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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Greece Blue Sky Sea Mountains

01:46
How can I describe beauty in words? Sometimes, I witness the most breathtaking images in our rides and I am searching of the right words to describe them. Most of the case can't find any, trust me I am not poor in words, its the magnificence of the image that rises the standards.


Sometimes, I witness the most 
breathtaking images in our rides

Our city Kavala, is an area of great history and tradition. The majority of the areas we ride, is used from the local populations some thousands years ago. We ride after all in the same territory where prehistoric habitants decided to occupy due to the territorial benefits, weather and geopolitical conditions since the Neolithic ages.



Typical Arc Shape Bridge
Sights like the picture below is typical, plenty and often in our rides. Built decades or centuries ago, these bridges are made to last the weight of tons on them. They supported the transportation of armies, horses, canons, animals, refugees of war, immigrants  and so many others according to the historical data of the area than standing next to them makes you feel insignificant. 

Always respect locals

A herd of sheep and a shepherd is also a common and often sight. Growing a herd of sheep was a major occupation and still is in the villages around. Lately, with the increased demand on organic and local products, in combination with the economic crisis in the EU people turn to this profession more and more each year. 

The Monastery of "Prasinada"
White churches with blue round roofs and bell tops. Every city has tens in it, but the most beautiful and meaningful can be found on the mountains. If you pay a close look at the image above, you will see that there is a construction at the edge of a rock, but the real monastery lies right below the trees and the rocky hill next to the church. An amazing construction in the middle of nowhere, where your mind can use the quietness to seek and meditate. If you believe in God, well, this is the place to communicate with the Boss. 


━━━━━━━━━━━
If you believe in God, well, 
this is the place to communicate 
with the Boss.
━━━━━━━━━━━

The heights of the mountain in our area lies from 600m to 1990m with an average of a 1000m in various peaks. Lekani mountains, Pangeo mountains, Symvolo mountains and so many others around the city, turns the area to an enduro paradise with all sorts of terrain for every rider, entry level riding to extreme enduro guys will be left absolutely satisfied by the length of the trails and the difficulty or the ease depending on the levels wanted. 

Self made bridge on destroyed trail
Water is everywhere around. Streams, rivers, lakes, waterfalls big or small will occupy your pictures. We stop in every chance to enjoy water during spring, fall and summer but we strongly avoid getting wet the winter months due to its temperature and the fact that no one wants to ride with wet boots on a chilly afternoon. 

Our dear friend Con in love with the river
Our dear friend Sandro drinking from the spring
The weather is nice. Lately we are witnessing changes that our elders call them natural phenomena. Winters are short but colder, summer is also short and cooler and spring and autumn longer and naturally warm in reasonable levels. Snow is often but not for long, enough for having some fun snow rides.

Snow rides
Wildlife is plenty around our rides. Domestic animals, dogs and cats make their presence often while wild animals like hogs, hawks, horses, foxes, rabbits, deers, bears and wolfs will constantly leave their marks or rarely be visible during riding. 


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Bears and wolfs will constantly 
leave their marks or rarely 
be visible during riding. 
━━━━━━━━━━━



A baby rabbit

Salamander
Nope we did not eat it, just pet it and let it go

We respect nature as we respect our mother. It is hard to understand our relationship with the life around us on these mountains. We are the strangers there, so we make sure we leave no mark, no damage and hassle. We also ask our riders to show the same respect, otherwise the images we admire, soon there be no longer available. 


━━━━━━━━━━━
It is hard to understand our 
relationship with the life 
around us on these mountains 
━━━━━━━━━━━

So with a total respect in nature, co ordinated with the wishes of our riders, we designed and planned routes that will cover all tastes in riding, sightseeing, experiences, tastes and everything else that an enduro rider seeks in his journeys.

This is North Star, this is enduro on the Greek mountains. 


Monday, 3 April 2017

Enduro Training App, yes we are making it.

00:09

↮ Train at home ↮



Evi is the model performing all exercises  

Within the next few days, you will be able to purchase online an app, that will guide you in detail through a group of exercises designed to improve your riding skills. 

First of all, enduro is an extreme sport and If you want to perform in this, you need to support your rides with extra body training. And this is actually the purpose of our app. To prepare your muscles and make them flexible so they perform in this demanding sport.  So again riding enduro is really an extreme sport, Of course you can take it easy and do only flat roads and ride in safe terrain but if you keep up riding you will soon end up in steep uphills, trails and rocky river beds and that's a promise. Isn't this an awesome way to stay fit and healthy? The training you will receive during your rides is an excellent way to keep you body in a good shape. But what other benefits you get when you devote your weekends on those two wonderful wheels?

Our application is here to help you additionally by preparing your body before your rides, make it strong and flexible in ways you will need in enduro riding, training your muscles in positions and angles needed to achieve better results with longer lasting strength and flexibility.

1. Go out: People of all ages can get up and get off their couches and go outside. Nature elements such as sunshine, rain, fresh air, images of nature  provides nutrients that help your body function at an optimal level and helps relieve stress




2. Burn Calories: Using your core, legs and arm muscles every single second trying to balance the motorcycle on rocks, jumps, turns, uphills and downhills,  demands great energy consumption and lots of muscle burns. Taking a wild guess we would say you can easily burn 900-1200 on an average ride keeping a heart rate average of 130 bpm.



3. Increased Heart rate: Riding an enduro bike is similar to jogging or bicycling. You can easily keep a pace of 130 bpm and rise to 180 bpm when you hit and obstacle, or called to ride a steep uphill. Your heart will pump blood harder during most of your ride, flooding those fatigued muscles continuously. 



4. Increased Focus: Most of the times during your rides you need to be constantly watching your surrounding environment for dangers, alternative routes, tracks you have to choose and difficulty level so you prepare mentally. Your brain is active all the time making thousands of calculations on physics concerning your ride and thoughts on making it happen. 



5. Increased strength: After a couple of rides, you will feel your body stiff and your muscles growing stronger on parts of your body you would never believe you could exercise. Lifting your bike from the ground will soon give the feeling you have an iron back, while trying to stick on the steering bar all the time is similar to making push ups all day. Your legs will work out 100% during riding, using all their muscles. Your chest is going to take all the power of the obstacles your motorcycle hits and defend your body against them. Total body workout. 

6. Balance: You will need to balance and improve your skills at it. Using mostly your leg muscles when you ride and all your body trying to stay on the bike, varies muscles will be tighter improving your balance skills. 

The amount of continuous time spent on your dirt bike will help improve your cardiovascular health by improving your endurance.
7. Endurance: You improve your cardiovascular health by riding and so you get better endurance. The more you ride, the more you achieve better results in these. Let's say you ride for an hour, you use your arms, legs, chest and back continuously all that time, improving also your cardiovascular performance. The combination is a  unique form of exercise that makes your body able to perform under the most weird circumstances. 

8. Ride for an hour, its like attending the gym for an hour: You may thing its easy but, to pick up a bike from the ground, is actualy a variation of barbel deadlifts, and you can't cheat on the kgs. During the ride, you may do a thousand sit ups, and pulling or pushing the steering bar, some hundred of reps of bench presses or seated rows. You will need to push the bike uphill, you will need to stretch and 

9. You will be fir and healthy, again, it's not an easy sport and most of people don't realise the amount of muscle energy needed to complete a ride. Using your core muscles, your legs and arms, your chest and back in every ride will only bring healthy benefits. 

10. Improved posture: You need to create a perfect posture on the bike to perform and this will be achieved only by riding and trying to improve your riding style and techniques. When you achieve this, then you will use it in the gym, bicycling and other activities improving your performance also. 

And here is a sneak peek:

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Enduro Cabins

10:04

 Enduro Cabins ⟿
Time to dream big

Photo from the web but also our actual plan !!!

Latest news on our activities, is that apart from the purchase of new fleet , renovation of the HQ, trimming new trails and train like crazy in order to be able to guide the groups that start to show up here weekly, we also purchased a big piece of 💚 land 💛 in the woods, in one of our most beloved mountains of which the name is less significant right now, since its Greek, complicated and unknown.


NS Land
The trees you see in the photo above are Nut trees and we have approximately 30 in our land. On the right side there is water stream a couple of meters wide with some yearly nice flow of water that reduces the summer months and increases rapidly after fall. Water is freezing and pure, since I personally took samples to the chemist three times, three different seasons and the results came pure and safe, in one word "drinkable". 


Bikes among the Trees

The idea is to create an enduro shelter. A place that we will reach at the end of the first or second riding day. Reaching the area after a long days ride, the place has to be ideal for the rider to relax, has to offer warm water and a calm natural environment, cold beer and a steak, quite night sleep with the water of the stream to be the only sound that can annoy him.

A land full of water and ... nuts !!!
When you leave the hotel, you will have to pack a bag that our staff will bring it on the cabins so you find stuff you need for a night stay over on the mountain later. We are committed and devoted to make this an experience of a life time, having in mind that during your ride here, you need some calm nights on the mountains and some crazy city nights, you can have both.

Existing trails
We scouted years to locate the right land to do this. A place full of existing trails, great history and tradition as all Greece. The stone building you see in the middle of the picture was a Mill, milling flour that locals brought with the horses and the donkeys from the trail that you see on the left of the ruins. Imagine that in our area, there is a huge network of trails connecting villages and destinations that old people used to work and live. 

People usually ask me if enduro will be the only purpose of the cabins. My answer is no. We will make the cabins available to people that want to use them according to our rules to enjoy the land and nature. Enduro is our life and primary goal and purpose of the cabins though. 

Estimated completion of the project: October 2017

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

BETA RR 300 M.Y. 2017 OMG

10:08
You may thing the opposite, but our job is not easy. Its pleasant, but not easy. I know that you going to disagree, having in mind the saying that says, "make what you love a job and you will live happy all your life" but things are not covered in roses exactly here. 



Andreas unboxing


When you are a free rider, you don't care about what others going to say about you. Nor you give a dam about if your bike is new, or mind competition and after all, when you don't like something you just leave, or don't do it. We can't do any of the above. We like it or not, we have to be there, patiently waiting the beginner, scared with half eyes closed behind the extreme rider, trying to balance everything, keep the clients and the bike safe, follow the schedule that is usually strict and tight. I don't want to complain, I am just saying, our job is not easy. But this is not the purpose of this article. 


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The Promo Video
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One of these days, we woke up early in the morning receiving the good news that a truck full of 2017 Beta RR models is reaching the city, destination North Star head quarters. 

Four Boxes, full of Beta bikes and their parts to be assembled as quickly as possible due to the fact riders are going to be here sooner that we are thinking they are and the bikes have to be ready in all aspects. Break in the engine, install protection items, pipe guars, skid plates, lever / hand protection etc.

Andreas Vitara, our big trailer (the one we built to host 5 bikes on, more info here) and drive to the transportation company of our good friend Kostas Papadopoulos in Kavala city in Greece to pick up our goodies.

The Fuoristrada Co, the official importer of Beta Motors in Greece, had also arranged for us two Beta Tents/ Gazebos and lots and lots of parts in boxes. 
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Its not a days work. The distributor him self told us that it would take a week for him to finish the bikes and prep them for riding. We of course didn't leave our HQ until we saw all bikes in place. It was actually the only way to sleep at night. 




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If you plan to visit us anytime soon, keep in mind that 2017 Beta RR 300 model with zero at the moment hours await for you to ride them and enjoy the quality and their features in our trails. 

We work hard, in order to provide the best quality services and products to you and this is the only reason we don't stop and work around the clock. 

More Photos: 

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Me and Andreas around the clock

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The bikes pilling up

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Decals is a demanding job

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Kept some old decal to remember

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One down three to go

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No comment

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The bikes at the end of the day

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Andreas unboxing

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Good friends, good wishes, positive vibes

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Good friends, good wishes, positive vibes  vol 2

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Two down two to go

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Driving towards HQ

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Kostas loaded the bikes 

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Starting the engine
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Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Honda Dominator Dirt Tracker Vol 2

19:38
Next Step, Exhaust system and pipe. Face it, the first thing you notice on a custom bike is the exhaust system. The most hard part of all the procedure is to build a hand made pipe and fit a proper silencer. I was lucky enough to know the guy who can build the perfect pipe, (we call it neck). He needed the bike to measure and install, so we took it to his place and left it there with a picture of the original. To prove I am wrong about my opinion on garage guys I don't know well, this guy proved his value as much as it can possibly be proven. I wanted the pipe to start in front of the engine and continue below and leaning to the right, exiting right behind the engine taking it over on the right some how. He figured this out and did it immediately.




_____________________________

The most hard part of all 
the procedure is to build 
a hand made pipe and 
fit a proper silencer
_____________________________


You have to use the best quality materials when it comes to the hand made exhaust system since, this is not the time or the place to go cheap. If the results is proper you are going to use this forever on the bike changing only silencers in case you need to. 



My silencer is a Tiga cone. Makes a lot of sound, and had to adjust the carburettor on it since it is completely free and illegal. Soon its going to be changed with a legal one though. 
__________________________

You have to use the 
best quality materials 
when it comes to the hand 
made exhaust system since, 
this is not the time or the 
place to go cheap
___________________________



The bike, with the pipes and the silencer on, immediately took a form of a wonderful motorcycle built in progress. 

While I was waiting for the pipes to be produced, I had already sent the seat of the bike to a another good friend to make a light, simple, shallow, dark grey, vinyl leather, waterproof, new seat out of the old one. He used the base, made mods, changed the foam, used lots of silicone and glue and he delivered what you see on the bike in the following picture.



My only demand of the seat making was, when placed in its position to be aligned with the tank not leaving a gap, also, to follow the angle at the beginning of the tank so it makes a perfect picture when you see it. 

Having everything ready, you start the assembly. Issues to face, electric goodies. All the electric stuff of the bike was placed in areas that now don't exist. In this design the only room to squeeze whats needed is below the seat and the tank. Below the tank the space is extremely limited so you are left with some room below the seat actually. This problem is less significant to restored motorcycles that don't have an electrical starter, a fact that means less electrical units to settle on the bike. This one though had everything, turn signals, high, low beam, battery charger, regulator etc. 

Once you put the engine on, the carburettor is next, then exhaust, tank, electric stuff, seat and you start adjustments, connect cables, fuel lines, air filter which has to be an open K&N cone, steering bar, brake lines, chain and all the bike from the scratch in general. 




With my hand on my heart, I can tell you this: There are no words to describe the feeling when you hear the engine start after all this work. The transformation from a normal bike, to a super fine tuned custom. The sound, the smell of new, the paint, the shinny metal and the total image is pinned in your heart forever. This one is yours and your only.

Have questions?
Feel free to ask me here (Thanasis) or mail at husamaniac@gmail.com

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I have to thank the company 4h10 for if they haven't shared their Dirty Sandy Project i would not have had the bug to make my own.

Also a Big thank to Labros Papathanasiou for this excellent work.
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Next Job ? Suzuki DR 650 to Dirt Tracker ...

Monday, 13 March 2017

Honda Dominator Dirt Tracker

00:43
North Star is all about Enduro, alright. But this doesn't mean we only live around those beauties. We have are weakness and our habits in the motorcycle world as well. Andreas for Instance haas a Yamaha Tenere of 1992 which he adores and renovates in every chance and Sylviu is soon going to be in restoration trouble by owning a Suzuki DR 650 of sometime back in the '90s. 

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I strongly believe
that he who has restored
a motorcycle, will never
be the same person again
in his entire life

_____________________________

Restorations and custom bikes making is like a tattoo. Before you end the project you are already thinking of the next one. Its not a disease, this can be cured, once you restore a bike, you are done. You belong to this world. You look at engines in a different way, and when you see a frame, you see potentials. Leather has a different meaning in your life from now on and tools are your best friend. You want to learn how to weld, the characteristics of metals and paints, you want to learn how to pin and stitch, how to glue and  join, how to set and clean. You read, you grow your knowledge base, you do mistakes but it doesn't matter, its good to make mistakes. When you talk to someone like you, you talk in a different language and you understand and get understood. This is the life of the restoration community. 

__________________________

Restoring a bike is
like getting a tattoo.
Before you finish one
you are thinking of 
the next 
___________________________

It happened to me with tattoos so I also had it with a bike. I saw a project on line once, can't even remember where but I surely remember the name. It was called Dirty Sandy and it was a pure beauty. A classic Honda 1990's engine, both with electric starter and a kick starter on the side. I would recognise that engine even if I was blind from a mile away. Standing tall and strong between the vertical bars of the frame, with a hand made exhaust neck and refurbished, clean, looking brand new, like it came out of the box. In love with Hondas since I had a couple in my life, including an XR and an XLR, I started looking at this project. 



Honda dominator, striped naked. A Honda red painted Tank from an XL600R. A hand made seat, an after market exhaust end and hand made exhaust neck (You may call this another name, we Greeks call it a neck) The head light came out of vintage Acerbis or UFO plastics catalogue, yellow square light, the head mask placed upside down, as we used to do the old days, just to be called a "dude".

I got stuck to something funny. The front rim was not the Dominators   21 inc Rim, but a 19. BMW's front size I thought, and recognised those knobs, or heels, or any other name you call those square rubber knobs on the tires. Amazing looks, didn't know about grip yet, but would sacrifice anything for the looks. Those tires, the red colour and the total looks of the bike got stuck in my head all night. Thats was it, I had restoration fever, didn't know it then, but this fever is incurable. 

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Amazing looks, didn't know about grip yet, but would sacrifice anything for the looks. 

_____________________________


Phone call, after phone call, I located a Honda Dominator, in a very good shape. It looked well preserved and in a very reasonable price. Booked the deal in some hours and the amazing thing happened. The guy who sold the bike, knew everything there was to know about these engines and models, since he specialises years now in restoring them. 

We got the bike on the ramp in a few days, after we worked out the paper works, payments, licenses etc. First step, strip it naked and paint the frame. 


If you are going to sand blast the frame, you are in danger, and you will leave marks on it, next buyer, you in the future or your kids are going to curse on you for this. The best thing you have to do is use blaster with glass beads. Trust me, there is a difference. 


Dominators rear frame is already looped. You don't need to proceed to any mods on it. If you want to deliver a nice paint job, I strongly recommend to contact the local Honda Dealer for the colour codes they were using on the bike. If he is there for long, he has the codes in the repair manual of the Honda XLR, XR and Dominator. if not, a research on line will help you. I was lucky enough for my guy to have kept the originals in his warehouse, jeopardising only the quality of the substances after all these years, which came out alright, I guess. 

Use anti rust protection to all your work. This should be your first colour layer on the bike. Paint it Black as it was. Unless you want to go crazy of the final design, use shinning varnishes 

Honda's engines are legendary strong and healthy. I decided though, to fulfil a dream I had since I was a kid and made a full restoration on the engine as well. Changed and improved everything on bike, did the necessary shining of the intakes and the out takes, changed the piston, shaft, valves and the engine was brand new. 

  

The tank had to be from an XLR 600, since I heard someone saying it fits exactly on the frame using the same screws and bases. Ebay didn't help, and this was one of the very few occasions I could not locate something old there at that time. Turned to the local market and.... tadaaaaaa !!! Not only I found one, but with the fuel tap its self placed on top and the original fuel switch. It was unbelievable, but it was there and the guy agreed to sell it and send it to me without knowing what I was going to do with it. An XLR 600, with the original paint and decals was on it was to me.


Honda XL 600 R

When I received the tank, the only thing left to do was to polish it. Used a 3M Polisher, and my disk tool which has adjusting RPM, did the procedure 12 times and the tank was glowing like it came out of the Japanese factory a few days ago. Not even boxed yet !!!


Next step, take the forks apart, clean everything, change oil and seals, clean the valves, replace the rubber protection, re install. Do the same with the rear. I strongly suggest you change the spring in the rear suspension with a softer one, the new seat is not going to be so comfortable. 




Installing the suspension on the bike, you reached the stage where you have to install your wheels. But what did I do with them?
New rims, a 18 in the back and a 19 in the front. Good cleaning and painting of the hubs and new spokes. Wheel look new, and immersive with those CONTI TKC 80 tires. 


to be continued... here 

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About Us

North Star is the first Enduro Touring company that operates in Greece. Our philosophy is based on one thing: "We do it because we love Enduro Riding". We organise enduro tours, providing all necessary.

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