Days of the sun

The winter is finally over, even up here in cold northern Estonia. To be honest, I had completely forgotten how miserable winter is up here. My old home, Berlin, was already basking in lovely spring days, while up here we only received more snow. However, now that the snow is gone, it turns out that Tallinn is paradise for enduro. So exactly the the opposite of Berlin in that sense too.

There are several large riding areas just around Tallinn. The closest one, Männiku, is 8 km from my garage. I went for a spin yesterday, after getting my bike all buttoned up. The Männiku area is mostly pines and very sandy. A lot of tight single track with wider sections of massive whoops. They even have a hard enduro training area, which I’m looking forward to hitting as often as I can. In fact, I’ve been considering focusing entirely on riding skills and technical enduro instead of doing a longer ride this summer. We’ll see.

Last year’s expedition was the closing chapter on the Crimson Trail. It was a great test for the 500 as an expedition bike. It performed with flying colours, but I realised that the bike is still too heavy for really enjoying its capabilities to the fullest. The first issue was, that I was still carrying to much gear. I had a bout 12 kg of packed luggage, which has now been slimmed down to about 6 kg. In addition to the luggage, the weight of the bike had also increased little by little.

To address the weight issue, I’ve removed the LED spot and second navigator from the navigation clamps. It cleans it up a bit, but I think it’s still too cumbersome, and will likely just mount the navigator directly on the handlebar. Not only will it reduce mass, it will also be out of the way on enduro trails. The temperature gauge and indicator light will need to be relocated. The bottom switch is for the navigator, which can be either removed entirely or relocated. The top switch is no longer necessary, as it was for controlling whether the OEM high beam or the LED spot was engaged from the handlebar switch. The ignition key switch can be binned, as it doesn’t work anyway. All cables were cut by vibrations during the second expedition day last year. In fact, my 12V socket failed on the first day, due to vibrations. Lesson learned, no more cheap Chinese stuff from eBay. It will all be rugged military grade gear from here on out.

The biggest weight reduction by far was reducing the tank volume. I switched the 19 litre expedition tank to an 11 litre Powerparts tank. The change in the feel of the bike is massive. It’s suddenly back to being a slim and nimble trail weapon, without all that mass sloshing around high on the bike. Other large weight reductions will be a Li-Ion battery and an Akrapovic titanium exhaust system.

The pristine white plastics ended up everything but, so I slapped on the OEM orange fairings for now. There’s a custom graphics kit in the works, but more about that later. For now, and finally, Day twelve of the Crimson trail is also just out. It sees a find farewell to Ukraine and a hesitant hello to Moldova.