Mergi la conţinut

Dementor

Prieteni
  • Conţinut

    955
  • Membru din

  • Ultima vizită

  • Days Won

    1
  • Online

    12h 54m 44s

Tot ce a postat Dementor

  1. MOTOGP™️ IN LOCKDOWN! THE ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS

    MOTOGP™️ IN LOCKDOWN! THE ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS Posted in Racing What about the bikes, the re-organization, a skeleton crew for closed-doors GPs, the lack of testing, the future? KTM’s MotoGP™️ Technical Co-ordinator Sebastian Risse tackles some of the big current question marks over the sport. While the clock ticks down towards news of 2020 MotoGP™️ the Red Bull KTM race teams have been left in limbo due to the absence of a calendar and a routine that normally steers much of their lives and energy. The RC16s were in freight boxes and untouchable for over two months; the machines were last used at the Qatar test at the end of February. To gain more insight into how the crew handles the break, negotiates homologation, what it thinks about behind-closed-doors Grands Prix (as well as deal with the technical ‘freeze’ that will affect areas of development up until 2022) we called Sebastian to tackle some issues… The KTM RC16 was last in action at the Losail International Circuit (Qatar) for a test in February. PC: Polarity Photo On the bikes being boxed and only recently shipped to Spain from Qatar… When this material is in transit for a long time there is humidity that can damage some parts. For sure you take as many take precautions as possible but those still only work for two-three weeks – the normal time the bikes are in the crates – so it has been a very long time and we need to fix this. We need to take the parts out of the boxes, clean them and check for humidity and oxidization. It’s not about the durability of the parts but engine oxidation. Normally we have some special material – a silicone base that soaks up the humidity in the box – and when this is full then you start to have trouble. In a normal environment the parts would last forever but the precautions for a different environment only has a certain lifespan. After the Qatar test the season has been on hold due to Covid-19 – the team has been without the bikes, but Risse explains this is not a problem. PC: Polarity Photo On being without the bikes after the last test… From this point of view there was not such a big drama. We did not have any big technical problems at the test that needed to be analysed at home. If there had been then we would have shipped this material separately when the problem occurred, so the components would have been in another transport. We have been mainly working on the data that we had on laptops and for this we also have synchronization with the factory, so the data is already shared on the computers where it needs to be. The trouble comes when you want to react to any findings because it means working on hardware on the bikes or something in the workshop. Like many companies KTM has been quite limited with what it can do in terms of manpower, work-time and access to the workshop. After Qatar was cancelled we had work ‘on the table’ and side-projects that we were able to address: Those side projects became ‘main’ projects for many on the race team. KTM is waiting eagerly to find out when the team will be back on the MotoGP™️ grid (currently plans are being made for races in July) and to ensure everything is READY TO RACE. PC: Philip Platzer On the time frame to be (very) READY TO RACE… The first job is sorting the material. If we can get the bikes cleaned and ready then the trucks are already packed – as we had already anticipated that the next races would be European based – and this could all be organized short-term, especially if people can travel. Our truck drivers are spread around Europe, so if they cannot get here then you need another way to move the trucks to a track and that could affect organization and delays. But otherwise I think we can react quickly. A closed-door Grand Prix would mean crowds like this in Catalunya, Spain 2019 will have to watch from home, but racing can get underway. PC: Philip Platzer On the prospect of reduced staff for a behind-closed-doors Grand Prix… Many things are possible! Any change in the structure and our normal racing day means all the procedures that have been run with the group and the people around it have to change also, and that’s a challenge but also one that we will take and we’ll manage. Everybody else will have to deal with it, so it becomes like a competition: Whoever will approach it in the best way and gets the job done in the best way under the set conditions will be winning…or going forward at least. Racing, and being efficient, is often about focussing on the most important points at hand. There is always more to do – if you have the time – and this is the same thing but on a different level. There is a technical development freeze on the main aspects of the bike spec until 2021 to help contain costs due to the coronavirus. PC: Polarity Photo On the process of homologation for 2020… It is normally all documented but we also show the parts to the MotoGP™️ technical crew that we wish to homologate so they see them physically as well. The need for reference documents means that the procedure was already digital, so that was easy and not much different to usual. What was different is that, as a concession team, there are some things we don’t usually have to homologate but now we did because we agreed to ‘fix’ them [for 2021 also]. On the engine side we didn’t do digitally, instead we sent a sample engine so they can compare it to any engine submitted. Brad Binder is looking forward to getting back to the action aboard his KTM RC16. PC: Polarity Photo On the technical ‘freeze’ for 2021-2022 and the pressure involved… As an engineer you always want to go forward, try many things and try to improve but at the same time make the most of the given resources. It’s not clear at the moment what resources there will be. There is a commitment to racing of course and everybody will do their best to be competitive but we’ll have to wait and see the details to understand the circumstances. To a degree there is always pressure. For example, let’s look at the engine. Of course, we are constantly developing and the engine we wanted to use this season is different to last year’s. Over the winter we tried our best and we did a good job in finding the right spec. We didn’t face any technical problems that gave us a headache – but – it hasn’t been raced yet! So, if this engine, which is for this year and also the start of 2021, has a technical problem then you are in trouble. But – at the moment – what can we do? We know what we know about this package and if it had a known weak point then we would have addressed it. Unfortunately, there is no way around homologation, so you have to make the best of something. We have done race simulations during the tests and we have been in critical conditions, like the heat in Malaysia, and we’ve been at demanding tracks. We can also reproduce this on the dyno: we do endurance runs before we even get to the track. It means in theory – combined with the tests – you have done everything to make sure it works…reality can occasionally be different though! You can get a surprise sometimes! You cannot simulate that. Based on what we know it is fine and we are confident because we also didn’t have many big dramas in the last couple of years. You just have to hope that something you never thought or imagine doesn’t hit you! Brad Binder gives feedback during pre-season testing. PC: Polarity Photo On being able to look for loopholes in the rules or using extra time to find small innovations… It is always a matter of resources. For example, if you explore the ‘grey zone’ around the rules then you have to do all the work and somehow keep it the ‘right’ side of legal. Then fight other competitors in the technical meetings and discussions as well as the officials. You need to have the resources behind you to do it and then maybe you have to throw it away. As we are new to MotoGP™️ we have many areas in which we can invest resources and be sure that we are investing wisely – so ideas that are comfortably inside the rules and don’t have to be thrown away. It makes more sense to focus on those instead of something that is ‘50-50’ or it’s allowed for some races but then banned. If we are working on something that nobody else has then our strategy is to speak with the MotoGP™️ technical officials sooner rather than later and get their advice so that we don’t get any last minute ‘no’s’. Pol Espargaró and the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team are well-prepared for the season when it begins after successful tests earlier this year. PC: Polarity Photo
  2. MOTOGP™️ IN LOCKDOWN! THE ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS Posted in Racing What about the bikes, the re-organization, a skeleton crew for closed-doors GPs, the lack of testing, the future? KTM’s MotoGP™️ Technical Co-ordinator Sebastian Risse tackles some of the big current question marks over the sport. While the clock ticks down towards news of 2020 MotoGP™️ the Red Bull KTM race teams have been left in limbo due to the absence of a calendar and a routine that normally steers much of their lives and energy. The RC16s were in freight boxes and untouchable for over two months; the machines were last used at the Qatar test at the end of February. To gain more insight into how the crew handles the break, negotiates homologation, what it thinks about behind-closed-doors Grands Prix (as well as deal with the technical ‘freeze’ that will affect areas of development up until 2022) we called Sebastian to tackle some issues… The KTM RC16 was last in action at the Losail International Circuit (Qatar) for a test in February. PC: Polarity Photo On the bikes being boxed and only recently shipped to Spain from Qatar… When this material is in transit for a long time there is humidity that can damage some parts. For sure you take as many take precautions as possible but those still only work for two-three weeks – the normal time the bikes are in the crates – so it has been a very long time and we need to fix this. We need to take the parts out of the boxes, clean them and check for humidity and oxidization. It’s not about the durability of the parts but engine oxidation. Normally we have some special material – a silicone base that soaks up the humidity in the box – and when this is full then you start to have trouble. In a normal environment the parts would last forever but the precautions for a different environment only has a certain lifespan. After the Qatar test the season has been on hold due to Covid-19 – the team has been without the bikes, but Risse explains this is not a problem. PC: Polarity Photo On being without the bikes after the last test… From this point of view there was not such a big drama. We did not have any big technical problems at the test that needed to be analysed at home. If there had been then we would have shipped this material separately when the problem occurred, so the components would have been in another transport. We have been mainly working on the data that we had on laptops and for this we also have synchronization with the factory, so the data is already shared on the computers where it needs to be. The trouble comes when you want to react to any findings because it means working on hardware on the bikes or something in the workshop. Like many companies KTM has been quite limited with what it can do in terms of manpower, work-time and access to the workshop. After Qatar was cancelled we had work ‘on the table’ and side-projects that we were able to address: Those side projects became ‘main’ projects for many on the race team. KTM is waiting eagerly to find out when the team will be back on the MotoGP™️ grid (currently plans are being made for races in July) and to ensure everything is READY TO RACE. PC: Philip Platzer On the time frame to be (very) READY TO RACE… The first job is sorting the material. If we can get the bikes cleaned and ready then the trucks are already packed – as we had already anticipated that the next races would be European based – and this could all be organized short-term, especially if people can travel. Our truck drivers are spread around Europe, so if they cannot get here then you need another way to move the trucks to a track and that could affect organization and delays. But otherwise I think we can react quickly. A closed-door Grand Prix would mean crowds like this in Catalunya, Spain 2019 will have to watch from home, but racing can get underway. PC: Philip Platzer On the prospect of reduced staff for a behind-closed-doors Grand Prix… Many things are possible! Any change in the structure and our normal racing day means all the procedures that have been run with the group and the people around it have to change also, and that’s a challenge but also one that we will take and we’ll manage. Everybody else will have to deal with it, so it becomes like a competition: Whoever will approach it in the best way and gets the job done in the best way under the set conditions will be winning…or going forward at least. Racing, and being efficient, is often about focussing on the most important points at hand. There is always more to do – if you have the time – and this is the same thing but on a different level. There is a technical development freeze on the main aspects of the bike spec until 2021 to help contain costs due to the coronavirus. PC: Polarity Photo On the process of homologation for 2020… It is normally all documented but we also show the parts to the MotoGP™️ technical crew that we wish to homologate so they see them physically as well. The need for reference documents means that the procedure was already digital, so that was easy and not much different to usual. What was different is that, as a concession team, there are some things we don’t usually have to homologate but now we did because we agreed to ‘fix’ them [for 2021 also]. On the engine side we didn’t do digitally, instead we sent a sample engine so they can compare it to any engine submitted. Brad Binder is looking forward to getting back to the action aboard his KTM RC16. PC: Polarity Photo On the technical ‘freeze’ for 2021-2022 and the pressure involved… As an engineer you always want to go forward, try many things and try to improve but at the same time make the most of the given resources. It’s not clear at the moment what resources there will be. There is a commitment to racing of course and everybody will do their best to be competitive but we’ll have to wait and see the details to understand the circumstances. To a degree there is always pressure. For example, let’s look at the engine. Of course, we are constantly developing and the engine we wanted to use this season is different to last year’s. Over the winter we tried our best and we did a good job in finding the right spec. We didn’t face any technical problems that gave us a headache – but – it hasn’t been raced yet! So, if this engine, which is for this year and also the start of 2021, has a technical problem then you are in trouble. But – at the moment – what can we do? We know what we know about this package and if it had a known weak point then we would have addressed it. Unfortunately, there is no way around homologation, so you have to make the best of something. We have done race simulations during the tests and we have been in critical conditions, like the heat in Malaysia, and we’ve been at demanding tracks. We can also reproduce this on the dyno: we do endurance runs before we even get to the track. It means in theory – combined with the tests – you have done everything to make sure it works…reality can occasionally be different though! You can get a surprise sometimes! You cannot simulate that. Based on what we know it is fine and we are confident because we also didn’t have many big dramas in the last couple of years. You just have to hope that something you never thought or imagine doesn’t hit you! Brad Binder gives feedback during pre-season testing. PC: Polarity Photo On being able to look for loopholes in the rules or using extra time to find small innovations… It is always a matter of resources. For example, if you explore the ‘grey zone’ around the rules then you have to do all the work and somehow keep it the ‘right’ side of legal. Then fight other competitors in the technical meetings and discussions as well as the officials. You need to have the resources behind you to do it and then maybe you have to throw it away. As we are new to MotoGP™️ we have many areas in which we can invest resources and be sure that we are investing wisely – so ideas that are comfortably inside the rules and don’t have to be thrown away. It makes more sense to focus on those instead of something that is ‘50-50’ or it’s allowed for some races but then banned. If we are working on something that nobody else has then our strategy is to speak with the MotoGP™️ technical officials sooner rather than later and get their advice so that we don’t get any last minute ‘no’s’. Pol Espargaró and the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team are well-prepared for the season when it begins after successful tests earlier this year. PC: Polarity Photo
  3. KAILUB RUSSELL: TIME FOR CHANGE BUT NOT BEFORE ONE MORE GNCC TITLE Posted in People, Racing GNCC Racing legend Kailub Russell is determined to earn an eighth straight title in 2020 but is equally set on moving forward with plans for the future, when this season is over. What is next for the woods racing champion, what’s the secret to winning and which of his many winning KTMs is his favorite? Announcing that 2020 will be his last season of GNCC Racing doesn’t mean seven-time champion Kailub Russell is in any mood to back off the gas just yet. Covid-19 may have brought a temporary pause to proceedings but the FMF KTM Factory Racing Team rider is determined to go out on top with an eighth GNCC title. Kailub Russell – FMF KTM Factory Racing and seven-time GNCC champion. PC @SimonCudby Kailub should need little introduction, but for the record he began his 2020 season sitting on 60 career wins in North America’s prestigious Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Racing series. Russell has seven straight championship titles so far and sits second only to GNCC legend Ed Lojak (nine titles). This is alongside his International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) World Trophy victories, plus National Enduro and Sprint Enduro championships. The goals remain the same – to win the 2020 GNCC Racing title – but Covid-19 delivered a twist in the plot when it brought a halt to racing in the USA, just as it did across the world. Unlike many countries, in the US it has been possible to keep riding so riders like Russell have at least been able to train and keep busy, “I bought a new piece of land and it’s been keeping me pretty busy trying to get that place dialed in,” said Russell from his North Carolina home. Russell racing his KTM 350 XC-F earlier in 2020. PC @KTM Unlike most riders, who tend to keep quiet about plans for moving on and prefer to call time after the finish line of their last race, Russell took the unusual step of announcing his plans before this season had even begun. “I wanted to announce my retirement before the season so that all the other guys I’m racing against have the chance to up their game and try to put an end to it,” explains the celebrated KTM rider on his pre-season announcement that 2020 would be his last in GNCC Racing. So far in 2020 “those guys” he’s racing against have tried but failed to topple the champ who took three GNCC wins on the bounce plus a Sprint Enduro victory before the lockdown took hold. It begs the question, why call time now on his GNCC career at all? “Racing has been good and I’m at this level but there’s only one way to go now. That’s dwindle backwards and I’m not ready to go backwards, I race to win,” explains Kailub. “It’s not that I can’t win for another couple of years, but I’ve had a good career and there are some other things that I want to give my attention to before I’m actually done racing. Stepping away from GNCC and taking my focus away from that is gonna allow me to move forward with my plans for the future.” Russell celebrates victory as part of the all-KTM mounted United States World Trophy Team at the 2019 ISDE. PC @KTM CALLING TIME ON GNCC CAREER, BUT WHAT NEXT? Many rumors have circulated as to exactly what Kailub will do next, fueled in part by fellow KTM rider Ryan Sipes who has branched out across different bike sports in his later career years. But Kailub says Off-Road and Enduro are very much part of the plan with the pinnacle of enduro sport – the International Six Days Enduro – set to be held in Italy 2021 firmly on his wall planner. “The definite plan is the Six Days and the Full Gas Sprint Enduro series, that’s for sure. But past that I really can’t say yet. We’re still working some stuff out but it’s going to be pretty big news and pretty exciting. It’ll probably be in December when we’ll announce that. We’re still in talks with KTM about how it’s going to work out so wait and see.” Whilst plans are being made for beyond 2020, Russell firmly has his sights on an eighth straight GNCC title. PC @SimonCudby 2015 A VINTAGE YEAR During a career which has seen racing, championships, riders and the off-road sport in general go through a huge period of change, which season stands out as Russell’s greatest? “Definitely 2015. I was just really focused and doing a ton of racing, so I didn’t have any time to do anything else. It was train a couple of days, ride a couple of days, go to the race, repeat…there was only a little bit of time there where I wasn’t doing anything. It meant I could stay sharp and stay on top of my game.” That relentlessness of racing, those long seasons and the spells of back-to-back events that cement Kailub’s place in racing history, are also the reason why there comes a tipping point where the enthusiasm of youth gets muscled out of the way by age, family life and other priorities. “It can be tough on your body and now if I’m going to have a five or six week stretch where I don’t have a weekend off I’m burnt and get to the point where I’m just going through the motions. Back then [2015] I don’t remember being that way at all. I was fresh and excited every weekend. It’s crazy that is only five years in life, but it changes the dynamics.” Russell is unbeaten so far in 2020. PC @KTM One thing which is clear and consistent is the steely determination to win, even in the face of defeat. “When those guys get close to beating me it drives me harder. If you beat me it lights a fire in me that makes me try harder for the next one.” It has been a feature of Kailub’s career that he has always bounced back from a defeat with added fire in the belly: “If you beat me one weekend, I get stronger, I use the pressure,” he says. One of the truisms of sport, particularly motorsport, is that one race does not make a champion. Every race counts and off-road sport has the added reality of being across different terrain. You might be a good sand rider but can you ride the hard-pack or the rocks? It’s as true of GNCC as it is of the WESS Enduro World Championship or Grand Prix Motocross. “It’s one of those things that blows my mind,” says Kailub on the ability to be fast everywhere. “There are a lot of guys that can win but only in certain places. I don’t know why that is or why that comes about but it’s a real thing. I always thought that if you could be good in one place you should be good all places and it shouldn’t be a roller coaster.” “My dad always instilled a lot of discipline in me and he used to make me read a Vince Lombardi quote. It was a long quote but the biggest thing I took out of it was you don’t do things right every once in a while, you do things right all the time. “I think if you work like that it takes all the guesswork out. If you know you’re doing it right all the time you’ve got no option than to be good everywhere.” With his incredible talent, Russell just loves racing bikes. PC @SimonCudby HOW GOOD IS MY KTM? Across a decade racing for KTM, Kailub has moved through different generations of KTM XC models with the four stroke XC-Fs being the bikes of choice in the US. Is there one bike which he looks at as the best? “I’ve got all my championship bikes with me at home and I think they got better every year – to the point where the current bike, the KTM 350 XC-F, is almost too good for riding in the woods to be honest with you! The current 350 motor is almost like a 450 from four or five years ago.” Narrowing it down to one bike, Kailub says the model year jump from 2015 to 2016, the model year when Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Roger De Coster and Ryan Dungey were on board developing what turned out to be a game-changer, was a step-progression in terms of chassis development. Whilst talk is about what his future holds, repeating his 2019 success for another title remains the focus. PC @K Hill “I can remember in 2015 I was on my 250 XC-F and KTM came out with the 2016 KTM 250 SX-F. I had a buddy who bought one and I rode it in stock form and went faster on that than I was on my own race bike!” “I bugged Antti (Kallonen, FMF KTM Factory Racing Team Manager) about getting one for the National Enduro series because the bike turned better, was nimbler and handled better. I was doing well in GNCC but struggling a bit in the Enduros on the 350 so I switched to the new KTM 250 SX-F, started racing it in Sprint and National Enduros and started killing it.” “At the time it was such a big difference from the bike I was on, the switch in the frame, the geometry, it was a jump.” “I think that was the year when Roger and Dungey and those guys were onboard with development and they made a big improvement. But if I was to ride that bike now, I’d probably say the same about this current model!”
  4. KAILUB RUSSELL: TIME FOR CHANGE BUT NOT BEFORE ONE MORE GNCC TITLE Posted in People, Racing GNCC Racing legend Kailub Russell is determined to earn an eighth straight title in 2020 but is equally set on moving forward with plans for the future, when this season is over. What is next for the woods racing champion, what’s the secret to winning and which of his many winning KTMs is his favorite? Announcing that 2020 will be his last season of GNCC Racing doesn’t mean seven-time champion Kailub Russell is in any mood to back off the gas just yet. Covid-19 may have brought a temporary pause to proceedings but the FMF KTM Factory Racing Team rider is determined to go out on top with an eighth GNCC title. Kailub Russell – FMF KTM Factory Racing and seven-time GNCC champion. PC @SimonCudby Kailub should need little introduction, but for the record he began his 2020 season sitting on 60 career wins in North America’s prestigious Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Racing series. Russell has seven straight championship titles so far and sits second only to GNCC legend Ed Lojak (nine titles). This is alongside his International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) World Trophy victories, plus National Enduro and Sprint Enduro championships. The goals remain the same – to win the 2020 GNCC Racing title – but Covid-19 delivered a twist in the plot when it brought a halt to racing in the USA, just as it did across the world. Unlike many countries, in the US it has been possible to keep riding so riders like Russell have at least been able to train and keep busy, “I bought a new piece of land and it’s been keeping me pretty busy trying to get that place dialed in,” said Russell from his North Carolina home. Russell racing his KTM 350 XC-F earlier in 2020. PC @KTM Unlike most riders, who tend to keep quiet about plans for moving on and prefer to call time after the finish line of their last race, Russell took the unusual step of announcing his plans before this season had even begun. “I wanted to announce my retirement before the season so that all the other guys I’m racing against have the chance to up their game and try to put an end to it,” explains the celebrated KTM rider on his pre-season announcement that 2020 would be his last in GNCC Racing. So far in 2020 “those guys” he’s racing against have tried but failed to topple the champ who took three GNCC wins on the bounce plus a Sprint Enduro victory before the lockdown took hold. It begs the question, why call time now on his GNCC career at all? “Racing has been good and I’m at this level but there’s only one way to go now. That’s dwindle backwards and I’m not ready to go backwards, I race to win,” explains Kailub. “It’s not that I can’t win for another couple of years, but I’ve had a good career and there are some other things that I want to give my attention to before I’m actually done racing. Stepping away from GNCC and taking my focus away from that is gonna allow me to move forward with my plans for the future.” Russell celebrates victory as part of the all-KTM mounted United States World Trophy Team at the 2019 ISDE. PC @KTM CALLING TIME ON GNCC CAREER, BUT WHAT NEXT? Many rumors have circulated as to exactly what Kailub will do next, fueled in part by fellow KTM rider Ryan Sipes who has branched out across different bike sports in his later career years. But Kailub says Off-Road and Enduro are very much part of the plan with the pinnacle of enduro sport – the International Six Days Enduro – set to be held in Italy 2021 firmly on his wall planner. “The definite plan is the Six Days and the Full Gas Sprint Enduro series, that’s for sure. But past that I really can’t say yet. We’re still working some stuff out but it’s going to be pretty big news and pretty exciting. It’ll probably be in December when we’ll announce that. We’re still in talks with KTM about how it’s going to work out so wait and see.” Whilst plans are being made for beyond 2020, Russell firmly has his sights on an eighth straight GNCC title. PC @SimonCudby 2015 A VINTAGE YEAR During a career which has seen racing, championships, riders and the off-road sport in general go through a huge period of change, which season stands out as Russell’s greatest? “Definitely 2015. I was just really focused and doing a ton of racing, so I didn’t have any time to do anything else. It was train a couple of days, ride a couple of days, go to the race, repeat…there was only a little bit of time there where I wasn’t doing anything. It meant I could stay sharp and stay on top of my game.” That relentlessness of racing, those long seasons and the spells of back-to-back events that cement Kailub’s place in racing history, are also the reason why there comes a tipping point where the enthusiasm of youth gets muscled out of the way by age, family life and other priorities. “It can be tough on your body and now if I’m going to have a five or six week stretch where I don’t have a weekend off I’m burnt and get to the point where I’m just going through the motions. Back then [2015] I don’t remember being that way at all. I was fresh and excited every weekend. It’s crazy that is only five years in life, but it changes the dynamics.” Russell is unbeaten so far in 2020. PC @KTM One thing which is clear and consistent is the steely determination to win, even in the face of defeat. “When those guys get close to beating me it drives me harder. If you beat me it lights a fire in me that makes me try harder for the next one.” It has been a feature of Kailub’s career that he has always bounced back from a defeat with added fire in the belly: “If you beat me one weekend, I get stronger, I use the pressure,” he says. One of the truisms of sport, particularly motorsport, is that one race does not make a champion. Every race counts and off-road sport has the added reality of being across different terrain. You might be a good sand rider but can you ride the hard-pack or the rocks? It’s as true of GNCC as it is of the WESS Enduro World Championship or Grand Prix Motocross. “It’s one of those things that blows my mind,” says Kailub on the ability to be fast everywhere. “There are a lot of guys that can win but only in certain places. I don’t know why that is or why that comes about but it’s a real thing. I always thought that if you could be good in one place you should be good all places and it shouldn’t be a roller coaster.” “My dad always instilled a lot of discipline in me and he used to make me read a Vince Lombardi quote. It was a long quote but the biggest thing I took out of it was you don’t do things right every once in a while, you do things right all the time. “I think if you work like that it takes all the guesswork out. If you know you’re doing it right all the time you’ve got no option than to be good everywhere.” With his incredible talent, Russell just loves racing bikes. PC @SimonCudby HOW GOOD IS MY KTM? Across a decade racing for KTM, Kailub has moved through different generations of KTM XC models with the four stroke XC-Fs being the bikes of choice in the US. Is there one bike which he looks at as the best? “I’ve got all my championship bikes with me at home and I think they got better every year – to the point where the current bike, the KTM 350 XC-F, is almost too good for riding in the woods to be honest with you! The current 350 motor is almost like a 450 from four or five years ago.” Narrowing it down to one bike, Kailub says the model year jump from 2015 to 2016, the model year when Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Roger De Coster and Ryan Dungey were on board developing what turned out to be a game-changer, was a step-progression in terms of chassis development. Whilst talk is about what his future holds, repeating his 2019 success for another title remains the focus. PC @K Hill “I can remember in 2015 I was on my 250 XC-F and KTM came out with the 2016 KTM 250 SX-F. I had a buddy who bought one and I rode it in stock form and went faster on that than I was on my own race bike!” “I bugged Antti (Kallonen, FMF KTM Factory Racing Team Manager) about getting one for the National Enduro series because the bike turned better, was nimbler and handled better. I was doing well in GNCC but struggling a bit in the Enduros on the 350 so I switched to the new KTM 250 SX-F, started racing it in Sprint and National Enduros and started killing it.” “At the time it was such a big difference from the bike I was on, the switch in the frame, the geometry, it was a jump.” “I think that was the year when Roger and Dungey and those guys were onboard with development and they made a big improvement. But if I was to ride that bike now, I’d probably say the same about this current model!”
  5. 4 BIG ‘W’S OF THE NEW KTM 890 DUKE R

    4 BIG ‘W’S OF THE NEW KTM 890 DUKE R Posted in Bikes There is a degree of intrigue about the 2020 KTM 890 DUKE R: a fresh, rasping entrant to the manufacturer’s virulent Naked bike portfolio. So, we enlisted the help of Street Product Manager Adriaan Sinke to explain some of the ‘reasons for being’. After an enticing unveil at the 2019 EICMA show last November, the fanfare surrounding the official presentation of the 2020 KTM 890 DUKE R was then mostly digital. Europe’s spring ‘shutdown’ meant the first ‘taste’ of the motorcycle was filtered online and through YouTube in late March: it was an odd situation for a bike that promises such a visceral riding experience. PC @Campelli M./Milagro The KTM 890 DUKE R has been designed with priorities of ‘sensation’ and ‘exhilaration’ at the forefront. But how did it originate in the minds of KTM R&D staff? And how did they strive to create something that was different to the thrill already provided by the other Naked bikes in the line-up (specifically the KTM 790 DUKE and KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R)? In search of answers we fashioned four of the five ‘W’s and asked Adriaan to help us flesh out the details… Who? With the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R, KTM quenched the thirst for torque and crafted a bike as strong for the road as it is on the track. With the KTM 790 DUKE the firm aimed for agility, light weight and power. Models such as the KTM 390 and KTM 125 DUKEs again blend optimal handling with fierce motors and enhanced practicality for different groups of motorcyclists. What’s the KTM 890 DUKE R’s identity then? What’s its role? “We are always looking at the performance-end of the scale,” Sinke states. “A KTM 790 DUKE is a great bike, and one of sportiest in the midrange, but like in racing, there is always room for improvement. There is obviously quite a gap between a KTM 790 DUKE and a KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R, so part of the decision [to make the KTM 890 DUKE R] was the wish to fill that gap. But much more important was the wish to deliver the highest performing bike in the midrange segment. Be it handling, suspension, engine or electronics, the KTM 890 DUKE R tops them all.” PC @KTM The KTM 790 DUKE’s characteristics were defined enough for the bike to be labelled ‘THE SCALPEL’. The KTM 890 DUKE R’s appearance represents an attempt to make another slice at the motorcycling market. In a style true to KTM’s alternative values and philosophy, the KTM 890 DUKE R charges in, exhaust ablaze. “The midrange segment is very big, especially in Europe and spans a very wide range of models,” explains Sinke. “KTM always wants to offer the sharpest tool in the segment and is not necessarily aimed at the middle of the segment where the volume is, we create our own niche.” “Potential competitors would be a Triumph Street Triple RS, an MV Agusta Brutale, maybe a Kawasaki Z900 or a Yamaha MT-10: we trump all those bikes on individual points and all of them with our overall package of handling, torque, power and electronics.” What? So, the KTM 890 DUKE R is not a ‘suped-up 790’. How have KTM gone about reinventing the best parts and fabricating something new? Well, the parallel twin platform is vaguely similar, but increased bore and stroke, higher compression and a higher maximum RPM mean a hike to 121 HP and 99 Nm: 15 more horsepower. A new cylinder head, new camshaft and new balancer shafts all help to deal with the boosted revs and rotating mass. PC @KTM The chassis has been engineered to be sportier, more aggressive and lighter with altered ergonomics to suit the KTM 890 DUKE R’s role as a bike that will attack the twistiest of roads and the most inviting circuit layouts. The ride is smoothened by adjustable linear spring WP APEX front forks with split function damping, compression and rebound settings, and to counter all of that extra potency the new KTM relies on the latest Brembo Stylema monoblock calipers with 320mm floating front disks. These and more differences to the KTM 790 DUKE only increase the distinction of the KTM 890 DUKE R. When? The special orange frame of the KTM 890 DUKE R will be bouncing off shiny showroom floors by the time this story hits the KTM Blog. But will the 2020 emergence of the motorcycle cause any ripples in the overall DUKE family catalogue? The KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R reached a third-generation model in 2020 with the best iteration of ‘THE BEAST’ yet and the KTM 790 DUKE already ruffled middleweight feathers since it appeared almost two years ago. KTM may claim that they have taken ‘all the things we love about the KTM 790 DUKE and turned it up to 11’ but the KTM 890 DUKE R comes at a time when it can find its own path. For those riders optimistic of mining the full list of KTM’s PowerParts to make their KTM 790 DUKE reach the same ballpark of performance then disappointment lies in store. “The KTM 890 DUKE R is much more than just a tune-up,” underlines Sinke. “The engine character with the different valve train and crankshaft is so different from the KTM 790 DUKE engine that the entire feeling of the motorcycle has changed. The differences to the chassis setup and brakes complete the feeling of being on a different bike altogether.” “The upgrades we made on the suspension and brakes would not be easy to match,” he admits. “A power increase of more than 15 horsepower is very hard to reach and very expensive, especially when the bike has to remain street legal. And even if a talented tuner could reach our values putting it all together with the very advanced level of electronics – Cornering ABS, Cornering MTC and so on – in a functional package that make a bike that works on the street as well as it does on the track is not realistic.” PC @KTM The KTM 890 DUKE R may not strike fear into a speed camera like a KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R but this bike adds a whole new dimension of demand and necessity to KTM’s Naked bike line-up. Thus, leading onto… Why? Ultimately, why should KTM owners (or prospective owners) consider switching from a KTM 790 DUKE to the KTM 890 DUKE R? Or have their eyes pulled away from the peerless KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R to rest on the new younger brother? By making such an impact with their two models at the top of the Naked bike sector KTM are placing the KTM 890 DUKE R in a competitive and ‘crowded’ space within its own family. “Good question, it really depends on what you are looking for in an upgrade,” outlines Sinke. “Do you want absolute power and BEAST levels of torque? Get a KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R. Do you want agility, precision, power to weight, compactness, and a lot of horsepower, torque and stopping power? Then now is the time to get an KTM 890 DUKE R.” Not quite a BEAST but sharper and more lethal than a SCALPEL: looks like the KTM 890 DUKE R is a weapon regardless.
  6. 4 BIG ‘W’S OF THE NEW KTM 890 DUKE R Posted in Bikes There is a degree of intrigue about the 2020 KTM 890 DUKE R: a fresh, rasping entrant to the manufacturer’s virulent Naked bike portfolio. So, we enlisted the help of Street Product Manager Adriaan Sinke to explain some of the ‘reasons for being’. After an enticing unveil at the 2019 EICMA show last November, the fanfare surrounding the official presentation of the 2020 KTM 890 DUKE R was then mostly digital. Europe’s spring ‘shutdown’ meant the first ‘taste’ of the motorcycle was filtered online and through YouTube in late March: it was an odd situation for a bike that promises such a visceral riding experience. PC @Campelli M./Milagro The KTM 890 DUKE R has been designed with priorities of ‘sensation’ and ‘exhilaration’ at the forefront. But how did it originate in the minds of KTM R&D staff? And how did they strive to create something that was different to the thrill already provided by the other Naked bikes in the line-up (specifically the KTM 790 DUKE and KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R)? In search of answers we fashioned four of the five ‘W’s and asked Adriaan to help us flesh out the details… Who? With the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R, KTM quenched the thirst for torque and crafted a bike as strong for the road as it is on the track. With the KTM 790 DUKE the firm aimed for agility, light weight and power. Models such as the KTM 390 and KTM 125 DUKEs again blend optimal handling with fierce motors and enhanced practicality for different groups of motorcyclists. What’s the KTM 890 DUKE R’s identity then? What’s its role? “We are always looking at the performance-end of the scale,” Sinke states. “A KTM 790 DUKE is a great bike, and one of sportiest in the midrange, but like in racing, there is always room for improvement. There is obviously quite a gap between a KTM 790 DUKE and a KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R, so part of the decision [to make the KTM 890 DUKE R] was the wish to fill that gap. But much more important was the wish to deliver the highest performing bike in the midrange segment. Be it handling, suspension, engine or electronics, the KTM 890 DUKE R tops them all.” PC @KTM The KTM 790 DUKE’s characteristics were defined enough for the bike to be labelled ‘THE SCALPEL’. The KTM 890 DUKE R’s appearance represents an attempt to make another slice at the motorcycling market. In a style true to KTM’s alternative values and philosophy, the KTM 890 DUKE R charges in, exhaust ablaze. “The midrange segment is very big, especially in Europe and spans a very wide range of models,” explains Sinke. “KTM always wants to offer the sharpest tool in the segment and is not necessarily aimed at the middle of the segment where the volume is, we create our own niche.” “Potential competitors would be a Triumph Street Triple RS, an MV Agusta Brutale, maybe a Kawasaki Z900 or a Yamaha MT-10: we trump all those bikes on individual points and all of them with our overall package of handling, torque, power and electronics.” What? So, the KTM 890 DUKE R is not a ‘suped-up 790’. How have KTM gone about reinventing the best parts and fabricating something new? Well, the parallel twin platform is vaguely similar, but increased bore and stroke, higher compression and a higher maximum RPM mean a hike to 121 HP and 99 Nm: 15 more horsepower. A new cylinder head, new camshaft and new balancer shafts all help to deal with the boosted revs and rotating mass. PC @KTM The chassis has been engineered to be sportier, more aggressive and lighter with altered ergonomics to suit the KTM 890 DUKE R’s role as a bike that will attack the twistiest of roads and the most inviting circuit layouts. The ride is smoothened by adjustable linear spring WP APEX front forks with split function damping, compression and rebound settings, and to counter all of that extra potency the new KTM relies on the latest Brembo Stylema monoblock calipers with 320mm floating front disks. These and more differences to the KTM 790 DUKE only increase the distinction of the KTM 890 DUKE R. When? The special orange frame of the KTM 890 DUKE R will be bouncing off shiny showroom floors by the time this story hits the KTM Blog. But will the 2020 emergence of the motorcycle cause any ripples in the overall DUKE family catalogue? The KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R reached a third-generation model in 2020 with the best iteration of ‘THE BEAST’ yet and the KTM 790 DUKE already ruffled middleweight feathers since it appeared almost two years ago. KTM may claim that they have taken ‘all the things we love about the KTM 790 DUKE and turned it up to 11’ but the KTM 890 DUKE R comes at a time when it can find its own path. For those riders optimistic of mining the full list of KTM’s PowerParts to make their KTM 790 DUKE reach the same ballpark of performance then disappointment lies in store. “The KTM 890 DUKE R is much more than just a tune-up,” underlines Sinke. “The engine character with the different valve train and crankshaft is so different from the KTM 790 DUKE engine that the entire feeling of the motorcycle has changed. The differences to the chassis setup and brakes complete the feeling of being on a different bike altogether.” “The upgrades we made on the suspension and brakes would not be easy to match,” he admits. “A power increase of more than 15 horsepower is very hard to reach and very expensive, especially when the bike has to remain street legal. And even if a talented tuner could reach our values putting it all together with the very advanced level of electronics – Cornering ABS, Cornering MTC and so on – in a functional package that make a bike that works on the street as well as it does on the track is not realistic.” PC @KTM The KTM 890 DUKE R may not strike fear into a speed camera like a KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R but this bike adds a whole new dimension of demand and necessity to KTM’s Naked bike line-up. Thus, leading onto… Why? Ultimately, why should KTM owners (or prospective owners) consider switching from a KTM 790 DUKE to the KTM 890 DUKE R? Or have their eyes pulled away from the peerless KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R to rest on the new younger brother? By making such an impact with their two models at the top of the Naked bike sector KTM are placing the KTM 890 DUKE R in a competitive and ‘crowded’ space within its own family. “Good question, it really depends on what you are looking for in an upgrade,” outlines Sinke. “Do you want absolute power and BEAST levels of torque? Get a KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R. Do you want agility, precision, power to weight, compactness, and a lot of horsepower, torque and stopping power? Then now is the time to get an KTM 890 DUKE R.” Not quite a BEAST but sharper and more lethal than a SCALPEL: looks like the KTM 890 DUKE R is a weapon regardless.
  7. MAKING A MOTOGP CONTENDER

    MAKING A MOTOGP CONTENDER Posted in Bikes, Racing KTM have sliced the better part of two seconds away to the front of the MotoGP field since their premier class debut at the beginning of 2017. Technical Co-ordinator Sebastian Risse explains a little about how they made that happen in double-time. Sebastian Risse – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing MotoGP Technical Co-ordinator. PC @SebasRomero Red Bull KTM Factory Racing finished 16th and 17th at the 2017 Grand Prix of Qatar – their first event as full-time members of the MotoGP grid – well over 30 seconds away from winner Maverick Viñales. Two years later at the same circuit and Pol Espargaró had moved forward to 12th, 12 seconds adrift and with a best lap-time almost a second faster than the 2017 effort. At the 2020 pre-season test both Espargaró and Brad Binder circulated the Losail International Circuit around the half-second mark from the top of the timing screens. Under the Losail lights in Qatar the team was around half a second from the top of the timesheets at the 2020 pre-season test. PC @PolarityPhoto KTM’s presence and progression has provided a fascinating narrative in Grand Prix. As the ‘new boys’ their engineering, learning and attempts to play catch-up with other manufacturers with decades of experience has provided a looking glass into the demands of racing, and of living within the fractions of a second that constitute success. Splinters of a lap-time can cost vast amounts of cash and thousands of man-hours as well as specialized skill and theorizing. Forging a competitive MotoGP race bike is like cooking a complicated ‘soup’ and can sometimes be hard to replicate the ideal ‘taste’ across circuits around the continents. Sebastian Risse has been the principal link to the track in shaping the RC16 since the formative stages in 2016 and from the moment the team made their wild-card debut at Valencia, Spain that same year. The German is one of more than 30 people in Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and his influence extends over the whole project that encompasses the staff of Red Bull KTM Tech3 and the 15 employees charged with the test team. Back in Mattighofen more technical experts and a slice of the 600-strong R&D department are also closely implicated. Sebastian Risse and team members during KTM’s MotoGP debut as a wildcard in Valencia, Spain 2016. PC @SebasRomero KTM have moved fast with the RC16. They have revised engine concepts and have evolved their steel frame ideology. They have the capacity to move quickly. One of the best anecdotes involves the test team using a brand-new engine at Le Mans in 2017 for a Michelin tire test. Espargaró then loaded the improved powerplant onto a private plane to travel to Jerez for another shakedown. It was then used at the Le Mans round of the series a few days later. “You always like to see development going forwards quickly and perhaps even faster but on the other hand you have to be careful that it stays manageable,” explains Risse. “When you develop many changes in parallel at the same time then they all have to be compatible with each other and that increases the complexity a lot. Bringing a new bike for a new season means a lot of decisions and a lot of test items that have to fit together. We are on the border of it being manageable. It means you cannot do more and more because it just won’t work.” Initially KTM had to get their bearings with the RC16 and assess its merits and their ideas against the rest of the grid. “This project is still so young that you make discoveries all the time and in many areas,” he claims. “Of course, electronics is quite a complex one and where the complexity is happening on the track, whereas with others the complexity is happening at home in developing a new chassis, part or engine. You come to the track, try it, analyze. It’s either better or worse and then you make a decision. The complexity moves around! Whereas with electronics the attention is on every detail and every aspect of what the rider is talking about: you have to keep dipping back into it to find differences between sessions or even runs within a session. The bike also evolves with aerodynamics and we did a lot on the chassis from a stiffness point of view. We started as ‘new’ and as we followed this steel frame concept it was a place where benchmarking did not help us as much in order to find our own way and in other areas. It means you have to do extra steps and extra iterations. It was a big field to work on.” Sebastian Risse in the pitbox. PC @Philip Platzer Risse and his team were constantly making judgements and trying to weave through the labyrinth of improvement. “In the end every resource and budget is limited, and to make the bike faster and better you have to spend it in the best way: it evens-out development,” he says. “If you have an area where you don’t have to spend a lot of resources to see bigger benefits then you do that first … but then you come to a point where it doesn’t happen anymore. So, you have to spread it more evenly. I would say we had a very solid engine base in the beginning, and we spent most of our resources on the chassis stiffness and electronics. Now, during the last two years we made a lot of iterations on the engine side; not in terms of the basic layout but things you don’t necessarily see on the outside. It cost a lot of resources and changes certain characteristics of the bike in a way you cannot do with other things.” Naturally technical choices carry pressure. If KTM wrongfoot and lose even a few tenths of a second per lap then they are suddenly nearer the back of the grid. Risse is part of the group that makes the call but says he is not the instigator. “When the theory, the data and the rider are commonly pointing in the same direction then super: we are 100% confident. If that’s not the case, then it means there is something to learn. For me the first priority is the rider. He has to be confident with the solution. Ideally you follow the rider and learn in other areas until you have a series that explains ‘why’ [you must change the bike] then you confirm with the data to be in a place you want to be. It’s a process where many things can be at different points.” The information from the rider is a priority – Pol Epargaró, Qatar test 2020. PC @PolarityPhoto MotoGP is at the forefront of motorcycle technology and prototype components as well as hardware and software. This is key not only in getting the last milliseconds off the rider’s lap time, but the information gathered at this level is communicated throughout the R&D department in Austria. A lot of the lessons and know-how filters down into KTM’s Street range. Being on the grid is a marketing exercise with enormous reach but there are positive repercussions to the race team’s work in the planning meetings in Austria. “For sure,” Risse concurs. “We are working with the KTM STREET guys and production management in R&D for areas like aerodynamics, chassis stiffness and electronics. Not only in terms of single development items but also approaches and analysis: understanding certain effects which can then transfer into another solution of a part or idea that maybe doesn’t look the same [on the two bikes]. There are things that can be gained…but, often, it isn’t that straight forward.” What about an example? “Chassis stiffness,” he answers. “On one hand how do you go about obtaining the stiffness and on the other why do want that stiffness? What problems happen because of a change? Then there are the production processes, especially with production bikes and the translation to MotoGP. It can join forces in some areas.” Brad Binder gets to grips with the KTM RC16 at the Qatar test in February. PC @PolarityPhoto Risse then talks about one manufacturing technique that has already had a positive impact for the offroad production models and should spread. “Innovative technologies like [3D] printing is an interesting field where you see more and more parts on the motorcycle coming out of a printer; I think that is something that will come into production bikes more frequently. It’s the future, and I think we are a little bit ahead in this way. The need for prototype parts makes it very attractive for racing.” So far 2020 has stuttered for MotoGP, as with most sport on a global level, and paused the momentum both teams had made during competitive pre-season tests. When, and if, KTM can continue racing then their onslaught on the premier class will still rush ahead. The MotoGP schedule has been on hold due to Covid-19 since the Qatar test and we look forward to seeing the KTM RC16 back on track when racing resumes. PC @PolarityPhoto
  8. ktmMAKING A MOTOGP CONTENDER

    MAKING A MOTOGP CONTENDER Posted in Bikes, Racing KTM have sliced the better part of two seconds away to the front of the MotoGP field since their premier class debut at the beginning of 2017. Technical Co-ordinator Sebastian Risse explains a little about how they made that happen in double-time. Sebastian Risse – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing MotoGP Technical Co-ordinator. PC @SebasRomero Red Bull KTM Factory Racing finished 16th and 17th at the 2017 Grand Prix of Qatar – their first event as full-time members of the MotoGP grid – well over 30 seconds away from winner Maverick Viñales. Two years later at the same circuit and Pol Espargaró had moved forward to 12th, 12 seconds adrift and with a best lap-time almost a second faster than the 2017 effort. At the 2020 pre-season test both Espargaró and Brad Binder circulated the Losail International Circuit around the half-second mark from the top of the timing screens. Under the Losail lights in Qatar the team was around half a second from the top of the timesheets at the 2020 pre-season test. PC @PolarityPhoto KTM’s presence and progression has provided a fascinating narrative in Grand Prix. As the ‘new boys’ their engineering, learning and attempts to play catch-up with other manufacturers with decades of experience has provided a looking glass into the demands of racing, and of living within the fractions of a second that constitute success. Splinters of a lap-time can cost vast amounts of cash and thousands of man-hours as well as specialized skill and theorizing. Forging a competitive MotoGP race bike is like cooking a complicated ‘soup’ and can sometimes be hard to replicate the ideal ‘taste’ across circuits around the continents. Sebastian Risse has been the principal link to the track in shaping the RC16 since the formative stages in 2016 and from the moment the team made their wild-card debut at Valencia, Spain that same year. The German is one of more than 30 people in Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and his influence extends over the whole project that encompasses the staff of Red Bull KTM Tech3 and the 15 employees charged with the test team. Back in Mattighofen more technical experts and a slice of the 600-strong R&D department are also closely implicated. Sebastian Risse and team members during KTM’s MotoGP debut as a wildcard in Valencia, Spain 2016. PC @SebasRomero KTM have moved fast with the RC16. They have revised engine concepts and have evolved their steel frame ideology. They have the capacity to move quickly. One of the best anecdotes involves the test team using a brand-new engine at Le Mans in 2017 for a Michelin tire test. Espargaró then loaded the improved powerplant onto a private plane to travel to Jerez for another shakedown. It was then used at the Le Mans round of the series a few days later. “You always like to see development going forwards quickly and perhaps even faster but on the other hand you have to be careful that it stays manageable,” explains Risse. “When you develop many changes in parallel at the same time then they all have to be compatible with each other and that increases the complexity a lot. Bringing a new bike for a new season means a lot of decisions and a lot of test items that have to fit together. We are on the border of it being manageable. It means you cannot do more and more because it just won’t work.” Initially KTM had to get their bearings with the RC16 and assess its merits and their ideas against the rest of the grid. “This project is still so young that you make discoveries all the time and in many areas,” he claims. “Of course, electronics is quite a complex one and where the complexity is happening on the track, whereas with others the complexity is happening at home in developing a new chassis, part or engine. You come to the track, try it, analyze. It’s either better or worse and then you make a decision. The complexity moves around! Whereas with electronics the attention is on every detail and every aspect of what the rider is talking about: you have to keep dipping back into it to find differences between sessions or even runs within a session. The bike also evolves with aerodynamics and we did a lot on the chassis from a stiffness point of view. We started as ‘new’ and as we followed this steel frame concept it was a place where benchmarking did not help us as much in order to find our own way and in other areas. It means you have to do extra steps and extra iterations. It was a big field to work on.” Sebastian Risse in the pitbox. PC @Philip Platzer Risse and his team were constantly making judgements and trying to weave through the labyrinth of improvement. “In the end every resource and budget is limited, and to make the bike faster and better you have to spend it in the best way: it evens-out development,” he says. “If you have an area where you don’t have to spend a lot of resources to see bigger benefits then you do that first … but then you come to a point where it doesn’t happen anymore. So, you have to spread it more evenly. I would say we had a very solid engine base in the beginning, and we spent most of our resources on the chassis stiffness and electronics. Now, during the last two years we made a lot of iterations on the engine side; not in terms of the basic layout but things you don’t necessarily see on the outside. It cost a lot of resources and changes certain characteristics of the bike in a way you cannot do with other things.” Naturally technical choices carry pressure. If KTM wrongfoot and lose even a few tenths of a second per lap then they are suddenly nearer the back of the grid. Risse is part of the group that makes the call but says he is not the instigator. “When the theory, the data and the rider are commonly pointing in the same direction then super: we are 100% confident. If that’s not the case, then it means there is something to learn. For me the first priority is the rider. He has to be confident with the solution. Ideally you follow the rider and learn in other areas until you have a series that explains ‘why’ [you must change the bike] then you confirm with the data to be in a place you want to be. It’s a process where many things can be at different points.” The information from the rider is a priority – Pol Epargaró, Qatar test 2020. PC @PolarityPhoto MotoGP is at the forefront of motorcycle technology and prototype components as well as hardware and software. This is key not only in getting the last milliseconds off the rider’s lap time, but the information gathered at this level is communicated throughout the R&D department in Austria. A lot of the lessons and know-how filters down into KTM’s Street range. Being on the grid is a marketing exercise with enormous reach but there are positive repercussions to the race team’s work in the planning meetings in Austria. “For sure,” Risse concurs. “We are working with the KTM STREET guys and production management in R&D for areas like aerodynamics, chassis stiffness and electronics. Not only in terms of single development items but also approaches and analysis: understanding certain effects which can then transfer into another solution of a part or idea that maybe doesn’t look the same [on the two bikes]. There are things that can be gained…but, often, it isn’t that straight forward.” What about an example? “Chassis stiffness,” he answers. “On one hand how do you go about obtaining the stiffness and on the other why do want that stiffness? What problems happen because of a change? Then there are the production processes, especially with production bikes and the translation to MotoGP. It can join forces in some areas.” Brad Binder gets to grips with the KTM RC16 at the Qatar test in February. PC @PolarityPhoto Risse then talks about one manufacturing technique that has already had a positive impact for the offroad production models and should spread. “Innovative technologies like [3D] printing is an interesting field where you see more and more parts on the motorcycle coming out of a printer; I think that is something that will come into production bikes more frequently. It’s the future, and I think we are a little bit ahead in this way. The need for prototype parts makes it very attractive for racing.” So far 2020 has stuttered for MotoGP, as with most sport on a global level, and paused the momentum both teams had made during competitive pre-season tests. When, and if, KTM can continue racing then their onslaught on the premier class will still rush ahead. The MotoGP schedule has been on hold due to Covid-19 since the Qatar test and we look forward to seeing the KTM RC16 back on track when racing resumes. PC @PolarityPhoto
  9. THE GREATEST EVER: IS KTM’S 2020 MXGP LINE-UP THE BENCHMARK? Posted in Racing Cairoli, Herlings, Prado: Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s MXGP riders for the 2020 season with a combined total of 15 FIM World Championships in the two categories. Has there been a more decorated, potent and lethal collection of athletes in Grand Prix history? With 15 FIM World titles between them the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing MXGP line-up is a force to be reckoned with. PC @RayArcher An over-simplification would be to say Cairoli represents the past, Herlings the present and Prado the future and all three have coincided to make ‘the perfect storm’ for 2020. That the trio have ‘collided’ this season to steer the KTM 450 SX-F is fact, but Cairoli claimed his last crown as recently as 2017, Herlings is only 25 but already a ten year veteran of Grand Prix while Prado has already eliminated himself from MX2 for a term thanks to back-to-back titles in 2018-2019 (thus being pushed out of the category according to the rules). Herlings leads the 2020 MXGP championship after the two rounds before Covid-19 halted the action. PC @RayArcher Cairoli (34, the second oldest athlete in MXGP and based in Rome), Herlings and Prado (19 and Rome/Belgium set) all have different style and approaches. Cairoli was the definition of flamboyance on a 250, who matured into one of the best all-rounders the sport has ever seen with an unparalleled rate of consistency that casted 89 victories (12 away from the record total) and 162 podiums (5 away from another record). Herlings is an animal of attacking riding, strength and an insatiable desire to win. A record-smasher in MX2 he assembled one of the most memorable campaigns on record in 2018 with 17 wins from 19 appearances (the other two results were 2nd place) and has a career tally of 86. Prado is arguably the best starter in the modern era with a 50% ratio of holeshots in two years and a smooth and graceful technique that ensures his universal competitiveness and low rate of mistakes and crashes. He is already Spain’s greatest motocrosser thanks to his 31 triumphs and is the premier class rookie for 2020. With back-to-back MX2 World Championship titles Prado is looking to make his mark in MXGP. PC @JuanPabloAcevedo Fittingly each rider has either been developed by KTM or has assisted the factory team’s bloom into an outfit that has owned both MXGP (previously ‘MX1’) and MX2 seven times in the last decade. It has helped the ‘orange’ squad to be the powerhouse of the paddock. “We worked on that image and we’ve had it now for a while with MX2 and MXGP titles over the years, sometimes even in the same season and that’s something unique,” offers Team Manager and Technical Coordinator Dirk Gruebel; the German has been part of the crew’s management since the end of the ‘00s. “You get used to it, but it should never be taken for granted. Winning both titles in the same year and by the same team is a huge achievement.” Cairoli – in his eleventh season with Red Bull KTM – was signed in 2010 and helped establish the KTM 350 SX-F concept that eventually helped the KTM 450 SX-F evolve to become the standard for the category. He aced championships with both bikes. Herlings was groomed by the factory as a teenage prodigy who made his GP debut as a fifteen-year old and won his first race after just three rounds. Prado’s story is similar to the Dutchman’s but he was in KTM development channels from puberty and through 65, 85 and 125cc levels to the world stage. He scored a podium on his first full GP appearance and won in his maiden term having just turned 16 years of age. Cairoli and Herlings battle at the sharp end of the field at the opening MXGP round of 2020. PC @RayArcher Their results and numbers establish immediate credibility. “I don’t think we’ve seen something like that, with the amount of titles under the same tent. It’s very rare,” offers Gruebel. When it comes to ranking the trio as ‘the greatest’ there is a degree of subjectivity away from the statistics, and comparison of eras and the different demands, techniques, length of the seasons and standards of equipment means the exercise can be fruitless. For many, even inside KTM, there is only one possible rival. “KTM is a bit like the new Honda of the 80s,” opines KTM Motocross Manager Joel Smets, a double champion himself for the manufacturer. “The full HRC line-up: when I was a kid I remember thinking ‘how is that possible?’ It really was a dream team.” In 1985 and 1986 the red triplet of Dave Thorpe, Andre Malherbe and Eric Geboers finished 1-2-3 in the 500cc World Championship in that order. The team would shape-shift with the likes of Jeff Leisk and Jean-Michel Bayle coming into the frame. “They didn’t have that many titles when the original three came together and I think Eric still had to win in the 250s or 500s – he believed he was going to blow everyone away, but he fell on his face a few times. Malherbe was a double world champ and Thorpe won in 85-86,” Smets describes. Cairoli’s first GP was in 2002 and the Sicilian has won nine World Championships since. PC @RayArcher “From the point of view of image and competitiveness, for me, our guys are on the same level. Of course, Tony, Jorge and Jeffrey are top of the bill now, but Malherbe’s nickname was ‘Mr Hollywood’! That was the period shortly after they raced in leather pants and I remember him coming out for a mud race in completely white gear, holeshotting and finishing all white! Eric Geboers was a real star. Thorpe was more the working-class hero and respected as a sportsman but I think Geboers and Malherbe can easily stand next to Tony and Jeffrey. I lived that era as a spectator and perhaps I am not best placed to objectively judge it because now I’m looking at things from an inside point of view. I struggle to remember any other line-up like the one we have now at Red Bull KTM. Yamaha had Donny Schmit and Alex Puzar and later Stefan Everts and Marnicq Bervoets but they still don’t come close to these guys.” On the awning floor and other members of Red Bull KTM believe that the riders themselves probably don’t have enough distance or perspective to see their general place in the sport’s landscape. “For sure it is up-there as one of the all-time greatest teams,” says Herlings’ mechanic Wayne Banks. “Do they really appreciate it? I think they are too focused on the job and they are all winners. Second place doesn’t mean much. I reckon they’ll [appreciate] it later but now they are caught in the moment.” Herlings on home soil – the Dutchman battles the Valkenswaard sand. PC @RayArcher 2018 saw Herlings and Cairoli tussle for the MXGP crown and classify 1-2 for the year with only one other rider capturing just one of the twenty rounds. 2014, 2017 and 2018 saw inter-team tussles for the prize in MX2, of which Prado was a protagonist of the last. The prolificacy both against rivals and within the team led to a degree of excellence and ultimately the 2020 line-up. “If you wanted to plan it then I don’t think you could,” smiles Gruebel. “As a company it is also a really big effort to have three guys that are all so good that they could each win the title. Why should we make that huge investment for ‘three horses’? It just happened, but you never know what can happen next in racing. Tony is still going, Jeffrey is in his prime and you could say it is quite early for Jorge.” Prado’s first Grand Prix on the KTM 450 SX-F was positive following his winter injury. PC @RayArcher Arguably the chief architect was Pit Beirer, a seven-times Grand Prix winner and KTM rider and now Motorsports Director, who signed all three to the factory’s bountiful hall of fame. “I think this is the greatest MXGP line-up we’ve had at KTM and, like Dirk said, it is not something you can really plan,” the German said. “You can have a long-term strategy but then all three riders manage to change that! I almost feel sorry to say it, but Tony is still so good for a rider who is into his 30s: we probably expected him to have stopped by now but he’s like a good bottle of red wine. In the middle you have Jeffrey who we thought would have a very strong spell in the class but it was not easy to plan with him because of the injuries that occurred. Then on the other side you have Jorge coming and I don’t think anybody expected him to go like a rocket through all the categories to show up as a two-time world champion in MXGP for 2020. So, the team wasn’t planned but it is a time to enjoy them out there. Let’s all stay healthy and let’s hope we can start the season very soon.” While all three riders have only appeared on track together twice so far in 2020, away from KTM and there is recognition for the strength of the gathering. “I think there is a case for Suzuki’s era from Joel Robert to Gaston Rahier to Eric Geboers to Michele Rinaldi and then Honda brought nine titles through their three main riders from 1980-90 but if you are looking at a single team, a single line-up then Red Bull KTM has the credentials,” says former Grand Prix winner and now full-time TV commentator and presenter Paul Malin. “Not only are all three supreme athletes but, numerically, of their 15 championship 12 have been won in KTM colors and the scary thing is that they could well be adding more in the next few years.” Cairoli still has his eyes on the main prize as part of an incredible Red Bull KTM Factory Racing MXGP line-up. PC @RayArcher “In the 80’s the 500 class was similar to MXGP today; all the best riders and main factories were involved,” offers legendary French journalist Pascal Haudiquert, a man who started covering Grand Prix in the mid-1970s and with more than 500 races under his belt as part of the media corps. “In this period the factory teams lined up with two riders maximum, Honda had three of the best in the world. But since this period no factory had such a strong team as KTM do now, for sure.” How will the years enrich and preserve KTM’s unique collision of talent? Fortunately for the younger generation of MXGP fans they can savor the sight now and the memories later on. Until the next flagbearers arrive.
  10. THE GREATEST EVER: IS KTM’S 2020 MXGP LINE-UP THE BENCHMARK? Posted in Racing Cairoli, Herlings, Prado: Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s MXGP riders for the 2020 season with a combined total of 15 FIM World Championships in the two categories. Has there been a more decorated, potent and lethal collection of athletes in Grand Prix history? With 15 FIM World titles between them the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing MXGP line-up is a force to be reckoned with. PC @RayArcher An over-simplification would be to say Cairoli represents the past, Herlings the present and Prado the future and all three have coincided to make ‘the perfect storm’ for 2020. That the trio have ‘collided’ this season to steer the KTM 450 SX-F is fact, but Cairoli claimed his last crown as recently as 2017, Herlings is only 25 but already a ten year veteran of Grand Prix while Prado has already eliminated himself from MX2 for a term thanks to back-to-back titles in 2018-2019 (thus being pushed out of the category according to the rules). Herlings leads the 2020 MXGP championship after the two rounds before Covid-19 halted the action. PC @RayArcher Cairoli (34, the second oldest athlete in MXGP and based in Rome), Herlings and Prado (19 and Rome/Belgium set) all have different style and approaches. Cairoli was the definition of flamboyance on a 250, who matured into one of the best all-rounders the sport has ever seen with an unparalleled rate of consistency that casted 89 victories (12 away from the record total) and 162 podiums (5 away from another record). Herlings is an animal of attacking riding, strength and an insatiable desire to win. A record-smasher in MX2 he assembled one of the most memorable campaigns on record in 2018 with 17 wins from 19 appearances (the other two results were 2nd place) and has a career tally of 86. Prado is arguably the best starter in the modern era with a 50% ratio of holeshots in two years and a smooth and graceful technique that ensures his universal competitiveness and low rate of mistakes and crashes. He is already Spain’s greatest motocrosser thanks to his 31 triumphs and is the premier class rookie for 2020. With back-to-back MX2 World Championship titles Prado is looking to make his mark in MXGP. PC @JuanPabloAcevedo Fittingly each rider has either been developed by KTM or has assisted the factory team’s bloom into an outfit that has owned both MXGP (previously ‘MX1’) and MX2 seven times in the last decade. It has helped the ‘orange’ squad to be the powerhouse of the paddock. “We worked on that image and we’ve had it now for a while with MX2 and MXGP titles over the years, sometimes even in the same season and that’s something unique,” offers Team Manager and Technical Coordinator Dirk Gruebel; the German has been part of the crew’s management since the end of the ‘00s. “You get used to it, but it should never be taken for granted. Winning both titles in the same year and by the same team is a huge achievement.” Cairoli – in his eleventh season with Red Bull KTM – was signed in 2010 and helped establish the KTM 350 SX-F concept that eventually helped the KTM 450 SX-F evolve to become the standard for the category. He aced championships with both bikes. Herlings was groomed by the factory as a teenage prodigy who made his GP debut as a fifteen-year old and won his first race after just three rounds. Prado’s story is similar to the Dutchman’s but he was in KTM development channels from puberty and through 65, 85 and 125cc levels to the world stage. He scored a podium on his first full GP appearance and won in his maiden term having just turned 16 years of age. Cairoli and Herlings battle at the sharp end of the field at the opening MXGP round of 2020. PC @RayArcher Their results and numbers establish immediate credibility. “I don’t think we’ve seen something like that, with the amount of titles under the same tent. It’s very rare,” offers Gruebel. When it comes to ranking the trio as ‘the greatest’ there is a degree of subjectivity away from the statistics, and comparison of eras and the different demands, techniques, length of the seasons and standards of equipment means the exercise can be fruitless. For many, even inside KTM, there is only one possible rival. “KTM is a bit like the new Honda of the 80s,” opines KTM Motocross Manager Joel Smets, a double champion himself for the manufacturer. “The full HRC line-up: when I was a kid I remember thinking ‘how is that possible?’ It really was a dream team.” In 1985 and 1986 the red triplet of Dave Thorpe, Andre Malherbe and Eric Geboers finished 1-2-3 in the 500cc World Championship in that order. The team would shape-shift with the likes of Jeff Leisk and Jean-Michel Bayle coming into the frame. “They didn’t have that many titles when the original three came together and I think Eric still had to win in the 250s or 500s – he believed he was going to blow everyone away, but he fell on his face a few times. Malherbe was a double world champ and Thorpe won in 85-86,” Smets describes. Cairoli’s first GP was in 2002 and the Sicilian has won nine World Championships since. PC @RayArcher “From the point of view of image and competitiveness, for me, our guys are on the same level. Of course, Tony, Jorge and Jeffrey are top of the bill now, but Malherbe’s nickname was ‘Mr Hollywood’! That was the period shortly after they raced in leather pants and I remember him coming out for a mud race in completely white gear, holeshotting and finishing all white! Eric Geboers was a real star. Thorpe was more the working-class hero and respected as a sportsman but I think Geboers and Malherbe can easily stand next to Tony and Jeffrey. I lived that era as a spectator and perhaps I am not best placed to objectively judge it because now I’m looking at things from an inside point of view. I struggle to remember any other line-up like the one we have now at Red Bull KTM. Yamaha had Donny Schmit and Alex Puzar and later Stefan Everts and Marnicq Bervoets but they still don’t come close to these guys.” On the awning floor and other members of Red Bull KTM believe that the riders themselves probably don’t have enough distance or perspective to see their general place in the sport’s landscape. “For sure it is up-there as one of the all-time greatest teams,” says Herlings’ mechanic Wayne Banks. “Do they really appreciate it? I think they are too focused on the job and they are all winners. Second place doesn’t mean much. I reckon they’ll [appreciate] it later but now they are caught in the moment.” Herlings on home soil – the Dutchman battles the Valkenswaard sand. PC @RayArcher 2018 saw Herlings and Cairoli tussle for the MXGP crown and classify 1-2 for the year with only one other rider capturing just one of the twenty rounds. 2014, 2017 and 2018 saw inter-team tussles for the prize in MX2, of which Prado was a protagonist of the last. The prolificacy both against rivals and within the team led to a degree of excellence and ultimately the 2020 line-up. “If you wanted to plan it then I don’t think you could,” smiles Gruebel. “As a company it is also a really big effort to have three guys that are all so good that they could each win the title. Why should we make that huge investment for ‘three horses’? It just happened, but you never know what can happen next in racing. Tony is still going, Jeffrey is in his prime and you could say it is quite early for Jorge.” Prado’s first Grand Prix on the KTM 450 SX-F was positive following his winter injury. PC @RayArcher Arguably the chief architect was Pit Beirer, a seven-times Grand Prix winner and KTM rider and now Motorsports Director, who signed all three to the factory’s bountiful hall of fame. “I think this is the greatest MXGP line-up we’ve had at KTM and, like Dirk said, it is not something you can really plan,” the German said. “You can have a long-term strategy but then all three riders manage to change that! I almost feel sorry to say it, but Tony is still so good for a rider who is into his 30s: we probably expected him to have stopped by now but he’s like a good bottle of red wine. In the middle you have Jeffrey who we thought would have a very strong spell in the class but it was not easy to plan with him because of the injuries that occurred. Then on the other side you have Jorge coming and I don’t think anybody expected him to go like a rocket through all the categories to show up as a two-time world champion in MXGP for 2020. So, the team wasn’t planned but it is a time to enjoy them out there. Let’s all stay healthy and let’s hope we can start the season very soon.” While all three riders have only appeared on track together twice so far in 2020, away from KTM and there is recognition for the strength of the gathering. “I think there is a case for Suzuki’s era from Joel Robert to Gaston Rahier to Eric Geboers to Michele Rinaldi and then Honda brought nine titles through their three main riders from 1980-90 but if you are looking at a single team, a single line-up then Red Bull KTM has the credentials,” says former Grand Prix winner and now full-time TV commentator and presenter Paul Malin. “Not only are all three supreme athletes but, numerically, of their 15 championship 12 have been won in KTM colors and the scary thing is that they could well be adding more in the next few years.” Cairoli still has his eyes on the main prize as part of an incredible Red Bull KTM Factory Racing MXGP line-up. PC @RayArcher “In the 80’s the 500 class was similar to MXGP today; all the best riders and main factories were involved,” offers legendary French journalist Pascal Haudiquert, a man who started covering Grand Prix in the mid-1970s and with more than 500 races under his belt as part of the media corps. “In this period the factory teams lined up with two riders maximum, Honda had three of the best in the world. But since this period no factory had such a strong team as KTM do now, for sure.” How will the years enrich and preserve KTM’s unique collision of talent? Fortunately for the younger generation of MXGP fans they can savor the sight now and the memories later on. Until the next flagbearers arrive.
  11. THE SPAWN OF SPORN: THE KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R CREATOR TALKS Posted in Bikes, People Herman Sporn is the father of the KTM SUPER DUKE; an innovator, engineer and a damn fast rider. Here he talks about his work with the 2020 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R and THE BEAST 3.0 concept, how it compares to the first 990, how KTM has changed and how the ‘ultimate’ Naked bike can still get better… 45 year old Hermann Sporn lights another cigarette. The lofty, grinning Austrian has just stepped off the production motorcycle that he and his team have created from the ground-up; if anything, his satisfaction is reassuring for taller customers that the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R is a comfortable ride. The fact that Sporn cannot suppress a smile – even after all of the thinking, work and development time of three years for the SUPER DUKE – is vindication of the quality of his work. PC @MarcoCampelli The KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R has been described as the flagship motorcycle for the factory: the embodiment of technology, style, intent and performance that KTM want to convey with their street bikes. Sporn was at the beginning of the story, and thus holds something a veneer of status in the halls of the Mattighofen factory and R&D department. Afforded a quick talk before he takes another group onto the Portuguese roads around Portimao for the 2020 bike’s official presentation we pushed to know a bit more about his narrative and latest fabrication… Was the SUPER DUKE your first bike for KTM and how did it come about? I started at the factory in 2000 and came to KTM with the brief that I had to make a ‘SUPER DUKE’ – there was no real name for it at that time but they had made the first prototypes for the Adventure and wanted to do a two-cylinder Naked bike in parallel. I worked alone for three years and did everything from swingarm, frame, subframe, exhaust system and so on and after we had a good prototype we went to the designer to get a good fairing and shape and then it was ready. We wanted to start in 2004 but then we made some modifications – switching to injectors and improved the capacity from 950 to 990 ccm – and launched it in 2005. The growth of KTM in that time – and enduring the financial crisis – has been immense. You must have seen some changes… [Smiles] There were far fewer engineers. Now with all the R&D in Mattighofen and the two construction offices – one in Spain and another in Salzburg – I believe we are round 650 people. When I started we were just sixty! In 2005, with the first SUPER DUKE we got the feedback: the fuel tank was too small and the bike was not so refined – it was a bit too nervous – and that was the start points for the next generation in 2007 and that version was a lot better than the previous one. The production of KTM PowerParts that same year led to the single-seater R: the first one. It’s funny how the R came about actually because a motorcycle magazine contacted KTM as they wanted to make a race bike out of the SUPER DUKE and we said no, and then thought ‘let’s do our own’! We built up the track bike from zero and we used only parts to make the bike lighter, faster and stronger, additionally we wanted the bike to look cool, so my mechanic had the idea of making the frame in orange and I said let’s do the rest in black; everyone ended up liking it so much that it was the first time we had a R version with an orange frame and it has been something that’s been in place ever since. We started making a lot of tests at Pannonia-Ring with Andreas Meklau, who was riding in WorldSBK at this time. My mechanic and I were also doing a lot of riding because we didn’t have any professional test riders at that point. PC @HermannSporn The KTM SUPER DUKE 1290 R is obviously a sophisticated motorcycle. How do you compare it to the original 990? Is it like an iPhone 11 up against a 1? I think, it is more like going back to a rotary phone! We built the first SUPER DUKE R fifteen years ago which is why it looks old. It was not refined, and we didn’t have the possibilities that we do now. We have one of the largest test centers in Europe, where the motorcycles are running for weeks with robots at full load, or entire assemblies are checked for lifetime on 2 Poster- and Vibration test benches and of course much more is now possible in FEM calculation and design of the components with the help of topology optimization than before. This meant the current bike was on a much higher level at much earlier stage. Also, you have to count the experience: we started from zero in 2000 with the SUPER DUKE R and the 2014 1290 model was one of the first KTM bikes to have traction control and advanced electronics. It grew with the time. There are some limitations for development so do you still fully buy-into the Naked bike concept? Of course. When can you really enjoy a superbike on the road? It is a pain to ride one, literally. In the hands, the leg, the seat, the damping was too harsh. It is a bike made for the racetrack and where there’s no problem to have maximum power, the torque on high rpm and when you want to find the limit you need also the tight damping. The big advantage with the SUPER DUKE was the huge amount of torque; it almost doesn’t matter what gear you were in. It is easy to ride, more comfortable and gives you a better view in traffic due to the upright seating position. In fact, testers were riding the SUPER DUKE for two-three days and well over 1000 km and were saying we should make a touring bike out of it; for that reason, we made a GT version prototype that everybody loved and now that’s into its second generation. KTM are calling the 2020 model ‘the ultimate Naked bike’. So how can you improve the benchmark? I like a challenge! We want to maintain the good properties from the previous bike such as the easy rideability, good ergonomics and also good seat comfort for a whole weekend of riding. But, additionally, we wanted better feel from the front end, improved anti squat behavior and also a better handling. For this one we were given a free hand to make our brief, and I had some discussions with my boss, when they saw the number of tests we were making on the track. We said: “this doesn’t mean it will be worse for the street…we have to feel the limit to know if the frame, swingarm and rim stiffness is at a certain level where we feel what the tire is doing”. You can sometimes only make discoveries when you are at the maximum. 95 or even 99% is not enough. It has to be 100. For the future the work goes on and we continue to look at all aspects. We know the motorcycle is arriving to a really high level, but we noticed that we can improve the tire. The standard [Bridgestone] S22 had a problem with the torque-and-power ratio in combination with the low weight from the bike for getting the power to the ground when it started to slide; it was happening too quickly. So, we spoke with Bridgestone and that’s where Jeremy McWilliams was so good. He was able to explain to them that the contact patch was too small, and we didn’t have the grip we needed. We wanted a softer carcass and were given some prototypes and they worked. I remember one test where we used the old tire on the first day in dry conditions and when the bike accelerated hard out of a corner we were always experiencing a huge amount of slide. The following day it was wet and with the new tire the front end was lifting under the same acceleration from the same corner! There was more grip in wet conditions with the new tire than there had been with the old one in the dry! It was amazing how much the performance of the tire improved. PC @SebasRomero
  12. THE SPAWN OF SPORN: THE KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R CREATOR TALKS Posted in Bikes, People Herman Sporn is the father of the KTM SUPER DUKE; an innovator, engineer and a damn fast rider. Here he talks about his work with the 2020 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R and THE BEAST 3.0 concept, how it compares to the first 990, how KTM has changed and how the ‘ultimate’ Naked bike can still get better… 45 year old Hermann Sporn lights another cigarette. The lofty, grinning Austrian has just stepped off the production motorcycle that he and his team have created from the ground-up; if anything, his satisfaction is reassuring for taller customers that the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R is a comfortable ride. The fact that Sporn cannot suppress a smile – even after all of the thinking, work and development time of three years for the SUPER DUKE – is vindication of the quality of his work. PC @MarcoCampelli The KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R has been described as the flagship motorcycle for the factory: the embodiment of technology, style, intent and performance that KTM want to convey with their street bikes. Sporn was at the beginning of the story, and thus holds something a veneer of status in the halls of the Mattighofen factory and R&D department. Afforded a quick talk before he takes another group onto the Portuguese roads around Portimao for the 2020 bike’s official presentation we pushed to know a bit more about his narrative and latest fabrication… Was the SUPER DUKE your first bike for KTM and how did it come about? I started at the factory in 2000 and came to KTM with the brief that I had to make a ‘SUPER DUKE’ – there was no real name for it at that time but they had made the first prototypes for the Adventure and wanted to do a two-cylinder Naked bike in parallel. I worked alone for three years and did everything from swingarm, frame, subframe, exhaust system and so on and after we had a good prototype we went to the designer to get a good fairing and shape and then it was ready. We wanted to start in 2004 but then we made some modifications – switching to injectors and improved the capacity from 950 to 990 ccm – and launched it in 2005. The growth of KTM in that time – and enduring the financial crisis – has been immense. You must have seen some changes… [Smiles] There were far fewer engineers. Now with all the R&D in Mattighofen and the two construction offices – one in Spain and another in Salzburg – I believe we are round 650 people. When I started we were just sixty! In 2005, with the first SUPER DUKE we got the feedback: the fuel tank was too small and the bike was not so refined – it was a bit too nervous – and that was the start points for the next generation in 2007 and that version was a lot better than the previous one. The production of KTM PowerParts that same year led to the single-seater R: the first one. It’s funny how the R came about actually because a motorcycle magazine contacted KTM as they wanted to make a race bike out of the SUPER DUKE and we said no, and then thought ‘let’s do our own’! We built up the track bike from zero and we used only parts to make the bike lighter, faster and stronger, additionally we wanted the bike to look cool, so my mechanic had the idea of making the frame in orange and I said let’s do the rest in black; everyone ended up liking it so much that it was the first time we had a R version with an orange frame and it has been something that’s been in place ever since. We started making a lot of tests at Pannonia-Ring with Andreas Meklau, who was riding in WorldSBK at this time. My mechanic and I were also doing a lot of riding because we didn’t have any professional test riders at that point. PC @HermannSporn The KTM SUPER DUKE 1290 R is obviously a sophisticated motorcycle. How do you compare it to the original 990? Is it like an iPhone 11 up against a 1? I think, it is more like going back to a rotary phone! We built the first SUPER DUKE R fifteen years ago which is why it looks old. It was not refined, and we didn’t have the possibilities that we do now. We have one of the largest test centers in Europe, where the motorcycles are running for weeks with robots at full load, or entire assemblies are checked for lifetime on 2 Poster- and Vibration test benches and of course much more is now possible in FEM calculation and design of the components with the help of topology optimization than before. This meant the current bike was on a much higher level at much earlier stage. Also, you have to count the experience: we started from zero in 2000 with the SUPER DUKE R and the 2014 1290 model was one of the first KTM bikes to have traction control and advanced electronics. It grew with the time. There are some limitations for development so do you still fully buy-into the Naked bike concept? Of course. When can you really enjoy a superbike on the road? It is a pain to ride one, literally. In the hands, the leg, the seat, the damping was too harsh. It is a bike made for the racetrack and where there’s no problem to have maximum power, the torque on high rpm and when you want to find the limit you need also the tight damping. The big advantage with the SUPER DUKE was the huge amount of torque; it almost doesn’t matter what gear you were in. It is easy to ride, more comfortable and gives you a better view in traffic due to the upright seating position. In fact, testers were riding the SUPER DUKE for two-three days and well over 1000 km and were saying we should make a touring bike out of it; for that reason, we made a GT version prototype that everybody loved and now that’s into its second generation. KTM are calling the 2020 model ‘the ultimate Naked bike’. So how can you improve the benchmark? I like a challenge! We want to maintain the good properties from the previous bike such as the easy rideability, good ergonomics and also good seat comfort for a whole weekend of riding. But, additionally, we wanted better feel from the front end, improved anti squat behavior and also a better handling. For this one we were given a free hand to make our brief, and I had some discussions with my boss, when they saw the number of tests we were making on the track. We said: “this doesn’t mean it will be worse for the street…we have to feel the limit to know if the frame, swingarm and rim stiffness is at a certain level where we feel what the tire is doing”. You can sometimes only make discoveries when you are at the maximum. 95 or even 99% is not enough. It has to be 100. For the future the work goes on and we continue to look at all aspects. We know the motorcycle is arriving to a really high level, but we noticed that we can improve the tire. The standard [Bridgestone] S22 had a problem with the torque-and-power ratio in combination with the low weight from the bike for getting the power to the ground when it started to slide; it was happening too quickly. So, we spoke with Bridgestone and that’s where Jeremy McWilliams was so good. He was able to explain to them that the contact patch was too small, and we didn’t have the grip we needed. We wanted a softer carcass and were given some prototypes and they worked. I remember one test where we used the old tire on the first day in dry conditions and when the bike accelerated hard out of a corner we were always experiencing a huge amount of slide. The following day it was wet and with the new tire the front end was lifting under the same acceleration from the same corner! There was more grip in wet conditions with the new tire than there had been with the old one in the dry! It was amazing how much the performance of the tire improved. PC @SebasRomero
  13. FILTERING RACE EXPERIENCE INTO ADVENTURE EXCELLENCE

    FILTERING RACE EXPERIENCE INTO ADVENTURE EXCELLENCE How legendary Enduro and Rally racer Giovanni Sala used the feedback collected from thousands of racing miles to help chisel a lineage that stretches through the latest KTM ADVENTURE production machines. Giovanni Sala’s years of racing experience are incorporated in the KTM ADVENTURE models. PC @KTM Whether it’s the power of the KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE range, the versatility of the KTM 790 ADVENTURE line-up or the nimble agility of the KTM 390 ADVENTURE, KTM’s ADVENTURE models carry a lineage molded from lessons and mileage of offroad competition. Investing in racing in order to improve a motorcycle or component is one of the primal reasons why KTM gets on the track and the importance of the right rider in that package cannot be understated. G. Sala next to his title-winning KTM 400 EXC and life-sized geared-up dummy. PC @KTM That’s why KTM turned to Giovanni Sala when they needed to revolutionize their modern line of Enduro machines more than two decades ago. Sala, now 56-years old and a six-time FIM Enduro World Champion and four-times winner of the International Six Days Enduro, would become renowned for his fitness, determination, adaptability and sensitivity to any motorcycle he cared to swing a leg over. 2006 Dakar Rally – G. Sala’s input helped create the powerful character of KTM offroaders. PC @KTM “KTM worked strongly to have a better product,” he smiles now at the memory. “I was the rider that started to use the new, important generation of engine, back in 1990: we went into the world championship with that small 4-stroke.” A title winner in 1993-95, 1998-1999, Sala began a relationship with KTM that stretched up to the evolution of modern-day motorcycles. His technical input helped create the character of the offroaders ridden on tracks and trails to this day. 2002 Dakar Rally Team. PC @KTM “The EXC models have reached the top level, and KTM now have a really good bike for every hobby rider and level,” the Italian assesses. “They are powerful bikes but very easy to ride for both amateurs and racers. You can use it in any condition – extreme or fun – so the suspension, engine and frame is at a top level.” G. Sala at the 2002 Dakar Rally. PC @KTM Sala’s impact in Enduro was evident. So KTM began to use his feedback and skills for wider projects. “I remember years ago – around ‘94-‘95 – the first project for the Dakar Rally started around Heinz Kinigadner and I was involved in the single cylinder development. Then later KTM asked me if I wanted to race, so my first Dakar was ’98 with the 640, then the 660 until 2002 when KTM wanted to compete with the twin cylinder. I remember spending a lot of days in the desert in Tunisia with Fabrizio Meoni to make the bike as strong as possible and in 2002 Fabrizio won. The next year I rode again – when the bike was even more developed – and I finished sixth in 2004.” G. Sala on the podium of the 2006 Dakar Rally. PC @KTM Sala totaled eight stage victories in the Dakar Rally to further boost his burgeoning CV. When KTM claim their 2020 ADVENTURE models are gleaned from the technical base, education and DNA of the machines gunned at international Rally racing events then this is not marketing hyperbole. Sala has intimate experience of prototypes and initial technical ideas and is in position to detect their influence in the bikes that are now steered on trails and roads. Whether it is geometry, chassis stiffness, suspension set-up or engine responsiveness, Sala and the other professional racers and test riders that KTM enlist have contributed towards the highly-rated blend of Street and Offroad comfort and thrill that the ADVENTURE models now provide. KTM and G. Sala: a relationship that stretched up to the evolution of modern-day motorcycle. PC @KTM “The factory has a lot of experience…and that helps so much to build a really good bike,” he understates. “For example, KTM has been in the Dakar from 1995 and won it for 18 years in a row: this record shows you how important it is to take advantage of experience and to use what you learn. New things come as do new generations of bikes, but that knowledge from the past is important to develop the bike in the right way.” A sign that Sala feels vindicated in his work for KTM and the pleasure he finds in the ADVENTURE series can be seen in his continuing presence at KTM ADVENTURE RALLIES and outings where he gets to mix with other riders and fans and recount anecdotes and tales of his days fighting a stopwatch. In 2019 he was spotted traversing geography in Bosnia and South Africa as part of the group, and with his KTM 790 ADVENTURE R. G. Sala took part in the 2019 European KTM ADVENTURE RALLY. PC @KTM “Honestly, I think those KTM ADVENTURE RALLIES are a good opportunity for the fans and riders to discover some beautiful places,” he opines on the scheme. “They are well organized, and the team has discovered some excellent landscapes and good paths. I find the 790 ADVENTURE R is a lot of fun: I love the twin cylinder engine because it has a lot of power but also makes the bike easy to handle well. It is a pleasure to discover new places on that motorcycle and spend some time with the customers.” G. Sala is not planning on taking his hand off the throttle any time soon. PC @KTM He may be approaching his seventh decade of leaving tire prints in the dirt, but Sala is not dabbing the brakes any softer… and that’s a blessing for KTM’s ceaseless work in the R&D department. Giovanni Sala’s championship-winning KTM 400 EXC machine is on display at the KTM Motohall in Mattighofen, Austria.
  14. FILTERING RACE EXPERIENCE INTO ADVENTURE EXCELLENCE How legendary Enduro and Rally racer Giovanni Sala used the feedback collected from thousands of racing miles to help chisel a lineage that stretches through the latest KTM ADVENTURE production machines. Giovanni Sala’s years of racing experience are incorporated in the KTM ADVENTURE models. PC @KTM Whether it’s the power of the KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE range, the versatility of the KTM 790 ADVENTURE line-up or the nimble agility of the KTM 390 ADVENTURE, KTM’s ADVENTURE models carry a lineage molded from lessons and mileage of offroad competition. Investing in racing in order to improve a motorcycle or component is one of the primal reasons why KTM gets on the track and the importance of the right rider in that package cannot be understated. G. Sala next to his title-winning KTM 400 EXC and life-sized geared-up dummy. PC @KTM That’s why KTM turned to Giovanni Sala when they needed to revolutionize their modern line of Enduro machines more than two decades ago. Sala, now 56-years old and a six-time FIM Enduro World Champion and four-times winner of the International Six Days Enduro, would become renowned for his fitness, determination, adaptability and sensitivity to any motorcycle he cared to swing a leg over. 2006 Dakar Rally – G. Sala’s input helped create the powerful character of KTM offroaders. PC @KTM “KTM worked strongly to have a better product,” he smiles now at the memory. “I was the rider that started to use the new, important generation of engine, back in 1990: we went into the world championship with that small 4-stroke.” A title winner in 1993-95, 1998-1999, Sala began a relationship with KTM that stretched up to the evolution of modern-day motorcycles. His technical input helped create the character of the offroaders ridden on tracks and trails to this day. 2002 Dakar Rally Team. PC @KTM “The EXC models have reached the top level, and KTM now have a really good bike for every hobby rider and level,” the Italian assesses. “They are powerful bikes but very easy to ride for both amateurs and racers. You can use it in any condition – extreme or fun – so the suspension, engine and frame is at a top level.” G. Sala at the 2002 Dakar Rally. PC @KTM Sala’s impact in Enduro was evident. So KTM began to use his feedback and skills for wider projects. “I remember years ago – around ‘94-‘95 – the first project for the Dakar Rally started around Heinz Kinigadner and I was involved in the single cylinder development. Then later KTM asked me if I wanted to race, so my first Dakar was ’98 with the 640, then the 660 until 2002 when KTM wanted to compete with the twin cylinder. I remember spending a lot of days in the desert in Tunisia with Fabrizio Meoni to make the bike as strong as possible and in 2002 Fabrizio won. The next year I rode again – when the bike was even more developed – and I finished sixth in 2004.” G. Sala on the podium of the 2006 Dakar Rally. PC @KTM Sala totaled eight stage victories in the Dakar Rally to further boost his burgeoning CV. When KTM claim their 2020 ADVENTURE models are gleaned from the technical base, education and DNA of the machines gunned at international Rally racing events then this is not marketing hyperbole. Sala has intimate experience of prototypes and initial technical ideas and is in position to detect their influence in the bikes that are now steered on trails and roads. Whether it is geometry, chassis stiffness, suspension set-up or engine responsiveness, Sala and the other professional racers and test riders that KTM enlist have contributed towards the highly-rated blend of Street and Offroad comfort and thrill that the ADVENTURE models now provide. KTM and G. Sala: a relationship that stretched up to the evolution of modern-day motorcycle. PC @KTM “The factory has a lot of experience…and that helps so much to build a really good bike,” he understates. “For example, KTM has been in the Dakar from 1995 and won it for 18 years in a row: this record shows you how important it is to take advantage of experience and to use what you learn. New things come as do new generations of bikes, but that knowledge from the past is important to develop the bike in the right way.” A sign that Sala feels vindicated in his work for KTM and the pleasure he finds in the ADVENTURE series can be seen in his continuing presence at KTM ADVENTURE RALLIES and outings where he gets to mix with other riders and fans and recount anecdotes and tales of his days fighting a stopwatch. In 2019 he was spotted traversing geography in Bosnia and South Africa as part of the group, and with his KTM 790 ADVENTURE R. G. Sala took part in the 2019 European KTM ADVENTURE RALLY. PC @KTM “Honestly, I think those KTM ADVENTURE RALLIES are a good opportunity for the fans and riders to discover some beautiful places,” he opines on the scheme. “They are well organized, and the team has discovered some excellent landscapes and good paths. I find the 790 ADVENTURE R is a lot of fun: I love the twin cylinder engine because it has a lot of power but also makes the bike easy to handle well. It is a pleasure to discover new places on that motorcycle and spend some time with the customers.” G. Sala is not planning on taking his hand off the throttle any time soon. PC @KTM He may be approaching his seventh decade of leaving tire prints in the dirt, but Sala is not dabbing the brakes any softer… and that’s a blessing for KTM’s ceaseless work in the R&D department. Giovanni Sala’s championship-winning KTM 400 EXC machine is on display at the KTM Motohall in Mattighofen, Austria.
  15. VIDEO: INTERNATIONAL MEDIA PUT THE KTM 390 ADVENTURE TO THE TEST Posted in Bikes Riding from the Atlantic shores to the mountain tops of Tenerife and up to 2,200 meters above sea level, a large group of international motorcycle journalists share their raw impressions after testing the new KTM 390 ADVENTURE in a mixed variety of tarmac and offroad conditions. The KTM 390 ADVENTURE put to the test in Tenerife. @ S. Romero | KTM Featuring a 180 km loop that included a long and twisty gravel section leading close to the Teide mountain top, the setting for the KTM 390 ADVENTURE international launch provided a wide variety of testing conditions for motorcycle journalists coming from every part of the world. Over the course of a full week’s riding in the endless sweeping curves of Tenerife, each of the KTM 390 ADVENTURE machines available for testing clocked more than 1,000 km on their [TFT dashboard-displayed] odometers. For a full week in the beginning of March 2020, the idyllic motorcycle riding ground of Tenerife became the testing spot for more than 50 experienced media who got the chance to get a good first couple hundreds of kilometers aboard KTM’s ultra-lightweight and extremely agile Travel-Enduro machine. Before setting out to share their impressions across their respective media platforms globally, the selected motorcycle journalists and bike influencers who joined the KTM 390 ADVENTURE launch in Tenerife wrapped up their original thoughts in the video edit below: [embedded content] Offering proximity to the feeling found at the larger-displacement KTM ADVENTURE models, the recently launched KTM 390 ADVENTURE is a highly accessible adventurer 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 latest member in the legendary KTM ADVENTURE range is ideal for riders keen to fit motorcycle adventuring into their daily life and those eager to explore the roads away from the asphalt. The KTM 390 ADVENTURE is a reference-setting multi-use motorcycle that delivers a comfortable and effective commute on a weekday but will also be a fun attraction for the weekends when riders opt for a less-travelled route. @ S. Romero, F. Montero | KTM Fotos: S. Romero, F. Montero | KTM
  16. VIDEO: INTERNATIONAL MEDIA PUT THE KTM 390 ADVENTURE TO THE TEST Posted in Bikes Riding from the Atlantic shores to the mountain tops of Tenerife and up to 2,200 meters above sea level, a large group of international motorcycle journalists share their raw impressions after testing the new KTM 390 ADVENTURE in a mixed variety of tarmac and offroad conditions. The KTM 390 ADVENTURE put to the test in Tenerife. @ S. Romero | KTM Featuring a 180 km loop that included a long and twisty gravel section leading close to the Teide mountain top, the setting for the KTM 390 ADVENTURE international launch provided a wide variety of testing conditions for motorcycle journalists coming from every part of the world. Over the course of a full week’s riding in the endless sweeping curves of Tenerife, each of the KTM 390 ADVENTURE machines available for testing clocked more than 1,000 km on their [TFT dashboard-displayed] odometers. For a full week in the beginning of March 2020, the idyllic motorcycle riding ground of Tenerife became the testing spot for more than 50 experienced media who got the chance to get a good first couple hundreds of kilometers aboard KTM’s ultra-lightweight and extremely agile Travel-Enduro machine. Before setting out to share their impressions across their respective media platforms globally, the selected motorcycle journalists and bike influencers who joined the KTM 390 ADVENTURE launch in Tenerife wrapped up their original thoughts in the video edit below: [embedded content] Offering proximity to the feeling found at the larger-displacement KTM ADVENTURE models, the recently launched KTM 390 ADVENTURE is a highly accessible adventurer 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 latest member in the legendary KTM ADVENTURE range is ideal for riders keen to fit motorcycle adventuring into their daily life and those eager to explore the roads away from the asphalt. The KTM 390 ADVENTURE is a reference-setting multi-use motorcycle that delivers a comfortable and effective commute on a weekday but will also be a fun attraction for the weekends when riders opt for a less-travelled route. @ S. Romero, F. Montero | KTM Fotos: S. Romero, F. Montero | KTM
  17. BUILT TO FLY: MAKING A CHAMPIONSHIP-WINNING HELMET

    BUILT TO FLY: MAKING A CHAMPIONSHIP-WINNING HELMET The most decorated motocross athlete of the century, Tony Cairoli, has claimed all of his nine FIM World Championships while helping and using Airoh helmets. The Italian star talks about his role in forging the Aviator 2.3 Tony Cairoli has been working closely with Airoh helmets for many years. PC JP Acevedo Like some of his Italian motorcycle racing peers, Tony Cairoli has become synonymous with one particular helmet brand. Since the Red Bull KTM rider’s second Grand Prix season in 2004 the #222 logo has been a common sight on Airoh helmets, firstly in the MX2 class (two titles) and then the MXGP category (formerly MX1) that Cairoli routed between 2009-2014 and again in 2017. The small but highly advanced manufacturer from close to Bergamo in northern Italy was born from the experience and knowledge of Antonio Locatelli almost 15 years ago and Cairoli was – and still is – one of their first, key ambassadors. “There is a big family feeling to the company,” says the 34-year old, who has remained with the same team mechanics and staff since that 2004 year right-up to the present day and has been in KTM colors from the start of the 2010 season. “The owner, Antonio, is always there and connected. He controls things and I still speak with him directly for my designs and my helmets. I like that atmosphere. It is a close working relationship and they work a lot and invest a lot, especially in safety.” The nine-time FIM Motocross World Champion is involved with the development of new models. PC JP Acevedo Cairoli wears the Airoh (actually an acronym of Ambition, Innovation, Resilience, On-Off, Heritage) Aviator 2.3; the premium off-road model. The Italians pride themselves on a variety of fabricating techniques to ensure optimum weight, comfort and effectiveness and this includes steam and injection molding then composite fibers and 3K carbon, layered by hand. A carbon kevlar fiber weave means the helmets are light and strong but the smaller details are not neglected such as UV resistant decals and hand-stitched inner lining. Airoh seems to mix the virtues of personal touch and high tech; an example being the delicate craft that goes into construction of the shell and AMS2 EPS while an in-house wind tunnel permits rapid and progressive development for aerodynamics, acoustic and thermo performance. They are now one of the leading names in the vast off-road helmet sector but the journey to that status needed patience, education and some input from the sharp end of Grand Prix. Cairoli races in the ultra-demanding FIM MXGP Motocross World Championship for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing. PC Ray Archer “There has been a big evolution,” opines Cairoli on the Aviator. “In fact, since 2009-2010 they made a big step compared to other helmets. I think a lot of manufacturers are quite close now but between 2006-2009 Airoh concentrated on pushing ahead of everyone else. First of all for the weight, but then for ergonomics and then comfort and feel. I think Airoh have made a very good helmet for a number of years.” Cairoli was the initial guinea pig for Locatelli and his technicians to create the standards Airoh wished to reach with the Aviator. Compared to a street helmet, an off-road version needed to be suitably robust, well ventilated and exceedingly comfortable due to the extra physical effort and force a rider will be making on motocross tracks or trails. Airoh’s roots are in the dirt and Cairoli’s expertise is ingrained in the Aviator. “In the beginning I was giving a lot of feedback to improve the product but as the years go on and they get better and better it is difficult to find big things to change,” he says. “A lot of feedback is about fit, comfort, some ventilation and aerodynamics. At some tracks we have higher speed and you can notice differences. When you focus on helmet testing especially then you can feel the value of particular pieces.” The multi-time champion’s helmets are the Airoh Aviator 2.3 model. PC Ray Archer “Ventilation is always a big thing because you have to think about how it will link with the goggles,” the KTM man adds. “It is a big compromise and a commitment that Airoh make to be compatible and effective with the goggles on the market and the fit.” “We can crash quite a lot and it is important to maintain the integrity of the helmet and the interiors. Another crash can be just around the corner so you must wear a fresh helmet or be sure about the condition of the one you have.” The Airoh Aviator 2.3 is built for the toughest conditions, whilst being lightweight with outstanding protection. PC Ray Archer The Aviator reached a state of proficiency and became the helmet of choice for Cairoli’s teammates Jeffrey Herlings (every year since his Grand Prix debut in 2010) and Jorge Prado (since 2016) and other athletes in the MXGP field. Cairoli’s Aviator is the only replica in the collection and pretty much identical to the one he uses in his day-job. “It’s the same that people can buy in the dealership but the fitting is very important, so I have a different interior,” he reveals. “It depends on the helmet model though: some years I’ve used the standard interior and other years I’ve needed some changes to suit me. The model changes a little bit every year but big changes come every few. I’ll be using new stuff a year before some of them make it to the production version.” The 2020 KTM PowerWear Airoh Aviator 2.3. PC KTM Airoh have working diligently to expand their street collection and reach the same acclaim they have achieved in off-road. The ST 501 is a sturdy and well-sculpted, value-for-money helmet (so much so that it holds a place in the 2020 KTM PowerWear catalog). Naturally, their most recognizable patron won’t be seen off-track in anything else. “I also use the street helmet,” Cairoli grins. “They arrived a bit late to this market because they were born from off-road but they have been in MotoGP for a few years and have had helmets for scooters for a good few years. I remember using one riding around Rome a long time ago!” Check out the 2020 Airoh Aviator 2.3 KTM model as part of the new KTM PowerWear range by clicking HERE.
  18. BUILT TO FLY: MAKING A CHAMPIONSHIP-WINNING HELMET The most decorated motocross athlete of the century, Tony Cairoli, has claimed all of his nine FIM World Championships while helping and using Airoh helmets. The Italian star talks about his role in forging the Aviator 2.3 Tony Cairoli has been working closely with Airoh helmets for many years. PC JP Acevedo Like some of his Italian motorcycle racing peers, Tony Cairoli has become synonymous with one particular helmet brand. Since the Red Bull KTM rider’s second Grand Prix season in 2004 the #222 logo has been a common sight on Airoh helmets, firstly in the MX2 class (two titles) and then the MXGP category (formerly MX1) that Cairoli routed between 2009-2014 and again in 2017. The small but highly advanced manufacturer from close to Bergamo in northern Italy was born from the experience and knowledge of Antonio Locatelli almost 15 years ago and Cairoli was – and still is – one of their first, key ambassadors. “There is a big family feeling to the company,” says the 34-year old, who has remained with the same team mechanics and staff since that 2004 year right-up to the present day and has been in KTM colors from the start of the 2010 season. “The owner, Antonio, is always there and connected. He controls things and I still speak with him directly for my designs and my helmets. I like that atmosphere. It is a close working relationship and they work a lot and invest a lot, especially in safety.” The nine-time FIM Motocross World Champion is involved with the development of new models. PC JP Acevedo Cairoli wears the Airoh (actually an acronym of Ambition, Innovation, Resilience, On-Off, Heritage) Aviator 2.3; the premium off-road model. The Italians pride themselves on a variety of fabricating techniques to ensure optimum weight, comfort and effectiveness and this includes steam and injection molding then composite fibers and 3K carbon, layered by hand. A carbon kevlar fiber weave means the helmets are light and strong but the smaller details are not neglected such as UV resistant decals and hand-stitched inner lining. Airoh seems to mix the virtues of personal touch and high tech; an example being the delicate craft that goes into construction of the shell and AMS2 EPS while an in-house wind tunnel permits rapid and progressive development for aerodynamics, acoustic and thermo performance. They are now one of the leading names in the vast off-road helmet sector but the journey to that status needed patience, education and some input from the sharp end of Grand Prix. Cairoli races in the ultra-demanding FIM MXGP Motocross World Championship for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing. PC Ray Archer “There has been a big evolution,” opines Cairoli on the Aviator. “In fact, since 2009-2010 they made a big step compared to other helmets. I think a lot of manufacturers are quite close now but between 2006-2009 Airoh concentrated on pushing ahead of everyone else. First of all for the weight, but then for ergonomics and then comfort and feel. I think Airoh have made a very good helmet for a number of years.” Cairoli was the initial guinea pig for Locatelli and his technicians to create the standards Airoh wished to reach with the Aviator. Compared to a street helmet, an off-road version needed to be suitably robust, well ventilated and exceedingly comfortable due to the extra physical effort and force a rider will be making on motocross tracks or trails. Airoh’s roots are in the dirt and Cairoli’s expertise is ingrained in the Aviator. “In the beginning I was giving a lot of feedback to improve the product but as the years go on and they get better and better it is difficult to find big things to change,” he says. “A lot of feedback is about fit, comfort, some ventilation and aerodynamics. At some tracks we have higher speed and you can notice differences. When you focus on helmet testing especially then you can feel the value of particular pieces.” The multi-time champion’s helmets are the Airoh Aviator 2.3 model. PC Ray Archer “Ventilation is always a big thing because you have to think about how it will link with the goggles,” the KTM man adds. “It is a big compromise and a commitment that Airoh make to be compatible and effective with the goggles on the market and the fit.” “We can crash quite a lot and it is important to maintain the integrity of the helmet and the interiors. Another crash can be just around the corner so you must wear a fresh helmet or be sure about the condition of the one you have.” The Airoh Aviator 2.3 is built for the toughest conditions, whilst being lightweight with outstanding protection. PC Ray Archer The Aviator reached a state of proficiency and became the helmet of choice for Cairoli’s teammates Jeffrey Herlings (every year since his Grand Prix debut in 2010) and Jorge Prado (since 2016) and other athletes in the MXGP field. Cairoli’s Aviator is the only replica in the collection and pretty much identical to the one he uses in his day-job. “It’s the same that people can buy in the dealership but the fitting is very important, so I have a different interior,” he reveals. “It depends on the helmet model though: some years I’ve used the standard interior and other years I’ve needed some changes to suit me. The model changes a little bit every year but big changes come every few. I’ll be using new stuff a year before some of them make it to the production version.” The 2020 KTM PowerWear Airoh Aviator 2.3. PC KTM Airoh have working diligently to expand their street collection and reach the same acclaim they have achieved in off-road. The ST 501 is a sturdy and well-sculpted, value-for-money helmet (so much so that it holds a place in the 2020 KTM PowerWear catalog). Naturally, their most recognizable patron won’t be seen off-track in anything else. “I also use the street helmet,” Cairoli grins. “They arrived a bit late to this market because they were born from off-road but they have been in MotoGP for a few years and have had helmets for scooters for a good few years. I remember using one riding around Rome a long time ago!” Check out the 2020 Airoh Aviator 2.3 KTM model as part of the new KTM PowerWear range by clicking HERE.
  19. A HERLINGS MXGP TRAINING WEEK

    A HERLINGS MXGP TRAINING WEEK Posted in People, Racing How do you set a new bar for performance and preparation in a sport? We asked MXGP star Jeffrey Herlings to tell us a little of how he makes the difference in Grand Prix. There is almost a fanatical, obsessive compulsion for training and conditioning by those attempting to reach the top of the sport of motocross. The notion that ‘he/she that works the hardest will triumph’ has held true for decades but there are very few who would dispute the fact that the current crop of Grand Prix riders stretch fresh frontiers of physicality, speed and technique across longer-than-ever MXGP calendars. MXGP of The Netherlands – Round 02 2020 – Valkenswaard, Netherlands. PC @RayArcher One of the chief architects towards a new sphere of performance in the last few years has been 25-year-old Red Bull KTM stalwart Jeffrey Herlings. Through a combination of the Dutchman’s unflinching attacking riding style, unmatchable lap-times, aggression and lack of weakness, the requisites for success have pushed higher and further away from mere mortals in the premier class of the FIM Motocross World Championship. Herlings achieved this effect and crushed the competition in the twenty-round 2018 season where he won 17 from the 19 rounds he contested (and finished as runner-up in the other two events) for one of the most devastatingly brilliant campaigns in living memory. The scale of his superiority gave MXGP a gloomy sense of inevitability that summer. Jeffrey Herlings. PC @RayArcher For 2020 Herlings is adopting a moderate approach because in 2019 he tasted the other side of the motocross spectrum. Two injuries limited his track time and reducing his profile to that of an absent reigning champion. His governance seemed like a distant memory. “The worst year of my life,” he says now. MXGP is furiously unpredictable and cruel but the influence of Herlings’ landmark 2018 is still felt. “I went all-out,” he recalls. “If 100% was the maximum [then] I did 110. I watched every single piece of food I ate, I calculated sleep and jet lag, I trained my ass-off, I left my social life on the side for almost a year. It was tough. It is hard to do that even for just for a few years, physically and mentally. It was worth it though to come onto this level. It was almost a picture-perfect year…” Jeffrey Herlings. PC @RayArcher The four-time world champ and current series leader after owning the opening two rounds of 2020 – prior to the calendar ‘shutdown’ – is notoriously guarded when it comes to the details of his training regime. Peers and other riders have commented on their amazement at the workload and commitment to his profession but Herlings rarely shares social media material or revelations about his methods. So, waving an orange flag here on the Blog, we managed to squeeze slightly more information out of the #84 on his weekly program of prep in the chase for new Grand Prix standards. Jeffrey Herlings – Tom Vialle & team. PC @RayArcher On Monday after a Grand Prix I’m always on the bicycle… Depending on where I have come from and what time I arrive home then that will determine when I’m out. I will cycle even after a tough race like Lommel. It will be a recovery outing, like one-hour-and-a-half, just to move the legs and get me ready for Tuesday. I’m always on the road and usually it’s summertime when the season has started so from March to October I’ll usually be out. When it’s December and -3 outside on the thermometer then I’ll be inside! I love cycling. Holland is really good for it. We don’t have many up-and-down hills but there are dedicated lanes and lots of variation. It’s good to way train and keep the average heart rate up. Jeffrey Herlings on one of his recovery bicycle rides. So, on Tuesday I’m riding my bike… Normally some sprints and at least one training session as well: it could be more cycling or some rowing. I try to ride my KTM in the morning, especially in the summer, and do the training in the afternoon. I have five-six tracks I usually go to because I can ride there whenever I want. Some places open later in the afternoon in the summer and I don’t like to wait that long. I prefer to arrive and ride from 9-12, go home and get some lunch and do some more cycling, mountain bike or rowing or swimming after. Jeffrey Herlings riding his bicycle. Wednesday is… Pretty much the same…but instead of sprints on the bike I’ll be doing motos. That means running race-length track sessions. Thursday isn’t a riding day but… I’ll be in the gym, and then cycling again. I use the bicycle a lot because I cannot run! My foot doesn’t have that flexibility anymore; when I start to run, I compensate with my hips and back which leads to other pains! I can do many other things – swimming, cross-training, rowing – but running is difficult. Jeffrey Herlings working out in the gym to bring variety into training. Friday is almost a free day but… When I can then I’ll do more rowing, cycling or cross-training in the morning before travelling to a race. I might only do something like 9-10 in the morning – and it won’t be crazy, just for blood flow, like on Mondays – so the rest of the day is pretty easy. What about downtime? I don’t have a set day for that. I like to hang out with friends. I like being home when I can. In pre-season this year I spent a lot of time in Spain, so I didn’t see much of them or my family. With age you start changing and you start to enjoy different things in life. Jeffrey Herlings. PC @RayArcher Right now…it’s frustrating! Obviously, we started 2020 in good shape with wins in England and Holland but everything has now been put on hold because of the travel and the rearrangement of the calendar. We were in the South of France getting ready for Argentina and when we returned home everything ‘exploded’, with tracks closing down and borders closing. It seems our season has just been extended by two months, and honestly, you wouldn’t want to end up in a hospital with a broken collarbone right now. We will be racing until November and that means a full year of training. Is there a reward? I love ice cream, and spareribs! I always have weight goals, where I say: “I want to be this-weight-or-that-weight at that time” and if I am a bit under that goal then I’ll reward myself with an ice-cream.
  20. A HERLINGS MXGP TRAINING WEEK Posted in People, Racing How do you set a new bar for performance and preparation in a sport? We asked MXGP star Jeffrey Herlings to tell us a little of how he makes the difference in Grand Prix. There is almost a fanatical, obsessive compulsion for training and conditioning by those attempting to reach the top of the sport of motocross. The notion that ‘he/she that works the hardest will triumph’ has held true for decades but there are very few who would dispute the fact that the current crop of Grand Prix riders stretch fresh frontiers of physicality, speed and technique across longer-than-ever MXGP calendars. MXGP of The Netherlands – Round 02 2020 – Valkenswaard, Netherlands. PC @RayArcher One of the chief architects towards a new sphere of performance in the last few years has been 25-year-old Red Bull KTM stalwart Jeffrey Herlings. Through a combination of the Dutchman’s unflinching attacking riding style, unmatchable lap-times, aggression and lack of weakness, the requisites for success have pushed higher and further away from mere mortals in the premier class of the FIM Motocross World Championship. Herlings achieved this effect and crushed the competition in the twenty-round 2018 season where he won 17 from the 19 rounds he contested (and finished as runner-up in the other two events) for one of the most devastatingly brilliant campaigns in living memory. The scale of his superiority gave MXGP a gloomy sense of inevitability that summer. Jeffrey Herlings. PC @RayArcher For 2020 Herlings is adopting a moderate approach because in 2019 he tasted the other side of the motocross spectrum. Two injuries limited his track time and reducing his profile to that of an absent reigning champion. His governance seemed like a distant memory. “The worst year of my life,” he says now. MXGP is furiously unpredictable and cruel but the influence of Herlings’ landmark 2018 is still felt. “I went all-out,” he recalls. “If 100% was the maximum [then] I did 110. I watched every single piece of food I ate, I calculated sleep and jet lag, I trained my ass-off, I left my social life on the side for almost a year. It was tough. It is hard to do that even for just for a few years, physically and mentally. It was worth it though to come onto this level. It was almost a picture-perfect year…” Jeffrey Herlings. PC @RayArcher The four-time world champ and current series leader after owning the opening two rounds of 2020 – prior to the calendar ‘shutdown’ – is notoriously guarded when it comes to the details of his training regime. Peers and other riders have commented on their amazement at the workload and commitment to his profession but Herlings rarely shares social media material or revelations about his methods. So, waving an orange flag here on the Blog, we managed to squeeze slightly more information out of the #84 on his weekly program of prep in the chase for new Grand Prix standards. Jeffrey Herlings – Tom Vialle & team. PC @RayArcher On Monday after a Grand Prix I’m always on the bicycle… Depending on where I have come from and what time I arrive home then that will determine when I’m out. I will cycle even after a tough race like Lommel. It will be a recovery outing, like one-hour-and-a-half, just to move the legs and get me ready for Tuesday. I’m always on the road and usually it’s summertime when the season has started so from March to October I’ll usually be out. When it’s December and -3 outside on the thermometer then I’ll be inside! I love cycling. Holland is really good for it. We don’t have many up-and-down hills but there are dedicated lanes and lots of variation. It’s good to way train and keep the average heart rate up. Jeffrey Herlings on one of his recovery bicycle rides. So, on Tuesday I’m riding my bike… Normally some sprints and at least one training session as well: it could be more cycling or some rowing. I try to ride my KTM in the morning, especially in the summer, and do the training in the afternoon. I have five-six tracks I usually go to because I can ride there whenever I want. Some places open later in the afternoon in the summer and I don’t like to wait that long. I prefer to arrive and ride from 9-12, go home and get some lunch and do some more cycling, mountain bike or rowing or swimming after. Jeffrey Herlings riding his bicycle. Wednesday is… Pretty much the same…but instead of sprints on the bike I’ll be doing motos. That means running race-length track sessions. Thursday isn’t a riding day but… I’ll be in the gym, and then cycling again. I use the bicycle a lot because I cannot run! My foot doesn’t have that flexibility anymore; when I start to run, I compensate with my hips and back which leads to other pains! I can do many other things – swimming, cross-training, rowing – but running is difficult. Jeffrey Herlings working out in the gym to bring variety into training. Friday is almost a free day but… When I can then I’ll do more rowing, cycling or cross-training in the morning before travelling to a race. I might only do something like 9-10 in the morning – and it won’t be crazy, just for blood flow, like on Mondays – so the rest of the day is pretty easy. What about downtime? I don’t have a set day for that. I like to hang out with friends. I like being home when I can. In pre-season this year I spent a lot of time in Spain, so I didn’t see much of them or my family. With age you start changing and you start to enjoy different things in life. Jeffrey Herlings. PC @RayArcher Right now…it’s frustrating! Obviously, we started 2020 in good shape with wins in England and Holland but everything has now been put on hold because of the travel and the rearrangement of the calendar. We were in the South of France getting ready for Argentina and when we returned home everything ‘exploded’, with tracks closing down and borders closing. It seems our season has just been extended by two months, and honestly, you wouldn’t want to end up in a hospital with a broken collarbone right now. We will be racing until November and that means a full year of training. Is there a reward? I love ice cream, and spareribs! I always have weight goals, where I say: “I want to be this-weight-or-that-weight at that time” and if I am a bit under that goal then I’ll reward myself with an ice-cream.
  21. MANUEL LETTENBICHLER INTERVIEW – WINNING WESS AND WHY BEING HAPPY MAKES YOU FASTER Posted in Racing Ending 2019 as the new WESS Enduro World Champion marked an incredible season for Manuel Lettenbichler, but signing with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing for 2020 and beyond ensures an even brighter future for the young German… Lettenbichler has kicked off 2020 in the USA aboard his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing machine. PC: Harlen Forley Most riders dream of winning world championships, and Manuel Lettenbichler is no different. Through hard work, determination and skill he realised his dream last year when he became the 2019 WESS Enduro World Champion. Ensuring it was an extra special moment, the German did so on home soil, claiming victory at the final round of the season at GetzenRodeo in front of thousands of spectators and fans. It was a remarkable moment for the 21-year-old, but even more so when you consider his success came while still a privateer rider. From eight WESS starts, Mani secured seven top-five finishes, of which five were podium results. He also became the youngest-ever winner of the demanding Red Bull Romaniacs. Factoring in his AMA Extreme Off-Road Grand National Championship at Tennessee Knockout, the likeable German is now one of the most exciting prospects in enduro and the rider to beat once the 2020 season gets underway… Mani, with time to reflect, what did it feel like to become the WESS Enduro World Champion by winning your home race at GetzenRodeo last year? Manuel Lettenbichler: “Ah, for sure it was a special moment to become world champion at GetzenRodeo. It’s a home race for me and last year with it being a WESS race over 30 people from my hometown came to watch me race, too. Having won the race in 2018 I really wanted to win it again and try to take the title in style. GetzenRodeo is so tough – by the time you reach the finish line you are exhausted, so when I took the chequered flag I think the emotion of the occasion really hit me then. It was a cool moment and for sure one I will carry with me for a very long time.” When did you begin to believe that you could win the 2019 championship? “Going to Hawkstone Park for round six (of eight) I was so nervous about things because it was cross-country. But after finishing second in the race I felt different. I did a good job and showed that I could be strong on the KTM 350 EXC-F in a race that was out of my comfort zone. I wasn’t as worried about those fast races as I previously was. I guess it was then that I began to realise that I was a contender for the title and that I was good enough to become champion. Moving on to BR2 Enduro Solsona I tried my best and it showed with a fourth place. It put me in a good place heading to GetzenRodeo.” Becoming the youngest ever winner of the Red Bull Romaniacs in 2019 was a special moment for Lettenbichler. PC: KTM Do you feel those results showed that you’re more than a hard enduro rider, that you’re now a complete all-rounder instead? “I hope so. I’m naturally better at the hard enduro races, but now I’m beginning to bridge that gap in the faster conditions. I’ve a long way to go to match guys like Josep Garcia or Nathan Watson, but I’m feel better out of my comfort zone than I did before.” You enjoyed a lot of success as a child riding trials, do those skills still help you in enduro? “Having a trials background is one of my best assets. The skills I learned as a child never go away. I use them every time I ride, and they get me out of every bad situation I might get into too! Trials teaches you so much – balance, throttle control and clutch use. You learn how to find traction where normally there shouldn’t be. I think if you ride motocross or enduro, they’re skills that will always stay with you as a rider.” What was it like competing as a privateer at the highest level of enduro? It brings difficulties but also rewards, right? “My support from KTM was really good and I never felt like I was at a disadvantage with my bike. Enduro is unique because it always rewards the skill of the rider and once I was out on track I felt equal. But it’s the other things that come with racing – the behind-the-scenes stuff that make it tougher for a privateer. There is a lot more to organise and you spend a lot of hours driving to and from the race that people forget about. But at the end of the day what our small Flatschingfast team of Jeff, my father and myself achieved was incredible. I hope we showed to other privateer riders that in enduro it’s possible to win.” Lettenbichler won the 2019 WESS Enduro World Championship. PC: Future7Media What differences and help can joining a team like Red Bull KTM Factory Racing bring? “I’m sure there will be differences even if it’s only the beginning of this new chapter for me. For sure I will have less organising to do to go racing. We can prepare the bikes better and also prepare specifically for certain races, which is an important thing for a rider. I feel like it will be the little things they do, the things you don’t easily see, that will make the job of focusing about what happens on the racetrack easier. I’m excited to work closely with the team this season when it begins and become better as a rider.” Spend five minutes in the race paddock and it’s easy to feel your positive vibes and enjoyment of racing carry through. Is being happy the secret to being fast? “It definitely helps a lot! Of course, you need skills and to be happy with your bike to be the complete rider, but being happy makes me faster, I’m sure of it. I always want to be a positive person because when you enjoy what you do it makes your job easier. I started riding bikes to have fun and I always try to keep it that way. So many people would love to race motorcycles as a job, so I’m humbled that I can. Even when it’s raining, muddy and cold it’s still better than working 9-5 in an office. Keeping a smile on my face reminds me of that every time I ride!” Hard enduro is Mani’s favoured enduro discipline aboard the KTM 300 EXC TPI. PC: Future7Media This year you will also do some races in the USA. As the current AMA Extreme Off-Road Grand National Champion, what’s the scene like and how is hard enduro growing there? “In the USA hard enduro is growing massively. Everyone you speak to is excited to go ride and try something new. It’s cool to see because before it wasn’t that well understood. When I raced the Tennessee Knockout last year I could see that there is a big push to make it bigger, so I’ve been excited to be back in the US to do some more races. Also, with WESS going to the USA more people will tune in and it will make the sport even bigger.” You’ve won Red Bull Romaniacs and GetzenRodeo, so is winning Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble the next big race on your bucket list? “I’m so happy with my wins at Red Bull Romaniacs and GetzenRodeo, but of course winning Erzbergrodeo is on the list. It’s the Holy Grail for every hard enduro rider. If you win this race then the world knows about it – it’s that important to the sport. I’ve been trying my hardest for the last two years to win it, but it hasn’t yet worked out for me even though I have been on the podium twice. I’m really motivated to go there again and try my best. That’s all I can keep doing. It’s a special race because it’s so unique. With 500 riders on the start line, you need a good race from the beginning, and it has to go perfectly right. It’s become so competitive now that if one thing goes wrong then you can’t win.” Lettenbichler battles his way around the 2019 ErzbergRodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble. PC: Future7Media Looking at the 2020 WESS Enduro World Championship calendar and what are your thoughts on defending your world title? **Editor’s note: this interview was given before the Covid-19 outbreak. “The calendar for this year looks exciting. There are some great races in there – all of the big ones. It’s cool to have Red Bull Megawatt back. We start again at Extreme XL Lagares and though I haven’t won it I’ve been on the podium twice, so it’s a strong one for me. It’s cool to go to America with the series too. It’s going to make our sport more worldwide and professional. I think with Hixpania as the final, the atmosphere will be similar to GetzenRodeo, too. I haven’t really thought about defending my title yet but for sure it’s what I want to do. But I’m going to take it one race at a time and just get out there and have fun racing my bike.” Editor’s note: The eight-round 2020 WESS Enduro World Championship was due to begin in May – however, due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, at the time of writing this blog, the racing schedule has been delayed and will be announced later this year.
  22. MANUEL LETTENBICHLER INTERVIEW – WINNING WESS AND WHY BEING HAPPY MAKES YOU FASTER Posted in Racing Ending 2019 as the new WESS Enduro World Champion marked an incredible season for Manuel Lettenbichler, but signing with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing for 2020 and beyond ensures an even brighter future for the young German… Lettenbichler has kicked off 2020 in the USA aboard his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing machine. PC: Harlen Forley Most riders dream of winning world championships, and Manuel Lettenbichler is no different. Through hard work, determination and skill he realised his dream last year when he became the 2019 WESS Enduro World Champion. Ensuring it was an extra special moment, the German did so on home soil, claiming victory at the final round of the season at GetzenRodeo in front of thousands of spectators and fans. It was a remarkable moment for the 21-year-old, but even more so when you consider his success came while still a privateer rider. From eight WESS starts, Mani secured seven top-five finishes, of which five were podium results. He also became the youngest-ever winner of the demanding Red Bull Romaniacs. Factoring in his AMA Extreme Off-Road Grand National Championship at Tennessee Knockout, the likeable German is now one of the most exciting prospects in enduro and the rider to beat once the 2020 season gets underway… Mani, with time to reflect, what did it feel like to become the WESS Enduro World Champion by winning your home race at GetzenRodeo last year? Manuel Lettenbichler: “Ah, for sure it was a special moment to become world champion at GetzenRodeo. It’s a home race for me and last year with it being a WESS race over 30 people from my hometown came to watch me race, too. Having won the race in 2018 I really wanted to win it again and try to take the title in style. GetzenRodeo is so tough – by the time you reach the finish line you are exhausted, so when I took the chequered flag I think the emotion of the occasion really hit me then. It was a cool moment and for sure one I will carry with me for a very long time.” When did you begin to believe that you could win the 2019 championship? “Going to Hawkstone Park for round six (of eight) I was so nervous about things because it was cross-country. But after finishing second in the race I felt different. I did a good job and showed that I could be strong on the KTM 350 EXC-F in a race that was out of my comfort zone. I wasn’t as worried about those fast races as I previously was. I guess it was then that I began to realise that I was a contender for the title and that I was good enough to become champion. Moving on to BR2 Enduro Solsona I tried my best and it showed with a fourth place. It put me in a good place heading to GetzenRodeo.” Becoming the youngest ever winner of the Red Bull Romaniacs in 2019 was a special moment for Lettenbichler. PC: KTM Do you feel those results showed that you’re more than a hard enduro rider, that you’re now a complete all-rounder instead? “I hope so. I’m naturally better at the hard enduro races, but now I’m beginning to bridge that gap in the faster conditions. I’ve a long way to go to match guys like Josep Garcia or Nathan Watson, but I’m feel better out of my comfort zone than I did before.” You enjoyed a lot of success as a child riding trials, do those skills still help you in enduro? “Having a trials background is one of my best assets. The skills I learned as a child never go away. I use them every time I ride, and they get me out of every bad situation I might get into too! Trials teaches you so much – balance, throttle control and clutch use. You learn how to find traction where normally there shouldn’t be. I think if you ride motocross or enduro, they’re skills that will always stay with you as a rider.” What was it like competing as a privateer at the highest level of enduro? It brings difficulties but also rewards, right? “My support from KTM was really good and I never felt like I was at a disadvantage with my bike. Enduro is unique because it always rewards the skill of the rider and once I was out on track I felt equal. But it’s the other things that come with racing – the behind-the-scenes stuff that make it tougher for a privateer. There is a lot more to organise and you spend a lot of hours driving to and from the race that people forget about. But at the end of the day what our small Flatschingfast team of Jeff, my father and myself achieved was incredible. I hope we showed to other privateer riders that in enduro it’s possible to win.” Lettenbichler won the 2019 WESS Enduro World Championship. PC: Future7Media What differences and help can joining a team like Red Bull KTM Factory Racing bring? “I’m sure there will be differences even if it’s only the beginning of this new chapter for me. For sure I will have less organising to do to go racing. We can prepare the bikes better and also prepare specifically for certain races, which is an important thing for a rider. I feel like it will be the little things they do, the things you don’t easily see, that will make the job of focusing about what happens on the racetrack easier. I’m excited to work closely with the team this season when it begins and become better as a rider.” Spend five minutes in the race paddock and it’s easy to feel your positive vibes and enjoyment of racing carry through. Is being happy the secret to being fast? “It definitely helps a lot! Of course, you need skills and to be happy with your bike to be the complete rider, but being happy makes me faster, I’m sure of it. I always want to be a positive person because when you enjoy what you do it makes your job easier. I started riding bikes to have fun and I always try to keep it that way. So many people would love to race motorcycles as a job, so I’m humbled that I can. Even when it’s raining, muddy and cold it’s still better than working 9-5 in an office. Keeping a smile on my face reminds me of that every time I ride!” Hard enduro is Mani’s favoured enduro discipline aboard the KTM 300 EXC TPI. PC: Future7Media This year you will also do some races in the USA. As the current AMA Extreme Off-Road Grand National Champion, what’s the scene like and how is hard enduro growing there? “In the USA hard enduro is growing massively. Everyone you speak to is excited to go ride and try something new. It’s cool to see because before it wasn’t that well understood. When I raced the Tennessee Knockout last year I could see that there is a big push to make it bigger, so I’ve been excited to be back in the US to do some more races. Also, with WESS going to the USA more people will tune in and it will make the sport even bigger.” You’ve won Red Bull Romaniacs and GetzenRodeo, so is winning Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble the next big race on your bucket list? “I’m so happy with my wins at Red Bull Romaniacs and GetzenRodeo, but of course winning Erzbergrodeo is on the list. It’s the Holy Grail for every hard enduro rider. If you win this race then the world knows about it – it’s that important to the sport. I’ve been trying my hardest for the last two years to win it, but it hasn’t yet worked out for me even though I have been on the podium twice. I’m really motivated to go there again and try my best. That’s all I can keep doing. It’s a special race because it’s so unique. With 500 riders on the start line, you need a good race from the beginning, and it has to go perfectly right. It’s become so competitive now that if one thing goes wrong then you can’t win.” Lettenbichler battles his way around the 2019 ErzbergRodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble. PC: Future7Media Looking at the 2020 WESS Enduro World Championship calendar and what are your thoughts on defending your world title? **Editor’s note: this interview was given before the Covid-19 outbreak. “The calendar for this year looks exciting. There are some great races in there – all of the big ones. It’s cool to have Red Bull Megawatt back. We start again at Extreme XL Lagares and though I haven’t won it I’ve been on the podium twice, so it’s a strong one for me. It’s cool to go to America with the series too. It’s going to make our sport more worldwide and professional. I think with Hixpania as the final, the atmosphere will be similar to GetzenRodeo, too. I haven’t really thought about defending my title yet but for sure it’s what I want to do. But I’m going to take it one race at a time and just get out there and have fun racing my bike.” Editor’s note: The eight-round 2020 WESS Enduro World Championship was due to begin in May – however, due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, at the time of writing this blog, the racing schedule has been delayed and will be announced later this year.
  23. 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… PC @SebasRomero 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. PC @KISKA 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!” PC @SebasRomero 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.” PC @KTM “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.” PC @KTM 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. PC @MarcoCampelli 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. PC @KISKA 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.” PC @KTM 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.” PC @SebasRomero 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.
  24. 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… PC @SebasRomero 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. PC @KISKA 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!” PC @SebasRomero 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.” PC @KTM “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.” PC @KTM 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. PC @MarcoCampelli 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. PC @KISKA 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.” PC @KTM 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.” PC @SebasRomero 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.
  25. 5 THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR IN 2020 MXGP

    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 – 2019 – 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
×