Master Enduro 2003

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Master Enduro 2003
Jahn

motorcycles

Master Enduro 2003

Master Enduro 2003
The party of the year

When Europe’s off-road testers invite you to a big party, you have to expect any surprise ?? welcome to the Master Enduro 2003, the ultimate shootout of the enduro scene.

Sascha Zdrahal

01/27/2003

Sparkling wine or seltzer? As long as there is still fuel in the tank and the cleats cling to the ground, this question does not arise for enduro riders. Then mineral water is enough to celebrate, after all, the good mood comes while driving. Well, if the drinks are so spartan, then at least nothing else should be missing at the test party of the year. The Spanish magazine Motociclismo not only invited eight test pilots from all over Europe and Mexico, but also provided an almost unmanageable number of attractive dance partners. A total of 18 sport enduros – from the petite 125cc two-stroke elf to the 650 four-stroke wall treatment – enticed people to dance dirty in the undergrowth. At the Master Enduro 2003 practically all models – divided into three manageable groups – competed against each other in order to finally choose the Enduro of the year in the final. Which is the fastest in the field? That alone was the crucial question here.
By the way, of course, every editorial team wanted to be right at the front with their driver and compete in the final of the three best – bikes and drivers. MOTORRAD therefore sent Bert von Zitzewitz into the race as a guest driver. As a ten-time German Enduro Master and Vice Enduro World Champion, he already made it into the finals at last year’s Master Enduro under catastrophic weather conditions.
This year the Spaniards relocated this probably unique test event further south. Optimal weather and constant track conditions ensured comparable lap times and a great party mood. The other framework conditions also presented an extremely professional picture: most of the manufacturers and importers traveled with their own racing truck to prepare their machines for this test of strength. In some cases, the works teams even completed test drives in order to adapt the chassis to the prevailing route conditions. The organizer not only provided a scale on site, but also a performance test bench was available. Incidentally, a concrete foundation was poured into the dusty ground for this. So prepared, the party could start.
The dusty festival lasted four days, four times from sunrise to sunset the task was to chase the seconds and find the optimal line through the thicket. The final champagne cork finally popped after the final race, which caused perhaps the biggest surprise of this event. The result amazed even savvy test professionals and provided enough topics to talk about so that the party continued at the hotel bar even after sunset.

Rules of the game

The Master Enduro is not a normal comparison. It’s all about one thing: speed. Behind this is the all-important question: Which motorcycle is the fastest on a staked circuit? In order to determine this, the Spanish magazine Motociclismo invited editors friends to take part in the multi-displacement competition. Sure, the results cannot be easily transferred to every rider and every area of ​​use, but they do show the potential of motorcycles in a typical competitive situation. In order to compare the full range of the current off-road offer, the invitation went to the Master Enduro to all manufacturers. Unfortunately, not everyone was able or willing to take part. Husqvarna, Moto TM and VOR were missing. To ensure equal opportunities, all machines were given the same tires. Bridgestone supported the event with countless enduro sports tires of the type ED 660 B at the rear and M 59 at the front. The rules of the Master Enduro are tough. Almost like in real life, there is only one chance for everyone involved. The aim is to simulate a competitive situation that is as realistic as possible. After a short training session to get to know the route, each rider only starts once with each bike – each run counts. Best times therefore require maximum concentration. In the event of a fall there is ?? like in competition ?? no second opportunity. After a successful round, the pilots switch between the motorcycles according to a previously defined system. On the first two days of driving, the drivers take a typical meadow test under the tunnels on all motorcycles. A demanding cross-country test is on the program on the third and fourth day. Incidentally, a professional team is responsible for the timekeeping, which usually oversees the runs for the Spanish Enduro Championship.

Group 1: Up to 125 two-stroke / 250 four-stroke

A cheer for the two-stroke engine. Or not? Group one is in a state of upheaval, the four-stroke engines are increasingly conquering the youngster class.

Screeching two-stroke engines up to 125 cm3 match a lonely 250-stroke four-stroke engine. Unfortunately, we miss the Bonsai four-stroke engines from Husqvarna and KTM. While the Italians are suffering from a company crisis, the Austrians obviously want to leave the field to the competition without a fight and compete without their 250 EXC Racing. Be that as it may, that doesn’t prevent the four bikes from engaging in thrilling duels. Given the prevailing optimal ground conditions, the pilots prefer ?? without knowing their actual travel times ?? clearly the aggressively tackling two-stroke engines. Subjectively, these simply work faster. But the stopwatch is incorruptible. In the end, the inconspicuous WR 250 F wins the race. Incidentally, the displacement dwarfs in this group are only smiled at by the ignorant, professionals know the potential of the little beasts. This is also reflected in the result: four of the eight riders achieved their best overall riding time with one of these bikes (sum of time ridden in the meadow test and the cross-country test), while another two are the second fastest. In addition, there is an interesting trend: the lower the qualification of the driver, the more likely the favorites are among these four machines. Thus, these motorcycles rightly have their reputation as entry-level bikes.

Gas Gas EC 125

The small two-stroke engine pulls in surprisingly strong and then turns willingly, but not wildly. The chassis setup is perfect for enduro use. An all-round successful, super-handy sports enduro that is pleasantly easy to drive despite the displacement handicap. Unfortunately, the quality of the workmanship does not quite keep up with that of the chassis and engine.

Honda CRE 125

The CRE motor unfortunately only offers a narrow usable speed range. Even the short, tightly stepped cross gear is not ideal for enduro use. In addition, the tightly coordinated spring elements cost ?? are they identical to those of the Cross model ?? relatively much power. When it comes to ergonomics, the small Honda is geared towards the needs of smaller drivers.

KTM EXC 125

No doubt: the KTM offers the most powerful engine in the 125cc field? none is stronger. But the Austrian is relatively difficult to drive due to its snappy, high-revving engine. The coordination of the spring elements, however, leaves nothing to be desired. Athletes’ hearts beat faster with the slim, uncompromising ergonomics and high-quality equipment.

Yamaha WR 250 F.

Despite its subtle appearance, the little blue one is surprisingly fast. This is thanks to both the engine with its enormously wide usable speed range and the playful handling. Apart from the soft seat, the new ergonomics worked out very well, but the set-up of the chassis is a bit too soft for the tough competition.

Scoring group 1

Gas Gas EC 125
Honda CRE 125 R.
KTM EXC 125
Yamaha WR 250 F.

Best time meadow test
3.8.38 min.
3.7.27 min.
3.9.09 min.
3.5.43 min.

3
2
4th
1

Best time cross-country
2.43.68 min
2.42.00 min.
2,44.98 min.
2.40.40 min.

3
2
4th
1

352.06
349.27
354.07
345.83

city ​​square
3.
2.
4th.
1.

Regardless of whether on the tight meadow course or on the fast, sometimes quite demanding cross-country test across the Spanish forests, the WR 250 F impressively underlined its superiority. The advantage of their enormously wide usable speed range in connection with the smooth onset of power ensured on the one hand a perfect grip and on the other hand a low-gear and stress-free ride. In the remaining two-stroke trio, the CRE 125 was particularly popular. On the other hand, the KTM had to find out that power and aggressiveness are not everything, even with the two-stroke dwarfs: Although it was the strongest, it wears the red final lantern in both special stages.

Group 2: Up to 250 two-stroke / 400 four-stroke

The golden mean in super wide wall format ?? the second group impresses above all with its immense variety of models. But the new champion can also be found here?

None of the three displacement classes is more fiercely contested, none offers more choice and variety, none offers more technical innovations. For example, the long-awaited, brand new one rolls here Cannondale E 440 R to the light barrier. With its forward-facing inlet valves, the programmable injection and the tank under the seat, it sets new accents in this rather conservative sport. The brand new one also relies on injection Gas gas EC 450 FSE, an in-house development of the traditional Spanish off-road forge, like the Cannondale Equipped with an electric starter. The two Honda enduros, derived from high-end crossers, with the bulky-looking aluminum chassis as a trademark, also start here. The committed Italian importer HME builds these bikes in-house and sells the CRF-E 450 R and CR-E 250 R across Europe. Both technically hardly differ from the crossers, the chassis and engine remained unchanged. A retrofitted alternator provides the required electrical energy. KTM is also launching two established models: the two-stroke 250cc has been thoroughly renovated, the 450cc has been redesigned even more specifically for the new displacement category. With the Kawasaki KLX 300 and KDX 220 cover the bandwidth of this class but also the bread-and-butter segment. The two oldies have a touch of nostalgia, they face the challenge of this tough competition with admirable sporting spirit. being there is everything for them. It is quite obvious that every manufacturer has its own strategy in this popular market segment. So it is not surprising that the test insiders nowhere suspected more aspirants for the title “Master Enduro 2003” than among the two-stroke engines up to 250 cm3 and the four-stroke engines up to 450 cm3 that compete with them. But it turned out completely different. Only one thing is clear after the test drives have been completed: The competition between the drive systems? Two-stroke versus four-stroke – in the midfield, the easier-to-drive four-stroke engines clearly decide for themselves. They don’t require a long time to get used to, you can burn a quick lap straight away: The three fastest bikes in the class come from this camp. Nevertheless, some testers are surprised by the clarity of this success. The prevailing, optimally grippy ground conditions ultimately also offered the significantly lighter, aggressively high-revving two-stroke engines the best conditions to be able to exploit their potential. But there were no top times. The comparison of the three classes is even more astonishing. A more detailed analysis of the best times achieved by the drivers finally reveals the truth: not one of the eight drivers manages their best overall time (sum of the time of the meadow test and the cross-country test) with a bike of the favored middle class. Only one succeeds with the WR 450 F ironing his second fastest time. What’s wrong with the vaunted class? Obviously, it’s the extremes that make you fast, at least on the smoothly defined course of the Master Enduro 2003. Either the nimble, ultra-light displacement dwarfs or really powerful shooters with brutal performance. Everything in between, at least in this case, is not the right way to achieve the best time, the middle class remains mediocre. Who would have thought that.

Cannondale E 440 R

432 cc, four-stroke, 47 hp, 127 kg, 10600 euros

the E 440 R looks strangely sedate in action, which is certainly due to the ergonomics, which take a lot of getting used to. Despite modern injection, the engine also leaves a clumsy impression. Even the noble Ohlins components could not convince. The partially idiosyncratic detailed solutions still have to prove their practical suitability.

Gas Gas EC 250

249 cc, two-stroke, 42 hp, 113 kg, 6390 euros

With its ingenious handling and its gentle and powerful engine, the EC 250 is even suitable for two-stroke newcomers. The more difficult the terrain, the more fun it is to drive with it. The manufacturer’s trial experience is obvious. At high speed and on rough edges or holes, however, the chassis leaves an impression that is a little too soft.

Gas Gas EC 450 FSE

449 cc, four-stroke, 47 hp, 128 kg, 7990 euros

Despite the injection, the new engine lacks the ultimate power kick. The smoothly starting, easily controllable performance will especially inspire hobby drivers, because the power can be implemented very effectively. The chassis, which is very well tuned for enduro use, is also pleasing. The 450 is a bit too good for racers. Deficiencies in detail like the catastrophic bench are annoying.

Honda CRE 250 R.

249 cc, two-stroke, 37 hp, 111 kg, 7740 euros

For a modified crosser, the CRE built by the Italian Honda importer is astonishingly balanced, even if it suffers from the tight, energy-sapping chassis and the overly narrowly graduated cross gear. In addition, the engine seems somehow powerless. Is it because of the quiet exhaust? The super slim ergonomics are best for smaller drivers.

Honda CRF-E 450 R.

449 cc, four-stroke, 48 hp, 116 kg, 8800 euros

Despite the unchanged chassis taken from the Crosser, the CRF-E looks quite comfortable. However, the enduro muffler takes a lot of power from the engine. In addition, the very tightly graduated cross gear does not fit for enduro use. It’s also a shame that an electric starter is missing. This not only costs sympathy points, but also valuable seconds if the worst comes to the worst.

Kawasaki KDX 220 R.

198 cm³, two-stroke, 27 HP, 120 kg, not available in Germany

With its surprisingly powerful acceleration at low speeds, the engine is ideal for enduro hiking, where it is very easy to drive. Unfortunately, the two-stroke engine never develops anything like temperament. The entire bike literally defends itself against any kind of sportiness. Overall, the good-natured little green does not really fit into this competition.

Kawasaki KLX 300 E.

292 cc, four-stroke, 27 hp, 124 kilos, not available in Germany

Time seems to have stood still here: With its robust motor and ancient ergonomics, the KLX 300 is one of the last true dual bikes of the enduro days. Sporting ambitions? Nothing. The powerless engine, the antiquated equipment and the much too soft chassis make it look like a classic car today.

KTM 250 EXC

249 cc, two-stroke, 43 hp, 112 kg, 6420 euros

The all-rounder. With its light-footed handling and the powerful engine, which is pleasantly steady for two-stroke conditions, the 250 EXC is equipped for a wide range of applications. Whether cross training or demanding enduro hiking, everything is possible with the EXC. The well-balanced chassis with enormous reserves is also convincing.

KTM 450 EXC Racing

448 cc, four-stroke, 48 hp, 120 kg, 7790 euros

Full performance, not brutal and always cleanly metered – that’s how it should be. In addition, a chassis that covers the wide range from enduro hiking to increased cross-use, as well as high-quality equipment ?? what more do you need. For beginners, the 450 has unfortunately lost some of its innocence, it is getting very close to its big sister.

Yamaha WR 450 F.

449 cc, four-stroke, 48 hp, 126 kg, 7790 euros

With its inconspicuous but powerful engine, the WR 450 F is actually faster than its first driving impression suggests. Unfortunately, the tuning of the spring elements turned out to be far too soft for a competitive pace. On the other hand, you can make friends with the new ergonomics and, last but not least, the new electric starter.

Scoring group 2

Cannondale E 440 R
Gas Gas EC 250
Gas Gas FSE 450
Honda CRE 250
Honda CRF-E 450
Kawasaki KDX 220 R
Kawasaki KLX 300 E.
KTM EXC 250
KTM EXC 450 Racing
Yamaha WR 450 F.

Best time meadow test
3.16.28 min.
3.12.23 min.
3.12.77 min.
3.13.41 min.
3.10.19 min.
3.13.43 min.
3.13.98 min.
3.10.48 min.
3.8.03 min.
3.5.20 min.

10
5
6th
7th
3
8th
9
4th
2
1

Best time cross-country
2.44.37 min.
2,43.71 min.
2.39.85 min.
2.44.13 min.
2.43.80 min.
2.45.64 min.
2.45.23 min.
2.43.16 min.
2,41.72 min.
2. 39.71 min.

8th
5
2
7th
6th
10
9
4th
3
1

360.65
355.94
352.62
357.54
353.99
359.07
359.21
353.67
349.75
344.91

city ​​square
10
6th
3
7th
5
8th
9
4th
2
1

The bitter struggle between two- and four-stroke engines is over? at least with the Master Enduro 2003. Here, three four-stroke engines fight for fame and honor in the top three places. The WR 450 F deserves to take home the wreath. Their victory in the two special stages resulted in the best overall result, with the blue one relegating the KTM ECX 450 Racing to second place with a clear gap of five seconds. The Austrian had to let the Gas Gas 450 beat her in the cross-country test. The Spanish newcomer with innovative injection ultimately took a respectable third place overall. This is all the more astonishing as the times driven did not quite coincide with the subjective driving impression of the pilots. Most pilots did not trust the 450cc gas to be so sporty. In fourth place overall, the KTM EXC 250 holds the flag for the two-stroke guild. The absolute surprise – in a negative sense – was the highly regarded newcomer from the USA: The Cannondale E 440 R fell behind the two Kawasaki oldies in the overall result. In view of the innovative engine technology and the noble Ohlins chassis with aluminum frame, nobody would have suspected that.

Group 3: Up to 250 two-stroke / 400 four-stroke

The heather wobbles there? ultra-powerful four-stroke engines dominate group three, the two-stroke armada is on the decline here. But the battle is not over yet …

In the absence of all common sense, hobby pilots and beginners in particular love the power class motorcycles. One reason for this is certainly that significantly more performance is offered here for practically the same price. If you want to know, you can go to the Husaberg FE 650 e call up up to 59 hp. Another incentive is certainly the adrenaline rush when the gas is raised. It is automatically included with each of these bikes. But does performance make you fast at the same time? When evaluating the times ridden in the Master Enduro 2003, it seems like this at first glance: every second driver achieves his personal best overall time with one of the thunder bolts, five times the drivers achieve their second fastest overall time on a machine in the power class. However, with this interpretation it must be taken into account that without exception all of them, even the supposedly slow, experienced pilots with many years of off-road experience. In addition, the route characteristics meet the big buzzers. Unfortunately, this competition says nothing about the result, for example with beginners or on trial-like terrain. Exploiting the enormous potential of these machines is certainly reserved for professionals, but everyone can easily shake a full wheelie or a brisk sprint from the throttle, so that even less experienced drivers get their money’s worth.

Gas Gas EC 300

295 cm³, two-stroke, 45 hp, 115 kg, 6590 euros

From the point of view of the ambitious sports driver as well as the experienced hobby driver, everything is just right here: great handling, smooth, powerful engine and a perfectly tuned chassis. This is also confirmed by the surprising success of the two-stroke EC 300. Unfortunately, poor workmanship in some cases tarnishes the otherwise all-round consistent picture.

Husaberg FE 501 e

501 cc, four-stroke, 50 hp, 121 kg, 7740 euros

With its easy-to-dose, not too wild motor, the FE 501 e is easy to control at any time. On the one hand, the chassis offers enormous reserves for ambitious athletes, but the fork of the test bike unfortunately seemed a bit insensitive. Typical Husaberg: Due to the somewhat cramped space conditions, drivers under 1.80 meters feel most comfortable here.

Husaberg FE 650 e

644 cc, four-stroke, 59 hp, 123 kg, 7990 euros

Gentle and wild ?? the new engine tuning of the thunder bolt succeeded perfectly, and the rest of the detail care is also impressive. The once so stubborn prehistoric cattle became a surprisingly agile, almost hand-tame bike for this displacement class. Just the thing for power fetishists. The ergonomics are a bit cramped, but basically okay.

KTM 525 EXC Racing

510 cc, four-stroke, 52 hp, 123 kg, 7890 euros

The enormous power paired with the maneuverability of the 525 inspires again and again. Nevertheless, the performance can always be properly dosed. In combination with its sensitive, sport-oriented chassis and many well-resolved details, the KTM leaves a very balanced overall picture. Your best-seller status is no coincidence.

Scoring group 3

Gas Gas EC 300
Husaberg FE 501 e
Husaberg FE 650 e
KTM EXC 525 Racing

Best time meadow test
2.59.25 min.
3.5.60 min.
3.1.40 min.
3.1.31 min

1
4th
3
2

Best time cross-country
2.36.71 min.
2.40.08 min.
2.37.30 min.
2.37.40 min.

1
4th
2
3

335.96
345.68
338.70
338.71

city ​​square
1
4th
2
3

Who would have thought: The Gas Gas EC 300 competes as a lone two-stroke against the assembled four-stroke shooters and wins. What’s wrong with the four-stroke? Too heavy Too sluggish? No matter, because the spirited, yet gentle Spaniard is handy and powerful at the same time and scurries super nimble to victory. Another surprise: the success of the ultra-powerful FE 650 e. According to the motto »performance can be a sin«, it even leaves the KTM bestseller EXC 525 Racing behind. Okay, the lead is very close – a hundredth of a second. But that’s the way it is in racing: what counts is the space, nothing else. The FE 501 e, however, had to be relegated to the ungrateful fourth place despite its promising systems.

final

The duel of the best – the fastest bikes in each of the three groups meet the three fastest riders in the multi-displacement final of the Master Enduro 2003. For group one the rolls Yamaha WR 250 F at the start line, group two represents another Yamaha with the WR 450 F, and for the heavy boys’ class the two-stroke gas gas EC 300 acts as a light barrier. When bikes as different as this trio and three highly motivated riders compete against each other, there is inevitably a crackling tension in the air, especially since the riders don’t want to give each other anything for free. Here as there, fame and honor have to be defended, after all, as is well known, the fun stops as soon as a stopwatch appears somewhere. Off-road warrior Vesa Kytonen qualifies for the Swedish Bike editorial team. The young, wild Gabor Grillmayer drives the final race for the Hungarian magazine Motor Revu. And finally Mattias Nilsson got one of the coveted starting places for the Spanish hosts. The mode of the final race: Each rider completes two laps with each bike on the selective cross-country test, the best lap time is counted. And the winners? Well, with the drivers, Vesa, as the ex-Enduro world champion, has his opponents under control with a smile. Nobody had seriously doubted that before either. Even insiders are surprised that the Gas Gas EC 300 is the only two-stroke engine that wins the final. The gap to the second-placed WR 450 F is just five hundredths of a second. But: There can only be one winner!

The driver

Vesa Kytónen, 36Ex-Enduro World Champion, European Enduro Champion 1998, three-time Sixdays winner and test driver for BIKE / Sweden

Mattias Nilsson, 30 European motocross champion 1995, professional motocross trainer and test driver for Motociclismo / Spain

Jose Luís Matarredona; 30 off-road athletes at B license level, test editor of Motociclismo PAN / Mexico

Gabor Grillmayer, 25-time Hungarian cross-champion, Austro-Hungarian enduro champion and driver for the Motor Revu / Hungary editorial team

Bert von Zitzewitz, 44 vice world champion, ten times German champion, ten times gold and one silver at the Sixdays, MOTORRAD test driver

Thierry Sarasyn, 35, drives at B license level, editor and off-road tester for Motorwek 2 magazine / Belgium

Sascha Zdrahal, 36B licensed driver, fourth place in the Enduro Cup 2001, test editor of the MOTORRAD sister magazine PS

Christoph Haller, 33Swiss Supercross Vice-Champion 1995, four-time Swiss amateur champion and co-tester of the Toff / Switzerland editorial team

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