Expert Opinion THE ALTERNATIVES
– Michael Guy The man with some actual off-road riding talent speaks
Having grown up riding trials and then switching to enduro these three bikes should be the answer to my prayers. On paper they offer the chance to combine seriously technical riding with the ability to cover decent miles enduro style.
The KTM is far and away the most enduro focused. The moment you press the starter it sounds like a competition two-stroke enduro bike. Yes it’s lighter, smaller and easier to handle than a true enduro bike, but it’s fast, aggressive, purposeful and capable.
The Montesa is essentially a trials bike with revised ergonomics. So much so you could ride a trial on it. It is easy to ride, confidence inspiring and – unlike the KTM – very quiet. But it’s so lacking in power it becomes a liability on anything other than technical terrain.
Sherco’s X-ride is more trials than enduro. It doesn’t have anywhere near the power of the KTM, but it has a lot more than the Montesa. The power it does have is very engaging and easy to access. It can’t cover ground as fast as the KTM or deal with technical terrain as well as the Montesa, but it can do it all, and for me it captures the true ‘go anywhere’ ethos intended by this new genre.
But while I enjoyed all three, I’m struggling to find a place for them in my heart. For it to work in the real world you’d need all your mates to have the same bike. If I were going to buy one of the three I’d go for the Sherco, because it put a smile on my face whenever I rode it – but I’d rather buy a trials bike for riding trials, or an enduro bike for riding enduro.
349.7cc, four-stroke, 107.2kg, 970mm seat
Feels like the only off-road bike you’d ever want. If the going gets technical, or littered with big steps to climb, then it runs out of remit – unless you’re Jonny Walker, the world’s best hard-enduro rider – but on green lanes, enduro stages and even the road, it’s the real deal. It makes the Freeride feel like a flimsy imitation, and delivers so much drive, braking and chassis control that despite its aggression it actually panders to a wide range of abilities. On green lanes it flattens everything in its path, while letting it off the leash in our quarry revealed effortless drive. It makes you feel like a hero, even if you can’t actually ride like one. Pricey as a leisure toy, but worth every penny.