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Dementor
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DAKAR 2020: A CAPTIVATING RACE OVER SOME OF THE MOST INCREDIBLE TERRAIN

As the dust settles on the 2020 Dakar Rally, which marked a new chapter for the event at a new location in Saudi Arabia, we at the KTM Blog have been taking a look through the breath-taking images from this year’s race.

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The Dakar Rally is known as one of the most notoriously difficult races on the planet; covering a total distance of over 8,000km with around 5,000 of those being timed specials, the 12-stage event is incredibly tough yet iconic, as riders from all over the world take on the challenge to journey and compete over some of the world’s most incredible terrain.

The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team endured a challenging race this year, although Australian-ace Toby Price continued his podium record for all Dakar races he’s completed with an impressive third place overall. 2018 Dakar champion Matthias Walkner from Austria finished fifth overall after a tough first week hampered his potential, with Argentinian racer Luciano Benavides earning his best finish yet in sixth aboard his KTM 450 RALLY.

Whilst we reflect on the race that has captivated the world in the opening part of the year, we welcome you to look through some of the best images of the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team in action during Dakar 2020.

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Matthias Walkner creates a wall of dust as he battles stage two of the 2020 Dakar Rally.


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Sam Sunderland tackles the tricky terrain and navigation on Dakar stage two.


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Luciano Benavides enjoyed his best Dakar finish yet with sixth overall after finishing inside the top 10 for all but one stage of the race.


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Matthias Walkner loads in his roadbook ahead of stage four of the rally.


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Toby Price navigates the sandy terrain at speed on his way to winning stage five of the Dakar.


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Matthias Walkner took a top three finish on a very fast stage Dakar stage six.


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Toby Price is followed by the helicopter capturing him in action during stage six of the race.


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Luciano Benavides contemplates his possibilities during the Dakar 2020 rest day.


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Toby Price the Bivouac Barber – a little downtime on rest day during the Dakar.


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Stage 7 is one many riders will wish to forget due to the passing of a fellow competitor. Matthias Walkner tackles the difficult Saudi Arabian dunes.


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Luciano Benavides tries to keep the power down aboard his KTM 450 RALLY on the changing terrain during Dakar stage nine.


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After a grueling race Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price takes his fifth podium from six Dakar starts.


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HOW DO YOU GET READY FOR A MOTOGP™ BIKE?

In a matter of a few weeks, Brad Binder will be able to answer the question that many race fans regularly have: what does it feel like to pin a MotoGP™ factory bike?! The South African chats about three ways in which he’ll get set for the challenge…

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Brad Binder – PC @SebasRomero

Red Bull KTM MotoGP™ teams will field two rookies in 2020: Brad Binder and Iker Lecuona with the combined age of 43 years. Binder comes into the factory squad with a Moto3™ world championship and fifteen Grand Prix victories in two categories to his name including five wins in Moto2™ last year.

The South African has earned his MotoGP™ shot thanks to his results, attitude and attacking riding style; something that paddock insiders seem to think will suit him well on the RC16 and a motorcycle that Pol Espargaró aggressively throttled to 100 world championship points in 2019.

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Brad Binder – PC @LukasLeitner

Binder first threw his leg over the KTM Grand Prix bike at the summer test in the Czech Republic. The laps he made at the Brno circuit were like a preview for what he might have in store for 2020. At the Valencia and Jerez MotoGP™ tests in November the new #33 was able to deepen his appreciation for the 350kmph missile.

Already an eight season ‘veteran’ of FIM world championship competition, Binder, who works between bases in Dubai and Spain, identified three areas in which he’s been focussing on to face the increase of speed, power and the best racers in the world.

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Brad Binder – PC@LukasLeitner

A PHYSICAL PRESENCE

“I had my first taste of MotoGP™ at Brno last summer and I realized straight away that it is a lot harder on the forearms and also your heart rate goes a bit harder than in Moto2™. I think generally it is something that will be a lot more physical but also something you get used to.”

“I’d like to try and pick up a bit more muscle, and a bit more power for the new season can only help. Body weight is obviously an important factor in Moto3™ and Moto2™ but I can honestly say that I struggle to gain weight. I think it has a lot to do with the amount of cardio I do but also how much I eat. Normally my heaviest point comes when I start riding in February: I want to start the season like that because when races go on I start to lose it.”

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Brad Binder – PC@LukasLeitner

“I don’t worry about training that much because it is something I take very seriously, and I do it very hard. I love cycling. I don’t do some of the insane mileage like the other riders, but I enjoy getting out on the bicycle and will mix it up between road and the enduro bicycle. You can do downhill loops and still peddle back to the top. I’m doing just as much if not more than anyone else and I know physically I’m very lucky because I’ve always felt just as strong at the end of the races, more than my competitors from what I see on the track. For sure this year will be a different story! There you are with the elite guys I suppose.”

I’ve worked with a few different trainers and lately I’ve been using the same guy that trained other MotoGP riders and have learned a good few pointers. I want to learn as much as I can from everybody and make a program that suits me. I’m sure there is room to improve. I’ve spoken to Pit [Beirer, KTM Motorsport Director] about working with Aldon Baker [famed South African Supercross/motocross trainer] and I think we’ll get around to it at some point. I did go to the Red Bull diagnostic training center recently with the other guys [riders] and that was an eye-opener. It is impressive how they can tailor special plans to the smallest detail.”

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Brad Binder – PC @LukasLeitner

A CHANGE OF TECHNIQUE

“I just need to ride the thing a bit more!”

“Brno was very much a ‘get your feet wet’ situation. I have a lot to learn but I don’t want to think about it too much. I always believe that if you over-think things or have expectations that end up not existing then it’s only negative. Better to try and then work out what you need to do and to change.”

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Brad Binder – PC @SebasRomero

“MotoGP™ will mean keeping an open mind. Taking it one day at a time. You can almost try and ‘jump-start’ situations but then you can also go a bit mad. In 2019 I made big improvements and my riding was much better. Moto2™ was hard at the beginning and that was mainly because of my arm; it was buggered for six months basically. Once it started to feel normal again then I started to find my way.”

“I’m sure electronics will be a big factor and getting my head around all that stuff. Learning to find set-up and how to save the tire; that’s not something you have to worry about too much in Moto2™. It is all-guns-blazing from lap one until the end. We had more electronic options in Moto2™ last year but, to be honest, I don’t know too much about them: I turned them off!”

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Pit Beirer & Brad Binder – PC @SebasRomero

MINDFUL OF THE MINDSET

“First of all, I don’t want to repeat what I did in the past: trying to make everything happen at once. That’s how I ended up hurting myself, by pushing for too much too soon. We are working through everything in testing and I need to take advantage of it.”

“I know I’ll be starting nearer the back of the grid, especially compared to what I achieved in Moto2™, but that’s definitely not where I am going to end up. I believe that if you work at something hard enough then there is every chance you will improve and that is how I have been throughout my career. I’ve never started by being the fastest guy in the beginning…but I got there in the end.”

“I wouldn’t say I’m a patient guy – by any means – but I do believe that you have to aim at progression. If you are just looking at results then it can send you mad, but if you just try and tick off little things every single day then you’ll end up getting there. In a way it is quite simple: ride the bike and tell them what I think and I guess the team does the rest. For sure it will be a hundred times more technical…but I just want to try and keep it simple to do my job.”

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Brad Binder – PC @SebasRomero

“I’m excited about being on track with those riders we all know about. I think it will be awesome. I remember shouting at the TV for Rossi when I was a little kid, way before I knew what MotoGP™ was just because my Dad cheering him on…so to line-up against legends of the sport will be an incredible feeling.”

“I’m quite an easy-going guy so I don’t think the extra duties of being a factory rider will bother me too much. I know there will be extra attention and back home is pretty insane. When I travel back to South Africa I always have a solid week of media work every day but it has to be done suppose!”


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THE HOT SEAT – RENE HOFER INTERVIEW

In 2020 seventeen-year old Rene Hofer will be the first Austrian this century to represent the most decorated team in MXGP. What’s it like to feel the full glare of orange?

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Rene Hofer – PC @RayArcher

Red Bull KTM will field the best motocross line-up of all-time in 2020. The combination of Tony Cairoli, Jeffrey Herlings and Jorge Prado means a total of fifteen world titles in the MXGP class. In MX2 2019 Rookie of the Year Tom Vialle is already touted as one of the pre-season championship favorites after seven podiums and 4th place in his maiden term during 2019. Converting this quartet into a quintet is Rene Hofer. The teenager has FIM Junior, 125cc and European Championship honors all in orange (and was leading EMX125 in 2018 before a season-ending injury) but compared to all the clout and success of his teammates Hofer has a unique narrative.

“He’s a local!” smiles Team Manager and Team Technical Co-ordinator Dirk Gruebel. “The best motocross rider from Austria at the moment and the best since [2018 Dakar winner] Matthias Walkner who tried MX2 and ended up being good in the old MX3 class. There will be a spotlight on Rene but we think it is nice to have a guy from the country where the headquarters is. In terms of pressure, we don’t know how it will be for him…”

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Rene Hofer – PC @ReneHofer Instagram

Red Bull KTM has fielded the leading riders from Italy, France, Holland, Germany, South Africa, Spain and Latvia in recent years, and there is now a special link to the Mattighofen factory and Munderfing race workshop. Hofer earned his shot after just one season in the EMX250 European Championship (the feeder series to Grand Prix) thanks to two factors. Firstly, two eye-catching MX2 wildcards where he not only scored points but also the ability to break into the top ten with a seventh place overall in the Grand Prix of Italy. Secondly, the immediate impact of 2020 teammate Vialle. The eighteen-year-old Frenchman had not excelled in EMX and was considered as a ‘gamble’ and investment by the factory and the race team for 2019. Vialle’s skills and mentality (and the crew’s work) meant he was able to forge an outstanding campaign. So, why can’t Hofer achieve a similar effect?

“Tom had a couple of moto wins in EMX in 2018, Rene didn’t reach the same results in 2019 but was consistent and then he also scored points in the Czech Republic Grand Prix as well as a top ten finish in Italy; that was really good and maybe too good because you don’t want riders to think ‘this is too easy’,” Gruebel says. “We’ll approach 2020 as we did with Tom this year: Rene is a newcomer to the class. From the outside, he might not have the same style as Jorge and Tom but he has a big heart and he is putting in the hours. He wants to be here. He will do good.”

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2019 – Rene Hofer – PC @RayArcher

Hofer, from Linz, might have the right passport to generate sizeable interest in the corridors of Mattighofen but once ‘across the border’ of the race team that status carries more weight. “The opportunity to have an Austrian [in the race team] doesn’t happen very often so if it’s there then we try to grab it,” says KTM Offroad VP Robert Jonas. “I would definitely not say it is easier for him though by virtue of the fact he is Austrian.”

Jonas should know. The former 125cc star was the last home-grown rider to come within the sphere of the works set-up and the sought-after SX technology at the end of the 1990s. Jonas suffered a serious knee injury before he could really show what he could do on the world stage in the first year of the new millennium. It happened two years before Hofer was even born. “I remember a little bit how it was,” he recalls. “At the final round of the Austrian Championship In ’99 I won the title and on the Sunday evening the manager responsible for the Austrian riders at that time received a phone call from Mr. Pierer [Pierer Mobility CEO] with the information that I would have a spot in the factory team. For me, it was a surprise and I was not counting on that opportunity. For sure I was thinking and working towards it…but it was a big surprise.”

“I don’t think that is quite so much the case for Rene,” he reflects. “He was closer because of some good form in the European Championship [six top-five results from the eight rounds in 2019] and due to Jeffrey [Herlings] being injured he had the chance to be with us under the tent and to smell the factory team environment.”

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2019 – Rene Hofer – PC @RayArcher

“It is a big opportunity and for sure a big challenge,” Jonas adds, “but I feel he also deserves it because he made some good progress. He surprised us with his two GP opportunities this year. He didn’t get those results for free because he didn’t have the best starts and worked his way through.”

It is Hofer’s mindset and commitment that has strengthened his case with KTM race management and earned the total belief and conviction of people like Motocross Manager Joel Smets and former KTM Junior Team Manager Didi Lacher, whose judgment is highly valued in the Munderfing Race HQ.

“He doesn’t give up. He always finishes the races and there are no complaints about circumstances,” assesses Gruebel. “He knows when he has made a mistake. I see him training hard. He is not shining in the sand races yet, but it was the same with Tom; the more time they spend in Belgium – there are not too many sand tracks in Austria – the more they improve and that will happen with Rene.”

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PC @RayArcher

“He is a guy that can perform when he has to and you need to have that,” stresses Jonas. “He has a lot of work ahead, but I think he has a good chance to make it.”

True to cliché, Hofer is the archetypal ‘old head on young shoulders’ and is aware that his 2020 is more than just a dream slot with the best factory team in the FIM World Championship paddock. “My phone was blowing up when I got confirmation,” he grins. “For me, it is such a big thing, and for some other people too, but I try to go smoothly with it.”

“Tom had an unbelievable season this year, and this is not ‘usual’ [as a rookie],” he claims. “But it will be a learning year and I hope to get some results and confidence.”

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Rene Hofer – PC @RayArcher

Hofer has yet to race in a major international meeting away from European shores. The twenty-date MXGP calendar will be a vast education for an aspiring athlete that is still in school (“officially I’m in year 12 so just one more and I have the possibility to leave when I’m eighteen but we’ll decide this in January”). “Traveling, cultures, overseas, food, time zones: I’m not used to this…. but Tom coped fine so I’m sure I can,” he says.

Aside from the attention, the setting and the pressure, Hofer will also have to gain a full appreciation and understanding of the demands of MX2. “Well, there is much more riding time compared to EMX, which means getting used to the track,” he explains. “The starts are also so much more difficult. All the guys are super-close together and the braking points are much later. I need to get used to this a bit more. The speed is not too different, and you can see riders like [Roan] Van de Moosdijk or [Alberto] Forato have the pace to run near the top five. The starts are even more important in MX2 than EMX. Overall it is so much different in terms of intensity.”

Intense is probably a fitting word for the experience that lays ahead for Hofer. But yet more spoils for Red Bull KTM with a native flavor might taste that little bit sweeter.


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AN EXCLUSIVE SNEAK PEEK AT THE BEAST PROTOTYPE

When everyone was expecting KTM to unveil the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R prototype, the leading European motorcycle manufacturer surprised the world by pulling the covers off the production version of the 2020 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R at EICMA 2019. With no one seeing the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R prototype in the flesh, 10 orange blooded fans had the unique opportunity to get face to face with THE BEAST prototype.

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@lissimorephoto

The week prior to EICMA, KTM ran a social media competition asking fans to comment with a picture with them and their DUKE. KTM social media platforms were flooded with an overwhelming number of interest and many great images being shared.  

Five lucky winners and an orange bleeder friend were invited to fly to Austria and were given the opportunity to be the first to get face to face with THE BEAST prototype.

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@lissimorephoto

Saturday 16 November saw 10 anticipated DUKE fans arrive at the home of KTM at the KTM Motohall. Cameras where ready and anxious faces walked into the private viewing room known as the RC16 arena, where they were welcomed by two BEASTS lurking and ready to pounce on center stage!

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@lissimorephoto

A high intensity READY TO RACE video captivated everyone’s attention and then the moment of reveal saw jaw-dropping action with the ready cameras rolling frantically. 

After an in-depth run-through of some of the many changes and benefits from the KTM team, the lucky few had the opportunity to sit, touch and make use of this time to ask any in-depth questions they had.

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@lissimorephoto

The hardest task was to pull the winners away from THE BEAST. Once all was in focus and drool was wiped away, the participants could proceed to take a guided tour of the KTM Motohall, where special attention was given on the 25 years of DUKE and the progression of the range. 

Gift bags were handed out with a custom-made t-Shirt and even a signed knee slider from Red Bull KTM Factory Racing star Pol Espargaro. It wasn’t long and each winner had their shirt on and ready to pose with THE BEAST!

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@lissimorephoto

The evening was concluded with a team dinner at The Garage Restaurant, here the lucky 10 got to enjoy some of the best Austrian cuisines in true KTM style. Surrounded by KTM memorabilia from yesteryears and even a KTM RC16 hanging from the wall made this the perfect setting to end the night.

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@lissimorephoto

Sunday morning saw all SNEAK PEEK winners streaming through the KTM Motohall door to get a second tour done before the live viewing of the final round at Valencia of the MotoGP™ season.
With KTM flag and cap in hand, our winners cheered on Red Bull KTM Ajo racer Brad Binder to his third victory in a row in the Moto2 class and Red Bull KTM Factory Racings Pol Espargaro achieved a top 10 in the premier class onboard his KTM RC16 machine.

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@lissimorephoto

“First of all, thank you for this weekend and this opportunity you offered me,” commented Quentin Harroch.“The visit to the KTM Motohall was just exceptional. And to be among the first to see THE BEAST prototype was just out of the ordinary. It was just a magical weekend! Well, of course, it makes me love the KTM brand even more than it already did! I can’t wait to order my new KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R.”


“It was just an amazing weekend for us! The welcome that we received and all little attention to details … everything was great!” commented Yohann Girard. “I can’t thank KTM enough for the privilege to be the first to see the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R Prototype, and this at the home of KTM in the KTM Motohall.”

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@lissimorephoto

With smiles and many memorable memories made we send our winners on their way. 

Photos: @lissimorephoto / KTM 


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THE EXPERIENCE OF RALLY – HEINZ KINIGADNER TALKS DAKAR AND OASIS RALLY

Heinz Kinigadner is passionate about motorsport. A two-time Motocross World Champion, the former Austrian racer has played a pivotal role in the development of KTM’s highly successful rally project, which has enjoyed 18 consecutive wins at one of the most notoriously difficult races on the planet – the Dakar Rally. ‘Kini’ is well-known for his involvement with KTM Motorsports, as well as important charitable initiatives such as ‘Wings for Life’. Kini also enjoys passing on the possibilities for riding and exploring incredible places onto KTM’s customers with the OASIS Rally, which has been running since the 1990s.

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@HeinzKinigadner

On a very rainy, wet day at the Motocross of Nations, we caught up with Kini (who was there supporting KTM’s racers and the Austrian team) to talk dirt biking, rally riding and to explain about a special opportunity for KTM Adventure riders at the Oasis Rally.

“First of all, I have a passion for motorcycles in general, motorsport in general, but still for me motocross is my real sport.” Kini began.

“Rally and enduro are all part of the adventure. It’s something you can do for the rest of your life because motocross can be limited on a high level (when it comes to the body). I started doing the long-distance rallies in the beginning of the 90s – I did a championship in Spain, and later on I started doing some smaller rallies in Northern Africa.”

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@HeinzKinigadner

“When I was doing the Motocross World Championship these guys doing enduro or rally, they were seen as the ones who couldn’t really do motocross. For us it wasn’t interesting (laughs), but then if you have been once in Northern Africa in the Sahara Desert, it’s difficult to explain to somebody who has never been there how amazing it is. Especially to someone like me; a Tirolian who is used to high mountains and small valleys, the endless desert where you can go as far as you have fuel to take you is just immense. If you’ve done it once, you’ll always want to go back,” said Kinigadner.

Kini won two world motocross titles in the 1980’s and took part in his first Dakar, which took a route from Paris, France to Cape Town, South Africa, in 1992. The Austrian racer completed around six days of the near two-week long race, when unfortunately his bike broke – “it wasn’t a KTM,” Kini laughs when recalling the experience. Despite his previous concept of what rally racing was all about, Kinigadner soon realized that the media attention for the Dakar was not comparable to motocross, as the global interest was simply huge – people wanted to know about the areas traveled, they wanted to see the incredible images that were received from these races and that’s when Kini began pushing for KTM to go to the big rallies. He knew it would bring a lot of global exposure. Kini explained that over the years rally has changed a lot – but the interest remains. Now the sporting side of Dakar is really competitive – with riders racing down to the minutes. It’s taken seriously, the athletes are on a high level, although with the incredible locations the world continues to watch and marvel at what is reported from these extraordinary events.

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@HeinzKinigadner

“In 1994 I prepared the first KTM team for Dakar. It was a real, real adventure. Now, the Dakar is much more a racing sport than in my time – when I raced we had no GPS, it was incredibly difficult to navigate. We had to start in Libya and I had to start first because I won the prologue. There was 100km where the roadbook said follow compass direction 180 and then you will find a few trees in the middle of the desert. I arrived there and I found no trees. The problem was when you opened the throttle on the bike the compass was turning around and being a few km left or right was quite easy. Then I started to search for the right place and I easily covered 20km more – I knew I would run out of fuel if I didn’t find the correct place soon. It was completely different compared to today; they are really fighting for the seconds and minutes. Whereas before gaining or losing an hour in a day was normal,” explained Kinigadner.

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“Today riding and driving in normal life and racing has become more and more driven by electronics, in fact maybe one day there is more autonomous riding, but I believe there is still a lot of room for adventure. I believe the wish of the human is for us to want to do something by ourselves and it won’t change when it comes to going on an adventure. In fact, we have known this for a long time and in the middle of the 90’s we began a rally in Northern Africa – the Oasis rally, which is a rally for beginners,” said Kinigadner

“It doesn’t matter how fit you are, it doesn’t matter if it’s your first rally, or your first time in Africa – we try to make it so that everyone has fun there. It makes rally riding accessible, so KTM customers get to feel the experience of rally. The difference to other rally events is that if you’re not fit enough to ride every day, then you can ride every second day. We are there with spare parts, we usually have a KTM Factory racer with us talking about their experiences, we have medical cover and we have trackers there so we can ensure everyone’s safety. It’s a great opportunity for those with Adventure bikes to ride in a rally situation, but still with a comfortable safety net around them.”

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Kinigadner explains that the idea is for KTM customers can bring their bike – such as a KTM EXC or one of the new KTM 790 Adventure R – to take part in this exceptional experience. They can bring their bike to Kinigadner’s dealership in Tyrol, Austria, and everything is handled from there (some European dealers are willing to organize bike shipment, and support is available from the organizers for groups to ship their bikes together to Tyrol). The bikes are then transported to the Island of Djerba, Tunisia and the riders are fully accommodated from arrival – staying in the desert, in comfortable hotels where everything is included.

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@HeinzKinigadner

“Where we are based you can go 1500km and that’s just in the desert. However, if you’d prefer to stay within viewing distance of the hotel, then you can go and play for hours in the dunes. It’s very adaptable to a rider’s experience – if you have a technical problem, or an issue, then in 20 minutes you can walk back to the hotel. Each day we create a roadbook – it’s around 150km per day and we’ve spent a lot of time creating something that people will enjoy. If somebody doesn’t want to do the roadbook, they don’t have to do it. We have an opening up vehicle and a following vehicle each day – so a rider can follow the group with the follow-up vehicle and we also plan some exits from the route so if they’ve had enough, they can head back to the hotel. It’s about enjoying the experience and doing as much or as little as you like,” said Kini.

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@HeinzKinigadner

“At the next OASIS Rally we’ll also run a twin-cylinder guided tour. In Tunisia there’s a lot of interesting places like where they filmed Star Wars and we will visit them on the guided tour. They have more distance to travel than the other group, maybe around 160km, but there are some asphalt roads included as well. We try to combine the groups as much as possible – single cylinders are using the roadbook and the others are guided. They will see some incredible things, and they can truly enjoy their KTM Adventure bikes in the perfect surroundings for the bike.”

For more information visit: www.kini.at


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THE ALL-NEW KTM 390 ADVENTURE IN ACTION

Locate those lesser-known roads outside the city and let the KTM 390 ADVENTURE take care of the rest. Built to satisfy your restless spirit, this versatile single-cylinder travel-enduro machine has a sporty attitude that is ideally demonstrated in the action highlight clip accompanying its recent launch.

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@KISKA

Combining the DNA from the popular KTM 790 ADVENTURE and combining it with development feedback collected from nearly two decades of Dakar Rally success, the all-new KTM 390 ADVENTURE is an accessible motorcycle that offers added versatility for touring and light offroading.

Using elements of the KTM 390 DUKE as a base, the KTM 390 ADVENTURE offers proximity to the feeling and performance found at the root of the all-conquering KTM 450 RALLY but with crucial A2 license compatibility and current Euro emissions standards as part of the package.

The smaller displacement, light weight, narrow and agile chassis and host of electronic rider aids mean the KTM 390 ADVENTURE is the ideal enticement for riders keen to fit motorcycle adventuring into their daily life and those eager to explore the easy roads away from the asphalt.

The KTM 390 ADVENTURE is a reference-setting multi-use motorcycle that will deliver a comfortable and effective commute on a weekday but will also be a fun and appealing attraction for the weekends when riders fancy a less-travelled route.

Images: Kiska



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TECH FOCUS: BREAKING DOWN THE LATEST MOTO-LINGO

The race to produce high performance, efficient and safe motorcycles pushes manufacturers to employ new technologies from industries such as motorsport and aerospace, as well as developing state of the art electrical systems to improve a rider’s performance and comfort.

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@KTM

The KTM Blog takes a look at some of those used by the Austrian manufacturer and breaks down the technical jargon behind them.

HILL HOLD CONTROL (HHC)
Imagine the scene… passenger on the back, fully loaded with luggage, wet winter gloves, adverse camber, then you have to stop on a hill while you wait to pull out onto the next road. This can be a stressful for most riders. Trying not to roll back, keep a solid footing and eventually pull off without stalling can be a real balancing act.

So, put simply, HHC is an electronic function that allows you to keep a solid footing by holding your bike stationary whilst on a hill, leaving you free to place both feet down and use the throttle without the awkward one finger on the brake lever too. When active, HHC uses the bike’s in-built sensors to detect incline, speed and use of brakes, then when needed automatically takes over the braking aspect of the controls until you are ready to pull away again. The rear brake is held on by the ABS system.

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@KTM

MOTOR SLIP REGULATION (MSR)
Traction control is a feature most are familiar with. Open the throttle too much or too early then the rear wheel will start to spin faster than the front, causing the bike to lose traction. Sensors detect the differences in speeds and warn the bikes ECU which then slows electronic fuel injection and power output to bring them back inline. So how does this relate to MOTOR SLIP REGULATION? Well, because it is the complete opposite process.

V-twin engines are known for their relatively high engine braking which under rapid downshifts or when abruptly closing or chopping the throttle can cause a difference of speed between the motor and the rear wheel. This creates a torque feedback, a set of opposing forces. The tire brakes traction with the surface and hops in the air momentarily potentially causing instability. A rider may describe this sensation as rear wheel “chattering”. A slipper clutch like the PASC system used on LC8 models alleviates most torque feedback, but on slippery surfaces MSR comes into action. The system opens the throttle slightly for the rider to bring the engine speed up to that required to equal the forces of the rear wheel, preventing any chatter and maintaining constant contact with the road. Any difference in wheel speeds is therefore avoided keeping the bike stable, and rider safe.

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@KTM

DLC COATING
Engineers in the KTM R&D department face a difficult set of challenges daily. Develop engines with superior performance, with service lives and maintenance durations that improve cost of ownership, all whilst meeting the demands of hened environmental awareness and legislation. This pushes them to analyze every aspect of efficiency inside a KTM’s beating heart, and there’s one force that cannot be avoided in a complex system of moving parts: friction. Friction losses in a vehicle can amount to 10 to 15% of an engine’s output so selection of the optimal materials is essential.

One solution is DLC coating, a technology used originally in helicopter transmissions and the pinnacles of motorsport. DLC stands for Diamond Like Carbon, it is a material coating that achieves properties of two other carbon-based materials, diamond and graphite. This makes it one of the toughest material coatings available today. Carbon molecules are applied as a film to metal parts replicating the structure of these materials. Diamond is extremely hard, and graphite is known for its low friction, so it is ideal for parts moving at high speeds in contact with one another, like the surface of the cam finger followers in an LC8’s valvetrain.

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@KTM

QUICKSHIFTER+
So why does this quickshifter deserve a plus? And how does it really work? A quickshifter is a device for clutchless gear shifts. An aftermarket kit is composed of a module that interferes with either the electronic fuel injection or ignition systems and a sensor built into the shift rod that detects pressure when shifting. When activated the device will slow down or cut off either system for a set time, reducing power and load on the transmission while the gear is engaged. Typically, as the devices are designed for racing, they are calibrated only for aggressive shifts at high RPMs.

Now this is where the KTM QUICKSHIFTER+ differs. Rather than building a sensor into the shift rod, two sensors are utilized inside the transmission itself – one on the selector shaft and the gear position sensor mounted on the shift drum. The benefit of this is accuracy and flexibility. The system can detect direction of change (up or down), when to interrupt fuel injection and slow ignition timing, which gear is being engaged and when to reinstate fuel supply. It can also open the throttle valve to speed up the engine, this achieves slick down changes, removing the need manually “blip” the throttle. So, for the KTM rider it certainly is a plus because it all equates to clutchless shifts, up and down the box, that responds to their riding – so the shift action is fast when needed, but buttery smooth at half-throttle.

IMAGES :  KTM


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READY FOR SUPERCROSS 2020: KTM UNVEILS ITS FACTORY AND SUPPORTED TEAMS

The KTM Blog brings you a quick run-down of KTM’s 2020 Supercross line-up along with some of the pictures from the official team introduction, which took place just over one week ago at the ‘RD Field’ test track facility close to KTM North America’s base in Murrieta, California.

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Cooper Webb @SimonCudby

It’s officially the ‘off-season’ in US Motocross and Supercross racing terms, after an exhilarating year of competition for KTM’s athletes. The few weeks between the final event of 2019 and the start of Anaheim 1 on January 4th, 2020 will surely fly-by as KTM’s Factory and KTM supported teams prepare for their assault on the 17-round Supercross campaign in what is known as one of the most intense dirt bike competitions in the world.

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Cooper Webb / Ian Harrison / Marvin Musquin @SimonCudby

RED BULL KTM FACTORY RACING
Headlining KTM’s premier factory effort is the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing duo of Cooper Webb and Marvin Musquin, who are both set to contest the 2020 AMA Supercross and Pro Motocross Championships. Webb will be aiming to defend his 450SX Supercross championship crown in the new year and was pleased to reveal the number one on his KTM 450 SX-F FACTORY EDITION machine to the press at the recent media event where he took to the track to showcase the new Red Bull KTM livery aboard his Factory machine. French-racer Musquin, who recently signed a further two-year agreement with KTM, is currently recovering from an injury but is looking forward to being fully ready for the new season in the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing outfit, which is led by Team Manager, Ian Harrison.

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Brian Moreau / Brandon Hartranft / Tyler Keefe / Derek Drake / Pierce Brown @SimonCudby

TROY LEE DESIGNS / RED BULL / KTM
Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM was presented once again as the official KTM 250 Factory Team and this exciting squad features a brand-new line-up of young, talented riders -Brandon Hartranft, Brian Moreau, Derek Drake and Pierce Brown. The team was created by high-adrenaline sports design mastermind Troy Lee and continues to be overseen by Team Manager Tyler Keefe. The 250 squad has close KTM relations with the goal of achieving the ultimate success in 250cc competition whilst helping the riders extract their potential.

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Forrester Butler / Justin Bogle / Blake Baggett / Michael Byrne @SimonCudby

ROCKY MOUNTAIN ATV/MC – WPS – KTM
The Rocky Mountain ATV/MC – WPS – KTM team will field two riders in the 450cc division in 2020 for both AMA Supercross and Pro Motocross. Michael Byrne will continue to lead the team as manager along with Team Owner Forrester Butler, who has many years of experience in the industry. Riders Blake Baggett and Justin Bogle will look to build on the team’s first wins in the 450SX and 450MX classes this season (clinched by Baggett) with the KTM 450 SX-F FACTORY EDITION.

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The RED BULL KTM FACTORY RACING @CudbySimon

It’s an exciting new line-up for KTM – we can’t wait for Supercross to start!

Image: Simon Cudby



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2019 MXGP – A PHOTO REVIEW OF THE TOP 6 BEST KTM MOMENTS

Some of the finest memories, stories and imagery from the eighteen rounds of the FIM Motocross World Championship

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Tony Cairoli @RayArcher

Still leading the way
Tony Cairoli, MXGP of Great Britain, Matterley Basin, March 24th
The sun shines down on Tony Cairoli as the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider and MXGP world championship leader powers along the long start straight at Matterley Basin and the British Grand Prix. This was round two of 2019, the first in Europe, and at a venue where many were wary of the March date and the notoriously unreliable UK weather. The weekend turned out to be dry and Cairoli would triumph in England for the second of four victories in the first five races. The Sicilian was victorious several weeks previously at the opening fixture in Argentina – a personally satisfying success considering how narrowly he was defeated by teammate Jeffrey Herlings at the same circuit in 2018 – but Matterley showed that, even at 33 years of age, Cairoli was still the reference for the premier class. After this photo Cairoli would total another four successive podium results and then a crash in qualification for the Grand Prix of Russia followed by another season-ending fall shortly after in Latvia would sadly curtail #222’s ambitions for a tenth world title.

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Jorge Prado & Tom Vialle @RayArcher

Happy Holeshots
Red Bull KTM MX2 duo! MXGP of Czech Republic, Loket, July 28th
In the MX2 class the sights of the two Red Bull KTM 250 SX-Fs of Jorge Prado and Tom Vialle leading the pack around the first turn were frequent throughout a series that started in South America and finished in Asia. Across eighteen Grands Prix the two eighteen year olds were proficient and scarily unbeatable out from the gate (as neatly displayed in the second image at Kegums in Latvia which shows the advantage they enjoyed away from the line). Incredibly, from a grand total of 36 moto starts the Spaniard and Frenchman owned 30: an essential ingredient in the combined tally of 17 Grand Prix wins between both of them and 31 moto checkered flags for Prado. The photograph here is the unmistakable first turn from Loket and the Grand Prix of Czech Republic.

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Jeffrey Herlings @RayArcher

A brief reply
Jeffrey Herlings, MXGP of Latvia, Kegums, June 16th
A torn expression on the face of the defending MXGP World Champion Jeffrey Herlings here at Kegums in Latvia. This is lockeround nine in June. The Dutchman has returned to Grand Prix duty a few weeks after riding and building pace from what was a three month convalescence due to a badly broken right foot: courtesy of a pre-season training accident. The soft and sandy Kegums circuit had been the scene of Herlings’ first win with the KTM 450 SX-F in 2017 and amazingly the champion claimed victory in his very first MXGP moto of the year. The slight grimace hides the truth. Herlings had suffered a small fall on the sighting lap of the race and his right foot had been hit by the unsuspecting Arminas Jasikonis. Herlings had lined up and another fracture in the same area as the previous injury would mean another operation and another frustrating period on the sidelines.

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Jorge Prado @RayArcher

That’s two: and goodbye MX2
Jorge Prado, MXGP of Sweden, August 25th
Jorge Prado is swamped after the first moto at Uddevalla for the Grand Prix of Sweden and upon confirmation of his second MX2 world title (KTM’s third back-to-back MX2 championship winner since 2009). There were still two Grands Prix to go after the trip to Scandinavia. 2019 was a tale of utter domination for the talented Spaniard: 16 GP victories from 17 appearances, 14 qualification heats, 31 motos from 34. Prado’s decimation of the MX2 class ironically casts him out of the division according to FIM rules as a double winner. He would make his debut on the KTM 450 SX-F at the Motocross of Nations over a month after this photograph and is now due to form the greatest Grand Prix line-up of all time for 2020 MXGP alongside Cairoli and Herlings: fifteen world championships under one awning.

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Tom Vialle @RayArcher

Behold the rookie
Tom Vialle, MXGP of Sweden, August 25th
While Red Bull KTM uncorked the champagne at Uddevalla for Prado there was also big celebrations for Tom Vialle. The French rookie is hard on the gas here, coming out of the pit lane chicane and on the way to a 2-2 scorecard that would give him the overall Grand Prix and disrupt Prado’s successive streak of spoils. Sweden would be the only time that Prado stood on a Grand Prix podium away from the top step. For Vialle, this was the peak of an astonishing rookie season that delivered seven podiums and 4th place in the world.

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Glenn Coldenhoff & Jeffrey Herlings @RayArcher

Remember me?
Jeffrey Herlings & Glenn Coldenhoff, MXGP of Turkey, Afyon,quali September 8th
Jeffrey Herlings swaps congratulations with countryman and fellow KTM rider Glenn Coldenhoff at the climax of the Grand Prix of Turkey and the penultimate round of MXGP 2019. Herlings made his second comeback of the campaign and dramatically caught and passed the in-form Coldenhoff in the second moto to toast his first victory (the 85th of his career) of the year. It was an emotional moment for the sensitive champion who had watched from the sofa as Tim Gajser lifted the 2019 crown three races previously in Italy. Herlings, still not 100% race fit here in Afyon, would also tussle and defeat Coldenhoff a week later in China to end the season with his tail up. For his part, Standing Construct KTM’s Coldenhoff embarked on a career-high run of two wins and five podiums in the last five events of 2019 and would then dazzle the Motocross of Nations for the second year in a row.

Images : KTM, Ray Archer


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AROUND THE WORLD ON A KTM 500 EXC

When Aaron Steinmann got on his KTM 500 EXC to ride from the bottom to the top of New Zealand in 2016, he had no idea where the road would take him. Three years later, the likeable Kiwi has completed more than 125.000km crossing 50 countries on all six continents on this planet.

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@braaping_kiwi

While most motorcycling explorers prefer the added comfort and bigger fuel tank capacity of KTM’s twin-cylinder ADVENTURE machines, for riders like Aaron it is all about the extra fun a light and highly capable offroad bike can offer. KTM Blog caught up with the extreme world traveler after he had finished exploring the relatively unknown trails of Korea.

“I fell in love with motorcycling during a short trip to Laos many years ago. Instead of being stuck in a minivan full of backpackers, I rented a bike and decided to explore the area at my own pace. I always liked having my own freedom to do things and travel and a motorcycle was the perfect tool for me to do so.”

Catching the adventure motorcycling bug during his first trip to southeast Asia, Aaron set his eyes on his first major bike traveling project upon his return to New Zealand.

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@braaping_kiwi

Why a KTM 500 EXC?
“I’ve lived in New Zealand for a few years and when I decided to move back to Oregon in the States, I thought what a better way to get there than ride a bike instead of dealing with another 12hr plane ride! The next question was which bike to ride…”

“I knew I wanted something light I could ride in the dirt and pick up easily with the extra bags on, even if I was on my own. I wanted something with enough power to keep things interesting and put a smile on my face. I also needed something simple to work on and the 500 kept ticking all the boxes. Besides, I always thought it is a great looking bike, so for me it was a pretty easy choice.”

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@braaping_kiwi

Picking up a KTM 500 EXC from a local dealer in late 2015, Aaron set off to plan the crucial details of his upcoming trip. “I bought my bike from a shop. I didn’t really consider any other options. The sales guy was trying to steer me towards a KTM 690 ENDURO R when I told him what my intentions were, but I insisted on the 500 EXC. He thought I was nuts but wasn’t going to turn down a sale.”

“I’ve always been telling myself that if I ever stayed long enough in one place to have a dog, I would name it Tess after a working dog my uncle had when I was a kid. Few weeks into my trip, I decided to name my bike Tess.”

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@braaping_kiwi

Traveling light…
Moving on with his planning and preparations for the upcoming trip, Aaron quickly realized that he had to pack and travel light… “During the initial part of my trip, I was planning to ride New Zealand from the bottom of the South Island to the top of the North Island. While preparing my gear, really it was working out what not to pack. Ever since then, selecting the items I am carrying on the bike is an ongoing process that changes depending on what countries I’m heading towards and what weather conditions I can expect.”

“For example, when I decided to ride solo up to over 5.500m on the famous Sairecabur volcano on the frontier between Bolivia and Chile, I left some of my gear in San Pedro de Atacama and did a day trip there. That was one of the highlights of my trip so far. The view was absolutely amazing, and it was one of the first times I felt I was somewhere very remote and alone. Also, my bike was a true blast to ride in that extreme terrain.”

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@braaping_kiwi

Every end is a new beginning.
A few months after setting off for his return trip through New Zealand and onto US territory, Aaron finally reached the end of the first part of his trip. Little did the KTM 500 EXC mounted rider know that this was just the beginning of something even bigger.

“Reaching Portland, Oregon was another great moment in my trip. At that stage, I thought I was finished with traveling and the goal I had set was accomplished. I had so many people telling me that I had picked the ‘wrong’ bike, it felt awesome to have reached my goal. Soon enough the ‘Forrest Gump effect’ kicked in and I was back on the road heading north.”

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@braaping_kiwi

“Another highlight of my trip was reaching Deadhorse in North Slope Borough, Alaska. I was at the very top of the North American continent and it felt damn good. It was a stunning day and I did the turn and burn not staying there, so it was a 720km day on the saddle. I had great conditions and it was just a fun day on the bike.”

“That day I was having a bit of a race with some guys on big Travel bikes and throughout the ride back to Coldfoot I leap frogged them a few times. I would stop to take photos and they would pass me, but soon later I would catch up pass them back. Sitting in a bar in Coldfoot with a beer in hand I saw them roll in. They walked into the bar and one said: “Who’s riding the KTM?” I slowly raised my hand and they came over shook it and we spent the rest of the evening chatting.”

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@braaping_kiwi

From Alaska to Sahara.
After three years traveling the world on his KTM 500 EXC, Aaron has collected a wealth of experiences riding in some of the coolest places on this planet. “Riding over the last rise and seeing the Sahara Desert was another massive moment in my journey. It is just a stunning view and I had the perfect bike to go play in the dunes. It was also one of those tick of the box moments as I had always wanted to see it.”

“My time in the Sahara Desert was another little milestone at that time. It was as far south as I was going to go before heading back to Europe and crossing Asia, so it was kind of a mental halfway point. Later during my trip, I would find out it wasn’t even close to halfway.”

“For years I’ve been reading stories of people riding in Magadan and the depths of Russia. For me, it took a year longer than I had originally expected but I managed to get there. After coming out of Morocco, I was originally planning to ride to Vladivostok. I had the choice to put in huge back to back days to make it across Russia or throw the plan out the window and take it as it comes.”

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@braaping_kiwi

“I did the latter, which allowed me to ride the Trans European Trail through the Balkan countries. I stored my bike in Georgia for the winter. I pulled the motor out and pulled it to pieces, taking it back to the States in a couple suitcases to get it rebuilt there. Few months later, I flew back to Georgia to continue my trip. During my time in Europe, I went by KTM’s headquarters in Mattighofen. Pulling a wheelie down the road outside the factory was another highlight. It felt like taking my bike back to its birth place.”

“Throughout my whole trip, there’s a lot of moments I cherish… Waking up to the sound of a hot air balloon while camping in Cappadocia and riding with Dakar Rally racer Serkan Ozdemir in Turkey were some cool moments. Also, riding in Mongolia was awesome. The place is so vast and remote and allows you to choose your own path through the steppes. Riding there was simply fantastic, the food and toilets not so much.

“Of course, I’ve met some great people along the way. I’ve had so many people reach out offering me a place to stay when I’m in their area. The people who walk up to me in a campground and say I bet you can’t carry cold beer on your bike, here have one. I love listening to other people’s stories of their travels.”

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@braaping_kiwi

Bike maintenance basics
To ensure a problem-free trip, Aaron knows how to properly take care of his machine. “The number one question I get asked is about oil changes. I do a lot of them. I started doing them every 1.500km to 2.000km max, but now I will go for 3.000km without worrying so much. They are so quick and easy on my bike, so I don’t know why people think it’s a big deal. It also gives you a chance to give the bike a quick once over looking for anything loose etc.”

“If I am fully pinned in the desert or in race mode, I do oil changes more often. If I’m clicking some easy miles through a country like Uzbekistan or parts of Siberia – where it’s back to back 500km days with the bike just purring along at 110km/h – I stretch them. I always carry two spare pre-oiled air filters. I carry a front sprocket and I change it as soon as I see the teeth start turning around. Usually it’s around the 5.000 or 6.000km mark and that’s helped my chain and rear sprocket last longer. I use a Supersprox stealth sprocket from the KTM PowerParts catalog and they last amazingly.”

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@braaping_kiwi

“I do a bit of preventative work also. Before I crossed into Morocco, I replaced the clutch thinking I might be doing lots of sand. Did it next to my tent and it wasn’t that hard. I did my first top end rebuild at 870hrs as the bike needed it. Then I did my second at around 1.300hrs but it didn’t need it. I did it because I did the bottom end and thought while it is all in parts I might as well do it all. At that time, I was heading from Georgia across Mongolia and Siberia so it was good piece of mind to know it was all done.  When traveling alone in those type of areas piece of mind is a massive thing.”

At the time of writing, Aaron is at Port Klang, Malaysia and waiting to get his bike delivered. Expecting to jump back on his bike soon, the extreme motorcycling traveler will continue his trip all the way back to where it all started from three years ago, in the bottom of New Zealand.

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@braaping_kiwi

You may follow Aaron’s adventures via his profile on Instagram: @braaping_kiwi

Photos: @braaping_kiwi


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THE BIGGEST STAGE: MOTORSPORT SCENES TO STIR THE MIND AT MXoN

73 years of history only adds to the prestige of the Motocross of Nations, the oldest and only closed circuit team race in the world that generates an atmosphere unlike anything else in motorsports.

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Jorge Prado @RayArcher

At Assen, the Geert Timmer grandstand runs from the exit of the Ramshoek curve, all the way along the pit straight and along to the first corner. It houses a major chunk of the 60,000-seating capacity at the famous racetrack.

At the 2019 Motocross of Nations, well over half of the tribune is full. Half of that crowd is getting wet. The rain is pouring down at one of Europe’s oldest motorsport facilities, but it is apt that the Motocross of Nations is taking place at the Drenthe venue. The Netherlands hosted the very first MXoN (then carrying the title “Motocross des Nations”) back in 1947. Assen is the definition of a modern motocross circuit: a temporary course chiseled from thousands of tons of imported sand and making full use of the permanent infrastructure like the paddock, VIP lounges, Media Center and more. It has been the home of the Dutch Grand Prix on the MXGP calendar since 2015, but the MXoN is a different animal altogether.

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Jeffrey Herlings & Jorge Prado @RayArcher

There is a reason – several actually – why this particular race is a firm date in the agenda for many, and that’s not a presumption; you only have to look at the flags, costumes and special effort made by patriotic supporters to surmise that this annual fixture has been eagerly anticipated. People are drawn to the MXoN for the unique appeal that it provides. There is nothing like it. Motorsports fans are typical drawn to a particular rider/driver or a brand, but the MXoN is all about pride in the flag and the prospect of watching the three best athletes (two on 450s and one on a 250) selected by their country to compete as a team towards the singular goal.

The three motos, five scores (the worst is dropped) and the inverted scoring system (1 point for 1st and all the way down to 40 for a DNF) mean a convoluted feeling of ‘what is going on?’ In the final laps of the last moto the implications of an ever-changing race order also bounce around in terms of the ultimate podium positions: the classification is undecided and often unknown by the spectators right up until all the riders have crossed the finish line. It means an overall comprehension of the event is daunting, but it’s not why the majority of the crowd is there. As much as there is competition and bragging rights at stake on the track there is also fierce support and rivalry at the fences: British fans bellow for the Brits, French fans go wild for the French, the Latvians wave flags for the Latvians, the Dutch roar and light flares for the Dutch. And so on. The opportunity to enjoy and display some national pride in a sport that doesn’t involve a ball spills into fun with eccentric costumes and paint. There is a carnival feel at times, almost like a music festival. It is like the FIFA World Cup but with all the teams together and squashed into one day. The media attendance rivals any MotoGP™ event for interest and the industry presence is rarely as high for any dirt bike meeting.

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Jorge Prado @RayArcher

Back on the sand and breaking the format of the Nations down further reveals more novelties: the sight of 250s racing against 450s (and it is not unusual for a 250 to win), the strategy of which rider takes the better start slot (1-20 for the first athletes and then 20-40 for the second), seeing ‘obscure’ motocross territories like Cyprus and China trying to compete and the sheer depth of the entry list. A country like Slovenia might boast the MXGP World Champion in their ranks but their combined strength is far less compared to nations with a competitive and renowned trio. The same case applied to Spain with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jorge Prado making his first outing on a KTM 450 SX-F at Assen.

The fever of the MXoN is usually hottest around the “home nation”.

At Assen the timing was right for Team Netherlands. Starring Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings, the 2018 MXGP World Champion and one of the fastest motocross riders in the world, and Standing Construct KTM’s Glenn Coldenhoff among the three, the Dutch have finished as runner-up for the past three years. They had been trying to dislodge the hegemony of Team France and a streak that had existed for five editions and since Latvia in 2014.

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Jeffrey Herlings @RayArcher

Amazingly the orange crew had never won and the last time the Nations had visited the Netherlands was in 2004. The MXoN has been hosted by France, Great Britain, USA, Italy, Belgium, Germany and Latvia since that day in Lierop.

Herlings and his KTM 450 SX-F have a good fit with Assen. Thirteen months earlier he had won the Grand Prix and celebrated his first premier class world title (the fourth crown of his career) in front of the adoring masses. He has also won in the MX2 category across the white sand. Coldenhoff as well knows the feeling of top-three speed around the terrain. Both KTM riders came into the traditional season curtain-closer in peak form: Herlings had won the last two MXGPs of the in Turkey and China to ease the pain of an injury-hit 2019 while Coldenhoff had arrived to a career-high with five podiums and two victories in the last five rounds. Together with MX2 racer Calvin Vlaanderen they were heavy favorites, even in spite of the disagreeable weather that gave other nations hope that mistakes and an upset to the rulebook was more of a possibility.

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Glenn Coldenhoff @RayArcher

Together with his KTM 450 SX-F, Coldenhoff would become the second rider ever to win two motos two years in arrow (he excelled the previous summer at RedBud in the USA) after former Red Bull KTM Factory Racing teammate Tony Cairoli who managed the feat in 2012 and 2013 with the 350 SX-F. #259 was the star performer but Herlings’ first outing in Race1 was the action bright spot of a dark and cloud-lined day. The 25 year old pushed all the way through the field and only just failed to beat Slovenia’s Tim Gajser by less than a second. His progress animated the Dutch public even more and with Coldenhoff’s breakaway in the second race (and Vlaanderen’s efforts on the 250 to 10-10) the Netherlands had a large buffer before the decisive last gate drop.

“Going into the last moto we knew only one of us had to finish,” said Herlings afterwards. “When I saw Glenn up front I thought ‘that’s good’. It takes some pressure away when you can line-up with two other guys that are capable of winning their class. We expected – well, I don’t want to sound too confident – to go for the win but it still all had to fall together. We still had to pull it off, and I never had one second of doubt in both of those guys. We’ve been training a lot in the last few weeks and we’ve been pretty fast. I knew we had a big chance of winning.”

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Team Netherlands celebration @RayArcher

“These guys are individual sportsmen, great sportsmen, but they function very well as a team,” assessed Team Manager Patrice Assendelft. “This weekend anything could happen because of the weather. It was like a gamble before we started the weekend but they did so well. It means a lot. I promise you, we’re not going to wait another 70 years or something!”

“It was very tough with those conditions but I’m glad we made it. Of course the goal was to win. We would definitely be disappointed with something less. I won the races in RedBud last year but this one was definitely nicer because of the home crowd.”

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Jeffrey Herlings @RayArcher

Herlings has now tasted two kinds of professional glory at Assen: the selfish and the selfless. For an individual who insatiably feasts and feeds on victory the MXoN delivered an odd sensation. #84 claimed he was “very not satisfied” with his scores of 2-4 but “we’re really here for is to win as a nation, and that’s what we did.” And the main difference between celebrating a MXGP World Championship and an MXoN win? “About fifteen degrees and the sunshine!” he joked.

Back in 1947 Great Britain were the first winners of the competition. It was fitting that the trio of Adam Sterry, Red Bull KTM Enduro rider Nathan Watson (the ex-MXGP ace was drafted in late as a replacement) and KTM rider Shaun Simpson (victor of the first Dutch GP at Assen in 2015) were able to profit from a technical problem for the French on the last lap and take the final podium spot behind the Dutch and then the Belgians. The relentless showers may have continued right through the event program but the drama did not wash away as Gautier Paulin’s bike rolled to a halt.

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Nathan Watson @RayArcher

For the outgoing champions the next twelve months cannot pass quickly enough. The Ernee circuit in northern France will be the next destination for this enduring contest and this time it will be the Dutch wearing those prized 1, 2, 3 number plates.

Images: KTM, Ray Archer


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FOOD FOR A MOTOGP™ RACER – POL ESPARGARO DISHES UP ON CULINARY DISCIPLINE & REQUIREMENTS WHILE LIVING AT 350KMPH

In the immediate hive of Sunday’s activity after a European MotoGP™ it can be easy to find Pol Espargaró sitting in the Red Bull Holzhaus Energy Station eating a bikini. The 28-year-old is not chewing on beach clothing but a toasted ham and cheese sandwich (so called in Catalonia). It’s almost a ritual. A small ‘reward’ for the sandwich-crazy lead rider of the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team that is deep into its third term at the pinnacle of motorcycle racing.

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Pol Espargaró @Gold and Goose

The Holzhaus is typically packed with KTM’s team members and guests throughout a Grand Prix weekend but riders tend to eat at unusual hours and often with a plate of food different to everybody else. It’s hardly surprising. They need to be at a mental and physical peak of performance and alertness for the mere minutes they are on track and need to drill machinery to the maximum.

Now a six-year veteran of the premier class after jumping into MotoGP™ as a Moto2™ World Champion in 2013, Espargaró is at the forefront of KTM’s progress in the sport and has already racked up seven top ten results in 2019. When the Spaniard hopped on the RC16 for the first race at Qatar in 2017 he was 2.5 second adrift of the pack. At Misano for round thirteen of the current campaign Pol was second fastest on the MotoGP™ start grid.

Like KTM, Pol is hungry. On this occasion, we interrupt his sandwich time to talk about a facet of preparation that many fans might not necessarily know about.

Tuck in!

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Pol Espargaró @Sebas Romero

It seems there is much more knowledge and awareness in professional sport about diet and intolerances now. Is it something you think about or wanted to learn about?
I think it is important to know your body as much as you can. We have a lot of good doctors to hand and with blood tests and other examinations you can know a lot about what you should eat and what is good for you and what isn’t. You can have an idea yourself just through feeling but the science helps. I think many people can have an athlete’s diet quite easily now but it helps to have that analysis which focuses even more on what will help you on the bike. Our sport, or the race time, is just forty minutes so you don’t need to be eating, eating and eating. The energy we spend is very quick. It means we don’t really need things like supplements or an ultra-strict program. Although we have routines of course. I eat at least two hours before getting on the bike. When the race is at 2:00 p.m. then that’s OK but practice on Saturday is 1:30 p.m. and it means a weird early lunch!

In your case are there any intolerances or problems?
Not really. I tolerate bread and gluten very well so I can eat a lot of it during the day. But I still prefer light food and healthy stuff without sauces. Very plain. It’s not the nicest or most fun but it works.

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Pol Espargaró @Sebas Romero

How does it work at home?
We have a machine that makes lots of different foods and it is very simple and easy to make healthy stuff. As well as good desserts! In the winter I’m much easier with what I eat. We have a Mediterranean diet, which is pretty clean. I don’t like fast food and I don’t eat it. So in the winter I am eating what I want rather than what I should and I think this is a good way to try to forget a little of the discipline of what we do. To enjoy life a little. Then, about a month before the season, I will start to get super-strict to get back to the weight I need to be.

What does ‘super strict’ mean?
Simple stuff. No sauces. Pure food as well. So if I’m eating an omelette then the eggs will be ecologic. A lot of fish. No heavy meats. I love pasta and there are hundreds of different kinds. I bake my own bread at home and love doing that. I’ve made versions with cereals, different grains and ingredients.

When you were fifteen and first came to the world championship did you really have to learn about this stuff or were you already eating well and benefiting from it?
When I started on the 125 I went to live alone. I think I was seventeen when that first happened, so you need to learn to cook for yourself pretty quickly. At that time I was not taking much care of my diet. Actually I don’t think that happened until I got to a good level of Moto2™ and into MotoGP™! I wasn’t being super-careful or asking questions about what I was eating and why and how much I was eating. [smiles] I remember back when I was riding 125s that I was eating a lot of frozen food. I would go to one shop in particular and fill the trolley! In my home the fridge was almost empty and the freezer was completely full! The microwave was used a lot! The food was not super-bad but it wasn’t great either.

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Pol Espargaró @Sebas Romero

Your brother [Aleix] owns a sushi restaurant. How was he with food and as a reference for you?
Aleix was always better than me. Right now we eat differently because we have different bodies and he loves cycling. He needs to be very light, so he eats a lot of vegetables. Aleix is very focussed on his diet and he gains weight quicker than I do. I have a bit more muscle than him. He’s always been careful. I think having a restaurant is a risky business but he loves the Sushi and he did me a big favour because he opened that place and the food is really good. That could finish soon for me though because in January I plan to be a vegetarian. I am already talking with nutritionists and diet specialists as well as trying things.

Why?
I’m kinda against how we are treating animals. I’m not eating so much meat now but I still think it will be tricky because I’m eating a lot of fish and lots of chicken. The hardest part will be sticking to it when we are flying around the globe and in airports and when you might not have vegetarian food to hand. But, a lot of things are difficult in this world, so I’m going to try at least.

Was there a moment when you were struggling for stamina or you were really curious about what you were eating and how it could give more energy?
Yes, and it was when I came to KTM. It was a new project and the bike was very physical to ride so I knew I needed to be as fit as possible. Every single detail with the body – eating, training, supplements – had to be really accurate. I couldn’t – and wouldn’t – give up anything in the races because of a physical reason. I trained so much in the beginning and now even more – much more than when I first came into MotoGP™. Every year I discover a little bit more and it’s actually quite fun to find that stuff out: you get motivated by it. The vegetarian plan is motivation and I like that.

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Pol Espargaró @Sebas Romero

You have the motorhome at the track but then you have the Energy Station. Do you always eat here?
I have breakfast in the motorhome and can have lunch here or there because it’s usually just white rice and chicken breast. I’m also here in the evenings because the food is unbelievable.

OK, so what’s the MotoGP™ race day eating routine…?
I don’t eat so much when I wake up because we are out on the bike just after 9:30 a.m. for warm-up. I’d have to get up much earlier than I do if I wanted to eat well. I choose to rest instead! Warm-up is not so long anyway. After that I’ll have a couple of pieces of bread with some oil and turkey – always the same! It’s not much fun. At midday I’ll have a small amount of rice and chicken. On Saturday, if we are doing a long FP4, then I’ll have a couple of supplements like energy gels or bars and also some caffeine.

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Pol Espargaró @Gold and Goose

What about hydration? That must be tricky in places like Thailand and Malaysia especially.
I normally drink a lot but on race day – right up until I get ready – I drink and drink water until I go to the toilet and it is like the water is just passing through! I do this even in cold conditions because I think is super-important to be hydrated, even mentally. Forty minutes before it is time to get ready then I stop drinking otherwise I would be running off the grid. You see riders walking off sometimes and I think it is connected with nerves and your body wanting to expulse that energy. So Sunday morning I’m in the toilet quite a lot! I sometimes use a CamelBak during the race for something extra.

What is your dietary weakness?
Oh! Desserts, and it feels like it gets harder to resist! Sometimes in the winter I do oven-cooked bananas with sugar on the top. Unbelievable. As a kid I didn’t like dessert – I know! – but recently Chocolate Coulant is amazing and Nutella is hard to resist: I can eat that now after a big strong effort training during the winter and when I need some sugar. I think I love it so much because I keep away from it as much as I can most of the time.

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Pol Espargaró @Sebas Romero

What’s a typical ‘reward’ dinner then?
Sundays after the race I don’t care! If the result is good then I can eat an amazing quantity! Most of the weekend I’m not eating much so Sunday can be crazy and I usually finish a big plate. On the other hand, if the results are not going well then I feel like my stomach is closed and I won’t want to eat much for a day or two. It’s strange how the body works.

Lastly: favourite Catalan dish?
Ah! ‘Pa amb tomaquet I embotit’ (toasted bread rubbed with fresh tomato and oil and a small piece of cured meat or ham). My parents were working when we were kids – me, my brother and sister – and if my Mum was stressed or tired at the end of the day then she’d just prepare this plate and I loved it. Bread with some ‘fuet’. It’s not so healthy, and I know if I’m going to be a vegetarian then it will be over with but I will make the effort to be veggie. The bread stays though: there is no way I could get rid of the bread!

Images : KTM, Sebas Romero, Gold and Goose


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A RACING LIFE: HOW KTM’S FEMALE EXCELLENCE HELPS MAKE THE DIFFERENCE IN MOTOGP™

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing is a team punching its weight in the ‘prize’ division of MotoGP™. It is a collective of almost fifty full-time people of different ages, nationalities, cultures and genders. The grand prix paddock is a strange environment: a mini society of diverse backgrounds, educations, beliefs. Most of all it is a home of expertise, knowledge and enthusiasm for sport, bikes and competition.

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Andrea Cantó @SebasRomero

In the technical side of the garage each person has a specific role to play in helping Pol Espargaro and Mika Kallio find the precious tenths of a second they need in the nineteen rounds of the FIM World Championship. (Even) in 2019, motorcycle racing – and perhaps international level motorsport on the whole – is a male dominated world but KTM are one of the very few elite level squads to subvert that trend and depend on the nuance and skills of at least three women to help make their MotoGP™ project tick. We decided to ask Data Strategy Engineer Jenny Anderson from Britain, Analyst Andrea Cantó and Team Coordinator Beatriz Garcia both from Spain about their jobs and how people – not just women – can hope to follow their path and work at the peak of motorcycling competition.

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Jenny Anderson @SebasRomero

OK, first of all tell us about the day-to-day work in Red Bull KTM Factory Racing …

Jenny Anderson: For me I guess there are two parts: there is the bit at home – which is preparation for the event and the analysis after the event – and then there’s the work around data at the track itself. Leading up to a GP I will look at data from previous days at a circuit and I’ll try and prepare a base. I am the link between the engine and the rider. If you gave the rider just a cable from his hand to the engine then it would be hard to handle because there is so much power in these bikes. So I tweak the torque levels corner-by-corner, the traction control, the wheelie control and the engine braking to make it easier for him to ride and for better performance. I do all of this as a base before we arrive to a GP and then I work with Pol during a session and he will say “I need more,” I need less” and we tune as we go along.

Andrea Cantó: I do the tire analysis for all four KTM riders. I talk to the Crew Chiefs and they tell me the plan they have for the tires for the day and then they supply me with the comments from the riders. We try to analyze the data to see if everything is in line and then make a plan for the next day and eventually for Sunday. The target is to figure out which tire will be the best for the race because some will have a very high performance in the beginning but then drop a lot faster, some have less performance but more consistency. It is about trying to find the one for each racetrack. I’ve worked for nine seasons in racing and was a long time inMoto2™; there it was simpler and we only had two specs of tire instead of three. I was a data engineer then so doing analysis in general and not only on tires.

Beatriz Garcia: I have responsibilities at the circuit and I am always working because I am ahead of everybody and also focussing on the next events. When I’m here in the paddock we travel Tuesday and set-up everything on Wednesday so everybody can work. Then I start with organization of the paddock passes for guests and sponsors. I’m booking all the flights and hotels and moving everybody from one place to another. Usually it is around 50 people and sometimes the WP guys and Moto3™ because I am the connection with the factory. Then things like hiring grid girls. It is more the human side of the racing team; anything away from the spares, parts and bikes I take care of.

Jenny: The electronics department is quite a broad range of people. Each rider will have a strategy person and then there is someone who is the overall manager and will be the link between us as well as giving help and advice with our job. We also have people working on the electronic hardware and doing the tools. The cause of any difficulty for the rider is not just electronics because they work with the chassis and also the suspension. But if there is a problem that can be fixed by electronics then they will be looking right at you.

Andrea: It was a big change for me moving from that Moto2™ role. At the beginning I wondered ‘do you really need one person to analyze tires?’ but I don’t get bored or have time to get bored! It’s worth having that person. It might not change the result but it makes the Crew Chief’s job easier. What I have learned this year is that you get a general perspective of what is happening on the four bikes but not really the specifics of any single one; it is a bit of a different picture.

Beatriz: The professionalism of a factory team compared to a Moto3™ team – where I worked before and you are always trying to stretch a euro to the maximum – is huge and I was scared in the beginning about how big the job would be. Also it was all-new. I set up my own system – like my colleagues – but it turned out to be very easy because everyone is so professional and experienced. It’s easy to work with these guys. Obviously there are still fires to put out, but people can focus on entirely on their jobs and if there is any other kind of problem then I will solve it.

 

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Beatriz Garcia @SebasRomero

So how did you reach the confines of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing?

Andrea: I wanted to work in MotoGP™. I wanted to be able to learn new stuff. I approached the team to ask if they needed anyone and they were full but I ended up being lucky because they had the budget for one more person.

Jenny: I joined the project in 2015, before we had a MotoGP™ bike, and from working in the factory full-time and the electronics department. I have seen the RC16 go from zero to where we are now. I had quite an open role. My manager said “here’s the ECU for the bike we are going to build in the next six months, get something ready so it can run”. So it was a bit of everything, working with the guys on the engine on the dyno, connecting sensors, making test harnesses: it was much more hands-on at that time. Then we started testing with Mika and I was the data engineer for the test team, I then did a year in that same job for Pol and now I’m the strategy engineer for Pol.

Beatriz: My first GP year was 2011 and my previous team used to buy the Moto3™ bikes from KTM so I had a lot of dealings with them and liked the way they worked. In 2016 I met Mike [Leitner, Team Manager] at the Catalan GP, and in September I had confirmation and started in October.

Andrea: The first three or four months I had a full overload of information. There were so many new things. You try to ‘push them in’ but there is no space! It slowly starts to sink in and I still don’t know half of the things that are possible with these bikes. The good thing about being here is that you can see and feel the development. Everybody is doing something that has almost started from zero. In another place I think you would just be handed an established platform with less room to grow.

 

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Andrea Cantó @SebasRomero

It must be tough for anybody to break into this world and work in this paddock…

Andrea: I went to college and then did the Monlau engineering school [famous institution in Spain]. I’m sorry to say but I think there is a big percentage of luck, especially when you don’t know anyone in the paddock. That was my case. What happened was that one week before an IRTA test somebody dropped out of a team and they could not find a replacement at that stage because everyone else with experience was taken. So they took the risk in giving a job to a newcomer. I think the teachers at Monlau recommended me and I got lucky. There are more and more motorcycling engineering course available now and post-graduate courses.

Jenny: I grew up in motor racing. My Dad built kit-cars and my older brother got into karting. He was like a god to me and everything he did I wanted to do. At ten I started karting and started doing data almost as a hobby; I never realized it could lead into a job like I have now. I went from having one sensor to measure the RPM on my kart to looking at the gears and analyzing speed on different corner exits. It evolved as I added more sensors and got more information. I volunteered and did work for other people with data. When I left college I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and ended up going to university quite late; I was 22 when I went to study motorsport engineering at Oxford Brookes University. I was working at a car racing team in F3 at the same time and the World Series by Renault. I worked with Kevin Magnussen in my first year actually. I then worked with them full time until this project came up with KTM.

Beatriz: Contacts are everything. You need them in this world. You can be very good but if nobody knows you then you won’t get the chance to start. My nationality helped because I was able to start in the Spanish championship, that has a good profile. For the MotoGP™ class it is even harder because you need experience and other people in the paddock will ask about you.

Andrea: In the end it is a high percentage of people coming back every year and rotating around the paddock. Even for me it was not easy to find a job in the MotoGP™ class. I knew others in Moto2™ because you have people with the same schedule. When other bikes are running you don’t pay attention and you miss the window to network. Talking about the job then I think you can learn different roles. If you have good knowledge then I think you can learn to do other stuff.

 

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Jenny Anderson @SebasRomero

What’s the sacrifice?

Beatriz: Everybody has their needs in this big group. I try to get to know everybody a little bit just to know preferences, interests, who has family and so on. It sounds stupid but the travelling is part of the job that is tiring and time-consuming. I cannot do much about a cancelled flight but I will try to do what I can to make sure people are happy getting to their job.

Andrea: I think it is a kind of lifestyle where if you cross a mark then you don’t know how to do anything else, or to have a normal 9-5. I wouldn’t like to cross that point but it is difficult to know! You get so used to it, and even when we have built the garage then your place to work is always the same. It is a strange lifestyle. For people that stop working here then I think it is because the travelling finally ‘got’ to them. For the moment I am OK. I don’t mind the travelling but I know if I want to have a family then it will be difficult and I think for most of the women that left the paddock then this was the reason. I think, in some ways, we can be very equal with gender in this world but there is not much we can do about physical differences!

Jenny: It’s not really a job: it’s a life choice. I’ve always spent a lot of weekends at a racetrack because it’s what I love to do. My friends don’t really understand what my job is and how many hours we work. People assume we turn up on a Friday, work a couple of 45 minute sessions and then we leave. Many don’t realize how much goes into it, and not just from us but also at the factory. People are working long hours all the time to achieve what we achieve. There is not a lot of downtime!

Beatriz: When I talk about my job then a lot of people don’t know much about bikes. They tend to think I am just travelling around and visiting all these places. Other people who know about racing think it is very exciting and they are quite surprised sometimes. Nobody really knows what it is like behind the scenes.

 

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@SebasRomero

What’s it like being part of this multi-national and eclectic race team?

Andrea: I think with this job you also get to appreciate that there are good and bad points about everybody and every nationality. The Spanish are supposed to be lazy, the Italians are supposed to be cocky, the Austrians are supposed to be super-scheduled and you kind of appreciate that there is a truth to these thoughts but also there isn’t at all I like working with people from everywhere.

Jenny: Often we spent sixteen hours a day for three days in a row with the same people. It’s important to be able to get-on. It is a hard job anyway but if we didn’t have this family atmosphere then it would be tougher. Away from the track we are a good group and we socialize a lot. There is a lot of camaraderie. It’s a big part of the job; when you get chosen then it is as much for how well you’ll fit into the team as for what or how much you know. You need positive and motivated people.

Beatriz: I love it actually. You get to know different cultures and you can see how different we all are. There are stereotypes…and generally they are true!

Andrea: My mum made me take English lessons from when I was eight! Normally the people here who know another languages then don’t have too much difficulty to pick up another one; it’s incredible actually. Franco Morbidelli can speak anything and Miguel [Oliveira] speaks Spanish, English, Italian and French: where does it all come from?! I’m super-jealous.

Beatriz: I never found any bad attitudes or reactions to me. I think you need to be quite open to fit into a team and people will respect you, especially if you can do a good job.

Jenny: From my experience in cars, drivers often bring the money for a single-seater one-make series spot and it gives them a lot of clout about whom they want to work with. They might not want to work with a woman or it’s because your face doesn’t fit or you are English, Spanish or French. Here or anywhere I don’t think gender really comes into it much any more or no more than any other sport. When I was karting I’d be the only girl in a paddock of two hundred people and I have seen – just in my lifetime – how many more women are now working in motorsport both as drivers or engineering and that can only be positive.

Images: Sebas Romero, KTM


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FOCUS ON AKRAPOVIČ: THE BRAINS BEHIND THE BRAWN

It’s no secret that synergy has helped KTM and Akrapovič grow from strength to strength across their over 20-year relationship working together to deliver the best products not just for KTM Factory Racing teams, but for every rider too. KTM Blog takes a closer look into the past, present and future of this solid partnership.

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@Sebas Romero

Some quick facts: 130 world titles, 76 achieved with KTM, 9 Red Dot awards for design accrued over 28 years of operation. Founded by an ex-racer who used his passion for motorsport to develop market leading hardware in terms of both quality and performance and a name synonymous with the best. This can only be one company: Akrapovič.

To see how the great achievements celebrated in the top tiers of motorcycle racing filter down to the products available to the grass roots racer, KTM Blog talks with some of the brains behind the brawn of Akrapovič, Head of Racing R&D, Alojz “Slavko” Trstenjak.

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Slavko Trstenjak @Akrapovič

Slavko has been working alongside Igor Akrapovič since the infancy of the market leading manufacturer, with his own responsibilities, experience and book of stories growing along with the company and its now 1200 plus strong team.

“I started working full-time for Akrapovič at the beginning of 1993, but I’d already been working with the company a few months before that. At the beginning I worked as a mechanic, as an engine builder, because at that time the company specialized in motorcycle tuning, and it was later that it specialized in exhaust systems. During the first years we were all multitasking, we were involved in several areas, which was necessary because there were very few of us at the company, less than ten. After that I focused on work with Igor Akrapovič on the dyno as a tester, looking for and defining new exhaust configurations. I did that for almost ten years. After that I took over leadership of the still relatively small R&D department – and in a few years it expanded to over 40 engineers in the department. Later I shifted to managing the Racing R&D department for developing racing exhausts for all kinds of motorcycles.”

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Joel Smets (2003) @KTM

During this time the Slovenian company has celebrated a staggering number of victories across a wide array of disciplines, when asked Slavko proudly recalled some of his personal highlights:

“An unforgettable milestone for sure was our first world champion using an Akrapovič exhaust – Colin Edwards on a Honda in the WorldSBK series. This title was won after almost ten years of hard development work and visiting countless WorldSBK races and the German championship. Before this, there was an important achievement a year earlier, when we partnered with all the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers in WorldSBK. All the Japanese factory teams and Aprilia relied on our know-how and our achievements. Personally, as a big offroad enthusiast, I was very satisfied when I was also able to help the company start developing exhausts for Offroad motorcycles, and we saw our first successes with these pretty quickly, including the first world champion title on motocross with KTM and Joël Smets, and we also celebrated success in the Dakar Rally with a two-cylinder KTM.”

The special relationship between KTM and Akrapovič ensures the highest levels of quality and a seamless fit.

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Thierry Van Den Bosch (2004) @KTM

“From the very beginning, cooperation between KTM and Akrapovič was based on exchanging information in the early phase of development while seeking the best solutions together. Over the years of cooperation, we had a big impact on the design trend of exhaust systems on production bikes manufactured by KTM, especially in the offroad segment. Our engineers are usually already involved in the early phase of designing the motorcycle itself and in preproduction bikes, where we usually prepare prototypes for KTM’s basic testing; these are essential for developing other components of the bike in the development phase. This work method especially applies to certain motorsport categories like MotoGP™, where developing the exhaust system takes place at the same time as developing the other components, and toward the end all the components are fused into a complete whole. These days all the parts can be developed in a 3D model, and then the 3D models are exchanged among the engineers. The work takes place simultaneously.”

There are some differences in the design process for production bikes compared to those intended for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing teams. This is mostly due to timing as new designs are developed in racing first, and then there are some other factors to consider. Slavko explained further for us:

“If we’re talking about bikes that are intended exclusively for racing, we usually develop their exhaust systems before our exhausts used for production motorcycles. When we’re talking about the general production bikes sold by KTM, the Racing R&D department doesn’t have anything to do with that; they’re developed separately, between KTM and Akrapovič’s R&D department. Here engineers already closely cooperate in the development phase and with the first prototypes, which determine the development guidelines based on the demands that define today’s development of exhaust systems, such as shapes and environmental requirements regarding emissions and noise restrictions.”

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Fabrizio Meoni (2004) @KTM

“For racing exhausts, I can confirm that the shape is developed exclusively in our Racing R&D department, and we provide the guidelines. For exhaust systems installed on production bikes like the Adventure segment and all others, as far as the shape is concerned, KTM designers are also involved. We follow the principle “form follows function” and we work so that the exhaust systems are made to be used, for which we have lots of feedback and invaluable experience from close cooperation with the factory racing teams that use our exhaust systems.”

Although Slavko is not overseeing the work carried out for production bikes, this does not mean that the hard work of his team does not greatly influence the design of the product.

“We absolutely use the knowledge and experience from the Racing department for production bikes. Looking at offroad bikes, it’s an advantage to the end-users that they receive an exhaust system that’s virtually identical to the one the KTM factory teams are racing with – for example, what Cairoli, Herlings, Prado, and others are using. Most times there are minimal changes because of certain components required by layout, but regarding performance, weight, and other characteristics we try to retain the characteristics as much as possible from the racing environment to the production exhaust. With the exhaust systems for enduro and extreme enduro, it’s a nearly identical system”

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Antonio Cairoli (2012) @KTM

Each racing environment demands different specifications in order to meet the needs of the rider, and ultimately win. Thanks to their broad team of engineers and scientists Akrapovič can control all factors of the design of the exhaust. Using an in-house metallurgical laboratory, they can even predetermine the titanium’s properties before being formed, ensuring the perfect finish. Slavko went on to explain some of the differences that can be seen between disciplines:

“The finish itself involves an added value that’s been present since the very beginnings of the Akrapovič company. With a lot of exhaust systems, we further increased their durability through the use of custom materials; for example, Rally is the only motorcycle series in which we use special 1.2 mm thick titanium, and not tubes with the usual 0.9 mm thickness. We know that Rally is a very long race where the exhaust has to survive the entire race for amateur racers – an unforgiving two-week torture test. This is why the choice of material and optimizing it is really important. In MotoGP™, for example, there’s a big emphasis on weight, but this isn’t the main reason we use 0.65 mm thick tubes. At the same time, we have to make sure that the material can withstand the high temperatures, stresses, and pressures that are created in the exhaust system, and so we dedicate great attention to the choice of material and constant checks. All of this already takes place in the very selection of the material supplier.”

“The Akrapovič brand is known for its race-proven products; it was born in races that we know demand performance, light weight, great sound, drivability, throttle response, and other characteristics. For a product to achieve this, you have to give it your all and pay attention to every detail, to every gram, to every mounting element.”

Brad Binder (2016) @FocusPollution

If you stop to ask any motorcyclist about what makes Akrapovič stand out, then quality and this precise attention to detail will come up. The vast majority will answer with the distinctive sound.

“Considering all the different categories of motorsport that exist today, it’s clear that we can’t ensure the characteristic Akrapovič sound for each and every one of them – but it’s true that we strive to make that sound a pleasure sound as much as possible. It’s impossible to compare the sounds of so many different championships – say, from enduro to MotoGP™. Oftentimes the configuration determines the sound produced by these instruments, but we make great efforts to tune them well, so they produce the very best sound for both the rider and the environment.”

After creating various designs, simulating models and manufacturing prototypes comes the real testing. Even in an age of advanced computer technologies and accurate simulations, Akrapovič follow an intense program of both dyno runs and real-world testing as ultimately the success of the product on track is directly related to riders’ preferences.

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Pol Espargaro (2018) @Sebas Romero

“In the offroad segment we make use of testing on the motocross track near the company, and we also carry out a lot of testing on it with racers and teams. We also take part in factory team tests held at various locations, usually in Italy and Belgium, where they’re held in the winter. There we make the “final touch” and choose the configuration. The dyno is only a tool for making measurements and obtaining results, but the dyno itself doesn’t decide which configuration is the best. Here, as developers and engineers, we have to make a preselection, and we leave the final choice to the racing riders. Our philosophy is that the end user has to be satisfied. If the rider isn’t satisfied with the character of the power, with the responsiveness of the engine, then – regardless of the results that can be measured on the dyno – we haven’t achieved our goal. Conceptually, the development of an exhaust system begins on the drawing board or at the computer and with creating a prototype. This is followed by comparative testing on the dyno, and after that even more testing. These tests are often carried out by our test riders, and after them the factory racers do the final testing. In this way we can evaluate our feedback on the configurations, see if we’re working in the right direction, and whether the feedback result is relevant or not.”

“Each exhaust is unique, a development story in itself; we don’t have universal exhaust systems. Each exhaust is made for a very specific kind of motorcycle, developed to optimize its power, reduce its weight, and satisfy any type-approval requirements that apply to that kind of system.”

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Nathan Watson (2019) @Future7Media

And there’s no resting on their laurels either! Constant development and product evolution go on year on year, with new products released as they maintain their position as the world’s premier exhaust manufacturer. This can be seen in the release of an all new look for the KTM ENDURO MY20 range.

“A new shape is a new beginning for the EXC family era. We’ve been working on the most stress-laden parts of the exhaust system, weak points, and research directions to improve the current exhaust and optimize it. This is why we moved to the “relief profile” of the exterior sleeve, which ensures greater durability, better scratch resistance, and more resilience to the impacts and damage that can be expected in enduro use every day. The development goal is to preserve the maximum volume in a limited space along with ensuring the lowest sound level friendly to the environment.”

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@Akrapovič

To round things up we asked Slavko to summarize what he thinks is the number one benefit of an Akrapovič exhaust is to a KTM rider, regardless of their level of riding:

“The biggest benefit to end customers is that when they use our exhaust systems, they really get identical materials and solutions, and often also the identical exhaust system configuration that we create for factory bikes. End users buy what we produce for world champions, regardless of whether they’re racers or recreational riders. The end user gets a product that’s the result of working together with factory teams. This is really important to me.”

Images: KTM, Akrapovič


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SAM SUNDERLAND INTERVIEW – TALKING RALLYING WITH THE NEWLY CROWNED WORLD CHAMPION

After more than 1,685 kilometres of riding, 1,346 kilometres of timed special stages, Sam Sunderland brought his KTM 450 RALLY home as runner-up at the recent Atacama Rally. More importantly, the British rider had earned himself enough points to claim the 2019 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship – his first ever world title.

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@RallyZone

With victories at rounds one and two of this year’s championship, Sam Sunderland was very much the man on form and favourite for the title. Going into the third round – the Atacama Rally in Chile – the 2017 Dakar Rally Champion had no plans to claim the title. The goal, as often is in the challenging world of rallying, was to get through the event safely and collect as many points as possible.

“To be honest,” admits Sunderland, “I didn’t realise I could even win the world championship early. Not until the day before the final stage at Atacama. We were talking about the race and I made a joke to Jordi that if Pablo stopped, would I win the championship. Jordi then told me, the only thing I had to do to win was beat Kevin (Benavides) and the title was mine. That night it was all going around and around in my head – don’t make any mistakes, stay calm, just do what you’ve been doing. Rally is so mentally challenging with the long hours and the navigation – I think the team just didn’t tell me in case it upset my rhythm or affected my focus on that last stage. Luckily everything went well and the boys were there at the finish to celebrate.”

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@RallyZone

Although Sam had topped the podium at the first two rounds, it was by no means an easy task. Both the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and the Silk Way Rally were seriously tough events. The Silk Way opened registrations to motorcycles for the first time ever in 2019 and with the event covering over 5,000 kilometres through Russia, Mongolia and China, the epic event tested riders, their bikes and their teams to the maximum.

“Everyone went in to that event as rookies as it’s never been open to motorcycles before. It was a big learning experience. It’s true that the likes of Toby, Matthias and Pablo weren’t riding at the beginning of the season, but that just makes everyone else step up their game. HRC always field a strong team and were a real threat all season. No matter the competition, you still have to successfully complete each event too, and just finishing the Silk Way is an accomplishment in itself.”

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@RallyZone

Fast forward to the Atacama Rally and Sam, once again, was riding the perfect event – consistent, yet fast stage times and making the minimum of mistakes on the fast, tricky-to-navigate timed specials. With the event’s marathon stage incorporating the two longest days of the rally, it was always going to be a challenge to get through the 800 kilometres without issue. For Sam, that issue came in the form of a bent rear disc. Facing a long stage four, the team decided to swap out the damaged item with one from a fellow teammates’ bike.

“Changing the rear disc was more like a precaution – I had ridden most of that stage with the disc bent so it wasn’t too bad, I could just sense a bit of movement there. The danger is, if that small bend in the disc causes the brake to heat up, or the pads to wear out, I could be without a brake for the next stage, and it was the longest stage of the event. There is always a risk in changing something like that too – on the marathon stage you’re not allowed to receive any assistance from the team so everything has to be done by the riders.

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@RallyZone

Normally I would have taken Matthias’ disc as he was lower down the order, but he had bent his disc too and it was possibly as bad as mine.  Toby and I are really good friends and he just stepped up and said ‘sure, just use mine – no problems,’ he didn’t even question it, I guess it’s just what we do for each other in the team. For sure, I’d do the same for him, but what you have to remember is, he then had to ride the whole of the next stage with a rear brake that wasn’t 100 percent – it’s a real big ask, so I have to say thanks to him for what he did. As it happens, we finished one-two on that stage with Toby getting the stage win, so it worked out really well in the end.”

The marathon stage was not completely without additional drama. Overnight, riders stay in a temporary bivouac, often in less comfortable conditions than they are used to. The Atacama was no exception and a few of the riders found it tough to get to sleep.

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@RallyZone

“There was one funny story from the marathon stage,” laughs Sunderland, “there was a bit of an issue that night. The car guys were having a bit of a laugh and didn’t want to sleep and I think one of the bike riders had had enough – there was a bit of an argument, but it resolved itself ok and we all got some rest before the next day. The best thing about the marathon stages in rally is, it brings all the riders together, everyone is in the same situation with no comforts, no mechanics and quite often in the middle of nowhere. The Atacama was bad for me as when I got to the Bivouac, I went to get my phone out of my pocket and it had turned itself into a flip-phone – it was bent in two and the screen was all smashed – not what you need after a stage like that. The atmosphere is good though and it’s nice to spend time with the non-factory guys. They put a lot of hard work and time into racing the events and it’s good to hang out with them and relax.”

On the final day in Chile, maintaining his impressive pace to the chequered flag, Sam did exactly what was needed to win the championship, with one round to spare. The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team were waiting for him armed with the traditional celebratory banners and t-shirts.

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@RallyZone

“It’s super-nice that they do it and it was a nice surprise when I crossed the finish line in Chile. To celebrate like that with the whole team is a really special feeling. I know the team have prepared t-shirts for me twice before and unfortunately they’ve had to stay in the bag when I twice finished runner-up in the championship.”

Now with the championship decided, Sam can relax going into the final round – the Rally du Maroc – in Morocco in early October. With the focus already on Dakar Rally preparation, the Brit has the advantage that he can use the event to work on bike set up under full race conditions – a luxury not often possible when chasing a title.

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@RallyZone

“Now the pressure is off, it will be nice to have a good safe run in Morocco without having to take any unnecessary risks. The best thing is, we’re able to test things and change a lot of settings mid-race. You’re not able to do that so much in a championship fight as you don’t want to change the way the bike feels or try something extreme that might not work at all. With no pressure, we can try new things as the rally goes on and to have that opportunity to test under full race conditions is a real advantage. Overall, I’m really happy with how the bike is feeling at the moment anyway, we made some big changes to the bike before Silk Way and then after that there were just the tweaks I wanted to try on the run up to the Atacama. I’m a racer though, racers always want to win, so when we get to Morocco, I’m still going to be taking things seriously, it’ll just be nice not to have to fight quite so hard.”

After Christmas and New Year, it’ll be straight into the Dakar Rally and of course, its first year in Saudi Arabia. A Dubai resident for 10 years, Sam is looking forward to taking on the new challenge of the race in the Middle East.

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@RallyZone

“For me, I was quite happy when I found out the Dakar would be held in Saudi. I have a good idea of the sort of terrain we’ll encounter and how the general mentality is and how the people are. All these things come together to help you feel more relaxed and comfortable when facing a race like the Dakar. One of the best things about a whole new race over new ground is that it’s a clean slate for everyone. Over recent years when we’ve been in South America, there’s always one local guy that goes fast – in Peru there’s a Peruvian guy that has some information on the stages, in Argentina there’s one Argentinian rider who is super-fast. With the Dakar moving to Saudi Arabia, it should be a fair race for all.”

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@RallyZone

The goal for Dakar 2020 will be as always – to get through the event safely and secure a strong result. However, with Toby winning in 2016, Sam in 2017, Matthias claiming victory in 2018 and then Toby winning again this year, surely it must be Sam’s turn once again to pick up that iconic Dakar trophy?

“That sounds pretty good! Of course, it’s the goal and once you have won once you want to get more – nothing else compares. When you win, you raise the bar to that level. When you come second people just say, ‘better luck next time’. For yourself, you know just how hard you tried and how close you came, but from the outside, second place is second place – it’s never enough. That’s racing I suppose, I want to win again and to put it simply, that’s what all the work is for.”


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LONG LIVE THE DUKE! CELEBRATING 25 YEARS OF KTM DUKE HISTORY – Part 2

A quarter of a century ago, KTM took the public by surprise by launching the KTM 620 DUKE. At the time, the Austrian manufacturer was known for its off-road motorcycles, so no one was expecting the release of a radical street bike. Today, all KTM Naked Bikes bear the name DUKE, from the KTM 125 DUKE right through to the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R…

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KTM 990 SUPER DUKE @KTM

Back in 1992, before the original DUKE series was launched, some KTM technicians had been experimenting with a road bike, featuring two LC4 engines in a special housing, each with a capacity of 553 cc. But the machine with the tubular trellis frame was no more than a thought experiment, a vision. At the time, few thought it would become a reality as the company had only just relaunched following insolvency a few months prior.

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KTM 950 DUKE Prototype @KTM

Then, at INTERMOT 2000 in Munich, KTM unveiled a brand-new two-cylinder project that was to be ready for series production three years later in the form of the KTM 950 ADVENTURE. Of course, similarly to the DUKE with the LC4 in its time, there were also thoughts of producing a road model featuring the ultra-modern LC8 V2 engine. In 2003, KTM’s 50th anniversary year, a prototype of a street bike with a two-cylinder motor was also released, known at the time as the KTM 950 DUKE, was launched alongside the KTM 950 ADVENTURE. Since those working on the project were able to use the components from the KTM 950 ADVENTURE for the 950 DUKE’s engine, the conditions for producing KTM’s first two-cylinder road bike were excellent. In fact, it not only made perfect sense for the KTM 950 DUKE to be shown as a prototype at exhibitions, but also to develop it for series production.

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KTM 990 SUPER DUKE @KTM

Then in 2004, once again at INTERMOT in Munich, the result, now called the KTM 990 SUPER DUKE, was on display for all to admire—a lighter and more maneuverable machine than anything that had come before it in the large-capacity Naked Bike segment. More than anything, the KTM 990 SUPER DUKE stood out from the competitors’ products thanks to its unique design and Kiska’s unmistakable angular lettering. The KTM 990 SUPER DUKE was powered by the V2 engine, which had been increased to a capacity of 999 cc and could achieve 120 hp. The SUPER DUKE R, a particularly sporty street fighter with 132 hp at its disposal, followed in 2007. The bike could easily be distinguished from the basic version at a glance thanks to the “R” that stood out against the orange painted frame.

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KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R @KISKA

The KTM 990 SUPER DUKE’s successor, the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R, was available from 2014 and promised endless power. The constructors were able to draw on unlimited resources for the chassis. In the tubular trellis frame, a single-sided swing arm guided the rear wheel with wide 190 tires, while the lean-angle-sensitive traction control (MTC—motorcycle traction control) and the Bosch two-channel ABS were included as standard from the start. “THE BEAST”, the world’s most powerful naked bike, is still as raw, brutal and extreme as it’s always been.

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KTM 390 DUKE @KISKA

At the other end of the KTM portfolio are the entry-level bikes from 125 to 390 cc, which are built at Bajaj Auto Ltd. in India. Twelve years ago, KTM and Bajaj entered into an extensive partnership with the objective of developing powerful liquid-cooled four-stroke engines, which KTM wanted to use as a basis for street motorcycles in the then-unconquered Street entry-level segment. This served to round off the existing range below the KTM 690 DUKE.

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KTM 125 DUKE @KISKA

From 2011, the DUKE was available with 125 cc, 200 cc, and 390 cc; in 2017, the little DUKE was completely redesigned and is now hard to tell apart from larger bikes. The medium-sized KTM 200 DUKE now has 250 cc; the capacity for the 125 and 390 cc versions remained the same.

Even the KTM 125 DUKE has LED headlights in the unmistakable BEAST style, a color TFT display and a tubular trellis frame included as standard alongside high-tech Brembo brake technology with ABS; this is complemented by high-quality accessories in the KTM PowerParts range, such as an Akrapovič slip-on silencer, Wave brake discs, and various luggage systems.

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KTM 790 DUKE @KISKA

The latest member of the DUKE family is the KTM 790 DUKE, introduced in 2018, which really made waves when the prototype was unveiled at the EICMA motorcycle show in 2016. The KTM 790 DUKE is also known as “THE SCALPEL” owing to its precise handling. The high-tech two-cylinder series engine with 75° crankpin offset makes for a mesmerizing sound. Here, too, nothing is left to be desired, with cornering ABS, switchable traction control, slipper clutch, and quickshifter all included as standard. Twenty-five years after the DUKE—long since a cult bike—made its debut, KTM now has a DUKE in its range to suit all tastes. This starts from the entry-level 125 DUKE, which can be ridden by 16-year-olds, through to the “BEAST”, the super-powerful KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R. There truly is something for everyone.

Long Live the DUKE!

Discover the latest KTM Naked bike range here: https://www.ktm.com/en/naked-bike/

Photos: KTM, Kiska

LONG LIVE THE DUKE! CELEBRATING 25 YEARS OF KTM DUKE HISTORY – PART 1


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THE NEXT CHAPTER IN KTM´S E-MOBILITY STORY: INTRODUCING THE KTM SX-E 5

Posted in Bikes, Riding

KTM announced the launch of its latest model, the KTM SX-E 5 – an electrically powered junior model that’s innovative in design, READY TO RACE in performance and adaptable for the growing rider. The next step in e-mobility, the KTM SX-E 5 may be a great solution for encouraging new families to the sport, whilst offering another option for those who already love, ride and race dirtbikes.

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@KISKA

As e-technology evolves, the next generation of riders are certainly likely to become more accustomed to e-powered vehicles in a world that becomes more and more familiar in using this technology. The KTM SX-E 5 not only represents KTM’s next step in e-powered motorcycles, it’s a premium junior product that grows with the rider both when it comes to ability and their size. In fact, one of the major features is that the bike can last a junior approximately five years as the seat h can be adjusted. It requires very little maintenance, just a bit of chain oiling. It makes hardly any noise. It’s easy to operate and it has a bunch of modes for the ability of the rider. Plus, KTM also offers an additional lowering kit so even the smallest riders can start with the bike early on. Pretty cool, eh?

The masterminds behind the development of this project both have children that tested the bike and have been part of the process as the bike evolved. We know that some are skeptical about this kind of technology (without the sound of a motorcycle we’re all accustomed to and love), but when it comes to getting a child on such an adaptable bike from an early age, what’s not to like. Manfred Edlinger from KTM Research and Development, who is responsible for the motocross platform for all KTM SX models, explains: “The bike is so good as it is usable for all skills of all riders.”

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@KISKA

“In my family my daughters were younger than five and with the KTM PowerParts lowering kit they could ride on the kids track right away after a few loops on the grass. Riding like that for the very first time on a motorcycle would absolutely not be possible with a combustion bike that has similar capabilities to a KTM 50 SX. To ride on a track the very first time on the bike is a big benefit. The KTM electric bike is a really complete package – my son that’s almost eight can finish on the podium at a local race, but also the same bike is usable for a four-year-old the very first-time riding,” said Edlinger.

“This bike is so safe – it’s not only a READY TO RACE bike, but it’s also easy to operate. The kids can be quite independent with it, yet with the combustion bike it’s difficult for them to even get it started. If they are able to put on the boots and helmet alone, then they can also pretty much ride on their own. The bike doesn’t get hot, and it’s safer to let the children ride. It’s a completely new type of bike – high performance on the one hand, but also it’s a fun bike for improving skills at more locations. It’s a new era of youth riding.”

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@KISKA

Development for this model has been similar to that of the full-size KTM SX models as raced by some of the best motocross athletes in the world. With comparable lap times to a KTM 50 SX as tested by a national level racer, it provides maximum performance with minimal noise – yet with a lot of other benefits.

“I learned a lot about the advantages of the electric bike just by actually using it, and I have a lot of examples of things that make the bike easier – you can put it in the van without fixings as it can be laid down, when you wash the bike you can see there’s not so much oil around making it easier to clean there’s absolutely no maintenance – just some chain oil and that’s it. Even the tires last a lot longer due to the power delivery. All of this experience aside of the technical features I was able to explore a lot,” said Edlinger.

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@KISKA

“We did a lot of work on the electric test benches and we had to build benches for this kind of engine and battery. We did a lot of CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) calculations along with heat resistance and heat dissipation testing – the ribs on the battery are not just a matter of design, or just by trial and error, this was really developed with modern CFD calculations. We worked on all of the hardware of the chassis completely, using the same development tools as on the big bikes with hydro pulse test benches for the frame and the swingarm. The swingarm is a highlight as it’s a cast aluminum swingarm replacing the steel welded ‘old school’ version we’ve used previously,” concluded Edlinger.

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@KISKA

Edlinger’s department worked closely with the dedicated E-mobility team in KTM R&D, which is headed by KTM Head of Electrics/Electronics Arno Ebner. Responsible for developing the motor and incredibly adaptable electronics for the KTM SX-E 5, Ebner has years of experience in e-technology. With the KTM SX-E 5 it was really important to provide the highest safety standard, something that Ebner was passionate about achieving, as well as a bike with controllable power that fits the READY TO RACE mantra.

“The lowest mode is really smooth, with a low-end speed, and it’s even possible for parents to walk or run behind the bike. This is a big advantage over the combustion engine – the controllability of the throttle is really good compared with a combustion bike. One of the reasons that it’s easy to ride is due to a really fast response of the torque at the rear wheel. We see from national level junior rider that the lap times are similar to a 50cc combustion engine, or in some conditions they are even faster. You have this really direct and good controllable power, along with all of the advantages of an e-bike,” said Ebner.

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@KISKA

“We tried to find the best balance in terms of safety and in terms of performance. Performance means good energy density to offer a lot of range in a small volume yet with a low weight. This is always a big issue because battery technology in general is really on a limit – we are using lithium-ion battery technology, and we have seen a steady development for improvements in this area over the last few years. I believe with the KTM SX-E 5 we really found a good solution,” continued the electrics expert.

Hours and hours of testing, abuse testing, riding testing and so on have been done with these bikes, which have a lot of premium components including the frame, subframe, WP XACT 35 suspension and WP XACT shock absorber – it’s a special new technological revolution that can be enjoyed by such a wide range of riders.

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@KISKA

With that in mind, it also means KTM continues its commitment to encouraging new riders to the sport, whilst keeping the READY TO RACE DNA right at the heart of every model produced. Perhaps the KTM SX-E 5 will encourage new families into the wonderful world of biking, whilst creating something special and different for already orange bleeders.

Photos: KISKA


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VIDEO: 2019 EUROPEAN KTM ADVENTURE RALLY COMPLETE HIGHLIGHTS

Taking place earlier this summer in Bjelašnica, the 2019 European KTM ADVENTURE RALLY allowed 150 KTM riders from 24 different countries to live the experience of a lifetime riding through the Bosnian wilderness. Revisiting the four-day-event, KTM Blog shares the full 22-minute highlights from this big adventure in the mountains of Southeastern Europe.

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@ F. Montero/KTM

Held in the unexplored trails of Bosnia, the 2019 European KTM ADVENTURE RALLY was a READY TO RACE community event that included breath-taking rides led by some of the world’s best offroad racers. Participants had the opportunity to test the latest KTM ADVENTURE range while also getting the first ever look at an exciting future KTM motorcycle. Some of them even tried their skills at the 2020 ULTIMATE RACE qualifiers…

After two successful editions on Italian territory, playing host in 2019 was Bosnia and Herzegovina; the small but breath-taking country provided a backdrop of beautiful mountains, deep canyons, high plains, ice cold mountain lakes and crystal-clear rivers for the 150 riders, some coming from as far as Australia or Colombia.

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@ F. Montero/KTM

After the first official day of riding, the 150 orange bleeders were exclusively presented the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY during a brief presentation. International racer and KTM ADVENTURE ambassador, Chris Birch, took the covers off the limited edition 2020 model. Along with the chance to test the latest KTM ADVENTURE range and ride with racing legends and KTM Factory Racing riders, the event also hosted a qualification round for the upcoming ULTIMATE RACE.

Participation for the qualifiers is available for twin-cylinder KTM riders who take part in any of the six KTM ADVENTURE RALLIES held during 2019 and at the start of 2020. At each RALLY, special qualification events test the riders to show if they have the excellent machine control, navigational skill and competent mechanical ability required to line up on a rally-prepared KTM 790 ADVENTURE R in Morocco. Only the top two riders from each event are chosen and from Bosnia it was #41 Iker Iturregi from Spain and #120 Andrej Crnkovic from Slovenia who secured their places for the opportunity of a lifetime in the African dunes next year.

Enjoy the complete 2019 European KTM ADVENTURE RALLY HIGHLIGHTS here:

Check out all the latest information on the KTM ADVENTURE RALLY here: ktm-adventure-rally.com

Images: F. Montero/KTM



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LONG LIVE THE DUKE! CELEBRATING 25 YEARS OF KTM DUKE HISTORY – PART 1

Celebrating 25 years from the release of the very first KTM 620 DUKE back in 1994, we take a closer look at the impressive history of KTM’s iconic single-cylinder machine through the last quarter of a century.

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KTM 620 DUKE MY1994 @ KTM

With KTM starting its journey as a motorcycle manufacturer in 1953, visitors at the KTM Motohall will find three milestones in the brand’s 66-year-long history on display in Mattighofen. Alongside the R 100 [1953] and the Penton Six Day 125 [1968] – which kickstarted KTM’s rise into becoming the world’s leader for off-road bikes – visitors at the KTM Motohall can admire the model year 1994 KTM 620 DUKE, KTM’s first road bike with a 4-stroke engine.

After the former KTM Motor-Fahrzeugbau AG became insolvent, KTM Sportmotorcycle GmbH was launched in January 1992. The new company was keen to learn from the mistakes of the past when, at times, over 40 different types of machine had been in production at the same time, from bicycles to numerous different mopeds right through to off-road bikes. With this in mind, KTM focused in particular on the ultra-modern LC4 engine, a liquid-cooled single-cylinder 4-stroke engine, making it the envy of its Japanese competitors. The concept was simple: stick to just the essentials and build a high-performance and high-quality machine around the potent single-cylinder engine that was already winning in top level enduro competition.

Even the E-starter was left out to begin with. Of course, it was clear that KTM would not be able to survive in the long term with just the Hard Enduro and a small range of 2-stroke Enduros and e-start bikes, so the developers soon started thinking about a road bike, also powered by the LC4 engine. At the time, supermotard replicas were vastly popular: these were easy-to-handle motorcycles based on Enduros, but with 17-inch road wheels—the term “supermoto” was still unknown at this point. Riding these fun bikes along windy lanes could drive the riders of significantly larger motorcycles to distraction. A bike like this—practically a go kart on two wheels—was a logical choice as there was already a suitable vehicle to base it on in the KTM 620 ENDURO.

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Terminator prototype @ KTM

KTM designer Gerald Kiska’s initial design still bore the now-long-forgotten project name “Terminator”. Nonetheless, it was nearly impossible to tell that this bike was based on the Hard Enduro. A striking front fairing with ellipsoid double headlights combined with an orange-metallic paint job gave the DUKE its unique appearance. With 50 hp, the KTM 620 DUKE was the most powerful single-cylinder on the market at the time.

There is also a nice story behind the name. Two weeks before the presentation, the exhibition bike still needed a distinctive name. Project Manager Wolfgang Felber recalls that he was on his way to the executive floor with a list of different suggestions when he ran into Kalman Cseh, who was responsible for these matters, on the stairs. Cseh liked the suggestion “Duke” right away; not so much due to its reference to legendary racer, Geoff Duke—who was almost unstoppable in the 1950s on his Norton single-cylinder bikes—but more for its royal connotations. Ultimately, the stickers designed by the graphic designers did include the English multiple world championship winner’s nickname, “The Duke”, so he was indeed honored after all.

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KTM 620 DUKE MY1995 @ KTM

The DUKE—today often called DUKE I to distinguish it from later models—was only available each year in a limited run and in a certain color: orange in 1994, black in 1995, yellow in 1996, black again in 1997 and the “last edition” in 1998, which already had the larger 640-cc engine, was orange once again. So, exclusivity was also included in the price.

After this, between 1999 and 2006, the KTM 640 DUKE II was built, still considered by many to be another two-wheeled piece of art. Gerald Kiska had perfected the edge design familiar from the automotive sector for motorcycles and since then all KTM motorcycles have borne Kiska’s angular lettering. And long before anyone in the automotive industry had thought of LED headlights, the KTM 640 DUKE II was the only motorcycle recognizable as a KTM just from a glance in the mirror. This was due to its two ellipsoid headlights, one on top of the other, a unique styling element in the motorcycle sector.

For many years after the “original DUKE”, there weren’t even any KTM bikes with two headlights, let alone with two of them positioned one on top of the other. With slender cast aluminum wheels and two silencers directly underneath the seat, it was no longer possible to tell that this bike was based on an Enduro. As with the first DUKE before, the DUKE II was available in a different color each year. Titanium, orpheus black, arctic white, chili red and lime green were just a few of the options. The DUKE II also remained rather exclusive, not least due to its elevated price.

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KTM 690 DUKE MY2008 @ KTM

The highlight at the 2006 INTERMOT 2006 motorcycle show was the polarizing KTM 690 SUPERMOTO, which was to be the forerunner to a whole range of sporty KTM single-cylinders. The completely redesigned single-cylinder with electronic fuel injection reached 63 hp, meaning KTM could still boast the ‘blue ribbon’ of the most powerful single-cylinders among its portfolio.

The third generation of the DUKE, which followed in 2008, was different to its two predecessor models in that it bore no similarity to an Enduro, either visually or technically, but had been designed from scratch as a road bike. Highlights included the steel tube frame, a cast swingarm and above all the short silencer underneath the engine, as previously featured on the KTM RC8 superbike. In 2010, the KTM 690 DUKE R followed, upgraded with a host of KTM PowerParts and easily recognizable thanks to its orange frame, a feature of all KTM R models.

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KTM 690 DUKE MY2010 @ KTM

A successor to the KTM 690 DUKE III then came in 2012, with space for a passenger and long-distance capability. The engine now had a full 690-cc capacity, so the DUKE retained its status as the most powerful single-cylinder engine available. The KTM 690 DUKE R was considerably more sporty in terms of its look, tuning, and seat position.

The current version of the KTM 690 DUKE has been around since 2016. With an advanced electronic engine management system and a second balancer shaft, the 690 LC4 engine offers a level of sophistication previously unseen in a single-cylinder engine, while delivering an impressive 73 hp.

What began 25 years ago with a now legendary cult classic continues today with the KTM 690 DUKE, with its modern styling and state-of-the-art technology. All this means that the DUKE has remained the most powerful series-production single-cylinder motorcycle for a quarter of a century.

Long Live the DUKE!

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KTM 690 DUKE MY2018 @ KTM

The very first KTM 620 DUKE and some of the most iconic DUKE models ever produced can be viewed at the KTM Motohall.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our special feature celebrating 25 years of KTM DUKE history.

1993 KTM 620 DUKE prototype @ KTM

Images: KTM, Kiska


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THE ART OF BRAKING IN MOTOGP™ AND HOW TO MASTER IT

Getting to the finish line first is what MotoGP™ is all about, but to make that happen, you need to be able to scrub off speed efficiently. We take a closer look at how braking force supplier extraordinaire Brembo successfully control the negative acceleration forces for all four Red Bull KTM Factory Racing MotoGP™ riders.

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@ Sebas Romero/KTM

A braking system has to be as powerful as any engine; without it, riders would be better off in a drag race. Obviously, electronics play a big part in controlling power, but when push comes to shove something has to slow the massive horsepower the KTM RC16 unleashes. Partly, it’s down to the electronically controlled engine braking, but that leaves a lot more slowing the bike down to be desired. That’s where brakes come into play.

Every single team in MotoGP™ – with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and Red Bull KTM Tech3 being no exception – employs the services of Italian manufacturer Brembo S.p.A, who have been honing GP braking tech since the early 1980s. It’s an interesting yet naturally occurring monopoly. Unlike in the tires department, there’s no control brand when it comes to brakes in MotoGP™. Going with Brembo S.p.A is a choice made by the lot of them for the past three seasons.

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Andrea Pellegrini @ Guus van Goethem

“Of course, that is a major compliment to the company,” explains Brembo’s chief engineer in MotoGP™ Andrea Pellegrini. “We’re very proud to have our products on every bike on the grid, but quite frankly we would really welcome the competition.” Andrea’s job is to keep each of the riders happy, but that’s no simple job. Or at least, that’s what his subtle smirk gives away. “All riders are always on the lookout for something more, something better. Not just in terms of horsepower, but in braking as well.”

In order to cater to the riders’ needs, Brembo has quite the team ready to serve KTM and other manufacturers. At Brembo’s motorsport division in their hometown of Bergamo, 300 people are constantly developing newer and better parts, with MotoGP™ and Formula 1 taking up the largest part of their day to day work.

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@ KTM

Endless possibilities
Bergamo is located just northeast of Milan, where engineers work on different sorts of MotoGP™ braking parts. In order to give Pol Espargaró, Johann Zarco, Miguel Oliveira, and Hafizh Syahrin the best possible means to slow their racing machines down, Brembo brings a massive array of parts to the track.

Four vital parts on the bikes bear the Brembo logo: master cylinders, brake calipers, brake pads and brake discs. In each of those four areas, riders are offered several options. Brake discs, for instance, come in two sizes; 320 and 340 mm. Apart from the difference in diameter, specific situations also require specific brake disc materials. The golden standard carbon-carbon composite comes in two variations, mostly different in terms of initial bite and brake ‘feel’.

On top of that, Brembo also offers high-mass discs. Though they add extra speed scrubbing capability, they are a bit heavier than ‘regular’ brake discs. And then there’s the steel disc, used only in wet weather conditions. “We’ve been seeing a slight change in that riders are choosing the carbon-carbon discs in the rain now,” Pellegrini says. “The mechanics do mount a cover around the discs to stop the rain from cooling the discs to below their optimal operating temperature.”

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@ Sebas Romero/KTM

In terms of master cylinders, calipers, pads and pad compounds, the variety of choice makes for endless possibilities. Pellegrini: “There’s nothing weird about the amount of variation we see among riders. Brakes are a very important piece of the puzzle that makes up a competitive race machine. Which parts are picked differs from one rider to the next. It’s all down to them; what suits them and their style of riding and braking. It’s down to the team to come up with a stable configuration for their rider to be able to trust his brakes. Swapping over and interchanging parts often doesn’t help the rider. They need a constant ‘brake feel’ in order to be fast.”

According to Pellegrini, KTM RC16 mounted riders tend to stick to similar setups. “Both at the factory outfit as well as with Tech3; differences are minimal. They all seem to walk the same path in terms of brakes.” Brembo’s chief engineer knows just how well the KTM RC16 is on the brakes, though margins are minute. The rider’s riding style determines a lot in braking. “Contemporary GP bikes are very similar in terms of braking performance – once again with slight differences here and there. Some teams move the brake bias forward slightly, while others focus more on using the back brake. In the end, differences like that come down to a certain setting in suspension or engine braking, desiring a particular brake bias – more forward based or more towards the rear of the bike.”

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@ KTM

Grip is everything
Brake performance comes down to much more than just what Brembo brings to the table. The Michelin controlled tire plays a big role in this. “When MotoGP switched from Bridgestone to Michelin, riders were presented with a completely different brake feel, even though the brake system itself did not change. The Michelins offer far better grip, especially at the front, which allows for much better braking. Front end grip is the key to good braking performance. Without it, it’s impossible to slow the bike down. If you lack grip, the front tire would lock up and start to slide. The fact we can work with the extra grip from the Michelins really helps our brake systems to perform at a high level.”

Another recent change in MotoGP™ also helps Brembo’s product to perform well. Pellegrini: “Aerodynamics are coming into play, which adds even more grip. That ups the ante even more when it comes to braking, allowing for later braking. Obviously, that puts even more severe forces on the brake system, but our components can handle those forces fine.”

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@ Sebas Romero/KTM

In order to react to the constant changes in Grand Prix racing, Brembo is constantly working to improve their braking systems. In order to keep up, the Italian manufacturer gathers as much data as possible. The massive array of sensors that adorn MotoGP™ bikes nowadays also helps Brembo gain valuable data, like G-forces, brake distance, bike velocity and the temperatures that go with it all. These data helps Brembo improve brake components.

“At the moment, development is focused on master cylinders and brake calipers. Those parts are constantly evolving, mostly because we’re allowed. The rules don’t allow for much when it comes to brake discs.” If it were up to Pellegrini, there should be more room for different materials. “Carbon ceramics would be interesting for MotoGP™. It’s much lighter than carbon-carbon and wear is minimal. It would greatly improve the lifespan of a brake disc.”

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@ Kiska

Rule of thumb
A recent development that has seen a lot of interest, is the thumb brake. It’s been used on race bikes since the early 90s, but more and more riders in MotoGP™ are trying it nowadays. The use of the thumb brake first came to the forefront after five-time world champion Mick Doohan was terribly injured at the Dutch Assen track. It was Brembo that came up with the solution of using the thumb to brake.

Several riders saw benefits in using a thumb brake, but the idea never really caught on. It wasn’t until a few years ago, when thumb brakes started to become a big thing in GP racing. Recently, a couple of riders have been testing a new system that employs a lever similar to the front brake lever, though it’s used with the left hand and mounted parallel to the clutch lever.

“These days riders really only use the clutch once during a race; for the start. So it’s perfectly okay for them to use their left hand to slow down the rear tire,” Pellegrini explains. The Italian expects more and more riders will start using the system. “A few riders have shown interest in the new rear brake setup, but I don’t expect riders to switch over mid-season. Just wait for winter testing; I believe you’ll see a couple more guys operating the rear brake like that.”

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@ Kiska

The experience and technology going into MotoGP™ eventually end up on road bikes. Though carbon discs are not an option, there’s still loads of GP-derived braking technology on modern road bikes. Take the radial caliper mounting for instance, or monoblock calipers; born and bred on track. Recently, Brembo launched the GP4-MS caliper; also developed on the race track. “We’re not the only manufacturers that use racing to help develop motorcycle parts. Most bike riders will tell you brakes have taken a massive leap over the last few years. MotoGP development won’t stop, so Grand Prix technology seeping into road bikes won’t stop either.”

Images: Sebar Romero, Kiska, Guus van Goethem, Shot Up Productions


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MEET KTM’S MOST HARDCORE ADVENTURE BIKE FOR 2020: THE KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY

Restricted to 500 units, the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY is for riders demanding the most hardcore performance combined with the very best suspension available. But why build this outstanding machine and how does the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY perform when ridden by experienced racer Chris Birch?

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@ Francesc Montero

The third and newest member of the KTM 790 ADVENTURE family is positioned as the most travel capable rally bike. Based heavily on the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R, this limited-edition model retains the same trellis chassis together with the potent 95hp LC8c parallel twin engine. The major component difference on the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY is the addition of the special WP XPLOR PRO suspension.

Built in the same department as WP’s Red Bull KTM Factory Racing equipment, it offers similar levels of performance for extreme riding. An additional 30mm of suspension travel front and back helps clear the most awkward obstacles and creates a seat h of 923mm for this unique model.

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@ Francesc Montero

“Quite simply, we’ve built the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY because we can,” confirms KTM AG CMO Hubert Trunkenpolz. “At KTM we continually try to push ourselves and the development of our products. We have the equipment at our disposal and we know how to make a special bike for our hardcore customers. The new KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY is exactly as it says: A rally bike ready for any adventure.”

Going into detail on why and how this limited edition motorcycle was born, some of the key people behind the creation of the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY share their story in this short video:

One of the first riders to explore the potential of the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY in real offroad conditions has been Chris Birch. Getting the unique chance to test the new model prior to the 2019 European KTM ADVENTURE RALLY in the mountains of Bosnia, the experienced enduro and rally racer shares his feedback in the video below:

Further details on pricing, availability and the ordering process for purchasing one of the limited number KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY machines will be announced in the months to come.

@ Francesc Montero

Photos: Francesc Montero/KTM



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“I’M ADDICTED TO RIDING MY BIKE”: JORGE PRADO INTERVIEW

The new double FIM MX2 Motocross World Champion opens up on a remarkable racing season, good and bad performances, motivation and being part of the best MXGP team in 2020…

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@ Ray Archer/KTM

Is Jorge Prado one of the best 250cc riders ever? The eighteen-year-old phenomenon from Galicia – who spent five years in Belgium and is now based in Italy close to mentors Claudio de Carli and Tony Cairoli – has the goods and numbers to make a solid case. Amazing start skills with 20 holeshots from 30 starts so far in 2019, unbeatable pace and feisty racecraft all combined with the power of the KTM 250 SX-F. Prado is a product of the KTM ‘pipeline’ and the early signs were very bright and clear with Jorge taking a podium finish on his very first Grand Prix appearance at Assen in 2016.

Less than three years later Prado holds two FIM Motocross World Championships and 29 GP victories. He is also the most prolific Spaniard in the history of the sport by far. He is 19 on January 5th and laid waste to MX2 in 2019: 14 wins from 15 rounds he contested, a 100% podium record, 27 chequered flags from 30 starts. Due to his second consecutive MX2 crown he is obliged to move to the MXGP division for 2020, where he will be part of an astonishing three-man line-up together with Cairoli and Jeffrey Herlings. All three are boasting a collection of 15 FIM Motocross World Championship titles between them.

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@ Ray Archer/KTM

We talk in the glistening confines of the Red Bull Energy Station at the Grand Prix of Sweden, where Prado would bag his second gold medal two rounds before the end of the season: he has become the third back-to-back MX2 world champion and the third for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing after Marvin Musquin (2009-2010) and Herlings (2012-2013).

Fluent in three languages Jorge has a happy-go-lucky demeanour and an endearing trait of smiling quickly and easily. He can also mix comments and thoughts in a jovial manner but swiftly become serious. You leave with the impression that Prado is still a kid but also has hard self-discipline and can flip into a state of committed determination when he wants.

There is very little doubt that MXGP will be terrorized next year…

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@ Ray Archer/KTM

With 14 wins from 15 Grand Prix, does it ever feel like the victories just roll into each other?
“I won every round I raced and it’s difficult to keep the focus every single time you go on the track because a small mistake means you don’t win a moto. It’s hard to stay on two wheels for a whole championship but it’s so important, also for the future: to know you can make that consistency. Sometimes when I get home or I am travelling back from the race I do stop and think ‘I’m doing an incredible job this season’. I thought at the beginning of the year that I could win many rounds – honestly – because I had the championship last year…but to take every single one is not easy at all.”

When you say it is tough, you can understand why people might find that hard to believe because you make it look very easy…
“Maybe from the outside it might look a bit easy but I am keeping my rhythm. In the last races I have been taking more distance over the second placed rider and I’m improving also: this is another goal next to winning the championship. I want to improve. Sometimes I don’t push too much because I want to manage risk but I want to ride the best I can each week. If I can ride smoothly then that’s better because I am always thinking about the future and I know the MXGP class will be hard. I need to grow up and get better.”

How difficult is it to be disciplined and committed at 18 when you are so successful, when life is good and you are so far ahead?
“Yeah, I have a think for that. You can ask the people around me. I remember I just started with my girlfriend and we were in Sardinia for the winter – a week before we were due to start testing – and I had an easy day ahead with just a run planned. I got up at 7.30 to do it and she could not understand how I could do that when I had the whole day. It’s funny but that’s just who I am. I’m very ordered with everything I do. I want to get my work done and then after you can relax. I am always thinking that the others are working and training more. I need to do what I do in the best way I can. I give my all…and sometimes a bit too much; the time to recover for the weekend can be too small. If you push too much in the week then you can have some consequences at the weekend, which I’ve had before. When I do something, I want to be better than the last time. I also know that work means you can win.”

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@ Ray Archer/KTM

Has that ever caused motivation problems? Winning so much is one thing but perhaps the lack of a hard challenge means another type of test…
“Hmmm, when Tony got injured it was different. We had always trained together and when he was hurt I didn’t have that partner. The first days were a bit disorientating and I didn’t know what to do. I would ride but it was weird being on the track alone. I wasn’t used to that. I’d trained by myself all my life and in the beginning it was difficult when I started to ride with Tony but I could always put challenges every time I went out there, whether it was a lap-time or trying to be smoother or small things like my father coming to corner and telling me I was slow in one particular area: and he does that a lot! It’s good that he sees where I can improve and he’s good at that.”

Was there one race this year where you were really disappointed with your performance? Where you thought ‘I was terrible, this needs to get better…’?
“Maybe the Qualification Heat at Loket [Grand Prix of Czech Republic]. I still won but I felt bad. Just didn’t have a good feeling. Then the first moto in France. I lost because I did not push. I knew Jago [Geerts] was there behind and it wasn’t a problem. I was still leading with two laps to go and thought ‘I’ve got it’ and I made a small mistake. He got a bit closer and I decided to push but ran into the backmarkers and then he got me. If I really wanted to I could have taken another two-three seconds from him with four laps to go, but I didn’t and paid for it. That was stupid. The second moto in Palembang [GP of Indonesia] I don’t know what was wrong there. I went from first to seventh. Something was not clicking. But then I made the switch and worked my way to the front. The race turned out well.”

So, which race was the closest to perfection?
“Obviously not this year yet – but I always get a feeling like that in Assen. I can ride so smooth at that place because of the type of sand and good starts are always important there; make the right start and you can afford to relax and ride like you want, with a bit more confidence. The second moto at Lommel [Grand Prix of Belgium] was good. I really wanted to make a gap in that race and pulled it out to thirty-five seconds until the last lap when I had a small crash. It was good, but still very tough.”

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@ Ray Archer/KTM

Is there one trophy on the shelf that you can look at and think ‘that one is special, I really earned it…’?
“This year has been a bit different. In many motos I made the start, got to first and then just had to focus on me and what I was doing and try not to make any mistakes. Last year with Pauls [Jonass] was a season where I look back now and think ‘that was so hard’. I started off badly in Argentina and it took me half a season to get the red plate, and another half for the title. With three rounds to go last year there were almost no points between us whereas this time I took the championship. It was a campaign where I had to push every single time. When I won I was like ‘yes!’ but looking back now it was hard racing, good racing and I was fighting a lot. This year has been incredible but different. The other riders have also been fast but I had a bit extra. I made fewer mistakes this year. The feeling around the results is different. In 2018 it was ‘Pauls, Pauls, Pauls: I need to beat him’. It was a nice championship.”

So, the KTM 450 SX-F. Your first race will be the FIM Motocross of Nations. It will almost be like a test, right?
“Yes, it will. It’s also because I have never ridden a 450. I want to make that clear.”

Not even a single play ride?
“The most I have done is half a lap at Malagrotta [Rome training base]. Ask Tony. We finished a training session back in February and I wanted to see if I could jump something. I took his bike and I don’t remember much of the sensation because the set-up was totally different for me so I was riding slowly. I hope I can start with the 450 soon because there is not much time until the Nations.”

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@ Ray Archer/KTM

2020 could be daunting as you won’t only be a rookie but also part of the best Grand Prix team ever. However, perhaps Jeffrey and Tony will have more pressure to be title contenders…
“There is always pressure. Everybody wants you to win. Winning next year is not the main goal. Instead, I will be looking for improvement and trying to make a good season. I cannot tell you how I will feel in 2020 until I get used to the bike and compete against the other MXGP riders. Next year is the ‘rookie year’. An adventure. I need to keep learning and keep having fun. I have the best guys behind me and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing have always been fantastic to me. I’m with them for another four years and I’m really happy about that. I just need to worry about riding and having fun.”

If you came face-to-face with the twelve-year-old Jorge Prado and told him that six years later he’d have two world titles and would win thirteen GPs in a row, what would he say?
“I think I never put in my mind the thought ‘in the future I’d like to be world champion’ but I remember that I was always ambitious. I would look at other, old riders and think ‘if he can do it then I can as well…’ One thing is thinking it, another is doing it: it’s way different. I always had a positive mindset that I would be where I am today but I think that kid would be blown-away. As a family we have worked all our lives to be where we are now and that twelve-year-old was always looking to move forward and improve every time he went out on the bike. I was looking at the leading riders of that time and trying to take all the positive and good things they were doing to put into my riding. I would copy a lot, and that’s how I built my style. I got that from not only watching at the track but also on TV and videos. If I said to the kid “you will win all this…but you’ll also still love it every time you rode” then this would be the best thing. I don’t think everybody loves riding the bike as much as I do. This is the best thing I have: I enjoy riding so much. I’m addicted.”

Photos: Ray Archer/KTM


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LIEN DE RUYCK: BRUSSELS TO NEW YORK ON A KTM 790 ADVENTURE

Toying with the 50th parallel north for months, writer and creative strategist Lien De Ruyck joins a team of three adventurers as they travel east from Brussels to New York. Riding a KTM 790 ADVENTURE with no reservations or time limitations, the 33-year-old is opening herself to every experience this once in a lifetime trip has to offer.

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@ Sonderling.be

Three months, three friends, three motorcycles, three continents, three oceans and a total of 30,000 km in some of the most remote parts of the planet… Joined by her two riding companions, Belgium native Lien De Ruyck left Brussels on Thursday, May 30, for a big trip into the great unknown.

“We decided to travel east from Belgium, toying with the 50 degrees Northern latitude,” confirms Lien. “We wanted to go where the road would take us, without reservations, expectations or time-limitations. Open-minded, with our camping gear packed and the sun hitting our faces. Motonauts on the highway of the cosmos, following in the footsteps of Carol Dunlop and Julio Cortázar…”

We caught up with Lien via email while she was in Seoul and about to kickstart the second part of her trip on the North American continent. After completing 17,500 km on the KTM 790 ADVENTURE, the young adventurer shared with us the highlights of this great overland journey and provided her feedback on the bike she’s been riding across the globe…

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@ Sonderling.be

The start of it all.
“Setting off from Belgium, we traveled across the eastern part of Europe before landing in Ukraine. From there, the road took us into the great unknown as we entered Russia to travel to Volgograd, Omsk, Novosibirsk and Ulgi. After our first encounter with Russia, Mongolia and the infamous Gobi Desert brought us into most daring part of our trip.”

“The infamous Road of Bones [ed. R504 Kolyma Highway in Russia] forced us 2,500 kilometer through the untamed wilderness of the Siberian woods. From Yakutsk – the second coldest town on earth – we traveled to Magadan, which is notorious for its historical connection with the Gulag. Since Magadan is quite literally the end of the line, we retraced our steps on the Road of Bones before heading to the finish line of our Trans-Siberian trip in Vladivostok.”

“In this first half of the journey we passed through twelve different time zones already. During this whole trip, one thing I liked about the KTM 790 ADVENTURE is its great weight distribution. Thanks to the placement of the fuel tank, the bike handles incredibly both on and off the road. It’s a lightweight and enjoyable motorcycle in this big-boy travel bike league.”

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@ Sonderling.be

As far as the eye can see…
“One of the most impressive moments was driving across the plains of Mongolia. Empty plains stretch as far as the eye can see and suddenly our dirt track splits in different directions. Not into two, but into something akin to a river delta. Every track winds its way through valleys and across hills, with loose sand or rocks and with lots of elevation. But at the end, all tracks come together and meet. This leads to an unbelievable feeling of freedom while riding. Every rider can choose their track knowing that we will meet several kilometers later.”

“After 41 days of travelling, we left Ulan Ude and headed towards Vladivostok, the end of the second stage of our journey. From that day onward, we raced the Trans-Siberian train all the way to Vladivostok. Coming around a bend and getting a magnificent view of the legendary train disappearing into a tunnel beneath the mountain makes you feel almost insignificant.”

“In these remote pieces of land, a great feature of my bike was its extremely low fuel consumption. Combined with the large 20-litre fuel tank, that would allow me to put in nearly 500 km in one single filling. That can be a life-saving feature when traveling through the forests of Siberia or the endless Mongolian plains.”

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@ Sonderling.be

Life changing experiences.
“When planning this trip, we played ‘connect-the-dots’ between the points we definitely had to visit. One of those points was the Carpathian Mountain range, and specifically the Transfăgărășan pass in Romania. We were hoping on magnificent views and endless hairpins, and we got what we wished for…”

“During the night an avalanche of snow blocked the upper part of the pass and made it impossible to cross. Upon driving down, we encountered another avalanche below us, this time rocks and mud. Mother Nature had her way, and we got to spend an extra 4 hours driving up and down the pass while waiting for the locals to clear our way.”

“No matter how much time we spent searching for info online in advance, nothing could prepare us for the experience of traveling through remote areas. When riding through Russia, for example, we were staggered to come across a piece of Canada sooner into the trip than expected.”

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@ Sonderling.be

“The Altai region in the South-Eastern part of Western Siberia will forever hold a special place in my heart. Every turn showed a new view of far sights into valleys and snowcapped mountaintops and the rivers were as icy blue as the ones in Canada or Alaska. Combine that with the twists and turns of the Altai and you see why the ‘Golden Mountains of Altai’ is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”

“But perhaps the most unexpected experience we’ve had so far was completely unrelated to the motorcycle-aspect of our journey. Upon running into some technical difficulties with one of my companion’s bike, we were taken in by two different families in a small village in the middle of Siberia.”

 “Their hospitality and willingness to drop everything they were doing to help a few bikers they never met before is one of the most humbling experiences I’ve ever had. Compared to our Western standards, these people had nothing, yet they were prepared to share everything with strangers they will probably never see again.”

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@ Sonderling.be

The KTM 790 ADVENTURE
“For me the KTM 790 ADVENTURE is the ideal bike for this long trip. It packs a punch that is incomparable to any other bike in the middle-weight class I’ve ridden. When turning the throttle, the response is immediate and so is the adrenaline rush.”

“By selecting any of the different ride modes I can adjust the throttle response quite nicely. With the right response from the engine, it is an absolute joy to ride in any kind of terrain. Combine that with the ABS configuration and you get a great travel machine that can take you safely and with fun over any terrain.”

“Thanks to the smooth engine mapping and the smooth twin-cylinder engine, the power delivery feels almost linear while shifting through the gears. Through long stretches of asphalt in Russia or gravel and rocky paths in Mongolia, the 790 ADVENTURE has been a blast to ride.”

At the time of writing, Lien is exploring the endless dirt roads of North America. You may follow Lien’s trip around the world via her profile on Instagram or through her travelling blog.

@ Sonderling.be

Photos: Sonderling.be


Dementor
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FAMILY MATTERS: BUILDING A WINNING FOUNDATION BASED ON FAMILY BONDS

Achieving racing success comes down to many factors and building fast bikes is just one of them; it’s the people and their skills that help form a solid set-up. Becoming aware of that years ago, KTM is focused on making every single person in their team feel at home. It’s all about being part of the family, figuratively or – in some cases – literally…

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Brad & Darryn Binder @ Guus van Goethem

With KTM’s home race at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg taking place during the second weekend of August, we got to see how much of a family KTM is. From the massive orange colored grandstand to the plethora of KTM race bikes in the paddock, KTM proved it’s currently enjoying a solid representation in the global Grand Prix scene.

Apart from the MotoE™ class, there’s at least one ‘orange’ bike on every single starting grid; from the Red Bull Rookies Cup right up to MotoGP™. It’s safe to say that this fact alone makes KTM one big family. That sense of togetherness gets even more profound for three specific duos in the paddock…

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Philipp & Peter Öttl @ Guus van Goethem

Philipp and Peter Öttl
“Three o’clock on the dot, we would always head out to grandma’s to drink coffee. As a kid I would watch old videos of my dad racing,” Philipp Öttl says. Though the current Red Bull KTM Tech3 Moto2™ rider never actually saw his dad race in a Grand Prix, the 23-year-old knows how impressive his father’s racing skills were in the lighter classes back in the day.

During his career Öttl senior collected a total of five Grand Prix victories, both in the 80cc as well as the 125cc class. Later on, Peter Öttl would share his racing experience with son Philipp, in an attempt to help the latter reach the highest possible in motorcycle racing. “When he was just a kid, Philipp would mostly race motocross and supermoto. When he decided to switch to road racing, I was quite surprised. He started out on minibikes at age ten or eleven, only to make the switch to the ADAC Junior Cup the next season. I could really apply what I had learned over the years in helping him – it turned out quite well. Getting on in racing didn’t seem to cost him much effort.”

Philipp adds: “In 2008 we went minibike racing and just four seasons down the road I entered my first Grand Prix. Looking back on it now, I think we made a very progressive climb in results in my career.” The quick rise up the ranks is the result of Peter and Philipp working closely together. However, starting this season, things have changed.

Philipp currently competes in Moto2™ for the Tech3 squad. Peter, in the meantime, is in charge of the Sterilgarda Max Racing Team in Moto3™. “It really is a completely different situation compared to previous seasons, but to be fair, it does not feel like much has changed,” Philipp explains. “Obviously we see each other in the paddock all the time and when things go wrong, I can still go to my old man for advice.” Peter nods.

“Together we’ve achieved some great things in the past. Where Philipp is now, it’s all down to the details. I feel like it’s no longer necessary to work together as closely as we used to. Of course, as a father, it’s hard to let go. In the end I feel like it’s good for him. Carrying on without me there is the next step in his development as a rider. He’s his own man now.”

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Philipp Oettl @ Gold&Goose

Good mix of traits
Öttl senior and Öttl junior obviously are blood related, and it shows – sharing certain character traits. Peter explains: “I really recognize things I do in Philipp, too. He’s got his head firmly on his shoulders and won’t shun hard work; I was just like that at his age. I’m glad he’s not a carbon copy of me, though; he’s clearly got a bit of his mother’s character, too. If you’d ask me, that gives him a good mix of genetic traits.”

Racing nowadays is hard to compare to how things went back in Peter’s GP racing days. The 54-year-old German observes an obvious difference between racing now and how it went down back in the nineties, when he himself was successful. “The bikes are much more equal today, putting the responsibility to get results firmly into the hands of the rider. In my day you had to have a works bike in order to even be able to make a claim. That was the main reason for me to stick to racing 125’s. In the 125cc class I had a good bike to race; moving up to the 250 class would have seen me on a production racer. Of course, I contemplated a step up, but in the end I couldn’t find any conclusive reasons to follow through. Being competitive was far more important to me than moving up through the ranks, purely for sake of moving up. And don’t forget; 125 racing was very popular back then. Certainly, among German race fans.”

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Philipp Oettl @ Gold&Goose

While the nature of racing changes over time, the goal most racers hope to achieve does not. Winning is always on the mind of a racer. Both men from Bad Reichenhall in Germany know the euphoric sensation of taking the checkered flag first. Peter managed to claim five Grand Prix victories, with his son finally finishing a world championship race in first place last year.

At Jerez he managed to outperform Marco Bezzecchi – who would go on to become the Moto3™ runner-up that year – in a thrilling finale on Spanish soil. “It’s hard to describe the feeling. You really have to experience it to know. When you win your first race, it feels like all the hard work put in all those years pays off. Like an explosion of emotion; something I found very special to share with my father.” Peter: “Of course I never forgot how that first win feels; it doesn’t compare one bit to coming third or even second. Podium finishes are great, but winning a race… That’s ten times better.”

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Brad & Darryn Binder @ Guus van Goethem

Brad and Darryn Binder
They’re clearly having to adjust being sat next to each other for an interview. It’s not that often that there’s a request to interview them both at the same time, although the South African brothers have been racing in the World Championship for a couple of years now. They even competed together in Moto3™, during 2015 and 2016. But that wasn’t the first time the Binders went head to head in the same racing class.

“We started out racing go karts,” 21-year-old Darryn explains. The youngest of the two continues: “Well, when I say we, I mean I started out in go kart racing. Brad wanted a motocross bike, and my dad gave him one, but he hardly rode it. After watching me race on four wheels, he wanted to have a go too.” Brad managed to win the championship in one of the talent classes, with Darryn following suit a year after. But it wasn’t long before race bikes started to come into play. “We were both really passionate about go kart racing for a while, but we started to grow out of it – we wanted to race bikes instead.”

Both brothers made their way onto the GP stage through the Red Bull Rookies Cup – Grand Prix racing’s talent pool. It would become a venture into the unknown for the Binders, seeing as no-one in their vicinity had made it to a level like that before. “When we were younger, our father would race in local championships, but he was already quite old when he started racing. I think he must’ve been about 27 when he first raced,” Darryn says.

The conversation takes an interesting turn, when Brad stops his little brother from continuing. “Are you kidding? Have you been drinking? He had me when he was 27, so he had to have started out racing even later. I reckon he must’ve been well into his thirties.” Regardless of father Trevor’s age when he made his racing debut, he did manage to inspire Brad and Darryn to follow in his racing footsteps. Brad: “From an early age, we we’re constantly surrounded by bikes, and as we grew older the bikes simply got bigger.”

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Brad Binder @ Gold&Goose

Training together
During the season, the brothers reside in Spain. It serves the two with quite a few advantages. “Being South African, it isn’t easy to go and race in the World Championship, simply because the level of road racing back home is hardly worth mentioning. Moving to Europe, it really helped knowing we were in this together,” Darryn believes.

“And obviously we get to train together, too. Brad and I share a passion for cycling, but we’re also very competitive. Everything turns into a competition for us – I’ll always try to beat him. Starting the final climb when we’re out cycling, I usually keep my cards close to the chest – saving energy. When Brad suggests taking it easy for the climb, that’s my cue to push. And when I do, Brad immediately picks up the pace, too – and then we have a race.” Brad adds: “At least it helps motivate us to keep pushing. Sharing your training time also makes it a lot more fun. Going at it alone would get old fast. Same goes for living alone and traveling alone.”

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Darryn Binder & Gold&Goose

Their focus on racing paid off in 2016, as it would be an excellent season for Brad. The elder of the two Binders claimed the Moto3™ World Championship title that year. “That really was something special,” he states. “Every single rider on the world stage, sets himself the goal of becoming world champion. It greatly improves your chances of making it to MotoGP. It definitely was the best year in my career.”

When his brother claimed the title, Darryn was right there with him, mainly because at the time they were both racing in Moto3™. “I remember that race so well. Aragon was a terrible race for me, but after finishing the race, I looked at the big screens right away – to see if Brad had collected enough points to take title. It was such an amazing day; I could not have been happier for him.”

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Zonta & Jurgen van den Goorbergh @ Guus van Goethem

Zonta and Jurgen van den Goorbergh
This season, 13-year-old Zonta van den Goorbergh walks the paddock grounds. Son of former MotoGP™ rider Jurgen, Zonta managed to claim a ride in the Red Bull Rookies Cup. “Last year he made his debut in the European Talent Cup. With that experience, we felt the timing was right to sign him up for the Red Bull Rookies Cup qualifiers. If Zonta hadn’t raced in the ETC, we probably wouldn’t have even considered to step up. To our surprise he got the ticket for the 2019 season.”

Father Jurgen, without a shadow of doubt, is very proud of how far his son has managed to come considering his age. However, the former racer is also very much aware there’s a long way to go if Zonta wishes to achieve his goal. Zonta: “I want to race in MotoGP; that’s what I’m aiming for. I’m sure it won’t happen overnight, though. It will take a lot of work and effort to make it, but I am more than willing to do whatever it takes.”

The talented Dutchman has been introduced to motorsports at a young age, though at first only at the motocross track. “When I was three years old I got my first electric trials motorcycle, but I wanted more speed. Trials and speed don’t mix; that’s why we got into motocross. Two years ago, I made the transfer to road racing.” His background in trials and motocross gave Zonta an edge in adapting to his new home in road racing.

With his father sharing his experience, undoubtedly that helped the youngster. “If Zonta had stayed in motocross, my own racing experience wouldn’t have been as effective as it is now. Had he intended to work his way up in motocross, we would’ve had to find a trainer with MX experience. Now, however, I can train him myself.”

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Zonta van den Goorbergh @ Shot Up Productions

Taking revenge
Jurgen’s own career and the experience gained over the years, shall help Zonta excel. The 49-year-old Dutchman has more under his belt than just racing in MotoGP™, since he has also competed at the Dakar Rally. “It’s not just tips and tricks in racing itself I can help Zonta with. Having my last name opens doors for him as well. People remember me from when I used to race and my contacts from back in the day pay dividends for Zonta now. It smoothens out a few bumps in the road to the top.”

Having developed a keen eye for talent over the years, Jurgen knows putting in the effort early is of the utmost importance for Zonta. “I could do another Dakar if I’d wanted, but focusing on my son’s career is my priority now. That way we won’t look back later, thinking we could’ve done better; thinking we should’ve put in more energy and time into Zonta’s career. No should’ve, would’ve, could’ves here.”

Though there’s still a long way to go before Zonta makes it to MotoGP™, the 13-year-old can already look back at battling Marc Marquez. The talented youngster took part in the Allianz Junior Motor Camp in 2017; an event organized by the seven-time world champ. “His brother Alex was also on hand to help. That was an amazing experience. I almost beat Marc in the dirt track event. In the end, he managed to overtake me on the inside, carrying a little bit more speed to the line. I hope to be able to take revenge for that in a few years’ time.”

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Zonta & Jurgen van den Goorbergh @ Guus van Goethem

Photos: Guus van Goethem, Shot Up Productions, Gold&Goose


Dementor
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#inthisyear1979: 50,000th KTM 2-stroke engine

Posted in Bikes, History
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KTM 125 MC 80 @KTM

Just one year after KTM started production of motorcycles in 1953, the company announced its first production record – the 1000th motorcycle, a R 125 “Tourist”, left the factory doors. Fast forward a quarter of a century and the 50,000th KTM 2-stroke engine rolled off the production line; as a result the Austrian Quality Seal – a quality award for Austrian Products – was awarded to the Mattighofen-based manufacturer.

At that time, the ‘anniversary engine’ was one of an ultra-modern range of sports engines, built with various displacements ranging from 125 cm³ to 420 cm³ and used in the competitor models GS 80 and MC 80 from model year 1979.

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KTM 400 GS 80 @KTM

Why did it take 25 years from the production of the first KTM motorcycle to the 50,000th KTM engine? Let’s take a look at this long history. In the 1950s, many motorcycle manufacturers were assembly companies – when it came to the engine they turned to tried-and-tested designs from special engine manufacturers, such as Fichtel & Sachs. And back then, KTM was no different; its very first bike, the R 100, housed a 98 cm³ Sachs engine which was produced under license by Rotax in the neighboring Upper Austrian town of Gunskirchen.

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KTM 125 GS 80 @KTM

Apart from a 50 cm³, 2-stroke engine for the “Mecky” moped, KTM stuck with the proven Rotax-Sachs units until they ceased motorcycle production at the end of the 1950s. As the focus shifted to 50 cm³ mopeds and scooters in the early 1960s, companies also turned to tried-and-tested solutions for the new generation of vehicles – while the Austrian domestic models were supplied with Puch engines, exported models were driven by a range of Sachs engines. Even the offroad sports bikes which were built at KTM at the end of the 1960s at the initiative of American John Penton were powered by 100 cm³ or 125 cm³ Sachs engines – at the time the most successful small unit in offroad racing.

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KTM 175 GS @KTM

And it was also Penton who triggered the development of a KTM sport engine. To compete in the up to 175 cm³ class, Penton kitted several Sachs engines out with his own cylinder. Together with the 54-mm-stroke provided by the Sachs design, this resulted in a displacement of approximately 150 cm³. But, since every cubic centimeter mattered, particularly on small engines, and the permitted displacement limit had not been reached, it soon became clear that the engine in the “Penton Jackpiner 175” was only ever meant to be a temporary solution. As Fichtel & Sachs didn’t have a suitable engine available, KTM had no other option but to build their very own engine, so as not to lose John Penton to the competition.

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KTM 175 GS 80 @KTM

And so the new KTM sport engine was unveiled to the public in time for the 1971 sporting season. In doing so, KTM had made the leap from assembly company to a manufacturer who produced both the chassis and the engine itself. There were two noteworthy elements to the new design. The 175 cm³ version was designed to be the basis for versions with bigger displacements right through to an engine for the 500 cm³ class and thanks to the claw-shifted 6 speed transmission, the selector key shifting which had proved to be the Achilles heel of the Sachs sport engines, became a thing of the past.

Manfred Klerr demonstrated what the new engine was capable of by promptly winning the Austrian national motocross championship on a prototype.

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KTM 420 MC 80 @KTM

Series production began in 1971 – initially for the 175 cm³ version, with the bigger displacements following shortly after. In 1976, the lower end of the range was rounded off with a 125 cm³ engine – there was also a 100 cm³ version, which Mauro Miele rode in the offroad European championships, but, unlike the other engines, it was not available to buy.

The first generation of engines from KTM was READY TO RACE – by 1979 three motocross world championships and eight offroad European championships (the enduro world championship was not launched until 1990) had been won.

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KTM 125 MC 80 @KTM

In 1979, the “GS 80” was offered as 125 cm³, 175 cm³, 250 cm³ and 400 cm³ for the 500 cm³ class, the “MC 80” was available for the 125 cm³, 250 cm³ and the 500 cm³ class, where there was even a choice of two models with difference characteristics with the 42 hp 400 cm³ and the ten-hp higher 420 cm³.

KTM remains true to the 2-stroke to this day, offering the ultra-modern KTM 150 EXC TPI, KTM 250 EXC TPI and KTM 300 EXC TPI competition bikes. The launch of the TPI models made KTM the world’s first manufacturer to use electronic fuel injection on 2-stroke engines. The advantages are obvious – On top of significantly lower consumption and reduced emissions, there is no need to adjust a carburetor with this system.


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