My other bikes are fast race bikes capable of speeding through rough terrain, taking huge jumps and slamming into berms. The Montesa Cota is not a race bike but I love this bike anyway. Let me explain…
The Montesa is graced with a torque filled and punchy little motor, a low center of gravity, and a balanced quick steering chassis. It gives its rider confidence to try tricky, steep, tight terrain and it is a hoot to ride when you are not afraid to get a little out of your comfort zone.
I was talking to a non-riding friend the other day, and told her how I had ridden up a huge rock pile and when I got to the top I caught sight of the monster rocks on the other side going down. I could only hang on and ride back down through the mound of protruding boulders. I added (truthfully) that I thought I was going to die. Most normal, half-way sane people don’t understand why anyone would do anything that causes them to fear that they might (excuse the hyperbole) die. To an ordinary person it boils down to a simple death wish.
The Montesa inspires you to try things you would never dream of doing on any other bike. All you have to do is point it where you want to go (say up and over a big rock or log) and try not to have a panic attack before you are finished. It is important to hold on when things get sketchy and stay centered while letting the bike work underneath you because it is capable of doing extraordinary things. Then practice makes perfect (or almost perfect). Afterwards you can apply your new found confidence (not having died) and new skills to your regular bike.
The Montesa doesn’t have a super responsive hit right off the bottom but it really picks up in the mid-range. If you are not careful, the rush of power at full throttle in the upper revs can take you by surprise and cause you to loose control. Sometimes it is preferable to use the clutch in a higher gear to get over certain obstacles or get through super tight turns. That might be true but most senior and/or novice trials riders (like myself) ride without using the clutch too much except to shift gears. This is especially true riding the four-stroke where the clutch seems a little more difficult to modulate compared to a two stroke (at least when going slowly through tight turns).
But none of that matters because you don’t have to ride the bike like Toni Bou. It is also built to be ridden by less advanced riders in easier sections. Basically it is designed take advantage of the modern no stop rule where the rider has to maintain forward motion at all times. With it’s sticky Michelin trials tires, heavy flywheel and workhorse four stroke 260cc motor it isn’t hard to maintain forward momentum (even without the clutch). The rear tire doesn’t break loose very easily which is confidence inspiring in less than ideal conditions at full throttle.
It can make tricky, tight turns over uneven surfaces without disturbing your tempo and then with a little throttle you can use momentum to go over rocks, logs and tricky curvy steep climbs. It has the brakes and handling to go back down and it turns on a dime (even for a total klutz like myself).
The Cota 4RT is also designed for the aggressive take no prisoners competitor who attacks sections with both the throttle and clutch. It will turn on the front wheel with a nose wheelie or the font wheel can be bounced into position. When the bike is lined up and perfectly balanced it can be blasted over vertical, overhung slabs with impunity (not that I can do any of that). How do I know you ask? Take a look at the video of Toni Bou.
The bike seems a little a subdued and low key as you open the throttle and let out the clutch, but it can take you by surprise when it launches up and over intimidating obstacles with just a little momentum. Bringing up the front wheel with a weight transfer and the throttle is easy and the rearward placement of the foot pegs makes it simple to balance and keep the front wheel up.
Bouncing and hopping the rear wheel is also second nature to this bike although the rider has to be in really good shape (and incredibly talented) if he/she wants to hop around on the rear wheel.
At first the very long shifting mechanism gave me fits until I learned how to use it. You step on it to go down and shift up with your heel. It works really well as long as you remember that the shifter needs to be moved past neutral. It has a Very Honda-like feel when shifting through the gearbox. Nice…
The really plush suspension soaks up everything from roots, rocks and logs in the section to big braking and acceleration bumps on the trail. You don’t have to ride up and down each bump like in the old days (my 1984 TY 350). You can use the throttle to keep the font end light or jump the whoops like you are going through a rhythm section on the track. Ascending up or descending down through big jagged rocks is child’s play for this bike. It never seems to bottom. No kidding…
The brakes although squeaky, are not overly touchy. I probably need a little brake cleaner fluid to clean up the discs and maybe I should bleed the lines for maximum performance. As delivered they are good for gnarly steep drops. Again they are really good and the handling is super confidence inspiring.
It always starts first or second kick hot or cold. The fuel injected engine has no choke or petcock. All you have to do is kick it firmly all the way through its travel while not giving it any throttle. There is a fair amount of compression and you have to get well over the kick-starter to get enough leverage. If you don’t like the engine characteristics the fuel/air mixture and timing can be fine tuned with a plug in device you can buy and your laptop.
The Montesa is fairly easy to maintain. The oil level can be checked with a dip stick and the valves are adjusted with an adjusting screw and lock nut. I have heard that once they are adjusted they seldom need re-adjustment. The engine oil is kept separate from the transmission oil which prevents it from getting contaminated but there are two systems to drain and refill. As I said maintenance is pretty simple although you do need to get inside the left crank case cover to change the oil filter and the air filter is behind the rear fender.
It has an aluminum perimeter frame (like my Honda CRF 450R) with a detachable plastic rear section. It is rock solid. And don’t forget to grease the pivot points which are only lightly greased at the factory. And like my Honda, it comes with a detailed Owners Manual and Competition Handbook.
The suspension is pretty adjustable. Rebound adjustments are on the top of the right fork and compression is on the left fork. The rear suspension has spring pre-load and rebound adjustments. It has a nice one finger hydraulic clutch.
I do have a few complaints after riding the bike. The kick-starter was filed down so it does not get hung up on the really wide foot-pegs. The sharp edges caused small rips in my riding pants. Something will have to be done before my next ride. I have been told by my local dealer that the clutch action can be made a little more progressive by using a special blend of transmission oil developed by Repsol. (I still won’t be able to ride like Toni Bou). The oil is called elf HTX 740 and it does make a difference. With the more expensive oil ($50 a liter) the clutch is much more progressive and easier to use.
My other complaints are that sometimes I scuff up the rear fender with my boot when I do not get enough lift swinging my leg over the fender to get on the bike (see comment). And also (with my short legs) it is hard to get over the kick starter without having to jump up in the air to get enough leverage. It is a trials bike for God’s sake. What is with that? And taking a dab… let’s just say it isn’t as easy as it used to be when trials bikes had less travel and/or I was younger and more limber.
Initially I was skeptical about whether the two quart gas tank would give me enough fuel to get around a typical trials loop. It is good for about an hour or two of solid on the throttle third through fifth gear riding. I think that it is definitely adequate for any modern trials loop but don’t forget to fuel up between loops. At 165.1 pounds full of gas it is light.
It is very up to date when it comes to emissions although in California it is only Red Sticker legal. There is a one way vent on the fuel tank breather hose and the gas tank is made out of metal not plastic. Fuel injection means that the fuel is carefully metered no matter what the conditions and it is so quiet that sometimes it is hard to tell whether it is running when it is in neutral idling. It sips fuel and is as quiet as anything I have ever heard with the exception of maybe an electric motorcycle.
Riding a brand new bike is always a great experience before the tires, engine or clutch get worn and when it has that new look with fresh decals and new plastic. It gets a lot of attention in the pits. Not only is it brand-new but it is a beautiful race replica. The kids ask me if I can do the kind of tricks that they have seen on U-Tube. All I can tell them is “Only in my dreams”.