Despite the popularity of 24-time World Champion Toni Bou videos—the most watched has 16 million views on YouTube—observed motorcycle trials remains a fringe sport in the United States with a cult following.Fortunately for American riders, there is enough worldwide interest for a cadre of manufacturers and motorcycles to satisfy a wide variety of needs.
For the most demanding riders, Barcelona-based Vertigo Motors makes a range of high-performance trials motorcycles, including the 2018 Vertigo Lampkin Replica 250. Let’s take a look at this limited production motorcycle, as well as put it through its paces.1. The Vertigo Lampkin Replica is named after 12-time World Champion Dougie Lampkin, who also has 11 wins in the Scottish Six Days Trial, including four in a row on Vertigo motorcycles he helped develop. Fitting of a champion’s replica motorcycle, the 2018 Vertigo Lampkin Replica is not a motorcycle for a beginner rider, as we found out in competition and free-riding.2. The 2018 Vertigo Lampkin Replica is available in two motor sizes—300 and 250. The 300 is for riders at the highest level. We tested the more approachable 250.3. The Vertigo Lampkin Replica has both functional and aesthetic upgrades compared to the standard Vertigo Combat. The big changes are the 15CDV6 low-carbon chromoly frame with revised geometry, along with new power modes and a beautiful Lampkin-branded titanium header pipe for the fuel-injected 247cc two-stroke powerplant. Make no mistake about it—both the chassis and the engine are geared toward accomplished riders, or those who are ready to make a full commitment behind the bars.4. The 2018 Vertigo Lampkin Replica has an aggressive power delivery, even in the Rain mode. The Vertigo 250 motor revs up to 9200 rpm for its 25-horsepower peak, which is much higher than most riders will ever let the motor spin. Torque is healthy, hitting 29 ft/lbs at a manageable 4500 rpm. These are big numbers in the observed trials world, a sport where the average rider rarely exceeds half-throttle in competition.5. EFI is the future of two-strokes, and the 2018 Vertigo Lampkin Replica has it. The engine runs perfectly in either Rain or Sun mode—there’s never a hesitation or bobble from idle up to the screaming top-end. Oddly, the motor can be a pain to kickstart. Getting the motor at TDC helps, but there is no reliable process to get it to fire up in one kick. Of course, the choke and jetting are things of the past—not a moment too soon. Currently, the only other EFI trials motorcycles are the Montesa Cota four-strokes from Honda.6. The clutch is hydraulically actuated, and engages decisively. The six-speed transmission is flawless, and the clutch has a great feel. You do have to be mindful of the clutch engagement, however, as it has a right-here, right-now style.7. The trellis frame is a trials innovation exclusive to Vertigo. All other trials bikes either use an aluminum spar frame or a chromoly cradle frame. This could be a secret to the Vertigo’s light weight, as there’s not much to the frame. There is certainly no downside to the design, and it looks like industrial art.8. Suspension is top notch, with a Tech aluminum fork and high-end Reiger shock. In normal riding, the response is plush and traction-friendly—a rider couldn’t ask for more. Get more aggressive to get the most from the suspension. The Reiger shock, especially, sticks landings with authority—it’s almost like landing on flypaper when jumping onto or off of a rock. This is an essential characteristic of a motorcycle that has to please someone who rides like Lampkin.9. The Lampkin motor and the chassis work in perfect harmony. Top trials riders don’t ride a motorcycle in the same way a regular rider does. Instead of steering or countersteering the front end to change direction, turning is done by lofting the front wheel and having it float through a turn, or by hopping the rear wheel around. The 2018 Vertigo Lampkin Replica is all about that sort of advanced trick riding, with a snappy power delivery that makes lofting wheels easy, and a compatible chassis that prefers advanced turning techniques to old-school precise front wheel steering.10. Riding the 2018 Vertigo Lampkin Replica old-school style requires the rider’s rapt attention. This is not a forgiving motorcycle. It does what you ask, as soon as you ask it. If your input isn’t just right, prepare for it to do more than you want. The Lampkin is a light and lively motorcycle with instantaneous responses. Steering the Vertigo with the front wheel requires getting your body positioning just right, particularly on uphill turns. If you’re too far back, the front-end pushes or becomes airborne—too far forward and wheel spin is a constant threat. Lower to mid-level riders can do it, but other trials bikes make it much easier.11. Vertigo gave the Lampkin Replica the best available rubber. You can’t beat the tubeless radial Michelin Trial X Light Competition tire, or the tube-equipped Trial Light in the front. That’s what you see at world rounds.12. The Vertigo Lampkin Replica can’t be tamed, but it can be harnessed. It’s certainly possible for mid-class riders to do well on the Lampkin. The motorcycle will appeal more to the rider who goes for it, rather than the meticulous competitor who carefully picks his way through sections. While novices will likely be tempted by the Lampkin Replica’s great looks and impressive spec sheet, it will make it harder for them to smoothly advance through the ranks unless they are unusually assertive and skilled. The Lampkin Replica is an aspirational competitive motorcycle, rather than a starting point.13. Experienced off-roaders who want the Vertigo Lampkin as a playbike will likely fall deeply in love. Without the boundaries of an observed trials event, where you must put the motorcycle exactly where you want it to be to enjoy success, free-riders can let the Vertigo Lampkin rip and hold on. Especially in the aggressive Sun mode, the Lampkin will let you tap your inner Bou with the least amount of effort. The snappy motor and resultingly light front end make it easy to carry the front wheel, while the overall light weight and responsive suspension make it easy to flick the rear wheel with abandon.14. Drool-worthy parts abound on the 2018 Vertigo Lampkin Replica. The triple clamps are immediately noticeable, but don’t miss the footpegs, cylinder head cover, handlebar reservoir covers, and rear sprocket. CNC and anodization are a great visual pairing. Also, the Lampkin Replica gets world-class Renthal handlebars, a step up from the standard Combat.15. It is late in the year and they’re sold out, so you might not be able to snag a 2018 Vertigo Lampkin Replica. There were only 150 made, sporting Lampkin’s D12 logos, so it is far from a mass production motorcycle. You might find one at a dealer—bring $11,200 or so. Expect a 2019 version before summer.16. Whether or not the 2018 Vertigo Lampkin Replica 250 is the right motorcycle for you requires honest self-assessment. If you’re one of the best trials riders you know, then you will fully understand the Lampkin Replica and be capable of exploiting its virtues. The lower you go on the skill spectrum, the less appropriate the Lampkin Replica 250 is, unless you’re a prodigy. If you have free-riding on your mind, the 2018 Vertigo Lampkin Replica 250 will set you free.Action photography by Kelly CallanRiding Style
This week Teejay chats to Tyler Poppe. Tyler works on the TV show Mayans MC–and yet he doesn’t ride an American V-Twin. Wassup with that?? Also, Arthur finds out from friend Mike Cardillo about his thoughts on the full-size version of the Kawasaki KLX 140R F trail bike.