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Saturday, 18 March 2017

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Enduro Cabins

10:04

 Enduro Cabins ⟿
Time to dream big 
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Photo from the web but also our actual plan !!!
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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". 


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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.
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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.

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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. 

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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.




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

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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. 

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

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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 

Monday, 6 March 2017

2stroke Era

22:47
Admit it, (or just think about it at least) you love 2strokes. The simplicity of the engine, the sound, the smell, the ease of use, the strength, everything around them, reminds you of your youth as a rider, where you started and the first steps in the off road mountain life.
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" Two stroke smoke scent " 
in a perfume bottle
is an idea 
that many enduro riders
would buy
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2stroke engines are coming back and the reason is one and one only. Extreme enduro, means two stroke enduro bike. 
Action night

Who needs the extra kgs and the enormous late power and torque delivering engines of the four strokes on those mud cover slippery rocks anyway?




Boxes everywhere
Who needs the extra efforts, the extended try to balance, lift, and more often start a heavy four stoke enduro motorcycle in a river bed or on a steep uphill, or even an insane downhill?
Riding a two stroke bike, especially the new technology ones provides the rider with a numerous set of benefits that improve the outcome of the ride in most of the cases. 


Full day at the workshop
People sometimes tell me, yes, ok but mixing oil is a pain in the butt. I say not any more folks, Go Beta for the 2stroke bikes are now oil injecting instead of demanding a mix of the oil and fuel in the fuel tank. I can only guess that others will follow with similar ideas, now that technology forces them to R&D EFI on 2strokes. 


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I can only imagine the future 2stroke engine
as a result of this research growth 
among Motorcycle companies 
being a smooth, 
oil and fuel injection engine 
that runs like an electric one, 
delivering torque and power 
out of a minimal and light set of frame and engine.
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So far, with the 4 stroke engines to be in the center of the enduro interest the fleet of North Star was parted  gradually from various models of the very famous Beta RR350s having a single cause, to make the rider not feel threaten by the weight, the power and the stiffness of the tiger four stroke engines (400, 450 and up). 


Friends working on the bikes
Simply inevitable as a fact, we had to proceed in the order of 5 2strokes  (maybe more soon) from Beta this year to cover the needs of our clients. Lately, the demand of 2stroke bikes became more and more often. The fact that Beta, is starting to cause a great interest in the world of enduro with the innovations, the design and the pure enduro orientation of her models, is causing riders to constantly seek 2strokes when they show up here. Especially, the riders that own back home a 2stroke, are those who complain the most of having to use a 4stroke in our demanding rides. The new bikes we have now are 2017 Beta RR 300, 300 racing and Xtrainer. 


2stroke Beauty
How can I describe the diversity of the Xtrainer? For me, this bike is the quintessence of extreme enduro. You have to cary its 99Kgs in the muddy trails and you don't mind, because its 300cc engine can do this in the most easy, technical and balanced way there is. The Xtrainer is here to fill the gap that the average rider, the non pro adventurist, the guy who really wants to enjoy his ride and conquer places a four stroke needs thousands of calories to do, needs to fill. A gap caused, from the crazy horse power delivery of the big engines, of the 120 kg of the bike and of course the fatigue that shows up once you drop your heavy bike and you have to lift it in the trail. Getting an Xtrainer means, you drive it easily, you pick it up from the ground using half the effort, your can control it easier, lift the front like a joke, control and balance it in upholds and dowels like a bicycle, drive on rocks and logs like they don't exist. Don't be tricked, its not designed for an amateur rider, more having it needs less riders skills or knowledge to handle. Its a powerful engine that can cause troubles to the amateur rider like any other bike, especially a 2stroke. Its crazy too. 


A lot of work needed to set it up
The 2017 Beta 300 RR, are enduro porn bikes. We have them in the store and just fall in love with them, from the moments they came out of their box. The gold forks, the new decals and that new red that is not quite red but red ... well anyway, they are simply beautiful. We haven't yet had the chance to ride them in our trails so more words on them will follow. So far, during assembly, we witnessed risen quality, more detail in the construction, improvement in the electrical wiring and placing of plugs and switches. A minus on the total setup is the killswitch. Its placed above the starter with and it extends long enough for the body to accidentally hit it during an extreme ride. This is something a potential buyer should improve to avoid surprises during his rides, a minor detail but still a detail. A plus on the total construction is that every flaw we witness in the older models, they fixed it. Some bad quality screws and holders, some details on the bike stand that was touching the rear wheel base etc. everything is fixed, a fact that means heavy duty R&D of the factory. Respect Beta guys, this one is an awesome work.


Blue details
Finally a few words on the 2017 Beta 300 Racing edition. If this bike was a woman, she would be Miss Universe 2017. Where to start, on the looks? The combination of the blue details on the decals, among the white details of the subframe and the mask, are giving a total of a pure racing looking bike. Improvements on the frame? The foot pegs, solid, grippy, strong, beautiful. The sound? Vintage MX 2stroke engine, sharp and strong. The front fork? Going through rocks and logs is now a piece of cake. This bike just drives. The front fork is a masterpiece, nothing more to say about that. While all the other models this year come with light alloy colour wheels, the racing still comes with black rims, spokes and hubs. The factory is sending in the box sexy red rim recalls which are pleasing the eye effectively once placed. Still, we drove the bike for two days so more words on it soon.


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"a few words on the 2017 Beta 300" 
Racing edition
"If this bike was a woman" 
she would be Miss Universe 2017

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Words from The NS tour manager Thanasis 
during a migraine attack.

6.3.2017







Thank you: Betamotors for your support, The Fuoristrada and Theodoros Antoniadis for your constant and actual support, Sylviu Leron for the ideas and strategy, Wildsprocket for the gear provided.




Sunday, 26 February 2017

Working on new trails

10:21

 

I guess you can call us active. A new area, a new trail, a new video or a photo session is always in our weekly schedule. 

Our job lately became a bit more demanding. Marketing strategies became complicated issues to discuss and create, while the need for new footage, photos and ideas is always on the table. On the other side, time to scout new trails, connect new areas and design new routes is the soul of our job. Without the trails, NS would be nothing but a simple enduro touring company. Using the trails, gives us the opportunity to differ from similar business.





Taking things from the start, the time to realise we need more trails is here. Riders love to ride on them and spend as less time on dirt roads as possible is their actual need.  


Crazy findings 


Some necessary scouting activities though ask for an advanced physical status, since most of the times we have to walk for 10-15 km, trimming bushes and trees to create passages and connect trails.

The procedure is time consuming, in some cases we devote weeks in a certain place. We are using our vehicles, putting them to the test, especially my W163 Mercedes ML and my colleagues Andreas Suzuki Vitara, 
Torturing the car

Early wakings, many days preparation, map studying, tools packing, supplies for long stays on the mountain in food and water and hours of working. 

Most of the times the result, makes us feel great satisfaction.
It is an unbelievable feeling to look back and see how clean and rideable a trail becomes after your efforts. 

The reward comes of course when you see the North Star bikes in them. 

NEXT ARTICLE: USING THE NEW TRAIL WITH A GROUP

Astonishing View

This is what we call a trail

A cutter is the tool you need

Walking for hours

Warning, not suitable for nails !!!

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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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