Hello and welcome to what can only be described as the back of my van, where I’ve taken up refuge after having spent all of my money on this pilot episode, fingers crossed that by the time you’re seeing this somebody will have bought it, and in the next episode, you’ll see me in some sort of a building. But enough about my financial peril, you’re here for dirt bikes and dirt bikes are the one thing I still have left to me in this world, and where better to begin than the very birth of the sport, harescrambling. People have been racing motorbikes since before the first world war, but the first official harescramble didn’t take place until the 29th of March, 1924 where 80 riders showed up to duke it out across 30 miles of English countryside. They were practically riding road bikes, and the course was so tough that only 13 finished, one of them describing it as a “rare old scramble” and the name stuck. Jeff Smith was the winner, but the real success story was the format, in fact it’s still hotly contested to this day. This is the Acerbis 4 Hour, one of the biggest events on the New Zealand racing calendar. Alright, what’s the game plan? Ah, beat B.G. really, show him how to ride these cross country tracks he reckons he’s trying to go me in the first lap so, come in leading I’ll be happy. What’s the game plan after lap one? Hand over to my partner and let him take the reins. What’s your game plan? My game plan is, all I care about is getting to that first turn first. Are you going to put the hit in on B.G. when he comes past? He’s got a bit of size on me to be fair. But I’ll put my shoulder in and I think I might be alright. Back myself though aye, against him. S*** he suited up, three hours before kick off. Have a look at this, three hours till race start, this guy’s, f*** he’s even got his gloves on! Has he got his boots on? I don’t know what the go is with that. To be fair I’ve got my helmet on and it’s still an hour and a half to go. I think my speed will be better than all of those riders, it’ll just obviously be the difference in time, I’ll spend for hours on the bike and they’ll only be out there for two so, the body’s going to fatigue a lot more than them obviously, yeah we’ll just see what we can do, like I say just try and be smooth, probably stand up lots just to try and save as much energy as I can, and yeah just hope that we come away with the win. Game plan, I don’t know about the game plan. Well I’m doing the start so go out, get a good start, put down a heater and Paul’s going to take over the reins from there and keep us in front. And hopefully hang onto that Callan’s established Yeah. I suppose just get a good start and, just try and yeah, put in some quick laps after that and, see how we go. Yeah go slightly faster that everyone else, if that’s achievable. You could say I have many thoughts on people who do it as a team but if they want to do it as a team, you know and then say that they beat me at the race, they didn’t really beat me. Yeah, they’re pussies. But anyway, that’s just my opinion. He’s just scared and he’s trying to act tough, he knows he’s got a few people out there today. Come race me at the Tarawera when you’re ready mate. Trash talking in the books, the 200 strong field made their way down to the start line, where all eyes were on turn one, in preparation for the dead engine, shotgun start. a ten second delay here mean the difference between rounding that corner in first place, or last, and that simply wasn’t an option, because the Taupo region was in a drought, and dust would render passing 200 riders, completely impossible. It was imperative that you bike fired into life on the first kick. Ben got off to shocking start, Callan, Brad and Tom, only average ones. The first lap carnage harescramble racing is famous for was in full swing, amplified by the dust, as the riders rounded the 30 kilometer course and reached the pits. Teams had to go through here every lap to tag their teammates, but Brad as an ironman, could miss it out on the laps where he didn’t need to stop for fuel. In one fell swoop, he went from third place, to the lead. And the hunter, had become the hunted. When a former world motocross champion says “it’s terrible out there”, that means it’s no joke. And the race was only just getting started. Paul wasted no time in catching second place, Reece Lister, but in the tight trees he was unable to make a pass. And when the track finally did open up again, he was forced to back off for the dust. All allowing Brad to run away up front. F***. Out front, Brad was getting into lapped traffic, which was bad news for him. Because being the first bike through, he’d be catching the lappers off guard which meant they were more likely to get in his way and slow him down, than the riders coming through after him. It was crucial that he kept a cool head and charged when he had clear track, because Callan and Paul were putting in a flurry of fast lap times behind him. Yo, other way! Brad was tiring, making more and more mistakes. He was also growing complacent, unaware of how small his lead had grown, until he looked over his shoulder, and saw Paul right on his rear wheel. He was in big trouble. But you don’t become a multi time national champion without having a few tricks up your sleeve. So he hatched a plan, to use the dust berms like smoke grenades, blinding Paul in showers of the stuff. And it worked. He entered the pits with enough of a margin to maintain the lead going into the final lap, but only just. It was anyone’s race. Whibs’ is right on your ass Brad, he’s just going through. And this time Callan would be on the receiving end of one of Brad’s special dust storms. Could he weather it, or would he fold? We were about to find out. I don’t know how you’re doing it boy, you’re a f****** machine! Oi! Oi f***! Oi! F***! F****** hell. It came down to the last lap, bu in the end there was no beating Brad. As an ironman he outclassed all of the teams with consistently fast lap times and minimal mistakes. An incredible display of skill, grit and determination. Callan and Paul came home in a close, and well deserved second place. Good job man. That track’s brutal aye. Absolutely brutal. There was a couple of big holes man. How tough was that, Brad? Oh dude, brutal that aye. Four and a half hours man! Good job. Cheers man. Somebody get me a beer! Yes incredible stuff, going flat out around a track that rough for four hours is one hell of a physical feat, but it’s not only hard on the riders, it’s hard on the bikes too, and the more eagle eyed among you might have noticed that those bikes were a bit different to the ones the guys in the 1920s were riding. Unlike the race format, they have come a long way. And Kawasaki have just brought out a brand spanking new one, so let’s get up close and personal with it, and try to understand the technology that allows these athletes to push the limits for that long. So, here it is. The biggest update Kawasaki have made to their KX450, since it came out in 2006. It’s all new from the ground up, and there really is no two ways about it… It doesn’t look that great. That exhaust or, I say exhaust, it’s really more of a chimney isn’t it. And they way that mudguard kind of curves down it, gives the bike a bit of an old fashioned look. Weirdly though I kind of like that, it tells me that this is a high performance machine, looks were low on the list of priorities during its development. A bit like, Susan Boyle for example. Except it’s still a damn sight better looking than Susan Boyle. Alright then, it’s a performance oriented machine, we’ve established that. So how well does it perform? Let’s find out. Very well is the answer to that question. The entire engine’s been reworked by the maniacs at Kawasaki’s world superbike team, the same people that brought us the 400 kilometer per hour, Ninja H2R, the fastest production bike ever made. And they’ve toiled with everything, from the engine casings to the throttle body, the piston, the cams, the exhaust, they’ve even moved the entire shock absorber over to one side to improve the angle of the air and fuel intake by just ten degrees. And they’ve incorporated some of their superbike wizardry too, In the form of a finger follower valve train. Absolutely no idea what it does or how it works but, it’s in there and it sounds very impressive. It’s not a widow maker though, all of that extra power is delivered in this incredibly smooth power curve, because the maniac engineers understand that horsepower’s practically redundant, unless you can put it to the ground. Which is also where the new suspension comes into play. Kawasaki have taken a leaf out of Yamaha’s book here, bucking the rend of lightweight but crap air forks, and going back to a traditional spring fork. A lot heavier but, at least they work. In fact these ones in particular, really work. Inside they’re essentially Showa A kit forks, which might not sound very impressive, until you consider that to buy a set of Showa A kit forks on their own would set you back ten grand. How the hell have they done that? And there’s more good news too, gone are the days of hammer and punch sag adjustment, on this it’s just an Alan key. And it’s got a hydraulic clutch too, look at that. First Japanese bike to have one of those though, it’s not actually that impressive because KTM have had them already for about five million years. And another think KTM have had already for about five million years, an electric start. But crucially, a lithium ion battery powered electric start that makes use of something called an automatic centrifugal decompression system. No idea but, the effect is monumental, have a look at this. I’ve never encountered a high compression four stroke that starts like that, it’s just incredible. It’s light too, 110kgs to be precise, making it the lightest of all the Japanese bikes. Still five kgs heavier than the equivalent KTM but, we’ll gloss over that for now. They’ve made massive leaps and bounds in the chassis department too, it’s one of the most natural feeling bikes I’ve ever ridden. It doesn’t feel as though I’m riding a bike so much as it does I’ve, grown one out of my arms and legs. The communication I’m getting through the handlebars and from the footpegs, the sense of exactly where the wheels are and how much grip they’ve got at any given moment, it’s almost telepathic. And the brakes, my god, it’s got the biggest rear rotor ever fitted to a production bike, and the feel you’ve got with all that stopping power is just immense. Unfortunately however, we’ve reached the part of the film where I tell you that it’s not perfect, but it’s not that not perfect. Let me explain. Just little niggly things, accessing the airbox for example, a three second, tools free job on a KTM, whereas on this, it’ll take you 30 seconds to find an eight millimeter, and a ten millimeter to undo the two different sizes of bolt, holding the airbox together. Why? It just seems so obvious to me to have a tools free airbox, accessing it is something you do between every ride. And that’s not all, want to fit your favorite set of aftermarket handlebars? Well you can’t because it’s got, skinny handlebar clamps. And to change the engine map you have to physically change these little colour coded things where it’s just a button on the handlebars on most other manufacturers. And to customise a map, forget about it. You need this big bulbous green thing and a, whole bunch of cables and a PhD in, unnecessarily complicated s***. Yamaha just have an app. Why can’t they just have an app? How hard can it be, to make an engine map app? I’ll admit, I’m nitpicking, illiterately these are problems that you could live with, and they certainly don’t revoke the fact that Kawasaki have ended a streak of mediocre motorcycles with what is invariably, a great package. So what it looks a bit old fashioned and the, exhaust resembles a chimney more than it does an exhaust. When it goes, stops and handles like this, who cares! To me this bike represents the rope a dope, after being beaten against the ropes for seven rounds, Kawasaki have come off them in the eighth, to knock the competition flat on their backs against all the odds, in a big way. Yes that is one hell of a machine, and one hell of a review if I do say so myself. So good in fact that I think after all that hard work, I deserve a holiday. So that’s what I’m going to do. Oi Jeff! What can I do for you big daddy? Jeff, get a message out to the boys. Tell them to meet me at the PAK’nSAVE car park at 8:00am, We’re going on an adventure! You got it you above averagely handsome lad. Okay it’s 7:59 in the morning after the night before, in the PAK’nSAVE car park. Boys should be here any minute. Here we go, this looks promising. How you going mate? How’s it going Lennox? Good to see you! Not bad. What’s going on boys? Morning. How many more cars are we waiting on? We’ve got to meet Jack at, McDonald’s Motueka. Alright. So we’re ready to roll? Pretty much. Alright. Time to hit the road. Only it wasn’t that simple. Come on lights, I’ve got a, skits adventure to go on. No time to waste. As you can plainly see I was very anxious to get cracking, and with good reason too. On this adventure we’d encounter perilous river crossings that eat vehicles of all sorts alive, dead bikes left, right and center, seagulls, seals, sand dunes and vistas beyond counting that make you uncomfortable in your pants. All that lay ahead, For now though, we were headed to McDonald’s. Give me a rundown on the 450X. It’s f*****. Righto, shall we make a move? Anyone want to finish that off? No. F*** off. After holding us up for 15 minutes and failing to finish his breakfast, Jack promptly selected first, instead of reverse when exiting the car park. What the f***? And after taking the piss out of Lenny’s bike while he was fueling up, What’s this thing in here, I don’t have one of those? That’s a carburetor, yeah nah that’s old school mate. I decided to smash my front bumper on the ground. Well that was a f*** up. And we were on our way. Gidday mate! Lennox! Tell me about this, the KTM Freeride. It’s f*****. Would you agree? Yep. Look at me shoe! After getting that important piece of footage, the passing scenery started to become pretty spectacular. And before long, the tar seal gave way to gravel, where it became absolutely breathtaking. Look at that view! Oi Matt, was it open? You’ve got to close the gate. Oh, you go. I opened it. Kynan took one for the team and closed the gate. Only there was no post to close it to. But we didn’t have time to ponder this because Jack had decided that he had too much tread on his tyres. Have you ever seen anything so hopeless in your life? Runaway diesel. Have you ever seen an L200 peel in your life? What do you reckon Lennox? I reckon that’s pretty low compared to what it was like when i was last here. I reckon it’s going to be pretty slippery. I’d get a close up shot of the rear wheels. Get a close up now he’s going for it. Despite being the only one of us towing a trailer, and having a two wheel drive ute. Matt stormed into the river first without even a second thought. And unbelievably, he got stuck! Nice one Matt! F****** idiot. It won’t back up. You’re not getting out mate. So as logic would dictate, we sent the other two wheel drive ute in to tow him out. Yeah I know, two wheel drives can do it mate. Not the L200, the Hilux. I don’t want to be pulled out by the L200. I’ll never head the f****** end of it. It’ll be good for you. And that went about as well as you might expect. While they were busy trying a new style of towing, where you don’t have the towrope attached, Holy s***! Lenny, in his Hilux which has something called four wheel drive, towed the van through without getting stuck once. Meanwhile. Up struggle street. Just to make sure that it didn’t work, they had another crack at it with the towrope disconnected. Here’s dumb and dumber towing each other through the river. Here’s the clutch. What clutch? Miraculously after all of that, the little L200 looked like it was going to pull the big Holden out of the river. Until Matt put the brakes on. Keep going! I bet you he gets stuck again for real. Yeah he will. Predictably. I’m actually stuck! I was holding the brake on. And after just 45 minutes, David pulled Goliath out of the river. Easy as that boys! At long last, we’d reached our destination. Yeah piss bowled through that. Yeah wasn’t too difficult was it Matt? At the end of the day you don’t really need a Hilux you just need a… L200! So we geared up, for a bit of a montage. Day two, adventure time. We’re doing it. We are. Try and save battery. So it’s running now is it? Yup. Cool. Mate, this is going to be good. Hopefully! It was going to be good, we were headed down the coast to find a lighthouse we’d been told about, which sounds simple enough, but as you’re about to find out, it was anything but. What’s the plan Stan? Hit it! One of these guys first I reckon. Oi, she’ll take us over the back way. Oh yeah I know the way you mean. You’ve still got to go through the river, but I don’t know if it’ll be better or worse. We’ll go have a look aye? Deciding the first river we came to was too deep to cross at the mouth, we headed inland in search of an easier route, and left Kynan to um, whatever it was he was doing. And despite the fact that there was a perfectly good farm road 50 meters to my left, I decided to go as the crow flies, which, nearly went wrong. And then it did go wrong for Kynan. Out of the road sheepshagger! The estuary was shallower to be sure, but we’d have to cross about four different waterways to get to the other side of the river. That looks a bit better. Yeah it feels pretty hard, do you want to go through? Let Kynan go. Let Kynan go. Go on mate, hit it, hit it! Kynan had claimed earlier, and I quote, “I’ll send all of the rivers first.” So we were just holding him to his word. After some clearly very careful navigation of the sand bottom labyrinth, we decided by this flounder net would be the best place to cross the final deepest and widest waterway. I’ll go through with you. It looks better here than over there. Yeah. But we’d have to be careful not to get tangled up in it. All of us except for Lenny, who rode straight through it at full throttle. Some well deserved unwrapping of his back wheel, chain and sprockets awaited him. What a moron. Nicely done mate! Loves it! Not too bad aye? Last up was Kynan, and he hadn’t seen us walk our bikes through so just assumed we’d ridden them. And the KTM took water onboard. A bit deep for the old girl. Yeah she’s deep, can you get it going or? Nah. Too much water in the carb. Happily however, it appeared that Kynan was well versed in this sort of dilemma, so he had the KTM back up and running in no time, and we hit the track again. It’s shallow as over there. Yeah I know. The second river we came to, rather worryingly was supposed to be the harder of the two to cross, but it turned out to be a bit of a doddle, and before long, we were safely across the other side, without even a single cock up. Where the going got a bit tougher, but also mesmerisingly beautiful. We’d found the lighthouse, where we thought, why not just keep going? So we did. How beautiful is this place? Honestly. Woah, f***! After exploring what was surely one of the most beautiful places on earth, it was time to head back, before the tide trapped us there. So we started to make our way. But before long, we realized something was missing. F****** scary time for wheel spin. Don’t know where old Jack’s gone. As it panned out, he hadn’t finished exploring. What’s that? Yeah, it’s a bit of a worry. Won’t be too much longer and the old time will start coming in. Yeah I’m a bit worried about that aye. Yeah like, to where that slip is like, just below that. and yeah we did a hill climb and then we come back but he’s, I don’t know. Kynan and I resorted to tracking him, which isn’t a particularly difficult thing to do in sand, so before long, we were on his heels. We’ve been searching for you for ages. Have you? Yeah, we’ve got to go, the tide’s coming in. With Curious George located, we headed back up the coast to rendezvous with the group, who were on this side of the second river, trying to fix the big quad, which had broken down. Quad f***** out. What, that one? Yeah, the big boy. Yeah? Lenny tried to fix it, but couldn’t seem to find the fault, despite me and Jack doing everything in our power to help out. So he admitted defeat, put it back together, and it started working. Then immediately broke down again in the middle of the river. I think we’ll hook up two bikes and we’ll pull her through. What about old mate over here? Lift it up again, Jack. Oh Jesus! Matt, grab the rope. Oh yeah. Pull it out more than that. For some reason, they then sent him on his way. Still going alright? Nah. Oi, get them to tow it back to the f******… Me? Get them to tow it all the way! This put me into David Hasselhoff mode. Hang on mate. We still had the other much deeper and softer river to get that quad through before the tide came in, so my pedanticness wasn’t without cause. Hang on I think it was a bit stupid of them to say that, I reckon they are going to need that f****** think towed all the way back to the Turimawiwi. Is it not running? I don’t reckon it’s going to run again, it broke down, started running again, it’s broken down again we’ve got no idea what the issue is, it’s got air, it’s got fuel, it’s got… Okay, well we’ll just tow it on and, we can do it without too much trouble. Thank you so much, yeah that was dumb of them to wave you off like that. No that’s cool. Well we’ll spin around and go and have a look at it. Yup, thanks so much mate. They’re going to tow you all the way back. Alright mate. Awesome, thanks so much. Alright, let’s go. Do I have to do it? You’ll be right. You’ll be fine. Lenny! I think the battery’s f*****. Yup. So the KTM had a flat battery, the big quad was dead, and the little one had no brakes. but we weren’t going to let any of that dampen our spirits it was all part of the adventure. Next up it was the YZ’s turn to go a bit wrong. Oh she’s taken on! This, and the Kawasaki going straight through without missing a beat, made Lenny very cross. F****** dog c***. Thankfully though, the YZ decided to fix itself, and even Kynan’s KTM got through this one without drowning. Now I’m wet! Things were looking up, but then they got a lot worse. F***, let’s go mate! Lenny and I sprung into action, but unfortunately we’re not very intelligent, so we ran to push the quad, which had been disconnected by this point. Push the quad Lenny, push the quad. It’s not tied on! It’s not tied on! One quad bike wasn’t going to cut it, so we tried two. F****** hell. We’re not going anywhere mate, that’s f****** stuck beyond… F*** yeah. Our last hope was the winch. Keep it coming. Success, at last. Well done, f****** good. Crisis averted, we sent the Can-Am through on its own. What a beast. Then using physics that don’t fully make sense to me, the Honda farm quad towed the dead Grizzly through like it was nothing. F****** oath! And in case all of that wasn’t bizarre enough, What you’re about to witness was probably the weirdest ten minutes of my entire life. First of all the little quad stormed into the river and died immediately, but the boys were able to pull that out no problem. Then some people on trikes showed up and demonstrated some advanced river crossing techniques. After that a four wheel drive careered through the river with its door open. Then another one followed it at the speed of sound. While all of this was going on, somebody was skim boarding behind their car, in the ocean. And to top it all off, Kevin Heart then started towing Shaquille O’Neal back to camp, but inevitably ran out of steam before long, so we towed it the rest of the way with the Hilux, where Matt jumped on the opportunity to show off his Tokyo drifting skills. Finally after all of that, we arrived back at the camp, safe and sound, to find that Jack’s ute had decided to have a flat tyre. Oh well it’s only flat at the bottom. Yeah good point, yeah. I wouldn’t worry about it. Yeah I wouldn’t worry about it. All and all, a pretty good day. The next morning after a, not so quiet night we, cleaned up after ourselves, packed the vehicles, loaded the bikes, and called it a wrap on the first episode of Full Throttle. I hope you enjoyed.