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KTM 450 Adventure

Not available from the factory, but a potent exploration weapon nonetheless 

KTM Zweiradcenter Bernhardt in Germany has performed an impressive conversion the to KTM 450 EXC, a factory dual-sport motorcycle with a considerably bias towards short-distance technical dirt travel.  The interesting result of Zweiradcenter’s modifications is a motorcycle better suited to long distance, remote exploration, with expeditions into the Sahara, the Road of Bones and even the Trans-America Trail all coming to mind. The concept of this platform has considerable appeal, combining the athletic performance of the 450 with additional range and greater rider comfort. The brakes are bigger, a rally computer has been fitted, along with 37L of fuel.  The complete modification list is impressive, but additional oil capacity or improvements to the service intervals seems to be absent from the line-up.  I could easily see strapping a Giant Loop bag to the back and ripping up the Skeleton Coast. Zweiradcenter Website

VOTD: 4×4 Winter Driving Recoveries

via West County Explorers Club: Winter’s on the way. To help you get ready, here’s a video showing some snow recoveries by the Search and Rescue Unit in Pierce County, Washington. One involves raising the truck with a Hi-Lift to pack snow under the tires. In the other a Hummer gets winched out of the snow.

When using the Hi-Lift, always keep your head (or any other body part) out of the area between the Hi-Lift frame and the handle, so the handle doesn’t accidentally snap up and whack you. One way to keep yourself out of the “whack-zone” is to put a foot on the base of the Hi-Lift and work the handle with your opposite hand, pulling with the weight of your entire body.

VOTD: A Day in the Life of a Fire Lookout

via West County Explorers Club: Having visited a couple of fire lookouts this year, I found them to be pretty fascinating places. In this age of electronically monitored everything, rangers and volunteers still head to the tops of mountains to scout for forest fires with nothing more than simply surveying gear.

When smoke is spotted, a bearing is taken using something called an Osborne Fire-Finder, basically a circular map and a sight on a rotating turntable. Once the fire’s bearing is recorded, it’s shared with other towers, who, if they are within visual range, also report a bearing. With a bearing from at least two towers, an approximate fix on the fire can be made. Using the line of sight across the circular map (the lookout tower is located in the center of the map) estimates of the fire’s location can be made if no other lookout is within visual range.

This video, about the Mt. Tamalpais fire lookout in Marin County, just north of San Francisco, is more about the view but I’ll hope you’ll enjoy it just the same.

Bentley’s EXP 9F SUV Concept

via West County Explorers Club: Leave it to the English, the inventors of the luxury SUV, to push the limits of that vehicle segment into new, outrageous terrain–understatedly outrageous, that is. Bentley’s new SUV concept, unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show this year, makes a mere Range Rover look positively populist.

It’s called the EXP 9F, which—let’s be honest— doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. As for the look and feel of it though. That’s another story. There’s so much style, upon stateliness, upon brawn in this vehicle that it’s hard to imagine these disparate elements coming together in any kind of comprehensible way, yet they do. Whether it will make sense as a functional object remains to be seen. I can’t imagine hitting the trails with a 600hp, W12 engine, quilted, white, leather seats, 23″ wheels, and all-wheel-drive. That said, I’m looking forward to seeing the videos of the first person that does.

Rumor has it that it’ll be out in 2015. If, in three years, you happen to run into Jay Z on some remote hillside, this is the SUV he’ll be driving.