Leaf Blowers and the KTM 800 Adventure

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I like to think of myself as a bit of a greenie. But then again I like tearing through the forests on a motorcycle as small furry marsupials run for cover. However, when I’m not riding I like to potter in the garden and empty the mind of all things that have deadlines. More to the point, I prefer to use a broom as opposed to a two stroke blower. The damn things are offensively noisey and the weapon of choice of a lazy gardener.  I inherited one of the fore mentioned apparatus about a year ago but I refused to use it as they’re noisy and just blow rubbish from one spot to the other and back.

However, last winter I went over to the darkside. Having moved house six months ago I now have two large deciduous trees in the back yard. This year I found myself wading waist deep through autumn leaves which played havoc with my bike washing duties. It’s at those times that mysterious lights shine down on the solution and the McCulloch leaf blower seemed strangely illuminated and I felt strangely compelled to bring it down from the top of the tool cupboard.

Giving up my prejudices I first got familiar with the controls. An on/off switch and what appeared to be a throttle control with a turtle icon at one end and a rabbit at the other. I think they have the same thing on ag bikes. Fresh fuel in, bit of choke, a few pulls on the starter and she fired into life. Not bad considering it hadn’t been started for five years.

The torque of the engine twisted the thing in my hand which was probably aided by the thrust from the nozzle. Like an unfamiliar motorcycle its wise to do a couple of laps at half pace to get a feel for its handling and power. It turned out to be quite a weapon and after flipping over a couple of pot plants I knew I had to treat it with respect.

Once I felt confident I worked out my strategy working my down the yard the corner where I could gather the leaves and dispose of them into the green bin in a minimum of time. With gardening gloves, appropriate eye protection and fluffy ear muffs I assumed an attack stance, fired her up and for the first time, pushed the throttle to full.

Unexpectedly all hell broke loose. I’d totally underestimated the thrust and immediately started blowing objects about the backyard. The majority of leaves blew straight into the pool which now looked like a big bowl potpurri. As I steered the blower around Chloe, our long haired Golden Retriever, came out to see what was going on. Leaning into the blast you could here her nails scrapping along the paving bricks and her top lip flapped at her eyeballs. Unfortunately, I didn’t spot the dog droppings, which was flung at the back screen door and peppered the china cabinet across the room. Just before I had a chance to pull back the throttle I saw the cat clear the back fence totally inverted on its way into the neighbours yard. As the dust settled I realised that there’s no substitute for power. Sure it can get out of hand occasionally but when you want the job done properly and applied correctly there’s nothing better.

So it was pretty disappointing when the organisers of the Dakar Rally in South America announced the restriction of the engine capacity to 450cc. Totally out of the blue, it was announced with only six months before the event when teams are well and truly into their preparation. Even worse the impact of that is that KTM (back then) withdrew their teams from the event. So what impact might that have on the sport, and worse, on the development of the KTM 690 Adventure.

The Dakar fostered the origins of the adventure bike movement today and is the development test bed of the bikes we ride today. So what did that mean to the future of the KTM 690 Adventure? Since the last production run of the 640 Adventure loyalists have been screaming out for an update ever since. We always thought a 690 Enduro would eventually turn up but in the meantime KTM fans have had to rely on expensive rally kits from Rally Raid, Perfect Fairings and our home grown KTM 700RR.

But will it be the 690 V-Twin everybody has been expecting? Back in February 2014 KTM CEO Stefan Pierer said the Austrian firm has 500cc and 800cc parallel-twin engines in development. Recently we spoke to a KTM representative in Australia and his informed opinion is that the new adventure model will, in fact, be a 800cc parallel twin.

Given the monsters KTM have been dishing up to the adventure market a mid weight 800 will be warmly received, not only by KTM fans but also by the dual sport fraternity in general.

KTM 700 RR - photo courtesy of Danny Wilkinson.

KTM 700 RR - photo courtesy of Danny Wilkinson.

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