To prove that Monster is not just another pretty girl, we decided to take her out to play and show us if she is up to the task!
Looking for a venue we received an invitation from Sijbrand Booij who is the General Manager at EVM19. This is a venue at the Eiland van Maurik and lies next to river De Lek.
EVM19 hosts corporate events from 25 to 7500 people. From teambuilding to classy festival style parties with food trucks & music.
They can also offer a lot of motorised adventures like quad driving, rally cars, Dakar truck experience, jetski’s, RIB-powerboats and so on. So the perfect venue for us to throw Monster into the deep!
When we arrive it is still very windy, but luckily dry after days of extreme rainfall. It looks like we picked the right day! Ben from EVM19 is already waiting for us and invites us for a drink.
We drink a cup of coffee with Ben and Sijbrand, afterwards Sijbrand walks us to the part of the terrain where we can play. “Do whatever you like, but do not drive on the grass as you will ruin it” is basically the message. “Do not drive too far into the lake as it suddenly drops down” is another one.
We drive Monster up to the venue and start by scouting the terrain to see what we are up against. The terrain is wet, very wet and consist of heavy clay (there used to be a lot of brick factories in this area) and the part next to the lake is a kind of boggy sand. In short: it looks promising.
The tires of our MAN HX60 are at 6,6 bar and we decide to deflate them to 2,5 bar by using our 4 tire deflators. Much faster, and we can eat a sandwich during the ‘automatic air-down session’.
Airing down tires is probably the best tool to make an off road vehicle more competent. Much more grip because the tires can ‘follow’ the surface and the footprint gets much longer, thus having more grip.
Next step is lifting the under ride protection bar to its higher position. We hate this bar as it is always in the way, but Dutch (European?) rules require us to have it.
Meanwhile, Scotty is checking out the venue.
We start driving and take it slow: “As slow as possible, as fast as necessary” is still one of the best off road oneliners.
The paths are narrow, so we take some time getting used to the sheer size of Monster. Another thing is learning when and what gear to use. Monster has extremely low gearing so traversing the grounds in 4th or 5th low gear is pretty standard.
We switched the gearbox to low gear, manual and in the Dx position for driving off road. Works like a charm with spades of control. Of course 4wd and we use the back locker a lot on the slippery grounds. The front locker only when driving straight through thick mud and uphill.
We keep on playing for some time. We just have to make sure to keep momentum in the mud and also the sections near- and in the water, otherwise you get bogged down.
We decide to take a shot at the ‘hill’ although is is rather steep and extremely slippery, we can barely walk up. The first time is a failed hill climb and before I can get it in reverse I am already sliding down, four wheels locked. It is that slippery.
On the second attempt Amy guides me a little more to the right, and with much more speed we can make it up. Very impressive for a 10 tonnes truck under these slippery circumstances.
We have lunch and enjoy the scenery, Scotty is enjoying herself as well.
We find the MAN HX60 to be a very competent 4×4 truck. To be honest, better than we thought it would be. Just point the nose, engage lockers when needed, make sure you keep momentum (and the correct gear) and it will pull through almost anything.
Even now, while the current setup of Monster is not ideal. Our HX weighs almost 10 tonnes of which 6 tonnes on the front axle, so only 4 tonnes on the back axle. That is far from ideal, we would rather have it the other way around, to have more pressure on the back axle.
Furthermore it is just too light for the leaf springs at the moment. Technically the HX can weigh 19 tonnes, with 10 tonnes the springs are very harsh and do not dampen the ride very well.
We believe that adding our Motorcraft unit will even enhance the off road capabilities of Monster, although she will be called Mountain Yacht by then. We hope that we will reach a ‘ready to travel’ weight of around 14-15 tonnes. And a weight distribution of about 45% on the front axle and 55% on the back.
We think that should be ideal, and although 5 tonnes heavier than now, we think she will handle both on- and off road even better. We had the same with our Freerider, a Sprinter 4×4. Before the build it was a bouncing piece of steel. Right now, at around 3,5 tonnes it drives much better.
So, for now, Monster past the test, with flying colours we might say. We cannot wait to get back here and do the same with the Box on the back, to see if our theory proves right.
A big thanks for the great hospitality shown to us by Ben and Sijbrand from EVM19, see you again in a couple of months!