There is a lot more thought and design that goes into a pair of motocross goggles than you think. Scott Sports shares some of their secrets…
PC @MitterbauerHGoggles have been stretched awkwardly across helmets, smashed remorselessly by roost, thrown away by motocross racers during motos but also lovingly prepared, washed and placed on shelves with old helmets for posterity. They are often an under-appreciated piece of riding kit but utterly essential for anyone who has followed a friend or competitor on a stony trail or tried to plow across a muddy track in the rain.
PC @RayArcherThere is a wealth of products on the market and several specialized brands in the optics business; goggles can cost 50 euros and last a few rides or can be than three times as expensive with some serious engineering behind them. Scott Sports are one of the proponents of goggle technology for bikes and the snow and have been introducing new concepts and innovations like face-fitting frames, lens-locking and a wide field of vision for three decades.
The American-Swiss company also has a strong link with KTM. For four years Scott has held a special place in the KTM PowerWear catalog, and they have provided wares for the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team in both Enduro and Motocross, meaning the crucial race-tested and dependable eyewear for the likes of Josep Garcia, Nathan Watson, Jorge Prado, Tom Vialle and Rene Hofer.
There is also another quirky connection: Mattighofen, Austria, is not only the fount of the finest offroad bikes but also Scott’s main European hub for goggle production. In the same town, only a few kilometers away from the KTM assembly lines, is the GBM Kunststofftechnik & Formenbau factory with a workforce of around 100 people; half of which is dedicated to Scott with almost half a century of molding experience. GBM churns out nearly 1,000,000 goggles a year at full tilt.
PC @SchedlR.Watching how a goggle like Scott’s Prospect – and the new Fury model – goes from a complex CAD diagram to a boxed item ready for shipping is a revealing process. It might look like a lump of brightly colored composite, plastic and fabric but a seemingly basic piece of kit can actually take up to three years from conceptualization to design and manufacturing, and then small refinements of the product to ensure things like the widest possible fit in the largest spread of helmets. The Prospect has to protect and be highly functional in terms of preventing things like sweat, dust and sand dropping into the goggle. It also has to provide optimum vision and lenses that don’t fog, don’t distort and even react to ambient light. It has to stay firmly fixed on the face and around the helmet. It has to allow ventilation and airflow. It has to be versatile and effective when it comes to the application of tear-offs and roll-offs. Lastly – or perhaps most importantly for some riders – they have to look pretty cool and fit together with bike graphics or other kit.
The heart of all this service begins with the steel mold. It can take five-six people up to three months to craft this large lump of metal that casts the frame of the Prospect. The steel can be ground to 1000th of a millimeter and a very precise outline. The most complicated molds can cost in the region of a quarter of a million euros: not much room for failure! The steel casing has to withstand 400 bars of pressure and eventually is used to make thousands and thousands of goggle frames a month. When Scott eventually come up with a successor to the Prospect – as they did with their previous Tyrant and Hustle goggles – then the mold goes into storage and is kept in an ‘archive’. Scott could easily make a 30-year old goggle again if they wanted to.
PC @RayArcherIn production the mold will contain colored resin that is melted at 220 degrees and then the frames are popped out while at a quarter of the temperature. The colors of the Prospect frames come from a resin decided between Scott & GBM and there is a wide palette of choice. The material can also be manipulated so the nearly indestructible frames can be flexible and then very tough in other areas. For example, construction around the nose bridge.
For the most fanciful color schemes Scott/GBM have used a technique called Water Transfer Decoration. Fine films of paint and design are suspended on top of a water tank and a set of blank goggle frames are then dipped into the solution. They are dried, washed (to remove excess film), dried, varnished and dried again. The slight imprecision of WTD means every pair of goggles created like this is almost unique.
PC @SchedlRThe dry frame passes to the foam stage where Scott’s special triple layer technology is glued by hand. The goggle moves along the line for the lenses, which are also clipped into place by GBM’s workers. Very light TruView lenses are cut from massive sheets of Lexan (polycarbonate) and are then treated with anti-scratch and anti-fog formulas. There are 10 different colors alone for the Prospect. Once cut and punched in the giant press and piled ready for use the lenses are heated and bent into frames and where the advantageous lock system – thanks to four pins – comes into play.
The lenses pass a strict (and dramatic) ballistic test in the factory. At one stage Scott were shooting a 3mm steel ball at 112 meters per second from a few meters distance at sample goggles. The pellet would dent but not break the lens. This resilience is almost three times what is required for CE regulation for motocross and more than half of what is necessary for street visors on helmets. Scott’s parameters for safety are therefore far advanced of the minimum level. Their demand for pristine optical performance comes from a second examination at GBM where a laser tests for clarity. It measures UV (all of the Prospect lenses are 100% UV protective) and if there is any distortion or disorientation as a final quality control.
PC @TaglioniSThe last room before boxing contains the large machines with reels and reels spitting out kilometers of wildly colored straps and the advanced but secretive fastening system that allow Scott to be proud of this particular aspect of the Prospect’s specs.
Advanced-level goggles have not become any cheaper in the last ten years but the likes of the Prospect and competitors such as Oakley’s Front Line and 100%’s Armega mean that riders are getting well-thought and carefully crafted products that could make the difference in a race, rally or ride-out.
Click here to see the latest KTM PowerWear Scott goggles.
Posted in Bikes Are Naked bikes still the rage? Looking at KTM’s Street portfolio then you’d think so with at least two new models coming to showrooms this year in the forms of the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R and the KTM 890 DUKE R. We asked some key figures in orange – as well as ex-racers like Jeremy McWilliams and Chris Fillmore – if the genre remains vibrant and in-demand as the new decade begins…
We call them ‘Naked’ but, really, they are definitive motorcycles: the way bikes used to be and have always been since the 1980s boom towards sports machines and the notion of the superbike. The fact that virtually every major manufacturer has a significant interpretation of ‘Naked’ is indicative of the choice and versatility that riders want on crowded and patrolled roads.
For KTM the ‘Naked’ motorcycle is still utterly relevant. On the KTM website there are options for Travel, Sports Tourer, Naked, Supermoto and Supersport but in 2019 the DUKE range accounted for 100,000 of global sales (almost 40% of the total) with the accessibility, young appeal and build quality of the KTM 125 DUKE hoisting the bike as the best-seller in the range.
2020 represents the fourth year that the manufacturer will be present on the MotoGP grid and with four works bikes they already equal Yamaha and Honda and surpass Suzuki and Aprilia in terms of presence. With an emphasis on performance the factory push their 2020 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R to the fore. The crazy depth of torque and a brand-new chassis from the overhauled roadster gives new impetus to the ‘BEAST’ tag: a bike without the clothes but very much in disguise as a rip-roaring sports machine if desired.
PC @KTM“It is definitely our top-of-the-range Street performance product,” confirms Head of Product Management Adriaan Sinke. KTM are forging ahead with their belief in Naked bikes. In a dizzying eighteen-month spell of development-and-launch the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R now has the KTM 790 DUKE and KTM 890 DUKE R for company.
The Euro5 emission-ready KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R is at the top of the tree and boasts the kind of output, refined handling (a vastly stiffer and superior chassis/frame concept) and electronics (MTC, MSR, varying ABS, 6D lean angle sensor) to match most 2020 incarnations on the market. Therein lies a paradox: how do KTM continue to fabricate a simplistic motorcycle that provides the sensations, comfort and thrills that customers demand while also hiking the level of sophistication?
“It’s really tough actually,” Sinke admits. “The market demands more technology. For even the biggest Naked bike stalwart you cannot ride them without electronic fuel injection or throttle management… Traction control is becoming more and more of a standard feature and is slowly becoming a must have for daily riding. It is possible but not in an everyday situation. One of the keys with this bike was trying to give the rider the feeling of control more than on the previous model. We have always had quite good traction control, but we wanted the rider to have more depth of feeling, how the power was coming in, that the bike was sliding and it was helping them to drive forward. We wanted them to have that sense of ‘I’m the master of what my motorcycle is doing’. You don’t want a good rider to switch off the traction control, you want a good rider to enjoy the possibilities he can explore by using traction control.
PC @KTMTo explore the extremities and advantages of the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R, KTM let journalists and testers have free reign around the technical Portimao racetrack in southern Portugal for the official presentation. Circulating the WorldSBK venue opens up the valves. It allows the 180hp and 140Nm potential of the LC8 engine to boom, and the new handling shine throughout the weave of dips and turns. Riders also toggle through the full range of the nine-level Traction Control setting and revitalised Track Mode; innovations that former MotoGP rider Jeremy McWilliams helped refine.
The Irishman has been a key figure in the evolution of the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R since the first ‘BEAST’ in 2013. His track work has allowed KTM R&D to examine the limits of the motorcycle and create a stable-and-secure yet thrilling offering for the road. “I think we like Naked bikes because we have a bit more control of them,” he opines. “We’re on top of them, we have more leverage and a wide bar position. You have more torque on this motorcycle than I think anything else out there on the market today. Torque is our friend: when you have that much on tap it makes the riding experience that much more fun. It doesn’t really matter what gear you exit the corner on this bike. We never use second gear here at Portimao. We don’t need it because third has so much push to get it off the corner at any speed. You can become a bit of a hooligan on this and you can also ride it as sedately as you want. There is a lot of variety thanks to the electronic settings. A lot of options.”
PC @KTMMcWilliams is clocking laps with another ex-Grand Prix star, Alex Hoffmann and also American Chris Fillmore, who used to compete in AMA Superbike with the RC8. “When it comes to Naked bikes then it depends on your goals with motorcycling,” Fillmore says. “If your goal is not to be a full-on racer then they are ten times more comfortable than a sportsbike on the street. They still work unbelievably well on the track and I was getting within 2-3 seconds of my RC8 lap-times on the old generation of the SUPER DUKE and this version is even better thanks to that stiffer frame. It is like a comfortable superbike: you still have all the technology and the performance, but everything is geared more towards being comfortable on the street…although, honestly, you don’t lose that much for the track.”
PC @KTMThe idea of the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R on a circuit seems a little alien, especially considering the latest fad brands have towards the production of high-performing and highly expensive track models in the last half a decade. The KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R does not disappoint however and can be tweaked to get as ragged or as assuring as any rider wants. “If you are a good rider then you can be very fast on a SUPER DUKE R,” promises Sinke. “The chassis, torque and brakes: it’s a really good package. We hope we are able to convince a few track riders to pick it up and I’m sure we will. You will ride the SUPER DUKE R on the streets but if you want to go to the track then you won’t need two bikes.”
The new KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R’s engine numbers are eye-widening for a v-twin. For ‘scratching’ or a competitive environment then it’s a clear asset. But are those figures still appealing for customers in 2020? Fillmore believes so. “I think riders are still hung up on horsepower because it is an ego-thing,” he smiles. “My father owns a bike and he had to buy the fastest, biggest, latest, greatest and, for me, I think if people took a step back and even looked at the midweight category – I think the KTM 790 DUKE is one of the best bikes for everybody – then their experience would be just as good as any sports bike. The KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R is great because it has all the torque and all the power but it is all very manageable with the electronics. I think people are too hung-up on a number. On the street there is always a speed limit. This is one of the best streetbikes because of the torque. At 3000rpm you are immediately in the meat of the power on this bike. You don’t get to use much power on the street and the torque gives you that excitement instantly. In comparison – inline fours – you have to be screaming and already going 100 to get into the power and where they pull at the top end. This is a bottom-end fun.”
“I think in our hearts there are still a lot of ‘youngsters’ out there who have grown up, made their money and can buy these types of bikes,” concurs Sinke. “The fun factor of controlling something with so much power is still there, and it will take quite a while before that attraction dies down. In fifteen years we might have electric superbikes but I think that fascination with power and speed will always be present. Being a bit of a bad boy and being a bit naughty almost defines a bike like this: something powerful but playful at the same time.”
In that sense KTM almost seem duty-bound to fashion something as radical and extreme as the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R. “Yeah, probably,” Sinke confesses. “The bike is ‘in-your-face’ and that is our brand in every possible way. It is amazing to ride this bike and be shot out of the corners. Do I need this bike? Of course I don’t. A KTM 790 DUKE has plenty of power to tackle any mountain road…but to have that power and torque under your right hand is really a lot of fun.”
A Naked bike doesn’t hide much, and in the case of the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R then even less with that edgy and purposeful styling but the truth is that there is a vast world of experience within, and with the slightest touch of that right handlebar grip. That mystery and sense of discovery is what keeps KTM striving towards the ‘ultimate’ Naked bike. They have hit the mark with the 2020 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R: a creation with MotoGP nuance drip-feed into its DNA and an influence that trickles down into the rest of the DUKE line. “Naked bikes are almost the epitome of what a motorcycle is about,” concludes Sinke. “We sell immense volumes of the small DUKEs so there is definitely a big market for it. It doesn’t have a big fairing or a bunch of stuff that you don’t need on a bike. It’s an important market for us and it is definitely continuing.”
Posted in Interactive The recent lockdown has meant some quiet but busy days for the staff at the KTM Motohall. Work inside the stunning complex has not stopped so here are some key reasons to plan a visit and details of a fantastic competition for those that make it to Mattighofen before the end of June.
PC @KTM1. New racebikes, new bikes, new builds
Riders and customers tempted by a 2020 KTM can finally get back into authorized KTM dealers but for those wanting a look – and even a ‘grip’ – of the fanciful KTM 890 DUKE R and models such as the KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S then a raft of bikes in the KTM Motohall has been updated. Some of the 2020 portfolio has been placed into the ‘sit-on’ holders; so while riders can only fantasize rather than experience the agility and ‘scratching’ potential of the KTM 890 DUKE R, visitors can still throw a leg over the motorcycle and let their imagination do the rest.
PC @KTMThe top floor of the KTM Motohall contains the ‘Heroes’ section and where original machines and kit of 28 figures in KTM’s long racing history are on display. One new entrant graces the gentle sloping floor surrounded by a vivid wall-to-wall video-audio show: 2019 AMA 450 SX Supercross Champion, Cooper Webb, makes his debut ‘appearance’. Moved to the Racing Bike Section is Sam Sunderland’s FIM Cross Country World Championship conquering KTM 450 RALLY, parked a short distance from Jorge Prado’s double-FIM MX2 Motocross title grabbing KTM 250 SX-F and Manuel Lettenbichler’s KTM 300 EXC TPI WESS-winning saddle.
PC @KTMProactivity with the layout and functionality of the KTM Motohall means an altered reception area (particularly for groups) and a bigger shop space. In fact, walking through the amplified zone with the full racks of KTM PowerWear it will be impossible to ignore the new KTM Retro Collection with vintage designs and throwbacks to the company’s history splashed on items from magnets, postcards to t-shirts: a very cool spin on the usual product and racing-related fare. Threading through the store leads to the subterranean live workshop and a tasty addition: Brad Binder’s factory Moto2™ RC12. Chris Fillmore’s KTM 790 DUKE – that claimed honors in the famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb – is also present.
PC @KTM2. Family fun with the ‘new normal’
Society is dealing with the 2020 parameters involving social distancing but with an attractive and airy setting inside the KTM Motohall the interaction and enjoyment has not been diluted. KTM have assumed steps to ensure maximum safety and hygiene and – as always – the priority is for the entire family to take something away from their trip. Motorcyclists, history and racing fans and ‘tech-heads’ have a mine of detail to wade through along the corridors but the kids can, push, pull, listen, guess and buzz around the building thanks to KTM pedal-less cycles. They can also bang the stamps in their KTM Rookie Booklet (a souvenir pamphlet that junior KTM Motohallers can have fun tracing the stops, learn some fun facts and then take home).
PC @KTM3. Food for thought…and the stomach!
KTM have rearranged and squeezed more attractions into the KTM Motohall to make the journey around the modern architecture even more of a feast for the eyes. Fans of the brand will notice the renovation of Offroad and Street models from 2019 to 2020, making sure the latest technology is fully up-to-date, and the explanations behind the fabrication, prototypes, manufacturing standards and brand-new innovations tell the stories behind the bikes.
PC @RudolfEbnerOnce outside, the very short walk to the Garage restaurant reveals further novelties. The KTM-themed restaurant has renewed (and continues to refresh) their standard and daily lunch menus and now have brunch on Sundays and ‘after-work’ specials.
PC @RudolfEbner4. Win Big and Go Orange!
There is a special incentive to discover or rediscover the KTM Motohall before the end of June. Every valid entry ticket will slide into a box for a mega prize draw! The first ticket pulled out at random will win a KTM SX-E 5. This ideal first step into both motorcycling and e-mobility for kids between the ages of 3-10 (the bike is designed in order to grow with the child) is worth almost 5000 euros. The second ticket will earn a KTM ORANGE E-EXPERIENCE voucher applicable for three people. This entails a two-hour session at the KTM E-Cross Centre in Munderfing (for over-18s), lunch at the Garage restaurant and re-entry to the KTM Motohall. Third prize is a KTM Motohall Retro Package.
PC @KTMIn fact, KTM are excited to have the KTM Motohall active again so will be giving each ticket-holder a 2020 KTM Fan Package that includes a t-shirt, cap, keyring lanyard, and drawstring gym-bag completely free while stocks last. Watch the calendar and get to the KTM Motohall before July to stand a chance!
The KTM Motohall is open from:
– 9 am – 6 pm
– Wednesday – Sunday
More information on tickets and activities have a look at the KTM Motohall website: www.ktm-motohall.com
JONNY WALKER – MY 10 YEARS OF RED BULL ERZBERGRODEO
Posted in People, Racing From unassuming privateer to one of the world’s best enduro riders, Jonny Walker has experienced a lot during the last decade. Nowhere have those experiences been more rewarding, and in some cases agonising, than at the Red Bull Erzbergrodeo.
Jonny Walker – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing.
If extreme enduro riders are like gladiators, then Erzbergrodeo is their colosseum. An event with a fabled history, it’s the world’s toughest single day enduro – a race where only the strongest racers truly do survive. A three-time winner of the Red Bull Erzbergrodeo, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jonny Walker has endured the highs and lows of the event, which takes place at an open-pit iron mine in Eisenerz, Austria.
2020 marks 10 years since the Brit first set foot on hard enduro’s hallowed ground back in 2011. But with the event at the Iron Giant (as it is affectionately known) taking a breather until 2021, Walker, like everyone, will have to wait another 12 months before entering the arena again and fighting for a fourth win.
Looking back on the highs and lows of the last 10 years, Jonny recalls some of his best Red Bull Erzbergrodeo moments and considers why one day soon a 4-stroke could win this iconic race.
A young Jonny Walker finished on the podium at his Red Bull Erzbergrodeo debut.
2011 – Privateer Podium
“I drove out to Austria in 2011 to race it for the first time. I didn’t really know a whole lot about the race or what I was going to do. Arriving at the village and seeing the Iron Giant was cool, but it didn’t give me goose bumps like it does now. Now it’s a different story because all the memories come flooding back – all the highs and lows. It’s such an important race in enduro and the physical size of the Iron Giant adds to that. I finished third that year and on the way home stopped at the KTM headquarters to sign a factory contract. It’s crazy to think how my life’s changed since. It’s harder for a privateer to rock up and podium because the depth of talent is so deep now.”
Walker approaches the finish after a ‘perfect race’.
2012 – Debut Win
“I didn’t have any pressure entering the race in 2012, despite being the top KTM rider. Back then I was still working as a window fitter, even though I was a pro rider, because it was all I knew, and it gave me a routine. I still had this other life outside of racing. I didn’t treat it like a job because at home I was still fitting windows during the week. I raced and had fun. The race itself is a blur, but I remember crossing the finish line and Karl Katoch handing me the chequered flag – a massive wave of emotion came over me. It was amazing to win.”
2013 – Armageddon
“It was like Armageddon for 2013. Conditions were biblical. I qualified on the front row and Graham Jarvis was on the second row. I knew he was my toughest competition, so I was fired up to make as much time as I could before he started. But I drowned my bike off the start. I’m still amazed that we started in that water, but that’s the sort of stuff that makes Erzbergrodeo famous. I was stuck at the side frantically draining water out of my bike when Graham came past. I finally got going and pushed as hard as I could, but conditions were horrendous and recovering that amount of positions was tough. I passed about 100 riders for fourth, but I was gutted about it at the time.”
The ‘Iron Giant’ is a truly incredible place and the colosseum of hard enduro.
2014 – The Perfect Race
“I still dream about 2014. I remember finishing and realising that I never fell off the bike, not once. Everything went so perfectly and that almost never happens at the Iron Giant. I got the holeshot and didn’t see another rider for the rest of the race. I won by about 30 minutes, which is unheard of now.”
2015 – Teamwork To Survive
“I think 2015 was good for the sport because people who don’t normally follow hard enduro tuned in. It definitely lifted things to another level. But for a racer it was a strange situation to be in. We race to win, but on that day nobody could win without helping each other. It was weird to suddenly change your mindset from racing to pitching in together like that. The track was so steep, no one could get to the top of that climb. I just remember speaking with the guys and going with the situation. People will talk about that Downtown section for years to come, it’s nice to be associated with that piece of Erzbergrodeo history.”
Walker attacks one of the Red Bull Erzbergrodeo climbs in 2019.
2016 – Forced Spectator
“2016 was the year I watched it from the side lines. I broke my leg leading the SuperEnduro World Championship and unfortunately had to sit the race out. It’s a totally different experience being there as a spectator. As a racer, Erzbergrodeo is a pressure cooker. It builds weeks before you go and race day is stomach-churning. That was the only year I’ve been able to eat breakfast without wanting to vomit before the race!”
Carl’s dinner – a tough crossing of huge boulders it’s a battle only the toughest riders can win,
2018 – The One That Got Away
“It still kills me now to think about 2018 because I just made one silly little mistake on a relatively easy section and lost the race. I was right on Graham (Jarvis) at Green Hell and we pushed our way past Billy Bolt and Mani Lettenbichler into first and second. Exiting the section I was on his tail, but let my front wheel wash out on a root riding down the bank and it got wedged on a tree. Due to the steepness of the bank I struggled to get it out. With only Dynamite and Lazy Noon left I couldn’t get him back. I finished 40 seconds behind, so it’s definitely the one that slipped away.”
Walker in 2019 racing the KTM 300 EXC TPI.
Why the KTM 300 EXC TPI is the best tool for the job
“The KTM 300 EXC TPI has proven itself so many times at the race. It’s become the best bike for the job for riders of all abilities. For an amateur rider there’s very little you need to do to it. The package is light, responsive and near-bulletproof reliable. Now, with the TPI fuel injection, KTM have refined that further. It attacks hill climbs like nothing else. Also, altitude isn’t a factor – from the bottom of the quarry to the top of the mountain and back down again there’s no change in power delivery. It just works.”
The new 2021 KTM 300 EXC TPI ERZBERGRODEO.
Why a 4-stroke can win Erzbergrodeo
“I believe that the KTM 350 EXC-F could win Red Bull Erzbergrodeo one day. It’s actually something I’ve been thinking about for a while. At this moment the KTM 300 EXC TPI 2-stroke has the edge because it’s a great all-round package, but with some focused testing the 350F could do it. In the UK I race the KTM 350 EXC-F for multi-lap extreme races because the power delivery is consistent and strong. At Erzbergrodeo the 350F would hold its own off the start and right up to Carls Dinner. I think that is the pinch-point of the race – getting the bike through there without issues would be key. After Carls Dinner things are equal again with the two-stroke. Maybe one day…”
A lot of race experience went into the development of the new 2021 KTM 300 EXC TPI ERZBERGRODEO.
As we’ve heard in this blog, the Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble is one of the toughest races on the planet. In tribute to this iconic event KTM has announced a special model, the 2021 KTM 300 EXC TPI ERZBERGRODEO, which is a truly special machine. Produced in limited numbers, this exciting new model is the ultimate package for conquering the toughest terrain. With racing development at the KTM 300 EXC TPI ERZBERGRODEO’S foundation and influence from talented riders such as Walker, this bike not only looks outstanding with its special colorway, but it has a long list of special parts to reinforce its READY TO RACE bloodline. Best go and check it out, hey?
Please click here to see more!
JOSEP GARCIA – UP FOR A CHALLENGE
Posted in Racing Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Josep Garcia is not one to shy away from a challenge. With wide-ranging childhood dreams, he’s grown from mini-moto racer and Red Bull Rookie rider to an Enduro World Champion and two-time Red Bull Erzbergrodeo finisher.
Josep Garcia – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing. PC @Future7Media
Along the way he’s also claimed three victories in the WESS Enduro World Championship, while becoming the first rider in 33 years to beat the French on their home soil to win the Trefle Lozerien classic enduro.
With aspirations of leading Spain to ISDE victory, as well as extreme enduro goals still to be achieved, Garcia isn’t done yet with adding to his list of achievements…
Garcia went road racing with the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup in 2011 before becoming an Enduro racer. PC @Gold&Goose
Josep, from Red Bull Rookies to an Enduro World Champion and two-time Erzbergrodeo finisher, are you surprised by the things you’ve accomplished on two wheels?
Josep Garcia: “As a child I was quite broad in my dreams. I always wanted to be a world champion, but wanted to finish something crazy like Erzbergrodeo, too. The Red Bull Rookies was an opportunity too good to refuse. I have a lot of good memories from that 2011 season. On paper it’s a strange path, probably unique, but all of it has helped shape me into the rider I’ve become.”
How did Red Bull Rookies happen for you and why did you decide to move to enduro?
“Going from road back to off-road is a strange journey, but it’s just the way things worked out. I was about 14 years old when I got the chance to go road racing, so I took it. I had tried mini-moto racing as a child and wanted a change from motocross, so followed that path. I had some good results but looking back now it mostly taught me about being a professional athlete. At the end of 2011 there was an opportunity to move to enduro and I took it. It was a natural fit and so far it’s worked out pretty good!”
Garcia has tackled some of the most challenging hard enduro events. Here he’s riding the KTM 300 EXC TPI at the Red Bull Erzbergrodeo. PC @Future7Media
You began enduro on a 125cc 2-stroke. How important is a smaller capacity 2-stroke to develop a rider’s skill set?
“For me a 125 or 150 2-stroke is the foundation for everything else in enduro. It’s the best bike to learn on and a bike everyone should spend at least one-year riding. It teaches you so much because it is the most difficult bike to get right. You have to learn how to make it work in all conditions. Now I see lots of riders jump to the bigger bikes too soon, but I think that’s a mistake. What you learn riding a the smaller 2-stroke stays with you for life.”
What’s been the hardest thing for you to learn in extreme enduro? Has your physical size and h been an issue?
“For sure the hardest thing I’ve had to learn was the technical riding. Almost all of the top extreme enduro guys have a world-class background in the sport or have ridden trials all their life. I didn’t. And I’m also short, too, so that hasn’t helped! But I’m getting better and better each year. Bike set-up has been important and I have to thank guys like Alfredo Gomez for helping me with that – it means a lot.”
Garcia tackles the Le Trefle Lozerien mud on his way to becoming the first non-French racer to win the event. PC @Future7Media
As the first non-French rider to win Trefle Lozerien, how special was that victory in 2019?
“Winning Trefle Lozerien was one of my most favorite moments of my career. It took two years to achieve that. I learned a lot in 2018 and used that to fight for victory in 2019. It’s such a specialist race, you wouldn’t believe. There’s a lot to get right. The tests are very unique to France with lots of grass. You only ride each test once too, so there’s lots to remember and because you never quite know where you are going, you ride by feel. Last year was made difficult by the mud, so to prove myself in those conditions and become the first non-French winner was magical.”
Garcia celebrates finishing the Red Bull Erzbergrodeo in 2019. PC @Future7Media
How has learning the technical side of extreme enduro helped you improve your riding and speed for classic enduro and special tests?
“When I see extreme tests now they look easy. In the past I was always nervous about them, but from racing extreme enduro I’ve done stuff I never imagined I could. I’m more confident in the technical sections as a result. But one thing I’ve learned with extreme riding is traction. You are constantly fighting for it on climbs and rock gardens. I’ve got a better feel for that and push the limits more.”
Hawkstone Park 2019 – Garcia wheelies his way through a forest section. PC @Future7Media
Is a willingness to adapt to the challenges you face a reason for your success?
“You’ve got to embrace challenges in enduro. It’s something I’ve always believed in. Enduro is not just one thing, it’s everything. To be a true enduro rider you’ve got to do it all. Riding different disciplines helps you grow as a rider. I used to train mostly motocross but now my training is broader. I spend 50% of my time doing motocross and special tests and then the other 50% riding extreme stuff and trials.”
Learning new race formats and tackling hard enduro terrain has been a challenge Garcia has enjoyed. PC @Future7Media
Why have you moved from the KTM 250 EXC-F to the KTM 350 EXC-F for the classic enduro events?
“After four years on the KTM 250 EXC-F I felt this year was the right time to try the KTM 350 EXC-F. I achieved a lot with the 250F, so wanting to prove myself on a bigger bike offered a lot of motivation. Although it is early days, initial testing and the opening round of the Spanish Enduro Championship delivered good results. I feel like I can still be me on the bike, but it’s also pushing me to improve areas of my riding. When the ground is perfect I can be that aggressive rider I love being, but when it’s technical or wet I need to be smoother to ride fast. With more races to come, I’m excited to see where I’ll be at by the end of the year.”
On the gas at the WESS Enduro World Championship event in Solsona, Spain 2019. PC @Future7Media
What more do you want to achieve in enduro and racing?
“Right now, my motivation is to see what I can achieve on the KTM 350 EXC-F and to improve myself on the KTM 300 EXC TPI in extreme enduro. I want to reach the top of the podium again and to win special races like Trefle Lozerien or Hawkstone Park. I also want to win the ISDE outright. I’ve won my category and finished inside the top three overall – most recently Portugal 2019 – but never finished on the top step of the podium. I’d love to do that.”
Garcia enjoys the celebrations after winning the BR2 Enduro Solsona in 2019. PC @Future7Media
Finally, does winning the ISDE with Spain top that list, too?
“Yes, definitely and I think we’re coming into a good place to do that. As a nation we’ve got strong riders and the set-up of the Spanish team is ready to rival what Australia or USA have. For me the ISDE is a special race. It is the most important race for classic enduro and it’s the only time of the year when you race the best classic enduro riders in the world at the same time. Incredibly Spain has yet to win it, but I believe more and more we have a good chance to make history soon.”
With Covid-19 putting racing events on hold globally, it’s not yet clear when Garcia will be back in action in the WESS Enduro World Championship or national series. We look forward to seeing him trying to reach his goals over the next few years!