Beta Alp 4.0

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Saturday, November 05, 2005

In the dirt

At last I've managed to do a ride along some unsurfaced tracks. Not far, but a good introduction.

On the first grassy track, with a few short grassy steps, I felt the forks were a little firm and harsh, and the whole frame a bit skitish on the little steps. Then I went along an easy stony track, here I was impressed that nothing rattled and the forks felt OK here, especially on a pebble-strewn descent that can make quite severe vibrations.

My next ascent was on a dirt/worn asphlat track, again where vibration is the main problem. Here the bike felt very planted. On a flat grass area I tried tight turns. The turning circle must be small, I didn't get to the stops. What I did find was that the brake pedal is too low to be used when standing, that's not a good plan.

Then I went on to a rocky ascent that I often find a challange. Here the fork action felt only a very little firm and I was very impressed by the bike's stability on the loose rocks. Occasionally I wondered if I needed a lower first gear but the engine didn't stall and pulled well at very low revs. After a mile on a potentially slippery dirtroad I took a short track uphil that can be very easy, but can be slippery in the wet. Easy - I tried to go very slowly and found plenty of torque. Next stop was a slippery lane, the bottom is firm, but covered in slippery leaves, the top gives two choices - stone steps or muddy ruts. The lower half was easy and I was thinking that it was impossible to stall the engine. The stone steps proved me wrong! I took these far to gently and found myself sliding backwards with no grip what so ever. Really I know that these have to be attacked with more power and lower tyre pressures. The bike came to rest horizontal in mud. It wasn't too heavy to lift and started after a few spins on the button. To be honest I was a little shaken so took the muddy ruts route out with some needless dabs.

After an initial doubt I found the bike confidence-inspiring. On ascents the position seems good, but standing whilst riding on the level it was a long reach to the bars.

The over-long sidestand was OK on the dirt as I could find a little dent to plant it in the few times I needed it.

Actions needed

  • Raise rear brake lever rest position
  • Shorten levers so they clear brushguards with ease
  • Slightly higher bend of handlebars
  • Strip off pillion pegs & nearside mirror
  • Possibly try lighter fork oil

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