OUR BIKES Dish­ing the dirt on dirt Af­ter a win­ter of crash­ing and clean­ing, Tim re­veals the truth about life off the beaten track

Alison and the Har­ley bat­tle rain and gales to reach France

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Garage - HAR­LEY-DAVID­SON STREET 750 £5795

Nearly four months later, this diminu­tive KTM Freeride 250 R is still mak­ing my pulse race like a Du­cati Pani­gale S on slicks.

In years to come I will re­mem­ber it as the bike on which I dropped all my early off-road clangers, the one that po­litely tol­er­ated my novice in­com­pe­tence and brought my win­ters to life. De­cem­ber to March used to be the least ac­tive months of my year, but this win­ter I re­turned from ev­ery icy ad­ven­ture into the Lin­colnshire wilder­ness with the same buzz I get from a Cad­well track­day in June.

De­spite rid­ing the Freeride ev­ery week­end, I have added barely 450 miles to its dinky odome­ter. On dirt, mileage counts for less than time: it’s the hours of clutch slip­ping and clunk­ing head­races off tree stumps that mat­ter. So with 50 hours of run­ning up­com­ing the Freeride is due a long, hot ser­vice.

My own DIY jobs have been rel­a­tively few. I can’t be­lieve the abuse its chain takes from mother na­ture’s mud-and-grit based grind­ing paste so I have a rit­ual clean­ing and lub­ing ses­sion ev­ery week. I don’t think I could sleep with­out do­ing that. Like­wise, the foam air fil­ter needs reg­u­lar at­ten­tion and it’s con­ve­niently lo­cated in a trans­par­ent hous­ing be­neath the flip-up seat to make sure it gets it. A wash and oil is a 10-minute feel­good job, so I do that ev­ery fort­night.

Jet­wash­ing is a mixed bless­ing for any bike. With­out a jet­wash I can’t see how it’s pos­si­ble to prop­erly clean a skin of hard­ened crud off a dirt bike. But the af­ter­math of a fu­ri­ous, drive-flood­ing at­tack with the Karcher lance is also a bike that feels de­void of lu­bri­ca­tion. It leaves the Freeride’s con­trols and piv­ots squeaky dry. So I take time to go through all ex­posed link­ages with my new favourite spray-on lube, XCP Pro­fes­sional lu­bri­cant.

Work­ing on the KTM is good fun, mainly be­cause com­pared to nor­mal road bikes there’s so lit­tle to it – at 92.5kg it couldn’t be eas­ier

KTM FREERIDE 250R £5999 Tas­sel-free in the Chan­nel Tun­nel J’ar­rive! Alison en­joys a glass of rosé with hus­band Mark, and pals Sara and Graeme

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