Here we are at the end of another year. Seems like it passed by pretty quick. I have been hard at work on the website. One of my foremost goals is to be able to present a wide variety of off road motorcycle content. Obviously much of it is just collecting and passing on the latest news. But I also really work on creating new and interesting content. The kind of stuff that I think people want to read. It is new territory in many respects, I do not think anyone else out there in the electronic media quite does the same thing.
Year-end always has me thinking about those “bike of the year” stories that all the major magazines will be writing. I would certainly like to be doing the same thing. The reality is that I am still a minor league player, so I don’t get to ride every bike out there. Honestly, I couldn’t ride them all anyway. As a one-man show, my resources are limited and I am finding more and more that I have to be realistic about how much I can commit to.
Still, let’s face it, riding and testing motorcycles is REALLY what it is all about. It is not only the very best thing I get to do, but it is also by far the most frustrating thing I do. I take it seriously. That seems like a simple statement, not everyone does. There are some really lame reviews that show up from time to time, particularly online.
So as a minor player, I have to convince manufacturers to turn me loose on their precious motorcycles. Here is the rub, no one ever says no to me, they often just string me along, perhaps hoping I will go away. Being somewhat dense, I never go away. I just politely keep calling and hoping they will finally come through with something, as promised, for me to ride.
I can’t complain too much. Let’s face it, there are lots of orange bikes popping up on my site. KTM is one of just a few major factories playing ball with me right now. I certainly could not pick anyone better than KTM to help me find content for Enduro360. They have more models than everyone else combined. Trust me when I say I don’t take that support for granted.
I should give a shout out to Gas Gas also; they seem to see some value in my opinions also. As you can see though, I am sort of stuck in a situation where I have a narrow scope of bikes to test, but it is not for lack of trying on my part. So let me share some of those experiences with you.
There is the one company that wants to be a big player in the market. They are very friendly and profess their desire to be part of the site. But here it is December and I have to face the simple fact, I have been trying to secure a bike to test, heck any bike will do, since May. Promise after promise, deadline after deadline passes, yet no bike. Not even a return call or status report for that matter.
Then there are other behind the scenes issues that arise. Some bikes I ride, but they never make the website because I don’t get enough time to make accurate assessments on the bike.
There was one bike I rode; it had a nice motor, good layout and was all around rather decent. However, the open terrain handling on the bike was terrible, to the point of being scary at anything approaching a race pace. I tried letting other riders test the bike. I contacted the importer for set up advice. It was all to no avail. The other testers had the exact same opinion as I did. All the importer could say was “But, you are testing exact bike that Dirt Action Cycle magazine just called the best 450 ever”.
Our testing ended with them asking for the bike back and promising to get me a new one to ride right away. That was six months ago. Care to take a guess how the progress is coming? They are full of plausible explanations as to why there is no bike to test. They send their regrets and well wishes, but no motorcycle.
So I find myself with somewhat of a dilemma. In some ways I have to chuckle at it all. I have such a reputation as a European dirt bike guy, that I even have other magazine editors ask me questions about some of the more obscure bikes. I want to be the friendly voice for the small factories. Partly because I understand, I was a one who spent my own money on a Gas Gas many years ago when no one else had ever heard of them. So I identify with that kind of rider.
Similarly, I understand the challenges of being a niche bike importer; I have worked that job also. So when I talk with these people, it isn’t like I am asking for the moon. I just want an opportunity to ride a motorcycle and pass that experience on to others. I understand that not every bike is going to be perfect. I like to think that I am the kind of tester who can figure out its strong points as well as the weak ones. You are never going to hear me say, “I couldn’t get used to it because it didn’t feel like my Suzuki”.
On the other hand, I have little patience for those who cannot even be bothered to return a phone call, or those who only want to tell me about how limited their resources are. Save your breath brother. I am the guy who worked for an importer and had ONE motorcycle to use. That one bike had to be a display bike, customer demo bike, press bike and my own personal race bike. It wasn’t always in perfect shape, but anyone who asked, got the opportunity to ride it. One time I had to leave a two-day ISDE qualifier on Sunday night so I could drive 800 miles on Monday to be ready for a dealer demo, with the same bike, at 8am Tuesday morning. So don’t tell me about your troubles, show me how you can be creative enough promote your brand properly!
So if you have not seen your favorite bike here on the flashing pages of Enduro360, you know why. I am really trying, yet at the same time it is really trying my patience. Hopefully some will show up soon and I can share those experiences with you.
Okay, that is enough of my ranting for now. All things considered, it has been a pretty decent year. The site grows everyday thanks to you, the readers. I got in some great riding and experiences. Things will be quiet around the motorcycle world for the next few days, so I think I will take the 500XC-W out and turn some gas into noise.