How I learnt to go slow ON THE TO-DO LIST

Find a quiet by­way Prac­tise not fall­ing off Get some proper off-road kit Go on an off-road course

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Garage -

Un­til this KTM came into my life bikes have been en­tirely about fast. That’s the whole point of them; only an id­iot would buy a mo­tor­bike to go slow. Yet in my 35-year rush to own the quick­est fifty, be the fastest courier in town, nail the Nür­bur­gring and win the track­day, I never re­ally learnt to do the neat, slow stuff. A U-turn on the lock­stops at 0.3mph, for ex­am­ple, still un­set­tles me.

So with the Freeride, max­i­mum com­fort­able cruising speed 50mph, I get off the tar­mac and head into the Northants wilder­ness to pri­vately skill up on these em­bar­rass­ing oversights. I make my­self ride in walk­ing pace cir­cles and fig­ures of eight and then wig­gle feet-up around trees. Some­times, ex­cit­ingly, I just pull in the clutch and try to bal­ance. You should have been there.

It’s freez­ing yet I wear only a T-shirt un­der an un­lined jacket to avoid melt­ing with ef­fort, while the first fall comes as a relief. Rid­ing this bike is my first ex­pe­ri­ence of proper off-road tyres – the OE Miche­lin En­duro Com­pe­ti­tions leave con­fi­dent che­quer im­prints in the mud and change my whole per­cep­tion of grip. Sud­denly wa­ter­logged, trac­tor-rut­ted ground doesn’t seem so in­tim­i­dat­ing – a lit­tle bit of tech­nique and good rub­ber get us through.

The 250 R is my ideal part­ner. Its DNA is en­duro but less ag­gres­sive than KTM’S 250 EXC – lighter, lower and happy to be­have like a log-hop­ping tri­als bike if you ask it. Its two-stroke sin­gle twangs my strings and de­spite its soft, help­ful tune still stings the air and gives my neigh­bours the shits.

It goes slowly eas­ily and smoothly and only a grabby clutch pre­vents its low-

Self-con­fessed speed freak has a change of heart

Big on ver­sa­til­ity and even big­ger on value, the V-strom has proved its worth this year Po­etry in mo­tion…or ac­ci­den­tal wheelie?

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