On Track Off Road No. 189

Create successful ePaper yourself

Turn your PDF publications into a flip-book with our unique Google optimized e-Paper software.







The special site of

Suzuka and the 8hr

as dusk falls. KRT

took that dramatic

win from Yamaha in

a sensational and

controversial finale

to the FIM EWC

series as the 2019

edition captured

more attention than

ever. Watch out on

the OTOR website

this week as Steve

English defied the

heat and humidity

to generate a personal

Blog from the


Photo by Steve English






The Grand Prix of

Czech Republic did

not end in the dust

for Romain Febvre.

In fact the Yamaha

star blew away

some particles from

his trophy shelf

to install his first

winner’s garland

for two years after

his 1-1 success at


Photo by Ray Archer




Defending 450MX Champion Eli

Tomac showed his teeth at Washougal

last Saturday for the ninth

round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro

National series and left nobody

in doubt as to his intentions for a

resolute title defence

Photo by Monster/Octopi Media








LOKET · JULY 28-29 · Rnd 13 of 18





Blogs by Adam Wheeler, Photos by Ray Archer


Thank goodness for Romain Febvre.

The Frenchman – allegedly soon to

end a five-year spell as a factory

Yamaha rider for the climes of Kawasaki

– may have his own personal

chronicle wholly satisfied with victory

in the Czech Republic and by quenching

a dry spell that stretches back to

his home Grand Prix in the summer of

2016 but he also cast a much-needed

refresh in the MXGP series. With Jorge

Prado elongating his unbeaten record

to twelve Grands Prix and Tim Gajser

coming back from Indonesia with

seven wins in a row the FIM World

Championship was in drastic need of

something different. Febvre was only

the fifth victor in 2020 in all classes

(the third in MXGP).

Currently there are reminders of the

injury-smashed 2015 campaign in

which Febvre himself was able to triumph

as a rookie in the premier class

but the truth is that every season has

it’s own distinct flavour. Take 2018 for

example. There are some that were

bored stiff with Jeffrey Herlings’ continual

rout of the division while others

only deepened their admiration and

wonder for the Dutchman with every

passing week and success. In 2017 it

was the tale of Tony Cairoli – while

Herlings fought back from injury, Gasjer

had that ‘difficult second album’

phenomenon and Febvre was lost in a

set-up misstep with the Yamaha.

2019 has not been vintage. It did have

the signs of a promising duel between

Cairoli and Gajser (best summed up

with their dicing at the Grand Prix of

Trentino for round four) but the Sicilian’s

injured shoulder in Qualification

four races later in Russia effectively

raised the towel ready for tossing.

Febvre’s broken ankle at round one

was just as disappointing because

the Frenchman had not looked more

fit and focussed at any stage in his

MXGP career.


We’ve had the resurrection of Arnaud

Tonus, the never-ending development

of Jeremy Seewer (runnerup

in the world championship would

be very much deserved for the

Swiss’ staying power and fitness),

flashes from Jeremy Van Horebeek

on a privateer machine and great

promise from the likes of Pauls Jonass.

2019 is already stamped Honda

and KTM, and only a freak occurrence

similar to Herlings’ seasonending

injuries in 2014 and 2015 will

change the landscape. Teams and

riders can use the remaining five

rounds to examine their possibilities

for the first year of the new decade.











450 SX-F

“Winning is a complex puzzle where every element has

to fit perfectly to get the job done. For me though, there is

one factor that stands above the rest – my KTM 450 SX-F.

The ultimate weapon to take into battle”.

Cooper Webb – 2019 AMA Supercross 450SX Champion

Photo: S. Cudby, KISKA GmbH


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.





In the middle of each summer MXGP promoters

Youthstream always issue their ‘provisional’ calendar for the

following year. It is a projection of how the championship will

be for the next edition and while far from cemented (usually

the dates are) there are clues as to how associations with

individual territories, promoters or clubs are progressing.

Perhaps one of the biggest talking

points from the recent listing was

the disappearance of the British

Grand Prix and one of the most

popular circuits on the entire

schedule: Matterley Basin. Steve

Dixon has been a force-of-nature

as a custodian for the venue that

is only used and built-up once a

year for the Grand Prix itself and

the crowds have varied in their

volume. His gamble to be the first

European round of the 2019 slate

in March paid off with a rain-free

weekend: a contrast to the weather-hit

2017 Motocross of Nations

– the second ‘MXON’ to take

place at the Winchester circuit in

eleven years.

Matterley’s absence from the

2020 line-up is controversial but

it seems the sheer costs of installing

the infrastructure was a step

too far for the British fixture: an

event that always lacked stability

(Donington Park, Mallory Park,

Isle of Wight, Matchams Park all

taking turns) until Dixon stubbornly

installed Matterley as a

routine stop from the beginning of

the decade.

“We have always been very happy

about the relationship we have

with [Steve] Dixon and the organization

of the Grand Prix but

the major problem in UK is the

cost of organization of such event

which is bringing the financial

and economical side of the grand

prix to be very difficult to find a

positive balance,” commented

Youthstream Vice President David

Luongo exclusively. “The income

from local partners and the ticketing

in general is not enough to

cover the extremely high costs of

organization of the event which is

one of the most expensive of the

calendar firstly due to the English

market price of all the services

provided onsite and the fact the

organizer has to build every year

everything. The local and central

government are also not so proactive

to help the organization of

such an international event.”

The last line is key for insight in

the criteria for modern high-level

motorsport organisation. Ticket

sales are rarely enough any more.

The side effect of that diminishing

income (do you go pricier to

increase income but lose public?

Or cheaper to expand numbers

but still stand far from the ‘bottom

line’ due to the demands on

the site?) is that the appeal of the

race also lowers for potential title

sponsors, such as those brands

By Adam Wheeler

you see on the bottom of music

festival posters or other annual

‘happenings’. MXGP cannot depend

on MotoGP level TV revenue

and in fact Youthstream spend an

enormous amount just to livescreen

each round of the championship.

Their co-organisation role

in a handful of Grands Prix also

has a price ceiling.

Youthstream generate profit from

MXGP. Of course they do, and no

other company would remotely

consider the same job without

some prospect of being in the

black. I don’t think people appreciate

the difficulty of trying to make

numbers, keep a strain of stability

in the championship and also try

to shape the competition in their

vision to potentially capture new

eyeballs. Whether those fans are

at tracks, watching through their

online TV service, terrestrial TV or

through YouTube clips. Many claim

Youthstream are ‘killing’ MXGP

with their elitism of the premier

class, the resistance to change of

the 23 age rule for MX2 and the

propensity for new tracks and unheard

of ventures (will Hong Kong

actually happen?) but there is no

guarantee – in fact it is very slim

– that anybody else would come

in and suddenly lay out a formula

that ticks everybody’s preference

for how Grand Prix motocross

should be run.

I have been critical of Youthstream

in the past and I still think their

diplomacy with the teams and

brands in the paddock can be

softer or more collaborative but

they are pushing forward with their

view of how MXGP can be run and

where it might go to tackle the

next ten years where the digital

landscape is causing a mountain

of speculation. Hardly anyone else

is in a position to say if it wrong,

right, dysfunctional or preposterous.

Until someone can outline a

more effective map then this is the

one that exists. Accept it or not

there is no other place to wonder

at the skills of people like Herlings,

Cairoli, Gajser et al.

There is a clear priority now to

consider the presentation element

of MXGP. A new-build track

in Indonesia or China might make

fans or weekend-riders recoil,

but if it looks the part for TV and

video clips then this is one pretty

big box ticked in terms of event

promotion. Then there are the

other considerations: is it safe?

does it create good racing? It is a

big package and sometimes hard

to predict whether it will actually


In 2020 Matterley is – for the moment

– off the roster and this is

a big loss, more so for the riders

themselves that relish the visit to

a (dry) southern England. Then for

the British fans, even those that

have been indifferent to the course

over the ten years it has been active

as a GP beacon.

Tracks like Neuquen, St Jean

D’Angely, Teutschenthal, Kegums,

Agueda, Lommel, Loket

and Uddevalla mean that MXGP

keeps a backbone of traditional or

well-liked circuits while the more

questionable ‘punts’ involve those

trips to Indonesia, Imola, Finland

with the new Kymiring and allegedly

Spain veering towards a

Grand Prix at Jarama or Motorland

Aragon with Jorge Prado inflating

interest on the Iberian Peninsula.



The mix of old and new is reasonable.

Indonesia is clearly a case

of satisfying a market and like

Trentino, Russia, Imola, China

and Turkey it depends on decent

alternative financial support to

make it happen. The type that

David Luongo references is all but

absent in Matterley’s case.

While Matterley’s temporary

withdrawal strips one of the bestloved

layouts away from Grand

Prix the hiatus could have a positive

effect in rejuvenating some

interest. It could also give Dixon

more time to find other possible

ways of backing for 2021. “I can

assure you that we are in constant

talks with the organizer to find

some solutions for the future,”

adds Luongo, underlining that

the padlock has not been fully

snapped shut on the farm gates.




Summer time for the kids and perhaps some new

riding gear is in order. Answer have a great flow

across the range from adult to youth product; a

fine example being their Syncron Airflow that offers

premium ventilation thanks to the mesh panels

and polyfabric construction in both the jersey

and the pant. This is light but tough and airy stuff.

There are seven different sizes and two (pretty

cool) colourways. AR1 gloves and a Mini Terra X

deflector will help complete the kit.

Syncron Airflow will cost just over 100 dollars for

the jersey/pant set.









By Adam Wheeler, Photos by Ray Archer


The first few seconds

of a motocross Grand

Prix are exciting, tense,

nervy, crucial and perilous.

The explosion of engine

torque and noise draws a line

of 30-odd 100kg motorcycle

together, sometimes separated

by mere centimetres and

into what is often a tight first

corner that filter out the bold

from the bravado, the fortunate

from the fallers and the

podium contenders from the

backmarkers. The rasping din

of the bikes rapidly eases into

a quiet ‘whoosh’ as the

racers come off-throttle and

then wind-on the power hard

again in a crescendo of volume

on corner-exit: the race

is on.

For fans, cameras and teams

a race start is one of the most

thrilling parts of an MXGP

moto. The Pole Position holder

from Qualification on Saturday

may have the first choice of

slots in the metal-floored gate

and the process itself looks

fairly rudimentary (engage

gear, depress start suspension

device, hit launch control

and wait for the metal to drop)

but riders dedicate a lot of

time, technique and practice

to the art. It also influences

bike set-up. The investment is

worth it. On some of the FIM

World Championship’s older

and tighter circuits (and some

newer and more restrictive

designs) the parity between

the very top teams, machinery

and athletes means the

metres and clear track earned

through a ‘holeshot’ is a very

valuable (and safer) commodity.

Most of the seasoned Pros

in MXGP will know well the

feeling of being ‘ramped’ by

a treaded tyre, hit by a footpeg

or another motorcycle

rear wheels swallowing part

of their anatomy. For several

years the FIM have made

chest and back protectors obligatory

in Grand Prix to protect

against certain scrapes

and circumstances: simply

put, a start is not where you

want to crash or tangle with

a rival (even though it is an

extremely common occurrence

and, luckily for the most

part, without serious repercussions).

In MXGP riders will

make almost sixty race starts

on average a season, taking

into account the two motos

per Grand Prix and Saturday’s

shorter Qualification Heat


To gain more insight into the

thinking and methodology of

this essential component of

the sport we asked Monster



Energy Yamaha’s factory rider

Jeremy Seewer, currently second

in the series, to provide

more details…

The sighting lap is

when the ritual kicksin…

In MXGP, where the timing is

so precise – to the minute or

even the second – the process

for the start begins from

the sighting lap. All the same

moves and same rituals go

into place from that first slow

look at the track and a check

of the lines and how things

look after the MX2 race.

When we get back from the

sighting lap most of the riders,

normally myself included,

go to the toilet again! There

are always units behind the

gate and sometimes there is

a queue! By the time you are

back to the bike there is usually

just a minute to go, so a

few last words with the mechanic.

He has a headset and

is connected to the rest of the

team that might be at different

points on the track so that

could also be the moment for

a final tip or piece of advice.

You prepare your goggle,

check it again, then hit the

start button. You make sure

everything is ready and you

try to be clear in your mind

and put the full focus on that


Everyone is different

in that time before the

sighting lap. Some talk,

some don’t and the

gate is a busy area…

I’m quite relaxed but I’m also

focussed. I’m not going to be

acting weird or making jokes but

I can talk to others. It is strange

because you also don’t want too

much involvement with other

people at that time. Before the

sighting lap is probably the most

relaxed moment, and doing things

like TV interviews is part of it an

absolutely fine. You might chat

with a friend or another rider and

in the past we used to take time

to prepare the ground in the gate

slot we had chosen, of course

there is no need for that now with

the metal floor mesh.

In the gate itself you

have to stay calm, you

might need to wait…

If you have qualified well and

are one of the first riders in

then you have to sit there as

the rest of the gate takes their

positions. In that moment you

go through your marks and

what is key for you; that might

be 3-4 difficult points on the

track. You go through the lap

again in your mind and the

line you want to use to be as

prepared as possible. I started

using a small block for my

foot. At first we were told it

wouldn’t be allowed on the

metal mesh but I spoke up for

the smaller guys!









When the gate was dirt we

could build a small ramp or

something to help. So we

needed something different.

You’ll see riders moving and

shaking, checking gloves and

other little habits. I always do

the same kind of stretching.

I don’t know why! It’s just a

ritual. It kinda helps to remind

the body ‘it’s that time

again…’ If you do the same

movements then it is like a

‘snap’ for the body and your

state to get set for the race. I

always do the same things but

it is nothing too crazy or exhibitive.

I won’t be revving the bike

too much or being too nervous.

I’ll be zoning down everything

I have and what I am towards

getting out of that gate as

quickly as possible.

What’s going on with the

bike? A few buttons…

The start button on the front

forks that compresses the

suspension and locks the bike

down until we are going is quite

an important thing; especially

these days with the metal mesh

flooring. We are getting lower

and lower on the bike because

there is a lot of traction. There

is also a button on the handlebar

that we’ll activate to set

the electronics especially for

the start with a different engine

mapping. I don’t know too

much detail actually but I know

it switches the power delivery

to help with the perfect start.

We have a rev light indicator on

the front of the bike to let me

know where I have the throttle

set but I tend to go more by

feeling: we do so many practice

starts that by now plus-or-minus

2-300 RPM is more or less

the same.

It can be all about

reaction time…

The difference between the gate

dropping and something like a

traffic light changing is that you

know the gate will always fall

between five-six seconds.



It won’t be eight or nine.

When the 15 second board

goes down I’m still relaxed.

We get set; I count to three

and move my body into position

to go. The one or two

seconds left are the important

ones and you need to

be ready with your reaction:

if that gate moves you need

to get out of it. I’m always in

second gear and then what

happens next depends on the

soil you hit. In sand you always

get a lot of wheelspin so

you can move your body back

because you need more pressure

on the rear and then shift

gears pretty quickly. Somewhere

like Matterley Basin

has a downhill start and the

ground is quite tacky, so if you

lent back there then you’d just

be doing a wheelie or having

to pull on the clutch and

you lose drive. It’s an instinct

thing, and it changes from GP

to GP because of the different

conditions. Even the gates

can be different: there might

be a slight gap between the

mesh and the dirt or a lip that

bounces you upwards. It is

all about reaction and body

movement. You can practice

for any situation but the real

start – and when it counts –

can be about that split-second

movement and feeling.

Do we practice, practice,


It can depend. If you are

struggling with them then

you’ll do a lot but if you know

your starts are good and you

are mentally strong then you

don’t need so many. I remember

in Sardinia during preseason

testing I did something

like 50 in one week – a lot –

but I did very few between the

first Grand Prix in Argentina

and the British Grand Prix,

where I took the holeshot in

the Qualification Heat.

We don’t know right

away if we’ve made the


I think you have to wait a bit to

see if you have made a good

one, there are too many factors

involved to know if you’ve

done it or not. The jump out of

the gate is the most important

and you quickly realise if it is

good; sometimes you get an

inkling that it will be a holeshot.

The truth is that with the

mesh these days we are all in

one level row after few metres.

You need to make the difference

as you build speed; it’s

difficult to say how! Your position,

balance and movements

are all instinct. I had to change

my style a bit for the 450 coming

out of MX2 because there

is more power.

It is dangerous?

It can be, especially in the

MXGP class where we all know

that the first corner is where

you can win or lose a race

because it can be so hard to

pass on some tracks. There is

a lot of elbowing and it can be

dangerous rushing into a fast

first turn when there might be

twenty riders coming together

into one point. You know it is

risky, but you also know it is

an essential part of the sport:

that’s why you have to do

everything to try and be there

first. If you are outside the top

ten then you can see some

scary stuff and incidents that

are out of your control. You

have to be smart to read everything

around you because

there might be ten things

happening at the same time

and at high speed.

A start is exciting but…

I think a big jump or somewhere

you can throw a big

whip is still one of the best

feelings in motocross. The

exhilaration of the start comes

when you get it right and it

feeds into a good result. There

is a lot of pressure on this single

moment and if you handle

it well then you just feel ‘free’

to make it to the first corner.

If you ‘miss’ the start or you

are deep in the pack then it is

frustrating and you know you

will have a lot of work ahead.

















By Adam Wheeler, Portraits by Rich Shepherd/Husqvarna pics by S.Cudby


Bobby Hewitt sits at a

desk and within a space

inside the Husqvarna

North America HQ in Murrieta,

California (within spying distance

of KTM next door) that

gives the impression that he

is a man with every finger on

the pulse of his racing operation.

The office is next to the

immaculate workshop space

where the FC450Fs of Jason

Anderson and Zach Osborne

(and the FC250s of Michael

Mosiman and Jordan Bailey

are prepped) and everything

has a place. Papers are nicely

arranged, nothing seems out

of place or randomly left and

there is a practical minimalism

to environment.

When I suggest that after two

decades of running one of the

most established race teams in

AMA Supercross and motocross

that Hewitt might be almost intimidating

to younger riders he

recoils. The 57 year old Texan,

who has been the epitome

of courtesy, accessibility and

friendliness since my arrival at

the facility, looks at me like I’ve

just tossed an offensive comment

his way. Collaboration -

and relationships - is a clearly a

big deal for Bobby.

Since he veered from construction

to racing on a fulltime

basis near the start of

the century and into team

management from 2008 (signing

Jason Anderson in 2011)

Hewitt has worked with an

eclectic group of riders; some

would even say ‘unmanageable’.

But he’s thrived on withdrawing

the best from misfits,

controversial characters, inconsistent

brilliance and a lot

more: lifelines for the likes of

Davi Millsaps and Christophe

Pourcel to helping Anderson

and Zach Osborne reach career

highs. A (clearly) shrewd

eye for opportunity and circumstance

from his first days

with Kawasaki and Suzuki in

the amateur ranks can also

see the bigger picture.

He observed the movement

with the KTM Group and the

Husqvarna brand and as a result

Hewitt was ideally placed

to assume the mantle of race

team leader in white.

For almost half a decade

Hewitt has delivered victories

and podiums for the marque

and of course the brilliant

250SX title triple by Osborne

in 2017/18, and Anderson’s

first crown last year that

meant his crew negotiated the

recently-finished supercross

campaign as reigning champions.

When not risking his ire with

a miscued question, Bobby is

a great talker and easy with

his anecdotes and stories. He

loves a tangent but his demeanour

carries a steely conviction:

the man has a strong

set of beliefs and values. He

is also emotional; almost

exasperated with how riders/

athletes/people are quickly

dismissed and then visibly

choking-up when recalling

Osborne’s unforgettable Las

Vegas success two summers


Last year, 2018, saw the big

prize come along with Jason

but your relationship has

been through some ups-anddowns.

Someone like Zach is

popular and easy to work with

while a rider like Christophe

can be an enigma. So is one

of your skills being able to

extract what each of these

personalities need?

My management style is definitely

different than everybody

else’s. I think it comes from a

strong business background.

I had my own business for

almost thirty years with 160

employees and seven different

locations and we did

about forty-two million a year

in gross revenue; so you run

into a lot of different characters

and people, beliefs and

thoughts. My philosophy is

that there are no two mechanics

or two trainers that are

alike so there definitely aren’t

two racers that will ride and

think the same. In my position

you have to be the manager

but sometimes you have to

look at it like an owner, sometimes

a father, a mechanic, a

therapist or a best friend as

well as the boss. I always tell

everybody that when I had

Blake Baggett the harder I was

on him the more he reacted.

But if I yelled at Tommy Hahn

he’d go into the corner and

curl-up. They were two different

people. I have two-three

principles: one is that we are

always truthful with each other.

If we don’t lie to each other











and we’ll get along great. I

have two sons, one in this

industry who started on 60s

and went all the way through

and almost every Pro rider on

the track has either lived or

stayed at my house or rode at

my house; so I’ve heard every

excuse! Honesty is a big thing.

The other is a request simply

to gimme everything you’ve

got: whether it’s on the practice

track or the race track.

When the gate drops until the

chequered flag I don’t care if

you fall twenty times but just

don’t quit on me. I tell riders

‘nobody is perfect and you

don’t need to be perfect all the

time…but you need to be perfect

when it’s time’. It’s about

learning the personalities. I

tell riders that they should

feel most comfortable when

they are underneath this tent

at the races. I’ll love you just

as much on your bad days as

your good ones or I wouldn’t

have hired you. I believe you

have the talent and the ability

and you’ll probably give up

on yourself before I will. With

that also comes a responsibility

and you have to be really

direct with a rider. It’s about

learning what they can and

cannot do. There is a template

across the parking lot

[at KTM] that has been very

successful and I respect that a

lot but the way they do things

is different from the way I do

it. I truly believe that you can

put 80% of every rider in a

box. It is the 20% that makes

them different and what you

need to understand and work

around. At the end of the day

we want to win races and be


How do you work out that

20%? Is it the personal touch

or just being very astute at

the track and training?

A bit of all of it! It is no secret

that I hate agents and I love

parents. I want the rider to

know that I don’t care if he’s

thrown in gaol in the middle

of the night; I’d hope I be

one of his first phone calls

because I know more about

the riders and the staff here

than their wives or girlfriends

do and that’s because I don’t

judge. Nobody is perfect but

we spend a lot of time together

– and I’m sure every

team manager will say this –

through that time you get to

see that there is a moment in

every rider, mechanic or truck

driver’s life when things are

not going so good. It might

be a family issue or financial

and having someone that is

willing to help and willing to

listen I believe is a help. I’m

open with my past and I’ve

made mistakes. You can ask

me a question and I’ll answer

it. I’m not proud of everything

I’ve done but I’m also not

ashamed so that I’ll hide it.

So it’s about developing trust

over time. Finding out what

makes them tick and their

interests outside of racing and

sharing some of those with


Part of the attraction of the

job must be making that

discovery, and you are making

progress both in the way

to work and results. On the

flip side it must be hard when

you can see things are not

working or starting to slide. It

must be hard to maintain that

relationship or investment in

the character…

Usually you lose them when

they’re young. I have Michael

Mosiman and Jordan Bailey

and they are two different

types of personalities. And

then Thomas [Covington] as

well. I’ve had to have some

hard conversations with Bailey

because [any problem] was always

someone else’s fault. He

has the ability but when I first

signed him and he went onto a

supercross track he had some

really big get-offs. He didn’t

break anything but it probably

set him back six-eight months.

Even through Outdoors last

year he struggled a lot. He

had the capability but not the

self-confidence and instead of

looking in the mirror and saying

‘hey, it’s me…’ he wanted

to point the finger everywhere

else. About three months

ago he really started ‘drinking

the coolade’ and changed

his whole mindset and he’s

made more progress in the

last three months than the

year-and-half I had him before

then. My Crew Chief, and I had

an argument while we were in

Florida because we knew the

direction where Thomas would



probably end up for Supercross

when it came to his

settings but I could tell earlyon

that Thomas was pushing

back and everything we were

gearing towards he wouldn’t

like it. So I said ‘let’s get a set

of everything he was on and

give it to him’ and my Crew

Chief was like ‘that’s not going

to work’. I said we both knew

that…but until we let him ride

it and self-eliminate that question

mark then it will always

be hovering there in the back

of his head. I think that management

style with the riders

– for Jason, Zach, Christophe

– when it comes to bike set-up

then I don’t care if you want

to run stock ProTaper handlebars

or something special I

just want that bike to feel like

it is an extension of them and

they are confident and competitive.

Does it really matter

if one guy likes one thing

and another likes something

else? If all those settings for

Thomas had worked then no

problems but there were some

areas where he said he felt OK

and some [where] it was really

scary to watch. After about

thirty minutes he came off

the track and said ‘this won’t

work…’. Technical choices can

cause conflict but I am not the

guy who will have his finger

in your chest and his foot up

your ass – I can when I need

to be and there have been

times in twenty years when

I’ve had to – but I prefer not

to. It is about allowing them to

communicate and not worry

what they say. It is a blank

canvas so it is about painting

it the way you want.

So what burns-you-up then? It

is just a lack of effort?

The last one I had was with

Jason at A2 this year. In twenty

years I have only thrown

my headset twice but after

that race I had to walk around

the stadium once before I got

back to the truck because

I was so mad. But I didn’t

cool-off enough and ended up

throwing my headset against

the wall of the truck lounge

and made everybody get out

of the Semi apart from Jason.

I said to him ‘you know

a) I love you and b) I’ll never

doubt your ability but I am

banging my head against the

wall. I’m communicating that

we’ll get through this because

I gotta have something from

you, and what you gave tonight

is totally unacceptable

on any level…’. I don’t think

anybody really understands

the pressure that comes after

winning a championship and

all the obligations. And the

feedback [from others] is ‘well,

Dungey and Villopoto had to

do the same so Jason is going

to have to understand’.

The thing is that Jason is not

a Ryan Dungey or Ryan Villopoto

and what a lot of people

don’t know about him is

that he doesn’t care about the

money – well, he does from

a future financial viewpoint

for him and his family – but

he’ll race just as hard for 100

bucks as he will for 100,000

and he doesn’t like the limelight.

He couldn’t care less if

he has 10 fans on Instagram

or 700,000. It is not what

ticks him. He has anxieties

about having to do interviews

and whatever-else because as

many as he’s done – and he’s

much better now compared

to a few years ago when I first

got him – it’s an uncomfortable

setting. Jason has a group

of friends and those are the

ones he hangs out with, eats

with and does everything with

when he’s not racing. Now

Zach is a guy that you can put

100% into the box. If you need

any interview done then he’s

the guy there with the hat and

the shirt. He’s outgoing, politically

correct. He’s great-

Just to cut across you: it

seems that riders don’t want

to embrace that ‘role model’

aspect of what they do. Zach

is a good example of someone

who has put many parts of

being a public-face and a Pro

racer together…

Very much so. Zach only has

one problem [laughs] - and

they [the older riders] all

seem to have it more than the

rookies - and that’s for autograph

signing sessions it is

like herding cats. It will be at

2.45 and at 2.44 they’ll still

be sitting there in the truck

in their underwear. Zach is a

great mentor for the younger








Whatever he does afterwards

in the sport he’ll do a great

job. He sees the big picture

and knows how important that

is. He understands that at the

end of the day – and this is

something I push onto all my

staff – is that it is our responsibility

to increase sales and

market our product. If we are

not helping the brand to sell

more Husqvarnas then we

are not doing our job. That’s

the reason we have a second

Semi and the reason we display

the bikes and we do what

we do. It’s the same responsibility

to all our sponsors and I

think my business background

helps me to grasp that background

and the importance of

raising money every year to

go racing and stick to a budget.

The best thing I can have

is a sponsor who at the end of

the year says to me ‘I got ten

times more than what I expected

or what I paid for’. I’ve

done very well on that side

but I would say with 80% of

riders it is about getting them

to understand that is it just

as important about what you

do off the track in supporting

the OEM and the sponsors

as what you do on the track.

Dean Wilson could finish 10th

every week but his value in

promoting the brand and what

he does off the track is important.

The constant process of analysing

a rider and where he is

in his career and where he’s

going: can that sometimes

be difficult because of the

connection you have? You’ve

had a mix of younger riders

and much more experienced.

Coming back to what I asked

earlier, it must be tricky to

evaluate that and make tough


It is. When I made all the

decisions, for the majority of

my career, it was very easy

for me to say ‘that’s the guy

I want’. What, still-to-thisday,

gives me satisfaction

is being able to see the guy

that nobody else can see.

What is that particular guy

missing? He has the ability,

he has the talent: so what

is lacking? Whether it was

Davy [Millsaps], who’d everybody

had given-up on, or

Christophe or Zach or Marty

[Davalos] or even Jason there

is a story behind every one of

them that at a certain point

in their careers when I found

them they’d been written-off

or been told to move on and

find something or someone

else. With the young guys it

is very difficult and tough for

me to communicate to my

peers here at Husqvarna that

we have to stick with a guy

for the long-term. I’m a ‘numbers’

person. I have spreadsheets

that are 10-15 years

old and go right through a

rider’s Pro career. Over 82.6%

of them have their best Pro

years after coming in as a

rookie by their third-fourth

season. What I have Iearnt

through the years and even

watching my own son is that

they come in and see the

lights and the fans and it is

like going to the High School

Prom for the first time, their

eyes are this big and round.

They have some moments

of greatness but most of the

time more difficulty than success.

So it is about keeping

them positive and explaining

the building process. Second

year – and this is where Mosiman

is right now – they have

the speed and when they get

a start they stay there and

make fewer mistakes. They

have more pace and confidence

but they still lack the

consistency; they’ll do three

great laps and then have a

terrible fourth. That thirdfourth

year is when they – for

whatever reason - finally put

all the pieces together. That’s

usually when they have the

most success. It is difficult

from a factory standpoint for

everyone to be as patient as

I am to go through the learning

process. I was looking at

all other teams and they were

scooping up these young riders

and having them just for

two years and they didn’t produce.

Mosiman: I have had to

fight to keep him every year.

I’ve been accused of leaning

towards the riders [but that’s]

because I see their progress.

It can be easy to judge from

a distance but when you see

them day-in and day-out

then you see the little steps,

and some of them make big

strides. There is no substitution

for time. I don’t care how

many laps you put in or how

many starts you do. You have

to remember we are dealing

with kids 16, 17, 18, 19, 20. I

still look at a rider who is 24

now and think what I was like

at 24! I thought I knew everything!

In my case I didn’t

really know what I wanted

until I was in my late thirties!

It’s about communicating

what it going on with these

guys. Thomas is a seasoned

rider who lived in Europe for

five years and is used to having

two days to have a track

‘down’ and then a large number

of laps on the track before

the race starts so for sure he

feels confident when he does

it. Now take him back to the

U.S. fly every weekend and

just two ten minute sessions.

I remember the first race that

we did and he said ‘we get a

sighting lap right?’ and I said

‘no! The gate drops and you

go…no Sighting lap until the

Main’. So it is going to take

a while. He has the natural

ability but he is following the

same path as a rookie. I told

him that Supercross is a ballet:

every step is precise and

where it is supposed to be.

Whereas Outdoors is a boxing

match: the toughest guy wins

because the last ten minutes

are about how much pain are

you willing to suffer. He’ll be

fine but it will take time, and

it is frustrating from my part



especially because of last year

and our success with Jason

and Zach. I knew 2019 would

be different. I told Rockstar

and my sponsors that we’ll be

really bad on the 250 side –

that’s just reality. If we are going

to develop younger talent

then everybody needs to understand

that. Everybody was

OK with that because I had

Jason and Zach and we were

all excited about the 450s.

Paris and Geneva went well

but the closer we got to A1 the

more you could see the anxiety

building up in Jason because

those last 30-40 days

meant a phone call, interview

or something else every day.

If Jason misses a day of

training, bike ride, gym session

or practice then it eats

him. He believes 100% in the

programme laid out in front

of him and if that changes…

[bad news]. He’d missed the

Outdoors through injury and

he’d got back on the bike and

was riding well but you could

see he didn’t know where he

was-at. We’d all left and gone

to the Monster Cup on Thursday

and he called that day at

2pm and said ‘I want to race’.

We didn’t have any race bike

ready, nothing prepared but

he wanted to do the Monster

Cup. His mechanic wasn’t

here so we got the training

mechanic to freshen-up the

practice bike and put it in a

truck and come to Vegas. He

did great there. He didn’t win

but he left Monster Cup think-

ing ‘I’m close’. We went from

high anxiety to the world is

good again. We then go to

Europe and A1 gets closer and

the [expectation] starts creeping

in and it was more than

any of us thought it would be.

We’d never won one before!

You never get as many calls

from winning the 250 championship

as you do the Supercross


Logistically how it is managing

a team when the whole

operation is split the breadth

of the United States?

It is very challenging from a

managerial standpoint and

a personal one. Up until we

moved into the Husqvarna

factory facility here and did

the Aldon Baker deal with

KTM then I spent time with

my riders every day. You go

from spending every week and

every day travelling together

to a weekly phone call or

seeing them every month or

two. I’d see them every Saturday

but not during the week.

It became difficult for me

because beforehand I could

gauge how the weekend would

be because of the week leading

up to it; whether there was

personal, technical or bumpsand-bruises.

I mean, if you

ask a rider how the week went

they’d always say ‘it went

great’. Ask them how they feel

that day ‘I feel amazing’. Then

you come to find out that they

had a big get-off or the laptimes

were not great one of

the days. It has been difficult

for me with that. So much so

that I put together a whole

analysis for how much money

we’d save if we moved the

whole race-shop to Florida!

And then having 80% support

at the test facility and 20%

here for - literally - as few

as six and at the very most

thirteen weeks in California.

The rest of the time would be

over there. Managing it all is

difficult: when we were doing

the tests with Thomas with

suspension and chassis then

the way we had it set-up that

week would normally take

a month and the frustration

level of the rider increases.

Generally I think we missed

the boat a bit and all of my

staff said they’d relocate. Most

of them have been with me a

long time and that’s the way

we always operate. If someone

has an issue then we address

the issue. Now we are doing

it through other ways of

communication but it is not

like doing it hands-on. So I

made up my mind that I’ll just

spend more time in Florida

and I’m looking at Real Estate

there. I don’t worry about

Jason and Zach because

they have been doing it long

enough and they can communicate

well enough. They know

what they are looking for and

what needs to be done. But

with the young guys it is very

difficult. I remember when

Jason started riding with me

he couldn’t tell you anything

about the bike! He’d just

adjust his style to what the

bike was doing! Now he’s in

a different league. He knows

what he is looking for and that

makes it much easier but we

have to develop the young

kids and the amateurs. We

have three programmes and I

feel we could shorten the time

of development and therefore

the results if we had the ability

to be there more.

Could riding for you be quite

intimidating? Simply because

of what you have achieved in

the sport?

I hope not.

In the same way that young

guys might be daunted by riding

and working with Roger

De Coster?

I don’t see myself that way.

My wife might tell you that I

can look quite intimidating

from a distance but I feel I am

nice guy and if you can’t get

along with me then you can’t

with anyone.

It’s more your standing…

Roger is the guy at the top of

the totem pole. Even though

I’ve had success I would hope

I’m still humble and grounded

as when I started. I’ve been

successful in anything I’ve

done, whether it is business,

sports or racing but I know

it takes time. When I first got

into this I remember walking

into Mitch Payton’s office. I

had never met him and I was

very intimidated at the time!

This was fifteen-twenty years



ago and the very first thing

he said to me was “you are

not going to buy your way

into this sport” and I said “I

don’t want to buy my way in,

I want to work my way in”. I

definitely did not want to be a

team that shows up at A1 and

we’re gone by Vegas. I was in

it for the long haul and I was

willing to work for it. You’ve

thrown me a bit with that

question because I know we

worked for success but I also

know that it comes because

of the people you surround

yourself with. I don’t look at

it as a big personal thing but

more what our team and programme

has done. I tell people

in many interviews that

the riders might be the face

and the voice but the backbone

of the organisation are

the guys in the pits, the ones

driving the trucks, the practice

mechanics: those are the

ones that really make the difference

between a successful

programme and unsuccessful.

Like it or not though you are

the leader…

Until you brought it up then

it’s not something I’ve given a

lot of thought about. I mean,

I know people value my opinion

a lot more now compared

to when I first came in. I feel

like I have earned respect –

not bought it – from my peers

and others in the industry.

I’ve tried to teach my children,

my riders and anyone

who’s worked for me that I

don’t care if you’re the President

of the United States or

the guy sweeping the streets

we all put our pants on the

same way and we all deserve

the same









amount of


I think if


does feel



me I’m

more than


to put it


A different subject then. Give

me your take on Christophe

Pourcel. Many people might

have regarded that as a

leftfield or risky signing but

he was a brilliantly technical


He is beautiful to watch on

the bike.

But Mitch Payton himself

said you had to give him a

leash and couldn’t work in

the same way with him as

other riders. What’s your

evaluation of that episode


I loved having Christophe. I

found out at the very first day

of testing how I needed to

communicate with him. We’d

test something and when he

first came off the track everyone

would surround him and

ask him what he thought of

this or that and Christophe is

a very proud person, and respectively

so because he has

accomplished great things in

this sport. That being said,

when he came off the track

what you needed to do with

him was let him be and give

him some space. It took him

a while to admit it to me but

there is a language barrier to

some degree. He needed that

time to gather his thoughts.

If he was doing it in French

it might have been a quicker

process but he wanted to be

clear with his English. That’s

one of the things I always

respected about him because

he did have self-awareness

and whether he will admit

this or not he did care about

how people looked at him

and the way they communicated.

I think a lot of people

took it the wrong way: he’s

difficult, he’s standoff-ish. I

always thought he was trying

to be clear about what he

was feeling and communicate

what he is experiencing. Once

I was able to figure that out

then we got-along great. We

talked about politics and a lot

of different things other than

racing. Again it is about getting

to know the rider and how they

click. When it came to bike setup

I had Jason all the way to

the left and Christophe all the

way to the right! I joked with

Christophe once by saying the

only way I could make his bike

slower was to buy one from a

dealer and put our graphics on

the side! But he could lay down

a fast lap and he could hang it

up there as well.


Did you appreciate or get infuriated

by the fact that he was

going to push to a certain limit

and not go over it?

I think all the riders get to that

stage at a certain point in their

career. Dungey and Christophe

both broke the same bone

in their neck, same side and

everything. The only difference

is that Dungey broke his

at the third round in Colorado.

Christophe did his in August.

Dungey had three-four months

off the bike and be able to get

back and build up confidence.

Christophe was on fast-track.

When we came to A1 there had

been good days and bad days

but the severity of that injury –

and I don’t think a lot of people

know but your main artery runs

through there and if that artery

would have been cut then

you can bleed out in under two

minutes and die very easily

because of it. With Christophe

understanding what he had

gone through previously with


being paralysed…I was never

frustrated with him. Others

were. I felt strongly that if we

had by-passed supercross

and just gone into Outdoors

we’d have been in a much

better position. At the practice

track I would understand

why he’d only do 1-2 laps

going through the whoops

but to others it was frustrating.

It was a difficult time. I’ve

had to let riders go before

but that was one where I was

more upset and to the point

of tears. Fortunately I pushed

and pushed and we were able

to put together the Canada

deal. It was nobody’s fault but

everybody has an opinion and

we all have someone we have

to answer to. I thoroughly enjoyed

working with Christophe

and have the utmost respect

for him on and off the track.

Robert [Jonas, VP of Offroad

KTM Group] told me that I

have a reputation for taking

difficult riders and getting

the best of them and I think

a lot of it is just being human

and not treating them like a

paycheck. Yes, we are paid to

perform but it is a dangerous

sport and as a Pro your career

is very short. If you think

about other sports – if you do

research – then most athletes

are in their prime mentally

and emotionally between

27-32; that’s the cream of the

crop, and that’s when our

guys’ careers are over. We’re

bringing guys in at eighteen

when they have the least

amount of ability to control

their emotions, and their testosterone

is at its highest and

we want them to be mature

and responsible. It seems that

we do a lot of things backwards

in this industry. What

I’d like to hang my hat on is

being able to see things that

others didn’t and that brings

success like Zach Osborne.

He could have won those

championships five years before

he did but he didn’t believe

in himself. Until you can

get that light bulb to go off [it

won’t happen]. He was very

comfortable finishing second.

I’ve only got mad at Zach

once. I think it was at Seattle

or St Louis. He led thirteen

of the fifteen laps and then

he started seeing Cooper

[Webb] come. He went from

a seven second lead to nothing

and Cooper passed him

on the last lap and he finished

second. I said to him that the

only reason he did not win

that race was because he did

not believe he could. The light

bulb for Zach was when he

went to our training facility

and was training with Jason

and Dungey but on a 250 and

was running with those guys.

He knew he couldn’t do it for

thirty minutes but he could

do it for fifteen whether it was

supercross or outdoors and it

translated over to the track.

Lastly, Las Vegas 2017 and

Osborne’s last lap, penultimate

corner championship

win. If that wasn’t the highlight

of your career then at

least describe the emotions of

that moment and evening…

Oh. I’m a firm believer in

emotions trickle down. If I’m

in a good mood then others

will be, if I’m mad then that

has an effect. The team looks

towards the Head Coach or

the President of a company

for leadership in good times

and bad. In the week leading

up to Vegas – internally I was

dying! I was so nervous and

stressed and the only person

I could talk to was my wife –

to the guys I was showing a

face of no big deal, no stress,

another race and we’ll do it.

The funny thing was that when

Zach went down in the first

corner I was in the Managers

Tower and literally dropped to

the floor. My head was down

there and the tower was next

to the finish line and Zach said

he could see me every lap

get a little higher as he came

through. To come from where

he was and then make that

pass [struggles for words]. It

felt like I had done a marathon

at the end of the race and all

in fifteen minutes. There was

so much emotion. He gave it

everything he had and I was

trying to hold my composure.

I was trying to hold it together

like I’d ‘been to the dance

before’ and was ready to

congratulate him but the guys

will tell you that I probably

cried more [gets emotional]. It

started out as one of the worst

nights of my life and my biggest

fear had just come true,

to being one of the most exhilarating.

The thing was that I

had another guy on the starting

line right afterwards and I

didn’t get to enjoy it and I feel

a bit bad about that. We did

the photo and then I had to go

back to the Managers Tower.

I felt he got a big cheated by

that but we made up for it


How many times have you

watched the video?

Oh! I’ve watched that race

more than twenty times. I

think it will be ranked as

one of the greatest moments

in our sport. I haven’t been

around as long as other guys

but 2019 is my twentieth year

and I still think it was one of

the greatest. And for us to

win both classes! I thought

we might have been the first

from the same team and same

programme…but then it was

Roger! And I should have

known! When you always look

at all the paperwork and deal

with all the travelling then it

is moments like that which

make it all worth it. That night

was one of the very best and

I still have the same goals. I

want to win an Outdoor 450

championship badly so it is

not a one-and-done fluke. I tell

everybody that I am not going

into the motorcycle Hall

of Fame and I know that, but

I would like to be remembered

as a guy who came in

from outside the industry and

did things a little different

and made people’s lives better

and perhaps changed the

thought process a little bit. To

have said ‘just because you

did it that way for thirty years

doesn’t mean it needs to be

that way for the next thirty’.

The world is changing all the

time. I’ll be proud of the success

these guys have achieved

and hopefully [knocks on the

desk] my contract will be renewed

and I can start and finish

with Jason because in our

industry today people jump

for a nickel more. Both Zach

and Jason have had opportunities

to go other places for

more money and have turned

them done so I feel good

about that.









By Adam Wheeler, Photos by Husqvarna/Cudby


Paul Perebijnos sits

in his office in Irvine,

California flanked

floor to ceiling by ProTaper

parts and merchandise.

It’s from this ordered but

cluttered space that the

former Pro Circuit mechanic

and his small

team have helped

the forward-thinking

handlebar company

(now much broader

in terms of parts and

product catalogue)

prosper over the half

decade that he has

steered the brand.

We’re here to ask why

and how a dirtbike rider

would want to buy a

‘bar, and diverge from the

usually reliable offering from

their production motorcycle,

to enquire about their secret

SELA start device that made

an appearance for the first

time in the initial rounds of

2019 Supercross (and is due

for launch very soon) and for

an explanation of how ProTaper

are moving places.

Paul, ProTaper has had four

years of continual growth. In

your opinion what’s the reason

for that?

I think it’s a bunch of different

things happening in unison. I

would say the racing side is

important. We have tried to

make ProTaper a global brand

and that means having premium,

championship winning

athletes all over the globe

and in all different disciplines

like off-road, hard enduro and

not just motocross and supercross.

A big part has been

the aggression and dedication

to product development. We

have continued to innovate

and bring new products to

the market and that has really

made the brand exciting and

to capture the customer’s attention.

That helps the rest of

the product line because you

have to evolve and have new

stuff. We are always rationalising

our skew-offering and

getting rid of things that have

become stale. Even if something

is not innovative it might

just be fresh like a new bar

pad colour – and those colours

have actually been crazily

popular for us.


So it means constantly looking

at the product line. We try

to have something new to talk

about every year and that’s

been huge. I’ve learned that it

takes time for these things to

happen and a lot of the things

we did two-three years ago we

are only seeing the rewards

now. It is a long game running

a brand and a business

but our momentum has been

fantastic and we have been

gaining new fans and I hope

we continue to do so.

Has the rate of product development

increased? What’s the


It depends on the product

itself and how much testing

it takes but typically it is

twelve months. Even if it is

something fairly simple like

a bar pad it still take time to

get it designed and then pricing,

margin structure, launch

strategy, get POs placed and

product in stock and then

marketing. So twelve months

at a minimum but I think that

is still quite fast. If it is a very

technical piece like our start

device then that’s been in the

works for a long, long time

and is the type of product that

needs to be hard-race tested

I feel. It is not something that

can continually be done at the

test track or the lab. It needs

to be put through the paces

in a race and be roosted, and

face all the conditions of mud,

sand, dust, everything. We

learned a lot from the four Supercross

races we used it with

Dean Wilson. One of those

was a mud race at San Diego.

Have priorities shifted at all?

Not really. ProTaper’s organisation

involves a small team

here and I report to the president

of a group of brands and

we go through bigger overarching

strategies. A big thing

for us in 2019 is international

growth and it was last year

also. Then things like working

out how to get our international

customers with their product

quicker and at a competitive

price. ProTaper is a fairly

young business when it comes

to the international side and

has only been focussing on it

for the last eight years or so.

Then putting people in place

to really focus further in the

last five-six. It’s a bit of an initiative

of ours going forwards

but then we want to preserve

our margins and make moves

based on what the market is

Photo by Ray Archer

telling us. Some things are

selling better than others compared

to five years ago –

Such as?

A big one is the clamp-on

style grips. Five years ago I

would say they were not the

priority but nowadays a lot of

people are buying them. They

are willing to pay more money

not to have to worry about

glue and safety wiring. A lot of

that leads to cannibalisation of

our other grips. So we’ve had

to look at skews and our other

offerings as a lot of customers

are moving that way now.

KTM and Husky putting them

on their stock motorcycles has

really carried it. A lot of people

are used to it and it’s what

they want. I personally don’t

think it is a racing product at

all; it is more for everyday use.

If you are collecting championship

points then the best

way is still with an aluminium

throttle tube and a glue-on

grip. Every customer has a different

taste but the clamp-on

grip has gained a lot of momentum

in the last years.

Let’s talk about grips for a

moment: is there a great deal

of science or R&D there? Or

is it just an extension of the

product catalogue for a handlebar


I guess I can only speak for

our brand and we take the

technical approach to everything.

It starts with an idea

and then we look at the science

behind it. I’m a scientific

and mechanical kind of person.

I need facts! We kinda

nerd-out on that. We get into

durometers and different levels

of softness: ‘low’ being a

soft grip and ‘high’ being very

hard. We’ll also look closely at

outer diameters and what the

installed diameter is on a ‘bar

because we’ve learned a lot

from our kids handlebar – the

Micro – about how size makes

a big difference and how a

rider’s hands feel after a moto.

A bigger diameter is harder to

hold onto and can give armpump.

It’s like holding a baseball

bat and the difference

between where you should be

holding it and sliding it further

up the bat where you’ll

have less control. That’s why

so many riders are particular

about a full diamond grip

because they have a smaller

hand. To answer your question

then a lot more goes into it

than you think.

It must be hard to make

something that’s generic and


Yeah, you can go overboard

with it. Grips are still a wonderful

product because they

can skew and also sit in a

warehouse or a DC [distribution

centre] and still be brand

new after some time. They are

good for business. I’m sure

there are some brands that

don’t find any science in it and

just make a grip of any colour

but we are trying to make

it as good as it can be. I try

to sprinkle them around: the

guys here in the office all vary

in skill level on the bike and

what they ride and then we’ll

have our factory guys, some

media guys to create a nice

mix of age, riding ability and

experience. We’ll try to create

the best and biggest ‘box’ that

we’d want people to fit into.

Does the type of material really

matter? This is an area

where the apparel industry

is really advancing for example…

It is not as crazy as apparel.

But there are different mixtures

to get different things

out of it. You can go very soft

but then the grip will disintegrate

over time. You can go

harder and it will last longer

but it will be harsh in your

hand. There is a fine balance

with the material to increase

your wear and longevity. Not

only can you change the grip

pattern but also the wall of

the grip to give more cushion

or rebound. So there are a lot

of little things you can do I


The SELA start device is new.

What’s the story there?

It’s been an idea for a while

and in development for a little

bit less but like I said earlier

we really had to race-test

this one. The unique feature

means there have been a lot

of legal dealings and it was

important for us to get our



prior art and patent submissions

in line before we could

show or test anything with

anyone. We wanted to protect

our idea obviously and that

was a process that took some

time. We were testing in the

background meanwhile so

there have been a lot of cycles

on our idea and it has evolved

since the race testing. The goal

is to have product in stock

globally by the end of October,

so we have opened up tooling

and we have our final design

done and working and the

first samples. Then it is about

showing our major clients and

gauging interest to confirm

a timeline for release, order

quantities and forecasts. We’ll

do a proper media launch and

get some guys to ride around

and use the device by themselves.

There’s quite a bit of

momentum then…

I believe so. My customer

service guys sits twenty metres

away from me and says he gets

numerous calls a week asking

about it. That’s exciting.

Why so?

We’re entering a product area

that will mean zero cannibalisation

for other ProTaper

products. It is an idea that

we had to fill a void and fix a

problem on the market right

now. Start devices obviously

work fine but you can speak

to anyone who has been to a

few motocross races and they

always see someone struggling

to lock one down or put it in.

With the advent of start grid

the buttons are lower than they

have been before. It can sometimes

take two mechanics to

engage the device. I think it is

cool that nobody has thought

of it yet and that our team was

able to figure it out and a way

to do it [riders turn a self-releasing

cog] I think it will help

to elevate the ProTaper brand

because you will be able to

practice starts by yourself and

won’t need a mate with you. It

was an idea from the whole ProTaper

team talking and I bring

a lot of race-consumer knowledge.

Our product engineer

is full of great ideas and we

talk among ourselves and our

Product Source expert knows

a lot about the materials and

techniques so we can create

something that is still affordable.

The toughest thing with

this one was how technical

and expensive it was for us to

build. So if we weren’t creative

with the manufacturing then

it wouldn’t have been a reality.

We couldn’t have offered a

start device for three hundred

dollars. Nobody will buy it. To

be competitively priced with

whatever else is out there took

some doing.

Again was it tough to make it

universal for every bike?

That was one [area] that took

the most time to get right, I’d

say. I really pushed to make

that happen because right

now there are maybe 30+ part

numbers to satisfy all the bikes

from the big OEMs when you

consider a start device and

that is hard for a dealership

to constantly stock. So then

you are dealing with a special

order part and people have

to wait for a couple of days.

With ours you can stock one

skew and satisfy every single

customer that walks in the

door wanting one. That was a

big benefit and a feature that I

think dealers will appreciate.

Has a start device increased

in relevance and importance?

Anyone that is half-serious

about racing needs one? It

wasn’t essential ten years


I became quite well-versed in

the patents surrounding start

devices and they have been

around for twenty years now.

So they have been about for a

bit but, yes, I do believe they

have become essential for a

racer because it has become

that common.

It seems the Ducati’s have

quite a ‘trick’ device in


I had someone comment about

that recently and how ours

might help because they obviously

don’t have anybody on

the grid helping them engage

it. I’ll definitely have to check

it out.

Photo by James Lissimore Photo







I am a first time off-road bike buyer.

Why should I consider spending more

money for a new handlebar?

Good question. If you are not too technical

then you won’t be thinking about a

handlebar and will just be riding your

motorcycle and getting used to it. The

first time you might be looking for a bar

would be after a crash when it’s become

bent or damaged. You’ll go into a dealer

and typically it will be ProTaper or Renthal

that is available. From that point it is

really dependent on our reps, salesmen

and distributors out there to be educating

the Parts guys or manager at these

dealerships on what our product does

and the benefits it can bring you. That’s

very hard. A new customer might not be

someone who is into the technical details

or racing or seeing it on an athlete’s

bike so it is about that impression at the

dealer and then driven by price for their

particular bike. They might need a new

bar for their KTM that costs 150 dollars

but walking over to the aftermarket section

means a product at 80 bucks that is

better. So I think it is a crash and then a

conversation like that which brings the

first time customer to us.

OK, so I’ve had my bike for six months

and I love it. I want to bling-it-out. I have

a different pipe and now I’m looking for

something else. What differences will a

new ‘bar make?

I think that rider might see the ProTaper

name popping up with a few athletes or

teams they could be following and they

might be something to it. They might

dive into our website to see what the

product is about and will see a ProTaper

bar compared to a stock one is made of

completely different materials. We are

not holding anything back when it comes

to cost because it is about bread-andbutter

and we produce them in such

quantities that we can offer the best possible

product you can make for a competitive

price. Flex characteristics are a

huge thing, so if a rider is experiencing

a very rigid handlebar – maybe it has a

crossbar, maybe it doesn’t – no brand is

the same. When it comes to a bar without

a crossbar ProTaper was the inventor

and patent holder of that design back in

1991. We’ve been in it longer than anybody

else. That patent expired in 2011 so

now you see everybody in the game has

a fat bar. We have a twenty year headstart

on everyone and have done all sorts

of testing in our lab and with our riders

for flex and fatigue strength. A customer

like the one you mentioned would be

looking for some performance benefits

as well as looking at some of the options

we can provide, so to bling the bike we

have all the colours of bars and pads for


Photo by Bavo

I’ve been riding for a year. I want to go

faster and I’m considering a race. Maybe

a ProTaper ‘bar is what I need for a better

feel. Is that the case?

Yeah, that’s when I think the person is

going into a dealer and is holding a bar

and envisions what he has at home and

what kind of changes he wants to make

to be more comfortable. He or she might

feel that the bars are too rigid or too tall,

too wide, or too swept-back. That’s when

you can examine our website for some

specs or walk into a dealership and see

how our bars feel in your hands. That’s

also when our racers come into play. For

riders that have been on the bike a while,

looking at a race and want to better

themselves then they will also be looking

around at the community and online.

They’ll see the guys at the weekends

and a rider like Thomas Kjer Olsen and

be thinking ‘he’s tall like me, what handlebar

is he using?’ That’s when I think

customers look to riders they like and are

steered a little bit to brands that way.




scott sports

Scott claim that years of racing development

and carbon expertise have helped in the evolution

of the brand new Gambler mountain

bike. The firm state that the product is a pure

racing machine thanks to being one of the

lightest and most adjustable on the market

(progression and wheel size adjustment and

a frame weight of just 2650g). The Gambler

was possible after R&D with chassis stiffness

and flex and numerous tests with downhill

athletes: ‘Working with various materials and

layup techniques we were able to achieve a

torsionally stiff frame for responsive behaviour

but with the right level of lateral flex to

provide compliance and comfort on difficult

sections of track.’

Even though Scott hit their target weight they

did not compromise on strength. Adjustability

is key. ‘The new Gambler allows you to

switch between wheelsizes without changing

any other components on the bike. Chain

stay length can also be adjusted, independent

of wheelsize choice. Short with 29”,

sure thing. Long with 27.5? Yep, that too.

The Gambler also comes with spare angled

headset cups, so that you can adjust head

angle relative to wheelsize, fork choice etc.’

Integration (new chainguard and other components)

and a Hixon iC DH one-piece cockpit

are other features of an essential piece of

competitive equipment.


• Easy on, easy off—no messy glue or safety wire needed

• Dual Compound Technology for comfort and durability

• Exclusive clutch-side Windowed Core eliminates harsh

feel of competing solid-core designs

• Includes 7 interchangeable throttle cams for most fullsize

2- and 4-stroke motocross models

• Available in three different traction patterns

Photo: Juan Pablo Acevedo


@ P R O T A P E R

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








JULY 27th

Rnd 9 of 12

450MX winner:

Eli Tomac, Kawasaki

250MX winner:

Dylan Ferrandis, Yamaha

Blog by Steve Matthes, Photos by Octopi/Monster, Cudby



Photo: R. Schedl




KTM Factory Riders are continually shifting the boundaries of possibility.

Their demands have resulted in a new generation of complete high-performance

enduro machines that offer outstanding handling and agility, improved

ease of use and efficient power delivery across the whole rev range.

The new KTM 300 EXC TPI is a race-refined machine of the highest caliber,

built to conquer every challenge in your journey to the top.

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.





Only three rounds left in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships

and this past weekend we saw one points leader put

his stamp on a third straight title while another one lost to his

rival and ensured we’re going to have a fight to the finish.

Washougal, Washington has been

on the circuit every year-but-one

since 1980 and the picturesque

track is a favorite for many in

the series. For one, it’s awesome

scenery and for two, most times

it’s a reprieve from the heat and

rough conditions of the east

coast tracks that the series has

been on prior to this round.

Let’s bounce around some topics

from the weekend:

-Weekends like Washougal is

when you watch Monster Kawasaki’s

Eli Tomac and wonder how

he ever loses. He was a machine,

going 1-1 and extending his points

advantage to over two motos with

just six motos remaining. He was

the man on the tricky track turning

one horrific start and one soso

start into leads and easy moto

wins. His speed into and out of

the many corners was so much

superior to anyone else’s, it was

easy to see him clicking off the

seconds of the riders in front of

him. There was even a fall in the

first moto and he still won with a

semi-aggressive pass on Honda’s

Ken Roczen.

When Tomac gets criticized by

myself and others, it’s because

of days like these when he’s just

SO much better than everyone

else. He’s like Ricky Carmichael,

James Stewart and the Ryan’s

(Dungey and Villopoto), and

those riders never had the perplexing

‘other’ days that ET3

does. Hence, all of us aren’t

sure what we’re seeing out there

sometimes. He’s the most elite

rider in the sports history to ever

have some really bad days (more

so in 450SX than MX) and none

of us can quite wrap our heads

around that.

- Star Yamaha’s Dylan Ferrandis

had a great day as well in Washougal

with double moto wins and

cut Monster Pro Circuit

Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo’s

points gap down to 28. In the

second moto Ferrandis, who got

great starts all day along with his

entire team, had Cianciarulo on

him practically the whole moto

in a great race with both riders

pushing hard. It was cool to

watch them push each other so

hard and then congratulate each

other afterwards.

“I think it’s a track that looks a

little bit like the tracks we had

in GP. My experience from the

GP helps me a lot on a track like

that. It was a crazy day. Here it’s

always tough. Washougal is a really

difficult track for us as riders

because you never have good

vision with the shadows. The

traction is really difficult to find.

So it’s not easy, but I managed

to make it perfect so I’m really

happy,” Ferrandis told the media


By Steve Matthes

“That’s crazy how my season

goes so far. I can do one weekend

1-1 and the next one fourth

overall. That sucks, but it’s the

way it is. I need to work on that.

For me today it was a really good

day. I think in the second moto

we did a crazy show with Adam.

It was good I think for the fans

and everybody who was watching.”

Earlier this year I sat down with

Ferrandis who told me his slow

start to the 250MX nationals was

a direct correlation to his clinching

the 250SX title and how that

was his dream and to have only

one week to ramp everything

back up to get ready for outdoors

was a bit much. When you

ask Dylan a question, you better

be ready for a real honest answer.

Well, he’s been getting better

since that chat and he’s now

making another championship

push against that same rider.

-The outdoors is starting to

become a bit of a series of attrition

at this point. We’ve had

good luck with health for the

most part but this past week saw

KTM’s Blake Baggett be out for

the year (probably) with a virus

which would explain most of his

results this season and GEICO

Honda’s Hunter Lawrence had a

part fail on his bike while testing

and broke his collarbone. Two

moto winners out for the year

and as always, this is a reminder

that motocross is dangerous.

- Speaking of GEICO Honda its

manager Dan Betley recently

announced that he’s calling it a

career and retiring. Betley’s had

a great career in the sport starting

in 1989 when he got the job

at Factory Honda working for Jeff

Stanton. That combo proceeded

to rack up six SX and MX championships

and then Dan took a

year or two off before coming

back as a motor guy for Honda of

Troy and then shortly after that

to Honda. Once reunited back

with big red, he was in charge of

the 125cc program then a four

stroke motor program and eventually

became team manager.

He moved to GEICO a couple of

years ago and has decided to call

it a day. Great guy, honest as the

day is long and a hard worker,

the sport will be worse off with

Dan not in the pits.

-I fully expect Team USA to be

Zach Osborne, Jason Anderson

and Justin Cooper for the upcoming

MXDN in Assen, Netherlands

this fall. Word on the street

is that the original plan was to

have Cooper Webb join up and

Osborne drop down to the MX2

class but Webb bowed out so

Osborne was going to stay on his

450. It’s a good team and will

have a shot at the podium but

going to need some luck to break

the seven-year winless streak.

You’ll notice that the two points

leaders in the series aren’t in the

trio and that’s not a typo. Both

Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli

Tomac and Monster Pro Circuit

Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo

won’t be on the team and although

we’ll never really know

who’s ultimate decision it was,

my thinking is it was more Kawasaki’s

than the riders. Yes, both

riders publicly stated they would

go to the race but what else were

they supposed to say? It’s smart

PR for them to be positive about

the race and let the OEM take

the flack for not sending them.

My feelings on the race are well

known, I love it but don’t feel



like Team USA should just continue

to go without some sort of

concession made for their time,

their schedule issues, their travel

or their expenses. The Monster

Energy Cup race is very important

for the teams and the green

team would rather focus on that.

Around the paddock, the decision

is met with a shrug really

than any outrage. It’s a volunteer

position on Team USA and I think

people understand those that

don’t want to go for all the reasons

I stated. It’s too bad the best

of the best of the USA can’t/won’t

go but it’ll still be a good team to

battle the rest of the world.





100% continue their impressive rate of product

development and presentation in 2019.

After solid offerings with their mountain

bike line-up and the launch of the flagship

Armega goggle they have now stepped up

the fruits of their two-year association with

cycling star Peter Sagan with a new Limited

Edition sunglass range that includes the

models: The Speedcraft, the Speedtrap, the

S2, and the recently released S3. The topaz

blue scheme is unmistakable while 100%

provide more details on the tech by stating

the ‘Multilayer Mirror lens features a Hydrophobic

+ Oleophobic treatment to repel

water, dirt, and oil; the perfect lens coating to

help keep your vision unencumbered.

All models include Peter Sagan’s logo and

come in special edition packaging with a

micro bag, a hard-shell sport case, and a

spare clear lens.’ Sagan, who has already triumphed

in the 2019 Tour de France, has also

been sporting a 24-karat Speedtrap Limited

Edition and just 50 of these glasses (‘that

are numbered xx/50, feature the Sagan and

100% logos’, contain an individual gold authenticated

card referencing its corresponding

sunglass number (xx/50) and signed

personally by Peter’) are up for sale with

proceeds going to the Challenged Athletes

Foundation. More information on the product

can be found by clicking on any image.

For details about the CAF try:





As pioneers of the world’s first neck brace, we defined riding safety with technology. Proven to reduce the risk of a serious injury by up to 47%, Leatt ® neck braces are highly adjustable

to fit all riders, at all levels. And with an engineered collarbone cut-out, there’s nothing to harm your most fragile bones. So now it’s up to you to redefine your limits with confidence.






Advanced stuff from one of the best motorcycle

gear and safety brands on the market as Alpinestars

show off their catchy 2020 wares. Particularly

eye-grabbing are the Supertech racewear

products (including the latest generation designs

of the Supertech M10 helmet). Alpinestars claim

the jersey is the lightest they have manufactured

with the presence of stretch materials forming the

basis of the chassis through both the shirt and the


The athletic fit remains while the jersey apparently

also uses a ‘floating arm construction’ for a bigger

range of movement. Expect a set of this premium

kit to cost around 320 dollars. Alpinestars (despite

the confusing names mix) also have different levels

and price points with the Techstar and Racer

Tech/Supermatic/Braap gear and liveries.




By Adam Wheeler, Photos by CormacGP/Polarity Photo


Thomas Luthi and

Remy Gardner are

at the

opposite ends of their

career spans in the

fever of the Moto2

class but both are

sniping for victory in

arguably the most

ruthless contest in

MotoGP. We asked

them about the

sacrifices and

challenges to excel at

the beginning of the

Triumph-engine era:

Luthi now re-established

after his lacklustre

MotoGP adventure

in 2018 and Gardner

finally relishing the

advantage of

competitive equipment

for the first time at FIM

World Championship


Thomas Luthi, 2005 125cc

world champ, an eighteenseason

veteran of Grand Prix

twelve of those in the intermediate

category and with twelve

wins and fifty-one podiums on

both Honda and Triumph motors,

is being apologetic. He’s

running more than ten minutes

late for our interview at the

Gran Premi Monster Energy

de Catalunya all because of

a delayed flight but could not

be more courteous and helpful

when he arrives in the airy

interior of the Dynavolt Intact

GP hospitality.

The 32 year old’s manners

are typical of an enduring and

popular racer who has represented

rich value for anyone

needing explanation or articulation

of what it takes to survive

in MotoGP. Luthi has been

around a while and always on

the periphery of becoming

Switzerland’s first world champion

outside of the small cylinder

divisions (Stefan Dorflinger

and Luigi Taveri owning 125,

80 and 50cc honours) usually

injury for the often-fragile #12

has been a handicap and he

finished as runner-up both in

2016 and 2017.

The transition from Moto2

podium contender to MotoGP

backmarker was a shock to

the system as much as trying

to flog an unwilling RCV and

sit the embers of the Marc

VDS MotoGP team implosion.

Thankfully he has found spoils

once more back in Moto2 but

it meant a second successive

year of orientation. And that’s

what we wanted to quiz Thomas

about over a coffee and

tucked away from the harsh

Catalan sun.

Even though the MotoGP year

seemed tough you must have

returned to Moto2 with a veil

of confidence – although the

engines were new…

Yes, but that is also the danger.

I have experience, and I

was a long time in the Moto2

class but it can mean you have

the wrong thinking and go

back and assume that it will

be easy. So I was really careful

in the winter to not have

that complacency. I really

worked hard, and differently.

I was riding more on the bike

and focussing more on make

a strong start [to the season].

We got lucky with the weather

on the test days and we could

do many laps. Those test were

so important in terms of starting

the year at a high level.

Which was the target.

Not many riders have moved

to MotoGP and then gone

back to Moto2 and had success.

Was that consideration

towards your mentality an

important ingredient?

Yes, 70% was in the

head I think. Getting

the chance

from this



a lot. It is very

professional and really hardworking

and that matches to

my working style as well.

This was key to getting

the bike under control

and working well as

soon as possible.

The Kalex guys

did a good job

over the winter

and the

tests as

well and

we saw

that they



a step ahead of the KTM

guys in the first half of

the season. It can always

change but Kalex have

done a good job. So everyone

together helped.

Was it easy here to build

the team you needed

around you? People must

assume that all the Moto2

experience must be

worth something…









I trusted this team when we

found an agreement to work

together. I knew they would be

professional and would want

to win races and I came into a

solid structure. What I changed

compared to the years before

was the ‘team inside the team’.

A small one, around me. I have

a riding coach and have never

worked as closely with somebody

like that as I do now. I

have a physical trainer and

physio at home - that element

of my racing was always there

- but now it feels like they are

more part of my small team. I

feel well supported, with professional

people around me

and this helps a lot to have

focus on the job.

Many would think ‘why would

a guy with so many wins, podiums

and years racing need

a rider coach?’ but then it

seems most elite level athletes

have somebody like that in

their corner…

Exactly. You cannot stay on the

same spot. If you don’t move

on – and that’s through your

whole career – and you don’t

work then you won’t develop

your style and skills and won’t

have the chance to be successful

for more than a short

period of a year or two. The








other guys will overtake you.

You always need to adapt to

something new as well. Right








now [for me] it is a new bike

and new engine and you have

to change some small details

in your riding style. That’s

where the coach is helpful.

Also tactics: thinking about a

particular race or to analyse

the guys around you. The rider

coach can have a wide role.

The cliché is that a rider just

focuses on himself so it is

interesting to hear you talking

about a study of the opposition…

I think it is good for a rider

to have a little bit of an idea.

There are some riders that

don’t care and just do their

thing. In the end you do need

to focus on yourself and your

own possibilities but to have

an overview or some expectations

of what might happen is

good knowledge.

Talk about motivation and

dipping out of MotoGP and

coming back to familiar


It’s a good point and very

important. It helped me that

the Moto2 was ‘new’ this year;

we can say it was like coming

‘back to a new thing’. As

I said, in the winter I made a

lot of bike time. I have a BMW

S1000RR and I was riding

with my coach and doing a lot

of kilometres. I kept the bike

at Almeria in Spain and doing

all that track time was very

interesting. I had to change a

style that I had adapted last

year from the MotoGP bike.


I was using the rear brake

so much on that Honda last

year: you cannot imagine.

At the first Moto2 test I was

still using way too much and

after half a day the pads were

gone! The team had eyes like

this [mimics surprise]. It was

something small but also difficult

to adapt. I could train for

that and the laps on the BMW

helped a lot.

Was there much you could

transfer from the BMW to the

Moto2 race bike?

It’s not the same type of bike

but you can simulate if you

are clever. For example where

to put your weight in the right

moment. For sure you have

a different feeling; the bike

is heavier and the turning is

different. I could use the electronics

with the BMW to turn

down the engine power. It was

interesting to work on that

simulation and to train yourself

to do something automatically

without thinking so that

transferred across when I got

on my race bike and I didn’t

have to think too much. At

the races we don’t have much

time. We have those two 40

minute sessions on Friday and

if they go well then just 15

minutes qualifying, warm-up

and then the race. You cannot

really work on things.

You have to really use the

tests but there are not that

many during the season itself.

You’ve probably talked about

MotoGP enough and although

it wasn’t the happiest experience

it must have been a useful


Yes, but not really from riding.

Everybody in the paddock

says the new Moto2 class is

closer to the MotoGP bikes

with the electronics and so

on but it is there [holds hand

at chest height] and MotoGP

is still there [raises hand well

above head]. It is so far away

from anything. [Last year] I

could feel the traction control

and the wheelie control or the

electronic engine braking and

could take that as experience

but it is not something that

gives me an advantage compared

to the guys without any

MotoGP experience. In the end

it was very hard, very tough

with the team falling apart, so

it was the organisation and

the mentality in dealing with

that and building something

around me which was useful

because everything else was

not there any more. I was by

myself. Out of that I learned

quite a lot and the experience

helped make me stronger.

Lastly, in the past you’ve had

good momentum or results

but then a crash or injury

would put a large bump in the

road. You must have an appreciation

that everything is

about timing…

Exactly. You have to put everything

to the point when those

lights go out on a Sunday.

It can be so difficult to deal

with an injury or zero points

and in the past maybe I ‘got

out of the way’ too easily but

I think we are stronger now.

We struggled for set-up in

Argentina and I made a mistake

and we didn’t score…but

at the next race we could win

and that shows we are on a

good line and something small

won’t throw us off the path-

There is more belief?

Yes, more belief in the team,

the bike and myself. Everything

is on a higher level, and

making consistency now is




Remy Gardner carries

the weight of a name: one that

is associated with a gutsy,

unflinching and charismatic

chase of success. In 2019

he is making his own annex.

We interviewed the 21 year

old Australian – a resident in

Spain for most of his adult life

so far – two years ago when

he was mixing thankfulness

but also veiled frustration with

his lot at Tech3 and running

a Mistral frame that lacked a

technical edge compared to

the Kalex and KTM chassis.

This year with Onexox TKKR

Sag team and Kalex and more

wisdom (on the track and off

with scars on both legs to

remind him that mid-season

motocrossing can sometimes

be a risky choice) Gardner

is arguably one of the most

exciting athletes in Moto2; a

first ever GP podium coming

in Argentina for round two

after he missed out in a photo

finish in Qatar.

Perched on a pit wall on and

fielding questions with ease

and delivering answers with a

smile or small laugh, Gardner

is an endearing interviewee

and doesn’t shirk some of the

harder questions or issues

around his emergence.

Racers say confidence is everything

so Qatar really must

have been like a watershed

for you…

Yes, it was the first time when

I’d really run at the front and

fighting for real podium positions.

It was a definite confidence

booster but when I got

pipped to the line I was like

‘this cannot be happening:

he’s just taken away my podium!

I’m gonna kill him!’ So

that kept the apple dangling

and then we went to Argentina

and I managed it.

How it is fighting at the front

and with different riders

compared to say a scrap for


It is a different kind of strategy.

Really. Instead of being

about reaching as far as you

can and trying to out-brake

everyone it is a big more

about using your head and

saving the tyres and keeping

a consistent rhythm going

– that’s probably the most

important thing. It is definitely

a different race. It is a lot

more under control and tactical

racing rather than balls to

the wall. It is kinda cool to be

with people like Luthi, Balda

and Marquez because they

have a lot more experience.

Hopefully I can out-ride them

at some tracks. What I need to

get better-at is my qualifying

and that’s just because of the

new bike, new frame because

it is about making a clean

lap rather than full-gas. I’m

still learning about racecraft

and every race at the front is

something new.

Has this all come about

because of the blend with the


Yeah, we have found quite a

good set-up and I felt fast with

the bike. The engine also: we

have understood it quite well

and the electronics package.

Everything kinda gelled and

allowed us to improve. I wasn’t

expecting anything from the

championship and was just

looking to be consistent and a

top six-seven runner at each

race. I’m still new to all of this

and being so far at the front.

I need to build on that experience.

What has enabled you to

show this form: the Kalex?

The Triumph engine? Or just

your own improvement?

I’d say 60% the Kalex and

20% the engine, which is a bit

more [suited] to my style and

20% the team I have around

me that brings it all together.

Everything is going well. I

finished 2018 quite strongly so

I came into the season confident

and ready to do something.

I was fighting for decent

positions with the bike I had

and that was a boost and

then when I got on the Kalex

I thought ‘OK, now we can do

something’. The team is also

great. My Crew Chief is awesome

and I don’t think I could

be doing as well without him.

It’s all gelling and we need to

understand what we can do




How do you assess the two

years at Tech3 now? Were

they ‘lost seasons’ or did you

improve as a rider?

There could definitely have

been results before these

races. Running the Tech3

bike was a lot harder. We

just didn’t have the package.

The other companies

are manufacturers whereas

Tech3 was a ‘team’ with Guy

and the other mechanics

running around putting the

bike together. We were only

two motorcycles and we just

lacked the knowledge. It was

tough and last year development

was stopped because it

was the final season with the

CBR engine. Going into 2018

it was like ‘here is what you

have, make the best of it’ so

it was a case of going balls to

the wall and seeing what happened.

I managed to squeeze

something out of it but it was

definitely hard finishing races.

So is there a sense of relief

in finally having the equipment

and also being healthy?

Those were the two things

that held you back so far…

Yeah. A sense of relief but

also a sense of ‘right, now

keep it going’. It’s not a case

of sitting back and relaxing

now. It is about working

harder to try and get that

win. That’s the next job and

we need to be there fighting

every weekend. We have to

keep on our toes.

In the difficult times did you

ever doubt yourself or were

you always sure you could

make it as a rider in this paddock

and in this class?

For sure there were a few moments

when I doubted myself.

At the end of the first year

with Tech3 that was extremely

hard for me. There was a

point where I was very close

to leaving it all behind. Some

tough times. Even in Moto3

it was also tough. Moments

when I thought I was not good

enough. Luckily there were a

few things that happened to

Have you had a taste of how

precarious a career can be?

It’s about being in the right

place at the right time? You

must ask yourself ‘what do I

have to do?’

Yeah. It is. There is a lot of

luck and timing involved. Different

manufacturers being

better than others. It was like

‘will the KTM be good? Will

the Kalex be good?’ people

doubted the Kalex but in the

end I couldn’t be happier with

our decision and the team.

Finally we got a competitive

package. Unfortunately there









help my confidence. When I

was told about the bike for

2018 and was told ‘good luck’

I thought ‘alrighty then…’ I

could either sit there and cry

about it or go out there and

try my best. So I trained harder

and tried to get mentally

strong so that when those results

did come they helped my

confidence even more. Breaking

my legs was hard! But it

meant building back up and

towards the end of the season

I was getting a lot stronger.

are riders that just don’t get

through because of luck and

timing. If I was to say anything

then you just have to keep at

it and wait for the opportunity

to arrive. It’s a tough sport!

In the difficult times does it

get harder when you are the

son of Wayne Gardner and

everyone is expecting you to

fight for wins and championships

and not give up and all


Not giving up was me.


My Dad asked if I wanted to finish

it after I broke my legs and I

said ‘no, no, let’s try’.

There were many times when

people were yelling at me that I

was only here because of Dad,

I had no talent and he’d paid

everything, so it has been good

this year to shut up those haters.

Hopefully now I am making

my own name.

Did you get a bit wiser over the

past two years? The motocross

accident must have been a bit

of a wake-up call for preparation…

That was only last year and I

don’t actually ride motocross

any more. Actually that’s a bit

of a lie. I did one day after

Christmas and that was just

to get it out of my head…but

I won’t be training motocross

any more in the middle of

the season. I’ve toned things

down a little bit but I still

like to get out and have fun;

I wakeboard, surf and spearfish.

You’ve got to enjoy life

haven’t you? You can’t just

sit at home on the sofa or on

the bicycle all day.

Things could get more serious

for you soon with career

options and handling more

pressure. Do you have anyone

in your corner to help

with that?

Well, just Dad really. He’ll

easily tell me to stop being

a f**king idiot. He keeps me

a bit under control. I have a

safer hobby which is working

on a car, a Volvo Amazon

from 1969. I bought it after

the Super Prestigio two years

ago and have loved that car

since I was fourteen-fifteen.

I got it in Madrid and it was

a bit of a shit-box without

any brakes so I restored it

and got it working. I drove it

for a year but then got a bit

bored. It wasn’t fast enough,

so I looked at some options

for what I could do and I’m

in the process of swapping

a 463 from a Mitsubishi

Eclipse into it. I’m making it

into a bit of a Hot Rod. It’s on

air ride suspension now so

I had to build that and I put

a new rear axle from a Ford

8.8 with limited slip diff. I got

gearbox from a Toyota Supra

mounted last week with all

these special adapters. I like

a bit of engineering and I’m a

welder. I do a bit of fabricating

and 3D printing as I work on

the CADs as well. So I’ve got

slightly safer hobbies!

Does any of that help as a


For sure. All my motocross

bikes and training bikes for

supermoto I build myself. It

really helps you understand

what it happening with the

bike, even for this [Moto2].

You think ‘this is happening in

a corner, why could that be?’

it gives you a few more principles

to work off, which is nice.

Do you still live in Sitges and

is it important for the dayjob?

Yes, I’m still there and I have

a workshop in Vilanova, which

is just ten minutes south. The

key is training and you have

tracks all around. I have two

karting tracks within fifteen

minutes of my house and

loads of dirt tracks or motocross

tracks. Anything you

want, even bigger circuits for

a CBR or something. If you

want to keep riding and keep

on top then Spain is the place

to be, especially around Barcelona.

How is the relationship with

your Dad in terms of a coach/

mentor? You said he can

sometimes have strong opinions…

Yeah, now it is kinda a case

of ‘leave me alone!’ But he

taught me a lot. Before he was

a lot more involved in what

I was doing but has stepped

back in the last couple of

years and just let me get on

with it and learn myself. He is

just ‘Dad’ now and that’s the

way I like it.

The story so far must be

about trying to obtain the

best chance or making the

best of any opportunity. Can

you see a clearer route for

your career now? Some riders

seem very impatient to get to

MotoGP. What’s your orientation?

Every time I get on a bigger

bike it just seems to get better

for me. I don’t mind if I’m

not winning a championship

in Moto2 and – honestly – if

I could move to MotoGP I’d

probably go straightaway. I

think my style and feel for a

big bike is much better than

for a small bike. Every time I

get more power it is like ‘Hallelujah’

to me. Getting to MotoGP

is not really on my mind

at the moment because I need

to focus on consistent results.

Whatever comes will come.



First published on:


Photos by Polarity Photo











IN Moto2


In a dark and undisturbed corner

of the Circuit of the America’s

vast Media Centre, Brad Binder

is happy to be wearing his full

race kit. Outside, the Texan air

is stifling. Inside, the air conditioning

is chiming along with

good effect so the likeable South

African does not mind squeezing

into his shiny, dark and occasionally

squeaky leathers. The

23 year old is fairly uncomplicated

and undemanding when

it comes to his requirements

for what he needs on the motorcycle

in order to race for the

tenths of a second that divide

vast numbers of riders in Moto2.

That’s unlikely to change for

the premier class in 2020. He

counts on excellent support from

the likes of Ixon (“since 2013, so

quite a while now”) and Bell Helmets

and TCX boots and poses

for Polarity Photo Rob Gray’s

impromptu camera set-up to

reveal what (and where) he uses

and why.


1. THE


Binder pulls-on a special top

and bottom fabric layer that

sits nicely under his suit. It

helps both regulate body temperature

and increase the comfort

aspect of the whole get-up.

‘Layers’ are one of the fastest

evolving areas of sportswear in

the last five years thanks to the

complicated properties of the

materials that deal with sweat

absorption and even compression.

One cool thing that Ixon came

up with this year is this special

type of material where as soon

as it gets wet and the wind

blows on it then it feels very

cool,” Binder says. “It has a

cooling effect. It’s not ideal for

winter obviously but helps a lot

with temperature control. The

pants are also made from a

material that means it is supereasy

to slip on the leathers.”

“Sometimes it doesn’t even

need to be that hot at a grand

prix and you are wringing the

gear out because it is so wet!

It is quite normal to come

in to the truck soaking. The

leathers keep you quite warm

and you are working hard

on the bike so you can lose

weight over a race weekend.”

“Before a race I take off the

team-wear and put on the

under-suit, or layer, and then

do some stretching and my

normal warm-up routine. After

that it will be the suit, the

boots, back and chest protector,

zip-up and then everything

else is waiting for me in

the box.”

“I used to wear long, motocross-style

socks but now when

the boots are tailor made and

the suits are made to measure

that it was all a bit tight.

Nowadays I wear socks that are

much shorter and come about

ten centimetres above my ankle.

It is actually difficult to find

a good pair! When I get some

that I like I stick with them all




2. THE


Nowadays race suits are

complicated mixes of (usually)

kangaroo or cow leathers and

other stretch fabrics to ensure

flexibility, lightweight, ventilation

and protection. They are

carefully constructed, resilient

and very modern with airbag

technology now obligatory in

MotoGP for the last two years.

“Whatever new thing Ixon

have brought tends to be an

improvement on what I had.

The amount of steps forward

in six years is incredible. If

I compared the suits now to

what I had a few seasons ago

then it is like ‘another world’

for general fit and comfort

when I’m on the bike. We also

have airbags as compulsory

now – it’s packed into the

hump and the panels are in

the suit - and I think Ixon is

one of the lightest in the paddock

when all is fitted.”

accordingly. The support at

the track is incredible and

anything that we want in

terms of an adjustment can

be done at the circuit. We get

well looked after.”

“Sometimes at the beginning

of the year - or if you haven’t

ridden for a while - it can all

feel a bit ‘hectic’ with everything

on but once you’ve worn

it for a while you get used to

it and once it’s ‘broken-in’

then it gets more and more

comfortable. I finished 2018

having used around 18-20

suits. By the third round of

this year I’d already used six.”

Just before the final zip is

done up Binder will place a

small chest protector inside:

another part of the MotoGP

rulebook. “The chest pad is

just to absorb any possible

impact. It is flexible and super-comfortable.

How much it

can help you is unknown…but

it is probably better to have it

than not.”

“The suit is made for me, so

Ixon come and re-measure my

body all the time. With all the

training we are doing it is normal

that your arms or chest

can get a bit bigger. You might

even get a bit skinnier. Every

half year - and at the end of

the season - they come and

make the measurements and

redo the suits



The last items for Brad will be

his race boots, gloves and the

helmet: all items tailored specifically

to his fit and needs.

“The boots are basically the

same as the ones from the

shelf but they are customised

a little bit. I have extremely

small calves! So I need them

adjusted enough so I can

tighten them properly. I really

like my boots tight! I also

like the profile of the boot to

be narrower around the toes

so they are less bulky. I am

looked after very well by TCX.

I think I had 12 pairs of boots

last year and I used two, to be

honest. If I have something

that fits and works well then

I like to carry on with them;

I think it is a bit of a superstition

as well. The ones I’m

wearing now I think I’ve had

since the mid-point of last


“I hear a lot of people talking

about gloves and how they often

need a new pair. Personally

this doesn’t bother me at

all and Ixon again customise

the gloves for me. If any of

the fingers are a bit tight then

they stretch them out, or if

they are long then they shorten

them. I’ve had 3-4 crashes

in the gloves I’m using now

and they look brand new. I

know there are different materials

so that when you crash

it slides on the surface, like a

small carbon piece near the

palm of your hand. It can be

quite scientific but I’m lucky

that I have not had many injuries

at all with my hands.”

“When I first started with Bell

Helmets I flew out to their HQ

in Santa Cruz and they took a

3D scan of my head and completely

customised the inside

of the helmet. It is almost like

an internal liner that fits every

little bump! It’s perfectly

formed and I’m using the new

model to fit the new homologation

and it must be a kilo


They are an insane company.

On a normal day I’ll wear a

tinted visor. If it has been

raining and there are some

patches on track or it’s cloudy

then I will wear a half-tint.

Bell brought out a visor with

some new technology last

year where water never sits

on top and it never mists up.

Since then I’ve never worried

about it. Before we had

that dual visor system that

you get in normal helmets

for the road but water could

sometimes drop in between

the two layers. Since the new

visor it’s been really cool.”

Finishing our shoot we ask

Brad if there is anything that

he’d like to see changed or

introduced to his race outfit.

Riders obviously need to

move and react to the full

behaviour of the bike so flex

is key, but aerodynamics

are also vital in the chase of

winning lap-times so keeping

their shape slim and narrow

is paramount. “I don’t know

what else we can wear or do,”

he thinks. “I think every aspect

is covered!”





More than Europe’s

largest MC store

It is nearly August, and we are halfway through the 2019

season. With official confirmation that Danilo Petrucci has

been given another year in the factory Ducati team and that

Brad Binder is to step up to MotoGP in the Red Bull KTM

Tech3 team for next year, just about all of the seats are settled

for the 2020 season.

Jack Miller is close to nailing

down the details to stay on at

Pramac for 2020, and after that,

only the Avintia seats are up in

the air for next year. The other 20

riders will all have firm and settled


With next year sorted for almost

everyone, you might expect that

the MotoGP paddock can go

about its business calmly for the

best part of a term, and not have

to think about contracts for 2021

until May or June next year. After

all, it hardly makes sense to start

considering 2021 when the 2019

title hasn’t yet been decided,

does it?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that

way. The paradox of having everyone

locked into the same contract

cycle means that the next

cycle starts almost immediately

after the current one ends. With

all the factories and big teams

committed to two-year deals for

their riders it means that MotoGP

negotiations are starting to resemble

US presidential elections:

a continuous process rolling on

from phase to phase, rather than

at fixed intervals.

Why would a system that is

meant to bring stability achieve

the opposite effect? The issue is

not so much contract length as

contract timing. The idea of signing

a rider for two years makes a

lot of sense for teams and factories.

If a rider is switching bikes

or moving up from Moto2, they

have a year to get their heads

around the new bike or new class,

work on their riding style, adapt

to the bike’s idiosyncrasies. They

may, like Fabio Quartararo this

year or Johann Zarco in 2017,

take to it like a duck to water, and

start racking up results from the

start. In that case, the team has

an extra year to exploit the success

of their rider, while the rider

has a second season to make a

full-throated attempt at the title.

Two-year contracts are good when

riders struggle too. Throughout

2017, media and fan chatter

centred on whether Jorge Lorenzo

would get to serve the second

year of his contract with Ducati.

The Spaniard was being paid an

awful lot of money by the Italian

factory and had been hired to win

the title. It took him until Mugello

2018 before all the pieces fell into

place, and he started to look like

the Lorenzo of old.

Lorenzo may need that second

year of his contract with Honda

as well.

By David Emmett

So far, he has struggled to get

to grips with the Honda RC213V,

HRC having traded manageability

for extra speed. Like Lorenzo, Johann

Zarco will be clinging to his

second season with the factory

KTM team as well. The Frenchman

has gone from Yamaha hero

to KTM zero in just a matter of


The real problem with the twoyear

contract cycle is that it is

synchronised. As things stand,

all 22 MotoGP seats are open in

2021. That puts pressure on the

factories to sign a top athlete

as early as possible, before rival

factories can get to them. It also

pushes up wages, as each rider

has multiple competitive bikes to

choose from. When there were

only four bikes from two factories

capable of winning races, factories

could afford to wait for riders,

and riders could not push their

luck with salary demands. But

now there are ten or twelve competitive

bikes. Riders can play one

factory off against another. The

balance of power has shifted.

All this means that it is in the

interest of the top factories to lock

up their main riders as early as

possible. The sooner they have

their riders signed, the less they

have to worry about other brands

trying to poach them. That, in

turn, means that any factory trying

to poach a top rider needs to

start talking to them as early as

possible, to find out what it would

take to lure them away.

So don’t be surprised if you see

rumours of rider transfers once

MotoGP reconvenes at Brno this

weekend despite the fact that the

2021 season is still 18 months

away. The factories need to capture

the best riders, and rider

managers are out to exploit that.

Nothing drives up a rider’s price

like rumours of interest from other

teams, and hard budget limits can

magically soften. The summer

break may be over, but Silly Season

for MotoGP in 2021 is about

to explode. That may seem ridiculous,

but there is a cold, logical

method to the madness. Strap in.




A brand new British underwear company,

‘Kecks’ has its roots in motocross and was

launched by Ed Warren in the search to

offer athletes a better and more practical

product… but also one that would benefit

everyday users in terms of comfort and

performance. Accordingly the garments offer

an extended fit (to remain in place) are

92% cotton and 8% spandex and are made

from a five-panel design. The waistband is

high quality and ‘anti-roll’. There is a range

of basic designs as well as some very lively

print schemes and each unit of the initial

range costs 19.99 (pounds). The sizing is as

follows: S (28-30) M (30-32) L (33-35) XL

(36-38) and Kecks say they can ship product

worldwide between 5-7 working days.

Any orders over 100 pounds include free


Kecks already has a host of ambassadors

in both motocross and road racing with

names like Tommy Searle, Gautier Paulin,

Cal Crutchlow, the Lowes twins, the Watson

brothers and more.



Scott Redding’s march to the British Superbike title gathered

pace last weekend at Snetterton where the PBM Ducati man

took pole position and won both races at a circuit he had

never previously visited.

Many expected Scott and the Ducati

to go well at Snett, which is considered

a more European-style layout

with its fast, sweeping bends and a

couple of nice long straights for the

V4 to stretch its legs, but it is the

rider’s adaptability to the variety of

tracks the domestic series has to offer

that is really catching the eye.

There was certainly no doubting the

suitability of the bike to the Norfolk

course, with Josh Brookes and

Tommy Bridewell running up front

with Redding in the two races and

only a crash for the latter in race 1

preventing the Italian factory from

locking out the podium in both.

Bridewell and Brookes were on the

limit all weekend, pushed to it by

Redding but unable to muster sufficient

response beyond their not

inconsiderable talent. Brookes, as a

former BSB champion himself and a

consistently close rival to Byrne over

the years, has to be considered the

benchmark in 2019 and Redding is

currently proving to be the next level


At Snetterton Redding clocked a

1’48.817 to top his first ever official

practice at the track and paint the

writing on the wall for the rest of

the weekend. This is the kind of

performance we should expect from

a rider with such pedigree. There

are levels in every sport, as much

as I think some people overlook the

fact in motorcycle racing. The right

opportunities and a bit of luck – not

to mention financial backing – at the

right time are crucial, of course, but

they don’t tell the whole story.

You can’t become the youngest ever

winner of a Grand Prix without a

huge amount of talent. You can’t

challenge for a Moto2 title without

ability. You can’t become the youngest

rider ever to reach 100 Grands

Prix starts and not have learnt


The move straight from MotoGP to

BSB has been done before, perhaps

most famously by Redding’s predecessor

as the dominant force in the

series Shane Byrne, who actually

endured the worst season of his

career when he jumped off the Team

KR/KTM V4 catastrophe in 2005

onto a Crescent Suzuki that proved

to be barely more competitive at

domestic level in 2006.

The GSX-R at the time has been described

by Niall Mackenzie, who was

employed by the team to try and

steady a rocking ship, as “not up to

winning” but it wasn’t just the bike

that Byrne struggled to deal with. In

MotoGP, the rider is usually considered

the focal point of every project,

their every need is pandered to. In

BSB they are told to sit on the bike

and ride it.

“Even the tyre man gets to make

a decision before the rider,” Byrne

told me.

If you don’t like it that way, somebody

else will happily take your ride.

Byrne considered retiring at the end

of that punishing season, but came

back to eventually win a second title

More than Europe’s

largest MC store

By Matthew Roberts

in 2008 and prove that his talent had

never waned – it was just the mental

adjustment that took a little time.

Unlike Byrne, however, Redding

never really bought into the rock

star MotoGP culture. While Shakey

blew his first factory MotoGP pay

packet on an all-singing, all-dancing

American motorhome and a Lamborghini

Gallardo, Redding continued

to live ‘his’ way – out of the back of

a van with a motocross bike and his

giant dog, Bernard, for company.

He even claims now that he doesn’t

even know how much money he has

accrued, so trivial is his interest in

material things.

It is a grounding he alluded to in an

interview with my Eurosport colleague

James Whitham last week,

when James put it to him that some

onlookers have been surprised how

easily he has adapted to BSB life

– not to mention the unforgiving

nature of the circuits. “That’s because

they don’t know me,” Redding

replied. “They don’t know where I’ve

come from.”

He’s talking about a tough childhood,

when sacrifices were made on his

behalf in order for him to make it as

a racer. Personal relationships and

his education suffered but the experiences

forged resilient characteristics

that would pull him through difficult

times, especially in the Grand

Prix paddock. His physical stature

and arguably his passport were not

compatible with being a successful

Moto2 rider, but he starved himself,

persevered and flogged his skinny

body until he came within a broken

wrist of winning the title.

This pure determination to succeed,

which has been reinvigorated this

season, is allowing him to exploit his

superior racing skillset in BSB - even

at the tracks he doesn’t know and

where people wrongly believed he

would be intimidated. Buoyed by the

confidence of a treble win on familiar

ground at Donington Park, at Brands

Hatch he adapted quickly, taking

pole position and a podium in third.

At Knockhill he stepped it up again

with second place and a win. At

Snetterton, he took the lot and now

he commands the championship

with a 38-point lead.

It is an interesting side note that -

amidst rumours of the Spaniard’s

head being turned by a big-money

offer from Honda - Redding’s run of

form has coincided with a contrasting

turn in fortune for Alvaro Bautista

on the factory Ducati in World

Superbikes. Every year is different,

of course, but it’s worth remembering

that between the Gresini Honda,

the factory Aprilia and a privateer

Ducati, the pair roughly rode the

same level of machinery during the

period they raced together in MotoGP

(2014-2018). In that time, Bautista

managed a single podium finish

(at Le Mans on the Gresini Honda)

and a best championship position

of eleventh. Redding scored two

podiums (one on the Gresini Honda,

one on the Ducati) and had a best

championship finish of twelfth.

Obviously, winning the British Superbike

title does not prove that a

rider is a world class talent; I believe

Scott has already demonstrated that

in other championships. But if he

can win the British Superbike title in

the style that he is currently showing,

it would prove something else:

that he remains up for the fight, that

he is still willing to learn, that he has

the capacity to improve still further

and - at the age of just 26 - fulfil his

potential at the very peak.




LAGUNA SECA · JULY 13-14 · Rnd 8 of 13

Superpole Race winner: Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki

Race one winner: Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki

Race two winner: Chaz Davies, Ducati


Blog by Graeme Brown, Photos by GeeBee Images








I still can’t believe the turnaround in this season’s WorldS-

BK. It’s over 120 points in four rounds and surpasses anything

we have seen in the past. That seems to be the way of

everything when we speak about Jonathan Rea.

I know it’s too early to talk about it

but the previously unachieved high

‘five’ seems like an inevitability

now, however it was something so

unrealistic a few short months ago.

JR also racked up his 80th WorldS-

BK win at Laguna, a total that I

predict will only keep going up and

actually may never be bettered.

I don’t know where it has all gone

wrong for Alvaro Bautista other

than the fact that having won 11

in a row he has since conspired to

crash at the beginning of a race

when apparently not under pressure.

He was really unlucky in the

Superpole race at Laguna however,

tangling with Toprak Razgatlioglu in

the second corner, which effectively

sidelined him for race two. These

things happen in racing but crashing

out of the lead, in the opening

laps, shouldn’t really occur at this

level. Ducati supremo Gigi Dall’Inga

has, in various interviews however,

expressed surprise at how well

Baustista faired in the open races

of the season. He has been quick

to point out that they are still in a

development phase with the bike

and with the fine margins there are

at the top, a small error in the set

up direction on a weekend can be


I hope Alvaro recovers over the

summer break and comes back

strongly as we need a good fight

in the championship for the season

run-in through September and

October. Although, we are heading

to Portimao, Magny Cours and

Argentina, venues that Bautista has

no race experience and Ducati have

little or no set up data for the Panigale

V4R. We may have been lured

into false expectations of Bautista

and the Ducati as a result of that

early season spurt but the wheels

have well and truly come off the

wagon now and he is going to have

a real battle to recover the recent


In a slightly ironic twist Chaz

Davies seemed to have found his

mojo on the V4R, taking a couple

of podiums and a win in the USA.

It was actually great to see him

win on Sunday and also lovely to

see the joy and emotion that it

released. The sense of relief was

palpable in parc ferme after the

race and this may now kick start

what is left of Davies’ season.

Toprak Razgatlioglu continued to

polish his CV with solid podium

performances at Laguna and he

was also the centre of a huge

amount of transfer speculation. He

seems to be the man in demand

at the moment having, by all accounts,

received lucrative contract

offers from both Yamaha and KRT.

It was a surprise to me to hear

about the Yamaha offer but it was

explained that his mentor, former

Supersport World Champion Kenan

Sofuoglu, has been a key mover in

bringing it together.

More than Europe’s

largest MC store

By Graeme Brown

I always thought that Kenan was

strongly associated with Kawasaki

in his home country but apparently

he has been working with the

Yamaha distributor in Turkey for a

number of years. That has made

Toprak a viable option for Yamaha

and it seems he has been offered

a seat in the factory Pata team at

the expense of either Alex Lowes or

Michael van der Mark.

It was rumoured that whichever

between Lowes and VD Mark left

Laguna Seca in third place in the

championship would have secured

their seat for 2020. Lowes is

therefore in pole position after the

results in the US so we will see if

that speculation has some veracity

in the next few weeks. All three are

headed east after Laguna to race in

the Suzuka 8Hr race so I am sure

there will be a number of hushed

meetings with Japanese management

in both the blue and green


I managed to catch up with Toprak

in Japan at the Suzuka 8 Hours race

(more of that shortly) and he was

remaining very tight-lipped about

his future. He confirmed that he

had good offers but that there were

a few things still to be decided and

that Sofuoglu was working things

out on his behalf. His current team

manager Manuel Puccetti accompanied

him to Japan and was equally

as tight lipped. Puccetti’s obvious

desire was to keep a hold of his current

charge but made a valid point

that Dorna were keen for him to

stay as well as the WorldSBK series

benefits greatly from having strong

privateer riders and teams. It’s

clear that Razgatlioglu is the man

in demand which gives credence to

previous thoughts that he is potentially

a future world champion.

I also chuckled at the timing of the

announcement that Marco Melandri

will retire at the end of the year.

I read that the team didn’t know

about it and would not be in a position

to respond being at 39,000ft

somewhere over the Atlantic, but

that wasn’t actually the case. However,

the cynic in me did wonder

if the timing of the press release

was arranged to coincide with the

extended journey to California and

also the fact that there would be

less travelling journalists at Laguna

to press the issue when we all arrived

at the track.

In any event there is now another

seat at Yamaha up for grabs.

Speedweek reported a few weeks

ago that Yamaha Motor Europe

boss Eric de Seynes would like to

see some form of rider progression

amongst the Yamaha ranks, from

Supersport300 up to Superbike.

Those that succeed in the lower

class will have a genuine prospect

of moving up. It might therefore

be that the GRT seat will go to this

year’s Supersport champion, at the

moment likely to be either Randy

Krummenacher or Federico Caricasulo.

The young Italian started his

Yamaha career in the GRT squad

before they stepped up to WorldS-

BK so that would be the obvious fit.

He just needs to win the championship


There were also a few rumours

floating about at the weekend about

next year’s calendar. Apparently

the Thai round in Buriram will be

dropped. Attendence figures have

slowly declined since the first visit

in 2015 and now that Buriram has

an established place in the MotoGP

calendar the promoter seems

content to have just the one series

visit. The suggestion I heard was

that Thailand would be replaced by



a round at Sepang in Malaysia. I

know that most manufacturers are

keen to have a round in east Asia

as sport bike sales are relatively

strong there and they also have

manufacturing plants in countries

like Thailand and Malaysia so they

feel it is important to visit those

territories. However, I recall from

the last visit to Sepang that the

races were very poorly attended

and the local promoter had little

interest in hosting a WorldSBK

race. Nothing much has changed

to suggest it will be different this

time around but Sepang is a

circuit I like so you won’t hear any

grumbles from me if it appears on

the 2020 calendar.

We also saw the first of the 2020

bikes at Laguna Seca when Yamaha

unveiled their R1 and R1M. For

me it was something of a disappointment

to be honest as there

was very little difference between

the new and existing models. It

really comprised of some minor

updates to the production bike

that would appear to have come

directly from the development of

the race bike and, as is customary

with all things in life now, a smart

phone app to control the electronics

for the bike. It would suggest

that despite Yamaha’s current on

track progression, 2020 will be

more of the same.

For me this month has been particularly

hectic. I am among those

that have travelled from the UK to

California – Donington to Laguna

Seca - turning around, heading

back home and then setting off

again in the other direction for

Japan and the Suzuka 8hr race.

I had a quick check and within a

week we will have crossed 16 time

zones and travelled something

like18,000kms. The night before

we left the US was the best nights

sleep I had had since arriving and

I guess I will have just won the

battle with jet lag at home before I

head to Nagoya and on to Suzuka.

I am only wandering around taking

some ‘snaps’, I can’t imagine

what it will be like for the Yamaha

and Kawasaki boys who have just

finished a hot dry race weekend

in the US before tackling the heat

and humidity of summer in Japan,

and in particular an endurance

race. The physical toll on there

bodies must be quite significant.

Then again they are not an aging

bag of old bones like me. To put

it into perspective the riders will

have completed around four hours

of riding in a typical WorldSBK

weekend. In Suzuka they will most

likely do that in one race, having

already tested, taken Free Practice

and qualifying sessions form

Wednesday onwards. It’s exhausting

just thinking about it.

I am looking forward to Suzuka. It’s

a really unique event to cover and

different from my normal weekend

of work. As a photographer it’s

great to have a shoot that is different

from the norm and challenges

you to deliver the goods. So if I get

tired and emotional with jet lag in

the next week just remind me that

I am travelling around the world

photographing one of the coolest

motorcycle fixtures on the calendar.



bike shed festival

The growth of The Bike Shed brand and entity

knows no limits. The London-based club/

scene/community is using the expanding

popularity of their Bike Shed custom show/

gathering at Tobacco Dock each spring to

now create a Festival at the Lydden circuit in

southeast England (close to Dover as well,

therefore easier for any visitors from mainland

Europe) across three days on October

4-5-6. “A long-awaited, and much-requested

event celebrating modern & retro motorcycles

on the move; on track and on the dirt,

with the same level of quality, inclusiveness

and high-level hospitality as we deliver every

May at Tobacco Dock during our annual Bike

Shed London event, where we looked after

more than 17,000 people this year,” they say.

The Festival is an amplification of their 2018

Café Racer Cup (from where these images in

their press release were taken).

What’s the jist? ‘Bike Shed Fest 2019 will

take place over a whole weekend, with multiple

riding events on and off the tarmac,

all designed to be accessible to riders who

don’t normally ride on track, and have never

considered racing. This is an opportunity to

have fast, safe fun on your bike without the

pressure of a full-on track-day.’ There will be

ten classes, including the Café Racer to the

Custom, Retro, Learners, Supermoto, Electric,

Vintage and Commuter. For those not

on two wheels then ‘around the track and

venue we’re creating a festival vibe with high

quality food, drink and accommodation, with

brand and retail exhibitors of all kinds, plus

entertainment aimed at a family-friendly

crowd.’ Sounds like great fun.

More info here: www.bikeshedfestival.com













Three years ago Fox gutted their

helmet range and with MIPS and

the MVRS visor concept installed

the V3 as their premium model. What

had previously been a functional lid that

looked cool on the heads of Ricky Carmichael

and Ken Roczen now had significant

safety specs and a high degree of

engineering: the substance equalled the








The Irvine-based firm did not leave their

R&D priorities solely with the graphic designers

thereafter. Recently they unveiled

the new V3 with Fluid Inside technology

(presented at the final round of AMA Supercross

and notable for the plain white

and black lids worn by MXGP leader

Tim Gajser); which features a series of

gel-like ‘pods’ in the liner that they say

‘enhance your helmet’s ability to protect

your brain by mimicking Cerebral Spinal

Fluid (CSF) – your body’s natural protection.’

It is the latest venture and speculation

to tackle rotational acceleration and

concussion thresholds and follows on the

investigative work by 6D, Leatt, Bell, Fly

and of course MIPS.

Again Fox want to show they can lead

when it comes to innovation and not just

provide fashion statements. The ever-accommodating

Mark Finley gave up some

of his time towards the end of another

long day at the futuristic Fox ‘hub’ in

southern California to explain and bit

more about the concept and the company’s

general holding pattern.

Fox helmets were quite rudimentary

but then you embraced MIPS and gave

another performance aspect to it. Now

it’s moved on again. So where did Fluid

Inside come from and was it a big job to

make that discovery?

We’ve worked with premier riders so we

know the speeds they are travelling and

the risks associated with motocross and

supercross and that drove us to create a

better helmet for our racers, which then

trickled down into our consumers. MIPS

was the logical way to go. It is a great

system and we still use it quite a bit in

our mountain bike line but as we moved

forward we thought ‘what is the Holy

Grail? Is there something else that might

give an advantage?’ So we partnered with

this laboratory up in Ottawa in Canada

that has been studying brain injuries in

a lot of stick-and-ball sports as well as

cycling and we came across this product

that they are using called Fluid Inside.

We’d seen it used in hockey helmets and

thought it might be something good to

bring to motocross.



So we started retro-fitting V3s last year.

We had to re-certify the helmets so the

riders could race with them. We tested

them and realised we were getting some

nice results for rotational and linear

[acceleration]. We got competitive-wear

testing to make sure the guys were comfortable

and there weren’t any heat or

temperature issues. We were concerned

with the pods themselves and a ‘sealing

effect’ but what we found is that we

almost had a ‘matrix’ between the pods;

we’re trying to de-couple the rider’s head

from the helmet itself and that is raising

it away from the EPS. Obviously we have

a comfort liner but the de-coupling allows

the helmet to address the rotation.

Initially the pods were raised out – it’s

about 4mm – and we had to make some

changes to the EPS shape to accept the

pods, which are curved, and not being

uncomfortable. We also put a moisture

wicking material over the plastic.









Does the battle continue in terms of educating

people that Fox can be a serious

player when it comes to helmets and

safety? Again you seem to have made

real progress and in a market that is not

slowing with helmet protection ideas…

Yes, it’s one of our challenges. We have

always been looked at as a racewear

brand with cool graphics but we want

people to take us seriously when it

comes to our helmets. We have been

manufacturing helmets since 1997 and

I think the first models came from Italy

and AGV, it was called the Pilot. We took

it seriously even then and I remember

the Pilot being very good for ventilation.

Pete [Fox] designed these two channels

in the shell shape. So the drive has

always been there. Dual density EPS,

carbon fibre shell construction, introducing

MIPS, the MVRS system – and obviously

we’ve had our challenges with that

but when you try to innovate it is not

always going to be perfect and you need

to modify and be able to upgrade – show

the ideas have been there to push for a

better helmet. With the new V3 we feel

that we have put a lot of effort into it and

have taken those twenty years of helmet

manufacturing to task with the new


You mention the magnetic visor with the

MVRS; it’s had its critics but the V3 also

represents an improvement…

MVRS has been a challenge, but the

current system on the V3 has been a

great one for us. Where we are seeing

issues is in the close proximity of elite

racing and the level of roost coming off

450s these days, we are obviously working

to solve any issues. The new V3 has

a second generation which means it is

integrated with the shell itself. On the old

V3 we had an existing shell shape that

we had to adapt the MVRS to. With the

new helmet we had better integration between

the interface of the visor and the

shell itself, meaning it is harder to pop

off. We’ll still have things to learn as we

move forward but the second

generation is an improvement. Unfortunately

for us we cannot duplicate everything

that will happen on a track like the

speed of a rock or roost at an angle.

It looks like a good tussle among the

helmet brands for the best safety specs

and there is no excuse for riders or customers

not to do a bit of homework now.

You cannot really have a bog-standard

helmet any more…

Yes, there are advancements in materials

and there is more demand to deal

with rotational acceleration, which is so

important. It feels like so many other

brands are pushing to bring a better helmet

to market and we’re the same.


Is that harder for the bottom line? It

cannot be cheap to develop a new helmet…

It’s not and fortunately we have been

able to tier-out our line, which means

there are price points throughout the

range. Not every consumer has 5-600

dollars to spend on a helmet but obviously

we want to make sure our V1 and

V2 are passing the same kind of standards

as the V3. You are right that it challenges

the margins but to compete and

have a pinnacle product to show that we

are serious about helmets then we love

that and we take it on.

Is Fox becoming more of a protective

company than one that is cool and about

the best designs?

I would say over the last five years that

hard goods have become a really high

priority for us. The introduction of the

Proframe mountain bike helmet was

revolutionary for us and it was the first

certified downhill helmet on the market

place and everybody has one now: Troy

Lee, Leatt…that helmet, the Instinct boot


and the Vue goggle that we launched

in 2017 are examples that we don’t just

want to be see as a racewear company:

and that belief is around this whole

building. We are all pushing. With the Instinct

I think we surprised ourselves with

that product and the goggle – from a

financial perspective – far exceeded our

expectations. Oakley with the Airbrake

set the standard in the industry so for us

to put something out with a quick-change

system and a polycarbonate lens – we

really worked closely with Ken Roczen to

give him a goggle that he’d race with –

was really impressive and the consumers


The size of the racewear business is

important for pushing innovation, pushing

materials and function. The same as

safety and function in helmets. There is

no lack of attention for racewear. Tomorrow

we are actually doing a 2021 review

for our racewear here and the graphics

and colours are getting a lot of attention

and are so important. Obviously the hard

goods guys like taking inspiration from

the racewear for their graphics and colours.

A lot of the hard development with

the helmet has been done now so for the

next few years we’ll be making tweaks

and colour changes.

Has it become complicated, as a firm, to

split those priorities and still put equal

priority on both areas? It must have

taken a lot of time and resources to

make that split between cool racewear

and viable safety goods?

There are different groups but the way

our building is laid-out means they are

all in the same area. There is a feeling of

team pride when a product enjoys some

success. But you are right, when we do

our major design review meetings the

racewear is just as important as the hard








Words by Roland Brown

Photos by Milagro


It has to be one of the most thrilling

experiences on two wheels. I’m hammering

over the brow of the hill on Mugello’s

long pit straight, head tucked behind

the screen of an RSV4 1100 Factory that

is flat-out in top gear and still accelerating

enthusiastically with a delicious V4 growl

audible above the wind roar.

The circuit drops away and the Aprilia

keeps on charging down the hill, staying

rock solid as it leans slightly left across

the track… Then suddenly I’ve passed the

300-metre board, reached my trackside

marker and squeezed the front brake lever,

pushing myself back in the seat, bracing

my neck muscles against the wind, and

gripping the tank with my knees against

the ferocious deceleration of Brembo’s latest

Stylema front brake calipers as I tread

down four gears for the long right-hand

turn of San Donato.

Back in the pit garage, the Aprilia’s instrument

console reveals a maximum speed

of 201mph. The true speed was probably

10mph or so lower (and possibly recorded

by my diminutive French co-rider in the

previous session), but there’s no doubt that

this revamped V4 is right up there with the

world’s fastest streetbikes. Jumbo jets take

off at lower speeds than this, but the RSV4

also gains MotoGP-style winglets to help

prevent it flying into the surrounding Tuscan


The RSV4 1100 Factory name reveals this

bike’s most important development: its

capacity increase from 999 to 1078cc.

Exceeding Superbike racing’s capacity limit

hints at a subtle shift in the RSV4’s focus,

away from the direct competition link that

has dominated ever since 2009, when Max

Biaggi won a World Superbike race in the

model’s debut season before taking the

first of its three titles the following year.



Aprilia liken this new approach to that of a

Ferrari or Lamborghini supercar, positioning

the RSV4 not as a race-replica but as a highperformance

machine with the ability to go

very fast on a racetrack.

Aprilia’s traditional RSV4 layout of 65-degree

V4 engine in aluminium beam-framed chassis

is unchanged. Larger-diameter pistons

increase the dohc, 16-valve unit’s compression

ratio as well as its capacity. New intake

camshafts, reprofiled throttle bodies and a

new exhaust system with titanium Akrapovic

silencer increase maximum output by 16bhp

to 214bhp. What’s arguably more important

is that the bigger engine kicks out roughly

ten per cent more torque between 8000 and


The RSV4 look is familiar, and classy in its

matt-black colour scheme, complemented by

carbon-fibre front mudguard and sidepanels,

and forged aluminium wheels. Climbing

aboard the bike in the Mugello pit lane,

checking out the unchanged TFT console

and heading out onto the track, it’s the

RSV4’s traditional lack of size and weight

that make the first impression. It’s compact

(make that cramped if you’re tall) and 5kg

lighter at just 177kg dry.

This bike’s biggest boost to lapping fast is

its sublimely flexible big-bore V4 engine. I

take a few laps to figure it out. At first I’m

revving it too high in places; using second

gear for the second chicane, the long Biondetti

right-hander, and the downhill Bucine

left that leads back onto the main straight.

But the Aprilia accelerates so hard that I’m

struggling to get my foot under the gearlever

before tagging the limiter at 13,600rpm.

The solution is simple: use the midrange

torque. The big V4 motor pulls so strongly

and sweetly from 8000rpm or so that it’s

quicker as well as less effort to take those

turns in third gear, concentrate on hitting the

apexes and getting the power on smoothly,

and let the extra grunt send the bike rocket-


ing out of the turns with its ultra-dependable

traction control helping the sticky rear Pirelli

tyre deliver maximum drive.

Cornering poise is also outstanding, though

given more time I’d have tried raising the

rear end a fraction, to help the Aprilia flick

through the chicanes even more quickly and

effortlessly. The RSV4’s chassis-tuning potential

is vast and its base level very high.

There’s no doubting the quality of the Öhlins

units at each end, or their potential to deliver

cutting-edge handling. Aprilia considered

fitting the Swedish specialist’s semi-active

suspension but decided against it, essentially

because their testers found no lap-time advantage

over conventional units.

Braking power is sensational and stability

under hard stopping very good. On a hot day

there’s no brake fade, despite repeated hard

slowing from high speed.












Who knows whether the front calipers’ optional

carbon-fibre cooling scoops make a significant

difference, but they look trick and weigh only

42g each – less than the new Stylema calipers

save over the previous M50s. What’s for sure

is that Aprilia’s subtle change of approach

with the RSV4 makes plenty of sense.

This bike combines the model’s traditional

track focus with a new-found ease of use. It’s

no roomier or more luxurious but it’s more

powerful, gruntier, more stable, and even

better suspended and braked. It’s also competitively

priced for such an exotic machine

(at £21,499 in the UK). As well as one of the

world’s fastest and finest-handling superbikes,

the RSV4 1100 Factory is among the purest

and most rewarding to ride.



The King: Jeremy McGrath gets all WorldSBK. Photo by Kawasaki





On-track Off-road’ is a free, bi-weekly publication for the screen focussed

on bringing the latest perspectives on events, blogs and some of the very finest

photography from the three worlds of the FIM Motocross World Championship,

the AMA Motocross and Supercross series’ and MotoGP.

On-track Off-road’ will be published online at www.ontrackoffroad.com every

other Tuesday. To receive an email notification that a new issue available

with a brief description of each edition’s contents simply enter an address in

the box provided on the homepage. All email addresses will be kept strictly

confidential and only used for purposes connected with OTOR.

Adam Wheeler Editor and MXGP/MotoGP correspondent

Ray Archer Photographer

Steve Matthes AMA MX and SX correspondent

Cormac Ryan-Meenan MotoGP Photographer www.cormacgp.com

David Emmett MotoGP Blogger

Neil Morrison MotoGP Blogger & Feature writer

Sienna Wedes MotoGP Blogger

Matthew Roberts Blogger

Graeme Brown WSB Blogger and Photographer

Roland Brown Tester

Núria Garcia Cover Design

Gabi Álvarez Web developer

Hosting FireThumb7 - www.firethumb7.co.uk

Thanks to www.mototribu.com


Ray Archer, CormacGP, Monster Energy, Milagro, S.Cudby, GeeBee Images

Cover shot: Red Bull KTM by CormacGP/Polarity Photo

This publication took a lot of time and effort to put together so please respect it! Nothing

in this publication can be reproduced in whole or part without the written permission of

the editorial team. For more information please visit www.ontrackoffroad.com and click

‘Contact us’.

Hooray! Your file is uploaded and ready to be published.

Saved successfully!

Ooh no, something went wrong!