Hogsback Rally Raid - Testing the Batt X-Terrain By John Harris – Part 2 of 2
Article by John Harris | Instructor: CountryTrax
Part 2 of our Hogsback Rally Raid with John Harris and Team, testing the BATT X-Terrains on some challenging terrain.
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Day 2 – Rally Raid 1
The first day of official riding on Rally Raid 1 was a 160km loop, which included a nice descent via Michel’s Pass to Seymor followed by an ascent of Katberg Pass, before looping through the Retief Conservancy back to the Katberg Eco Golf Estate for lunch.
Going down Mitchel’s was great, as mentioned before, the downhill braking on the Batt X-Terrain is very predictable and confidence inspiring. As I entered Seymor, my conscience got the better of me and I decided to wait on my group, who arrived a little later.
We continued with the ascent of Katberg pass, the same pass we had descended the previous afternoon and at this point it was the first time the Batt had some limitations. Going up the woods in wet conditions over lose pebbles, the Batt had moments where traction was broken thinking to myself that I would like just a tad more traction.
As we exited the woods, the road dried out completely and the Batt X-Terrain came back into its element, hooking up on the loose rocks and step ups with ease, providing enough traction to lift the front wheel over obstacles.
We continued the route until we got to a river crossing with huge boulders, it was anarchy, something you normally only see on a Redbull Scramble, but this time it was made out of T7s (excuse the pun). It was a little “Tenerestellend” to see all the bikes blocking the route as we arrived at what would be the only bottleneck for the weekend. Bikes sounding like four stroke chainsaws, each rider trying to get in front of the other, but very few able to navigate over the loose wet boulders by themselves. For me, it was not different, I needed some assistance to get through as well.
My tyre did not grip on wet builders, but in all honesty, I didn’t see any other bike there with better grip. It was the only time over the weekend I was longing for my KTM 300. While I was revving my way through the river crossing, our group found a less crowded spot to pass through and ended up waiting for me on the other side.
We continued the route and just before lunch we had a muddy ascent, grassland, but muddy as hell. As I approached it, I wondered how well the Batt X-Terrain would hold up, given my previous wet scenarios, but the aggressive tread pattern dug into the turf and navigating up the hill was done with ease.
We had a nice little lunch next to the pool, and continued back to Hogsback, riding the same route we did the morning, but only in reverse.
Getting Back early, allowed us to complete some bike maintenance, such as washing air filters, lubing the chains and some other little maintenance necessities.
At dinner we were advised that it may rain the next day, but with stars that bright, none of us had reason to believe the locals.
Day 3 – Rally Raid 1
Due to expected rain in the afternoon, the organisers opted to reverse the loop for the day.
Our group was one rider lighter, due to a cracked oil cooler from the day before, but around 8h30 we set off once more, for what would be our final day of adventure riding, before we had to head home.
With a reversed route, we headed straight into the woods, with some very sketchy and slippery single tracks and a nice little log jump. Just after the log, we crossed a little river that made a beautiful waterfall, a great photo opportunity. Here the group took some photos before proceeding on route.
Close to the Mnyameni dam, we exited the woods onto a nice gravel road, which allowed us to give our twin cylinders their all towards Keiskammahoek, however just before town Pierre hit a lurker with his rear wheel which saw him damage the sidewall. This would be our first and only puncture of the weekend, a bit unfortunate if you ask me.
I was waiting in the sun at the turnoff in Keiskammahoek; building up a bit of a thirst before the group decided to send some riders to inform me.
Thinking back to the first day where I realized that we should give all adventurers the opportunity to face their own challenges, they would soon have the skill to convert a tubeless rear to a tube rear, that took more than an hour. It was not until a well known enduro rider from Bloemfontein, Jaco Kruger, assisted that the job was completed with success. I am a firm believer that eight mechanics on one wheel is more of a challenge than a blessing. With the wheel fixed, the group caught up to us.
Lunch was next on the agenda at Old Thomas River, a really nice spot where you should take your family if you are ever in the area.
We arrived at lunch, not last, but towards the back of the pack. We spoke to Mike Glover at lunch and even though he cautioned us on the auxiliary route, we set off to complete it.
At the furthest point of the auxiliary loop, the Extreme loop would start, but tracks were non-existent at this point. Initial thoughts were to do it anti-clockwise to ensure that we compete the biggest climbs prior to the rain pouring down on us, but about a quarter of the way up, most of the group had turned around, leaving five riders being myself, Pierre, Emilie, Jace and Warren on his GS.
A technical climb of note, the most technical for the five of us over the weekend, but it went relatively smoothly, with an incident here and there and feelings of being a mere passenger at times, made it about 80% of the way up the mountain. At this point in time, it was raining quite badly, and thunder was striking at the top of the mountain.
Pierre being a paraglider of note made the call that we should turn around due to the thunder, not sure if he just made up his stories, but it ended up being the right call.
All we had to do now was decent the same path, which was wet and slippery due to the rain, finish the auxiliary loop and continue back to Hogsback.
With a fragmented group, we all started heading back to Hogsback, but the KTM 990 R with a mere 97 000km decided that its clutch had had enough. This resulted in Dirk nursing it back with Derick supporting him, while Riaan chose not to stick to the group and continue on his own. Needless to say, we were all back in Hogsback safely for an extended period of time before Riaan arrived, he remains adamant that many of us did not finish the loop, while others believe he just got lost…
A great weekend out with my mates.
Feedback from the riders using the Batt X-Terrain
John – I enjoy using the Batt X-Terrain on my middleweight KTM and with the price tag, it makes it easy to justify. Yes, in the wet I had a couple of moments, but nothing too concerning. Having previous experience with the tyre in sandy conditions, I know what it can do and I am happy to continue to use it.
Chris – Grippy and it last well for a tyre with such an aggressive pattern.
Riaan – It has grip so good, even the Mozambique market wants to test it in their own sandy conditions (Bear in mind that his bike was stolen a mere two days after the event and given that it was a KTM 1090 R, we can only assume they wanted the tyre and not the bike.)
Dirk – Tested it in all elements – good in sand, lots of grip on rocks, great in mud. Traction very good with the aggressive profile.
Pierre – Good traction, was a tad Batt”ered” after going a bit hooligan in rocks but still in good enough shape, no cuts. Sidewall too soft. Road noise no problem. Great value for money.
Emile – For sure, good value for money compared to traditional brands. Overall performance is up to par with the other brands over different surfaces. Concerns are the sidewall posing a risk on longer and un-supported trips and seems like the tyre is getting harder as it wears down. I will definitely fit it again for local rides due to the price point and performance.
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