Foreword: Jock Davidson
After watching this inspiring story unfold over the last few months I felt it was far too good not to make some noise about it. I had mentioned Nathan’s efforts to a few in the publishing world but none of them took the bait. In this day and age it would seem that if it’s not a 2014 model bike, no one cares. Oh how wrong they are! It’s not every year an individual completes the 4-Day on a 25 year old bike.
The words below came straight from the horses mouth, they are a personal account of Nathan Senior’s 2014 Australian 4 Day Enduro experience. His efforts should not go unnoticed as he has achieved a great deal. Special mention must go to Stephen Relf for his initiative and the all important cause that Nathan was riding for – ‘Riders Against Depression’.
Words: Nathan Senior | Photos: Nathan Senior & FOUROHFOUR
Part of the reason I bought the bike in the first place was because of the article in ADB of a BTX-KX125 enduro bike – seems silly to never do an enduro on it. So here’s the start of my bike prep…. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to ride. My dearly loved ’88 KX125 was the obvious choice from an emotional point of view, and wasn’t a ridiculous choice on logical criteria, but I kept thinking about how horrible it would be on the dirt road/tar transports, and about how the 4-day would instantly put about five seasons of VMX’ing onto an above-average, fairly original bike. More thinking lead me to decide that I wanted to ride an ‘89 KDX200 or ‘89 YZ250WR, with a KTM250/300, Husky 250/400 or RMX250 being the outside choices. After spending LOTS of time on Gumtree and Ebay, and finding nothing, I bought back my old, rough 1990 KDX200E that I bought on a whim a few years ago. I sold it to a mate to use as a paddock bike, but even though the power valve was jammed shut, he thought it was “too fast” and hardly ever rode it…. I never remember to take “before” photos, so here it is after I’d taken the motor out, Sexy, yes?…
I pulled it down, and then started to add up what it was going to cost to get it up to speed. Then three much better sounding bikes all came up for sale. I drove three hours to Bombala and bought one with a properly rebuilt motor and a pretty good parts bike:
The runner is another 1990 model, but the parts bike is a 1989 one. The plan is to get the mechanicals right in the 1990 frame, and then give the 1989 roller a cosmetic rebuild and transfer everything over. Here’s how it sits tonight:
I haven’t done anything major yet: Swapped the bent bars for some straight ones, fitted a Yamaha top triple clamp to move the handle bars forward, fitted the FMF Powercore silencer from the original bike, and a few other tweaks. Next is to fit a set of ‘88 KX forks and an ‘89 KX shock. Just waiting for the new springs, Gold Valves and seals/bushes to arrive so I can rebuild the KX suspension bits.
Doesn’t look much different, does it? There’s actually been a lot of time on it since the last lot of dribble. The FMF pipe came from young Dougie P – brand new and at a good price. Thanks Dougie! Can’t believe how much better it is – there don’t seem to be any drawbacks to it apart from the extra noise – stronger bottom end, stronger midrange, and at least as good in the top end. Throttle response is WAY better. Power delivery is just as smooth and electric as it was. Forks have been swapped to ‘88 KX250 items. Apart from the much better cartridge design, they also have much stiffer springs – the KX250’s 0.37 springs are too soft for me, but they’re miles better than the KDX’s original 0.29s, I’ve got a pair of 0.46 springs and Gold Valves to go in. Rear spring has been swapped to a 5.2 from an ‘89 KX250 (up from a 4.7), according to the recommendation from the RaceTech website. The sags all say that it is correct. I’ve rebuilt the shock out of the parts bike, and firmed up both compression and rebound stacks, using an educated guess. Haven’t fitted it yet. I am willing/expecting to have a couple of goes at the valving, if needed. Swapped the swing arm too – the bearings in the original had no movement at static height, but the wheel could move 20mm side to side at full droop! Hopefully it hasn’t rained as much in Canberra as it has here, and I’ll have the chance to try it out at the Heaven practice day on Saturday. I’m hanging for the chance to ride it properly – it really feels fantastic around my backyard (if that means anything…). Way beyond my expectations.
The eagle eyes will spot a few missing bits, but they’re all fixed now. There’s a stack of new bits that haven’t arrived yet – I really wish the new headlight surround and “UniTrak” stickers were here, in particular.
I wanted to build one of those old-style cages to go around the pipe, but I left myself short of time… The armadillo guard that’s on it is mostly just for show – figured it was a ‘period accessory’, although they used to be much tougher than this one. The old bike has an identical pipe on it, so I’ve got two chances before it becomes a real problem…
DAILY UPDATES FROM THE 4-DAY
Prologue: I finished 182nd (from bike #182…) in the prologue. Rode OK, not great – too defensive, just burns energy and slows me down, really. Bike is good. A few little niggles with the compression clickers set too stiff, and not quite right jetting, but should all be sorted for tomorrow.
Day 1: Right now, sitting here with a bung leg, two aching elbows and numerous other aches and pains… I’m already looking forward to the 2015 A4DE in Tasmania. Relfy, are you in?
Day 2: This is way tougher than the Warrgul Four Day. I’m riding better and faster than I was then, but its way harder up here. Gone so close to houring out both days – I just can’t ride the trail quickly enough to avoid losing lots of late time.
Day 3: Today was 250km. The riding was easier than yesterday, but more of it, and lots of stuff is just so rutted out. I got stuck in a rut when the fork legs bottomed out – kinda wanted to take a photo of the rut after I pulled the bike back – there was a clear indent on each side of the rut, exactly matching my lower forks legs. Also failed the cold start test due to the kick starter slipping. Pushed it through, and it started first kick… Grrr. Shoulder gave me lots of grief in the morning, but it settled down to mere pain after I took my backpack off. Legs doing OK, arms/shoulders not so much.
THE OLDEST BIKE AT THE 4-DAY
I definitely had the oldest bike at the 2014 Australian 4 Day Enduro. A couple of people suggested it may have been the oldest bike to finish an A4DE, but nobody seemed sure. A bloke called Mick Turnbull (ex-Oyster Bay, now Gippsland based) was on a 94 TM125. He was quick too. These were the only two bikes with RWU forks. The next oldest bikes were a mid-00s WRF and KTM.
Thanks for all of support and encouragement, gents. Late on the morning of Day 2 I was pretty close to going in search of beer to drown my sorrows, but the positivity from people on the OzVMX forum was one of the reasons I kept going. Also, a big thanks to everyone who donated money to the cause and to everyone who passed the hat around at various events.mReally, I have a huge list of people who deserve specific, personal Thank Yous…
I always try to avoid listing people because I would hate to forget anyone, but I will give it a shot:
My long-suffering wife for everything; Lard for volunteering to come and be service bitch and for doing a bloody good job of it; John Robertson for being a service bitch and doing a bloody good job of it; Mainline for running around collecting and posting the front mousse to me; Wright Motorcycles for ALL of the help (not least of which was allowing the account limit to be stretched…); Col Metcher for his publicity and fundraising efforts within the QVMX (and BMCC?); Greg Scriven for his publicity and fundraising efforts within Heaven; VMX Magazine for their publicity and fundraising efforts; Scooter News for their publicity and fundraising efforts; The Central Coast Dirt Riders crew for their service help; Phil Gemalas for the accommodation love; Phteven (that’s Stephen with a ph) Willett for the enthusiasm and parts-spotting; Everyone at the event who offered support and encouragment, particularly Matt, Luke, Mark, Cuffie, Klee, Bob, Justin, Neil, Mick W, Mick T and Wayne; Lard’s dad for the loan of the ute; Wog for his servicing help; Brad for donating a mousse to a complete stranger at the start of the event – that particular gesture was particularly appreciated; And last – but definitely not least – Relfy for coming up with the bloody idea in the first place! It really is a seriously humbling experience now that I’ve typed it out. More so when I consider that I haven’t mentioned my mum or Lard’s missus or another dozen people who were happy to put themselves out so I could go racing on an old dirt bike.