Motorcycle Off Road Experience hosted by the MCI is another hit!
Another year, another Motorcycle Off-Road Experience and another bunch of off-road newbies started on (or off, actually) the road to a different world of biking. The annual MCIA off-road experience is now so successful that this year’s 400 places sold out in just 48 hours with another 225 people on the waiting list.
Aimed at introducing off-road riding to bikers who perhaps would never have even considered riding on dirt, the MORE is run by the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) along with the Amateur Motorcycling Association (AMCA), KTM, Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Suzuki. Instruction is provided by some of the top names in off-road sport including amongst others, Mick Extance (the most successful British Dakar rider), Dave Thorpe (four times world champion), Ady Smith (multiple British Enduro champion) and Neil Prince (Supercross Champion and successful team manager). The pedigree of these instructors is unparalleled and when you consider that the cost of the event was just £30 per rider, well, that‘s a lot of experience to learn from for just a few quid.
Each session starts with a safety briefing and then off to the bikes. There was a wide selection to choose from with bikes ranging from Honda’s CRF125 to a full power Yamaha WR250. Each of the manufacturers had their own marquee but didn’t exclusively offer their own machines so while I was riding with the Yamaha group, they also had a Kawasaki KLR250 and the Honda CRF125 alongside the bigger WRs.
After an introduction to the bikes, with special attention paid to the riding position (you sit as far forward as you can on off-road bikes), throttle and brakes (way more sensitive) and safety, we were let out in groups of five riders around a simple oval course in order to get used to the bikes and for the instructors to assess each rider’s capabilities. After a break and then another go around the small oval we were then let out onto the main course.
They let me out on the unrestricted WR250 which had the twitchiest throttle I’ve encountered and took a little getting used to. Now, I’ve had some limited off-road experience – I started riding aged 12 in competition Trials – and at first I thought the course was a little tame. However, given that the whole day is designed to introduce off-road riding to those who have never done it before, it was actually pitched just right. There were some tight turns, some lovely dusty straights to kick up some dirt and a huge down/uphill section that after a lap or two saw most of the riders powering down, standing on the pegs and really giving it some up the other side.
All of the instructors were really friendly, informative and helpful and I don’t remember seeing so many people smiling all day long! Of the ten people in my group, I was the only one with any off-road miles, one rider had not ridden for the last 25 years and two had never ridden a motorbike before! It wasn’t long before the instructors had them up and riding, changing gear and coping well with the terrain.
As a last suprise I was offered a ride on KTM’s Freeride Electric bike. This fully electric-powered off-roader was a revelation. Even on the lowest of the three power mappings it held its own against the petrol-engined machines, spinning up the rear wheel at a twist of the throttle. It was a little ‘rattly’ but then I guess the running gear sounds aren’t masked by the noise from an engine. With so many off-road tracks being restricted by noise level limits, electric off-roaders offer and more public-friendly face to ‘motor’ sports and I recommend giving them a try.
All those I spoke to at the end of the day agreed that the event was an excellent introduction and I saw a lot of thoughtful faces as they found themselves wondering where they could next get out on to the dirt. From that perspective, the MORE was a great success.
With 225 people disappointed for this year’s event, they’ll have to hope that the group decides to put on another next Summer – a decision will be made this November – and I sincerely hope that they do. I recommend all riders to have a go at riding off-road and there are plenty of places where you can try it out. Check out some of the links below for more information.