Oh! The Ohvale. Testing Our New Ride at the Herrin Compound
When we first heard that MNNTHBX, a company that designs and imports parts for mini bikes, had designed a street-legal version of the Ohvale, we were immediately intrigued. We (Jud and Sarah Merrell with Merrell Racing) have been racing mini bikes for over a decade but we found out the hard way that riding a race bike (even if it's a teeny, tiny race bike) on the road can have expensive consequences.
On a frigid November day, a group of us who had been racing pit bikes at Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort thought it would be fun to make a lap down and back on The Dragon. After all, during that time of year there were no cops and little traffic. So we thought. A couple turns in we were pulled over and had the book thrown at us for riding non-street-legal bikes on the road. After paying the court costs, we decided to never do it again. So when we heard about the Ohvale GP-0, we wanted one immediately but wondered how to go about making it street-legal. We dreamed of what it would be like to rip on it along The Dragon and our surrounding local mountain roads. Having the chance to ride one at Carolina Motorsports Park thanks to Yamaha Champions Riding School only made us want it more. The announcement that MNNTHBX not only had a street-legal Ohvale but that it was for sale and located just 30 minutes down the road from us had us salivating. After a quick discussion and some phone calls, we went to go pick up our new bike.
Our street-legal Ohvale is just like it sounds. It has all the perks of the race version but with an electric start, headlights, turn signals, tail light, license tag mount and more. Some engineering by MNNTHBX had to be done to make this all work including the wiring and the positioning of the exhaust.
As luck would turn out, a group of our friends was planning to ride mini bikes at the Herrin Compound the next day so we decided to join them. What great timing to test our new ride out on a cart track. It was our first time at the Herrin Compound so we weren’t sure what to expect. Long story short, it’s pretty amazing. It's a laid back experience compared to traditional track days and the course offered a nice, twisty layout with good rhythm. But we digress. Back to the Ohvale.
Jud rode the Ohvale first. Here's his perspective:
The Ohvale is the top of the food chain for mini bikes. As the warning labels have said: Dynamite comes in small packages. The Ohvale has the power, brakes, acceleration, suspension and ergonomics of a full size sportbike while only weighing around 150 lb. Riding a full-size 600cc sport bike on a full-size track and riding the Ohvale on a cart track it's tough to tell the difference. Yes, it's small, but coming from mini bike racing and a sport bike riding career the Ohvale is the perfect balance of both. Not only is this bike more than capable on a mini track it's now able to be legally ridden on the road. We are looking forward to what this Ohvale-USA, MMTHBX and Merrell Racing project has in store.
After Jud had a solid go, it was time for Sarah to throw a leg over. Here's what she thought.
It was unreal. I had been riding my stock Z125 around all afternoon and I felt like I was chicken-winging it trying to milk everything I could. So when I transitioned to the Ohvale, suddenly I had more power than I knew what to do with. Since the power band is twitchy it took a little getting used to but my second session I began to get more comfortable and opened it up. I loved how I could accelerate out of corners and the brakes are stout. And there was no keeping up with Jud when he was on the Ohvale. I was riding the Z to its limits and he was passing me. Even with a head start I couldn't catch him.
On the cart track, the Ohvale dominated, so we're excited to see what it will do on a twisty, curvy road like The Dragon. We'll soon find out. We expect it to be a competitive Dragon machine. And thanks to the collaboration between Ohvale and MNNTHBX, testing it on The Dragon won't involve the risk of being slapped with non-street-legal fines.