Neither Fast Eddy Racing boss Paul Edmondson or KORR supremo Julian Stevens need any introduction to anyone in the Enduro world. Paul’s four World Championship Titles and record breaking 18 gold ISDE medals plus Julian’s lengthy list of World Championship winning riders meant that when the two of them got together for a project, the outcome was destined to be something very special indeed.
The 2012 ISDE in Germany is destined to be Paul’s last international competition and, as ever with Fast Eddy, he thought he would finish in style. Thinking back to the glory days, there are many, his 1989/90 125 KTM sprang to mind and the idea of building a modern replica for his final ISDE seemed to have some legs to it. Twenty-two years separate the two bikes and much has changed in nearly a quarter of a century.
A sunny afternoon at Eddy’s place was perfect for for Tim Tighe to take some photo’s and have a quick chat with possibly the most experienced pairing in the Enduro world.
Tim Tighe: Paul, where did the idea come from?
Paul Edmondson: The idea was pretty much one of those bright ideas that I seem to come across and I was thinking about this being my last ISDE and about what I could do to make it, first of all special and second of all, actually make it something I can look back and say that was unique and could probably never be replicated by any other rider or machine in the ISDE in past and present years.
TT: So the two bikes, you have a brand new 2012 125 KTM, graphic’d up, a lot of work on it, to look similar to a 1990 125 KTM.
PE: 1989 and 1990, basically the bike was the same for the two seasons; it’s just ironic that in 1989 and 1990 I won the ISDE in the 125 class on that bike.
In 1989 it was in Germany and in 1990 it was in Sweden, obviously everyone is aware of my history with 125 two strokes. So yeah, I had an idea but unlike normally, where I just go in all guns blazing, I decided to ring around some close friends, people I have a lot of respect and time for, just to get there general view.
Normally your first reaction is the one that decides if it is a good idea. I rang various people and one of the first people I rang was Julian (Stevens), because I knew full well that it’s all right having these bright ideas but actually putting it all together and making it happen is another thing. I asked Julian if he would be up for it and would he help.
Obviously with our history going back to the World Championships that we have won between us, when he said he was onboard and he would help, he thought it was a good idea, something interesting and different and that’s where we are at now and why we are sat here today, getting ready for the ISDE.
It’s a shame that Julian can’t make it to the ISDE but I know he has a lot of other commitments at the moment but even so, like most ISDE’s, it’s the preparation you put in before and the time and he has done a lot of that for me and relieved the pressure of me going to the ISDE on an average bike, now I’ve got a really good bike, it will make 6 days of riding fun hopefully.
TT: So when you wheeled you 1989/1990 model out and sat on it, you were a bit surprised about the set up.
PE: Well, when I wheeled my 1989/1990 bike out, I actually sat in it, not on it and that’s the thing that came home to me.
It’s just weird you know, there are so many little bits that we did back then, you kind of forget about but at the same time, it was an incredible bike in it’s day without a shadow of a doubt.
I was probably riding the best bike out there and had done a lot of time when I had my World Championship victories. It’s not just about you as a rider, it’s about you as a team and your preparation and your bikes and things like that.
I firmly believe, throughout my career, especially the times when I was World Champion, that I had some good people and great bikes and obviously the 1989/1990 bike was one of them.
TT: So Eddy came up with this idea, I take it your initial reaction was favourable?
JS: Laughs! Well I was really enthusiastic about the idea, but it comes at a bad time because we are busy with our own things, getting ready for various events and there is little time and anyone who knows me, knows that if I am going to take on a project or do something, I want to do it properly. I certainly didn’t want Paul going there with just a bike with some stickers on, I wanted it to be something a bit more special than that, a bike that could really do justice to the history of the old bike.
TT: So a lot of work has gone into it, it’s not just the stickers.
JS: No, not just stickers! We have completely hand made the suspension to suit Paul, an awful lot of work has gone into the engine, you will see and you can hear that the bike performs completely different to a standard bike, hopefully Paul will to.
TT: How long have you spent on it?
JS: It’s taken a full day to make the suspension then another full day to make the engine, then a day or so of testing to get the jetting right and the variable things we can adjust on the engine to get those right to try different things.
In all honesty, I am working with 300’s all the time now, so I started with a clean piece of paper, I had got no data to work off. If I had to make a 300, I could make it perfect straight away without the input of a rider, whereas with this we‘ve had to predict and guess a few things and hope they turn out right, it’s surprising, the bike works really well.
We really could do with more time testing but the bike is plenty good enough to do the job, it’s way better than stock. It’s the closest thing he will get to a factory bike without it being a factory bike, but I always think I can build bikes better than a factory anyway. A factory is only a person building a bike, albeit they have more money than me but it doesn’t mean to say they have more experience.
On a two stroke you can do everything yourself, with a four stroke you have to have expensive exhaust systems and cams and different crankshafts. With a two stroke you can manipulate everything in your own garage if you have got a lathe and a press, you’ve got a little bit of know how and some jets, you can do anything you like with them.
27 years is a long ISDE career.... © Tim Tighe
TT: I noticed that memories came flooding back when you sat over the 1989/1990 bike.
JS: It’s surprising now, going back 20 odd years, you look at things you used to do then and had obviously forgot about since. You never stop learning but all the time you are learning, you are also erasing old bits of information if you are not careful. That bike is original as it was when it last raced but it would be nice to get the bike and go through a few things and get it running again, for old times sake really, just to make sure it still can work if it needs to.
TT: A head-to-head test between the two would be interesting.
JS: In time, there are lots of things that have improved. The brakes are much better on a modern bike, the suspension, although on the old bike the suspension is really nice on the low speed stuff, it won’t work nearly as good on the high speed stuff as a modern suspension does.
People look back through rose tinted glasses and think they were wonderful, they were really good bikes, the power was pretty good but in 125 terms it won’t be able to compete with the latest machinery.
Replica 1990 graphics offer the finishing touch... © Tim Tighe
TT: Are you pleased with the end result?
JS: Yes, I am really excited. I really hope that Paul goes there (Germany) and first of all really enjoys it and has a lot of fun. I hope that a lot of fans come out and they appreciate what has been done and enjoy seeing him back on a 125. There are not so many small two strokes racing in enduro now so to hear those is a bit of a novelty really, especially somebody who can make a 125 really work well.
TT: For the hardcore enthusiasts of many years, it is going to be nostalgia trip isn’t it?
JS: Well it is. Germany was always one of the really strong Enduro markets, certainly in that area of Saxony, that was where the old MZ factory was, traditionally they have always had an incredible following of enduro fans and there will be a lot of people that will turn up and they will bring old photographs to sign and old programs and things like that, they will really appreciate what they have done.
Whatever the result in Germany, it will be memorable. The new bike is an excellent tribute to the original and will definitely attract plenty of attention. Fast Eddy’s hunt for a final gold medal will long be remembered by everyone who witnesses the event.
Words & Images by Tim Tighe. Tim is the editor of leading British online enduro magazine UKXC.