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Event Review: AFC Berm Buster

It is perhaps one of the best-known trail ride series in New Zealand, but recently things have had a bit of a shakeup behind the scenes of the iconic Berm Buster series. With new owners on deck and a slightly different approach to how the weekend is run, Berm Buster is back and better than ever. Craig Loades went down to Taupo to get his boots dirty and check out the new AFC Berm Buster in all its glory.

There is a new ride on the calendar. It’s called Berm Buster!

But wait I hear you cry. Berm Buster isn’t new! It has been going for years. Well yes, that is correct, however, this new Berm Buster is under new ownership and they’ve seriously injected some new life into the event.

Sure, the car park and sign-on area might look similar but that’s about it.

The keen-eyed might have spotted the heavy plant equipment in the parking areas.nThese dozers have been at work building new tracks and grooming the main trails.

Off of the main trails are multiple Gold, Silver and Bronze loops, Romaniacs style. There are also diverting loops sometimes off these again. The best part with these tracks is they come back to the main trail so can ridden over and over rather than having to complete a whole lap to try the best bits again! Excellent! The many branches from the main tracks create a sense of adventure. This adds magic to the event many rides miss. If anyone was lucky enough to ride

Ruakaka in Northland you will have some idea what I mean.

It’s a crying shame Ruakaka came to an end but at least another event is injecting the same sort of epic fun into an event with multiple track options to ride.

Another change and a huge one is ALL TRACKS are now open on Saturday and Sunday. I mention this as previously this wasn’t the case. Now, I understand holding back tracks for Sunday might be some incentive for people to stay for the weekend, however, with busy lives, it’s nice to have them all open at once for those who can’t give up a whole weekend. It’s more interesting and spaces out the trail traffic making for a safer event too.

Speaking of safety, the team have made a considerable effort to trim all the trees of limbs lower down to avoid someone impaling themselves. That is a huge undertaking and its clear safety is something the organisers are taking seriously.

Can-Am and Kawasaki side by sides are used for the recovery of people and bikes as needed which is nice to know should the need arise. Kids and novices get their own dedicated tracks too, so parents can breathe a little more easily knowing ‘Big Dave’ and his 450 isn’t going to come flying by trying to take the trail ride chequered flag!

I spoke to Lumber Liam from AFC and he also told me they have demo bikes for use on a 5K loop for serious buyers. These are KTM 150 EXC TPI, 350 EXC-F, 350XC-F, 450 XC-F, 250 XC-F, 250XC and 300EXC. If your blood runs green there are also Kawasaki demo bikes including the KX250, KX250X, KX450.

If that isn’t enough Johnston’s Motorcycles also have Husqvarna TE150, TE250, TE250F and 350F on hand to try before you buy. AFC also pointed out they have a shop display setup with up to 50% off gear and accessories.

Another resident of the event is the excellent suspension tuning services of MotoSR.

Scotty is always on hand to twiddle your clickers and turn your knobs for a better and safer ride. MotoSR also offers more in-depth suspension work from their shop in Taupo. The changes above may or may not sound like a lot but I can assure you it’s made the world of difference to the event. So much so it’s gone from an event I’d rather miss to an event I’m very keen to keep returning to.

If you didn’t really like the old event I urge you to return and try the 2022 AFC Berm Buster.

If blasting the main trails is your thing motocross-style that’s still an option. The added single tracks will please the likes of the enduro riders or people who like to challenge themselves and anyone in between. With the promise of more single track, I’m super excited to see how big this event becomes.

I will finish up by saying a huge thanks to AFC, the new owners and anyone crewing this event. It is extremely difficult to make, maintain, marshall and sweep so many different tracks and for this reason, I believe most events have only really one or two main loops. Clearly, these guys and girls haven’t taken the easy option to try and bring us the best most enjoyable event.

Story by Craig Loades | Photo Credit AFC Berm Buster/Epic Events


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