Well known for trials bikes, Spanish motorcycle manufacturer Montesa, has made the apparently small step to make a trail bike….
Well known for trials bikes, Spanish motorcycle manufacturer Montesa, has made the apparently small step to make a trail bike. That small but significant change of word also represents a small but significant change to the basic 4RT trials bike to become the 4Ride.
The groundwork: Honda’s 4Ride is nothing new and follows a trend tapped into by KTM with the Freeride or Sherco’s X-Ride. Italian firm Beta also have the Alp and Gas Gas the Pampera lurking in their back catalogues. These are bikes which work fine simply as trail bikes but also give you greater options if you want to try something a little more technical without being put off because you don’t think you can handle it (or indeed think your 450 enduro bike would be too much doing it). User friendly the 4Ride surely is.
In the broader context of trail riding clearly you wouldn’t want to go far on a trials bike. But if the seat were comfortable and the geometry tweaked enough to be accommodating, wouldn’t a bike like this be easier to ride, handle and possibly be more fun? Yessir.
Wider and higher footrests are positioned further forward, the bars also go higher and wider to subtly change the riding position from trials to trail in both standing and sitting positions. 24mm more suspension travel and 30mm larger brake discs help the 4Ride work more realistically for non-trials riders. With a moderate seat height 885mm, a mere 85kg weight, steering lock like nothing else in the non-rials bike market (significantly better than KTM’s Freeride), space under the seat and a linear power delivery soft enough to scoop you along any kind of technical terrain the 4Ride makes trails take on a new light. Certainly it’s true to say for many the step to an enduro machine is a step too far. The 4Ride’s skill is to come back towards you a step or two.
I have nothing against KTM’s Freeride but I’m not alone in wondering if it couldn’t be a little more specific. It seems harsh to write but it isn’t quite defined enough as a thing. The 4Ride, though its ‘thing’ is fairly narrow in outlook, is at least sure of its purpose and intentions. It’s not just a trials bike with a seat but an easy to use trail bike.
Is it any good as a trials bike? Not bad, and surprisingly good if you sit down too. It could easily be ridden to a local club trial to compete, then ride home again like the old folks used to in them olden days. At least one of the Montesa test team is a Scottish Six Days Trial regular and he’s entered a 4Ride in the 2016 event. We’ll see how he gets on but he must know what he’s doing.
What is Montesa’s 4Ride all about? A soft trail, freeriding, easy-riding, trail riding kind of a thing. There’s a pattern emerging with this style of gentle trail bike, if not in name alone then surely in the question of potential customer.
Who will buy this bike? A day on Catalan trails proves the bike’s got skills. Easy riding skills that is, ready to take you up any sort of trail no matter how narrow or technical. And being undoubting and encouraging is a skill in world where people are easily put off enduro bikes for life because their first taste is of a tall, razor-sharp vicious thing they can’t handle or get their heads around. No fear of being put off bikes with this little fella.
Tracks and trails don’t have to be ridden flat-out, if that’s your thing then go elsewhere, choose another bike. See the trail with wider eyes, look at any technical nuggets which litter every trail as little places to play on instead of things to avoid, and the world changes slightly.
£6299 is a lot of money for a fun bike but some people spend that on a bicycle – and that surely is madness. Inoffensive, easy to maintain, soft and enjoyable this is the 4Ride. Revved flat-out you barely make birds turn their heads let alone offend the non-motorised outdoor types. Whoever this bike is aimed at, and it may be you, chances are you’ll enjoy the ride.
Engine Liquid-cooled, SOHC single
Transmission 5-speed, chain
Seat height 885mm
Tank size 4.4l (75mile range approx.)
What else is out there?
Your options grow wider with every year as manufacturers twist the mold to create more user-friendly off-roaders.
Sherco 290 X-Ride £4999
Spanish firm Sherco’s X-Ride has been around for a couple of years but follows a similar set of rules as the 4Ride: trials bike basically with a built-up seat, bigger brakes and a two-stroke engine. sherco.com
KTM Freeride 350 £6499
We couldn’t not compare the 4Ride with the Freeride. KTM’s concept turned real has helped as much as any bike to plug the gap for those wanting off-road riding and novices. Less capable as a trials bike than its rivals here. ktm.com