Sure, you might know Portugal for its bacalhau, port wine, or Cristiano Ronaldo, but its dirt bikes? Yep, AJP is a small Portuguese motorcycle manufacturer who has been making enduro bikes since 1987. It was founded by Antonio J. Pinto (AJP), a seven-time Portuguese National Enduro champion, according to AJP Motors’ website. At first AJP made competition-level two-stroke enduro bikes, but its lineup today has taken a less aggressive slant.
Actually, way less aggressive and at a way less aggressive price. Scott Armstrong, the US importer, made it clear these aren’t full-on racebikes and that AJP is really trying to fill a gap they feel has been neglected in the dirt bike market. According to Scott, AJPs fall somewhere between a CRF230F or TT-R230 and full-on race off-road bikes. It also sizes bikes for younger/smaller riders, but not all of them. There is a PR3 Endruo 240, which is the smallest at a claimed 33.3 inches with an included lowering link; a PR4 Enduro 240, 35.2-inch seat height with lowering link (36.5 inches stock is how we tested it); a PR4 Extreme 240, which is the same as the enduro but with better suspension; and two versions of a PR5 250, which have a more typical 37-inch seat height among many other differences.
AJP sent a 2018 PR4 Enduro 240 for us to check out. Throughout this entire test keep one fact in mind: This bike is $4,999. Go ahead and scoff at the air-cooled, carbureted Zongshen 233cc four-stroke motor, the Fast Ace 43mm fork, and the Sachs shock. If you are so closed-minded to only focus on those factors, this bike isn’t for you anyway. What we are drawn to is the under-seat 1.8-gallon gas tank, the remote-mounted oil cooler, the full-size 21/18-inch wheels, and disc brakes front and rear. Also, just having a fully adjustable, upside-down fork at this price point is impressive.
Having this bike really begs the question, “How does it compare, head to head, with a Japanese 230?” Well don’t you worry your pretty little heads about that—there might just be a Honda CRF230F being picked up right now headed to our shop. But that’s another story for another day. Right now, we’ll just stick to the PR4.
It doesn’t look all that small, but once you swing a leg over it, the PR4 is noticeably smaller in stature than a typical off-road bike. For a 5-foot-8-inch tester, the cockpit is a little cramped with the pegs feeling a little too high compared to the seat. Standing up, the bike felt okay but still overall on the small side. The seat also has a slight forward lean that pushes you to the front of the bike somewhat, and the seat is very soft—great for all-day comfort. For our smaller tester, the AJP fit well. He is 5-foot-7 and only 130 pounds.
We didn’t expect the PR4 Enduro to be a ripper, and it isn’t. The power is very tame and you really have to give the throttle a good twist to get at what little excitement there is. There is a good amount of torque on the bottom and it makes most of its power in the midrange. There isn’t much of a top-end to speak of—the bike just doesn’t rev that high. It’s better to short-shift the bike than try to rev it out. For the beginner or first-time rider, the power is very approachable and controllable. But for the more experience rider, it would leave a lot to be desired. The bike has an old-school chuggy feeling that gets a little nostalgia going but that doesn’t help you pop over logs or tackle gnarly hill climbs. Also, when in any kind of soft, sandy terrain, you are completely pinned.
While the mild motor is something we could get used to, the chunky transmission was not. Shifting is a bit of a chore on the PR4. A complete pull of the lever and deliberate, but not too fast, click with the shifter is needed for a clean gear change. Multiple times climbing up a hill, we would go to downshift and the bike just didn’t want to do it without completely chopping the throttle and stomping on the shift pedal.
We are happy to say that it is not too soft! That is the usual complaint with Euro, lesser known brand off-road bikes. But that also doesn’t mean it was free of problems. The Fast Ace fork is just sticky, no way around it. We are spoiled by very high-end Japanese and Austrian suspension that we take for granted on most other bikes. There was a lot of harshness and sharp feedback that got a little better when we backed out the compression clickers, but then we started to ride to low in the stroke and it was still not giving us the plush fork action we wanted.
The shock, on the other hand, was actually pretty impressive. It has a smooth, linear progression through the stroke that was consistent, if not a little springy. For our 200-plus-pound tester, he actually didn’t have to change the sag; it was at 105 the first time we checked it. But with the stiffer fork, the bike felt a tiny bit choppered out. The shock worked great at rocks and drop-offs at moderate to fast speeds, but when we did find enough space to get up to “race speed” the pogo-ish action left the bike unsettled.
Evan Allen, Age: 20, 5’7”, 120 lb., Off-road beginner
My first impression of the AJP PR4 Enduro 240 was that this bike is well suited for an entry-level or beginner rider. Initially when first getting on the bike I noticed it stands shorter than other enduro machines, which can be very confidence inspiring for entry-level riders. As a rider who stands around 5-foot-7 I was able to plant both feet on the ground.
The 233cc air-cooled engine with an FMF pipe offers a good sound while also being docile. The clutch has an easy pull which allows it to easily engage first gear with little to no chance of stalling out. I felt this is a great feature for a rider who has never used a clutch or stepping up from an automatic bike. The motor package has little punch on bottom and nearly no power up top, which can inspire a lot of confidence in a beginner rider due to the fact that the bike never feels like it can get away from you. When I rode the bike higher up in the revs it seemed to make more noise than power.
Shifting the bike was no easy task for it required a complete engagement of the clutch, followed by a full range of motion from your ankle. In addition, the throttle response seemed quite delayed. However, once you find the power in the bottom-end of the motor the bike felt very nimble and easy to turn. This creates for a very fun approach to any motorsport being “it’s more fun to ride a slow bike fast, than a fast bike slow.”
When riding fast it is equally as important to stop fast, and I felt the AJP has an adequate front brake system. The front brake lever has good feel and feedback allowing for progressive braking under any circumstance. However the rear brake pedal was hard to reach because it is tucked under the right engine case.
While riding the AJP through tight single-track was extremely compliant and it had no problems being flicked from side to side. When riding less aggressive sections of the trail the fork seemed plush and friendly in the beginning of the stroke. However, when bouncing through whoops, smacking into rocks, and landing off a jump the fork created a very violent feel through the handlebar. In contrast the shock was consistent all the way through, giving great feedback through the seat.
After a long day of putting the AJP PR4 Enduro 240 through its paces I was over all pleased with the bike. At a price point of less than $5,000 this bike has plenty to offer for a someone who is new to the sport and looking to get their feet wet in the world of off-road dirt riding.
|2018 AJP PR4 Enduro 240|
|Seat Height:||36.5 in.|
|Ground Clearance:||14.0 in.|
|Fuel Capacity:||1.8 gal.|
|Weight, Tank Full:||251 lb.|