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
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