As you probably saw in my videos prior to leaving for Romaniacs, I spent considerable time deciding what equipment to take with me for prepping myself and the 2014 Husaberg TE300 for the race. Here is a quick rundown of how everything performed.
Sidi SRS Crossfire w/Enduro soles – I can’t even begin to describe how perfect this piece of technology is for extreme enduro racing, particularly in slick conditions. Having the confidence to put a foot down and know that it was going to find traction was a huge help for me. Of course, if we had not spent so much time pushing and bulldogging bikes, it would not have been as important. But as it was, I tremendously impressed with how well these worked. They were absolutely the right tool for the job. I wouldn’t necessarily choose them for everything; they collect a lot of mud. But if I ever go back to Romania, they are going with me.
Hyde Racing Pipe Guard/Skid Plate – Here is another example of the perfect tool for the race. There were many logs and rock outcroppings to cross. Most of these required getting the front wheel over the object, then pushing or dragging the bike the rest of the way over. With the one piece connection between the pipe and frame, there was never any damage to either and the bike would slide easily. It was particularly nice not to get a log wedged between the pipe and frame. It did crack in the front from the front wheel hitting the guard, but once it cracked, it just stayed that way. It did not get any worse. This too is sort of a mud collector, so I would make sure to pack it with foam for long term use.
Bulletproof Guards – These fall into the “install and forget” category. I put on the radiator and swingarm guards before the race and never had cause to think about either again. That is just the way I want it. I don’t know if I needed them or not, but I never once worried about damage to either area. Even the factory riders were impressed with the design, particularly compared to the bulky Hard Equipment ones they run.
Klim Gear – The weather had everything from fog covered high altitude mountains, to light rain and soaked with sweat heat. As always the Klim gear was near perfect. I used my Stowaway Jacket a little each day and was glad to have it. The Nac Pac was just the perfect size for a few supplies, jacket and water bladder.
Garmin Etrex 20 GPS – I really like this one. It will probably become my standard for most use. The screen is super easy to see and the navigation is simple. It is a little more compact than my Garmin 62, but still has most of the same features for everyday use.
Nutrition – The Hammer Gel was an absolute lifesaver from me on the day I was so sick. It was the only thing I could get down easily. Kate’s bars were next; when I was sick I needed some solid food that would keep my stomach happy and the bars where perfect. We were out so long each day, I probably should have carried a banana in my pack too.
Ebay GPS Tether – This tether saved me from losing my GPS at least twice.
Golden Tyre GT216 – Golden Tyre was nice enough to help us out with some new tires and Mousses for the event. Everything worked very well. I used the standard compound tires, not the super soft. I paired it with a slightly undersized mousse. I did not go with the cut or drilled mousse, mostly for duarbity reasons. I wanted them to last the entire event. It all worked quite well. After day two I changed to a Mitas rear, it was all that I could get at the time. Overall I think the Mitas fared slightly better in both wear and traction, particularly the side hill grip. But the differences are very small. The front GT216 held up well for the whole event and only showed a little wear at the end.
Okay, but might have been better
OEM Handguards – It was my intent to run the Fastway guards, but I just ran out of time when prepping the bike. The OEM guards are slightly revised for 2014 and looked stronger. I broke two of the factory guards during the week. They are strong when being pushed against and provide pretty decent lever protection. But they break easily when pulled backwards, the screws that hold the two parts together rip out. On day one I damaged a lever and grip pretty bad from losing the bike downhill more than once. In retropsect, I should have gone with the wrap around Fastway FIT guards. I was lucky not to suffer any more damage than I did.
Drink Mix – I wasn’t completely happy with my drink choice, orange powdered Gatorade. I should have taken more variety. We were out so long each day that I got tired of the orange flavor and was looking for something different. I finally just poured a grapefruit soda in my bladder and mixed it with water, it was a nice change. I wish I would have taken some of the Camelback brand electrolyte tablets with me too. They have worked well for me at the ISDE.
Should have remembered
Dirt Tricks Radiator Fan Kit – I don’t know how I forgot this one! I should have taken a fan to mount on the TE300. I watched lots of riders installing OEM fans and they are so much work to do correctly. The Dirt Tricks fan with the manual switch would have been perfect because it is so easy to install. As it was, I did not boil the 300 too much. I am pretty easy on the bike. But I watched lots of other riders having cooling issues.
Tow Rope – Somehow I left home without my tow rope. I happened to find a sporting goods store that had climbing rope for sale, so I just got about 5’ to carry with me. We spent lots of time pulling and pushing bikes. It was important to have a grab loop mounted over the front fender. Honestly, the best ones were just homemade from ½” rope or nylon strapping. For the tow rope, having a carabineer hooked to the end makes it a quick connect to hook to the grab loop. That way you can use one rope quickly to pull various bikes.
Not the best choice
No Name Bicycle GPS Mount – This turned out to be a complete piece of junk. The plastic was super easy to break. I broke one on day 1 and one on day 4. Fortunately I had a tether on the GPS or it would have been lost. For the Etrex 20, I will just go with the more common RAM mount. It is a little bulky, but should be far for durable. I have had good luck with the RAM mounts for my other models.
As for my bike, the 2014 Husaberg TE300, I can’t imagine anything working better. Other than tinkering with the jetting and powervalve settings some, I really didn’t touch it. I was too lazy to do much other than one air filter change. I didn’t change the oil or really even check anything during the 4 trail days, I just rode it. I didn’t mention the Flexx bars, but most of you know those are just standard equipment for me anyway. They took a couple of good hits into the ground and held up fine, glad to have them. My only real complaint was the forks. They were way too soft. I think the 2013 Husaberg models we recently tested with the WP 4CS forks probably had higher oil levels in them which made them ride much better.