2008 Black Duck Vinduro

[Thanks to Alex who sent in this report he wrote about the 2008 Black Duck Vinduro, and two photos from the event, ahead of the 2023 edition. It was originally posted on a Suzuki PE forum]

I finally found all my long lost torque! That's one thing I will discuss later on.

I turned up on Saturday afternoon at the site for this event to set up camp, and walk part of track that was the special test section in the creek gully. An old gold mining area from the 1850s many gullies have formed in the area from the mining activity and deforestation at the time.

The event was held on some private property of one of the members of the Classic Scrambles Club of Victoria. What a great event it was on the Sunday except for the rain that fell the night before and rain that came down about midday.

Saturday night was well organised with a great spit roast meal put on by the owners of the property enjoyed by many of the riders turning up the night before. A nice size campfire was roaring outside the house and with the Parc Ferme under lights lots of con

But by about 7.30pm the wind blew in and minutes later the rain started falling so it was on with the Driasabone and Akubra hat standing around the fire talking to the people who weren't going to let the rain, that was falling nice and steady, worry them to change their attitude about being out in the Australian bush.

I then went to see the boys from Wangaratta (about 8 of them) at their campsite, whom I bought those spanners from, and they were well into their supply of refreshments, standing around their own fire, with a small rivulet of water flowing through their fire, from the driving rain, into the gully that was the special test section for the next day. (it was totally dry the afternoon when I walked it!) Lots of tales and gossip was spread from the country boys about who is doing who and what, and everyone seems to know each others business in the country towns it seems. There we were all trying to solve the worlds problems when a clear plastic drink bottle was passed around and I took a swig and it was like my grandfathers Grappa. It was home distilled moonshine stuff that made my tonsils stand to attention. One of the guys squirted some on the fire and it made a HUGE fireball as it was 65 proof.

Talking and listening to guys around the main campfire, the bikes and knowledge some of these people have is amazing (And the enthusiasm for maintaining the history and operation of these bikes). Their collections are vast and the effort they go through to restore their bikes is unending. I can see why Fabrice from France for example thinks nothing of bringing a tool from a world away. "I bought an engine from Canada, and front forks from South Africa and frames from Norway" showed the length that one goes through to get their bike from a dream to reality.

I encourage everyone to attend these events as the networking you create is invaluable. The country boys dont throw away their old bikes! Especially one fella who fixes farm tractors has amounted vast collection of bikes, parts and junk over the years that he even has lost count of what he has. I recall that many wealthy farmers bought Huskies and KTM's back in the 70s as the importers promoted them as tax free for farm use if anyone recalls the ads in the bikemags of the time. So behind that AG175 might be something a bit more exotic.

I knocked off to my tent about 10:30pm and tried to get some sleep under the noise of the rain outside. The parties lasted till about 2am! Then the rain stopped about 4.30am.

Seven started to see people getting up and moving around, and finding some food. Like in typical Southern Hemisphere fashion a flood of cars and trailers rumbled in 5 minutes before the official start at just a little past 9am. It was great to see Tex turn up having recovered sufficiently to have a crack at the event with his PE175N.

The course wound over the undulating forested hills for a 16KM loop of single track. The day before I made the error of lowering my jet needle to the lowest point after reading one of the mag articles in an attempt to fix the poor midrange and lack of power. The bike (PE400X) on the first lap detonated severely and of course the transition from different throttle openings was poor with the bike stuttering and breaking up when trying to wind it out. I was not very happy and thought something major is wrong with the engine or stators whatever. At one stage i thought the bike would quit as it sounded like little men in the head with tiny hammers smashing away.

I had one guy come up behind me and i let him pass me and he was on a '75 DT250 with trials tyres and he zigged zag fantastically through the forest as his centre of gravity was very low to the ground. I caught up to him on a greasy hill and overtook him again.

There were 2 other 400Ts at this event (2 x 175Ns and NO 250s) and they went like hell, "Larry from Wagga Wagga NSW (with his flamed open face helmet) was keeping us entertained with long wheelies and drifts through the campground on the sat evening. He had an RM tank with aftermarket rear guard fitted and an RM80 muffler with a larger bore!. Also some low profile handlebars that made the bike look like kind of custom chopper from the front.

I pulled up in a town about 45Km from the event to check the bike straps as they appeared slack. Straight away behind me pulled up a Hiace pulling a trailer with XR200RB and an '79 XL500S. I went to their vehicle and they said if I knew where I am going as they were kinda lost fumbling around with his road atlas (Interstaters). I said to follow me and Larry said he has a PE400 in the back too. I said where I don't see it, its in the back of the van, "Really? I want to see it now!" so went out the back and opened up the door and besides one their buddies lying down on the floor amongst the camping and riding gear, and almost through his second 6 pack of Vic, was a PE400 in fairly good nick.

Larry couldn't believe of the coincidence of 3 x 400s at one event when back in the days he recalls he never saw one but saw swarms of 175s and 250s. I keep asking myself too where are all these 100s of 175/250Ts that were sold?

Eugene from Woodend turned up with his 400 that had an aftermarket Elba headlight and guards front and rear. That bike sounded great and pulled long roosts at the top of every gear change when he took it for a shakedown run through the camp.

So, I came back to the pits after my first lap and was considering just throwing the bike back up onto the trailer and calling it quits for the day.

After Eugene came back I told him how bad my bike ran so he took it up the road for a spin and came back and said the bike doesn't go nowhere as crisp and nice as his. "Just totally different" shaking his head. "Must be all carboned up inside!"

Eugene and his workmates were camped next to me and Chris an expat New Zealander who came along to see what this vinduro thing was all about (He is restoring an '81 KDX175), said that my carb was running way too lean and that I shouldn't have lowered the needle so much. He said raise the needle to the second notch from the lowest position and "also try winding out the idle screw even up to 3.5 turns from closed, the 1.5 turns is only the factory setting". So I pulled it apart and did that (I just turned the screw out 2 turns), started the bike and it was an entirely new machine from that moment onwards. It wound out crisply and buzzed all the way to the top end that it has never done before. No detonation, no running on after closing the throttle and I came back and said it was a new bike. No more staggering, popping and crackling, just a smooth clean rise in revs. I was wrapt! I might take it to its highest setting and see if it gets better or worse. I will also now reduce the main jet size from the 310 back to the stock 300 or even the 290 (which came with the bike when i got it, so the first owner knew something) as recommended in one of the mag tests as i was enriching the wrong circuit. It should pull even cleaner.

I was now anxious to get back out onto the track for my 2nd run. I would go out with Chris on Eugene's 400 when Peter came back after going for a lap on it. Pics of Pete physically stuffed and bogged in the special test gully section below.

At this point it started to rain again but neither of us cared (least the New Zealander from Dunedin who would mostly ride in the rain and snow)and we set off for the checkpoint and took off up the track and I just left it in 3rd gear (and as the Trail and Trail article once said, leave in 3rd gear and use it like an automatic) and this is what i did. It just accelerated away from low revs and pulled like my old XR350s even better now that i look back! I was just so happy, with the engine zapping on with no issues. The corners came up far too quick and I had to really concentrate 100% with no mind wandering allowed or it was into a tree. With all the other mods I have done to the engine and exhaust the bike had way too much wasted power now I thought. I will never use it all unless I am out in the desert race. I never touched 4th and 5th as it was a moderate tight to open terrain and now top gear WOT would be frightening. Just twist the grip before the mudholes and ruts and through you go without any worry as before it would hesitate and you couldn't get power on in that instant when you came across an obstacle unexpectedly.

I let Chris get some distance from me to stop being covered in mud from his roosts. (Our bikes were fairly mud encrusted from our first lap) It started to rain in earnest half way through the lap and water was running down the single track and my front at times was virtually aquaplaning. All I can say is thank God I fitted that Michelin S12 on the rear a few days before as it acted like a tractor tyre to come out of the creek beds (Practically vertical ruts that caught many guys out) that became some of the worst situations I had ridden in. With the matching front it hung around the corners really well. Ran about 8-9PSI for the event. Larry the other 400T rider came up to me and said "It was hard to get traction out there and my bike was going all over the place", and I asked him what pressure he ran and he said 18PSI, and I said to lower it to 8 as it is waaay too high and see the difference.

"Oh but I don't want to get flats on the rocky parts"

"No you wont that is what I am running and I didnt get any punctures"

I saw him a little later and he said he lowered it down a little bit, but didn't know as he didn't use a gauge, perhaps to 15!

The special test that Peter Drakeford (the event organiser) threw in was a creek gully that on the Saturday was DRY, but it rained on the night before leaving some nice puddles and slippery boggy sections. It was the choice of whether you plow through the bottom middle through the creek bed (easiest, but looked hardest due to the mud and water) or find a line up the sides. It caught lots of riders unawares and to get into the creek bed was a vertical drop straight in and you had to do a complete right lock to then aim yourself up the creek as you hit the creek bed and immediately nail it to prevent your self from getting bogged. A queue of bikes was at the start as riders got stuck in mud and couldn't turn their bikes quick enough.

I have photos uploaded of Eugene's bike with his mate Peter on it, completely exhausted where I had to lift the bike off him as he was pinned against the wall of the creek not having any energy left to get himself up. Also note the broken aftermarket front guard. Seconds later an IT175 rider fell over and his chain derailed and bunched itself up around the countershaft sprocket and rear hub. I pushed him off the track to let other riders come through.

I then watched Steve Juzva (One of Victoria's top enduro riders from the late 70s and 80s, and owner of the property where the Castella Vinduro was held) attack the creek and it shows the winning style you need to succeed as he literally "bashed" his 78 125 Husky up that creek bed over obstacles that I purred over in comparison. That style of bashing bikes and bodies over terrain is long gone in my character but that's why these guys were front runners at the time. They knew of the secret of removing all fear and doubt.

Steve had part of of his collection there (No Maicos this time) an Ossa 250 Super Pioneer and another '81 KTM 125 that was the Late Geoff Eldridge's A4DE class winning bike. Talking to Steve the night before, he said he started on PE's and said his 250B was a rocket ship, he loved it but then when he took his 250C to Stackers Motorcycles (Maico importers) to get fixed they couldn't fix it in time for the next ride so gave him a Maico to ride and from that moment on was hooked. His comments was that the PE's are great to ride them up to a certain level of aggression and speed then they cannot keep up with giving you more handling, and that's when you may lose control, come off or spear off the track. The Maico and other European brands allow you to go faster and better for longer without tiring you out. That may be so I said with the suspension of the day and my bike went so well, especially with the suspension I have on it now would be as good as any of the European bikes of that day. Of course once I started mentioning things like the unreliability of the Motoplat ignitions etc on Maicos he sort of fell silent turning them in "Maygos".

One of the most interesting bikes there (Apart from all of them that turned up, like those wonderful looking last production Rotax powered Can-Ams) was a '62 Greeves that was either a 250 or 360 and it was great to the see the owner riding it (with a inch of rear travel and those unusual cantilever forks) the barrel fins were really thick on this 2 stroke engine. The other was a WW2 BSA 350 Army bike with knobbies and BSA B50 that to me looked a lot like a CCM, perhaps it was a bitzer? The owner was not there for me to talk to him, but when that bike took off from the checkpoint he took off in second gear and the acceleration was astounding. It sounded bloody marvellous too.

I came back from my second lap and it was pouring rain so it was up onto the trailer, and nothing like packing up and getting changed under the rain. My tent, sleeping bag and mattress were drenched. The course was shut by the marshals at 1:30 anyway due to the rain. Pity as we would have liked to have done another 1-2 laps. It took about 45 minutes to do a lap.

I was gone by just after 2pm and didnt hang around for the presentation or final farewells by the organisers as I had a lot to do at home and to prepare for an overseas trip on Wednesday. I did thank Peter Drakeford personally before I left and told him what a great course it was.

My old 1982 Gaerne boots have done their last ride, so now to bite the bullet and reluctantly buy new boots. The leather has softened and offer little protection now to crushed toes and I cut the sides open on my footpegs during kickstarting. Those stumps and rocks on the course were menacing too close for comfort at times.

So already now in Victoria we have 3 events that cater for non competitive vinduros. These events are also inspirational as I once thought that I "was long gone" and "too old" for dirt bikes. People said a few years back when I expressed a desire to get back into dirt bikes.

"You turned 40 you are no longer 21."

"Ok I will place an order for a Mobility Scooter next month"

As one guy said on the weekend, "Some of these men ride better than they can talk through their dentures".

The Black Duck Vinduro was absolutely my cup of tea.