As always Trial Magazine tries to bring you the best in machine tests with our extensive comparison reports. This time we decided to try something completely unique. We take a new machine from Beta, Gas Gas, Montesa, Scorpa, Sherco and Xispa. We then enter one rider in the Scottish Six Days Trial. He then rides each of the six days on one of the machines provided – the ultimate test! You’re probably thinking: are we crazy?
Words: John Hulme and Nick Shield
Pictures: John Shirt Snr – Andrew Stewart – John Hulme
Last year my good friend Nick Shield and I were having a nice relaxing drink (beer of course) at the Richmond Three Day Trial held near Richmond in the Yorkshire Dales. I suggested that for this year’s SSDT we try something new. Nick is a regular rider and winner at all levels of trials; from twin-shock to modern machines, he rides them all. He has also owned many different brands over the years and ridden in all the events you need to ride in, including World Championship rounds (he has reminded me this was many, many years ago). I suggested we carry out the ultimate trials bike test at the 2009 Scottish Six Days Trial. I suggested Nick could be the rider (he smiled!) After a few more drinks the idea seemed like a really good one and we shook hands on the decision to proceed with the idea. I then approached the organising club for the Scottish, the Edinburgh and District Motor Club. The always helpful secretary of the event, Mairi Jenkins, said she would put the proposal for the test to the committee, who were more than obliging. Nick would ride as number 278 and would be included in the event just like a normal entrant but on a different machine every day. Now that we had an entry I had to contact all the UK importers of the machines for the test. They were all enthusiastic and with the promise of support from the clothing and boot suppliers it was game on. The importers all suggested it would be a good idea to prepare the machines themselves as the Scottish is such a tough event, and where needed small changes would be made. They also agreed to use the machines in a local event just to free them off from new due to the fact that the machines would be straight into competition. To make the allocation for each day’s machine I enlisted ACU man Dave Willoughby to make the draw so as to show no particular favouritism to any manufacturer, although the truth is all the days in the Scottish are hard ones. January 2009 soon came around and I was on the phone to Nick to order him to the gym and start to get himself in shape for this great adventure.
Ready for the off
The SSDT 2009 runs from 4th – 9th May. With all the arrangements in place I headed to Fort William, Scotland for the event’s proceedings. With Nick in fine form and ready for action we checked that all the machines had arrived. The days and machines are as follows: Monday – Scorpa 250cc SYF four-stroke; Tuesday – Beta Evo 250cc 2T; Wednesday – Gas Gas 280cc TXT Pro; Thursday – Xispa 250ccR; Friday – Sherco 250cc; and finally Saturday with the 250cc Montesa 4RT. A superb selection of machines and for me a good one as the week began and ended with a four-stroke machine. With all the machines lined up and ready for the off I was quite excited that the whole project had come to life. Nick would ride the Scorpa in the parade through the streets of Fort William before putting the machine into Parc Ferme on the Sunday, where it would stay until the start of the Trial in the morning.
I now hand you over to Nick for the rest of the week:
As Trial Magazine has all ready tested all the machines we are using in previous issues, I decided to give the machines a score on a rating of 1 – 10 with 10 being the best down to 1 for the worst. There are no bad machines and I have done this evaluation of each machine as fairly as I can.
Monday: (Day 1)
Machine: Scorpa 250cc SYF – Helmet: Airoh – Clothing: Exid – Boots: Sidi – Waterproofs: Alpinestars – Goggles: Scott.
Sections: 30 – Distance: 83 miles
When I woke on the Monday morning I hoped the driving rain was not going to last all week! I got kitted out with waterproofs – a must on top of my normal riding kit. I also carry a survival rucksack with some tools and parts to get me out of any mishaps I might have. I checked the first day’s route out and it looked quite good, though I was a little worried about the opening sections at Trotters Burn – it’s a big step at the end! The Scorpa was still stood where I had left it amongst the other machines after the parade. I did a final check on the tyre pressures before my number was called to start. It seemed quite strange as I was the last man on the day with my riding number 278; all the other machines had gone! Despite the machine being stood in the pouring rain I carried out the starting procedure as explained to me. The Scorpa has a choke lever on the handlebars and this was flicked up, a quick prod on the kick-start brought the machine into life and the lever was flicked off, perfect! With my goggles in place I headed off on the first day of my adventure into the rain. The first thing I noticed about the Scorpa in the sections was the grip it offered; it grips for England.
The top section at Trotters Burn really shocked me as I nearly looped the Scorpa, such was the grip. It was then off over the moors and a long road trip. The machine on the road is excellent; you really can push on, with the Yamaha engine in its element. At each fuel check the machine fired up first kick, even when very hot, something which used to be a real problem with the four-stroke trials machines. In the sections I became more confident; the power and torque are very linear with no flat spots in the carburetion. As the day progressed I was made more aware of the four-stroke engine’s braking sensation. The front of the machine tends to fall into holes and as you become tired the machine tends to “boss” you about a bit, especially if you want to change direction. With the water levels rising towards the end of the day I gently attempted some deep river sections.
The Scorpa never missed a beat even when the front wheel totally disappeared, though on one section I took the five mark penalty by just putting my front wheel into the section. If I was confident to ride the sections the grip on the rocks was there, I just had no chance of seeing where I was going. After finishing off the group of sections at Gearadh it was a long road ride to the last group at Lagnaha. This group of sections was flooded but I managed some brave rides up the sections.
On the long ride back to the finish it gave me time to reflect on the machine as a whole and I came to the conclusion that it was a good bike in the sections as long as I was on top of my game, but it became quite hard to ride on the moors as I became tired. Overall it was a good start to the week despite the weather.
Trial Position: 108 – Marks Lost: 49
Engine: (9) Clutch: (9) Front Suspension: (9) Rear Suspension: (9) Brakes: (8) Riding Position: (8) Off Road Performance: (5) On Road performance: (10)
Total Score: (67)
Liked: Engine very forgiving.
Disliked: Hard work when you become tired.
Trial Magazine would like to say a huge thank you to all the relevant suppliers of machines and equipment for the test. We would also like to thank Edinburgh & District Motor Club Ltd for allowing this test to happen.
Copyright all pictures: www.trialmaguk.com