Customs calamity: Brown's bike impounded ahead of world champs


Motocross sensation Joel Brown heads to Austria in less than a week to compete in the first two rounds of the World Championship but the wheels fell off his training regime when his bike was locked up in Brisbane.

The Bilbul daredevil recently won the FMX (freestyle motocross) Trans-Tasman challenge at Norfolk Island, beating archrival and Krusty Demon stalwart Kain Saul with a seat-grab indie backflip, only to be told on his return that his bike would be impounded for up to five weeks.

The current Australian and Underground FMX champion was sweating on a decision from customs authorities as to whether his highly customised ride would be released in time to take with him to Europe.

The customs kerfuffle has proven a major set-back to his training regime in the lead-up to what will be the biggest competitions of his career.

"I wanted to go over fully prepared but I'll only be half-prepared at best so I have been doing a lot of work in the gym instead of riding," Brown said.

"I wanted to go over with a couple of new tricks but I'll be lucky to ride my own bike before stripping it down to ship, so I won't have the chance.

"There is a chance my manager might drive my bike down from Brisbane to Griffith if the paperwork can be cleared and we can get someone to inspect it and let it out."

Brown was invited to compete in Austria following a strong showing at a world championship event in China last year and was eager to impress to perpetuate his welcome.

"This will be the biggest event I've ever competed in because it's the first two rounds of the world champs," he said.

"If I put in a good showing in Austria hopefully I'll be signed on for the next 15 rounds."

Brown borrowed a bike from a friend on Tuesday, but likened the experience to telling a Holden V8 Supercar driver to jump in a Ford and make do.

"I rode my mate's bike yesterday and did everything I could, but there are pretty major limitations," he said.

"In this sport the bikes are completely custom, the wheels, handlebars, sub-frame, suspension everything has to be set to your weight and riding style.

"I haven't really been able to customise the bike I'm borrowing and it's not set-up well for me."

As an example of how minor differences in bikes made a significant difference, Brown knew steering would be difficult as soon as he sat on the borrowed wheels.

Brown's own bike has a new steering dampener that only raises the handlebars a few millimetres, but the dampener on the borrowed bike adds an inch and a half, which washes out the front wheel and makes steering "completely different because your hands are up so much further".

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