Inspiration: Big Trip

Moroccan Big Trail Challenge 2019

Scrambler 1200 XE Moroccan challenge

Filipe Elias joined the Big Trail through Morocco’s diverse terrain…

Scrambler rider Filipe Elias is quick to stress that the Big Trail Challenge is much more than just a race.

He chooses his words carefully to stress his nine-day adventure through the mountains, dried-up rivers and deserts of Morocco was far more significant than that.

“It was not about being ‘first past the post’. It was about me and my bike overcoming the challenges that nature has laid down. It was about friendship. It was about reaching the end,” he says with a smile, part of his soul still out there on the sun-bleached sand.

People were asking ‘are you sure you want to be doing this with that bike?

Filipe, a Lisbon-based bike tour and events organiser, was the only Triumph rider in a field of 50. He admits his Scrambler 1200 XE drew some quizzical glances at the start of the 3,300km trek. The Big Trail consists of an anti-clockwise teardrop loop starting in Portugal at Beja, through Spain and across to the port of Asilah in Morocco, then south to Zagora and back via Marrakesh. “People were asking ‘are you sure you want to be doing this with that bike?’ and I just smiled,” recalls Filipe.

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Scrambler 1200 XE

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“Those guys had changed their opinion by the end. It was the stones and rocky sections that caught them out when my side-laced wheels and the ground clearance meant I could throttle up without damaging anything.” He insists those small details set the 1200 XE apart from the bikes more likely to be seen on the Trail’s more treacherous Dakar Rally sections.

As the rest saw how easily my bike coped while they had to repair wheels, their opinion changed

“The early stages were mainly smooth Tarmac, but in the middle it was 60 to 80% dried-up river beds, stone and rocky tracks as well as fesh fesh sand and it wasn’t easy,” he says. “The rest quickly saw how easily my bike coped while they had to repair wheels. The Scrambler’s wheels and suspension were designed for those surfaces and it was just such a smooth ride even at the low end. It made difficult easy.”

Range and stability were other massive factors that shocked Filipe, who adds: “I was not expecting a big bike to give me 240km on a single tank or off road stability at speed. That was amazing.”

When he wanted more edge, he changed the suspension settings for a more rough and ready ride along the stone-laden river beds that caught some of the others out.

Smooth and easy jump

Filipe says: “In some of the really rocky parts where you had to go slow, the power was good low down but then a quick turn of the throttle and the speed was there in a very smooth, easy jump so I was always in control.

“It did feel like off road luxury even though I did have to change the way I rode because I prefer my knees off the tank but I’m not that tall. But after a few minutes this felt like the best bike of all of them.”

Its stature and size are perhaps what catch the eye initially, concedes Filipe, but again choosing his words carefully, he adds: “If it looks good and has performance and capability on and off road then that will change peoples’ minds in the end.

“I made a lot of friends on this trip and I think the Scrambler did, too.”

The trip in 60 seconds 

  • The Dakar environment awoke a rebellious personality in some and I was no exception. The great stability of my Scrambler gave me speed and power on even the sandiest parts of the course and on dry river beds where we exchanged the lead in a gentlemen’s agreement not to overtake on the same track because the dust would make it too dangerous.
  • I played cat and mouse with one Danish rider for miles on a rocky part of the course, with a sandstorm in the middle and always at a fast pace with adrenaline high.
  • Every day had spectacular moments with fun, camaraderie, friendship and high spirits, but the last 75km near Foum-Zguid will stay in my memory forever. That day showed me that the Scrambler 1200 XE is a true large displacement off-roader, capable of embarrassing big trail bikes that claim to be more at ease in these conditions.
  • On my return, someone asked if I’d have chosen the same bike: without a doubt, yes. It’s the perfect bike and after this adventure, my big Scrambler is no longer just a fleeting and intense passion. Now it’s love, real love… and if I ever have to get rid of it, it will not be easy.

Stages

STAGE 1 : BEJA – ASILAH
Distance : 500 Km
Track : 100% Tarmac

STAGE 2 : ASILAH – MIDELT
Distance : 380 Km
Track : 80% Tarmac / 20% Off-road

STAGE 3 : MIDELT – DADÉS
Distance : 360 Km
Track : 40% Tarmac / 60% Off-road

STAGE 4 : DADÉS – ARFOUD
Distance : 240 Km
Track : 20% Tarmac / 80% Off-road

STAGE 5 :ARFOUD – ZAGORA
Distance : 260 Km
Track : 20% Tarmac / 80% Off-road

STAGE 6 :ZAGORA – FOUM-ZGUID
Distance : 190 Km
Track : 20% Tarmac / 80% Off-road

STAGE 7 : FOUM-ZGUID – MARRAKECH
Distance : 360 Km
Track : 70% Tarmac / 30% Off-road

STAGE 8 : MARRAKECH – ASILAH
Distance : 560 Km
Track : 90% Tarmac / 10% Off-road

STAGE 9 :ASILAH – BEJA
Distance : 500 Km
Track : 100% Tarmac