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ISSUE 209 - NOV 2016

STATE OF PLAY

WHERE HAVE ALL THE RACERS GONE?

N E W C A S T L E

SUPERMOTO STEEL

PERFORMANCE ENHANCING

CITY

SLIDERS

EXCLUSIVE XMAS GIFT GUIDE

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AN INNOVATIVE LEAP AHEAD Confidently head off into tougher terrain on a totally redesigned Husqvarna Motorcycles enduro model. The entire 2017 range features new, compact, powerful motors and sophisticated design innovations. These include new WP Xplor suspension, sleek new bodywork and a redesigned chassis. Every model is lighter, faster, easier to ride and nothing short of revolutionary.  All new WP Xplor forks  CNC Upper Triple Clamp  Magura Hydraulic Clutch  Composite Carbon Fibre subframe  Metzeler 6 Days Extreme Tyres  Traction Control on the 4-stroke models  Engine Counter Balancer on the 2-stroke models  Self Cleaning Footpegs  ODI Lock On Grips

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6

MONTHS WARRANTY PARTS & LABOUR


EDITOR Damien Ashenhurst EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Hayden Gregory MOTOCROSS EDITOR Scott Bishop ONLINE EDITOR Shane Booth DESIGN Connie Leung REGULAR CONTRIBUTORS Greg Masters, Chris Urquhart, Alan Hardy, Frank Hoppen, Max Sullivan, Russell Colvin, Andrew Kenny, Adam Riemann COPY EDITOR Chris Stafford NATIONAL ACCOUNT MANAGER Kizziah Fieldes kfieldes@universalmagazines.com.au ADVERTISING PRODUCTION Ian Cassel HOLESHOT ADVERTISING Ian Cassel icassel@universalmagazines.com.au

CONTENTS I S S U E 2 0 9 / N O V E M B E R 2 01 6 S U B S C R I P T I O N S & M A I L O R D E R S 1 3 0 0 3 0 3 4 1 4

FEATURES 32

NATHAN CRAWFORD’S RACE BIKE

We test one of Oz’s hottest Huskys

40 DRUGS, ASADA AND MOTOCROSS

All you need to know about drug testing and the ramifications of doping

46 YAMAHA WR250F

One of the true trail champs

50 2017 FOX LAUNCH RIDE CEO/ PUBLISHER Prema Perera PUBLISHER Janice Williams CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER Vicky Mahadeva ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Emma Perera ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Karen Day FINANCE & ADMINISTRATION MANAGER James Perera CIRCULATION DIRECTOR Mark Darton CREATIVE DIRECTOR Kate Podger EDITORIAL & PRODUCTION MANAGER Anastasia Casey MARKETING & ACQUISITIONS MANAGER Chelsea Peters Circulation enquiries to our Sydney head office (02) 9805 0399. DIRT ACTION #209 is published by Australian Publishing Pty Ltd, Unit 5, 6-8 Byfield Street, North Ryde NSW 2113. Phone: (02) 9805 0399, Fax: (02) 9805 0714. Melbourne office, Level 1, 150 Albert Road, South Melbourne Vic 3205. Phone: (03) 9694 6444. Printed by KHL Printing Co Ltd, Singapore, and distributed by Gordon and Gotch, Australia. This book is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission. Enquiries should be addressed to the publishers. The publishers believe all the information supplied in this book to be correct at the time of printing. They are not, however, in a position to make a guarantee to this effect and accept no liability in the event of any information proving inaccurate. Prices, addresses and phone numbers were, after investigation and to the best of our knowledge and belief, up to date at the time of printing, but the shifting sands of time may change them in some cases. It is not possible for the publishers to ensure that advertisements which appear in this publication comply with the Trade Practices Act, 1974. The responsibility must therefore be on the person, company or advertising agency submitting the advertisements for publication. While every endeavour has been made to ensure complete accuracy, the publishers cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. *Recommended retail price ISSN 1329-511X Copyright © Australian Publishing Pty Ltd MMXVI ACN 003 609 103

Boothy hits some epically tough trails at the 2017 Fox launch

56 62 72

NEWCASTLE SUPERMOTO

Luke George towels up the top FIM riders!

CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE

Some top suggestions for Santa

STATE OF PLAY

A look at the state of racing in Australia

80 MOTOCROSS GALLERY

Scenes from the outdoors

90 MOTODEVELOPMENT

A look inside one of the country’s busiest ride schools

046

WR250R

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DIRT ACTION

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MOTO MANUAL

ON THE COVER

99 FIVE THINGS WE LOVE

Professing adoration for whatever takes our fancy

Shane Booth on Nathan Crawford’s race bike PHOTO DAMIEN ASHENHURST

100 DIRT SHOP

Stuff that will make you drool while you’re off the bike

102 JUNIOR SECTION

108

All things for the MX grom

104 ADVENTURE RIDING TIP

MX TIP

Stay upright and explore the planet

106 TRAIL TIP

Bush bashing the right way

102

108 MOTOCROSS TIP

Ruts, jumps & whoops made easier

REGULARS 20 22 24

040

WHO SAID WHAT?

Tweets of the month

RACE FACE

Scott Bishop is really feeling it this time round

SOCIAL SPACE

The best shots from DIRT ACTION readers

080

MX GALLERY

ASADA

090

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DIRT ACTION

11


THE POWER SHOT

PHOTO HONDA MEDIA

Evgeny Bobryshev’s Factory Honda CRF450R. Just stare and drool, guys... stare and drool.

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DIRT ACTION


DIRT ACTION

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MOTOR MOUTH

POWERED BY The all-new 2017 CRF450R takes flight

2017 HONDA CRF450R/RX HONDA LAYS DOWN WHAT IT RECKONS IS A WICKED HOLESHOT MACHINE. ENDURO RIDERS ARE TEASED BEYOND BELIEF The 2017 Honda CRF450R is all new. From top to bottom and on the 15th anniversary of its first 450R, the bike is a vision of what Honda believes is the best possible 450 for 2017. The 2016 was an excellent bike that lacked only in horsepower, with mixed feelings about the air fork. For the new CRF, Honda has made a return to the spring fork with a 49mm Showa setup. This will please many riders. The engine features a new downdraft intake tract and FI body to improve power as well as a redesigned cylinder head that now uses a new “in-finger” rocker design. The rockers and piston pins also have a diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating to reduce friction. The number of nozzles in the piston oil jet has been increased from two to four. Along with larger intake valves and new valve seats, Honda claims efficiency increases of 19 per cent for the intake and 10 per cent for the exhaust. The engine also features a new oil scavenge pump.

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The new chassis provides a lower centre of gravity and a wider airbox area. Honda also claims the new chassis improves traction and steering precision. The bike retains the dual exhaust system which is now more compact and closer to the frame’s centre. As you would have heard time and again in recent years, moving the exhausts shifts the weight closer to the centre of gravity, which helps improve the bike’s overall balance. The engine and exhaust changes all add to the 11 per cent increase in power. The seat is flatter and meets a new titanium fuel tank (thinner but the same capacity as 2016) and one of the biggest talking points that surprised a few people is the option to fit electric start. It’s an interesting move to offer it as an option and not standard equipment but, as the subject often divides people, Honda might be onto something. We reckon the average rider will appreciate electric start in the long run. Completing the electronic upgrade is an engine map

switch integrated into the kill switch on the ’bars that switches between three ride modes: Standard, Smooth and Aggressive. Gone is the steering damper but this will be available as an option. “We’re very proud to introduce the milestone 2017 edition of Honda’s legendary CRF450R as well as the brand-new CRF450RX,” said Lee Edmunds, manager of Motorcycle Marketing Communications at American Honda. “Both of these models are highperformance machines that represent the epitome of dirtbike engineering. “Over the years, each of the milestone CRF450R models has been eagerly anticipated and the 2017 version is the best yet. We can’t wait to see these models being piloted at the front of the pack by our factory Team Honda HRC and Johnny Campbell Racing squads, our satellite teams, our amateur racers and our customers.”

THE BIKE RETAINS THE DUAL EXHAUST SYSTEM, WHICH IS NOW MORE COMPACT AND CLOSER TO THE FRAME’S CENTRE


MOTOR MOUTH

POWERED BY

HONDA ALSO ANNOUNCED IT HAD A NEW ENDURO MODEL, THE CRF450RX THE ENDURO RX WE WON'T SEE Honda dropped a huge surprise when it announced it also had a new enduro model, the CRF450RX. Nobody saw that coming but the news isn’t all good for Australia. Unfortunately, the bike won’t be coming to our shores; it lacks all requirements for ADR approval and therefore won’t be registrable. Its super frustrating that Honda Japan took this approach, given Australia has always supported its off-road bikes, but Honda Australia saw little reason to import an off-roader with no headlight. Hopefully Japan will see the light in the near future because that will make it a happy Christmas for those who’ve waited patiently for so long. The first concession to off-road is the 18-inch rear wheel. The RX also gets slightly lower gearing and a milder suspension feel that was in part finalised by the great

Jonny Campbell. A larger plastic tank has been fitted as well as different engine mounts and, of course, a sidestand. The RX comes with electric start as standard equipment and we can’t help but wonder how a bike with more forgiving suspension and electric start would feel to the average motocross rider — like the YZ450FX, which has plenty of fans even though technically a closed-course enduro model. Said Mr M. Uchiyama, Large Project Leader (LPL) of the 2017 CRF450RX, “The CRF450RX is a pure raceready enduro tool like nothing else Honda has ever made. It uses the greatly improved performance of the brand-new CRF450R and we made no sacrifices in producing this RX enduro version, which offers something completely new to expert riders everywhere. It is built to win straight from the crate, at the highest level of competition.”

The air is gone and the springs are back — desert racers rejoice

The CRF450RX enduro model: just imagine it with a headlight

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MOTOR MOUTH

GEAR BAG

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DIRT ACTION


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7 1. KTM ELECTRIC SCOOTER 2. BELL MOTO 9 3. SCOTT PROSPECT GOGGLE 4. ACERBIS SATISFACTION JERSEY 5. THOR 2017 PULSE GEAR 6. RTECH RAPTOR HANDGUARDS 7. RTECH REVOLUTION PLASTIC KIT 8. HONDA HERITAGE LAWN MOWER 9. TRAXXAS MINT 400 PR

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DIRT ACTION

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MOTOR MOUTH

TWEETS OF THE MONTH

WHO SAID WHAT?

THE BEST QUOTES, JIBES, JOKES AND QUIPS FROM THE TWITTERVERSE

“FILLING UP THE #BALLARDSBUS IN #WOODBURN. IF YOU SPY US, TAKE A SNAP AND TAG IT #BALLARDSBUS.” — BALLARD’S OFFROAD

“Thank you @sgiftracing for this masterpiece of a butt patch. Outstanding work Clay!!! Thanks ...”

— BLAKE BILKO WILLIAMS

“Just wrapped up the 450 Motocross Championship today with @KenRoczen94 and the @RCHracing team. Now watching #UFC202 with the crew.”

— RICKY CARMICHAEL

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“Kudos to this guy @AussieGrit. Put him on the spot and he flew the flag for Australia as he always has! #shoeysallround”

— DANIEL RICCARDO

“ONCE UPON A TIME ‘BALLING’ WAS HAVING YOUR PILOT READY WITH THE PRIVATE JET TO RACE @RICKYCARMICHAEL @JS7 OUTTA THE AIRPORT. #WEOLD” — CHAD REED

“ON MY OWN BUT A BIRTHDAY RIDE IS ALWAYS GOING TO MAKE ME SMILE. THANKS TO EVERYONE FOR THE BIRTHDAY WISHES.” — TOBY PRICE


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SCOTT BISHOP BIO: Scott Bishop is the most experienced dirtbike test dummy in Australia and perhaps the world. He’s tested everything that’s won, lost, blew up, blew smoke, holeshot or high-sided since DIRT ACTION began. These days Scott runs the GYTR Yamaha Yamalube race team in the MXD class and spends his time building bikes and riders.

FOLLOW GYTRYamaha @gytr_yamaha_team

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IMPORT DUTY T

he discussion about bringing in international riders has again become a hot topic lately as the 2016 Australian Supercross Championship fired into life with a host of US riders on the start line. Justin Brayton, Adam Enticknap, Gavin Faith, Jimmy Decotis and Kyle Peters are all here to contest the series and will be joined by Chad Reed, Cooper Webb and Ryan Villopoto. OK, Reed is Australian! Social media went into overdrive with some spirited discussion on both sides of the fence. For me, I look at it two ways: first, from a rider’s point of view. At the moment, there are more quality rides available to competitors than there are quality riders. Instead of just sitting and waiting, get out there and start working and training your butt off and show some team managers you’re serious about racing as a professional. At the last few nationals, only five riders were on the lead lap in the MX1 class. Surely we have some talent to fill that gaping hole. Riders, invest in yourself and give it your best — no excuses! And there are plenty of rewards if you get there. Don’t hit me with the “I can’t compete with a factory bike” line because the quality of the production bike has never been so high and the gap between a race-team bike and production bike has never been so close. Want an example? On a standard YZ125 that’s available in Australia with the performance pack that comes with the bike (pipe/silencer and reed block) plus some race gas, Hunter Lawrence rode to third in the world. His reward was a deal in Europe. I could point out several cases like this if I had the space. You’d be surprised at how much horsepower some of the championship-winning bikes make. It’s a lot less than you think.

The other point of view I have is, if teams can suddenly find all this money to race, why don’t they invest it in a junior or development program and bring our junior talent through? Building a champion is a lot less expensive and a lot more rewarding than bringing in a rider for a month and riding on his coattails. For the long-term success of the sport, investing in young riders is essential. It doesn’t need to be a costly big-production affair. Just pick some kids with some talent, assist them in racing and bring them through. I’m all for bringing in imported riders, especially if they’re A-listers who add additional star power and exposure to our events. I’m not sure all of the riders above do that this year.

CROWD ENTERTAINMENT I’ve been to races where the crowd threw paper aeroplanes on to the track to keep themselves amused. I’ve seen Mexican waves roll around stadiums. I’ve been known to lose control when the beach ball gets launched into the crowd at a cricket game. So, the day that happens in supercross, I’m charging into the crowd like a wild man. But, in an Australian supercross first, chainsaws were unleashed at the opening round of the Australian Supercross Championship this year. Now, when I said chainsaws, I mean your household Stihl but with the chain and chain bar off. So in other words, it’s just some high-rpm motor revving like crazy when their favourite rider comes around. Now, with the noise of the bikes, the crowd and the commentator, I’m not sure I’m on board with the chainsaw in the crowd thing at the moment. I don’t mind the horn every now and again — I’m a huge fan of bringing a couch and sitting

trackside at the motocross — but a drunk guy standing at the fence holding a hot motor spinning at 14,000rpm while trying to pound beers isn’t going to make the family alongside him too happy. But I like the fans getting into it and Australian audiences are often quite subdued, so it’s good they’re starting to get into their racing and developing a good fan base for the riders. If they could just do it a little more quietly I’ll be all over it.

START LINE MISHAPS As a rider, my biggest fear on the start line wasn’t a first-turn pile-up or locking bars down the straight — that was good fun. It was forgetting to turn the fuel on. For you kids, there used to be a fuel tap you’d turn to allow fuel to flow from your tank to your carby. No fuel, no go, and the bike would always shut down at the most inconvenient place. My next biggest fear was flipping it out of the gate. Let’s be honest, it’s hugely embarrassing to crash with a Larry Loopout at the start when all eyes are on you. But how many of you have ever gone over the ’bars at the start line? Hands up, Jono Krusic! Poor Jono, all 12 foot of him, had the rarest of crashes when he dumped the clutch at the start of the SX1 final at Jimboomba only for the gate to bounce off the ground, grab his rear wheel and send him over the ’bars and down from the elevated start line. I only saw the incident from the side and it looked like he was an Olympic swimmer diving into the pool for the 50-metre final. I saw it and I still didn’t believe it. There was also a video of it. I’m sure it will get a squillion likes when it surfaces on Mx.Fails. I bet Jono now looks at a start gate a little differently from the rest of us.


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MOTOR MOUTH

POWERED BY

TYE SIMMONDS

CHAD REED “Family vacation just got a little more interesting. @chriswatsonmc got the kids and I sorted with a few @yamahamotoraus bikes. Can’t wait to take the kids for a ride.”

“Part of tomorrow’s race track @mccormack93 testing the depths! Mud Race it is for the last two rounds. #properwet #plentyofmoistureabout #jetskisneeded”

SOCIAL SPACE OUR PICK OF THE PICS FROM THE PROS ON INSTAGRAM SUBMIT YOUR PHOTOS AT WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/DIRTACTIONMAGAZINE

JOSH GREEN “Sunday arvo cruising! Took the dog to the beach #stressrelief”

DYLAN LONG “Who would buy one of these? Thanks to @markhewlett23 for the b’day present.”

TOBY PRICE “111 days till we roll out again ... At this point here I for sure didn’t think I would end up on the top step. I wanted it so bad but didn’t think it would happen in the 2nd year ... If I can do it once, I can do it again. #dakar2017” PHOTO @ PIERCEMAIRA 24

DIRT ACTION

RICKY JOHNSON “We had a tough weekend and lost my cool for a bit but it was great to see @murph4513 at the track. He is a tough mofo. @murph4513 you make me want to be a better person. KEEP FIGHTING BROTHER.”


MOTOR MOUTH

POWERED BY

HUSKY’S NEW LEGS OUT WITH THE 4CS AND IN WITH THE WP XPLOR 48MM

A few months ago we wrongly reported that the 2017 Husqvarnas will still run a 4CS fork. The person responsible was sent to a Turkish prison where he will serve as a slave for a man called Abdullah and eat only baklava day in, day out. With that out of the way we thought it an opportune time to take a look at the WP Xplor 48mm forks that are on the Husky enduro range. The previous 4CS fork divided opinion to a degree. We didn’t hate the early versions but they were updated over and over and in the end became a pretty confusing fork that did some weird stuff. So, out with the old and in with the new. The Xplor 48 is a spilt fork design, which is to say the damping is split between the two fork legs: compression on the left, rebound on the right. Both adjusters are at the top of the fork, so no need to lie on the ground to make changes any more. You can also purchase a preload adjuster fitted at the top and we’d almost certainly grab one before we left a dealer — that’s a clever piece of kit. The Xplor is an open cartridge fork and both sides have coil springs. These are not air forks. They weigh in at around 200g less than the 4CS and, having ridden on them for a day in Spain, we can assure you all that they’re brilliant. They feel a little more trail than race, which we liked on a long day’s ride. They’re certainly more forgiving than the 4CS as well as being more consistent in performance through the stroke, particularly in the early part where the 4CS had you until... well, until it didn’t. The Xplor 48 will win fans. One on one against any other off-road fork, it doesn’t give an inch. On a whole new bike for 2017, this is just one of the highlights — but it’s one of the biggest.

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It’s what’s inside that counts


GET THE BEST PERFORMANCE WHATEVER THE TERRAIN http://motorcycle.michelin.com.au Connor Teirney 2016 Australian Supercross SX2


MOTOR MOUTH

POWERED BY

DAKAR PREVIEW DESERT DREAMER AS THE START OF THE 2017 DAKAR APPROACHES, WE TAKE A LOOK BACK AT ONE OF THE GREATEST RIDES IN AUSTRALIAN DIRTBIKE HISTORY PHOTOS RED BULL/KTM The story is well known: Aussie Toby Price enters his first Dakar in 2015 and grabs a stage win on his way to third overall. Minds are blown all over the world and everyone ponders the chance that he might one day actually win the great race. Fast-forward to 2016 and with full KTM Factory support, following the retirement of the legendary Marc Coma, Toby gets his second chance at Dakar. These are huge boots to fill. Nobody could be expected to replace Coma directly but when you’re the guy coming in as a great leaves the building there’s a level of expectation and pressure. The 37th running of the Dakar wasn’t trouble free. The location had to shift twice before it could start, the final route taking riders and drivers through the intense heat of Argentina as well as Bolivia. Heavy rain also ended up complicating a tough Dakar. Like there’s any other type.

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With neither Marc Coma nor Cyril Despres competing (interesting fact: Despres sold 6000 bottles of wine to raise enough money to enter his first Dakar in 2000), the bike category was wide open. Those two had dominated Dakar for a decade but 2016 was a fresh slate for new talent to rise. A lot of early attention fell on Honda’s Joan Barreda. The red crew had put in a huge effort leading up to 2016 with a new bike designed to do one thing: win Dakar. And Barreda is fast, real fast, and he got off the line quickly to win the prologue. But not much went right for Joan from there on and he never got the chance to take another stage win.

13 STAGES AHEAD Stage one was cancelled but, in a shortened stage two, Toby Price fired the first shots and won his first stage of the race. Honda’s Paulo Gonçalves put on the first

2016 DAKAR OVERALL TOP 10 13 stages and over 9000km 1. Toby Price (KTM) AUS 48:09:15 2. Štefan Svitko (KTM) SVK 48:48:56 3. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) CHL 48:58:03 4. Kevin Benavides (Honda) ARG 49:04:02 5. Hélder Rodrigues (Yamaha) PRT 49:04:59 6. Adrien van Beveren (Yamaha) FRA 49:55:44 7. Antoine Méo (KTM) FRA 50:06:02 8. Gerard Farrés Güell (KTM) ESP – 50:10:15 9. Ricky Brabec (Honda) USA – 50:20:42 10. Armand Monleón (KTM) ESP – 51:37:04


sustained charge of the race and led until stage eight when the first of two huge crashes, mechanical issues and a controversial time penalty killed his chances of a win. Stage eight was won by Price and the Aussie never looked back, taking an important win in the marathon ninth stage and carving a big lead that needed only to be managed (as if it’s ever that simple). Price rode flawlessly through to the 13th stage. After an insane 9000km and just over 48 hours of race time he became the first Australian to win the Dakar, with over half an hour back to second. This also marked the 15th Dakar win for KTM. “Being the first Australian to win the Dakar is just insane,” said Toby. “I would’ve never imagined this two years ago. Finishing the rally is already a triumph; winning it is amazing! “I tackled the race in true Aussie style. I attacked when I had to, when the time was right, and I kept an eye on my bike during the all-important marathon stages. I also navigated quite well. “I hope this is just the start, to win again. It won’t be easy, so I’ve got to savour this victory.”

Team manager Alex Doringer said after the race, “I could see Toby was a top guy with potential and good navigation skills. He did an amazing job and I am very happy for him. “When I brought him into the team I was very happy to do something for my old friend Kurt Caselli. He was the one who encouraged me to try to get Toby to the Dakar and today we see the result.”

FINKE FREAK The year didn’t end there for Toby, of course, and neither did the records he went after. Following Dakar he remounted the rally bike and won the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge — again, the first Aussie to do so. And then he rolled up to Finke with the insane idea of competing in both the bike and car categories. With more scrutiny than any other rider in the history of the great race, Toby blitzed prologue and went on to win the bike leg easily for a record-equalling fifth time. He also finished second in the car category. Freak status confirmed.

MINDS ARE BLOWN ALL OVER THE WORLD AND EVERYONE PONDERS THE CHANCE THAT HE MIGHT ONE DAY ACTUALLY WIN THE GREAT RACE

TOBY PRICE’S TROPHY CABINET Basically unbeatable since 2009 2009 Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC) 2010 Finke Desert Race 2010 Hattah Desert Race 2010 Australian 4 Day Enduro (A4DE) 2010 Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC) 2011 Hattah Desert Race 2011 Australian 4 Day Enduro (A4DE) 2012 Finke Desert Race 2012 Hattah Desert Race 2012 Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC) 2014 Finke Desert Race 2014 Hattah Desert Race 2014 Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC) 2014 International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) E3 2014 A Day in the Dirt Motocross Grand Prix 2015 Finke Desert Race 2015 Hattah Desert Race 2015 Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC) 2016 Dakar Rally 2016 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2016 Finke Desert Race

2017 DAKAR DATES The route for 2017 runs from Paraguay to Bolivia and down to the finish in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The race will start on January 2 and run through 12 stages till its end on January 14.

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FEATURE: HUSQVARNA FC 250

WHITE STORY SHANE BOOTH PHOTOS DAMIEN ASHENHURST

WE SPIN SOME LAPS ON NATO CRAWFORD’S RACE-WINNING HUSQVARNA FC 250

LIGHTNING

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athan Crawford was harrowingly close to his first pro championship this year in the MX Nationals MX2 class. He’d fought his way to an 11-point lead into the final round at Coolum only to suffer a practice crash in the week preceding, which left him with a lacerated spleen and kidney and unable to ride. He would eventually round out the championship in third place overall behind rivals Jed Beaton and Caleb Ward. The machine he races is via a factory-supported deal with Husqvarna Australia but, essentially, Nato’s racing program is pieced together by him and his family. Kenny Wheeler from Factory Spec suspension also works closely with him in both bike setup and race-day support. Aside from that, they operate out of a van and keep the program on track themselves. This year they came so agonisingly close to reaching their ultimate goal. So when we reached out to ride his bike it was directly to Nato and his dad Mick. They were generously forthcoming and Nato delivered the bike in immaculate condition himself to Queensland Moto Park, no doubt watching frustrated as hell as I rode the bike he was still unable to because of his injuries.

WELL PRESENTED This is a great-looking bike. The graphics are KMX and they’ve done a great job of giving Nato’s supporters plenty of love while keeping the bike looking very cool. It kind of reminds me of NASCAR, so busy with so many logos, yet it all comes together to have a very racy feel about it. I couldn’t stop looking at it and every time I did I’d notice another logo there. Going down the black and yellow road with the graphics also reminds me of the factory Husqvarnas racing in the MXGP and AMA series, which I don’t think is a bad thing at all.

NATHAN CRAWFORD’S HUSQVARNA FC250 Handlebars: Pro Taper Grips: ODi Triple clamps: Standard Front fork: WP 48mm Cone Valve with Kashima Coated top tube Rear shock: Standard with SDi bladder Rims: DID Dirt Star Chain: EK Chains Front tyre: Pirelli MX 32 Rear tyre: Pirelli MX 32 Sprocket: Supersprox Exhaust: FMF F4.1 Ignition: Vortex Front brake disc: Standard Rear brake disc: Standard Air filter: UniFilter Front brake lever: Standard Clutch lever: Standard

I REALLY LIKED THE WAY THE FORKS FELT. THEY WERE FIRM AND GAVE A VERY DIRECT FEEL OF WHAT WAS GOING ON — NOT HARSH BUT DIRECT AND WITHOUT ANY VAGUENESS

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SUSPENSION The suspension is all handled by Kenny Wheeler from Factory Spec and it’s had a few years of development poured into it. According to Kenny, the front end is on the stiffer end of the scale due to Nato’s tendency to ride over the front of the bike a lot and also in line with what Kenny believes is generally a better way to go for motocross. The forks are WP 48mm cone valve units with Kashima Coated top tubes and production chrome lower tubes. Internally, Kenny has revalved them in quite a different direction from the standard WP valving, more along the lines of what may be found in KYB forks. At the rear end, the shock is a standard unit with an SDi bladder fitted. It’s also paired up with an SDi link, which changes the linkage ratio without lowering the rear end. The shock doesn’t have any coatings; Kenny is a fan of chrome and the way it can be maintained during services. They set the race sag at 105mm, a little less than they did in the past and what seems to be the current trend of lower rear ends. They found the bike works very well, a little more balanced and with a shock setup to suit. All of the above results in a bike that’s easy to come to grips with quickly. Quite often when you test race bikes they have some traits that are very individual, a little quirky, but Nato’s bike was very balanced and easy to jump and turn. The age-old battle of suspension that feels plush and works well on the small stuff yet doesn’t bottom out on big hits has been well fought here. The track was hard and slick with small choppy bumps and the bike felt great. I really liked the way the forks felt. They were firm and gave a very direct feel of what was going on — not harsh but direct and without any vagueness. The rear hooked up off the hard-pack choppy turns and never did anything to concern me at high or low speeds. There are some decent jumps and G-outs around QMP and that’s where the bottoming resistance was tested; it functioned well and I never felt a harsh bottomout all day. To me this bike’s setup was on the firmer side as far as MX2 race bikes I’ve tested go. I liked it.

THE CRAWFORDS ARE WORKING WITH A PRETTY SOLID PERFORMANCE PACKAGE FROM STANDARD

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®


HOLESHOT, ANYONE? The Crawfords are working with a pretty solid performance package from standard, matched or outdone by only one or two other bikes in the class, so they didn’t really need to go searching for max power. They focused on a setup that would improve performance without requiring huge maintenance routines or parts and also not compromising reliability. The gearbox was beefed up with a heavier-duty unit and the head was flowed by Top End Performance. They run ETS fuel and a Vortex ignition matched up with a titanium and carbon FMF exhaust system. These mods create a 250 F that has plenty of torque and over-rev. The over-rev was probably the biggest difference I noticed over the production version of the bike. If you needed to hold a gear a little longer it really didn’t sign off. Plenty of corners could be ridden in third gear and it was strong on the uphill climbs. The bike is a great example of what you can do to increase performance to a National-winning level without going over the top.

THE REST Nato runs plenty of standard items on the bike including handlebars and grips. He runs a pretty high lever setup and, although I rode the bike with them like that for a bunch of laps, I had to lower them slightly for the remainder of the day. There’s a Topline seat cover fitted for added traction and I’m sure the cosmetic factor, too. Both brake levers and rotors are standard along with the clutch lever. There really isn’t anything changed on this bike for the sake of change, which is refreshing and a feather in Husky’s cap for what it fits from production. This was a bike I enjoyed riding and it was great to get a first-hand feel of what can be done away from the full factory race teams. When piloted by a rider with the determination of Nathan Crawford, it’s no surprise it was so agonisingly close to a National Championship. Keep an eye on this guy — he’s not finished yet.

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A QUICK CHAT WITH THE MAN HIMSELF: NATO CRAWFORD What’s the most important part of your bike setup from your point of view? I guess it’s the same for everyone but suspension is obviously really critical on the bike. If my bike’s not handling really well I’m not riding really well. If my suspension isn’t set up the way I really like it then things don’t really click for me. I’m really particular with my ’bars and lever position as well and the way my bike sits. I don’t like my bike sitting like a chopper and being low in the rear. So as long as the bike is riding level and the suspension action feels really good and my handlebars and levers are where I like them, I’m pretty happy.

You work closely with Kenny Wheeler from Factory Spec, right? Yeah, I’ve worked with Kenny for the last three years now — actually, I think this is our fourth year and he’s come to every single round of the Nationals, so he’s been helping me develop heaps over that time and he’s been a big part of my success in the past few years. Have you guys done much work to increase engine performance? Off the floor, these things are really good, so not a lot of engine work has gone into it. The biggest thing is a heavyduty gearbox and a little bit of head work. Husky have got such a good bike straight out of the box you can pretty much just rock up to the races and ride it.


040

FEATURE: ASADA INVESTIGATION

TWO OF THE HIGHEST-PROFILE RIDERS IN THE COUNTRY HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED AND ARE UNDER INVESTIGATION BY THE AUSTRALIAN SPORTS ANTI-DOPING AUTHORITY. HERE’S THE STORY SO FAR... STORY DAMIEN ASHENHURST & NIGEL INGLIS

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E

asily the most contentious and baffling topic to come up so far this year is the allegations of doping against the Moss brothers, Jake and Matt — and to be clear, at the time of writing they are just allegations. For those who haven’t followed this from day one, here’s a brief rundown. Matt and Jake were tested by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) at Murray Bridge along with Nathan Crawford and Dean Ferris. We know this — it wasn’t a secret. Before the next round we were informed via a Kawasaki Australia press release that both Jake and Matt had been suspended for disciplinary reasons. None of those reasons was explained but it was clear it wasn’t something that happened on the track. The next word came from Jake Moss who announced his retirement from racing to spend more time with his family and to avoid further aggravating existing injuries — perfectly plausible, as he’s been toughing it out through pain for some time.

IT’S IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT THIS IS THE FIRST TIME THE INDUSTRY HAS FACED THIS ISSUE AND NOBODY HAD A HANDBOOK TO REFER TO Soon after, Jake released a statement on his Facebook page saying he’d “recently been advised through Motorcycling Australia and ASADA that I have allegedly tested positive to Ostarine, which is a prohibited substance under the World Anti-Doping Code”. He added, “I do not accept the results of the test and I am in the process of challenging those results through the appropriate processes.” This somewhat slippery-worded statement suggests he only found out he’d tested positive after he retired, which is stretching the bounds of credibility. It was very soon after that Matt Moss also publicly stated he was under investigation following a positive test he intends to contest. We weren’t able to confirm that statement and if it was ever on his Facebook page it had been taken down fairly quickly. And, not long after these two statements, Motorcycling Australia confirmed publicly for the first time that the Moss brothers were under investigation and that Dean Ferris and Nathan Crawford were in the clear. It’s important to remember that this is the first time the industry has faced this issue and nobody had a handbook to refer to. Look at how badly similar allegations were handled by Essendon and the Cronulla Sharks and they have lawyers and advisers up the proverbial chocolate chimney. All told, most people took the advice handed down by ASADA and behaved well in the public sphere.

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PERSPECTIVE That leaves two riders: Jake and Matt. Two top-line factory team riders removed from the races is a big deal in any sport. If it wasn’t a big deal, the sport really would be in the shit, wouldn’t it? There are plenty who believe nothing should be spoken about and that this is an exclusively private matter — but it’s not. This is a sport, not a desk job. There are vested interests in any rider being present and performing, from the manufacturer to the sponsor to the team boss and of course the fan who buys the bikes and merch. And, to offer some perspective, very little pressure is put on a professional motocross rider to behave in a certain way when compared to NRL or AFL players who are regularly watched over and scrutinised in minute detail on and off the field. Here’s my personal opinion on Jake and Matt’s situation. Some of this is hypothetical given all charges are alleged at this stage, and let me just say I don’t know either of them personally and have spent little time with them; I’ve found them to be generally uninterested in media coverage to the point where we simply stopped asking them to be involved. I think motocross is the most brutal sport on the planet. I can’t fathom what it takes to compete at the

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level they have and for as long as they have. I’ve see en and photographed so many years of their racing careers and have immense admiration for their skills on a bike. I’ve done some dumb shit in my life and I’d be the e last bloke to stand here claiming the high moral ground d. If any of this turns out to be true, I don’t want to crucify Jake and Matt for it because I’ve seen people do wo orse things that have hurt people other than just themselves. l Motocross at this level leaves busted bodies almost without exception and the Moss brothers are at an age when they’ll be feeling that deeply. But — and it’s a big but — drugs in sport are illegal and if they took them then that’s it, they’re gone. The drug they allegedly took was Osterine, which is unlikely to be proscribed by a doctor or taken by mistake or without applying for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).

JUICE THE KIDS? Some say we should allow doping. That’s ridiculous. What age do you want to start juicing the kids, then? “Finish your Weet-Bix and don’t forget to inject yourself before you go to school.” No, you shouldn’t able to take drugs and that’s the only way to ensure a level playing field. If drugs were legal, which ones should they be? Who decides that and who pays the price later in life when the side-effects

MOTOCROSS AT THIS LEVEL LEAVES BUSTED BODIES ALMOST WITHOUT EXCEPTION AND THE MOSS BROTHERS ARE AT AN AGE WHEN THEY’LL BE FEELING THAT DEEPLY


outweigh the benefits? The best juiced would be the ones with the most money because the good stuff ain’t gonna be cheap. Either way, drugs are banned and that’s the only fact that matters right now. If you have any amount of a banned substance in your piss or blood, you have to pay the price because you might as well have just cut the first corner every lap. Any advantage is unfair. The legalities of this are confusing so we asked someone who knows what he’s talking about to comment on the technical aspects of the Moss saga. Nigel Inglis is a lawyer with years of experience and a love of moto. He was good enough to pen this piece explaining the technical details of what happens when an athlete is under ASADA scrutiny.

WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS WHEN ASADA COMES KNOCKING? Nigel Inglis is one of our contributing writers & photographers (check out @fuelfotography on Instagram). He’s also a lawyer and in private practice advised some of Australia’s largest sporting organisations, including the ARU and Tennis Australia. The recent controversy surrounding the visit by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) to the Murray Bridge round of the MX Nationals raises a number of issues that all riders need to keep in mind. While no one likes a cheat, it is important to understand your rights when serious allegations can

be made that in many ways result in damage to your reputation and costs — often significant costs — being incurred in challenging results and getting advice, not to mention the distraction from pursuing your dreams and goals when you are facing a potential sanction by ASADA. ASADA indicates on its website that there is an increasing reliance on its investigations to sanction athletes. This is the case whether you have a positive doping test for a banned substance or not. Of course, in the case of a confirmed positive test, the case becomes clearer. Anonymous complaints are also a way ASADA can start to take steps against an athlete for a doping violation. But you need to know that a positive test is not required for a doping violation to be imposed. There are routine doping control processes which are used to detect the use of prohibited substances or the use of prohibited methods, such as sample collection or sample analysis. These can result in what is called an adverse analytical finding which, if proven, may result in a positive test and ultimately a sanction. However, outside of routine processes, ASADA also conducts “investigations”. ASADA has broad powers under the Commonwealth

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Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Act 2006 (the Act) to investigate whether athletes or their support personnel may have breached any anti-doping rules. Under the antidoping rules, an athlete is not allowed to use a prohibited drug or doping method, nor is an athlete or support person allowed to possess or traffic in a prohibited drug or doping method. Indeed, athletes associating with a disqualified support person can be the basis for a violation finding against the athletes themselves. Routine sample collection or analysis will often catch out an athlete who uses prohibited substances. However, under the Act and associated regulations, if ASADA “believes” an athlete or support person “may” have breached the anti-doping rules, it is entitled to make a finding to that effect. No doping test and no adverse analytical finding is required. This is an extraordinary power enshrined in legislation. An avenue of appeal exists to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. However, it is not until this stage of the process that an athlete or support person can expect any sense of judicial character to be brought to bear to the process. An example of ASADA making findings without any sample collection or sample analysis being conducted or any adverse analytical finding includes the case of Australian cyclist Daniel Galea, who accepted a twoyear suspension for possession, use and attempted use of prohibited substances after a joint investigation by ASADA and the Australian Customs Service. Mr Galea attempted to import a banned substance concealed as another substance. These substances were posted to Mr Galea through the mail where the Australian Customs Service intercepted them. He was never the subject of a doping control test. Interestingly, at the time of this case there was no express power under the World Anti-Doping Code, Anti-Doping Rules or the National Anti-Doping Scheme for investigators such as those appointed by ASADA to compel athletes to participate in interviews or answer questions in investigations. That changed in 2013 and ASADA now has broad powers to compel someone who may have knowledge of a doping violation to participate in an interview under a “disclosure notice”. If issued with such a notice, getting some legal advice about your rights should be something you seriously consider.

That said, often a decision to voluntarily participate in any investigation may be something an athlete is prepared to agree to. For instance, there may be a reasonable explanation that this will exonerate the conduct. However, there are no guarantees that will satisfy ASADA. ASADA remains relatively tight-lipped about how it conducts its investigations; nor does it publish information about athletes’ rights other than some limited information on its routine doping control measures. Before speaking with ASADA, voluntarily participating in any interviews or giving any statements, speaking to a lawyer who is familiar with the process to determine the best approach in your case should be something to seriously consider. However, there are only limited circumstances in which an athlete can delay participating in providing a sample if requested to do so by an ASADA official and you should be familiar with your rights when competing in a sport regulated by ASADA. I More information about ASADA can be found at asada.gov.au.

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046

FEATURE: YAMAHA WR250R

MR

VERSATILE

YAMAHA’S WR250R IS JUST EIGHT YEARS OLD BUT IT’S STILL THE MOST GROWN UP OF ALL THE PURE TRAILBIKES STORY ASHENHURST

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n 2008, Yamaha released a curious little beastie that we didn’t know we needed at that point: the WR250R. We remember being pretty sceptical about the whole thing, knowing full well the TT-R250 was a great bike — so why bring out a competing model? Also, in 2008 EFI was still something of an unknown to the dirtbike world and, ridiculous as it seems now, some of the great forum scribes were claiming that should such a contraption make its way onto our glorious machines the end was coming. In 2008, Nickelback released an album that did exceedingly well — which, in my mind, goes to show how confused we were eight years ago.

STAND-OUT PERFORMER So, leaving the past behind and looking at the WR250R in 2016, has it stood the test of time? Particularly now the mighty TT-R is gone, is the WR-R the right bike to fill that gap? The answer is yes. In fact, it was the answer before we even knew it because the WR-R was sufficiently ahead of its time in 2008 and, as yet, no other manufacturer has released a model to directly compete with it. The WR250R is in a category that’s still largely populated by air-cooled bikes. So the liquid-cooled, EFI-fed WR250R with its combination steel and aluminium frame and environmentally responsible Air Induction System and excellent fuel economy stands well apart from, say, the DR-Z250. Not that the DR-Z doesn’t have its place, but the point is that eight years after its release, the WR250R doesn’t have a natural enemy in the market. Yamaha is very proud of the WR-R’s environmental credentials, the bike’s exhaust output exceeding emission requirements for any country in the world. The WR-R is a quiet, clean and more technologically advanced bike than has ever been offered in the pure trailbike market.

BEING ALL THINGS We like the styling of the WR-R. While it’s obviously inspired by the WR-F/YZ-F, it’s not trying to be something it isn’t. The seat height is a lowish 930mm compared to the WR250F’s 965mm and, while we’re on a comparison between the R and F models, it’s worth pointing out that these two have little in common and are not to be confused, even less so now that the WR250F has evolved into very much a YZ-F with lights. The WR250R feels small but the ergos are pretty neutral with no single glaring point that needs urgent attention, although we’d like a higher-bend ’bar in the long run. The bike is designed to handle dirt and road work — it’s a dual-sport through and through. This is why you find a relatively high gearing with a huge gap between second and third, but it’s geared well to suit the many tasks and terrains this bike can be pointed at. At a dry weight of 125kg, it’s no featherweight, but once the wheels start to roll it’s clear that the bike carries it well. With barely a whisper from the pipe, the bike hits the trails with a super-plush feel from the suspension that frequent road users might find a bit too soft at the front but we think is a good balance to handle both tar and the grubby stuff. The power delivery is the epitome of smooth and while we’re not dealing with a fire-breather here there’s enough to get you pretty much anywhere you need to go. Over the years we’ve ridden the WR250R over a huge range of terrains and, to highlight its versatility, there’s a sweet example of the R as an adventure bike as built by the Trailzone crew. Of course, it’s run and done the Australian Safari, which surely proves its toughness and ability to take on anything. Again, it’s not a WR-F and there’s no need to enter the R in an AORC and expect to be competitive — but you could be pretty certain it would finish the day.

LEAVING THE PAST BEHIND AND LOOKING AT THE WR250R IN 2016, HAS IT STOOD THE TEST OF TIME?

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OVER THE YEARS WE’VE RIDDEN THE WR250R OVER A HUGE RANGE OF TERRAINS

HERE TO STAY It’s sad that the TT-R250 is gone. We truly loved that bike and to be honest we reckon a large percentage of blokes humping 450s around would actually have a better time on the little 250. The WR250R is a better bike in some ways but that’s ignoring the draw of the simplicity the TT-R offered. Pound for pound, however, the WR250R is the better

and more versatile bike. It represents where bike design is going and not just where it’s been. It’s a brilliant bike for a novice rider or female looking for something less aggressive and shorter than an enduro bike. It’s the very definition of a dual-sport bike and it’s almost definitely more capable than you think it is. Ride it to work all week and then go run the mountains all weekend without avoiding the single trail or some of the tougher riding.

BITS & PIECES I I I I

I I I I I

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The WR250R needs a good metal bashplate. Fit handguards. IMS makes a big tank that turns the WR-R into a continent crosser. If you fit that tank, shore up the forks so you don’t dive like Greg Louganis every time you grab the front brake. The FMF Q4 exhaust makes a big difference to the power delivery and saves a bunch of weight. A set of high-bend ’bars improves the off-road feel and overall ergos. Replace the blinkers with smaller LED units. Screens For Bikes makes a screen to help turn the WR-R into an adventure bike. Wolfman offers a heap of luggage options that will suit the WR-R.


050

FEATURE: FOX LAUNCH RIDE

STORY SHANE BOOTH

JOIN THE

TO LAUNCH ITS ALL-NEW LEGION OFF-ROAD GEAR RANGE, FOX AUSTRALIA PUT TOGETHER A RIDE TO END ALL RIDES. WITH AN AWESOME CREW AND TRAILS TO MATCH, THE GOAL OF FIRING UP THE FUN OF TRAIL RIDING WAS WELL AND TRULY ACHIEVED

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t started with a road trip to Bright, Victoria, which is a place you could easily call trail riding heaven. With the Victorian alpine region at its doorstep, there are more trails into the hills here than you can poke a stick at. Combine that with clear skies and an industry crew who don’t get together for a day of trail riding too often — if ever — and we were pretty much set up for the perfect storm. I’d picked up my Husqvarna FE 501 for the ride and was looking forward to unleashing it in the bush. The participants arrived for a barbecue feast around the campfire, then hit the swags, tents, utes and vans for some sleep before the real fun began. In the AM we were provided with another feast of barbecued bacon and eggs before the formalities kicked off. Each rider was treated to a swag of the all-new Fox Legion Off-Road gear: pants, jersey, jacket, vest, gloves and boots — the whole nine yards. If that doesn’t get you excited, nothing will. We were run through all the new features of this gear — a long list of impressive stuff — given a rundown on the day’s riding ahead and then told to be ready in 15 minutes. Well, if you weren’t ready to roll you had no choice but to be. About 500m into this ride we launched straight into a hill that would break many a trail rider. It was clear very early what we were in for: a day of the kind of epic, challenging trail riding you just don’t get very often. The absolute kicker was that the moisture content on the trails couldn’t have been better — as if they’d had a sprinkler system on the day before. There wasn't an ounce of dust and, bar a few puddles, hardly any mud. We continued to ride up and down the side of these mountains on single trail that looked like it had hardly been used but was steep enough to challenge and keep things very interesting. We then started to meet the odd creek crossing or two, or three, or four — and then creek crossings became the norm. The rain that made the trails so spot on also had all the creeks flowing very well.

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By lunch we’d all become creek-crossing experts and had given up on trying to stay dry — it was more along the lines of just embracing it. The Fox crew met us out at a picnic site for a gourmet lunch before we fuelled up and headed out once more. The arvo session started off with a great run along a ridgeline that had everyone hauling ass through an open fire road that again was in such great condition. That was relatively short-lived, though, as we regrouped and literally rode off the side of a mountain to begin a steep descent to the bottom. To start with it was just steep single trail, challenging but nothing out of the norm. We hit a few little streams of water and then dropped out on another dirt road to regroup. From there, things got interesting. Once again we dropped in off the main road but this time we slotted into a stream/creek/river and proceeded to follow it for the best part of the next hour. We were literally in the middle of the running water, feet off for the most part and riding over the rocks that were underneath. What an experience. The rain had it charging and we were in water over the top of our wheels more often than not.

I’d go as far as to say it was the hardest trail riding I’ve ever done and that seemed the consensus on the day — but not in a negative way; in a way that made for the best night of bench racing ever. Talking shit over a few beers about how big the waterfall I rode down was and how many times you came within millimetres of drowning your bike. No one was crashless; everyone had spent some time in the water and that’s what made it so great. When the likes of Tom McCormack and Daniel Milner are off their bikes and physically handling it through sections, you know it was legit. It was a sensational way to test some new gear, which by the way is very impressive. It doesn’t feel like you’re wearing rugged enduro gear; it’s unbelievably comfortable and unrestrictive. The new off-road Instinct boots did a great job, too — the soles designed to offer grip off the bike definitely got a workout on this ride and were appreciated! My only question: when are we on again?

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THE GEAR FOX LEGION JACKET I Strategically panelled ripstop and stretch Cordura construction I Zippered vents at chest, back and forearms for flowthrough ventilation I Bonded Cordura patches at key areas for additional protection I Mesh zipper pockets at waist I Left side chest zipper pocket hook-and-loop closure on wrists I Soft collar for increased comfort I Seamless underarm for mobility and comfort I Right and left side hem cinch with barrel lock I Drop-tail design for increased coverage FOX LEGION PANT Cordura ripstop construction with zonal stretch panels I Two zipper vents for maximum adjustability I Double-layer knee system made of full-grain cow leather and abrasion-resistant material provide high durability I Thin hem at cuff to eliminate bulk in boot I Triple needle stitching in critical areas I Zippered pocket to hold essentials I

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FOX LEGION GLOVE I Touchscreen compatibility on index finger I Brushed fleece bonded Cordura for protection and warmth I Clarino palm with bonded reinforcement layer in hig ghwear areas I TPU-lined Lycra gussets seal out the elements I Direct-injected TRP protects from knuckle and finger impacts I Compression-moulded cuff with hook-and-loop clos sure FOX INSTINCT OFF-ROAD BOOT Hinge lockout system stops motion before hyperflexxion I Exclusive Duratac Fox rubber compound provides unprecedented grip and durability on the outsole an nd burn guard I A slim medial design keeps you close to the bike with Duratac burn guard providing grip I Large, open lug pattern on sole provides traction and reduces mud buildup I Flawless buckle operation every time I Full coverage at toe box for additional protection without hindering shifting I


056

FEATURE: NEWCASTLE CITY SUPERMOTO

THE PICTURESQUE CITY OF NEWCASTLE IS TAKEN OVER BY HIGH-SPEED SUPERMOTO ACTION STORY AND PHOTOS MATT BERNARD

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THE DIRT SECTION WAS IN A PERFECTLY MOWED PARK AND THE MAIN STRAIGHT WAS LITERALLY 10 METRES FROM THE WATER’S EDGE

S

uperMoto is in resurgence in Australia — there are no two ways about it. In the middle 00s, slicks on dirtbikes was a hugely popular and super glamorous form of motorcycle racing. While the numbers and high-profile events may have dwindled in recent years, the Australian scene is far from dead. And if the second running of the Newcastle City SuperMoto is anything to go by, it’s very much on a steep rise in popularity.

LOCATION, LOCATION The Watson Demolition & Earthworks Newcastle City SuperMoto takes place in one of the most picturesque locations possible: on the foreshore of Newcastle, just two hours north of Sydney, with the glistening blue waters as backdrop to the high-revving SuperMoto racing. This is the type of event I like to cover. I arrived the morning of day two and parked just down from the event in a free parking lot near the many restaurants on the water. I grabbed my camera bag and a takeaway

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coffee and wandered along the water on a cracking sunny morning. Kids riding bicycles, mums jogging with prams and plenty enjoying a mid-morning brekkie filled the area. The local ferry pulled up and it was clear the motorcycle event in the distance was attracting a cast of thousands. Monster hats, Fox jumpers and the odd jersey bandit proved I was in the right place. It’s hard to describe how impressive it is to have an event in such a location. The dirt section was in a perfectly mowed park, the main straight was literally 10 metres from the water’s edge and people were watching from the natural amphitheatre and leaning over the balconies of adjacent accommodations for a bird’s-eye view. You literally could have gone for a surf between motos, it’s that close to the beach. The vibe is Red Bull City X meets a chilled-out Gold Coast 600; hats off to the Newcastle Council. Local councils often get a bad rap in regard to motorsport but I can say whoever’s helping the organisers is doing a good job to promote the positive aspects of our great sport.

LOCAL LEGEND In 2016, the Newcastle City SuperMoto, in conjunction with its event lineup, hosted the opening round of the FIM Asia SuperMoto Championships. Riders from all over Asia descended on Newcastle in search of opening-round honours to kickstart their championship campaigns, including former World Champion Boris Chambon. Taking it to the visiting riders were a number of Australian riders looking for a shot at glory in the International class as well as racing in a range of other classes. Former Australian motocross champion, Novocastrian Luke George, put the entire field on notice, eventually cleaning up in what was an absolutely impressive display of riding, especially since it was the first time he’d competed on slicks. George would finish the event with two first place finishes in the International class as well as cleaning up the Pro category. The International overall podium would be Luke George, from Michael Kirkness and Mohd Habibullah; fourth place was retired Australian motocross and


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The dirt section was built by the team at Watson Demolition & Earthworks. You no longer need 17-inch wheels, just street tyres to line up and have a crack at SuperMoto. Danny Ham is still bloody fast and stylish. Paul Caslick and his Husqvarna FC450 took the vets class honours. It was cool to see Jay Foreman back at the races. Luke George launched his new jerky company 101 Percent Jerky at the event.

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Dave McKenna is crazy, but crazy good. A group of blokes watched the racing from their boat in the harbour — classy! The visiting riders looked lik they loved their time in sunny Newcastle. The James Squire bar is a top spot for a beer. Be aware, you’ll want to ride if you go to watch! Road racers, dirt-track riders, motocross, supercross and professional SuperMoto riders all faced off. There were loads of local stands and stalls — it was great to see local businesses promoted.


IT’S AN EVENT BUILT FOR A WEEKEND AWAY. GRAB THE FAMILY, PICK UP A MOTEL ROOM AND VISIT THE NEWCASTLE AREA FOR THE WEEKEND

supercross racer Danny Ham. Hammy was hauling arse at the start of the final race before an unfortunate front-brake malfunction left him with a difficult race in which to secure points. Finishing fifth behind Ham was Boris Chambon.

SHOW US THE ATMOSPHERE Aside from the intense SuperMoto racing, there were plenty of off-track stalls to keep the big and little kids entertained. Yamaha’s stunt-riding superstar Dave McKenna wowed the crowd with his high-speed and jaw-dropping stunts — some including the DIRT ACTION promotional girls for good measure. I’d love to see some big fat whips off a freestyle ramp next year; some trials or an extreme enduro display would be a pretty epic sideshow to the hot on-track racing. The crowd was huge with plenty of dads enjoying Father’s Day in the sunshine at the free event. The entire track was lined two or three deep while the hill was

full for the majority of the Sunday. Despite the windy weather a day earlier, there was still a solid turnout on Saturday. At the close of the event, the sun headed lower in the sky and the presentation concluded. I began the walk back along the water to my car, stopping at one of the local establishments to enjoy a beer and take in what was an epic event. Graeme Boyd and the rest of the Newcastle City SuperMoto crew are really onto something special with this event and I congratulate them. The location is first class, accommodation is in abundance and the area is full of quality restaurants and places to have a beer. It’s an event built for a weekend away. Grab the family, pick up a motel room and visit the Newcastle area for the weekend. Take in some epic SuperMoto racing and enjoy the surrounds the Newcastle has to offer. That’s what I’ll be doing — unless I’m lining up, that is.

WHERE TO STAY I I I I

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Crowne Plaza Newcastle www.crowneplazanewcastle.com.au Nautilos Apartments www.newcastleapartments.com.au The Lucky Hotel www.theluckyhotel.com.au Chifley Executive Hotel www.silverneedlehotels.com/chifley/ newcastle-apartments Newcastle Serviced Apartments www.newcastleservicedapartments.net Quality Hotel Noah’s On The Beach www.noahsonthebeach.com.au

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XMAS GIFT GUIDE

XMAS

GIFT

GS HELMET GS helmets are designed for riders who love to experience offroad terrain. The 100 per cent carbon-fibre reinforced-plastic shell and impact-absorbing EPS inner liner offer maximum safety while the spoiler and removable sun shield are designed with optimum aerodynamics in mind. Included is a removable chinbar and dust filter for off-road and hot-weather riding. Comp model $1000 or light white/matt black $900 // bmwmotorrad.com.au

GUIDE HONDA EU20I GENERATOR

LEXX MXe EXHAUST SYSTEM The Lexx system offers an increase of up to 4hp. Baffle and spark arrestor included along with all mounting hardware and performance-engineered mid-pipe. Range covers Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, KTM, Husaberg and Husqvarna four-strokes. $344.95 // s3performance.com.au

4MX CARBON FIBRE CLUTCH COVER GUARD This 4MX cover guard is made using a composite of carbon fibre, Kevlar, fibreglass and high-temperature resins. This combination of materials distributes any impact over a large area to reduce the likelihood of damage. Available for KTM, Husqvarna, Sherco and Beta. $122 // onlineracingspares.com.au

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The EU20i portable generator uses Honda’s advanced four-stroke GX100 engine to deliver commercial-quality electricity, making the EU20i ideal for use with frequency-sensitive electrical equipment such as laptops. The EU20i also features an Eco-throttle that adjusts the engine speed to meet the load demand. The result is greater fuel economy and reduced noise. $2099 // powerequipment.honda.com.au

KTM 350 & 450/500 EXC-F 2017 BASHPLATE Made from 4mm 5083 alloy with all mounts supplied. Also available in black $185 // bboffroad.com.au


THUMPSTAR TSR 160CC 2017 The Thumpstar TSR 160cc is delivered ready to hit the track. The seat height is perfect for all riders over the age of 12. VS1 suspension with rear linkage allows riders to have a competitive edge, no matter the obstacles. The engine is race ready and has powerful advantage with its Pipe Bomb exhaust system. The four-speed transmission and Daytona HD clutch basket make gear changes a breeze. Paired with a 30mm Mikuni Racing carburetor and HSK brakes, this bike offers ideal throttle feedback, fast acceleration and braking power. $1990 // thumpstar.com.au

AKUBRA LACHLAN DRUM BAG Just in time for Christmas, Akubra has released an Australian-made luggage range that includes a sturdy canvas drum bag. Available in two sizes for $329 and $299 // akubra.com.au

READYRAMP

HELD SAM BIA SUMMER G LOVE

Easily load your bike and secure more gear with the revolutionary combination on of a high-capacity loading ramp and nd d ute tray extender in one light, robus ust unit. Standard size $410. Large e size $439 // readyramp.co .com.au

The unlined Sam mbia glove is arm weather. designed for wa weatther Air Ai ngers and perforated vents on the fin finger side wallss keep hands cool, aroo leather palm and while the kanga uckle offer plenty of hard plastic knu protection. Available in a range of sizes and colourways. $130 // heldausstralia.com.au

BAHCO 94PC SOCKET & SPANNER SET SPOT GEN3 The SPOT Gen3 is a compact, rugged handheld personal tracker that supports location tracking and check-in/OK reporting as well as help and duress functions. SPOT Gen3 is delivered complete and ready to go. SPOT Gen3 uses 100 per cent satellite technology to send your GPS locations to your immediate contacts and emergency responders. $239 // allsat.com.au

Everything you could possibly want in one convenient kit. Includes 1/4� & 1/2� drive sockets, sixpoint sockets and flex-head and combo spanners in a sturdy polythene carry case. $249 // granbergs.com.au

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XMAS GIFT GUIDE

AIROH AVIATOR 2.1 RAILED HELMET Weighing in at 950g, the Aviator is constructed from a Carbon-KevlarÂŽ mix and is available in three different shell sizes to ensure optimum safety and fit. Husqvarna graphics complete the package. $900 // husqvarna-motorcycles. com/au/

POLARIS YOUTH RANGE Polaris has Christmas all wrapped up with a ripper deal that includes a free value pack that includes a full-face helmet (two with the RZR 170), safety flag and safety training DVD. Suitable for ages from six for the Outlaw 50, and from 10 for all other Youth models. Outlaw 50 available in pink or blue $1995. Outlaw 110 available in pink or blue $2995. RZR 170 available in white or blue $4995 // polarisindustries.com.au

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RESCUEME PLB1 The rescueME PLB1 provides the reassurance that emergency services can be alerted by the press of a button. As the PLB1 works with the only officially recognised worldwide dedicated search and rescue satellite network, there are NO CHARGES to use this service. When activated, the rescueME PLB1 transmits your position and your ID to a Rescue Coordination Centre via satellite link. $399 // allsat.com.au

PULSAR V8 SUPERCARS WATCH This 100m water-resistant chronograph watch is limited to 1000 units and features the Supercars’ logo on the dial and clasp. Each watch is presented in a helmet box and comes with a certificate of authenticity. $399 // pulsarwatches.com.au


OGIO ERZBERG HYDRATION PACK

JUST 1 J12 DOMINATOR HELMET Designed in Italy, the J12 is a fullcarbon helmet that combines style and safety in a lightweight package. $649.95 // ficeda.com.au

Made exclusively for Husqvarna by Ogio, the Erzberg hydration pack fits under or over the chest protector and shirt. The padded airmesh back panel is designed to wick moisture away from the skin, keeping you comfortable. Includes a 2L hydration pack bladder. $100 // husqvarna-motorcycles. com/au/

AXO TRANS AM GEAR SET Who doesn’t love a fresh set of gear? The 2017 range from Axo is now available. Pants $199.95 Jersey $59.95 Hexa Gloves $49.95 // ficeda.com.au

PIT POSSE BEAD BENDER Save time and your knuckles! The Bead bender pulls the bead away from the rim for easy rim lock and valve stem installation. Once locked in place, you will be able to use both hands for installation and removal of rim locks and valve stems. Check out the video online. $49.95 // mxstore.com.au

AXO WEEKENDER BAG The Weekender gear bag has enough room to fit almost everything but your bike! Available in blue, red, orange and green. $79.95 // ficeda.com.au

IPONE OFF-ROAD CHAIN CARE KIT Everything you need in one convenient kit. Contains: X-Trem chain lube, chain cleaner and chain brush. $44.95 // ficeda.com.au

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XMAS GIFT GUIDE

LKI YOUTH BACKPACK Premium school backpack with a 17L capacity. KRT screen print, custom LKI tags, branded woven labels and trims. 600D polyester construction. $36

KAWASAKI T-SHIRTS Range of genuine Kawasaki T-shirts featuring stylish motorcycle-inspired designs. Sprocket — Available in men's, ladies' and kids' $32 Emblem — Available in men's, ladies' and kid's $32 Green Ninja — Available in kid's $30

BASEBALL JACKET This black and grey buttonup hooded jacket boasts a small Kawasaki logo on the front with a larger Kawasaki logo across the back, with distinctive pinstripes around the soft, knitted collar and cuffs. Available in both youth and unisex adult sizes. $93.99

CURVED PEAK CAP With an embroidered Kawasaki logo on the front and website address across the back, plus Kawasaki Lime green under the peak with black Kawasaki logo. Includes custom drill mesh/ microfibre with snapback closure. $24.99

DRINK HOLDER Show you are part of the Green Team with this dye sublimated stubby cooler. $7.65

BAR RUNNER Perfect for the man cave or home bar, this bar runner is 835mm x 215mm. Features a Kawasaki product montage. $24.50

KAWASAKI.COM.AU 66

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YCF REMOTE ENGINE KILL / RE-START Suitable for the YCF 50A. Perfect for those parents that want to be able to remotely stop and restart the engine while their young ones are learning. Installation is recommended via your local YCF Dealer. $99

YC F 50 -A 2017

fully automatic h electric start and ke kids' fun bike wit tro r-s ottle and weighs fou thr cc le 50 el tab Entry-lev class. ks, disc brakes, adjus for nt fro D US es use in 50cc demo transmission. Includ en. MA approved for sev to ee thr x. pro e level: ap 42kg. Intended ag k $1699 e, green, red or pin Available in orang

YCF COLOURED BAR PADS

An entry-level fully electric kid s' fun bike, with YC F 50 -E 20 lithium battery 1200W/48V ele 17 . Charge time: fiv ctric motor, an e to six hours. d high-quality USD ffront fork Run time: appr s, disc brakes, po ox. 1.5-2.5 hour tentiometer on s. Features electric motor weighs 36kg. In for throttle adjus tended age lev tment and el: approx. thre e to seven. Back yard riding bliss ! Available in bl ack or pink $2 499

Available in eight colour options and for 50cc and tapered H/Bars $12

YC F START F88S E 2017

engine with a 50cc, this 88cc four-stroke The perfect next step up from front forks, USD ch, clut no , i-auto gearbox electric start, four-speed sem t and rear. fron es stable throttle and disc brak adjustable rear shock, adju or pink $1999 Available in green, orange

YC F TRAIN IN

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WH E E LS Suitable for YC F 50A or YCF 50E, enables kid start riding ea s to rlier and two lev els of adjustm helps teach th ent em to balance before remov $169 al.

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YCF-MOTORCYCLES.COM.AU DIRT ACTION

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XMAS GIFT GUIDE CREW SNAP BACK CAP $99.95

ROOST TEE $34.95

SNIPER CHASE LIME GOGGLES $99.95

SLAM BACKPACK $69.95

VOID COVERT MIDNIGHT GLOVES $34.95

PULSE COVERT MIDNIGHT JERSEY $49.95

PULSE COVERT MIDNIGHT PANTS $159.95

GASIMPORTS.COM.AU 68

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GIANT LOOP TOW STRAP The Giant Loop Cordura® Ballistic tow stra is a multifunctional tool that can n help get you or your riding buddies out o of a sticky situation. Designed with sewn lo oops on each end, the tow strap can be h hitched around a tree, bumper or used for footpegto-footpeg towing. $47

AGGRESSORCOOL A BASE LAYERS 1 0 B

KRIOS KARBON ADVENTURE HELMET This handlaid full-carbon helmet by KLIM weighs in at less than 1500g. The Krios helmet will exceed your expectations. It is strong, versatile, quiet and comfortable. $795

KLIM has revolutionised comfort base layers with the new COOL CORE range. A new level of cooling and comfort for riders with chemical-free patented cooling, moisture wicking and evaporation that delivers for the lifetime of the garments. Shown: Aggressor Cool Core long sleeve $94.95 Garment prices start from $29.95

SPOT TRACKER PACKER COMBO When your adventures take you beyond cell service, SPOT Gen3 lets family and friends know you’re OK or will send emergency responders your GPS location. The super-rugged and secure Tracker Packer by GIANT LOOP firmly attaches the SPOT Gen3 device to your pack’s shoulder strap, bike handlebars or fork tube, your arm m and many other locations. $56 for the Tracker Packer or $255 ass a combo with SPOT Gen3

DOUBLE TAKE MIRROR Virtually indestructible, the Double Take Enduro mirror provides excellent visibility and is easy to fold, remove or swap between bikes. Use RAM mounting components to build your mirror spec for your bike. Mirror starts from $45 plus RAM mounts

KLIM ARSENAL VEST A complete off-road cargo solution n for serious adventure/trail riders. Engineered for even weight distribution, the Arsenal features massive ventilation, ingenious storage functionality and limitless adjustability. The vest also includess a removable tool pack*. $295 (*tools not included)

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XMAS GIFT GUIDE

SX LOGO TEE

50 SX 2017 The 50 SX is a true KTM for young MX riders aged from around four to 10 years old and up to 1.30m tall. It is a genuine dirt bike that, like its bigger siblings, is produced with top-quality components. This makes the 50 SX the first choice as a stepping stone into the world of MX or for the first racing step on the ladder. With the youngster in mind, this package has an engine that delivers steady, controllable power, incorporating an automatic clutch that is ideal for novice riders. This year’s model features revolutionary WP AER 35 front forks, fully adjustable rear suspension, a new exhaust, ultra-cool graphics and a lot of detail improvements that make going fast fun and safe. $4995 + dealer delivery

T-shirt made from high-quality single jersey fabric with KTM logo printed on the front and back. Show you’re an orange bleeder wherever you go. $49.99

CLASSIC CAP Look as fast as the pros with this KTM Classic cap. $44.99

KIDS TRAINING BIKE Made of metal with start number and hand protection and now with greater profile and thicker tyres for shredding. Seat is adjustable with quick release. Suitable for mini rippers from two years old. $169.99

50 SX MINI 2017 A real KTM for young crossers aged from approx. four to 10 with a height of up to about 1.3m. This motorcycle features high-quality components that’s child’s play to control, with an engine that excels with linear power development and a beginnerfriendly automatic clutch. $4195 + dealer delivery

RACING TRAVEL BAG 9800 Bigger than Santa’s sack! A large trolley case with a wealth of wellthought-out, tried-andtested features. There's no better way to haul your moto gear. $399.99

KTM.COM.AU 70

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RACING MX GEAR Jersey, pants and gloves are available for the whole family in adults and kids sizes. Features include indelible sublimated graphics, double adjusting waist strap system and Kevlar inner knees for high temperature protection. Kids' jersey $49. Pants $139. Gloves $35. Adults' jersey $59. Pants $199. Gloves $39.00

RACING HOODY Full-zip fleece hoody featuring embroidered and print logos available in mens', ladies' and kids' sizes. Adults' sizes $79 Kids' sizes $75

RACING POLO Dri Fit material featuring embroidered logos available in mens' and ladies' sizes. $49

FACTORY RACING CHRONO WATCH The Yamaha Collection by TW Steel includes a 45mm carbon case, chronograph movement, black dial and silicon strap. Available in six Yamaha Factory Racing colour options and four VR46 colour options. $169

RACING ENDURO JACKET OFF-ROAD AKRAPOVIČ EXHAUST Mufflers and headers available for all recent YZF/WRF models. Made by Akrapovič especially for Yamaha featuring exclusive logo decal. The slip-on system is designed for recreational riders and delivers an outstanding combination of performance, design, and durability plus the well-known Akrapovič quality and ease of installation. From $479.88–$797.49

Enduro/rally-style jacket with ventilated lining, adjustable collar, cuffs and waist belt with easy zippers on the lower part of the jacket. There are pockets galore — an inner pocket, a water-resistant pocket on the chest, two large external pockets on the front and an external pocket on the lower back of the jacket. There is also a handy internal pocket on the back for a water bladder and eyelet exit for a water bag hose. $290

YSHOP.YAMAHA-MOTOR.COM.AU DIRT ACTION

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FEATURE: STATE OF PLAY

STATE OF PLAY

A LOOK AT SOME OF THE BURNING ISSUES IN AUSTRALIAN RACING THROUGH 2016 STORY DAMIEN ASHENHURST

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Tray Extender

& Loading Ramp

READYRAMP AUSTRALIA

Easily load your bike & secure more gear


T

here is more than one professional racing story in Australia. One sees the Australian Off-Road Racing Championships going from strength to strength in small but steady increments, with ever-improving coverage and communication and riders who are increasingly media and fan savvy. The AORC alone doesn’t attract a tonne of competitors and that’s a concern that needs to be addressed, but there’s no doubt the sport as a whole is more welcoming and open to fans than motocross. In particular, the KTM and Active8 Yamaha teams have done a brilliant job of creating an unintimidating and constant stream of contact with the fans through magazine and multimedia exposure. Ultimately, enduro is a tough sport to bring to the masses but, while there are plenty of examples of how Motorcycling Australia has screwed things up, the small group of dedicated organisers behind the AORC are doing everything they can to build the sport — the final piece of the puzzle will be to attract more national-level riders. The two big success stories are undoubtedly in the desert racing scene dominated by Finke and Hattah. There simply are no bigger races in this country than those two. Finke has the spectators while Hattah has the entrants and both do a race weekend like nobody else. With the AORC and desert races combined — along with world-class extreme events like Wildwood Rock — it’s hard to reach any conclusion other than off-road racing in Australia is very strong. One example I can point to is that on the weekend that Hattah was on, with somewhere around 700 competitors, Finke was shown on SBS. The week before that, Toby Price was on 60 Minutes and the weekend before that thousands of people lined the Finke track to cheer the big guy and the rest of the field on.

WITH THE AORC AND DESERT RACES COMBINED — ALONG WITH WORLD-CLASS EXTREME EVENTS LIKE WILDWOOD ROCK — IT’S HARD TO REACH ANY CONCLUSION OTHER THAN OFFROAD RACING IN AUSTRALIA IS VERY STRONG

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Any way you slice it, no form of Australian two-wheel racing got more coverage than off-road in that threeweek period and nothing with knobbies on it was on free-to-air television except the off-roads. It is of course driven largely by the incredible feats and next-level fame of Toby Price, but all sports have their heroes. We also have the ISDE 2015 clean sweep and of course now the 2016 Enduro GP champ is Matt Phillips, so while the domestic series is really quite small, our riders punch hard on the international stage.

MOTOCROSS NATS When we look at national motocross, things get a little more difficult to quantify. On one hand, the Motocross Nationals is a stunningly presented series. When you walk through the gates, see the trucks lined up and the colourful signage and

hear the engines revving, you’re immediately amped for a day of racing and it would seem the series is hands down the biggest dirtbike gathering in Australia. The effort Williams Event Management (WEM) puts into showing the sport in its best light is beyond anything we’ve had to this point in the outdoors. It’s no paddock sport; it looks proud and professional and the clubs do their best to keep up their end as well. But there are deep divisions in the sport that stem from reduced rider numbers, the cost of racing, little interest from outside sponsors and, of course, no free-to-air television. An inordinate amount of that criticism and just about all of the blame is levelled at WEM’s principal Kevin Williams, who to some is screwing the sport and to others is the best thing that ever happened. So let’s go over some of the issues.

GATE DROPS Rider numbers aren’t great at the Nats and the possible reasons are probably the most fractious topic in the sport. Many place the blame on the lack of prize money. It’s a fair argument. For a privateer rider who’s driven all the way from Far North Queensland to Horsham for a round, the fact that there’s absolutely no way they can recoup any of those costs even with an excellent ride makes it hard to justify the effort. Prize money incentivises, just like your wage does. This is the highest level of motocross in the country and professionals should get paid. The nature of this sport means that only a limited number of riders will be paid by a team and that’s where a series purse comes in. There’s also an amount of pride involved in winning enough money to see you make it to the next round instead of asking the parents for more cash week in, week out. Offering prize money alone won’t solve the problem, though. Some time ago I heard one team boss say that if WEM did pay prize money they wouldn’t pay bonuses to the riders because they didn’t see why they should get paid twice. If you’re a privateer — and much of the field is — this is a moot point. When we’re at a stage when a team talks about wanting to buy a B-double (for two riders?), surely there’s money somewhere to pay riders further down the food chain and ensure we lend a helping hand to those struggling to pay their way. In fact I’m wrong there: it shouldn’t be seen as a helping hand. They earned it.

THE 125 LEAP

RIDER NUMBERS AREN’T GREAT AT THE NATS AND THE POSSIBLE REASONS ARE PROBABLY THE MOST FRACTIOUS TOPIC IN THE SPORT

Motocross has always been expensive and a motocross bike is no doubt a luxury item. The four-stroke era hasn’t done anyone any favours in the finance department and I believe the original “double the ccs” rule was a mistake and should have been redressed years ago and reassessed each year to keep two-strokes relevant. This is nowhere more evident than when a kid makes the switch from an 85 to a 250F. This is a truly ridiculous scenario and highlights the importance of the 125 and the need to bring it back as an official race class, with the possibility of allowing 150 four-strokes as well. The argument that it’s not fair to the manufacturers who don’t build a 125 (three still do) is redundant and off the point. They shouldn’t have stopped in the first place and by now should at least see the need for the class for the long-term interest of keeping kids riding. The obvious problem is mating a national class with state regulations and, given the poor relations between MA and the state bodies, this may well be too big an ask for some time.

TELEVISION We hear and have heard for years that the Nats need to be on television. There are two ways to get on television. One is when a network sees commercial potential in a sport and pays for the rights, but motocross is in no way big enough for that to happen. The other is when a sport pays its own way onto the network. There are a few fringe sports on TV and plenty more that believe they should be, like Ultimate Frisbee. Yes, Frisbee. They believe their sport is exciting enough to be on TV and in the interest of research I watched exactly 56 seconds of it on You Tube before I couldn’t stand any more. But those guys are convinced it would be a winner. TV would certainly serve one great purpose, which is to attract outside sponsorship by demonstrating to them that their brands can be seen and thus proving value in their investment. However, television can’t be seen as a magic-bullet solution. In fact free-to-air TV is in a steep decline and the number of viewers it would attract may be way lower than you’d think. The amount of time and money spent

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trying to get onto free-to-air TV might not be worth it. In terms of writing a cheque to get airtime, Foxtel could be a better solution but will just piss off everyone without Foxtel. There’s a very real chance that if motocross got onto TV it would fail there. Then what?

NRGTV NRGTV isn’t perfect but there a lot of sports that would kill for that coverage. It’s copped some flak for the lack of viewers round by round, but would those people rather watch exactly the same coverage on TV or are the viewers just not there? Because, should motocross get on TV, it would most likely be the same production values, same number of cameras and perhaps the same commentary. It would look very much like it does now. So again, what if the sport went to TV and the numbers weren’t much better than NRGTV but at an enormous cost to the sport? The well-known problem with NRGTV is that the feed is inconsistent and you may tune in on some rounds to either have no feed or a broken one. There needs to be some perspective on this. This is a huge country and motocross races generally take place in out-ofthe-way areas far from the ever-present blanket of communication methods built-up areas benefit from. Having seen the effort that goes into setting up the broadcast, I don’t buy that it’s just a half-arsed job by WEM. It’s a tough thing to do to broadcast on location. Interestingly, not long before I wrote this, I read a story by the ABC on the growing popularity of online broadcasting and its benefits to local sports like bush rugby league. The viewer numbers quoted in that feature were much the same as the MX Nats but they were seen as a positive and in fact footy clubs are actually paying for these guys to turn up and get

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the game online. I’m sure they have their technical difficulties but, again, overall it’s seen as a positive.

THE MEDIA The athletes are a huge part of the sport’s appeal and it’s hard to think of a time when the riders had a lower profile, so the vital hero factor is missing. It’s easier than ever to get people to know you — just ask Kim Kardashian — but we are so far behind other sports like surfing and mountain biking in our ability to build athlete profiles. And some of this falls on the internal media, but when it comes to the two biggest-selling magazines (there are only two left in print), DIRT ACTION is the last by some years to even feature Australian riders on the cover. The other gave up long ago and I suspect it’s because those issues too often don’t sell well simply because the public doesn’t know who they’re looking at any more and can’t find that connection, that allimportant hero figure. Chad Reed can only do so much on his infrequent visits and Toby Price is doing his bit, winning all around the world and behaving like a completely approachable champion when he is here — so who else is going to step up? This is not an issue unique either to Australia or to motocross but it’s so important to address if the sport wants to be seen outside of its own confines. DIRT ACTION also openly urges many of its advertisers to use Aussie riders in their ads. Check out the Instagram feed — it’s all about Aussie riders and we make the effort to photograph them ourselves and feature them in photo specials that kids can cut out and stick all over their walls or school stuff, just as we did when we were groms. In fact, in any given month you can find several of our original photos in rival publications in the form of ads or news pieces — one

MOTOCROSS HAS ALWAYS BEEN EXPENSIVE AND A MOTOCROSS BIKE IS NO DOUBT A LUXURY ITEM time even a bloody poster. This is down to the fact that we produce so much more better-quality visual content on local riders than anyone else that it eventually fills holes the others can’t. We’ve also developed the online magazine Fast Trakt, which is free and comes out every two weeks to service racing better and in a more timely fashion while retaining the magazine format and long-form read. It’s a gamble that’s never been tried here before but we believe it will grow. Ultimately, that’s up to you guys. If


we’ve got it wrong I might be serving you a burger at the drive-through sometime soon — but, hey, you gotta try, right?

KEVIN WILLIAMS Kevin Williams is the target of much frustration in Australia where it’s something of a pastime to crucify the promoter. I don’t think Kevin gets everything right; I don’t think the clubs do, either, and don’t get me started on MA. But in my experience if you have a problem with Kev then you can have it out with him face to face. Maybe other people have had a different experience but that’s always been mine. I also know he’s in constant contact with the manufacturers who must be happy because they pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into racing in Australia and could put a stop to the whole show should they desire. It’s often said that Kev doesn’t care about the riders. Davey Coombs (AMA) gets the same said about him and Giuseppe Luongo (FIM) cops it more than both combined. I can remember when Phil Christenson was seen as evil incarnate, too. I can’t gel with this view of Kev. I’ve seen him stand over an unconscious rider on the down ramp of a supercross double to protect him in some way from the oncoming field. I don’t know him at all beyond the race track but in my opinion a lot of the criticism is the result of people trying to find a simple solution to a complex problem which, by the way, is the root of most garbled thinking on most topics throughout history. We like things to be neat. Kev can and should bring back prize money, paying down to 20th place. Kev can instigate a 125-only rule for MXD, which should in my opinion be at most an Under17 class and not 19. Again, this will only work if it can be concurrently applied to state racing, though, and that’s almost certain never to happen. These things I believe would have a positive benefit for the sport. It’s seen as expensive to enter a round of the Nats but in reality it’s way less than some other forms of motorcycle racing. And competitive horse riding makes motocross look downright cheap. That said, while a round itself is not overly expensive, a 10-round series is. Still, with the exception of KTM and Husqvarna (thanks to the euro), bike prices haven’t gone up for a few years. You can buy a 450 for well under $10,000 right now. A brand-new RM-Z450 is $9990 without haggling.

No doubt to enter an entire series is a financial hit that can’t be ignored. But if you’re super motivated to enter the pinnacle of motocross racing in this country, where you want to see a RaceSafe truck and want to see some form of live feed and you want it to look good enough to attract sponsors and spectators, is approximately $280 (each class is slightly different) really too much? The one-offs like Finke and Hattah are a lot more expensive but ironically never have any shortage of racers, so why don’t club members flood an MX Nats round when it visits their hometown just for that one race? One huge factor that’s not often talked about is the rise of the ride park. It costs about $50 to go to a ride park and ride all day and this is a huge drawcard that’s most certainly taking potential racers away from the track. It’s a non-competitive environment and there’s no paddock hierarchy. Which leads one to wonder if motocross has outgrown its resources for the time being. The sport may be operating at too high a level to be sustained by the average rider. Maybe the big show is too big and it’s turning the average guy off driving his ute or van into the pits knowing he’s being outspent 20–1 by the trucks. But this is the pinnacle of Aussie MX racing — so what does scaling back look like?

NOT ALL DOOM & GLOOM The good news is that the sport is not dead. It’s not what it was some years ago when energy drink companies couldn’t help but throw money its way but not many sports are truly thriving right now. The problems aren’t just about administration but a frustrating period of particularly poor stewardship by MA hasn’t helped. Also, we’re yet to have a solid supercross series string a succession of years together. If that happens it will help immensely, just as it does in the States. Bike sales are steadying and/or growing. That’s a good thing. People are riding and ride parks and trails around Australia are busy. If MA licence numbers and National MX numbers are down, that’s not the end of the world. This is an expensive fringe sport in competition with everything from ball sports to PlayStations, Facebook, Netflix and Pokémon Go. All we’ve got to do is keep riding. Some things change. Riders come and go, series come and go and sadly even magazines and websites come and go as well. But if we all just keep riding that’s all that matters.

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2016 MOTOCROSS GALLERY

SCENES FROM THE 2016 AUSSIE OUTDOORS

PHOTOGRAPHY ASHENHURST

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he 2016 Motocross Nationals series had a lot going on. Surprise winners, a doping controversy, a visiting American, substandard performances, great racing and even terrible racing — it was all there. Come the end of the series, Yamaha stood as the dominant manufacturer. Dean Ferris won the title that had thus far eluded him, no doubt setting him up to head back to Europe. Two factory riders were excluded at the halfway mark, never to return; a privateer team beat the big guys; and a few riders may only get more chances in 2017 due to the fact that it looks as though there are more seats than bums. After 10 rounds, we learned that the gap between the MX1 top four and the rest of the field is huge. We learned that there are some fast young riders looking to step up in the next few years. We found out just how tenacious Dean Ferris is and that Superpole feels like the most important lap of the day when the points are close in round 10. Toowoomba bagged the award for Round of the Year from Williams Event Management with a fresh look to the iconic track and plenty of spectators

to see it all go down in round nine. Coolum was huge as always with a packed two days of racing and masses of spectators in absolutely perfect weather. The track also had a fresh look that divided people, which is always bound to happen. Next year will see new Hondas, KTMs and Husqvarnas. The Yamahas are fresh, as is the Kawasaki KX250F and Suzuki RM-Z250F. Teams will be busy figuring out the best setups and final lineups. Does Ferris go back to Europe? Will Todd Waters stay with Suzuki? How does Kawasaki fill the two places vacated by the Moss brothers (Matt may come back if found innocent) and can the team hold on to its current sponsorship dollars? Will Lawson Bopping and Luke Styke be fully fit? Will two-strokes play a bigger role in 2017? There are riders not happy with their teams and teams that aren’t happy with their riders. All things staying the same, there will be enough seats available to give underperforming riders another chance — but if they don’t impress then life will be even more difficult when some of the young guys move on up.

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FEATURE: MOTODEVELOPMENT

M O T O D E V THE COMPANY BEHIND MANY THINGS MOTO IN AUSTRALIA IS AN ENIGMA OF SORTS. TO THOSE WORKING IN THE INDUSTRY, MOTODEVELOPMENT IS SYNONYMOUS WITH HIGH-QUALITY MOTOCROSS COACHING, SOME OF THE BIGGEST EVENTS WITH THE WORLD’S BEST RACERS, ADVOCACY FOR THE INDUSTRY, RUNNING A RACE TEAM AND GENERALLY BEING THE VEHICLE THAT TWO OF THE BEST-KNOWN NAMES IN THE SPORT NOW BRING TO YOU DIRECT. STORY NIGEL INGLIS

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e were lucky enough to get a chance to sit down with moto legends and Motodevelopment directors Chris Urquhart and Shane Booth, who graciously took some time out of their busy schedules recently to talk to us and give us a chance to hear about what they’re up to. Since you’re reading this magazine you’ll also want to know about a recent big move by Shane and Chris to Husky after almost 20 years with Yamaha. So let’s take a look at where it all started for them and then hear a little of what’s coming for Motodevelopment and the industry in Australia in general.

What started you in motocross? Shane: Literally a flyer for the local minikhana club that my dad was handed. Dad took me out to the club one Sunday to check it out and I guess I said I like the look of it. He bought me a Honda QR 50 and we gave it a shot and that was the end of Dad’s weekends for the


E L O P M E N T next 20 years! Before I started riding we knew nothing about motocross. Chris: Family friends of ours, the Hardmans (three brothers) from Moree, used to race. I got home from school one afternoon in 1985 and my dad had a brandnew PW50 waiting for me. From there it’s never stopped until this day. You guys seem to have the most popular moto schools running in the country. What’s your secret? Shane: I don’t know that there’s a big secret. We just try to run them professionally and put together a course that’s structured and well presented. We try to use all of our experience as racers and coaches to keep the courses evolving, not only from a technique and skill point of view but also the way we communicate the information to the riders. We really just work on our own thing and don’t get caught up in anything else going on. Chris: We totally get it that the wheel will always be round, so instead of trying to reinvent it we’re

constantly trying to improve our program and keep the exciting events rolling.

What is it about you two that makes it work so well? Shane: Ha. It’s a good question. I guess we both have different strengths when it comes to the back end of the business. We generally have the same take on decisions and usually can take a pretty logical look at things and come up with the same result. I think we’re really lucky to be riding bikes for a living so that also makes things that little bit easier. I also think the fact we live in different states helps; it gives us our own space. It’s not like we’re in the same office every day. The other thing is I’m a little more willing to spend money and he’s a tight-arse, so that balances out really well, too. Chris: Boothy and I are the closest of mates and totally on the same page with most things; however, we’re very different people — the opposite in some cases, but this keeps the partnership fresh and fun. We even laugh at how different we are but how well we get on.

Shane, what does Chris bring to Motodevelopment that leaves you to focus on other things — and what are they? Shane: Urk is great with making things happen; he won’t take no for an answer and can push things through or convince people a little better than me. So he usually handles a lot of the phone calls, whether it’s customers or potential venues, a lot of that side of things. He could sell ice to the Eskimos. Chris: Boothy is a smart guy. He has has some great ideas and totally gets how to make the back end of everything work. I just have to keep him in check with the credit card at times, ha-ha. No, really, it’s a great dynamic. He can make all the back end work like clockwork and I handle most of the front end, getting deals done and dealing with the customers more on a daily basis. How did Motodevelopment begin? Shane: It all started when we were throwing around ideas on how we could do something a little different to

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add to what we were already doing; I guess, looking to expand a little. It began focused on a website and online coaching. We shot a bunch of how-to videos and posted them online. It also gave us a title to run some other events under. At the time we didn’t really know what but we had a few ideas. From there it really started to grow itself and opportunities were presenting themselves that may not have been possible if we hadn’t set up Motodevelopment. So from almost just a website to begin with it has grown into a company that’s now set up to manage and run mostly rider training events but also a few others. Chris: Shane went to live in the USA for a bit as James Stewart’s trainer and I’ve kicked off the Y-AIM Queensland program here. When he landed back in Oz, he called me for a chat and the conversation led to building a website that would host online MX how-to videos. We needed to come up with a name for this so after many chats the name Motodevelopment was decided [on]. You seem to have been with Yamaha forever. How did that relationship start and play out? Shane: My Yamaha relationship started in 1998 while I was racing and I’d raced all of the national circuit right through to 2003 when I had an opportunity to take on more of a role as a coach, I was still racing but only when I had a free weekend from a coaching course. I’d managed the Yamaha Junior Racing team for six years, too, which I enjoyed doing. That’s all recently changed, though, with a move to Husqvarna. It’s a really great fit for us right now and will allow us to grow nationally and also expand on some of the one-off events we’ve been running over the past few years. Chris: I personally had been with Yamaha for 16 years. Recently there have been some changes to the program and with the way Motodevelopment has been growing in the rider training segment the time had come for us to make a switch in brands to Husqvarna. This allows our motocross program to go nationally and opens up many more opportunities. You’ve recently been responsible for bringing the GOAT to Australia. Talk us through how all that happened and how it went. Shane: Talks for that started about 2013, I think it was. It was a little tricky to get schedules to line up so it kind of went quiet; in the meantime, though we did a couple of Moto Master Class courses with both Michael Byrne and Jeff Emig. Jeff is part of the RCU crew so we kind of fired it back up again and finally we made it happen. It was a lot of work but well worth it. It was great to see so many riders support the events and enjoy them. I’ve been lucky enough to spend quite a bit of time in the US at races so I’d seen Ricky ride and race a lot and it was great to give riders here in Oz the opportunity to meet him and ride with him — plus Stanton and Emig, too. All of the guys were great to work with; they put in such a huge effort while they were out here and I think everyone at the courses appreciated it. Chris: A couple of years back we brought Jeff Emig out to Oz for our Moto Master Class. Jeff is involved with the RCU program worldwide and thought it would work to bring it to Oz. After what felt like a million emails back and forth we came to an arrangement with Ricky Carmichael’s manager and away we went. It went off and was great, a huge success for all involved. The guys at Fox also played a huge part in making this happen. Can we expect to see the GOAT and others back any time soon? Shane: The plan is to go again. It all ended up on a positive note and everyone involved is keen to make it

all happen again in 2017. We may hit up different venues and a different state or two. Chris: Definitely. I see AUS-SX is bringing some big names out here to race. Is there a chance these guys will get on board with some coaching for the Aussie-up-and-coming moto dudes? Shane: At this point we haven’t pursued that at all. We just want to focus on making RCU happen again. Chris: I’d say just Carmichael. Talk us through the day-to-day running of Motodevelopment. Shane: Lots of emails and phone calls! Both of us still work three days a week, myself at DIRT ACTION magazine and Urk at Link International, so we just do what we can around that. We’ve developed lots of processes to help automate as much as we can, mostly in the way of taking entries and payments, but all of the organising of venues and the logistics takes up a lot

of time. As an outline we currently run our motocross courses, Moto Master Class, RCU, BMW Off Road Training and BMW’s GS Experience test ride events. We’re also involved in the back end of some other events at a lesser level, too. We just do what needs to be done to make it happen. Chris: Ha-ha! Well, it normally starts with a phone call to Boothy to chat about what we need to attack for the day. Events we have running are Motocross Coaching, BMW Off Road Training, BMW GS Experience and we do a fair bit of behind-the-scenes work for other events: building online forms, collecting data and dealing with customers. On a daily basis we’re answering calls and emails, booking venues, booking catering for events, planning travel and freight, promoting upcoming events, booking venues for new events and of course a lot of riding our motorcycles. For the last four years or so you’ve also been working closely with BMW Motorrad Australia as its exclusive trainers and ambassadors in the

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going fast and it’s a competitive form of riding. It’s a form I still love and I don’t see myself stopping that for a long time. Adventure riding is probably more about the social side and, as the name suggests, adventure — going places you normally wouldn’t or couldn’t using any other vehicle. I’ve met so many great people since being involved and have already made some lifelong friends from it. I’ve grown to really enjoy it; the bikes we ride are awesome and the places we go equally as great. Chris: The biggest difference is that motocross has always been about going as fast as possible and being on the edge most of the time. Adventure riding is more about hitting epic locations and making the ride there a memorable one with sweet roads (dirt and bitumen), good mates and a lot of laughs! I actually love that I have the option to do both on any given day.

booming moto-adventure segment of the market. Talk us through how all that started. Shane: I’ve known Miles Davis, the marketing manager at BMW Motorrad Australia, since I was about 15 and we’ve always remained friends. It came about after a phone call from him asking if we’d be interested and I said, “Leave it with us for a few days and I’ll let you know.” We had to run the idea past some sponsors and no one had a problem with it so we said we’d be up for it. We ticked all the boxes that BMW asked of us and we started the courses. It’s something we really love doing and for me it’s just great to be coaching but at the same time have a refreshing take on it. It’s not competition based like we’ve always been, so that’s nice. It opened up some great opportunities for us and all of the crew at BMW Motorrad are great to work with, so we look forward to a long relationship with those guys.

Chris: It really came about while we weren’t expecting it. Miles Davis came to a MX School about 15 years ago where Boothy and I were starting out as instructors. Instantly, a great bond was formed and we spent many weekends riding and travelling together. Out of the blue one day Boothy got a call from Miles about the adventure-bike training option (BMWORT). I flew to Melbourne and went for a weekend adventure ride and attended an event with Miles. Some epic memories were made. From here we made an agreement with BMW and have never looked back. The whole program has been running great and growing each year. It's a completely different kind of riding. Can you briefly explain to our avid readers the differences between motocross and adventure riding? Shane: I guess the biggest thing is motocross is about

Talk us through the move to Husky and give us some insight into how exciting this is for Motodevelopment. Shane: To be honest, it’s a move that not that long ago we’d never have thought we’d be making, but over some time we felt like things were heading a different direction to what we were looking for. We’re still really motivated to do what we can to give motocross riders an opportunity to be the best they can and to reach whatever goals they have in the sport. This frees us up in many ways to pursue some ideas we’ve had for a while and maybe even dabble in some off-road events, too. Husqvarna is an exciting brand right now that’s on the rise and when the opportunity presented itself it seemed a no-brainer for where we are at right now. It’s great to be working with a brand that has such a rich heritage in motocross yet is so fresh and exciting at the same time. The bikes are great and we’re looking forward to what we can work together on in the future. Chris: I guess it all came about in a fairly casual way to begin with. We had attended a few different events over the past year with the guys from Husky/KTM and both Shane and I were impressed from the outside looking in at how they are doing business and the way everything they do has this real buzz to it. I guess it’s how we try to keep everything we do with Motodevelopment. While we loved the Yamaha product and always will, doing business was becoming beyond difficult from our point of view. There were certain things happening on a management level and let’s just say they weren’t for the better of Motodevelopment or Yamaha in our eyes. We decided we were leaving Yamaha before we even had a deal; we were prepared to leave with nothing. Eventually we had some meetings with Jeff Leisk and Jon Hafey and a game plan was made. It’s exciting times for us and there are some really great plans to roll out in the next couple of years. What’s next for Motodevelopment? Shane: There are a few exciting changes on the go for Motodevelopment in 2017 which will open up the opportunity for some new events, which is going to be fun. We’re committed to our off-road training with BMW and will be charging ahead with our courses and events for them. The plan is for several Moto Master Class courses along with RCU, if that works out. We’re also entertaining the idea of branching into something totally new for us, which hopefully we can talk more about in the coming months. Chris: We ask ourselves this at times. I guess one thing that keeps coming to the surface for us is opening a retail destination store for all things moto. It would definitely have an online option. We really do think with our knowledge and position in the industry we could provide a great place for riders of all disciplines to purchase everything they need to go riding. This is a dream, so let’s see where it lands.

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JUNIOR NEWS

2017 ROUNDUP

IT’S TIME TO CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON FOR THE NEW YEAR It’s nearly Christmas, guys, and you know what that means: time to start dropping some serious hints to Mum and Dad — and, of course, Santa. We’ve done our best to help you out here with a rundown of some of the coolest junior bikes on the planet. Find the one you like and circle it; maybe cut it out and stick it on the fridge or get some tape and stick it on your forehead so everyone gets the hint. All the best and good luck choosing!

HONDA CRF125F

KAWASAKI KLX110

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HUSQVARNA TC 65

HUSQVARNA TC 50

KAWASAKI KLX140

KTM 50 SX


KTM 65 SX

KTM 85 SX

SUZUKI DR-Z70

SUZUKI JR80

SUZUKI RM85

YAMAHA PW50

YAMAHA TTR110

YAMAHA YZ85

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ADVENTURE TIP


TECHNICAL DOWNHILLS GETTING THROUGH TECHNICAL TERRAIN WHEN YOU’RE RIDING DOWNHILL ISN’T EASY, ESPECIALLY ON AN ADVENTURE BIKE STORY & PHOTOGRAPHY SHANE BOOTH

SET YOUR SPEED This is critical. Get it right and you’re on your way to staying in control; go into this stuff too fast and you’re a passenger. Your speed will need to be pretty slow here, probably as slow as you’re comfortable riding. You need to be nice to the bike and also try to pick the best line through this stuff. Don’t ride too slow — that can cause you to lose your balance more easily than you should. Find a sweet spot with the speed: not too slow and not too quick.

GET YOUR WEIGHT BACK The steeper the hill, the more you want to get your bodyweight back. This is for two main reasons: to keep your weight over the rear as much as you can and also to allow you to brace yourself on the bike and be in a more physically efficient position. By leaning back you can really brace yourself off the handlebars and not feel like you’re falling over the front of the bike.

LOOK FORWARD You should be constantly scanning the terrain, looking forward and seeing if you can pick the best line available. Don’t lead yourself into a dead end or a more difficult position — it’s not easy to back up an adventure bike on a downhill like this!

BOTH BRAKES Be sure to use both brakes to control your speed. The front brake is the one doing the majority of the work but

use the rear, too. It will help squat the back of the bike slightly and also help slow the bike down. Avoid locking it, though — that can cause it to skid around sideways. Smooth, progressive use of both brakes is what you want; you’ll be constantly modulating the brake pressure to get it right and match the changing traction conditions, so be ready for that.

ABS ON OR OFF? A tough one to answer but it should be a decision you make yourself based on your knowledge of the system you’re using as well as your experience. Bikes that have off-road-specific ABS systems, like the BMW R 1200 GS in this shot, will handle this type of terrain very well. If you have a road-only ABS system then things may be different.

SEARCH FOR TRACTION Your goal in choosing a line through this stuff is to find the most traction you possibly can. You should be constantly on the lookout for a solid surface your tyres can grip; anything loose will make it easier to lock a wheel and build speed, something you don’t want to do right here. Don’t be scared to get creative in the search for traction. Weave side to side if you need to. Sometimes rocks that are fixed solidly into the ground can offer good traction as well. The better you do this, the easier this stuff will become — and the only way to get better is through experience.

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TRAIL TIP

EXTREME SECTIONS: TYRES YOU MAY NEVER COME ACROSS A SECTION EXACTLY LIKE THIS BUT THE TECHNIQUES LEARNED WILL STILL COME IN HANDY. IF YOU DO PLAN ON RACING SOME ENDURO-X OR THINK YOU MAY COME ACROSS SOME EXTREME SECTIONS, CHECK OUT HOW HUSQVARNA’S MIKE BROWN TACKLES IT STORY SHANE BOOTH PHOTOGRAPHY HUSQVARNA IMAGES

APPROACH Choose your line carefully. Try to pick the one with the best ramp onto the tyres. You’ll find that where everyone else goes will chew out, leaving a steeper face to run into. Depending on how the tyres are stacked, you may actually be able to ride in the join between two tyres — it forms a kind of rut and may help avoid spinning and sliding sideways on the way over. Try to approach with enough momentum so that you don’t have to accelerate too hard once you’re on the tyres. It may sound obvious, but make sure you’re in the standing position and have selected a gear that will provide good, meaty power.

LAUNCHING Here you can see Browny has carried enough momentum to jump off the tyres as if they’re a regular up ramp. Attacking this way requires confidence and skill but it eliminates the chance of the back side being too steep and sending you over the handlebars. If you’re too hesitant and roll over the tyres, the front could drop

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in, causing a crash. It’s also important to point out that he’s built his momentum on the approach and while he was still on the dirt.

FLIGHT If you get to this point you should be right. Here he just lets the bike level out, which puts him back into the central standing position as he looks for his landing.

LANDING Try to judge the landing so you catch the bottom of the built-up dirt ramp; this works like a down ramp and helps smooth out the landing. You should also be back on the throttle at this point to drive the bike away from the landing. Stay strong on the bike and make the suspension absorb the landing. This is where plenty of riders go wrong: they don’t stay strong enough and collapse down on the bike before the suspension has used all of its stroke. You only want to absorb impact with your arms and legs once you’ve run out of suspension.


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108

MOTO MANUAL MOTOCROSS TIP

MOTOCROSS TIP

WHICH RUT? RUTS ARE A FACT OF MOTO LIFE, BUT GETTING IT RIGHT OR WRONG IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WINNING AND LOSING STORY SHANE BOOTH PHOTOGRAPHY HUSQVARNA IMAGES

A

s you improve and start to race higher-profile events, anything from state level and upwards, you’ll find the track prepared a little differently from your average club day. The track will most likely be ripped and well watered; it will be deep and muddy in practice and then, in theory, will come good for racing without the need for additional watering throughout the day. These conditions will produce deep ruts — and lots of them.

BE AWARE When a track forms up with plenty of deep ruts it’s so easy to get flustered and stick to using the same line lap after lap. It’s a trap you need to try to avoid. It all comes down to the level of awareness you have when riding — the more aware you are of the changing track conditions, the more likely you are to choose the best line. But it’s easier said than done. In this case you need to be looking for other lines while dealing with the rut you’re in. It’s a skill that comes with time and experience in these conditions. Pro riders will be scanning the track the whole time

they’re racing at full speed, looking for a better line that may save them a 10th here and a 10th there. Here’s a basic rule to remember: if you’re really struggling with a line, change it! Sounds obvious, but it’s amazing the number of riders you can watch struggle with something lap after lap and not try a new line. Most of the time there will be a better one.

WHAT TO AVOID To choose a good line you need to know what you’re looking for — or looking to avoid. Ruts like the ones here are more unforgiving than most due to the fact that they’ve dried so hard. In softer ruts, if you make a big mistake, sometimes you’ll get away with it because the bike will push out of the rut. Not in these ones — they’re deep and have set like concrete. Once you’re in, that’s it. Occasionally ruts can get too deep, which will cause your legs to get caught up and maybe even some parts of the bike. If you’re facing any of those problems, look for a new line. You won’t always be able to find a good rut; in those cases it’s a matter of picking the best of a bad bunch.

5 TIPS TO PICKING THE BEST RUT 1. For ruts in corners, start with the rut closest to the inside of the corner — it’s the shortest distance around the turn. If it’s no good, work your way one rut at a time to the outside until you find a suitable one. 2. The smoother the arc of the rut, the easier it is to carry speed and stay smooth.

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3. A few bumps in the rut are fine, but if it really affects your drive look for a new line. 4. Deep is OK; bottomless is not. If the rut is too deep it can be slow. Change your line if you can. 5. Keep in mind where the rut leaves you on the exit — this can determine which one you choose.


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110

FEATURE: 2017 YAMAHA YZ250F

BLUE FROTH OUR LONG-TERM YZ250F TEST BIKE GETS ITS FIRST RUNS AND OUR MAN HOP HAS IT HITTING EVERYTHING FROM MOTOCROSS TO GRASS TRACK AND TRAILS STORY & PICS GREG (HOP) MASTERS

S

o what’s the worst thing about the new 2017 YZ250F? Unfortunately for me, at some point it has to go back to Yamaha head office. I’ve had the quarter-litre world beater in my care for a few weeks now and absolutely love it. I was lucky enough to be part of the 2015 DIRT ACTION MX shootout when the new-generation bike was first launched. It impressed the hell out of me then — and so does the 2017 model. Since picking the YZ250F up from Boothy I’ve hit up some of my local bush loops. The strength of the motor at low-to-mid rpm made short work of logs and snotty climbs and there wasn’t any real need to clutch or overrev the bike. I did receive a Yamaha Power Tuner with it when I picked it up but so far there’s been no call for it. The boys at the factory have nailed it, I reckon: the standard map is the goods. It’s also right at home on a grass track. I’d love to do a round or three in the Amcross series on this lightweight weapon. Admittedly, it ran out of legs on some of the

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I DON’T KNOW HOW MANY LAPS I CUT THAT AFTERNOON BUT MY HANDS WERE BLISTERED AND I SLEPT LIKE A CONTENTED FAT BABY longer straights and spent a couple of unfazed seconds here and there on the limiter. But the engine pulls all the way to the limiter and sounds so good when it gets there — you get a little audio prize for holding it on.

R OA D T R I P

There was also a trip to the Louee MX facility in NSW. I arrived around lunchtime Friday to a beautifully prepped MX track. The clay-based surface was packed hard in some spots, reminding me of the Appin track. I don’t know how many laps I cut that afternoon but my hands were blistered and I slept like a contented fat baby. On Saturday morning I moved the bars forward in the triple clamp. At six foot two inches (188cm), I’m a

taller guy with arms like an orangutan. The adjustment made it more comfortable, especially over the jumps. On the Saturday there were more riders on the track so it got a bit rougher. With the bike’s suspension tuned for someone 10kg lighter, it still handled quite well except for a very few parts of the track where it bottomed and felt a bit harsh. At 90kg plus, the suspension is about the only thing I’d modify. In saying that, though, I reckon I cut laps around that track for each cc of the YZF and with a smile on my face all the way. The 2017 YZ250F’s winning pedigree really shone through on the MX track and I could imagine I was riding around on a bike that was really close to factory only a couple of race seasons ago.

DIRT ACTION

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THE POWER SHOT

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PHOTO ASHENHURST

While we shot in the mud and rain, the sun found a clear patch of sky on the horizon to bring an epic sunset, closing out another day in the dirt.

DIRT ACTION

113


S A M T S I R H C R O ALL I WANT F IS A YEAR OF OOD RIDE! AG L L A O T D N A , L L A O T MERRY XMAS

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PARTING SHOT PHOTO DA ARCHIVES

Troy Dorron. Check. Motostar helmet? Check. Shot boots? Check. Mullet? Check.

122

DIRT ACTION


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