BVM test day 2010... Breakheart Quarry, Dursley. Glos.

Not the best of starts to the day, it was blowing a gail and pissing it down but that wasn't the main issue. Some jerk had decided to cause a big pile up on the M5 motorway between portishead and clevedon which is about 6 miles from my place. It was tailed back around 8 miles so I had to zigzag my way across the countryside to try and get past the Portbury junction and then up the M5 to the test location. A jouney that should take 40 minutes took nearly 2 and a half hours!! Bang went my idea of getting there early so I could get a ride on the Ossa before all the times were taken... thanks to a phonecall and some pleading by Squancey he managed to get me a slot just before lunch .

So with a wait of 2 hours I went in search of something else to ride. The 290 Sherco was going spare so I signed on and popped over to collect it. You may remember I wasn't a huge fan of this bike last year but as it now has the new engine, changed rear fuel tank and a colour change it was going to be interesting to see how it compared. Sadly as soon as I rode across the quarry to find a rock or two to play on I had the same feeling as last year. My arms were killing me before I had done anything. The standard bars on the Sherco's almost seem to have a rearward bend at the end and it really plays havoc with my arms. When I asked a few others that had ridden it they again confirmed the same feeling. A set of Renthals would hopefully cure that.
  The bike tracked across things nicely and the suspension was good on the little rocky steps and drops I rode but I found it hard to hop the rear around. Sadly I found this engine was a real let down for me. It seemed to be running really rich and I just couldn't ride it like I normally do. Instead of picking the front straight up to tap the step it just bogged and rode into the rock.
  I was told after my ride that this bike was the one Jarvis had ridden the scott trial on and it had a head spacer fitted. I just find it a little strange that a bike on a test day would be different to the bike you can buy, lets face it some people were there today with cheque books ready to decide on what bike to buy for the coming year. I spoke to several people who found the same with this particular bike, and they wouldn't have brought one after riding it!!
  Sadly I didn't get to ride the 250 to see what a standard bike was like. I will say that the new colour scheme does wonders for the bike, the white frame makes it look much smaller and neater. Still a shame they couldn't lose the camel hump that is the airbox cover! I will try and grab a ride on another bike when I see one at a local trial to see how it feels after being owned and adjusted..

john lampkin
heath ossa tr280i
... of course the bike that almost everyone was here to see was the new Ossa Tr280i. Nigel Birkett had one for riding and another set up on a stand with the plastics removed so you could have a good look around. Before we get into the actual bike riding, one thing I will have to say is that you have to hand it to Ossa as they have developed this bike with a top rider, under the public gaze and have done their own thing as far as layout and technical innovations go. They got a bike together and had it ready for us normal riders to have a go on it... something that a certain other new marque of bike should take note of.
  When I first got on it and rode across to my little play area I thought it felt a little old fashioned. If you look down the flat tank cover makes the bike look wide and although very lightweight it rode "heavy". It seemed a little flat and lacking in power off the bottom end but once you gave it a little more it went very well. Birkett explained that out of the 3 mappings available it was set on the slowest so that would explain that, but it didn't lack power just delivered it slower than I expected off the bottom end.
  As it is a completely new bike there are bound to be a few things that maybe could be improved... when you kicked it over the kickstart rubbed against the side plastics preventing it from returning for one, and several people ran out of fuel during the day which could be easy to do if you owned one as there isn't really a way to tell how much fuel you have left, what with the tank being the whole front downtube.
  My other concern would be the proximity of the Ohlins shock resorvoir to the exhaust system. Just looks like an area that would get very hot, or filled and caked with mud in this part of the world....

... but these few things aside I have to say I enjoyed riding it. The rear suspension handled the drops and rocks I rode well and it gripped very well in the muddy corner of the woods. Being an Ohlins rear shock it should be easy to set up for all weights and abilities, and I am very glad they didn't fit the USD front forks that were first shown last year... the front on this bike was just right.
I would like to see one of these with a black frame as I think the colour and paint they use at the moment looks a little drab and that it could be hammerite!! Of course as it is early days for the Ossa yet things could change before the final larger scale production runs happen.. we will wait and see.

 The new Scorpas look 100 times better than the old blue Yamaha engined models. The KTM style colour scheme, thinner Sherco engine and some geometry changes have suddenly made the bike look modern! Joe Baker kindly let me ride his own bike for an extended period and I will have to say this must be the most under rated bike available at present.
  I really enjoyed it, it still grips like a Scorpa but now has an engine that delivers power when you want it and a chassis that allows you to hop around or just get on and ride it.
  It certainly isn't a trick bike in the style of a GasGas as the front end is still a little heavier that the others but it just rides so well. The old Scorpa's seem to be ridden mainly by older twinshock riders but this bike would be ideal for any level of club or centre rider, it just works. I think it just needs a change of mind set in people that are going out to look for a new bike... try not to compare it with the Yamaha engined Scorpa, just ride it and enjoy.

Because of my late arrival and needing to get onto the Ossa I didn't manage a ride on the new GasGas' this year. I have ridden a mates new Raga replica and like it very much, the gold and black colour scheme i really like. They ride a little low on the front end compared to what I am used too and the turning circle isn't quiet as tight as my Beta but they are so easy to hop around it doesn't really matter. The finish on them is very nice as well these days and the power delivery on even the bigger engines is very smooth... John Lampkin had all the new Beta's available to ride also but as I have recently ridden the 2011 250 for a few hours I didn't take up anyone elses time on them today. I love my 2010 Evo and still can't find a better feeling bike for me, the 2011 is the much the same but has that black frame and white tank covers plus a few gentle tweaks on the geometry etc.

gary scrivens, scorpa
james dabill

... the Montesa's were also there but not being a 4 stroke man, and just not getting on with the 4rt's every other time I have tried to ride one, I didn't bother this year. The only 4rt that looks ok to me is a flat tank version but they just seem big and heavy and far too expensive. Pays ya money and takes ya choice....

... so once again BVM gave us all the chance to try out all the new bikes one against the other. The great thing about human nature is that we are not all the same and what I find isn't to my taste probably felt like the best bike ever ridden to others... and vice versa.
  It has to be remembered that if you were to own any of these bikes the first thing you would do is grab the spanners and move the bars, levers, adjust the suspension and maybe add a few bling bits (or is that just me!!) so riding a standard machine, as presented to you doesn't always tell the whole story... but I do believe in first impressions. My first impression on the Ossa is that they have a very good base to tweak from.. the new Scorpa is a brilliant little bike.. I still am not convinced on the Sherco.. the GasGas is easy to ride and looks good.. the 4rt needs modernising.. and I would still have a Beta!

During the course of the day James Dabill and Alexz Wigg gave us all a lesson on how to ride well... this year instead of going for the big spectacular blasts up the quarry face they showed us how to deal with more technical sections. It just amazes me how little throttle they use on some of the rock climbs, just throttle control and perfect balance and position. And we have to wish Alexz happy birthday, as I am typing this I expect there may be some alcohol being consumed!!

Thanks to all at BVM , and the importers for making this day possible. After several years of good weather we were rained on throughout the day but it didn't stop the fun... shame that Greeves didn't have a bike here, or are they worried what people may say in public!!
Some photos are in a gallery Here... including Ossa close-ups.