The rapidly growing sport of enduro motorcycle racing is set for another successful South African season.
In 1913, a group of intrepid motorcycle enthusiasts decided to challenge both themselves and their machinery over the course of what would become the inaugural International Six Day Trial in Carlisle, England. 54 years later, a similar sense of adventure, grit and ultimately comradery led a band of Southern African participants to set course for the treacherous terrain of Lesotho.
Then highway engineer, Bob Phillips, asked the Sports Car Club in Johannesburg whether they’d be interested in a race on a road he’d completed linking the camp town of Butha-Buthe, up the steep Moteng Pass, to the top of Mokhotlong. He openly dubbed it, “the worst road in South Africa”. With a mantra that no one would be left behind, this first-ever hard enduro event was called, The Roof of Africa.
Adapted and evolved accordingly, both these pioneering events still form part of a comprehensive international enduro motorcycle racing calendar that is now hosted in more than 42 countries and includes participants as young as 6 years old.
Including any number of natural obstacles and specific, man-made challenges, hard enduro has quickly become the most popular enduro discipline. Here, riders leave a start gate in groups and aim to complete the course in the fastest time possible.
As the popularity of enduro racing has grown, so too has interest from various motorcycle manufacturers, each looking to find favour in a sport that’s as tough on the equipment as it is on a rider. With brands like Sherco, Beta, KTM, GasGas and Husqvarna currently at the forefront, while enduro motorcycles appear similar in terms of their looks to a motocross bikes, the unique nature of hard enduro racing calls for various upgraded componentry, bespoke design elements and larger fuel tanks compared with a motocross machine. A narrower handlebar, for example, makes an enduro bike that much more manoeuvrable through a wooded section of a race event. Also, pertinent depending on the route is the fact that these bikes may also be required to be road legal before competing on a stage race that includes public roads.
The extreme demands placed on a motorcycle during an average enduro event has also called for fresh thinking when it comes to the internal workings of these bikes, including the battery. Designed to be as lightweight and compact as possible, besides being designed for maximum efficiency, these high-Amp-hour (Ah) motorcycle batteries need to be capable of handling any number of quick electric-starts during an event stage. In the absence of a kick-start function on a modern enduro bike, a rider relies solely on a timely e-start each time their motorcycle’s engine stalls over a challenging obstacle. At the forefront of battery technology aimed at the lifestyle segment, SABAT wishes all riders preparing for an exciting new South African enduro season many happy hours – with maximum battery efficiency – in the saddle.