A ride out on the green lanes of Dorset with Matt on his Beta Alp and myself on a 350 Royal Enfield Bullet in trail trim, the subject of a previous post on preparing a Bullet for long distance trials
The route started at Blandford and then took the byway leading from Pimperne towards Tarrant Gunville, thence along a drove to Chettle and Chettle House. After that another byway leading to Tollard Royal past a rather strange folly on the Rushmore Estate. Apparently it was originally planned to be a mobile phone mast and then the mobile company pulled out of the deal. Granting the planning permission was rather controversial and understandably so. Incongruous and gigantic as it is I've lived in the local area a long time and have never heard about it before lest seen it. I rather like it and follies fall in to category of noble english eccentricities for me.
|Beta Alp and trials Enfield beside the Rushton Estate 'pavillion'.|
This was the first time since modification that the Bullet had been used on the rough since its 'makeover'. In general it was very pleasing. Enough power, plenty of character and good off road handling. Warm starting became a problem in to the ride and I'm hoping that a tuffnol carb spacer will be the cure to this as it seems that the carb is overheating. Riding down a steep muddy slope into Tollard Royal was the only time that the bike really showed its weight as it became a bit of a handful to both slow down and keep stable! It was a good hill so at the bottom I turned around and tried it out on the way up. Hill climbing was able though the Vredstein tyres slightly lacked grip and it was evident that gearing could be dropped slightly lower (it's currently running standard gearing (16 tooth on the final drive) and a wide ratio box).
The ride continued and took us from Tollard Royal up to the top of the Dorset Ridgeway just above Zig Zag Hill. Heading West after five or so miles we took a drove down the North side of the ridge which took us onto the next ridge over the border into Wiltshire and heading West again we rode a very smooth track along to Salisbury Racecourse.
Swapping bikes to have a go on the Beta and it is evident how much trail bikes have progressed in the more than sixty years since the Bullet was designed. Suspension is far better, power is linear rather than pulsing. It felt less powerful though probably output from its 200cc is similar to the 350 Bullet. With a far better power to weight it did seem to surge forward a lot more quickly and was certainly more responsive on the throttle. In terms of general green laning though there was not much advantage over the Bullet. The edge only came when the going got tougher and the long suspension travel and light weight shone through.
The Beta Alp is a very civilised tool for green laning. It is quiet, easy to live with and very inoffensive. Therein also lies its weakness. Whilst the Bullet overflows with character the Alp has the feel of a generic small engined modern bike. It's not a criticism as such, the Alp is a tool that performs its job almost faultlessly. It doesn't give the same satisfaction that the Bullet does, but then define satisfaction. If your satisfaction is in getting on your bike, pushing a button and getting off onto the lanes for a predictable ride then the Alp is for you. If you want your bike to have soul and are not averse to spanner work a Bullet it is. Of course, the comparison between the two bikes is really as irrelevant as weighing up between a seal and a parrot but when two bikes are out and you swap over what else can you do. Ultimately you can't lose if you're out on the bike on deserted tracks in beautiful countryside in the summertime...
|Post workout 350 Bullet.|