We are only days away from the epic extreme enduro that is Red Bull Romanics, so we've taken a look at the bikes of choice for Gold Class riders.
Romaniacs divides riders into four classes; Gold, Silver, Bronze and Iron. Gold is reserved for the highest level of rider, the Jonny Walker, Graham Jarvis and Chris Birch types. These guys are the best in the business and therefore get a start in the Gold class.
Bike choice across the Gold class is very consistent, the full entry list for this years’ Romaniacs is public information and you only need to take a quick glance to see two-strokes are undeniably the bike of choice, in particular the 300.
Here is a breakdown of manufacturers for the 47 riders in the Gold class.
KTM 29, Beta 8, Husqvarna 6, Sherco 2, TM 1
Now, a maths genius will notice these numbers add up to 46, not 47. That’s because one competitor, Rienk Tuinstra of The Netherlands, is yet to specify the bike he will compete on, but going off some old photos we reckon he’ll be on a KTM.
Of the 47 bikes, 41 will be 300 two-strokes. Just three riders have elected to ride 250s and two will used 350 four-strokes. The 300 v 250cc debate is still in full swing, but it looks like the 300 is winning hands down when it comes to extreme enduro.
Keen eyes also will notice the absence of Japanese manufacturers. With none of them producing a road legal 300cc two-stroke it’s no surprise there’s none of them in Gold, but with no information as to what bikes the other riders are using, we could see a few Yamahas, Hondas and Suzukis.
ADB spoke to Dave Robbins, one of the men behind the former Australian Enduro-X Championship, to get a greater understanding of why two-strokes dominate extreme enduro. “The weight saving is a massive advantage of a two-stroke. When you’re manhandling a bike over obstacles like you do at events such as Romaniacs, a weight saving of 10kg makes life a lot easier.
“The way two-strokes deliver power also makes them more suited to extreme enduro. A bike like a 300 two-stroke makes a lot of power right off idle. The initial power off the bottom and the instant snap you get when you rev up the engine and drop the clutch makes them better for riding up and over tough obstacles and climbing snotty hills. You can clutch your way up just about any hill on a 300 two-stroke and while the 350 four-stroke is a great bike, a two-stroke is much less prone to stalling at low revs. You can clutch a two-stroke around without it flaming out like a four-stroke would.”
“I’m a big fan of the 350 four-stroke, I think they are a great bike and happily ride both [the 300 and 350] but for extreme enduro, a 300 two-stroke, in my opinion, is the best bike you can ride.”