On Track Off Road No. 185






Just how good in this guy? 33 years old,

9 world championships, 87 Grand Prix

wins and owner of 3 of the 4 MXGP motos

held this season so far after a very decent

British round of the FIM World

Championship last weekend. Assuming

he endures the ‘lottery’ aspect of

motocross then the time will soon come

when the talk turns to #10

Photo by Ray Archer





Dylan Ferrandis completed an ‘All-French’ evening at

round 12 of 17 in the AMA Supercross series and his

250SX West victory was another landmark in a distinctive

career. The SX triumph had been coming…even if it does

feel like a long time since he was the scourge of Jeffrey

Herlings in MX2. Ferrandis now joins the small

Euro/Gallic club of winners in the stadiums

Photo by James Lissimore




MotoGP visits Argentina this weekend and

scene of one of the most astounding and

theatrical races of recent years just twelve

months ago. How has the sport and the

series moved on from the unforgettable

images at Termas de Rio Hondo? Neil

Morrison takes some perspective in his

excellent new Blog inside

Photo by Monster Energy/Milagro



MATTERLEY BASIN · MARCH 23-24 · Rnd 2 of 19

MXGP winner: Tony Cairoli, KTM

MX2 winner: Thomas Kjer Olsen, Husqvarna

By Adam Wheeler, Photos by Ray Archer






Jeremy Van Horebeek is in the

initial throes of a career renaissance

after some lean and mediocre

years with Yamaha and

in the distant wake of a defining

season in 2014 where he claimed

his first (and only) MXGP win todate

as runner-up the world. JVH

is somewhat scorned after being

snubbed by most of the paddock

in the depths of last summer and

is certainly riding with renewed

perspective on his status and

that of the sport. Almost rivalling

HRC’s Tim Gajser for results and

potential after two rounds the

inevitable question arises as to

Van Horebeek’s potential value

for Honda. The irony is that the

Belgian receives marginal support

from the manufacturer (HRC

are independent as a race division,

the rest of the MXGP operation

is marshalled by Honda

Motor Europe) and is proving

the brand’s point in terms of the

competitiveness of their stock

customer base.

“Mid-February Jeremy and the

Honda SR team made the decision

that they wanted to go

MXGP racing and they did contact

Honda Motor Europe for help

but at that time there was nothing

we could do,” explained Off-

Road Manager Gordon Crockard.

“The plan for 2019 was signedoff,

budgets were agreed and

every euro had been allocated.

The timing of the request was

impossible to respond to.

We went to Argentina with this

feeling of gratitude to Van Horebeek,

Honda SR and Honda

France and all the people that

put Jeremy on the line. It was

fantastic that they were prepared

[for the season] but timing was

the issue for us and we could

only say that we’d support them

in any way we could: and that is

an ongoing process.”

Crockard, who won 250cc

Grands Prix for Honda in 2001,

empathised with Van Horebeek’s

plight but was also quick

to highlight the positivity of

the privateer’s progress. “He is

doing exceptionally well and I

can relate to from my own personal

experience as a non-factory

Honda rider in my career and

taking podiums and winning

races,” he said. “So I’m right

behind him in terms of what he

is doing and the promotion of the

customer CRF. Anyone can create

that bike and it demonstrates the

ability of that product. It helps on

two fronts: to the consumer that

we want to buy our bikes and

also to the rest of this paddock

to show that you don’t need the

‘magic bike’. Riders in previous

years have complained that they

couldn’t get the results because

they don’t have factory material.

What Jeremy is doing is a great

argument against that claim and

will really help for future years in

dealings with riders.”

While Van Horebeek’s bright run

of speed and form is an advertisement

for Honda there is also

the awkward PR situation of a

rider potentially excelling for a

brand and then receiving little

compensation or assistance for

the job he is doing, especially if

#89 feels like ‘emphasising’ his

privateer status repeatedly in

the media. For now at least JVH

will have to persist with his lot at

Honda SR and the underdog ‘forgotten’

tag seems to be suitably

fuelling the fire.

“People can say ‘but you’re

Honda: why don’t you have any

euros?’ but this is subject of

budgets, plans, management.

There is nothing we can allocate

at the moment but It is not a

closed door or subject,” Crockard

stresses. “It is wonderful he

is doing so well because it helps

my case to say this guy is delivering

the goods and he should

be given support and help. It is

an ongoing process that I am

working-on internally. This is a

new dynamic where a guy has

showed up on his own - with his

own bike - and is making the

MXGP podium; we are continuing

to work on it. Would be go

any better on a factory bike? We

don’t know.”







Observant visitors to Matterley

Basin may spotted the new

‘Goggle Lane’ at the end of the

pit straight. This area/initiative

is new for 2019 and in reaction

to the amendment to the

FIM rulebook stating that riders

must circulate during races with

eyewear; if goggles are ditched

then racers have until the following

lap to either pit or enter the

Goggle Lane to grab a new pair.

MXGP athletes were informed

about the addition to their potential

race strategy at the opening

round in Argentina where they

were also told – allegedly – that

there would be no ‘hard enforcement’

of the rules for 2019 as

the paddock acclimatises to the

presence and use of the Goggle


Anstie rightfully cited the example

of Calvin Vlaanderen’s misfortune

at the 2018 Motocross

of Nations as justification. The

HRC man was forced to ditch

his eye protection in the RedBud

mud and subsequent medical/

cleansing treatment meant he

could not enter the final moto

in the USA and the Netherlands

missed out on what would have

been a sure-fire victory. “It’s so

they don’t have the situation

like with Calvin at the Nations,”

affirmed the Standing Construct

KTM rider. “Maybe if they had

the Goggle Lane [there] then he

wouldn’t have had that issue. It is

a good thing that they recognised

it and they are trying to see what

happens. It might be only one or

two races where we’ll use it. We’ll

see. 90% of the time you don’t

need to change goggles.”

HRC’s Tim Gajser pointed out

the potential ‘tactical’ problem

with the Goggle Lane and onelap

rule for the future: will a

rider take more risk with dirty or

malfunctioning goggles rather

than lose time making a forced

change? It is a scenario that

could well arise, particularly

towards the end of races and for

final positions. “For safety it is

better but from the other side

nobody will want to lose time by

throwing the goggles away and

might persist with muddy ones

or try to look with one eye to try

and not stop,” he said. “It has a

positive and some bad about it.”

“They said they were not going

to penalise anyone if you don’t

stop,” revealed Max Anstie at

Matterley Basin. “I think for this

year it doesn’t matter. They’ve

done it [established the Goggle

Lane] to make it faster and to

make the riders want to do it.”

“I haven’t tried it yet but it seems

like a good idea to me,” voiced

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s

Thomas Kjer Olsen. “It is so

dangerous to ride without goggles

and to go right through the

pitlane takes a while. I haven’t

seen it being used yet but it

could work.”








Not since the 2007 FIM

Motocross World Championship

has the premier class missed a

defending #1 in the gate for the

opening rounds of the series

(2006 winner Stefan Everts had

retired at Ernee, France) but the

situation of both reigning champions

MIA was not only a startling

blow for Red Bull KTM but

an extremely rare occurrence in


Jeffrey Herlings’ presence in

Munderfing and KTM’s race HQ

in the week before Matterley

Basin clarified his direction for

2019, and put-paid to rumours

of his defection to the Lucas

Oil AMA Pro Nationals for the

summer. There had been teasing

statements from the world

champion once Herlings realised

the chances to recapture his

crown were effectively scuppered

by his broken right foot. However

there was some resistance to the

suggestion. KTM invest too much

into their peerless MXGP squad

to be without another star rider

for the year when the roster had

already been cut from five to four

athletes and one of those was GP

rookie Tom Vialle. Herlings was

enamoured with a new target

and a fresh scene (as well as the

prospect of more collaboration

with famed South African trainer

Aldon Baker) but once the reality

of his rehab and recovery was

underlined by KTM management

then he could hardly complain.

The champions are hoping that

#84 will be able to ride by April

22nd and if the repaired right

foot can cope with the build-up

of saddle time and tests through

a variety of tracks and conditions

then Herlings would still have

struggled to be 100% for the

start of the Nationals at Hangtown

on May 18th (and also contemplate

all the relocation and

transition hassle of being based

in the USA).

With the subject swiftly removed

from the table Herlings has less

pressure to hurry his return to

the MXGP field. The initial estimate

is that he’ll miss Grands

Prix in Holland and Italy and

might appear for the first time at

Mantova on May 12th, which is

the first of three events in a row.

Eying a quicker comeback, Jorge

Prado is in the quandary of resting/rushing

for an improvement

in his left shoulder and the haematoma

that effectively ‘locked’

him out of the British round.

“I did everything to try and come

to Matterley but it just wasn’t

possible,” he said exclusively of

the repercussions to his practice

spill that developed into a more

serious issue. “The week after

Argentina I crashed while training.

It was pretty big but I didn’t

feel anything and kept on riding

and doing my motos. The day

after I did some gym workout

and felt quite stiff with the neck

and back. I just assumed it was

from the crash. I kept riding and

training and everything was going

well and I felt strong.”

“Then suddenly one day I woke

up and couldn’t get out of bed!”

he explains. “I had so much

pain and could not run or even

breathe. It was hard to move. We

went to two doctors in one week

and they couldn’t see what was

wrong but in the end we found

out three days before the GP. I

still cannot even move well today

[Friday]. It is a bummer I’ll miss

the GP because of a stupid injury.

I mean, I kept riding after the

crash! And then one day I could

not even walk. I had two compressed

vertebrae but this was

not the big deal, it was more the

shoulder blade and the bleeding

that was occurring underneath;

it got to the point where it was

putting pressure on my lungs

and affecting the nerves, which

meant I could not move my

arms. We cannot do anything to

speed it up, just rest and see if

we can do good in Valkenswaard.

The championship is long so I’m

not stressed about it.”

With Prado’s absence and

Herlings’ continued abscond,

the factory team have already

suffered more ‘DNS’ in 2019

compared to all of the previous

season when they had five riders

on the works SX-Fs. Another

example of the frivolity of fortune

in the sport.





Who’d want to organise a Grand Prix?

I was a little surprised to reach

Steve Dixon on the phone last

week for a quick chat to construct

a Telegraph story about the rigours

of formulating his tenth British

Grand Prix; the ninth at the grasssite

Matterley Basin circuit which

effectively means it is used just

once a year and signifies special

logistical upheaval. Not that Steve,

a thirty year veteran of team management

and grand prix racing, is

unreachable – quite the opposite

in fact – but that he’d had the time

or the head space to comment on

all the commotion around him.

Compared to his first venture in

2005 at the defunct Matchams

Park on the edge of the New Forest

and a quest to re-establish

his home round of the FIM World

Championship that had fallen

into the doldrums, Matterley has

become a familiar and systematic

process for Dixon. I’d wager that

very few people in the UK will

know more about the myriad of

environmental, legal and regulatory

issues that surround a race

meeting of a similar nature.

Staging this event with the instability

of climate, attendance figures

and the ever-present question of

sustainability – simply covering

costs – must be like standing in

the middle of the waiting zone surrounded

by forty revving bikes. For

Dixon the annual challenges for

Matterley have come down to the

varying level of infrastructure and

presentation that have squeaked

and heaved depending on the

amount of notoriously difficult

budget available.

Without the benefit of government/tourist

board funding or

the presence of heavy (almost

title) sponsors the guy must be

sweating at every opportunity: the

assurances from partners and suppliers

to get the event running, the

count through the gate and then

the count-up of the takings to get

everybody paid.

For a fixture that costs upwards

of a quarter of a million pounds

to run, the possibility to trim and

save must be one of the operational

protocols, and anybody who

has dealt with Steve will know that

making money from Matterley is

not at the top of his priorities. “I

still cannot really give an answer

as to why I do it,” he said to me. “I

think if people were not prepared

to give their time and their knowledge

for sporting events like this

then they wouldn’t exist and that

goes for pretty much any sport I


The second round of the 2019

MXGP series occurring in the UK

was a massive gamble. Memories

were still fresh of the cold, rain-hit

mudder of the 2017 Motocross of

Nations at the end of September

and with all the inconvenience and

hassle that entails.

Dixon claimed that running the

Grand Prix in March shaved 25%

away from his costs; for example

the price of fencing being much

cheaper at this time of year compared

to the summer when music

festivals and other outside events

are looking to bank on better odds

of British weather. There was also

the appeal of being the initial European


By Adam Wheeler

It is the time when fans and most

of the paddock enjoy their first

taste of MXGP as the seasonopener

in Argentina is a continent

too far for the Eurocentric race

teams. The scheduling was still not

too kind in this respect as the British

Grand Prix is followed immediately

by the Dutch round on the

‘all-weather’ sand of Valkenswaard

just south of Eindhoven and then

the hard-pack of Arco di Trento in

northern Italy. The political buffoonery

and indecisiveness in the

UK at the moment is hardly enticing

more European visitors but

those from the mainland would be

more likely to wait until Valkenswaard

– even if that race shivered

in snow and sub-zero temperatures

last year in a similar spot on

the agenda.

The gamble worked. Sunday

splashed welcome sunshine and

blue skies to temper the chilly

breeze and the public crowded

what had been a sparse site on

Saturday. Dixon talked about one

of the exasperating elements of

cash-feeding the Grand Prix in that

fans are likely to make snapshot

decisions on the day and not take

profit of early bird offers. Some

scepticism is understandable

and many would have eyed the

weather forecast before making a

final decision on whether to head

to Winchester but it was clear that

Dixon was longing for some of the

financial help that music festivals

typically enjoy when the public

buy their tickets quickly and far in


There was a rougher edge to this

Grand Prix. It was also the first

race for Youthstream and the full

might of their circuit set-up so it

felt hurried and a little chaotic. It

was noticeable via the small things

such as security staff lacking

information or briefing, generator

power in the living area or the absence

of lighting in the parking and

paddock zones. Where the event

really counted though – the track

and the spectacle – then Matterley

delivered. The course was a splendid

mix of rough ground but high

speed and vast jumps. It invited

throttle-straining pace but also

dared riders to take risks. It asked

questions of their willingness to

push and to paraphrase track creator

and caretaker Johnny Douglas

Hamilton “that’s motocross”. It is

still so popular for the racers that

have to find the lines and tackle

the bumps. Hamilton felt that the

terrain was at an optimum point

of moisture, and this was another

element in which the Grand Prix

was fortunate. It would have been

perilous to rip the track deep and

well in advance due to the propensity

of the English rain (and across

the channel riders described their

frustration at not being able to

train due to the deluge in Belgium)

and in the end the crew

were scrabbling to ensure the right

amount of watering was in place.

Hamilton’s verdict was backed up

by the fact that very little dust was

evident by the end of the second

MXGP moto and a programme

that had seen two support classes

also in action.

In a podcast with Shaun Simpson

and Paul Malin (OTOR’s second

ProTaper-backed recording and

easily found on the website) we

talked about Matterley Basin’s

status as the home of the British

Grand Prix. It has been the port

of call as the UK’s top off-road

gathering since 2011 and while its



geographical location means a

long trip for everyone north of

London it has the size to accommodate

MXGP and flexibility

from the land owner (as well as

other permanent additions such

as water piping and communications

link). For all the hassle of

having to cart infrastructure on

site and subsequently dismantle,

Dixon still feels there are very

few sites or existing circuits that

can meet the requisites of Grand

Prix. It would be interesting to

get spectators viewpoints: those

that are British GP regulars

or have visited Matterley for

the first time. Reach out to us

on our Twitter feed to offer an


Across the weekend there was

(ambitious) talk of the first

Australian Grand Prix since 2001

taking place in a horseracing

stadium complex in the city of

Perth. It’s sounds speculative

but also curious. I’m not adverse

to new experiments with MXGP

because it only adds diversity to

the calendar and thus the richness

of the show and the depth

of the challenge.

I’ve left some new or ‘alternative’

Grands Prix unimpressed,

by what was either the impact

of the racing or the plausibility

of the organisation but in almost

every case I’ve been able to respect

the attempt to offer something

different or try transporting

motocross to a fresh scene or


People might turn their nose up

at the ‘dilution’ of sport and its

organic roots and could consider

the temporary sandy circuit at a

place like Assen as an aberration

but the FIM World Championship

does have venues steeped

in history like Teutschenthal, St

Jean D’Angely, Valkenswaard,

Loket, Uddevalla. Perth could be

mega. It might also be a forgettable

and ill-advised mistake.

Matterley Basin is not the oldest

or most characteristic venue on

the MXGP trail but it is generally

loved by the riders and, still,

draws the public. The Grand

Prix is one of the very few ‘old

models’ where promoter and

organiser combine to make it

happen on a shoestring and this

is another area of risk.

Dixon and his crew need some

help and protection to not only

ensure that Matterley survives

but can even look to longer stability

and event upgrades without

thinking that this extra effort

constitutes ‘burnt cash’.




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travel capabilities and deliver unrivalled offroad performance, the new

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Please make no attempt to imitate the illustrated riding scenes, always wear protective clothing and observe the applicable provisions of the road traffic regulations!

The illustrated vehicles may vary in selected details from the production models and some illustrations feature optional equipment available at additional cost. Photo: F. Lackner



This is an enticing offer from the largest motocross/motorcycle

one-stop site in Europe.

These 3x3m easy-ups race tents are now

available at 65% off their normal retail price

(just 59.99 in the UK with a 79.99 version

that includes the 3 wall section attachment).

The product has some outstanding reviews

and – with some willing hands - can be assembled

in just 4 seconds (hence the term

‘easy-up’). 24MX claim it is very durable and

designed for regular use. The legs are made

from steel and the canvas is weatherproof

PU-coated polyester.


It can stretch up to 3.2m of height, providing

9m2 of space and has a tensile strength of

30kg/5cm. The whole structure weighs 25kg

and comes with a carry bag when folded up,

meaning it will conveniently tuck away into a

corner of a van. For road racers/riders then

24MX’s sister site XLmoto have the same

structure, and the black awning will be an

essential asset for paddock set-up and for

creating a decent piece of work or promotional

space. Great cost as well.


• Eighteen bold new colorways across the Fuzion and

2.0 Square handlebar pad lines

• Durable high-density closed-cell pad foam provides

impact protection and keeps the elements out

• Revised cover designs improve fit and finish

• Unique color-matched pad foam

Photo: Juan Pablo Acevedo


@ P R O T A P E R

P R O T A P E R . C O M







By Adam Wheeler, Photos by CormacGP,

Ray Archer, Fly Racing, 6D, Leatt, Alpinestars


The crash helmet game is changing.

The most simple, most obvious

form of motorcycling safety

has progressed from leather ‘skull caps’

as little as seventy years ago to the kind

of material composite and ‘suspension’

technology perhaps more advanced than

the equipment found on the bikes themselves.





In the past companies large and small,

specialised and speculative have fabricated

their own ideas of protection and

performance adhering to the DOT, Snell

and ECE tests and criteria for impact resistance

and strength. The development

of shell materials, EPS liners and internal

weaves have allowed brands to further

address issues connected with concussion

and the potential fatal consequences

of brain injury, such as rotational acceleration

(where the brain essentially

shears away from its roots). It is a subject

we’ve looked into thanks to OTOR’s

contacts with firms like 6D Helmets and

then other procrastinators like Leatt and


While a helmet with added safety specs

is a boon for street or off-road riders,

the additional advantages compared to

normal ‘light, tested, ventilated’ units

were largely ‘take it or leave it’. The vast

helmet industry offered a mammoth

spectrum of price, efficiency, design and


Over the last half decade and in response

to the growing advances in ‘lid’ health

funcionality, a proactive invesitgation

and stance by the FIM – controllers of

world championship motorcycle racing –

has stirred the pot. The governing body

sought a new test protocol to define a

fresh standard of safety for every

motorcycle racer that takes to a grid,

gate or timing line. The FIM Racing

Homologation Programme for helmets

(known as FRHPhe) was a first bold

move considering the sheer scale of the

multi-national businesses – many of

whom are steeped in history, knowledge

and established manufacturing processes

– would be affected. Motorcycle racing is

one of the largest promotional windows

for related products and the FRHPhe

has already been implemented in road

racing (off-road is coming) with a raft of

press releases over the last six months

informing the media and public of the

latest model or company to pass the new


Not only is FRHPhe a delicate and problematic

scheme for the FIM (where they



had previously diverted to existing international

standards for approval in their

competitions) but it is also brave and

exhaustive. “The process of defining the

testing protocol took approximately two

years,” reveals the FIM’s Erica Manfredi.

“Many meetings were organised between

FIM, the industry, the testing laboratories

and other stakeholders. A testing protocol

was published in 2017 with pass/

fail criteria corresponding to a phase 1.

A phase 2 has already been announced

with more stringent criteria and the potential

evolutions are under discussion.

The helmet testing is carried out in laboratories

approved by FIM. So far there is

one at the University of Zaragoza and two

more will be added for the near future.”

“It is difficult to give numbers as applications

and tests are still ongoing,”

she adds concerning the workload. “The

majority of helmet brands with products

used for motorcycle competition have

worked hard and have had at least one

model FIM-homologated in all or some


Unsurprisingly the FRHPhe has been met

with varying levels of enthusiasm/opposition,

which begs the question: why do it?

The FIM have overseen other strides in

motorcycling competition safety, ranging

from stipulations over circuit’s medical

facilities and resources to minor regulations

such as the compulsory use of

chest protectors in Grand Prix motocross.

FRHP had its next target. “FRHPhe was

established in order to take account of

a more complete and demanding evaluation

of performance, and give specific

and exclusive recognition to helmets that

meet more demanding criteria,” Manfredi

states. “Of course the FIM was aware that

the implementation of an FIM Helmet

Standard would be an uphill struggle, but

believed that the key to its success was

to work directly with the industry and

with experts in the field of helmet testing

and to establish a solid and robust testing


For a section of the industry – those

motivated by the same progressive attitude

as the FIM as to what head protection

can offer – FRHPhe was like another

(larger) star on the banner. The road racing

homologation process is well underway

but off-road (motocross, supercross,

rally and enduro) is awaiting finalisation.







It’s mystifying why off-road specialists

are stretching ahead of their road counterparts

for the performance aspects of

helmets. Road lids traditionally have a

preoccupation with shell strength and

aside from innovations like the quick release

system have evolved their products

in terms of comfort (noise, visibility, fit,

aerodynamics, cooling), structure (twopiece

hinged full-face) and other minor

technical adds-on such as Bluetooth

compatibility. Off-road helmets are perhaps

more rudimentary but can be even

more complex when it comes to design

and are far more likely to wear or suffer

damage/a crash.

Ironically for the first results of FRHPhe

it is the road helmets that are receiving

the FIM stamp while the technologies (or

idiosyncrasies) of off-road have still to be

verified for world championship contests.

Since Californian pioneers 6D introduced

their ATR-1 (the ATS being the street

model and the firm have since expanded

into cycling) and the Omni-Directional

Suspension – a ‘damper’ system between

the liners – at the turn of the decade it has

prompted renewed thinking about how the

energy of a crash or impact at low, mid

and high velocity can be better managed.

Their efforts, testing and unique (and

costly but successful) manufacturing drew

attention to similar philosophies, such as


the Swedish MIPS mechanism (licenced and

used by firms such as Fox Racing, Answer and

Troy Lee Designs), Leatt’s turbine idea, Bell’s

Flex and Fly Racing’s Adaptive Impact System.

6D’s Bob Weber explains that the FIM still

need to refine FRHPhe for a different sport.

“The implementation of the FIM’s FRHPhe

testing for off-road would be a step in the

correct direction, assuming that the test was

modified for off-road type crashes, which will

require lower impact velocities for starters,” he

says. ‘The addition for rotational energy management

testing will bring the safety for riders

up, even at phase one for a starting point opposed

to doing nothing.’

‘It is pretty amazing that the FIM has been

able to make a decision, put in the work into

developing a testing protocol and get many

helmet manufacturers onboard to a new test

standard,’ Weber adds. ‘Erica and her team

had an uphill battle with some of the helmet

companies in the manufacturer’s consortium

to make the needed changes. For 6D this was

not as hard as we have already completed

the work and only needed to raise the impact

velocities for our testing parameters… and

spend a lot of money in doing so to meet the

new standard.’

Leatt, helmed by South Africa Dr Chris Leatt

who founded and developed the neck brace,

claim that the Capetown-based operation

have added the latest helmet test equipment

to their comprehensive laboratory. Their GPX

6.5 (and 5.5) models was the result, with the

Turbine Technology advocating 30% less head

impact at concussion level and a 40% reduction

for rotational acceleration. All the preposition

and discovery through millions of dollars



us reduce rotational energy (angular velocity)

and rotational forces (from angular acceleration)

during impact. We have invested in state

of the art equipment to help us develop and

improve our technology and our latest helmet

rig allows us to evaluate linear and rotational

impacts at both repetitive load speeds as well

as high speed impacts and is the same specification

used by the FIM for their new Racing

Homologation Programme for helmets.”

The most recent addition to this new sphere

of the market was Fly Racing who raised

eyebrows with their ‘Formula’ helmet and the

Adaptive Impact System formed from energy

cells made by Rheon (an ‘active’ strain-rate

sensitive material that dissipates energy) and

the Conehead liner formation. Fly are perhaps

more renowned for their wide catalogue of

motorcycling wares and poplar off-road gear

lines but Creative Director and a lead figure on

and years of studying motorcycle crashes for

their neck brace research allows some special

understanding when it comes to their work on


“The ‘best practices’ test methodology on rotational

acceleration is still a work in progress

and there is a healthy debate on this matter

within the helmet community and FIM,” he

says. “We believe that test standards should

be revised to include rotational type testing,

as well as other test methods that would help

evaluate the helmet’s ability to mitigate the

chance of concussion or serious head / brain


“The need to mitigate the risk of concussion

or more serious head/brain injuries remains

a high priority for Leatt,” he adds. “As cost is

not LEATT’s main USP, we are able to constantly

evaluate different technologies to help

the Formula, Jerry Lathrop, emphasises that

“FLY Racing has been specializing in helmets

and safety gear development for over 20 years.

As a gear brand, it is common that our expertise

in helmets is a bit overlooked, but it is a

very big part of what we do at our headquarters

in Boise, Idaho.”

“We have aligned with Dr. Dan Plant and his

London based team, Rheon Labs, which are

leading the study and development space of

impact and rotational materials,” he explains.

“We are in the best position we have ever been

to effect change in helmet safety. Today, we

build the best helmet you can buy for motocross

with real and fair benchmark test data

available for the world to dig in in and learn all

about it. The investment to realize all this was

for sure a high cost, in fact the Formula helmet

was the most expensive product FLY Racing

has ever developed. For test comparisons, we

invested in over $30,000 worth of competitor

benchmark helmets alone. Our team spent 3

years heavily focused on the project.’

After their renewed dive bomb into the helmet

segment Lathrop says that protective capabilities

are now priority number one. ‘Most of the

helmet developers I have talked with agree

that it is time for the helmet standards to implement

a rotational impact criterion. For that

we are happy to see this type of standard moving

forward. As with any safety test methodology,

implementation is time consuming and

requires a high level of scrutiny and review.’

Alpinestars entered the helmet fray after almost

half a decade of refining their SM-8 and

SM-10. Safety, characteristically, was at the

top of the design brief. “Alpinestars has approached

the development of helmet technology

in the same way as all other market leading

innovations it has brought to the motorcycling

and motorsports world over the last 55 years,”

the firm said to us of the models that boast

MIPS and a number of other features, in particular

rigid shell construction. “In the case

of the Supertech range of motocross helmets,

this has meant four years of focused endeavour

before the helmet appeared at Round 1 of

the AMA Supercross series in 2018.”

The Italians did admit however that the strides

of their newfound helmet peers were not an

instigating factor. “The criteria that Alpinestars

set for its Supertech helmets are defined by its

own long-held beliefs about the needs of riding

motorcycles to the limit and the key features

that make riding the great experience that riders

seek when getting out on their bikes. These

criteria are not influenced by other manufacturers

products or trends in the market but are

shaped by the vision that Alpinestars Product

Development Department has for the evolving

needs of riders. Homologation standards are

an important component in giving a baseline

guide for performance but do not define the

ultimate product performance or benefits.”

Unfortunately past experience in trying to

contact Bell’s marketing team have proven

fruitless, so their fascintating Flex technology

(which 6D concede holds decent merit) remains

on the periphery of this story.

Two of the most recognisable helmet names,

Arai and Shoei, felt unwilling or unprepared to

vocalise on FRHPhe, which could be expected

if the companies are in the throes of testing

their own new theories due for release soon (or

they may be frantically trying to modernise).

‘The Arai team is in the process of crafting a

statement regarding the FIM and the Racing

Homologation Program,’ was one response,

while Shoei would simply state: ‘We, SHOEI,

are not in a position to comment on the homologation.

We are developing and manufacturing

our products which are complied with

the required homologation.’



“The process of implementing the

standard has been long and sometimes

tough,” admits Manfredi. “Nevertheless

the more motivated manufacturers

drove the others and everybody is now

on the same page. Today, the FIM Helmet

Standard is considered worldwide

as very advanced and many other standards,

institutions, etc. are adopting or

adapting the key aspects of it. The FIM

Helmet Standard has a solid scientific

basis and has been presented, discussed

and approved in the most important

forums and events, with the biggest

worldwide experts in helmet testing and

in head injury biomechanics.”










The FIM are conscious that any guideline

with such wide-ranging influence has to

be watertight and pay total due diligence

to an industry that invests millions and

millions in R&D and production. Their

dependence and trust on existing research

and the scientific findings is illustrated

by the (so far) ‘cool’ approach to

something like neck protection: a device

and theory that has seen a number of

firms investigate and ultimately manufacture

since Leatt presented their case

in the middle of the last decade. “The

FIM has so far quite neutral

(neither recommending them/making

them mandatory, nor banning their use),”

says Manfredi on the subject of neck

braces. “This is due to divergent opinions

in the medical and scientific community.

So for the moment these are not

included in the FRHP and more research

is needed going forward.”

‘We are in constant communication with

them to ensure that we stay on top of

this possible new standard development

for the off-road market,’ says Chris Leatt

on the subject of FRHPhe. “There are

also several other working groups, linked

to regulating bodies and organizations

(involved with helmet test standards),

that are actively discussing the effects of

rotational impacts and ways to incorporate

them into existing helmet standards.

At Leatt Corporation we are constantly

innovating and looking at new ways, be

it new materials, clever application of existing

materials or smart designs, to try

and improve the impact protection levels

for all the helmets in our product line.”

“The FIM Helmet Standard criteria and

thresholds are based on data and findings

drawn from internationally recognised

scientific publications and works,”

Manfredi further justifies. “These references

were taken into account in order to

select suitable injury criteria and limits

related to determined and quantified

injury risks.”

But the very nature of a motorcycle

crash involves a dizzying array of possibilities

and scenarios and that feeds

into the complexity of the trials. It is far

from simple. “The testing method that is

being used, and the testing apparatus for

the rotational testing, may require a new

approach in the future to help eliminate

the inherent variables that are present

during rotational testing,” says Weber.

“These are due to complicated physics

issues that have been studied for many

years, and argued from many different

groups of people and universities, and

need to be developed further to allow

for more repeatable test data outcomes

by different testing labs. In addition, the

injury metrics that are to be used are still

in a state of debate from industry experts

in the field of biomechanics, the equations

used and the weighting as to what

is most important for protection. With

all this, the FIM has had a tough job in

getting the first rotational test standard

up and running that the industry helmets

can be compared to as a starting point.’


Of course FRHPhe only carries ramifications

for companies that showcase and

use racing as a research and development

test bed. Countless other helmets

pass the international tests (DOT, Snell

and ECE) for the safety sticker and never

see the expanses of a racetrack. This

does not stop the FIM believing that

FRHPhe could be a watermark. Manfredi:

“As the latest state of art methods of

testing (such as the innovative oblique

test, and linear tests at higher and lower

speeds) were included in the Standard,

the FIM is hopeful that the Standard will

serve as an inspiration for and cascade

to international standards for road use.

This would be confirmation that we have

done a good job and we would be very

happy to see safety on the road benefit

from our work.”

‘As the leading authoritative body within

the motorcycle industry, the FIM has taken

a proactive and bold stance to be the

first to say we can demand more safety

for the riders, and not leave it entirely up

to the governments of the world,’ says

Weber. ‘It is not easy to get an industry to

change its methods and there is an associative

cost to not only the manufacturers,

but also to the consumers as a whole, and

the FIM has tried hard to understand these

issues with a balanced approach over an

iron fist.’

‘While the FIM has a good start, one of the

dangers is that the FRHPhe does not get

the needed consumer attention and support,

and starts to become less of a concern

and the future advancements for more

stringent requirements are implemented,”

Weber adds. “It will take a lot of ongoing

effort and expense for the industry to continue

to push the safety requirements to

new levels, and as helmet manufacturers


we need to be pushing side by side with the

FIM to meet these new requirements as they

are defined. ‘

Alpinestars, a brand that bases so much of

their product development in their comprehensive

racing programme, sees the immediate

correlation value of FRHPhe. “Racing

offers the most demanding test environment

for new product technology and also gives

the strongest possible assurance of protection

standards,” they said to us. “Top level racing

is uniquely demanding and not only are minimum

safety standards a vital development for

rider well-being but also provide a visible and

formally established protocol that ensures all

equipment being brought to racing is produced

to a suitably high standard. These standards,

by extension, provide a directly relevant homologation

requirement for customers using

the technology for their own leisure riding and


Thanks to FRHPhe racers will soon not have

much of a choice but Fly are quick to point

out for all the stress and toil towards improvement

consumers will make their own minds up

about what degree of protection they will prefer.

Much in the same way how some people

will ride motorcycles wearing shorts and trainers

instead of leather trousers and reinforced

boots and how some bikers around the world

still don’t advocate the use of crash helmets

at all. ‘I think there are all levels of need out

there,’ says Lathrop. ‘Not everyone can afford

the latest technology, nor does everyone follow

these technologies. For that reason, some price

point products should exist so all can afford to

protect themselves. Today’s standards such as

DOT and ECE serve a huge role in saving lives

every day.’

Leatt says his peers should not cower from

what the FIM are proposing and pushing. “As

long as the standards are well conceived and

applied, no manufacturer should balk at meeting

them. Customers demand cool helmets

that are protective, manufacturers have an

ethical obligation to produce the safest helmets


FRHPhe is here to stay and the influence in

MotoGP and circuit racing has caused consternation

with a delay from February 2019 (and

the start of the season) until June 2019 for

the enforcement of the homologated models

with just AGV, Bell, HJC, Kabuto, X-Lite Nolan,

Shark and Shoei’s X-Fourteen receiving the

blue stamp so far. Companies that did not submit

their lids for laboratory testing before the

end of February could miss the test and approval

window for ’19. From the start of 2020

FRHPhe homologation will be mandatory.

Elsewhere airbags are now obligatory in MotoGP

and it seems with each passing season

the FIM are including more and more safety

measures into their disciplines; MXGP will

soon enforce goggle use on track.

FRHP is the vanguard for more development

work that won’t only involve helmets. “The FIM

Racing Homologation Programme has been

established with this very purpose in mind: a

framework to grant special recognition to all

products related to safety and as a requirement

for FIM competitions,” offers Manfredi.

“The main aim of this Programme is to meet

the need for an advanced evaluation of the

safety performance of different kind of products:

among the items under the recent spotlight

are off-road helmets, racetrack paints and

protective barriers for tracks. There is a lot of

work to do with a twofold objective: safe venues

and safety for riders.”



fly racing

Five very inviting new colourways of Fly Racing’s

Kinetic Mesh racewear for their ‘19.5’ release.

The company have the catchy ‘Flow air/Filter dirt’

tag for the gear that can easily be spotted on the

forms of Blake Baggett and Zach Osborne in AMA

Supercross. Fly highlight the benefits as: ‘utilizing

ventilated dual-mesh construction coupled with

dynamic multi-directional stretch-rib paneling for

flexibility and a ratcheting closure system on the

pants for a secure fit, Kinetic Mesh is meticulously

tested and researched for maximum rider comfort.’

The garments come in standard fit, which is important

for riders not over-enthusiastic about

some of the tight ‘performance’ kit doing the

rounds of the shelves and hangers. The pants are

resistant due to the Dupont stitched Kevlar leather

heat shield knee panels and 900 denier material.

All-in-all Kinetic Mesh is a serious and reasonably

priced option for your next gear purchase.



VBlog by Steve Matt



hes, Photos by James Lissimore


CENTURY LINK FIELD · MARCH 23 · Rnd 12 of 17

450SX winner: Marvin Musquin, KTM

250SX winner: Dylan Ferrandis, Yamaha











When it’s your year, it’s your year. I’ve been saying that for

a while when it comes to Red Bull KTM’s Cooper Webb and

his improbable run to this 450SX championship.

Case in point this past weekend

in Seattle, Webb didn’t look like

his usual self all day, the big

whoops seemingly able to get the

better of him. In the main event

he rode in fourth for most of the

race and although he was catching

Monster Energy Kawasaki’s

Eli Tomac for the last spot on the

podium, in the end he couldn’t

do it and lost seven points to the

suddenly hot Marvin Musquin.

The points spread was gonna be

down to seven with five rounds


But after the race Musquin was

docked seven points for jumping

on a Red Cross flag (for the

downed Justin Brayton and Chad

Reed, both riders look to be out a

while unfortunately) and although

he gets to keep the win, Marv

loses those points and the purse

money. You may remember a

similar penalty being applied to

GEICO Honda’s Jeremy Martin

last year when he won Indianapolis.

It’s a newer rule, one that doesn’t

take a win away from a rider but

does incur a penalty. For this situation,

it was the right thing to do,

Musquin needed to be penalized

but it was only a few seconds of

a twenty minute race, in the past

riders have had all their hard

work taken away for something

that’s been pretty miniscule.

But back to Webb, after the penalty

was applied, Webb and Musquin

scored the same amount

of points and voila, the fourteen

point advantage is back for Coop

with five rounds remaining. It just

feels like things are going the way

for the #2 on the KTM right?

For Musquin though that’s two

wins in a row after going winless

all season long. He’s been on fire

lately and truthfully should have

more than just the two victories

but couldn’t quite get it all together.

Generally his successes

have come in the second half

of the season so look for him to

keep this roll going. Will it be

enough to catch and pass his

upstart teammate? Stay tuned

and I think before this thing is all

said and done, there will be some

friction between them.

Ken Roczen admitted in the team

PR last week that he can’t quite

figure out what’s been going on

with him lately as he’s lacked

energy and fire that he normally

has. I’d agree with him based on

the fact that he went four weeks

without a podium. In Seattle, he

was very good all day long and

scored a runner-up finish. He’s

in California this week at the Red

Bull facility getting some blood

work done to try and figure out

what exactly has been going on

but there’s some hope based on

his Seattle ride. He got close to

Musquin at times but couldn’t

make anything happen but it was

the best #94 we’ve seen for a


By Steve Matthes

Tomac finished a quiet third, he

didn’t get the start he needed

and spent some time working

through some good riders to get

that third. He was charging hard

and was the fastest man on the

track about four to five laps into

the main. He rode amazing in

Seattle last year to win so one

would think his charge might’ve

carried him past the top two

rides. But then something…happened.

He lost his speed and

lost touch with the top two pretty

badly. In fact, if there was one

more lap in the race he would’ve

had a big problem on his hands

with Webb. It was another performance

that left you scratching

your head a bit and both Tomac

and Roczen sit third and fourth

in the series standings. Definitely

not something we expected to

see at this point.

Rockstar Husqvarna’s Dean Wilson

is having a real solid season.

Considering he started the year

without a ride, the adaptation to

a factory saddle with Jason Anderson’s

injury has been pretty

smooth. Two weeks ago Wilson

won a heat race for the first time

this year, in Seattle he qualified

fastest. Baby steps indeed for the

oft-injured rider that’s looking

to score a second career 450SX

podium one of these weeks.

“I feel like my riding has been

really good the past four to five

weeks. I’m always real close in

timed qualifying,” Wilson told me

this week. “My speed is good.

Heat races are getting pretty

good. I’m in the battle. Starts are

pretty good. Today main event

was a lot better. I was probably

sixth off the start and then was

just kind of in a battle, rolling

some stuff because we’re stuffing

each other. The guys got away.”

In the 250SX class, Monster

Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s

Adam Cianciarulo protected his

points lead with a second place

behind Monster Star Yamaha’s

Dylan Ferrandis. With three races

remaining, the lead for Cianciarulo

stands at 13 over the Frenchman

and those two are emerging

as the top two guys after the

start of the season saw Ferrandis

teammate Colt Nichols and TLD

KTM’s Shane McElrath take turns

battling for wins.

Nichols has had some crashing

issues lately and McElrath has a

back injury that knocked him out

of Seattle and most likely out of

the next two races also. The fact

that McElrath was set to point

out of the 250SX class and this

back injury flared up is, I’m sure,

entirely coincidental.

Anyways, Ferrandis’s win was

impressive, he held off a charging

Kawasaki for most of the

main event and lappers proved

to be an issue throughout. The

win was the first in 250SX for

Ferrandis and completes his

decision to come over here as

a good one. He’s won 250MX

races and has now completed

everything. He’ll go into 2020 as

a 250SX favorite. The oft-injured

rider, going back to his GP days,

seems to have figured things out

and although there are still some

sketchy moments, Ferrandis

has adapted rather well to the

USA style of racing, helped by

his coach David Vuillemin, who

knows a thing or two about winning

over here as a Frenchman.



“Honestly, this ride gives me

confidence, too. He’s (Ferrandis)

always coming from the back

and he’s always got speed and

whatever. When I was behind

him, I felt like I had him,” Cianciarulo

told me after the race. “I

just didn’t pull the trigger, and

that’s on me. He was the better

guy tonight. But I got plenty of

confidence. I’m good.”

Still, it feels like Cianciarulo’s

time to finally capture a championship

that’s eluded him so

far as injuries have struck more

than a few times. With an eye to

jumping up to 450’s next year,

the kid’s last chance looks to be

2019. He’s as fast as ever and

seems to have everything figured

out. It ain’t over by any means

but the once Golden Child is

making good on his incredible




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More than Europe’s

largest MC store

The WorldSBK Championship has a little bit of a break

whilst all the freight returns from the far east and before

the first European round at Motorland Aragon in a couple of

weeks. My focus has changed in that time to MXGP.

The plan for 2019 is to attend a

limited number of events and help

manage the photography service for

one of the main manufacturers in

the championship. The past weekend

was my first event at Matterley

Basin in the UK. It was a challenge

changing the focus from road circuit

to MX both in terms of the action

and the set up of the race track and


I did bump into a couple of familiar

faces on Sunday though, in the

shape of Alex Lowes and Paul Denning

from the Pata Yamaha WorldS-

BK team. Alex was in good spirits

and had had time to reflect on the

previous weekend in Thailand. It’s

a track he has gone well at before,

scoring his first WorldSBK podium

there, and last time out he felt he

was becoming a serious challenger…to

Jonathan Rea at least. I had

actually spoken to Jonathan the day

before and they both commented

that Bautista and the Ducati Panigale

V4R are just on another level at

the moment. However, something

that Alex pointed out was that both

Chaz Davies and Eugene Laverty

didn’t seem to have the same speed

as the Spaniard.

Personally I am not convinced that

Davies is 100% fit but no mention

has been made of it since the tests

in Jerez and Portimao. At that time

he was suffering from a recurring

back problem that they thought was

a throwback to the accident he had

with Rea in Misano in 2017. I may be

offering an excuse for Chaz but the

old adage is certainly true that you

don’t become a bad rider overnight.

We will find out in a couple of weeks

as he and Bautista have been testing

in Aragon in the last few days.

The significance of that is two fold:

the Motorland track is a favourite

of Davies. If he and the team have

found a breakthrough in set up

then the extra time in Spain will

give them a chance to confirm that

before FP1 two weeks on Friday.

The other significant point is - as

I said last time - Ducati are throwing

everything at their attempt to

win the championship. To have the

budget to rent the track and have a

complete set of bikes to test, whilst

the other race bikes are still on the

way back from Thailand, is tantamount

to the level of effort they are

putting in.

Reflecting on the past month I

think we may just be at a juncture

in bike development where Ducati

have raised the bar. Paul Denning

responded to an article shared on

Twitter at the weekend that the bike

they race uses the base R1 road

model as the starting point. The

R1-M on the other hand is a specifically

race derived road bike but

in any event that the performance

difference between a 15k and a 40k

road bike would be huge without

some form of tuning.

By Graeme Brown

I also read this week that Yamaha

have applied for various patents for

their reverse rotation crankshaft

and variable valve timing for their

engines, technologies widely used

in MotoGP. The article went on to

say that Honda and possibly Kawasaki

were going down the VVT

engine route as well for new 1000cc

road machines expected in the

next year or so. Most manufacturers

are coming to the end of their

current model cycles and all will

have to update their existing bikes

to comply with the upcoming Euro5

emission regulations in 2020. It

is widely accepted that VVT is the

best way to retain the high power

output needed to counteract the

losses incurred by complying with

the emission regulations. In race

terms we may be on the cusp of

another performance revolution.

Ducati and BMW have played their

cards first. It could mean that

Ducati steal a march on this year’s

WorldSBK title but if Honda, Kawasaki

and Yamaha bring new models

to the market for 2020, WorldSBK

could be in for exciting times.

It was interesting on Sunday that

Alex also picked up on something

that I had noticed in the dynamic of

the MXGP event and the difference

to WorldSBK. There were a lot more

families, in particular young children,

at the motocross. My experience

of road racing events is that

there is predominantly a middle

aged male demographic but there

was a completely different feel to

the paddock in MX. For one it is

also a lot more compact. You have

to, and can relatively easily, walk

everywhere. The start line, the paddock

and the trade stands were all

cheek by jowl. At a road race circuit

I wouldn’t be able to my job to the

level I do without a paddock scooter

and the facilities for the fans are

much more spread out.

In terms of manufacturers marketing

it would also seem that the way

to attract the next generations to

the world of motorbikes would be

through the off-road market. This

is easily done in a country like the

US where there are thousands of

square miles of open space and

places to go riding off road are

easily found. In Europe and especially

in the UK, there is a constant

conflict between land owners, residential

areas and off road riding. I

saw a fair few electric trials bikes

on the weekend and that may be

the future. It also reminded me of a

little lad that lives at the end of my

street who has a Yamaha PW50. He

has the full gear as well and rides

along side his dad, down the lane

at the back of our houses, whilst

they are walking the dog. A little

twist of the throttle and off he goes,

waits for dad and the dog to catch

up and Braaap, off he goes again.

I love it but I can imagine some of

my neighbours getting a bit antsy

when he is a teenager and starts

pulling wheelies up the street. With

electric bikes we could get more

kids on bikes and have less of the

perceived nuisance value.

It’s a bit of an intense period of

work for me with four races on

the bounce. This week I am off to

Valkenswaard in the Netherlands

for MXGP before heading straight

to Spain for WorldSBK at Motorland

Aragon. This is also when we

have the only back to back races in

WorldSBK, where we go direct from

Motorland to Assen. After that,

I may be at the MotoGP race in

Jerez, but that’s still under negotiation.

At this rate I will be pinching

a battery from one of those little

trials bikes and plugging myself in.


troy lee designs/adidas


An attractive product of Troy Lee Designs

link with Adidas is the TLD X Adidas Seeley

Shoe. Available in two colours and modelled

around the shades of the factory racing

squads, the footwear boasts: a canvas upper,

contrasting 3-Stripes with TLD signature logo

graphic, comfortable textile lining, vulcanized

rubber outsole with herringbone tread, and

a low set profile. Expect to pay around 85

dollars for what is already a recognised and

popular trainer in the high street shops but

now with a cool supercross/otocross link.



More than Europe’s

largest MC store

How do you know when it’s the rider who is making is the

difference and when it’s the bike?

It always amazes me how many

people profess to being able to

recognise this subtle nuance of

elite level motorcycle racing, based

purely on how fast the whole package

goes in a straight line.

Back at the opening round of the

2007 MotoGP World Championship

in Qatar, Casey Stoner stunned

the world with his debut victory for

Ducati, muscling the notorious Desmosedici

around 80% of the circuit

well enough to stay on the back

wheel of Valentino Rossi’s Yamaha

and make use of his bike’s 12km/h

top speed advantage over the M1

on the straight – pretty much the

only place on the whole track where

he could dare to venture a pass.

To my memory at least, nobody had

even mentioned the superior potential

of the Ducati during preseason,

free practice or qualifying, until the

end of that first lap when Rossi’s M1

got blown into the sand.

The advantage of the Yamaha at

Losail – presumably – was its famously

sweet handling through the

fast, flowing sections of the track.

But since the vast majority of us are

generally not qualified to see such

subtleties in the way a MotoGP

bike is behaving via our television

sets, we tend to forget that they are

happening. As such, at the time,

Stoner wasn’t given credit for how

he actually had to ride the thing to

stay in touch.

than Stoner during that Qatar race

in 2007).

The Australian, it later became apparent,

was in fact a genius. Over

time, with the benefit of hindsight,

even his erratic performances on

the LCR Honda in 2006 became

generally and rightfully regarded

as flashes of brilliance amidst a

brutal first season at the top table

of MotoGP, where Valentino always

got his dinner first.

Eventually, even the staunchest

Stoner critic would be forced to

concede that the only advantage

the Desmosedici ever really had

over the other bikes out there was

the soft, fleshy bit sat on top.

‘Ducati power!’ screamed the commentators.

Not fair!’ cried Rossi’s

partisan fan base. None of them

could fathom how else this surly

young Australian upstart might

be able to usurp the Greatest Of

All Time under the setting desert

sun, if not for his clear straight-line


We know now, of course, that in the

hands of any other rider an infinite

amount of horsepower would not

have been enough to balance out

the shortcomings of a whole generation

of Desmosedicis (incidentally

Alex Barros, Loris Capirossi and

Alex Hofmann – all on the same

bike - posted higher top speeds

The reason I bring this up, as you

might have guessed, is that the

start of the 2019 World Superbike

Championship has echoes of those

early 800cc Stoner-Ducati days

over a decade ago. Once again,

Ducati have conjured up a brandnew

bike with some serious grunt

and once again they have a rider

By Matthew Roberts

capable of taking full advantage.

Yet, once again, it seems to be

the bike that is taking most of the


The vagaries of the WSBK ‘balancing

rules’ may soon see Alvaro Bautista

penalised for his utter domination

of the championship so far on

the undeniably irresistible Ducati

V4 Panigale. And, from a neutral

perspective with a vested interest

in the closest possible racing, you

won’t hear me complain about that.

There are mitigating reasons why

the other Ducatis haven’t been

anywhere near as competitive yet:

Chaz Davies’ injury-hit preseason,

Michael Ruben Rinaldi’s lack of experience

and Eugene Laverty’s early

struggles with the obvious limitations

of a customer team. When

these issues get ironed out, we may

well see another V4 running away

with Bautista at the front.

But until that happens, I don’t care

who you are how or much you

know about motorcycle racing, it

is impossible to suggest that the

Spaniard has an unfair advantage

underneath him.

Up to now, all you can say for sure

is that Bautista has demonstrated

his quality, experience and incredible

physical conditioning to help

make the difference over a hugely

competitive rival in Jonathan Rea

and the Kawasaki. The way he has

clicked with the new Panigale and

the Pirelli tyres is another throwback

to Stoner’s immediate affinity

with the Desmosedici and the


Whether Bautista can maintain that

for a whole season is a different

matter. With a new bike there will

always be new developments to

try, some of which won’t work, and

we have yet to see how the whole

package adapts to new circuits

and a range of conditions. We also

have yet to see Kawasaki and Rea’s


Bautista too has questions to answer.

When things don’t go his way,

will he still be quick enough to take

a second place? Will any amount of

top speed help him when he can’t

find a setting on a cold, damp Saturday

morning at Magny Cours?

For now, to the naked eye it might

look like World Superbikes and in

particular Jonathan Rea has an immediate

problem with the Ducati’s

top speed. But, as always with racing

at this level, the reality is much

subtler than that.



Leatt’s furious pace of development means

they have turned their safety-first approach

and R&D might towards a new goggle range.

Fully aware of the competition Leatt have

fashioned off-road eyewear – the Velocity 6.5

- with strong anti-fog lenses, triple face foam,

a large strap and maximum field of vision, a

duel density frame with self-draining design

and roll-off ready for the 48mm system.

Leatt state their maiden goggle effort is: ‘the

unique combination of safety, optically correct

and permanent anti-fog lenses, optimal


fit and overall aesthetics make these goggles

a great buy.’ Every detail has been considered

(removable nose guard, soft bag included, a

tapered custom shape to ensure compatibility

with all helmets) but the biggest selling point

is the resistance of the lens. Leatt claim the

material is actually bullet-tested (Military Ballistic

Impact Standard - MIL-DTL-43511D) so

any reoccupations about the sharpest of rocks

can be discarded an easily as a tear-off. There

are 17 different design/colour combinations.




More than Europe’s

largest MC store

Did Andrea Dovizioso win the opening race of the 2019

MotoGP season at Qatar? By the time you read this, we

might know.

He certainly crossed the line

ahead of Marc Márquez. But

his fate is to be decided by the

MotoGP Court of Appeal in Switzerland,

who heard the protest

entered by Aprilia, Honda, KTM,

and Suzuki against Ducati’s use of

the aerodynamic spoiler attached

to the swing arm of the GP19.

The question the Court will have

to address is whether Ducati’s

spoiler is legal. And here’s where

it all gets horribly difficult. The

official FIM rules for MotoGP only

discuss aerodynamics in terms

of the fairing and the mudguard.

So naturally, engineers seized

upon the loophole left by the rule

makers’ lack of imagination, and

started attaching aerodynamic

components to the places the

rules didn’t mention. In Ducati’s

case, the bottom of the swing

arm, inspired in part by Yamaha’s

rain deflector fitted in the same

place last year.

Judged solely by the rulebook,

Ducati’s parts are legal. But there

is more to it than just the rulebook.

MotoGP Technical Director

Danny Aldridge also issued

a series of additional guidelines

for factories to use. Part of those

guidelines stated that spoilers attached

to swing arms were legal,

but only if they were used to

deflect water or debris from the

rear tyre, or for cooling. Any device

whose purpose is to generate

downforce is explicitly banned.

This is where the dispute ultimately

arises. Ducati says its

spoiler helps to cool the rear tyre.

Aprilia, who had a similar device

rejected in February, says Ducati’s

device must generate downforce

based on the computer simulations

they did for their own spoiler.

The decision to ban Aprilia’s

spoiler, but allow Ducati’s, led

Aprilia to protest.

I know just enough about aerodynamics

to realise that I know

absolutely nothing, so I won’t

attempt to pass judgement on the

legality of Ducati’s spoiler. But it

has been clear for some time that

the Pandora’s box of aerodynamics

has been irrevocably opened,

and there is no going back. When

Dorna’s spec ECU restricted antiwheelie,

Ducati reached for wings

to keep the front wheel down,

and the other factories quickly

followed. The knowledge gained

from those wings opened up new

and unexpected areas to explore,

and so here we are.

The biggest problem is that aerodynamics

is a bottomless pit in

terms of cost. The more money

you throw at it, the more returns

you see, though the marginal

gains keep declining. But when

Andrea Dovizioso beats Marc

Márquez by just 0.023 seconds

after 42 minutes of racing, even

the smallest gains are worth the


By David Emmett

“When you are competing at

this level, and you are competing

against Honda, and against

Márquez, who as we know is an

exceptional rider, every fraction of

a hundredth of a second counts,”

Ducati’s Sporting Director Paolo

Ciabatti told me after the race.

“So if we have something that is

legal, and we think it gives a fraction

of a millisecond advantage to

Andrea on saving the tyre for the

last part of the race, why not?”

For Aprilia, the lack of clarity in

the regulations makes the situation

much worse. Massimo Rivola,

Aprilia Racing CEO, and who

came to Aprilia from Ferrari in

F1, said it was not their objective

to have the result of the race

changed, but if costs are to be

contained then the rules have

to be made much clearer. “From

my experience in Formula 1, if

we decide to go to the aerodynamic

field, it will cost a fortune

to everybody. Probably for a very

little gain, especially in the areas

which are now free. And it is very

difficult to police. So, you spend

a lot of money, and the federation

cannot control the rules.

I expect that everybody understands

that there is a need for

some clarification.”

The biggest problem for MotoGP

is that aerodynamics is a new

frontier, and has consequently become

another Wild West. Factory

engineers pore over each new rule

looking for what is not mentioned,

and take that absence as permission

to explore what is possible.

Scrutineers lack the expertise to

tell when engineers are barely

toeing the line, and when they are

pushing their luck. That is hardly

surprising: aerodynamics is a vast

and complex field, and not something

you can catch up with in the

space of a few months.

Consequently, we are likely to

be stuck with the controversy

for some time to come. MotoGP

needs expert help, both in understanding

the problem and drawing

up a process to deal with it. In

the meantime, the factories will

have to find a way to live with the

results of races, and not protest

at every turn. It’s going to be an

interesting year.



Another highlight of the new Husqvarna

clothing range and the brand’s link with the

Dutch firm REV’IT. The Pilen Pants from

Husky’s Street collection feature level 1 CE

certified protection, triple seams, a comfort

seat with regular fit, COOLMAX for moisture

wicking control and other small elements like

reflective detailing and a front zipper with a

cover. The jacket compliment (‘Pilen Jacket’)

looks pretty damn cool and works that way

as well with a removable thermal liner meaning

it can still be used in chilly spring conditions.

There is ‘safety stitching’ and CE certified

protection in the shoulder, elbows and



There are ample pockets and storage provisions

and other notable specs such as laminated

reflectors, a detachable hood and an

adjustable waist tab. The Pilen gloves are

short cuff with a sporty fit, fully perforated

panels and are made from: 39% drum dyed

goatskin, 28% goat nappa, 17% polyurethane,

10% polyester, 6% cow nappa. As with

every piece of the Pilen collection the styling

is very much on-point and elegant. Bell’s

Eliminator (made exclusively for Husqvarna

with a fibreglass shell, countersunk EPS

loudspeaker pockets, a Provision anti-fog

visor and washable lining) helmet completes

the overall look.





By Adam Wheeler, Photos by CormacGP





Fifteen-odd minutes with

Marc Marquez’s Repsol

Honda Crew Chief Santi

Hernandez is a privilege but

nowhere near enough time

to unravel some deep insight

about the marvel hero of MotoGP.

It is tempting to quiz the

friendly bearded technician

about the incessant plight to

refine the RCV racebike to

permit the world champion

to perform his acrobatics, the

continual reparation of the 93

machine with Marquez’s hefty

crash tally or concern over

how much more punishment

the Catalan’s body can take

after a winter dominated by

injury recovery.

Instead we want to ask more

about Hernandez and his

roots in the sport and how his

story has become intertwined

with his 26 year old racer’s,

now that they have only

missed a title twice in the

nine years they have worked


Hernandez is one of the key

figures in a consistent crew

of eight people for Marquez.

There are also four mechanics,

a Chief Mechanic, Electronics

engineer and Data engineer.

Half of the group are based in

Barcelona, others from German,

Italy and Japan. Marquez

himself does not have a big

entourage: just his father Julià,

trainer/coach Jose Luis and

manager Emilio Alzamora.

Hernandez conducts most

from the hot seat next to Marquez

in the #93 pitbox.

Despite offering to do the

interview in Spanish, Santi’s

English is impressive and the

enthusiasm is warm. The guy

looks intense but, like Marquez

himself, looks like he can

switch between joviality and

determination in an instant…

You started at Showa…

Yes, in 1996 and I started to

learn as a technician. I was

working with Juan Martinez

and Antonio Gimenez and

every year progressed up until

Alberto [Puig] created a team

for the world championship

around Bradley Smith when

he came out of the Spanish

Championship. We were in

the 125s and that was my first

taste of being a crew chief.










So that was quite a change

of roles: more hands-on with

people and moving away from

the bike?

Yes. Just before the arrival of

more electronics around the

two-strokes and the introduction

of the four-strokes things

like the chassis and suspension

were more important: or

at least it was the area where

you could ‘play’ with them

more. The electronics were

not developed like they are

now and you could manage

many things. There was more

emphasis on the chassis for

change and it was important

to have that knowledge. It was

a great experience to work in

Showa because you learned a

lot about the bike but also, in

the paddock, you are dealing

with many chief mechanics

and you can see and take-on

many things to increase your

understanding. At Showa I

only had to care about suspension

but the job of Chief

Mechanic involve much more.

It was a great opportunity. The

transition? It did not feel like

‘night and day’ because I was

already in that race environment

but the electronics really

gained much more value: so

much on the bike can be managed

by it. [thinks] The group

is bigger. You have more engineers

and specialists looking

after different areas and with

a lot of knowledge. Now the

job now is about hearing from

the rider, and managing the

opinions of everybody to try

to understand where we can

find the problem and what we

can touch to solve it.

Obviously you need some

good people skills and the

ability to motivate a group…

This is something I like. I follow

football and I’m curious

about how coaches manage

the group. In a football team

you have twenty-two players



and it is not easy to handle

all of that. I like to see how

people do it and I think there

are parts of the job that are

the same here except that you

only have one ‘player’ and

that’s the rider but there are

many other parts to the team.

It’s not easy to manage characters

and opinions and each

member of the team has one,

and they might believe their

opinion is the best. So you

need to be able to understand

and work like a group, a team.

You also have to know that it’s

not always possible to say ‘I’m

right and this is what we’ll

do…’ You have to listen to

everybody and I learned that

from Jeremy Burgess. He said

to me ‘to learn you have to listen…’

if you just talk, talk, talk

then you will gain nothing. So

you have to take the positives

from everything and everyone

around you and decide what

is the best option.

That must require a lot of


Yes, you have to be openminded.

It’s like the rider:

if you want to improve and

learn then you need to have

that open approach and be

ready to listen. Of course it is

not easy, and to get what you

need from the group then you

need to create a nice dynamic,

which can be tough. I started

the job when I was young and

without much experience and

it was the same when I came

to MotoGP with Marc: I didn’t

have any experience in the

class. If I look back then the

most important thing is motivation

and passion. A guy

with lots of experience as a

mechanic might not be able

to guide a group, whereas a

guy with very little experience

can have the right attitude to

make the job and I think that

was my case. You have to enjoy

what you are doing. If you

are here just for the money

then you will not get the right

result. If you want to learn and

give the maximum all the time

– like the rider – then this is

the way.

It’s curious that you are interested

in football coaching

and strategy. Are you a Guardiola/Barca





The football coach…it’s different.

When he talks then it is

like the rider talking here. The

rider is the leader. It is very

important that he believes

and curates that group around

him. I can create many things

but if the rider does not follow

then it is very difficult. Marc is

a good leader.

You have your ‘Messi’. Now,

looking back, and the story

with you and Marc: could you

have ever imagined that it

would twist and turn and rise

like it did?

It’s pretty cool. I never spoke

to Marc before starting to

work with him in 2011 in

Moto2. But I was surprised at

the first test in Jerez how such

a young rider could stop and

explain to me what was going

on with the bike. He had zero

experience with a four-stroke

and a Moto2 bike. I’d worked

and spoken with lot of riders

but his comments were

amazing. I didn’t expect that.

It would be easy for me to

say now ‘oh, back then I saw

he would do so much…’ but

honestly, at that time, I had

no idea how much he would

win or achieve. But I did think

he was someone special compared

to the others. It was a

big responsibility for me. The

same if you are with a talent

like Messi. You can help them

to get better and better and to

win more and more but you

can also cause the journey to

go the other way. It depends

on how you do it. It was a big


How has the relationship developed?

We’re friends and that’s the

feeling through the team but

we have always kept the same

way to work: when practice

starts we ‘close the door’ and

make it totally professional.

Why? Because he needs to be

totally honest with me and I

with him. If you put the friendship

first then sometimes you

cannot say what you think.

We both speak clearly but we

have a good relationship; and

that is something you need

to work towards. For me the

most important time is when

we are in the garage. He is

very professional and pushing

quite a lot. He gives 100%

all the time and we need to

do the same. He wouldn’t be

happy otherwise.

Rea/Riba, Dungey/De Coster,

Cairoli/De Carli: several

of the great champions have

that team or double-act link.

So it must be crucial…

Of course. When you are taking

a bike to 350kmph you

need to believe in the people

that are touching the machine

you are riding. So it is important

to have that good relationship

but not every rider

needs it. It depends on their

character. Maybe Marc needs

it but if you took another rider

with great potential also and

did the same thing then it

would not work. You should

not copy. You need to find

what you need.

The way Marc has ridden the

Honda. Has the work been

easier/harder? How do you

begin and how do you find a

new level?

Every year is more difficult.

It is like football again: when

you win the title every year

then you have to go through

a process of forgetting what

you did in the past. If you end

up being second or third in

the world then this wasn’t the

target: this is why it becomes

more difficult. The success

gives me motivation because

we are living something that

not many can. We must enjoy

what we have because it is

maybe one opportunity in life

and you have to take it to the

maximum. I’m with the best

team and the best rider and

we are getting good results.

Even though it is difficult I am

in a position where I cannot

give up and have to push and

push more.





More than Europe’s

largest MC store

For a country that can boast a landscape as stunning as

Patagonia and cities as rich in history, culture and zest as

Buenos Aires, the Province of Santiago del Estero where

one can find Termas de Rio Hondo is surprisingly unremarkable.

Well, unremarkable by Argentinean standards


The flat, green fields and quiet,

dusty towns that mark the region

are a far cry from the scenery that

adorns the country’s tourist board

campaigns. Just as well for the

area, then, its local racetrack ticks

all the boxes.

Even by MotoGP’s recent theatrics,

last year’s 24-lap contest in

Argentina still stands out. The

record for closest top tens and top

15s have repeatedly fallen over

the past 24 months, and multirider

freight trains have become

a common sight, but the sheer

volume of mouth-gaping drama

on show during the 2018 event

went way-beyond the 40 minutes

and 36 seconds of race time.

As trite as it sounds, last year’s

event really did have it all. From

the downright daring of Jack

Miller’s pole position lap in

qualifying – set using slick tyres

on a wet-but-drying track – to the

subsequent furore that surrounded

the grid formation, the spectacle

was only getting started when

23 riders set off toward turn one

five rows behind the Australian.

Such was the commotion behind

the lead group of four, Cal Crutchlow’s

victory – the 750th for a

Honda rider across all class - over

an unlikely trio of riders including

Johann Zarco, Alex Rins and

Miller had to take an undeserved

backseat in the weeks that followed.

Marc Marquez’s on-thelimit

display was something

to behold; a last-to-fifth sweep

through the field that left a string

of scuffed leather in his wake but

showed that even the very best

can occasionally lose their heads.

To see him getting affronted by a

hoard of Valentino Rossi fans in

the paddock before father Julià

screamed them away, led one to

fear for his safety – a state that

wasn’t helped by his shrugging in

the face of Yamaha-led indignation

later that Sunday evening.

Sepang 2015 aside (a weekend

where championship pressures

were approaching unbearable)

has a race in the past 20 years

ever enjoyed such a comprehensive

fallout in the weeks that followed?

Even by the end of 2018,

there was tweaks and changes to

the decision-making process that

date back to this particular cloudy


First, there were rightful questions

aimed at Race Direction and

the FIM Stewards during a race.

Marquez was not alone in feeling

the brunt of ill will of his fellow

riders. Danilo Petrucci came in for

intense criticism from Aleix

By Neil Morrison

Espargaro after the Italian

touched the Aprilia man early into

the race. Johann Zarco was the

subject of Dani Pedrosa’s ire after

a first lap collision pushed the

then Honda rider off-line, which

resulted in him flying toward the


But ultimately Marquez’s antics

were what caused a change.

“What else does he have to do

to be black flagged? Remove the

black flag from the rules, we are

not using it,” said Espargaro the

elder at the next race.

There were subsequently heated

exchanges at the Safety Commission

meeting on the Friday at

the Circuit of the Americas. As a

result, Dorna, and Race Direction

and the FIM Stewards, vowed to

penalise each on-track incident

one degree harsher than before.

The results were immediate: Pol

Espargaro and Marquez received

grid place penalties during qualifying

for round three. Scrutiny

surrounding the decision making

of the FIM Stewards intensified.

This in turn led to the appointment

of Freddie Spencer, who

now heads the Stewards Panel,

an appointment that allows Race

Director Mike Webb to get on with

the job of race directing.

Such was the confusion regarding

the start in Argentina, as riders

scampered to pit lane to change

from wet to dry tyres, rules regarding

such situations were

soon revised and clarified. From

Mugello, it was determined a rider

would have to start the race from

his original grip position but serve

a ride-through penalty.

And while Marquez and Rossi

were never going to reach the

back slapping love-in levels of

2013 in the wake of their Sepang

contretemps, there had definitely

been a thawing in relations prior

to this encounter. Before then, the

pair could occasionally be seen

swapping brief exchanges in press

conferences. Rossi even went as

far as seeking the Spaniard out

for compliments in parc fermé at

Phillip Island the year before.

This exchange put paid to that.

From there, relations reverted

to rock bottom. Rossi’s feelings

could be handily surmised by the

reaction of best friend Alessio ‘Uccio’

Salucci in the Movistar Yamaha

garage as Marquez approached

post-race to offer an apology with

Repsol Honda team manager Alberto

Puig and personal manager

Emilio Alzamora in tow.

Even when he warred with Casey

Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo, Rossi

didn’t reach for the extremes in

his exchanges with the press as

he did here. “He [Marquez] destroyed

our sport,” “He doesn’t

have any respect for his rivals”

and “He hopes that you crash”

were just a number of highlights

from the verbal barrage he aimed

at his great rival later that Sunday


Some may argue Marquez maintained

a quiet dignity in the wake

of it all. But a refusal to accept his

wrongs from that afternoon did

little to endear him to the watching

public. It wouldn’t have done

him any harm to acknowledge his

role in part of the chaos that had

played out. Instead his reaction

was a little too adamant he was

not in the wrong - a rare blemish

in an otherwise near-impeccable



scott sports

One for the training/mountain bike enthusiasts

this and Scott have been shouting about

the new addition to their electric cycle range

with the Strike eRIDE. The company outline

the advantages of the model as thus: ‘With

its 140mm geometry and a fully integrated

Bosch drive unit, the Strike was developed

to fill the gap between the Spark eRIDE and

the Genius eRIDE. True to SCOTT’s approach

to wheelsize versatility, the Strike eRIDE

can swap between 27.5’’ and 29’’ wheels on

the same frame. Thanks to its comfortable

geometry and ergonomic contact points, it

targets both new E-Bike enthusiasts and experimented

riders looking for the best


combination of comfort and performance.’

Drive unit covers and battery optimisation

have been chiselled to target the two main

areas for the Strike: comfort and performance.

One modification has been to use the

four bar link suspension system to create a

more ‘straight up’ riding position. For more

details click on any of the links here. Scott

is an innovative and premium brand when it

comes to their bicycles and reading-up on

the Strike eRIDE allows full appreciation why.







Words by Roland Brown, Photos by

Marco Campelli & Sebas Romero



It’s a surreal feeling for this occasional

off-road rider to be following KTM’s

Dakar Rally team manager and former

rider Jordi Viladoms along a bumpy

Moroccan desert track at speed, kicking

up clouds of dust from a spinning rear

wheel, having recently ridden over a series

of gleaming golden dunes. Launches

of new adventure bikes don’t normally

involve such spectacular views or challenging


Then again, most adventure bikes don’t

arrive with the sense of purpose that

surrounds the 790 Adventure and the

even more dirt-friendly Adventure R that

I’m aiming through this vast desert playground.

A year after KTM debuted its new

parallel-twin platform with the 790 Duke,

that naked roadster’s long-awaited dualpurpose

siblings are here.

The anticipation has been building.

Large-capacity adventure bikes have

been popular for so long, getting increas-

ingly powerful and expensive, that a gap

has opened up for a new breed of more

manageable middleweights. KTM seems

an obvious contender to fill it, given the

Austrian firm’s rapid growth and long experience

of dual-purpose bikes, not to mention

a competition heritage that includes a

remarkable 18 consecutive Dakar wins.

Expectation increased last year, when the

Duke was launched combining a rev-happy

799cc engine, sweet-handling tubularsteel

framed chassis and superbike-style

electronics. This was big-bike technology

and thrills in a cut-down package. The 790

Adventure promises more of the same with

versatility thrown in.

For Adventure use the Duke’s dohc, eightvalve

engine is softened with new cams and

injection, boosting midrange and trimming

10bhp off the top-end to leave a max of

94bhp at 8000rpm.


The frame is redesigned to hold a fairing,

bigger radiator, aluminium bash-plate and

a fuel tank that runs down each side of the

motor to give a generous 20-litre capacity

while remaining slim at its top.

Both Adventures run wire wheels in 21in

front, 18in rear diameters, with suspension

their biggest difference. The standard 790’s

WP units give 200mm travel at each end,

with shock preload the only adjustment; the

R is multi-adjustable and gives 40mm more

travel. Along with a taller seat, the R-model

has a shorter screen, high-level front mudguard

and comes with more off-road oriented

tyres (Metzeler Karoo 3 instead of Avon


The standard 790, especially, immediately

seems very manageable. Its height-adjustable

seat allows most riders to get both

feet on the ground, and at 189kg dry it feels

notably lighter than large-capacity adventure

bikes, especially as its tank shape keeps the

centre of gravity very low. Its choice of riding

mode (Street, Offroad or softer still Rain) is

displayed on a colourful TFT screen.

Throttle response is sweet, the twin-pot engine

responding cleanly at low revs, picking

up the pace at about 6000rpm, and revving

from there with a superbly loose, freespinning

feel thanks to twin balancer shafts.

Cruising at 80mph-plus is stable and effortless,

helped by the useful if slightly blustery

wind protection from a screen that unbolts to

allow 40mm of adjustment. Flat-out the bike

would be good for about 130mph.

Roadgoing handling is excellent: stable at

speed, enjoyably agile despite the big 21in

front wheel, and impressively precise given

the generous suspension travel, which is

well-controlled – thankfully, given the minimal

adjustability. Comfort on a short ride

seemed pretty good; range should be well

over 200 miles.











Plenty of adventure bikes would make more

relaxing roadsters, but few would be more


A brief desert blast suggested off-road performance

would also be very good but the

launch left most of the rough stuff to the

Adventure R, shod for the event in suitably

knobbly tyres, plus a few accessories including

gearbox quick-shifter and Akrapovic

silencer. Following Dakar ace Jordi on the

sandy tracks where the KTM team train was

mindblowing, especially on a bike so superbly

suited to the job.

The flexible engine played its part, aided by

the sweet quick-shifter and a Rally riding

mode (included with the R, an accessory on

the standard 790) that allows traction control

adjustment while riding. The sophisticated,

IMU-governed system encourages controllable

slides on dirt but needs backing off on

really loose surfaces. That helped make the

Adventure R improbably cooperative for my

first dune-riding experience, though occasionally

I was glad of its relatively light weight

when picking it up…

On firmer sections it was the KTM’s outstanding

suspension quality that shone, allowing it

to be blasted down rutted tracks and across

open desert scrubland at speed, soaking up

even big bumps yet with the damping control

to remain amazingly composed. It’s clear that

for off-road riding the R, in particular, has a

significant edge over most rivals.

Perhaps both Adventures’ only slight drawback

is that, with the standard model costing

roughly 25 per cent more than the Duke (at

£11,099 in the UK) and the R ten per cent

more again (£11,999), they’re close on price

to some well established larger-capacity

machines. But as the KTMs’ lightness, agility,

sophistication and versatility mean that for

some trips and situations they’ll be the pick

of the bunch regardless of capacity, that’s

arguably really not a drawback at all.



British Grand Prix. Photo by Ray Archer






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