Off-roading with BMF Corporate Member MotoScotland
I don’t normally ride off-road. The bikes I ride are designed for the tarmac, so going off-road has never been an option for me.
The fact that MotoScotland offer “everything you need” for an off-road experience was therefore an attraction to have a go. The booking process is simple and straightforward.
The drive down to Inveraray was wet, but when I arrived at Moto Scotland – which nestles in the bosom of the Argyll Estate at Inveraray, with the wonderful InverararyCastle as a backdrop – the weather was much dryer and more pleasant.
The west coast of Scotland has some of the best weather Scotland can deliver and, when it’s good, its gloriously good.
I had driven down with a fellow IAM Observer,
Eddie McCann from Glasgow North IAM Group, and we were warmly greeted by Clive Rumbold – the owner of MotoScotland – who, after brief introductions, showed us where we could change out of our road riding gear into the off-road gear they provide.
Everything we needed was laid out based on the sizes we had given when the booking was made on the website. All the gear fitted well. I’m not used to off-roading so the gear took a bit of getting used to. However, within a few minutes of walking around with it all on, it started to feel normal.
Clive Rumbold takes off-road motorcycling seriously. He emphasised that we were all there to have fun… but safely. Clive gave us a very thorough briefing which covered the range of activities that we would be doing as well as covering all of the safety aspects of riding off-road bikes in an off-road and on-road environment.
We were then introduced to the bikes themselves. This was no ordinary introduction, but a proper “get to know your machine” and how to handle it before you get on it. Much of this took some in the group out of their comfort zone, but the overall benefit of being confident in the handling of a static bike and moving round the bike before you mount it or start the engine was a benefit that we all enjoyed later when we were on the roads and tracks around the Inveraray Estate.
The bikes themselves are stock BMW G650s with the most vulnerable bits (mirrors, indicators and screens) removed.
Once on the road, this reminded me of my early days of riding bikes when it was normal not to have mirrors or indicators. If you wanted to see behind, you had to turn your head quite far round to do so, and if you wanted to tell someone where you were going you had to stick your arms out.
After refuelling down at the local petrol station we headed along the main road and then off into the private roads and lanes that belong to the Estate. As the roads are private, there is nothing like the traffic that you get on the public road. Apart from a delivery van and a couple of parked vehicles, there was nothing else on the roads. The lack of traffic allowed us to practise the various manoeuvers that Clive had briefed us on, while we travelled up to a rather large quarry where we had some serious fun.
What MotoScotland teach is a skill set that builds confidence in the rider. The course teaches self-confidence as well as the confidence and ability to push the boundaries in handling the bike.
That skill set and confidence gained from the off-road riding course are directly transferable to on-road skills, which is where most of us ride.
In the quarry we learned how to handle the bikes at slow speed, riding in ever decreasing circles. After this we learned how to control the bike, first with the back and then, later, the front wheel locked up. That was something quite awesome!
For me the most fun was locking up the front wheel. I went a bit too fast, but managed to keep the machine upright.
Perhaps upright is not quite the right description as I did manage to get it to stage
4: wallowing. Clive will explain all that to you after you have made your booking.
The bikes are light enough that they can be picked up by one person should you drop yours. Indeed, learning how to pick the bike up is one of the first lessons that we did once we got to the quarry. Learning how to lift a fallen bike is a skill that applies to any bike anywhere.
Out and about
We ended the day with an excursion onto some of the trails and logging roads in another part of the Inveraray Estate where we could practise the skills we had learned in the earlier part of the day.
The whole day was a huge amount of fun and all of us arrived back at base with wide grins – each of us having learned something new about ourselves and about riding.
We all had a new confidence in our abilities to ride off-road. I would strongly recommend MotoScotland. Whether you are a novice off-roader – like me – or already adept, Clive and MotoScotland can take you to a higher level of ability.
The organisation is run in a very professional way by Clive and his team. Clive himself is a passionate rider who has a great ability to impart his knowledge and skills in an unhurried and constructive manner.
If you want to learn some useful skills while having a lot of fun, book a weekend north of the border with MotoScotland – the experience of a lifetime.