Herald take on Malle Mile 2020
While as a team Herald have been attending the Malle Mile since 2016 for ‘team bonding’ purposes, we decided to get on board this year and sign up as a brand partner. Herald team member and impromptu Moto Polo manager Elliot looks back at the weekend spent racing round the grounds of Kevington Hall and shares insight into how the Brat 250 & Brute 500 got on.
The Malle Mile is by self-definition ‘The British Inappropriate Motorcycle Race’ and it certainly lives up to this description. Kevington Hall, a country estate in Kent, South England has hosted this thrillingly unrivalled event since its inception in 2015. Run by Malle London, who not only curate these events but also produce some fantastic travel accessories made with British materials, which you can see here.
We were overjoyed when we heard that the hard-working team at Malle would be progressing with their plans despite 2020’s best attempts to put a halt on all enjoyment & fun. Unlike other events on the motorcycling calendar, the Malle Mile provides a level of interaction impossible to replicate within the confines of an exhibition hall and a community spirit which is unmatched, the freedom to race and participate in such a variety of events is something we look forward to every year.
Being an outdoor event, the weather can seriously determine the outcome of the weekend. Fortunately, compared to what can only be described as torrential downpour which engulfed the 2019 Malle Mile, we were granted sunshine creating a sand/dust like mixture which was dispersed into any and all orifices throughout the weekend!
Spread across the three days there are three major events: The Sprint, Hill Climb & Mile 100.
A head to head drag race between two rough ‘n’ ready riders with their clutch lever hand bestowed atop of their helmet as they wait for the flag to drop.
Another head to head battle where two competitors once again on the drop of the flag tear up a hill trying to one up each other on every available corner before reaching the finishing line.
The Mile 100
Slightly different than its predecessors, this event is based on motorcycle races of the past. It requires those brave enough to enter to sprint to their stead against their competition and complete a number of laps laced with twists and turns to progress to the next heat.
Descending upon Kent we swiftly set up shop in the Metropolis area of The Mile, a central hub which houses exhibitors, food and a music stage. In previous years it has hosted live bands but due to restrictive measures this time was limited to a DJ, and the all-important bar.
After a quick recce of the grounds I returned to Herald base, grinning from ear to ear, it was almost like stepping into an alternative reality where this year had not been completely side-tracked by a global pandemic. The Mile was familiar to years gone past, bar the addition of face masks and numerous hand sanitising stations dotted around the site. Not long after, the crew started to assemble and we eagerly awaited the antics of the weekend to come. Cue organisers Jonny & Robert from Malle London casually jogging towards our pitch with an unexpected opportunity to play some Moto Polo…… we obviously accepted despite not knowing the rules, how to play or what Moto Polo was.
Herald FC made their debut against the veteran Malle London team on the opening night of the Mile, as the crowds surrounded the pitch there was a feeling in the air that anything was possible and for a moment the Herald boys dreamt of victory. That was shortly and abruptly ended by what was deemed by one of the commentators present as “the fastest goal in Malle Moto Polo history”. The Herald team then banded together and showed some promising play, even securing a goal from a fantastic set piece play between Design Engineer Gareth Williamson to Herald rider and honorary striker Jake Edey. Despite a valiant effort we fell short and were unable to overcome a battle-hardened Malle side on our debut performance.
Saturday morning and the smell of two stroke engine oil was ripe in the air, the first event of the day was the Sprint. The Brute 500 was found to be in its element, lightning quick off the mark with little to no competition it secured its first victory of the weekend. The torque produced by the large, heavy hitting single cylinder coupled with the lightweight nature of the bike made it a true force to be reckoned with defeating some much larger capacity machines on its way to glory.
This trend continued throughout the day moving onto the Hill Climb. The Brute was put through some extreme conditioning, meeting and exceeding expectations at every opportunity. The unique rear linkage suspension system made traversing the dirt tracks a pleasure. With the addition of knobbly tyres the Brute’s performance could have fooled anyone into believing that it was purpose built for mudslinging, a testament to the design team’s intention of creating a motorcycle able to withstand a plethora of disciplines.
Lead design engineer, Gareth Williamson, pictured below rippin’ on the Brute 500 shares his thoughts…
“The Malle Mile was an important event for the Engineering team, as the first opportunity to give the Brute a real thrashing off road, and in front of the public no less. Overall the event was a massive success. The design ethos of light weight and short wheelbase to produce a lively back road racer was directly transferrable to the tight turns and deep soil of Kevington Hall and the bike proved more than capable across the 3 events, with some fantastic results across the Sprint, Hill Climb and Malle 100.
We did experience a few minor niggles across the weekend, and it was back to the drawing board for 1 or 2 components. But this just amplifies the importance of supporting events like the Mile; customers can be assured that we’ve put this bike through its paces, ironed out the issues, and will deliver a product that we can stand behind.”
Our entrants into the lightweight division (250cc or below) performed valiantly. First up was our tried and tested workhorse, the Maverick 125, adding to its long list of adventures which include everything from Lands’ End to John O’Groats, conquering the trans euro trail and even racing round Lydden Hill. While it was one of the smaller capacity engines racing it held its own working its way through the heats only to be knocked out in the penultimate round. We also managed to put our eagerly awaited Brat 250 through its paces, tinkering with the carburettor engine in between races the pops & bangs out of the hand welded exhaust could be heard throughout the campsite. The Brat was extremely responsive and handled as well as its 125cc counterpart, with the added grunt of the carburettor 250cc engine it was in its element kicking up the dirt/sand mixture on the race track and as a defensive cornerstone on the Moto Polo pitch.
The Classic 400 also made its way down to the Mile. Being a staple of our range for the past few years we wanted to showcase its abilities in a more demanding environment. Aware of the varying levels of mud, sand & dust which are always apparent at the Mile we wanted to make sure it was suited for the job. Setting about getting the 400 Malle ready, our first decision was to replace the twin pipe exhaust system, which comes as standard on the stock model, for a more appropriate scrambler style dual exit exhaust, our own RaceTek rear shocks & levers, Scrambler tyres & hand stitched diamond seat to complete the look.
As the evening drew in on an intense day of racing, the Sprint racetrack was transformed back into the epicentre of British Moto Polo. After suffering a tough loss the evening before to the hosts, the participation medal was up for grabs and Herald FC was matched against Royal Enfield who also suffered quite a dramatic loss the evening prior. Fortunately, with a coherent team effort, the first half ended with Herald FC maintaining a goal advantage and a clean sheet for the first time in club history, this streak of good fortune was ended by an equaliser soon after the whistle. After a controversial call from the Ref which had pundits screaming for the introduction of VAR Herald FC’s go-ahead goal was disallowed and the match ended in a draw.
Packing up on Sunday evening was bittersweet, after having such a great weekend full of thrills, spills and so much more in what almost felt like an alternative universe where 2020 was not full of doom and gloom. Watching all the bikes, especially the Brute 500, perform so well was a moment of immense pride, felt by a team that have dedicated so much time and effort into creating Britain’s newest motorcycle manufacturer.
If you’ve made it this far, I’d highly recommend keeping an eye out for The Mile 2021, I have no doubt that the Malle team will produce just as interesting & exciting event to immerse yourself in, forgetting all your troubles for unadulterated joy and thrills.
Watch the video below to check out the footage captured of Herald @ Malle Mile 2020 by our good friend Max Howard.