1-2-9-0: FOUR WAYS THE 2020 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R WILL BLOW YOUR MIND
Posted in Bikes A new motorcycle for a new decade. The 2020 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R is just the third generation of the LC8-engined ‘BEAST’ since the bike was created in 2014. The KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R was presented and tested by international press for the first time in and around the Portimao race circuit in Portugal in early February and here – with the help of the bike’s originator – are four reasons why THE BEAST had the experts growling…
1 – is the desired position in the Naked bike market segment, and the newly-reshaped LC8 v-twin is No.1 for weight-to-performance with a hefty 180hp and 140Nm of torque on tap. KTM has squeezed more power but significantly dropped the kilos. This evolution came from a brave decision to get radical with KTM’s most extreme expression of a street bike. “We said: ‘let’s make a clean cut and start with a white sheet of paper’ and the end result has been amazing,” said Product Manager Adriaan Sinke. “A great big v-twin engine really defines what this bike is all about; that character that no other engine can provide,” he adds. “The peak figures are a lot but I’d rather talk about how the bike harnesses the power. The street is not a predictable environment so you cannot always go into a corner with the right amount of RPM and with this LC8 you have so much flexibility. There are bikes that deliver their power and their torque at much later levels: we believe that this [instant torque] is the definition of what the SUPER DUKE is all about. It doesn’t matter what gear you are in; you are always in the right one to pull yourself away. You don’t need to be sitting at some crazy high RPM to be able to overtake traffic.”
KTM is using words like ‘ultimate Naked bike’ to encapsulate the 2020 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R, and the experience of riding it that is both comfortable and confidence-inspiring thanks to refined handling but also pulse-quickening and fiercely capable at speed, as demonstrated by the smiles and antics of riders after six twenty-minute sessions around the Portimao circuit.
For the motorcycle’s creator, Hermann Sporn, his fourth SUPER DUKE (he led the 990 project in 2005) continues to fulfill the definition of what a Naked bike should be, certainly in KTM’s vision of extreme, purity and performance. “When can you really enjoy a superbike on the road? It is pain to ride one, literally,” he reasons. “In the hands, the leg, the seat, the damping was too harsh. Those bikes are made for the racetrack and they are really good where you need the maximum power and want to find the limit. The big advantage with the SUPER DUKE was the huge amount of torque, and it was easy to ride, more comfortable and gave you a better view in traffic.”
“Naked bikes are more forgiving: you can use any gear and change the line and that’s not always possible on a sports bike,” he adds. “The front end is really secure and now it has the same kind of feedback as a superbike where riders can get on the gas and slide out of the corner. You can also brake very deep and know where it will slide. You have that sensitivity from the new frame and that also helps for the street and avoid bumps and altering lines. We spend a lot of time working with WP to improve the front fork and the shock absorber. We made a lot of comparison tests with other suspension suppliers and motorcycles and said: ‘we need to be right at the top level’. I believe now we are better. I wanted the 2020 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R to win comparison tests!”
2 – years. That’s how long Project Leader Sporn and his crew needed to overhaul KTM’s flagship model. It was also a spell in which they had to deduce how to improve what was already a very appealing and attractive motorcycle. The LC8 boasted a rock-solid base. Sporn knew there were gains to be had in other areas.
“As soon as the ’16 version was presented we were working on this one,” he explains. “We had a meeting and talked about the behavior of the bike and how we could – and would like – to make it better. We were able to look at each and every part and totally separate the concepts, in fact, the only parts we kept from the chassis of the old bike was the rear axle and the adjuster. When we wanted to redefine the engine that meant a lot of small details and we wanted something lighter, faster-and-easier shifting.”
“One of the things we wanted to keep was that easy handling; everybody knew it was an easy bike, even for a non-experienced rider,” he adds. “It was important to keep this and improve it. It was also important to maintain the ergonomics of a road bike, so for the rider that wants a trip over the mountains is not going to be uncomfortable. That meant looking closely at the seat, and again the comfort.”
“We had those references but knew there were more places to look,” he goes on. “One was the feeling with the front wheel, and with a completely new frame, we could make a large step. From our calculations we saw that we had to go much higher with the torsional stiffness. We are using the engine to help us with the frame in this respect. We had three times more torsional stiffness compared to the older SUPER DUKE and it made the feeling ‘safer’: you can notice it immediately. It is faster and more stable to turn in and holds the line even over bumps and on the brakes.”
“We knew we had to do something better on the rear too. People knew the old SUPER DUKE was a cool wheelie machine but we calculated what would be the right amount of anti-squat behavior to hold the motorcycle more in its position. To do this we raised the engine and we spun it a bit backward and increased the center of gravity. In the beginning, we were testing on the track a lot to find the best solution: why would we do that when we are not making a race motorcycle? It’s simply because when you are riding near the edge you then know what will happen. We had the possibility to move the swingarm pivot higher and we played around with the stiffness of the chassis with the variances of tube and wall diameters and thickness. We have different engine mounts. We were looking for the best compromise to find the best feedback. In the end, the frame is longer, with a stiffer swingarm, and we have a completely different shock mounting. On the old SUPER DUKE, we had a direct mount on the swingarm with higher compression you did not have that many possibilities. Now we have the linkage you have much more travel on the shock and this helps you to control the damping behavior. These main changes to affect the riding behavior.”
Fast forward to the EICMA show in Milan in November 2019 and the covers come away from the 2020 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R and Sporn’s vision becomes public.
9 – Could be for the fact that 90% of the motorcycle is fresh; the 2020 incarnation is no mere makeover. A strong element of the new range of attributes is a revitalized electronic package with the ability to engage 9 levels of traction control in Track mode. The Rider Aids and engine management capabilities are part of the large modern heart of the SUPER DUKE with Motorcycle Traction Control, Motor Slip Regulation, Lean angle ABS, Supermoto ABS, and a 6D lean angle sensor (side-to-side, forward-and-back and drift) among the filters through the ride by wire throttle that are enhanced to give the rider a close and more sensitive feeling of what is going on with the bike.
The ability to tweak and explore the different ‘shapes’ of the 2020 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R on the narrow Portuguese B roads and then around the grippy expanses of Portimao illustrated the versatility and fun factor of the motorcycle. Helping analyze and sharpen this aspect of performance was former MotoGP™ rider Jeremy McWilliams. The Northern Irelander’s input was particularly useful for the TRACK mode (alongside the default STREET, RAIN & SPORT) where that 9 level of traction control comes into play: 1 being a very limited quantity for slick tires on a track and 9 the equivalent of race setting. The KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R was tremendous, stable and slidey fun at 4 around Portimao.
“The idea was to come up with new software that will allow more connection between the bike and the rider,” explains McWilliams. “It’s new logic. With our nine-channel TC and track mode, we wanted to make that riders who are at a high level are happy to use traction control rather than switch it off. There is little point in having the feature if riders want to disengage it because it was interfering with their ride. You can use traction control to full power in the wet and then drop it down to between 3-6 for, say, the A-group riders.”
“With these bikes now you have to rely on traction control to make everything safe but you also want to enjoy the ride. We wanted people to have the feeling that you are accelerating as fast as you possibly can without – what our R&D guys call – ‘hold back’, so you can play around with that. Sport mode is designed to be level 4; anything below is sportier.”
Fear not though. The KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R is not being smothered by cutting-edge bike tech. “Electronics will progress and much more will be possible but at the same time I think we have to be careful not to go too far with it, especially for this type of motorcycle,” says Sinke. “I think we need to work on making the bike better and more fun and more accessible. We should not be taking things away. The motorcycle should be central, and the electronics should be peripheral to help you enjoy the bike more.”
0 – zero fat. KTM has ‘doubled-up’ in various aspects of the 2020 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R. How? Well, the styling and looks convey the ethos of the brand while also serving an acute design purpose. The components that create the aesthetics are made with the same function/form duality. “If you can design a part that is functional and make it visible and look nice then you don’t have to cover it up,” reasons Sinke. “It means less parts and you can save weight.”
An example: the subframe. “The first part is cast aluminum – which we use on several other KTMs, which is very light – but the cool and interesting part is the rear end: it’s composite and not a plastic cover,” he says. “It is actually the load-bearing part and where the passenger sits, has their footpegs and also the number plate. Everything bolts onto it and there is no need for brackets and extra parts: it means we can again save weight. The composite part of the subframe weighs 900 grams and can hold 1000kg. It’s incredibly strong and incredibly light.”
The 2020 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R is slim, compact and striking. It’s in the heavyweight division but looks and moves like a robust lithe pugilist. With some of the KTM PowerParts accessories – an array was on display at Portimao – then it becomes even meaner (credit as well for the blue/orange paint job that is a classier look compared to the Beast 2.0). “The bike is ‘in-your-face’ and that is our brand in every possible way,” smiles Sinke. “If you park this bike by the side of the road little boys run-up to it. It turns heads. It looks cool, it sounds cool, it feels cool.”
The minimal design is countered by a raft of impressive detailing. The improved LED headlight now houses the central air-intake, there are new handlebar switches next to the position-adjustable and high-res TFT display (KTM’s best and clearest dash yet), new tank shape, WP APEX suspension and specially-designed Bridgestone S22 tire resists the power and augments the positive traits of the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R. The wheels are CAD-crafted and molded for more ‘dieting’ and the thorough approach to weight-loss even applies to the construction of the plastics. “It’s a small thing but the central part of the plastics is thinner – you don’t need the same thickness throughout because they don’t have a load-bearing capacity and we were able to save more grams,” says Sinke.
The beauty of THE BEAST is that the motorcycle can appear and feel like something so raw but then also offer all the facilities and options a rider could ever want to suck-out the very best of the ultimate Naked bike.
5 THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR IN 2020 MXGP
Posted in Racing Who, what and where will make the 2020 FIM MXGP Motocross World Championship worth watching in 2020? We identify five potential key markers of the forthcoming season…
Jorge Prado & Antonio Cairoli – PC @JP-Acevedo
Twenty rounds mean a massive sixty starts across seventeen countries in seven months for the 2020 FIM MXGP Motocross World Championship with each Grand Prix consisting of two motos and a Saturday Qualification Heat: it’s a vast number of races and risk involving a variety of tracks, terrain, conditions and climate from Argentina to Asia.
As the series gets ready for the 63rd year there is already sizeable buzz around Red Bull KTM Factory Racing: a team that have won both MXGP and MX2 classes on seven occasions in the last decade and who have seen eight different riders crowned (and a total of twelve titles) in sixteen years in MX2 alone. The factory fields works KTM 450 SX-F and KTM 250 SX-F motorcycles in each category and the MXGP division carries special significance in 2020 for the presence of Tony Cairoli, Jeffrey Herlings and Jorge Prado and a total of fifteen world championships between them…
2018 MXGP – PC @RayArcher
1) BATTLE LINES RE-DRAWN
Jeffrey Herlings and Tony Cairoli get ready to tussle again for the MXGP crown from the confines of the same awning. The duo has swung from extremes of fortune since both lined-up on the KTM 450 SX-F together in 2017. In that first year Cairoli returned from two seasons of injury problems to toast his ninth championship as Herlings started to dominate the second half of the campaign and once the Dutch rookie had recovered from a broken hand. They finished 1st and 2nd in the standings. 2018 promised a battle royal and the opening round in Argentina gave a taste of Herlings’ supremacy: each rider won a moto but #84 relegated Cairoli to second place on the final lap to claim the second race and a powerful first statement in a term that would see him win 17 from 19 Grands Prix (classifying as runner-up in the other two fixtures). Herlings’ efforts represented one of the most dominant seasons in FIM World Championship history as the teammates swapped overall positions but still ended 1-2.
2019 saw both out of action: Herlings derailed by a winter foot fracture (which he would re-injure in his mid-season comeback) and Cairoli banished by round nine due to a dislocated shoulder. Despite the adversity the pair still totalled six wins from twelve outings.
For 2020 Herlings is fully fit, even wiser after a fourth year disturbed by physical problems and is unbeaten in pre-season International meets. Cairoli has only completed one race since June 2019 but, at 34, is the oldest and most experienced rider in the gate and knows how to construct a title-bid based on consistency. While there are strong threats from Yamaha, Kawasaki, Husqvarna, GasGas and reigning champs Honda, the orange bikes are expected to take up residency at the front of the field once again.
Jorge Prado – PC @JP-Acevedo
2) THE BEST ROOKIE?
Still, only 19 years of age Jorge Prado’s debut in MXGP is the most anticipated since Herlings’ arrival in 2017 and one eagerly awaited considering the Spaniard’s ruthlessness with holeshots, victories and trophies in just three years of MX2 racing where he gained 31 wins and two consecutive championships in 2018 and 2019.
Pushed into the MXGP division partly by desire and mostly by regulation (a rider cannot defend an MX2 title twice in a row) Prado is in a similar predicament to Herlings where he’ll be playing ‘catch-up’ in his first taste of the premier class. A broken left femur in December meant the youngster only recently warmed the saddle and is in a dash against the calendar to make the opening rounds of Grand Prix.
Circumstances could be better but the effortless riding style, technique and maturity (coupled with that peerless system of getting out of the start gate) means that Prado’s competitiveness in MXGP is a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’. Tony Cairoli won his first season in MXGP in 2009. Romain Febvre and Tim Gajser repeated the distinction as rookies in 2015 and 2016 and Herlings managed eleven podiums and six wins in 2017 as a precursor to his masterful opus. Prado will have a mammoth task on his hands to both recover, learn and excel but the most successful rider ever from his country has more than enough time on his hands.
Tom Vialle – PC @RayArcher
3) THE ORANGE SPEAR POINT
Of the entire 2020 MX2 entry list there are only two riders with experience of winning a Grand Prix and one of those is Red Bull KTM’s Tom Vialle: the French rookie star from 2019 came into the year as an unknown ‘gamble’ by the factory team and delivered seven podium finishes – one of those being the milestone success in Sweden – and a 4th place championship finish.
The imminent MX2 contest is an open book but 19 year-old Vialle is one of the names on the first pages courtesy of his form and rapid development in ‘19 and his ability to maintain the excellent starting prowess of the KTM 250 SX-F that has set the benchmark for speed, performance and results since its introduction to the scene in 2004.
Rene Hofer – PC @RayArcher
Race fans were accustomed to seeing the MX2 pack frequently tipping into the opening corner with an orange ‘tip’ and there is every indication that the slight but technical form of Vialle will again be at the sharp point in 2020. KTM is hoping that the ‘rookie effect’ could have a similar spread on Rene Hofer as the teenage Austrian completes his scale through the EMX European Championship levels to earn his shot at the highest level. Hofer is the first ‘home-grown’ racer to represent the factory crew since 2001.
Jeffrey Herlings – PC @RayArcher
4) NEW CHALLENGES
The additions of Argentina, Indonesia, Turkey (although there was a one-off Grand Prix in Istanbul in 2009) and China in the last five years means that MXGP is continuing to evolve and find new territories and circuits. For every visit to a historical site like Maggiora in Italy or Valkenswaard in Holland, there are newer, more experimental rounds, such as the temporary builds at Imola or Palembang in Indonesia or Shanghai.
For 2020 there are potentially four ‘unseen’ venues on the slate. Riders and teams will have to learn the characteristics of Intu Xanadu Arroyomolinos just outside of Madrid for round five, find a new track in Jakarta at the end of June for round twelve, venture into KymiRing in Finland for the seventeenth race and then perhaps contend with a new location for the Chinese Grand Prix in mid-September for the penultimate outing of the year.
Of the twenty dates, only four should involve a dip into sand while the rest constitute a mix of hard-pack and mud with just the Grand Prix of Argentina at Neuquen occurring in the unusual volcanic ash found in the region.
Antonio Cairoli – PC @JP-Acevedo
5) THE LONG GAME
Even though MXGP passes in a rush – with the exception of July there are three fixtures every month from March until September – the quantity of GPs means a special approach to the calendar and the phrase ‘it’s a long season…’ will frequently emerge from the mouths of riders as the competition gets underway at Matterley Basin in England on March 1st.
The rate of travel and racing will be relentless, and a considered strategy of avoiding injury and hefty points loss in order to tackle the diversity of the Grands Prix and capture that treasured final championship position could see different riders shining at different moments to meet the conditions. As an example of the variance then the very first Grand Prix in the UK at the tail end of winter could be a mudder, while two years ago there were sub-zero temperatures and snow for what will be round two at Valkenswaard near Eindhoven a week later. Just six weeks on and the paddock will encounter warmer temperatures in Spain and Portugal while the Indonesian back-to-back double in June is usually a sweltering test of heat and humidity.
The speed and openness of a track like Kegums in Latvia and the hard-pack of Orlyonok in Russia are a contrast to the compact and tight layouts at Arco di Trento and Imola in Italy. The slick, slippery and hard surface at Loket in the Czech Republic is a total contrast to the sapping bumps and sand of Lommel in Belgium found just seven days apart: in fact, that week in the summer is usually once of the most fascinating microcosms of the championship in terms of demands on the racers.
It will be a ‘long season’…but also a comprehensive and exciting one!
One of the best places to watch every minute of MXGP race action is through the official online streaming package available at www.mxgp.tv
3 REASONS TO VISIT THE KTM MOTOHALL
Posted in Interactive An orange homage to motorcycling: KTM’s combination of museum, exhibition, interaction and education – the ‘KTM Motohall’ – has been open for almost a year and has so far welcomed more than 50,000 visitors.
KTM’s factory has spread significantly through Mattighofen and into the neighboring Munderfing in recent years but the ribbon-cutting of the KTM Motohall in 2019 marked an aesthetic and necessary reference point for the company in the upper Austrian town and away from the assembly line buildings, engine and spares plants and R&D offices. Located smack-bang in the center of Mattighofen (just a few kilometers from the hub of KTM production) and with a car park and principal high street only meters away from the entrance, it has become a new mecca for fans of ‘the orange’ and motorcyclists generally. Here are three big reasons or calling cards to re-program the GPS and discover the facility at some point in 2020…
THE HEROES AREA The KTM Motohall takes you on a path upwards, through the technical, engineering as well as historical story and showcasing the achievements of KTM. The shapes of the walls and the architecture is sometimes as eye-catching as the machinery. The vast ‘web’ of race trophies suspended from the ceiling is particularly striking, but it is the Heroes area on the top floor and at the peak of the exhibition ramp that is the highlight of the KTM Motohall experience.
As if the collection of almost thirty motorcycles and head-to-toe race kit of the distinguished athletes wasn’t enough then the whole room is an audio-visual assault on the senses. Floor-to-ceiling screens show the full range of KTM’s racing activities (more than 300 FIM World titles accumulated) with a highly stylized selection of imagery and reflective interviews from many of the sportsmen whose gear and former rides are on show. There is space to sit, watch and listen and then appreciate the scope of the display.
Some of the highlights include the KTM 250 MC that took Russian Gennady Moiseev to the company’s first title (Motocross) in 1974 to the KTM 950 Rally that carried the late Italian Fabrizio Meoni to his Dakar success in 2002 as well as pillar-shaking bikes and individuals that rocked Motocross, Supercross and Enduro. For road racing there is Casey Stoner’s KTM 125 FRR – the bike that the Australian used to snare KTM’s very first Grand Prix win on the asphalt in Malaysia in 2004 – Sandro Cortese’s inaugural – championship-winning Moto3TM 250cc and up to the current KTM RC16 steered in MotoGPTM by Pol Espargaró. The Austrian link is honored through the Dakar and Motocross conquering winning tech used by Heinz Kinigadner and Matthias Walkner.
THE JOURNEY The slight gradient to the racing room sees the timeline of KTM illustrated through various key and pristine motorcycles: such as the daddy of them all – the KTM R 100 – and the KTM Mecky 50, a lime moped-scooter formed in the late 1950s and featuring the very first all-KTM engine made in Mattighofen. Did you know that KTM only stopped making scooters in 1988?
For the first time, the full two-wheeled trajectory of the company is laid-out. The bikes are accompanied by photographs of every era (the pics of Erwin Lechner and his national and central European success on the roads in the 1950s is a reminder of KTM’s long competitive past) and the accompanying short texts do not only give the details of the model but why it was important for KTM and what is especially different or significant about it. For instance, when KTM built and started to produce the R 100 they could only finish three a day!
The growth of the brand is evident by the ‘down ramp’ where the Naked Bikes and Adventures are positioned in their generative entirety with some parked away from the stand and available for visitors to hop on. It is almost laughable to see how KTM have progressed with their modern Street catalog and from the first KTM DUKE in 1994 to the force of multi-national fabrication and R&D that exists today. In this area, the ‘story’ is seen in the technical advancement of KTM motorcycles compared to the basic and almost romantic beginnings of the opposing display. Further down and then overhead KTM’s excellence as an offroad manufacturer is well represented with the fantastic arch of suspended Dirt Bikes and the Enduro section is nothing short of comprehensive.
THE KNOWLEDGE There is an attempt to explain how KTM have evolved and arrived through many of their design and engineering philosophies in several dynamic sections; ‘dynamic’ due to the fact that you don’t only find text and drawings on the walls: there are monitors, components and interactive elements to chart things like findings in bodywork, engine construction, rider assistance aids and suspension (kids can match motor sounds and stamp a ‘Rookie–Tour’ booklet at specific stations). This is an important reveal for a company like KTM; a firm that sculpts their motorcycles around a clear identity and set of brand values. It is worth taking a moment to look, read and touch why a KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R looks so edgy and extreme. There are ‘nuggets’ of trivia dotted around the place, such as the line that reveals 20,000 spare parts and accessories are gathered and packed every day at Mattighofen.
The final part of the KTM Motohall belongs to the prototypes (the 2010 version of the KTM FREERIDE E is particularly striking and the 2012 concept KTM scooter for the Tokyo Motor Show) and the current models. Fresh additions include the latest versions of the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R, KTM DUKE and KTM ADVENTURE families (1290, 890, 790, 390) which for many visitors who haven’t attended a show or not walked into a motorcycle dealership will see for the first time.
Before leaving the curved doors, the KTM shop is well-stocked. Curious wanderers will also spot the tuition and educational spaces the Innovation Lab in the basement which usually opens three times a week on Fridays 2pm – 4pm | Saturdays 11am – 1pm | Sundays 11am – 1pm (booking required!) with Soldering- and Doodle Workshops can extend what is a good one-two hour stay.
(AND…4. THE GARAGE RESTAURANT) Whether it’s coffee, lunch or a Red Bull – there is also a long list of craft beers and plenty of options for a sweet waffle – then the Garage restaurant adjacent to the KTM Motohall is a fine stop before or after the trip to the main building. The interior decoration is orientated around bikes and components (such as the design sketches in the toilets), a large RC16 is suspended in the middle of the dining space and a wall full of autographed cards of racing heroes and figures is one of those features that has you spending time to see ‘who is who?’. The menu is not huge but has plenty of options –the taste, the size of the portion and the presentation is impressive (the sharing platter for two comes in a miniature ‘toolbox’, so details are clearly key, witness the workstation style rolls of tissue at the end of the tables). The sun pours through the vast windows at a certain period in the afternoon and it adds to the feeling of being in a new, modern and welcoming space.
The KTM Motohall is open from Wednesday to Sunday 9.00 a.m.- 6 p.m!
Details on tickets, prices and events can be found on the official KTM Motohall website.
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.
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.
Matthias Walkner creates a wall of dust as he battles stage two of the 2020 Dakar Rally.
Sam Sunderland tackles the tricky terrain and navigation on Dakar stage two.
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.
Matthias Walkner loads in his roadbook ahead of stage four of the rally.
Toby Price navigates the sandy terrain at speed on his way to winning stage five of the Dakar.
Matthias Walkner took a top three finish on a very fast stage Dakar stage six.
Toby Price is followed by the helicopter capturing him in action during stage six of the race.
Luciano Benavides contemplates his possibilities during the Dakar 2020 rest day.
Toby Price the Bivouac Barber – a little downtime on rest day during the Dakar.
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.
Luciano Benavides tries to keep the power down aboard his KTM 450 RALLY on the changing terrain during Dakar stage nine.
After a grueling race Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price takes his fifth podium from six Dakar starts.
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…
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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!”
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.”
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!”