Enduro21 gets the spy camera and notebook out at Hard Enduro World Championship round two, Erzbergrodeo, to dig up some of the more interesting bikes and juicy topics inside the Iron Giant paddock.

Aside from the ballistic performance of Josep Garcia in the prologue, followed by Mani Lettenbichler’s dominant stroll through the Hare Scramble course to win his third trophy, there was lots to talk about at the 2024 Erzbergrodeo.

As always, it was an awesome place to be and Enduro21 happily waves the flag for this motorcycle race which  ranks up there with the very best in motorsport like the Isle of Man TT, Bol d’Or 24hr, Monza WSBK, Le Touquet beach race or Jerez MotoGP.

As ever though, given a bit of loose time in the paddock, Enduro21 likes to walk our way around the paddock to spot anything unusual or new on bikes and hear what people are talking about.

At Erzberg that was Alfredo’s first race on a fuel injected Rieju, the prospect of no Husqvarnas in world championship, KTM going automatic for the people, and why you can’t change goggles in the race…


First race for fuel injected Rieju prototype

“It’s the reason I’m employed”, Alfredo Gomez tells Enduro21 as we ask a few questions about the Rieju MR300 he raced at Erzberg.

It might look the same as the Gomez replica edition he raced at the opening HEWC round, the Valleys Hard Enduro, but there’s something missing: a carburettor.

In development “for more than one year”, the throttle body injection system is all Rieju’s own work Alfredo explains. That means the fuel injection system, the ECU mapping and a new engine.

The TBI bike will officially be introduced at the EICMA show in Italy later this year, initially as 300cc model but this was the first time the bike was out, blinking in the sunlight. What a place to do your first race!

The development process is in full swing with this engine, and they told us new plastics and even a new frame are in the pipeline.


Alfredo told us he’s been working hard on the new FI engine: “it’s a lot of work to get it right and we want to make sure it is right for the customer, it’s not easy but it’s the reason why I’m employed!”

Alfredo, who spent many years helping develop the KTM fuel injected engine of course, says the prototype has three maps to play with on the right-hand side of the handlebars, soft, medium and full power.

Unfortunately the main Hare Scramble race ended premature for Gomez when a “stupid crash” broke his clutch hydraulic line off and he was forced to retire while fighting inside the top 10 and heading for a coveted finishers flag.

No more Husky rumour?

It’s been floating around a while but the rumour that KTM Group will shift Husqvarna off to one side was quite strong in the Erzberg paddock.

Enduro21 has no official word on this, so continue to take it with a pinch of salt, but the gossip is there might be no Husqvarna’s racing in world championship enduro competition next year.

They already dropped the white bikes from EnduroGP World Championship last year, and currently have just one KTM and GASGAS , respectively Josep Garcia and Andrea Verona in GPs.

In the Hard Enduro World Championship they have Mani Lettenbichler on the KTM and Billy Bolt, currently injured, on the Husqvarnas. Michael Walkner was at Erzberg of the official GASGAS – the Walkner family is part of the development team for enduro bikes in Austria – but he does not contest the full HEWC series.


The belief is the Husqvarna brand will, to use corporate speak, ‘adjust its position in the market’ and be less race-focused. That could mean Bolt, whose contract comes up later this year we believe, may move to an orange or red bike – or another manufacturer if anyone can tempt a man who is naturally hot property.

The theory is the three brands, plus CFMoto and whatever else in the Pierer Mobility Group portfolio, muddies the water and they are looking to focus more on their key brand in our sport.

If true it seems like madness to us. A walk around any Scandinavian paddock will show you how many Husqvarnas there are racing enduro. Shifting official Husqvarna teams away from competition would have a huge effect globally if you look at all the factory and supported teams racing in different nations, never mind internationally.

And that’s not to dig into the Bolt-effect. It could all be hot air but watch this space.

Erzberg way or the highway

Right, here’s a joke about Erzberg and its rules which is not actually a joke, in fact it makes little sense.

The event which has a little bit of a history of employing its own rule book, often to the detriment of Graham Jarvis, had our jaws on the floor on Saturday afternoon when we learned a rule about no outside assistance extending to not just bikes but the riders also.

We know riders can’t be helped on the course, we get that. We know you have to work on your bike yourself if something breaks too, that’s also pretty normal at world championship enduro events. Spare parts like a gear or handlebar levers have to be carried on the bike or rider and you’re allowed zero outside assistance to replace them.

But get this: at Erzberg it also means gloves, goggles, or anything other than what you start with on person or bike.

That’s right, if you get muddy goggles or gloves at this event you’re not allowed “outside assistance” to change them. So no-one can even hand you a spare set of gloves at the service point.

Initially they also said the same about replacing hydration packs at the service point but a concession, presumably after the riders and teams said “WTF?!”, meant an ok, you can replace empty drinks bladders.


We add in here that might not have mattered so much for Lettenbichler sailing away to the finish but for the hobby riders, working their backsides off for four hours, that could potentially be dangerous.

These rules are not FIM or Hard Enduro World Championship regulation – obviously not given the fact every other off-road sport allows you to change goggles or gloves mid-race if you need to, for safety reasons apart from anything else.

We’re baffled by it and left wondering what happens if a rider rips their pants or one of the female competitors rips a riding jersey to expose more than they are comfortable with for example?

Just like the race itself, Erzberg organisers take the “you’re on your own” approach to the extreme.

Johnny Aubert on a prototype KTM Adventure 890 with an automatic clutch?

This one is off-piste from our usual enduro perspective but it is significant because it may have implications across different motorcycles in the future.

The Erzberg prologue has long since had its own twin cylinder class, these days that invites the adventure bike massive to take part, inspired by the guys at the top of this class like Antoine Meo, Pol Tarres and this year for KTM, multiple world enduro champion Johnny Aubert.


Johnny Aubert’s KTM might look pretty standard but a double-take at the right side of the engine or the left side of the handlebars showed something was missing – a clutch.

Full story coming in the next days on this but Johnny was riding a prototype KTM 890 Adventure R with a new automatic clutch.

A quick chat with Johnny and he told us it has three settings – automatic, push button gear changes via a handlebar button or using the foot gearshifter like normal. It took a little time to get used to, Aubert explained, because there are times of course when you ride using the clutch and “I ride always with my finger on the clutch lever,” but “quite quickly I got used to it and in some ways it is easier.”

Garcia’s slopestyle bars

Enduro21 has noted the handlebar set-up of Josep Garcia before but in this context, a hard enduro, it seems more nuts than normal. Flat, sloping downwards, and mounted as far back as you can get them in the triple clamps, it looks completely wrong to your eye. But who could argue with arguably the fastest enduro rider on the planet, world champion and multiple outright ISDE winner?


Josep’s Renthals are 999 bend handlebars we understand, just like his KTM teammates at Erzberg Mani Lettenbichler and Trystan Hart use we were told.

The difference is Garcia has his rolled back in the clamps, causing them to slope downwards and come right towards you if you sit in his seat. That brings the hands closer to the gut and bends your elbows more.

They’re set in the furthest back triple clamp mounting holes too making a highly unusual position for your arms to rest in.

Clearly it works for Josep though!

Prologue set-up versus main race

Chief among the lessons you learn as a rider at Erzberg is the contrast between the prologue and the main race in terms of bike set-up. Specifically, the tyres and mousses, suspension and gearing.

Hard enduro means soft tyres and mousses, right? Not in the prologue. You need a normal enduro set-up, actually even harder than that because it is all about the speed with the hardest rocks on the world of all sizes all over the track and setting up for high speeds.

So you need a stiffer set-up front and rear tyre and mousse set-up – fastest overall rider Garcia running the same combination of Michelin tyre and mousse as he would for a normal hard-pack EnduroGP race – plus an enduro, not hard enduro, suspension setting.


And gearing…

Enduro21 was in the thick of it this Erzberg and put sound advice from others in the paddock to good use on our 250 Husky. We ran 14-47 final drive ratio in the prologue which transformed the bike into a rocketship. The added bonus of smaller rear sprocket was a longer wheelbase as the chain extends backwards, making the bike a little more stable. Even then we’d contemplate a steering damper.

Switching back to extreme enduro mode and 12-50 final drive for the main race, the principle is to make it nice and easy on the clutch in the slow and technical sections, much more like a trials bike.

That means you run out of gearing on the fast stuff, topping out in the revs in places, but for the vast majority of the race it’s a massive benefit to have a low first gear ratio.


Photo Credit: Enduro21 + Future7Media | Andrea Belluschi + Husqvarna