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..”
The Maxxis at Hawkstone by Mitch Lewis - 09/06/2015
"We pulled up at Hawkstone for the Maxxis on Saturday afternoon, and found we had a fantastic spot for the days racing. The Freestyle team support crew came along with the race truck and awning set up looking as professional as ever and we were looking forward to a good day.
For qualifying the track was a little wet in some places but on the whole it was in good condition, however I didn't manage to pull together a great lap which left me with 27th gate pick.
Race one came and I had a really bad start which left me 5th from last. I managed to pull through to 19th by the end of the race but knew I had a tough day of racing on my hands.
Race two, and I had another shocking start. I made some passes but it was not enough which left me outside the points by the time the flag fell.
The last race of the day came and I had a top 15 start which set me up well. I ended up coming together with another rider which put me back to about 20th but then found it had caused a puncture in my rear wheel so after all that my last race result was DNF!
On the whole it was an ok weekend, a few disappointments but I have learnt lessons and will be back on the bike practicing my starts! Thanks to the Freestyle team and Joe the mechanic for keeping the bike mint all weekend, everyone who is a part of the team and all who helped. I look forward to more race weekends very soon!"
By Mitch Lewis
New Blonde on the Block: We Sponsored a Drizzly Day - 02/06/2015
So Sunday was our Freestyle sponsored Hare & Hounds Enduro at Canada Heights, massive entry list, great course set out but no one thought to organise a good day weather wise.
The forecast admittedly was very pessimistic and it didn't live up to the torrential rain we were promised but the drizzle which met us as we drove up the track into Sidcup & Districts grounds did not put smiles on our faces.
Arriving early to set up, we dotted beech wing flags, banners and pop-ups around the track in good photo-op places and then settled in to watch the crowds roll in. Just after signing in time there was a long queue of bikes lining up to be scrutinised and put in line just in front of the motocross start.
It was a sea of orange, blue and white as KTM and Husqvarna dominated the paddock. From the impression I got, the majority of riders were there for the ride. They had geared themselves up, polished their bikes to perfection and prepared their pit stop area in true Enduro style, to simply enjoy a good day on their bikes.
There were the professional set ups among them, riders such as Richard Ely, who was our rider, Ben Wibberleys, main competition. They had their pit crew ready for a speedy refuel half way through the race and helpers holding up boards with inspiring messages on them, such as “1 +20 Focus” (hopefully it meant more to them than it did to me)
The start was an interesting one, a dead engine start. After an opportunity to warm up the bikes, involving a lot of revving of engines and practise jumps forward, looking like a line up of hungry hippos in my opinion, all engines where ordered to be switched off and a wait for the signal ensued.
With slight confusion of whether flag up or flag down meant go, they all gave an almighty kick/button push, engines burst into life and they were off. Ben got a great start despite the unsure signal and set off in second.
By the time we saw him again he was in the lead and from then he was the one to be chased.
The other classes to start a minute a piece after, were also good to watch. Some took a number of good kicks to fire into life and a few just weren't wanting to play ball today.
It reminded me distinctly of the Pony Club events where you would always find that poor child whose steed had their feet firmly planted to the ground no matter how much flapping, kicking and growling went on. It just wasn't their day.
But eventually most riders managed to burst their machine into life and set off up the track for a good days riding and a pit stop every few laps.
It was a 3 hour race, my kind of day with all the action happening in one go and then when you're done, you're done.
A quick pit stop after 1.5 hours where the bike and Ben were refuelled with petrol and banana (make your choice) saw him continue out onto the course still in the lead. Thumbs up all round for pit crew and banana duty.
He held the lead, naturally, and after the 3 hours were up all riders where called in at their next time check. It was a slightly anticlimactic finish in my opinion, you couldn't even tell if he was the winner. I was waiting for a chequered flag, cheering crowds and confetti. We were all ready in our water proofs for the champagne shower...
But no, it was all very civilised. A few pats on the back and some good gossip about how the track rode. Everyone was in high spirits, it seemed it rode well. The conditions where slippery, even I could see that. I would have had some fat studs in my horses shoes with the slick grass out in some of the fields they were riding through and apparently there were a few bruised bums out there.
With no prize giving to be done, as final results would not be up for 12-24 hours or so, the bikes were wheeled back to vans, washed off in some cases and some very hot, and puffed out riders peeled off their muddy kit between bites of a well deserved burger. And that was that.
A Hare & Hounds event has to be my favourite so far, there was very little drama, no panicked change overs of kit, bike prep in between races or standing around waiting for the action to continue. Everyone was there to have fun, it was plain to see. The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly. And although it was a long race, there was always something to see. The course was long and intricate which I can image kept the riders attention all the way round, and if you weren't aiming for perfect lap times and chasing down the leader, it would be the perfect event for someone wanting to improve their skills, and get more time on the bike.
Another win for Freestyle but also a win for all those who finished in my opinion. A win for the resident ducks too.
MX Nationals Rnd 4; 4 out of 4! by Mitch Lewis - 01/06/2015
"It was a great way to start the weekend when we parked on the beach with a great view out of the camper window. The track was smooth and really deep, so it was hard to get going out of the corners, but I managed to get second in qualifying. This gave me a good gate pick for the weekend which I was pleased with.
First race came and the track was shaping up nicely, I was really looking forward to it. The gate dropped and I was second out the gate. It took me a couple of laps to find a rhythm and then I started to chip away and found myself in a good race for the lead. I made a strong pass and then settled down to bring the home the win.
Race two came and the track looked good and there were so many lines to use. I got out the start in second and had to find some good lines but I then put in a charge for the lead. I had a good battle on my hands, but came out on top and brought the second race home in first place. The first day was a great one.
Sunday was up and it was a drizzly start to the day, but it soon cleared and racing started as planned. They had us on the other track for the second day which was quite tight but we were all in the same boat. Race three all went to plan and I came across the line in 1st place again. This meant going in to race 4, I was aiming for a full house. My main competitor fell at the start which cleared the way for me and I brought home an easy win in the final race of the day.
It was an amazing feeling to get a 4 wins out of 4 races and now I just cant wait for the next round.
It feels like I have really found my feet with the Husky now. I have been practicing at Dunkirk a lot lately and any spare time I have, is spent at the gym. It all feels like it is coming together and things are fitting into place now. Working on my fitness has also helped mentally, giving me more confidence to push myself. As ever I can't thank everyone enough for all the help this weekend and running up to the event.
Onwards and upwards to the next round!"
By Mitch Lewis
European Enduro Championships in Croatia by Wyn Hughes and Rhian George - 01/06/2015
"Wednesday we headed for the 2nd round of the UEM Championship in Croatia. Rhian having already left. Waking fresh and ready to go Thursday, we spent the day walking tests, testing the bikes and making a few final adjustments. Friday morning we returned to the practice track and both riders were much happier with the alterations we had done. They were both struggling with the heat, something we don't see much of in this country, and this made it a tough competition for them. We spent the afternoon sorting out check boxes and tools to go to the out checks. Both riders signed on at 3pm and the bike went into Parc Ferme at 4pm. Joe then went walking the 2 hour long enduro test one final time.
Saturday morning again was beautiful blue skies. The first rider was away at 9am, three laps of 56k with 2 check points and 2 tests per lap. After test 1 the three main contenders were within 1 second of each other, with Joe lying in 2nd. The battle continued throughout the day, Joe 6 seconds off first at the start of the last test managing to clinch the win a mere second ahead.
Rhian battled with the heat and dropped 3 minutes throughout the day placing her a solid 9th on day one despite a crash which crushed her finger between the lever and handlebar. Breaking the lever but hopefully not her finger too.
Saturday evening involved more walking of the tests. We found some better lines to take hoping to find a few seconds to shave off for the mornings battle. Sunday began at 8:30 and half a lap less. Joe led the first lap by 2 seconds and Rhian had a good first test placing her 8th. Lap 2 Joe dropped it which meant he was going into the final lap a mere second or less in the lead. He finished his day with a 15 second lead. Rhian stayed clean on time and finished a solid 10th on day 2, but her blackened throbbing finger, and possible heat stroke make it a tough weekend for her. Well done both Joe and Rhian, a solid result for both. Thanks as always to our sponsors your support is much appreciated."
By Wyn Hughes
New Blonde on the Block: My First MXGP - 29/05/2015
So last Sunday Matterley Basin had the pleasure of not only hosting the MXGP but having me there to witness it. It was a great day for all involved from what I could tell, unless I suppose you were riding in behind Tony Cairoli...
Arrival could have been smoother, given the enormous queue on the main roads to get into the venue. I'm sure the organisers did everything they could to make sure we all had a lovely start to the day however nothing could have helped the swarms of cars trying to enter.
Having made my own way there, I arrived a short while after the rest of our “party”. Walking along through the top entrance to the track gave you the most spectacular view down onto the racing, which was in, what could only be described as, a Basin as it is so aptly named.
Standing at the top of the hill, I made a quick scout around to see if I could find the Freestyle crew who, I had an inkling, would stand out a little. I was not wrong. All the way over the other side of the track, roughly half a mile across the huge crater, were 3 bright red figures standing amongst the crowds.
Having joined them I was caught up on the news that I was currently watching the Europeans. They started just as I walked up to the fence next to the second corner, where there was promptly a crashing fall by one unfortunate rider who got back to his feet and rode away looking slightly worse for wear. Needless to say it was an exciting first few minutes.
A tour of the paddock later displayed the extreme skill and attention to detail expressed by the extensive team of mechanics and crew who keep these bikes and their riders on top. It becomes apparent by watching them just how much work goes into keeping a race bike in perfect condition through the tough riding they endure.
We were privileged enough to be invited into the Husqvarna team awning to meet the riders and examine the bikes. Our bike mechanic who came along for the day was in awe of the shiny tools and other bits and pieces I was clueless about. We even caught a glimpse of the new 2016 Husqvarna Motocross model!
With Motocross and Enduro legends from this era and my dads milling around and recognising us in our jackets, we were caught in conversation with Dave Thorpe (4 times World Motocross Champion) and Jamie McCanney who came to say hi and was instantly interrupted by a small boy wanting his autograph. He did oblige I will add. There were of course the super fans wearing the team t-shirts of 222 Cairoli among the Honda, KTM, Husqvarna and Kawasaki gear and a few Enduro shirts I saw around too.
Throughout the rest of the day, I got progressively colder as the sun went in, however this did not diminish the quality of the racing to watch. There were constant squabbles for the top spot, we naturally cheered on the Brits, despite the Husqvarna logos on our jackets.
Max Anstie had the toughest job in the MX2 of fighting off Herlings for the full 30 minutes of racing but unfortunately just couldn't keep it up and was over taken in the last 2 laps by both Herlings and Guillod.
In almost every race there were battles going on left, right and centre, the win was usually taken in the last lap or 2 which made for a great watch for everyone.
The catering facilities kept us all happy with hot food in our belly's, not being a stranger to a port-a-loo I was not surprised by the toilet facilities however I don't think camping for the weekend would have been for me.
All in all it was a fantastic day for spectators and I would highly recommend it as a day out. If you are deep into your supporting and know all the riders and teams obviously this will be the first date in your diary but for someone who is new to the scene it was definitely a memorable day. For one thing my car is still buried under a thick layer of dust from the car park!
MX Nationals round 3 by Mitch Lewis - 18/05/2015
It was a lovely start to Saturday with great weather and a beautiful spot parked up next to the Thames, with wildlife in abundance!
Qualifying was good as I set the best lap which set me up with number one gate pick for the weekend, which I was very happy with.
First race was up and I had an average start which put me in 10th. By the end of lap two I was in 3rd and had my eye set on the number one spot. I found some good lines and made them work, I got into second, then took the lead and stayed there.
The second race I had a bad start due to trying something new with the gate pick (experimental idea from my Dad!), the start had been watered but the end two gates where still dry, the dry line did not work and I was last! But I worked my way through and managed to salvage 3rd.
First race on Sunday I got a top 3 start and was just feeling it! I went from 3rd to first on lap three and then brought home the win! Last race of the weekend I had another ok start and was 3rd. Made it to 2nd which is where I finished the race, all adding up to a 2nd overall for the weekend!
On the whole an ok weekend we can build on, nice to finally get on the box. Thanks to Freestyle, my sponsors, the chef (my nan) and everyone who makes it happen. Looking forward to going down the beach in a couple of weeks!
By Mitch Lewis