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Beta Xtrainer – Farkles!

We’ve been back over to Spain with a big box of farkles (that’s sparkly upgrades for our non-American readers) to create an Xtrainer on steroids.

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As we prematurely ended our last ride by killing the standard pipe, first thing we bolted on was the Beta 300RR FMF Gnarly pipe and a carbon pipe guard from UK company Pro-Carbon Racing.

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The Gnarly pipe fits straight on the bike with no mods, and the carbon guard fits the pipe like a glove. The guard looks to be of nice quality but it doesn’t offer the same coverage as other guards. It does look like it’ll protect from most impacts (being usually frontal) nicely though.

The Gnarly transforms the bike, turning it into a bit of an animal!

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We managed to put a fair old dent in the left rad with just one off on our first Spanish outing so it was time to get some rad braces. The only ones we could find in the UK were surprisingly affordable from Meca System – the French company usually renowned for their ‘outrageously’ expensive Rally Parts.

The braces look nice and solid and aren’t hit by the forks on full lock – they do foul the non-standard Gnarly pipe though…

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…but a quick bit of persuasion with the file on a Leatherman tool soon sorted that out.

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We’ve warped enough brake rotors out in the rocks of Spain to know it’s worth getting some brake protection… Enduro Engineering make a nice machined rear fin that replaces the rear caliper hanger, it actually feels a similar weight to the cast hanger we swapped it with. We couldn’t find a Beta front disc guard in time, anyone know of one please holler in the comments!

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In an effort to save our lady wrists out in the mega-rocky Spanish terrain we stole some KTM PDS bar clamps off of our rally bike. They fitted perfectly with no mods… niiiiice!

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As 99KG for the Xtrainer was feeling a bit lardy we thought we’d stick in a Lithium battery that weighs just slightly less than air… saving kilos over the lead acid version. It was actually meant for our KTM 350EXC, but in a fit of greed I swapped out the Lithium for the Xtrainer battery instead. Strangely though, it just did not want to play nice on the first outing and seemed to make the starter not hook up properly? It then went completely flat in a rocky riverbed after numerous restarts… great with no kicker and no way of bump starting!

We’re not sure whether it was because it wasn’t the right model battery for the Xtrainer, but a quick swap of battery in the field meant the Xtrainer worked great again with the correct lead acid battery and the Lithium battery worked just fine in the four stroke KTM all weekend… weird.

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We stuck a front hall loop on too from our friends at Kriega… (great for pulling bikes with flat Lithium batteries out of rocky riverbeds!).

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But, probably the greatest upgrade cost less than £10… 15w fork oil.

The fork oil really did transform the bike into something you could ride really fast (and was proven in race conditions). The damping was improved no-end, but it did sometimes feel a little harsh on impacts from jumps. It was also a super easy upgrade, as only one of the forks needed to have it’s oil replaced (the other has only the spring and no damping).

Don’t get us wrong, the bike is still softly sprung compared to modern Enduro bikes, but the oil definitely helps. I think we’ll still be looking for a heavier front fork spring (and probably a shock spring too) in the future though.

So… Is it now the extreme enduro secret weapon we hoped it would be? Find out in the next blog post when we take it racing…

 

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Bud’s Easter Enduro Eggstravaganza (groan)

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Photo by Trace Clarke

What did star Dirtpunk racer Bud Benney get up to this Easter? Did the Easter Bunny poo out any chocolate eggs for him? We caught up with Bud to get the lowdown…

With a busy Easter weekend racing I was off to Friday’s Track & Trail for a 2.5hr hare and hound. The race took off to a strong start – 3rd into the first corner the race was looking good. Taking the hard routes over the logs and tyres made the race interesting and mixed up the tight woods and open fields. With a long battle in the last hour I managed to come away with a 2nd in experts and 4th over all.

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Photo by Trace Clarke

No rest for the wicked… Sunday I was off to Brass Monkeys Enduro. After walking the test it looked for a great day with a long test of stubble cross and flowing woodland. It turned out to be an awesome day setting off with Enduro legend Gary McCoy on my minute, watching his lines all day I learnt a lot! The tests went well with consistent 12 minute times and without dropping any time I took a 3rd in expert. Good results for an Easter weekend racing!

Next event to lookout for is Cornwall Super Enduro where Bud has already got his sights on ex-world champion David Knight 😜, be sure to book in for a day on the pipe!

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BEC Rounds 1&2 – Bud Benney reports

“Rounds 1&2 were certainly a ‘tough going’ opening to the British championship!”

Photo by Ashley blight

Controversy surrounds rounds 1&2 of the British Enduro Championship, which took place 5th and 6th March 2016 in Yorkshire. Here’s Bud’s take on the event…

Rounds 1&2 were certainly a ‘tough going” opening to the British championship! With plenty of rain, walking the tests were looking slick on Friday but I was looking forward to the two day event. As expected the going was tough with some big hills and lots of single rut leg dragging. Meaning a lot of lost time on both days. The checks were hard to meet, and struggling through the knee deep ruts, blowing out of ass and mouth I managed to drop minimal time both days. As for the test, a big stubble field rutted up nicely and into the flowing woodland which I had one of the fastest test time in class. Finishing the day 1st in class and 4th overall.

Sunday was more of a struggle, I was exhausted from day 1. I found it really hard on the extreme test to get a fast smooth pace in the deep tight ruts over the logs.

Fitness needs to be improved on! Finishing the day 3rd in class and 9th overall!

Check back soon for more Bud action!

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Beta Xtrainer – Spanish Inquisition

7 days in Spain with the local lunatics… how does the Beta XTrainer hold up?

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We spent a week over Christmas putting the XTrainer through it’s paces with the local Spanish loons. The riding is very technical and rocky, lot’s of single track, with sections that wouldn’t be out of place in a hard or extreme enduro. The bike was right at home in the technical stuff, with plenty of power to get up anything you pointed it at.

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It wasn’t all roses though, and it doesn’t end well, but on the whole the bike was very good.

Snag list

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First hiccup was the fuel tap leaking… probably just a badly seated or damaged o-ring, but, we didn’t have time to take it apart and sort it. Every morning the engine was covered in petrol, it’ll be interesting to see if anyone else has had the same problem?

Parts made of Play-Doh?

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First ‘epic fail’ was the plastic chain guard on the swing-arm… very brittle plastic that seems to have been broken by the action of the chain… bit of an oxymoron? Anyway, that got dumped.

Front pipe made of Plasticine?… Pfffft?

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A couple of days in we managed to badly dent the front pipe on an impact that really didn’t feel that hard. From then on there was a noticeable loss in power and so we started to hatch a plan on how to sort it…

The closest Beta dealer was an hour away in (another country!) Andorra… A quick phone call got us “Beta Xtrainer? WTF is that?” (in a really helpful Andorran Catalan accent of course).

So, we carried on riding and adapted to the loss in power.. the bike was still pretty good… still torquey enough – it handled everything we could throw at it, including no-lights insanity single track night rides…

“Urgh, guys, it’s really dark, I can’t  actually see anything…”

“Hey, Pablo… turn off your luz (lights)… you’re ruining our night vision”

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Things were OK for a few days, but the lack of power was a bit of a pain and one of the locals persuaded us to let him blow out the pipe. We were a bit worried about him blowing the welds and breaking the pipe in the process and then being stuck with a broken Beta for the last few days… we needn’t have worried though… we managed to totally smash the pipe in before getting back!

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Note the crash test ‘crumple zone’ that the Italians built into the pipe to pass EU safety tests 😉

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The impact(s) had not only holed and flattened the pipe, but also bent it out of shape where it joins with the rear muffler, causing oil to be sprayed all over the engine.

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So that was the end of the Beta! Out came the KTM 350EXC-F for the last few days… Didn’t miss a beat, but felt like a supertanker compared to the Xtrainer!

So do we buy another flimsy plasticine OEM pipe?

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No way… FMF Gnarly with a carbon guard please! Apparently the RR pipe fits perfectly, and I guess we’ll find out when we’re back out to Spain in a few days to enter the XTrainer into the legendary Bassella Race. We’ve also splashed out on some other farkles (mainly for protection) – check back soon to see how we got on.

So were the Spanish impressed by the Beta? Well, one of them swapped his Husaberg 300 2-stroke for a Beta 300RR within a matter of days… we obviously made some kind of impression between all the crashes ;).

Next up… Farkles and Racing… Want one? Got questions? Got one? Got tips? Leave us a comment…

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Bud Benney wins Dorset Police Enduro Expert Class

Dorset Police Enduro – Sunday 31st January 2016 – Moreton Forest, Dorset.

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Photo by Teamsnapper

He’s only gone and done it again, the Dirtpunk star rider smashes the expert class to win by a full lap. We caught up with him during one of his autograph signing sessions to get the low down…

This weekend we was at moreton for round 3 of the Winter series with a full Dirtpunk line up!

The flag dropped at 11am to a poor start behind about 6 into the woods. Knowing I needed to pass quickly I gained places by looking out for lines. By the time we got to lap scoring to start the first full lap I was in the lead with 20 experts behind. I knew I had to get into a flow with no mistakes in the tight twisty woods, looking for clear lines in the deep bogs.

By half way into the race I was still leading and started to pass the back of the championship class. At the 3 hour mark I was still in the lead, 1 lap up on second place in expert and ended up 6th overall.

Great racing with the other dirtpunkers, looks like they had a smashing day!

Check back soon for more Bud!

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Bud Benney wins Ardua Enduro Expert Class

Ardua Enduro – Sunday 17th January 2016 – Slab Common, Bordon, Hampshire.

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Photo by Garry Barnes

Dirtpunk rider Bud Benney comfortably wins Ardua Enduro Expert Class with 11 laps, we managed to catch up with him during his busy training regime and asked him how it went:

What an awesome event the RAF boys put on at ARDUA. With a strong entry of over 20 experts (mostly fit army boys), the day was looking to be a hard race.

When the flag dropped at 11am I took the hole shot into the first corner. The track was tight sandy woodland, first to the easy/hard option I took the hard section which was a deep sandy gully to get out of. With the first lap nearly over I took the hard route again, this time a long log section to the lap scoring, where I was still in the lead.

The race flowed and by half time fuelling I had a good lead on second place. The race continued and the sandy ruts got deep, but the EXC 200 coped well. The last lap flag was put out, and I was still leading so I pushed hard for the last lap, where I took the win with over a 10 minute lead over second place. Really enjoyed the bike, and feeling fit.

Bud will be racing at Dorset Police Enduro on Sunday 31st January at Moreton Forest, along with some of the rest of the Dirtpunk Team… ‘Dangerous’ Dave Brignall, Joe ‘Chidders’ Chidley, and Gabriel ‘The Vicar’ Bolton… stay tuned for a race report…

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Cecil Debris and Dirtpunk enter Basella Race 2016

Cecil Debris and 3 other Dirtpunk idiots have entered the Bassella Race, 12-14 February 2016

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Probably the highlight of the Spanish racing calendar, the Basella race takes place every year in the Spanish Pyrenees and attracts both World Enduro and World Extreme Enduro Championship riders. The event takes place over 3 days and last year there were a record 1300 entrants to the main race, as well as tons of others taking part in the various races over the weekend, with everything from Classic MX to Extreme Enduro!

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We asked Cecil Debris what he thought about racing against extreme enduro legend Alfredo Gomez:

I’m really looking forward to showing up that greasey wee f*cker Gomez and his Spanish pals. I used to baby sit him when he was a wee bearn when his mum was working at Club Hot, he says I was the man that inspired him to get on two wheels in the first place. As you know I’m more of a marathon man than a sprinter but if that whipper snapper thinks he’s going to show me up at Basella by trying to overtake the big man, I’ll kick him into the nearest bush. I say bring it on ladies, the big Jock rocks!

Find out more at the Bassella Race website, or check out this video from a couple of years ago…

Got any tips for Cecil and the boys? Leave a comment

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Bud Benney signs to Dirtpunk for 2016

Until last weekend, James ‘Bud’ Benney was just a 21 year old carpenter from Truro… now he’s hit the big time with a factory ride from Dirtpunk.

With team riders like Cecil Debris, Austin Vince and Ed March, Dirtpunk have always been a bit more Gladys Knight than David Knight… but all that’s about to change… it’s about time to sign someone who can actually ride!

Photo by Garry Barnes

Bud’s Enduro career started with a few local Cornish Enduros in 2013, but only a year later in 2014 he’d won the local clubman championship.

2015 didn’t disappoint for Bud, a narrow miss of the podium with 4th in clubman at the Welsh Two Day and a cracking 105th finish at the Weston Beach Race from a start on the back row were backed up with many podiums and various expert wins at clubs such as CORE, WFOR, PMRC and Camel Vale.

For 2016 he’s going to be competing in the British Enduro Championship, Weston Beach Race and many, many club series Enduros.

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Photo by Garry Barnes

We asked Bud what he thought about swapping his woodworking tools for a Dirtbike 9 to 5…

“Well, I’ll probably miss Carpentry a bit, and I might do some in the evenings as a hobby still, but I suppose the factory pro life with all the racing, Lamborghini’s and platinum blondes in bikinis will make up for it.”

We also asked some of the Dirtpunk team what they thought about Bud joining the gang…

Cecil Debris: “I’d like to be the first to welcome James Benney into the Dirtpunk fold, after turning down the sponsored star rider roll myself, I’m pleased to see DP have managed to find a fitting replacement. I knew he was the right guy for the job when at fellow DP rider ‘Dangerous’ Dave Brignall’s wedding he was trying to get several of us involved in a wee bit of grown up fun and games with the groom’s Mother. May his success this year be as large as his chin. If you ever try and overtake me at an Enduro again you’re f*cking out ya wee Bastart!”

Paul Castle: “Stoked to welcome Bud on the team, shame he’s gonna make the rest of look like riiiiiight twats.”

Joe ‘Chidders’ Chidley: “He’s got lovely teeth.”

‘Dangerous’ Dave Brignall: “What the f*ck was that about my mother?”

Wish him luck or send him abuse in the comments below people…

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Beta Xtrainer – suspension

Out of the crate? BOUNCEY!

The suspension on this bike is baffling… I weigh 72 kilos (approx. 159 pounds) with full gear and backpack, so very light. Even for me, the stock settings are way too soft. Maybe I’m not riding the bike in the scenarios it’s designed for, but it feels so much like a ‘proper’ enduro bike that you can’t help but push it.

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Who the hell is R16V Suspension? A bit of chatting up Google got us some answers… The suspension is made by a Spanish company called Ollé, who seem to concentrate on budget bikes and trials, and the Xtrainer suspension does feel like a bigger version of trials suspension.

43mm forks, ppfffffttttttt!

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The forks look like toys compared to the KTM (and do kind of handle like toys too). Only one fork has a spring with the other offering rebound only damping settings (there’s no compression damping adjustment on the forks).

The rear shock uses a linkage setup, and again the shock looks tiny compared to the KTM.

BUT, probably the most shocking (pun intended) thing with the suspension is the choice of fonts used… Comic Sans on the shock… really?

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And god only knows what’s on the fork (let us know in the comments).

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Playing with the clickers

With stock settings, chasing the local Spanish lunatics at high speed on rocky terrain was pretty terrifying, with the bike deflecting off of pretty much every rock and bouncing out of depressions with enough force to nearly make your day end very badly indeed.

But, and it’s a big BUT, once we had really hardened up the suspension by something like 5 turns of spring preload, and 18 or 20 clicks of rebound damping on the forks, and a shit load of spring preload and damping on the shock, all of a sudden we had a beautiful lithe skipping mountain goat (not that we’re into livestock – although we’ve been know to try anything twice…).

What’s next?

We haven’t even put 10 hours on this bike yet and so the suspension probably isn’t fully broken in yet, I think we’re just going to get some more hours on it for know.

We’ve have been doing a bit of reading online though, there’s a huge Beta Xtrainer suspension post over on the Thumpertalk Forum,  but to be honest, for the technical single track riding we’ve been doing in Spain (where the bike lives) the suspension is really feeling pretty good… maybe we’ll try some heavier 15w or 20w oil to give it a bit more of a damped feel?

Have you nailed the Xtrainer’s suspension? Got some great tips for us, or just have a question? Let us know…

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Beta Xtrainer – brakes & clutch

Holy shit, this budget bike has got real brakes!

Coming from KTMs, we’re usually trying not to crash by pulling really hard on Brembo brakes… but we do have plenty of experience trying not to crash with Nissin brakes too. We had them on our Mondo Sahara XR400s and a few of the team ride Hondas out of choice (pfffft) – Gabriel ‘The Vicar’ Bolton and Joe ‘Chidders’ Chidley both smash the hell out of the environment on CRF450X’s.

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They all really like Nissin brakes, and these don’t disappoint, riding this back to back with our KTM 250-F, the KTM’s Brembo’s feel soft, almost spongy – you really need to watch the Xtrainer’s front brake on downhill leafy, muddy, slippery stuff though… very sharp – you really do just need one finger feathering on the Nissins – in contrast we’ve got used to quite how hard you can yank on the front anchors on the KTMs.

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The Brembo/Nissin difference is going to take a little bit of getting used too. From what we hear the brakes on the Freeride really aren’t up to all that much… but don’t quote us on that.

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Pleasantly surprised to see decent Galfer brake discs too, this bike really doesn’t feel like a budget model…

Even more holy shit, this budget bike has got a decent clutch too!

So the brakes are good, and the hydraulic clutch is pretty good too…

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No surprise really as it’s the same Brembo model as the KTMs use, but it is a bit heavier to pull compared to KTMs of the last few years – it must be down to the Beta using traditional springs in the clutch assembly instead of the KTM DDS (damped diaphragm steel) clutch (which is super light – great for pussy boys like us).

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We’ve since swapped out the levers for Zeta 3-finger CNC’d unbreakable versions (Honda Nissin style for the front brake, and KTM Brembo for the clutch, part numbers are ZE42-3283 for the clutch and ZE41-3206 for the brake. We stick these on all our bikes and they’ve done us proud so far…

Next up… Suspension (or lack off?)… Want one? Got questions? Got one? Got tips? Leave us a comment…