with.
The last race I needed to get at least 3rd to win the overall. I got a good start and was third going in to the first turn. Alex Walton and Oliver Constidine were having a good battle just in front of me but I took it easy and stayed out of trouble, following both of them. But then Alex hit a back marker over a blind jump and because I was close to him I couldn't stop so I hit him and went over the bars again. I picked the bike back up and managed to take second and that was enough to win the overall!!
Exceptionally pleased with the whole weekend. Some of the tracks were testing and not my favourite conditions but Im pleased with my riding and think I have learned a lot. I was approached after the days racing by Stewart Watkins who asked me a few questions like how I felt the weekend went. It was really nerve racking as it was a lot of attention at once and I wasnt used to it but I did my best and thanked all my family, Justin Morris, all my sponsors and of course Freestyle"
By Joe Cadwallader
The Welsh 2 Day Race Report by Joe Wootton - 30/06/2015
"Great two days of riding! I would like to congratulate the organisers on a well run and enjoyable Welsh 2 day. The first day started off steady. There's 3 special test loops each day, and in each special test the Championship class had to do a back to back in each test. In the first test I posted some good times, which placed me 2nd with only a couple of seconds in front of 3rd but was still a fair bit off 1st. Test 3 and 4 were much better. Posting times that were only seconds away from 1st place rider. I was pleased how my riding was improving throughout the day and extending my lead over 3rd. The last 5th and 6th test was on pure grass. This was my best test of the day. Our top 3 rider times were only seconds between us. Day 1 finish: 1st Steve Holcombe, 2nd myself and 3rd Jamie Lewis The second day was awesome. The loop was in reverse, but the tests were the same way round. It meant that we knew the tracks and we could push harder on the second day. I had good times at tests 1 and 2. They were right up there in the top 3. Tests 3 and 4 were on the motocross track. It was half grass and half motocross track, with lots of dust berms. It was my favourite test, and it showed in the time. Steve had made a couple of mistakes on both tests, so that meant I had a 6 second lead going into the last tests. Test 5 and 6 I knew I had to give it my all to beat Steve. Test 5, I lost 4 seconds to Steve, there was only 2 seconds between us, this ramped up the pressure on the very last test. I knew when I finished that it was a fast time, but I had to wait for Steve to come in. I got him by 1 second so overall for that day I won by 3 seconds. Day2 finish: 1st me, 2nd Steve Holcombe and 3rd Jamie Lewis Overall results: 1st Steve Holcombe, 2nd Joe Wootton and 3rd Jamie Lewis Thank you as ever to all our sponsors for there support and all the helpers I had for the event."
By Joe Wootton
Photo credit to Garry Barnes
The NEW Freestyle Welsh 2 Day bike! - 22/06/2015
The new Freestyle Welsh 2 Day bike is here!
Inspired by the KTM 6 Day, this Husqvarna FE450 with bespoke graphics, Husqvarna Power Parts galore and a unique adjustable seat height system this is the ideal machine to take on the legendary event that is The Welsh 2 Day Enduro.
How to ride the Welsh 2 Day by Wyn Hughes - 17/06/2015
Wyn Hughes, the champion of Enduro and Welsh legend, tells us his key points for riding the Welsh 2 Day Enduro and what to remember when planning. With this iconic event just around the corner now, here are his tips for keeping a smooth running week for everyone!
What would be your ideal bike for the Welsh 2 Day?
"If conditions are dry I would recommend the Husqvarna FE450 but if it was going to be wet I would have to say the TE300 as it would be a lighter and more manageable bike in the slippery mud"
What are the best tyres to use in what conditions and why?
"A Michelin Comp 6 for front tyre is a good all round gripping tyre and on the rear I would either have a Comp 3 if wet or Comp 6 for dry, rocky conditions"
Any extra tubes? back-ups you might need in case conditions change?
"I personally always run Michelin Mousses however if you are on a budget the Heavy Duty Michelin Tubes are just as effective"
Whats the best chainlube to use and why?
"No question Putoline DX11"
What extra spares and parts should you make sure you have on hand?
"Weather dependant I would use a Husqvarna wet and Mud Air filter and replace a few times a day. Dust covers are also useful if conditions are dry however history dictates the Welsh will more than likely be wet!"
What are the main things to remember before taking on the Welsh 2 Day?
"Just be sure man and bike are in good working order!"
What are the main things you should prioritise during a pit stop to make it as efficient as possible and why?
"First thing would be fuel for both you and the bike! Keep hydrated and make sure you get calories at every opportunity. Secondly check all nuts and bolts on the bike are tighened"
Whats the best clothing to wear and why?
"If the weather is dry it would be the Klim XC range for comfort and durability. If its raining I would wear the Klim Traverse kit as I am not a fan of getting wet and theres nothing more waterproof than Klim. Always the Klim Dakar gloves for quality and protection on the knuckles in case of rocks and loose gravel"
Last minute checks before the start and why?
"Double check the bike has a full tank and then make sure your time card tallies with another rider on the same minute"
Whats the most common thing to go wrong for a rider at the Welsh?
"There are a lot of punctures which is why I would emphasise the use of mousses. Rider exhaustion is very common and often made worse by the bike not being prepared properly. If needs be get your bike check over by a professional the week or so before just to be 100% sure nothing is going to let you down. I do a £20 race standard check in store which I would reccommend for peace of mind"
How would you prepare the night before the event? What are some of your rituals for preparing yourself for a race?
"Do a double and triple check all kit is ready, extras such as goggles and spare filters etc are all packed. Drink plenty of water, a carbohydrate rich dinner before and a good 10 hours sleep!"
UPDATE: Ben Wibberleys crash at Erzberg - 14/06/2015
Last weekend Freestyle rider Ben Wibberley suffered a disastrous crash at the Erzberg Rodeo in Austria. Among other nasty injuries he suffered a broken pelvis which had had him bed bound in an Austrian hospital for the past week.
There was deliberation whether or not they would operate and considering when and how to fly him back so he can be with his friends and family but they have since carried out the operation. He is now on the road to recovery and will spend a further couple of weeks in the Austrian hospital before being flown back to his home in Kent to continue with physiotherapy and eventually get him back on his feet. Being in a foreign country on his own has not dampened his spirits though!
As an experienced Enduro, Trials and Extreme Enduro rider, Bens accident shows the danger involved in these extreme events. The picture featured is Ben at The Tough One in Shropshire.
New Blonde on the Block: They Couldnt Go Fast So They Decided To Go Anywhere! - 11/06/2015
It's a common misconception that off-road dirt bikes are for your average thrill seeking teenager wanting a fast, loud and impressive looking sport to sink their teeth into. But these days that just isn't the case. Road biking is becoming increasingly more dangerous and the risk of being pulled over and losing your licence is a constant thought in the riders of big super-bikes commuting everyday.
Not wanting to lose that thrill they are turning more and more to the excitement of off-road bikes. The main reason being that they can get as much of an adrenalin rush from 15 miles per hour over rough, off-road terrain than they do at 100+ mph on the road.
I see them all the time returning from a guided trail ride from one of our branches covered from head to foot in mud, walking with that typical biker gait, the only thing visible through the dirt being a massive grin.
-“Did you see me hit that bump??”
-“Yeah great save! I wasn't so lucky..went straight in the puddle but I got through those trees!”
The out of breath conversations of successes and failures are thrown from one end of the coffee shop to the other during lunch breaks from our trail rides. All stories are just as enthusiastic whether they are of a little tip over, an obstacle getting the better of someone or of someone's impressive result in a recent Hare & Hound's event.
Some are competitive, wanting the challenge of racing against other riders, the big jumps and the fast paced course, dodging trees and taking on ruts. Others enjoy the scenery and adventure that comes with green laning and trail riding. Exploring the countryside and discovering places you never knew you could reach on a bike.
No matter where they want to go, its a certain fact that they want the best. They want the top spec riding gear that will keep them warm and dry in all weathers and the perfect bike to be their companion in their adventures. Many choose a BMW adventure bike, but often they come to us for a proper off-road bike so they can really go anywhere and do anything. With a real enduro bike they can go trail riding and travel the world but they can also take it to the track and have a go with the motocross boys. They can enter events such as Hare & Hounds and have a good 3 hours riding around an intricate course through wooded areas, twists and turns through fields, up and down motocross sections and experience the exhilarating line up start!
If that's not for you enduro bikes are completely road legal, as they need to be for trail riding anyway, so you really can go anywhere!
Many of our customers want the lifestyle of being able to go on holidays with their mates around the world on their bikes. They then discover the community of off-road motorcycling and all the excitement they can have. The sleek super-bike sat in their garage which can go from 0-100 in no seconds and then from 100 to a steady 70 on the motorway because Mr Copper is on his back, is slowly forgotten and only brought out on sunny days for a ride to the coast. But the hardcore enduro bike with knobbly tyres and race décor graphics goes out to play most weekends and in all weathers.
Nice weather becomes boring. Wind, rain and mud become the new thrill ride. You wake up on a snow day and instead of thinking “Great, today's commute is going to be nightmare!”, you leap out of bed and scream with the kids because it means your ride today will have to done on the enduro bike and man it will be fun!
The 125 or 250cc which, to the 600 on your road bike seems meagre, is really all you need when the slightest bump and change in conditions can have you gripping the handlebars and shifting your weight to adjust the balance. And falling off certainly doesn't hurt as much when it is into a muddy puddle or onto soft grass. The bike doesn't weight a tonne and need 2 helpers to push off yourself and then pull back upright. This also all pales to the harsh but true reality that it only takes one person to not see you on the roads and it could be game over.
It would be a lie to say off-road bikes don't have their own danger as my own father has plenty of stories to disprove this, but what I can guarantee it is something you can learn and improve on in your own time and at your own pace without the scores of speeding motorist around you.
So when you're considering a hobby to take up and don't want to give up your love of 2 wheels have another think. Get yourself an off-road bike, because at the end of the day a journey of any kind can become an adventure. Even one which starts out with no original destination except “Lets go down that track there and see where we get too..”