Ex­pert Opin­ion THE AL­TER­NA­TIVES

– Michael Guy The man with some ac­tual off-road rid­ing tal­ent speaks

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Features -

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.

All three are a com­pro­mise but the Sherco is ex­pert Michael’s pick

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