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In my not-so-youth I dabbled in a bit of off-road scrambling. You reach an age when you can afford the toys, even though you don’t have the physical strength and skills of the youngsters, who shake their heads as they watch you offload bikes they’d love to ride — and do a much better job than you can. So what. I bought my first off-road motorbike about 30 years ago (yes, I know) in Cape Town. It was a Honda XR600R – a real thumper you had to kick-start (electric starts are for sissies). But it could just about scramble up a cliff face and was not scared of rocks that other, lesser bikes stumbled over. The reason is quite simple. The XR600R had serious forward thrust. I’ve still got it — it lives on a farm, and though it takes a few more kicks to get it going nowadays, it eventually starts. It’s never been for a service and doesn’t have a battery that can go flat. We’re friends; it’ll live longer than I will. I have friends with similar attributes. The power-to-weight ratio of scramb...

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