Back in July 2012 I committed what some people regard as being the ultimate sin, I bought a new make of trials bike. Sure there had been a 2012 bike, but this was still a brand new marque and very few had made their way into the UK. I'd never seen one here apart from the unveiling at the classic Telford show .
Its paid off and I haven't looked back for one second and thought I should have got another make.
These are in my opinion the best trials bikes out there. They look top quality and far more trick and up market than the other bikes you can buy. When you swing your leg over, the bike feels so light. The engine is a grunty engine. Its not zippy at all. You know its a 300 as the grunt low down is there and you can pull high gears searching for grip. And, it'll find grip easily. It always does.
On one occasion last weekend I turned a sharp right hand bend at the bottom of a bank. The whole area was covered in muddy slush. There was no grip and others had been struggling there. By mistake my back wheel dropped into a tractor wheel track and my front wheel was out of the rut, so I was crabbing along. My back wheel was in the deep mud. I was in third and feeling the clutch out gently, I gave it some revs and it gripped itself out brilliantly pulling me to the top of the climb with no bother.
At the top other riders were watching and one very experienced and pretty handy rider said to me "bloody hell, that bike grips, I thought you were in trouble there".
I rode a newish 250 Sherco the same day in these slippy clay conditions. All day I had been finding grip with no problem. It felt great, but in the mud just off the bottom of the rev range the bike increases its revs disproportionately to the amount of the throttle I had given it. It was as if was coming on song just slightly and just a bit revvy. Well, this tiny bit of loss of control was enough to send the back wheel spinning. I noticed the difference immediately. The engine was peakier than the Jotagas and in my opinion the tuning was no where as good for intermediate trials riding which is the class I ride.
I've ridden Beta 250's and they do have a good engine and tuning, but for me I find the whole Beta brand a bit boring. This is because they are good and everyone has them, so its a compliment. 2013 250 Beta's have a flat engine that's great for finding grip. They're ace bikes but not for me.
I like my bikes Spanish and different from the crowd.
I run the Jotagas on 70/1 fully synthetic and it seems perfect. I get no dribble from the exhaust and it revs cleanly. The engine is as quiet as the day I got it. At the trial last weekend I had a motorcycle dealer come ever to me as bend down to listen to the engine. He remarked on how mechanically quiet it was. It doesn't have a bit of clutch clatter when the lever is let go of, but the Gasser has this as do the others. Contrast that to the Sherco with piston slap on the down rev (but sure it was older). The Jotagas revs well and then doesn't rev any more than you tell it to via your right hand. I'd say it doesn't rev as high as some bikes out there but this doesn't effect me at all as I'm never up there revving the absolute hell out of it on full throttle and this might only concern someone hitting 6 foot steps and splatting. Saying that, Ross Danby gets on with it and Pol did until Jotagas pulled in their reigns. This was a wise move. Every Jotagas made is taken for and sold, so what is the point of spending approx 60,000 euros each year on the WC .
Anyway - back to the bike :)
The Jotagas handles brilliantly. It is so light. It feels like a push bike. The suspension is lively but damped. It helps you bounce but Its not like a complete pogo stick, but who wants that, throwing you off line. The brakes are amazing and will stop you on a sixpence with a tiny amount of lever movement.
If your riding in sticky leafy mud it does tend to gather under the air box on the swinging arm. It doesn't stop the rear wheel turning, but you can feel the extra weight and it robs you of power. I had to poke it out once with a stick at my last trial. I'm paying some thought to this to stop this happening.
The handlebars are about 1 inch wider than I would like them. They are fine, but they are 1 inch wider than the standard Beta. When I change the S3 grips I'll cut the bars down as they don't need to be this wide and as sections are tight down south twiddling through trees, they could rob me of a mark.
On thing I should mention is that the Michelin X lite tyres are standing up brilliantly and hardly show any wear after 12 or so events. There's a bit a wear on the leading edge but hardly any. This goes somewhere to proving the bike grips and doesn't spin tearing the tyre. The sprockets have no wear and the chain hasn't stretched.