A gymkhana is a closed course with different types of obstacles that riders need to pass through in the shortest duration possible. A conventional gymkhana mainly involves cones placed in different layouts and at varying distances on a road-like surface. However, the off-road gymkhana created at the Pro Dirt Adventure Park is made up of a variety of hurdles like gigantic tyres, barrel humps, sharp stones, and logs.
Before riding through the course, we had ample time to do a close inspection. A quick walkaround and I was profoundly nervous, given my lack of off-road riding skills and experience. The first lane, in particular, looked scary for it involved riding over huge truck tyres. However, the Xpulse’s incredible suspension travel with large wheels turned out to be a saviour. Following Vikrant’s instructions, I gave full gas while ascending over the tyres through a wooden plank and it ran over with ease. Although I landed on the front almost every time and bottomed out the front, the Xpulse took it all in its stride without a hiccup.
Switching to the second lane involved taking a sharp U-turn. Now, I haven’t mastered full-lock turns but leaning the Xpulse and turning it around slowly was easy, thanks to its tight turning radius. Plus, the light clutch and linear throttle response meant abrupt acceleration and stalling the bike were rare occurrences.
Once turned around, it was time to take on the stone-filled block. Mind you, these stones were large enough to shake up the entire bike along with the rider, causing a fall. But again, going full gas was the most effective resort. The field of vision too played an important role. As Pratheek told me, approaching the stones while looking at them will only cause panic and is risky. Hence, I went over them accelerating and looking straight to the other side of the block.
The Xpulse’s incredible damping meant the front soaked it all in, without losing composure. Even the high ground clearance prevented the underbelly from scraping. Moreover, I could easily go through the stones in second gear without slipping the clutch, courtesy of its decent low-end torque delivery. It was a similar story while passing over barrel humps. All I had to do was stay loose on the bars and grip the fuel tank with my knees, which, by the way, was easy, given the narrow mid-section of the bike. That said, I just wished it was equipped with handlebar risers. With my almost six-feet stature, I had to bend down quite a bit to reach the bars.
Next up was riding over a pair of narrow and almost seven-feet-long wooden beams. This was more of a test of the rider’s skills. And yours truly started getting it right after a few attempts. Again, it’s all about the vision — as soon as your front wheel climbs up the entry, start looking at the end of the beam and you shall pass, which I did a couple of times.
The last lane had logs to jump over which was the easiest and most fun. While going fast needed some grit and expertise, I opted to go slow and jump the bike high which lifted both my self-esteem and drama in pictures. The trick was to reach the log slowly and as soon as the front wheel is about to touch the log, go full gas! The bike takes off like an aeroplane and lands on the rear.