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#186 FREE

KTM Puts Sport In Sport Touring

Inside: K TM 1290 Super Duke GT • Geezer X Games • X Games • X Games


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Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly® #186 August 2017

Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly®

Table of Contents August 2017

PUBLISHER Victor Wanchena

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From The Hip

MANAGING EDITOR Bruce Mike

REVIEW WRANGLER David Soderholm

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All The News That Fits Road Rash

COLUMNISTS Paul Berglund Thomas Day

CONTRIBUTORS

Photo by Chris Tedesco/ESPN

Steve Tiedman

X Games rookie Destin Cantrell styled his way to a gold medal in the X Games fan-vote competition for Moto X Best Whip on Saturday night in Minneapolis.

WEBMASTER

From The Hip

Julie S. Mike Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly® is published nine times a year by: Hartman Press, Inc. 7265 Balsam Lane North Maple Grove, MN 55369 Phone: 763.315.5396 email: bruce@mnmotorcycle.com www.mnmotorcycle.com Subscriptions are available for $14.00 a year (U.S. funds). See subscription form below. Advertising inquiries: sales@mnmotorcycle.com 763.315.5396 Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly encourages your submissions. M.M.M. will edit all accepted submissions and retains nonexclusive, multiple use rights to work published in M.M.M. Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly will return submissions only if accompanied by an SASE. “Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly” is a registered trademark. Copyright 2017 by Hartman Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Bike Review 2017 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT

By Bruce Mike

s I write this it’s the middle of summer and not my favorite time of year for motorcycle riding. So my most recent motorcycle activity was attending the X Games. I had never attended an extreme sports event so I didn’t really have any expectations. I liked the idea of watching in an air conditioned environment. I’m not a big fan of hot and humid. My X Games experience started with a media orientation early in the week. We got a tour of U. S. Bank Stadium and got to see all of the ongoing construction for the event. They brought in hundreds of yards of concrete, thousands of yards of dirt and I have no idea how much lumber and steel. It was amazing. When it was over they had a week to break it all down. My original plan for attending the event was to just go to the motorcycle related events. I’m glad I took in some of the other too. I was at the “Bank” Thursday afternoon and watched a bunch of BMX and skateboard practice as well as the Women’s Skateboard Street event. It was all pretty amazing. I’m not a young man but I did ride a skateboard in my late teens and I currently have a long board that I got from Aerostich that I’ve ridden a few times. We never did a whole lot of tricks on our skateboards, all we cared about was speed. I did have a pretty good crash being pulled behind a car once but I landed uninjured in the grass so I just thought it was cool. The X Games started in 1995. I wish they would have started in 1975 because then maybe I could have got involved. I never had any interest in mainstream sports but the events I watched at this international competition would have been right up my alley. I spent a lot of time riding wheelies and jumping stuff on my Schwinn Stingray as well as small displacement motorcycles and dirt bikes. In fact, that’s still my favorite kind of off-road riding. Just screwing around with jumps, hill climbs and impromptu race tracks. I guess the older I get the more I revert back to my youth. I’m not nearly as fearless or reckless so maybe you do gain a little wisdom with age. Thursday night I attended the flat track races at MOA and was not disappointed. The racing was great. The main event was won by a non-factory rider and that’s always nice. I’m guessing they didn’t expect the crowd they had because the food trucks ran out of food and there was a shortage of seats and portapotties. Way to show up Minnesota! I’m sure ESPN will be better prepared next year. My attendance plan for the X Games was altered when Friday turned out to be a rare 70 degree July day so I spent it riding Rustic Roads in Wisconsin. Saturday night and Sunday I attended the motorcycle events and was blown away by these amazing athletes. The amount of time they spend having to practice the tricks they do is mind boggling. You can’t learn this stuff without your fair share of crashes. I know a lot of their practice is in foam pits but they still have to pull it off when the competition begins. I had way more fun than I thought I would. I’m already stoked and pumped for next year when I’ll see even more sick tricks. I think I got that line right based on what I heard from the crowd. MMM

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Geezer With A Grudge Three Rules to Riding

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Tales From The Road Big Venue, Big Fun

Cover photo by David Soderholm

Review Bikes Provided By Moon Motorsports 3613 Chelsea Rd W Monticello, MN 55362 (763) 295-2920 moonmotorsports.com

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Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly® #186 August 2017

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All The News That Fits the 18-foot-high Freestyle ramp launching 29 feet 7 inches for the win.

Bike Beef Continues

Photo by Chris Tedesco/ESPN

X-Games The X-Games roared into town the past month, bringing some world-class athletes and competition to the state. First up were the MMM favorite Harley-Davidson Flat Track Final held at the Mall of America. A dirt track was constructed on the east side of the MOA. At roughly a 1/3 of a mile the racing was close. The event featured Hooligan Class races to warm up the crowd. These are loosely based on the run-what-ya-brung races typically featuring twin cylinder bikes like H-D Sporters and Buells. Local legend Terry Vestal made a good showing for the local talent. For the main event it was all #69 Sammy Halbert who ran away with the win. He got out front early and never looked back to take his first ever gold in the Harley Davidson Flat Track Final. The wild and crazy 29-year-old from Washington state snuck into the lead early and kept it clean and smart throughout the race fending off last years champ Jared Mees and his Indian Factory Team teammate Brad Baker in third. Local rider and Go-Moto envoy Jake Mataya made it to the LCQ round, but didn’t finish well enough to get the transfer to the main. Rumors are he was riding with a broken shoulder on a borrowed bike. Friday night was the Pacifico Moto X Freestyle Finals where Levi Sherwood rode away

with his first gold medal. In a run highlighted by three double backflips including a nohander to cap it off, the Australian’s daring riding stood apart from the rest of the field earning a score of 92.33. It’s been a long time coming for Sherwood who has been competing in the X Games since 2010 when he was just a teenager. Last years champ Josh Sheehan climbed to second on his final run scoring a 90.66 while fellow Aussie Clinton Moore took Bronze with a 90.00

Saturday the bar was raised, literally, as riders sent it to the sky in the LifeProof Moto X Step Up Final. This event is quite literally a high jump contest for motorcycles. In the end, it was a showdown between Jarryd McNeil and Bryce Hudson, who after eliminating the other four riders, both launched an incredible 43-feet above the ground. With the bar lifted to a staggering 44-feet, Hudson failed to clear the mark nicking the bar with his back tire on both attempts. McNeil however did not, whipping the back of his bike up and over the pole for his second consecutive victory in the event.

In the final event of the weekend, The Real Cost Quarter Pipe Big Air, it was another X Games rookie, Colby Raha, who took home the gold medal. Raha battled it out with Tyler Bereman for the highest air of the day. Needing to clear Beremen’s mark of nearly 28 and a half feet, Raja sent it to the sky off

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told a congressional committee he would not remove motorcycles from a proposed import tariff while negotiations continue in a dispute with the European Union over U.S. beef imports. At issue is a proposed 100 percent tariff (!-ed.) on 51cc to 500cc motorcycles imported to the United States from manufacturers in the European Union. The bikes are included in a long list of products that would be the subject of tariffs as part of the long-running dispute over U.S. beef imports. In his testimony he stated he was “sympathetic” to American motorcyclists, dealerships and others, but he refused to take action. The American Motorcycle Association has continued expressing their extreme concern over the dispute. AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman responded with a statement, “He has chosen the U.S. beef industry over American motorcyclists and Americans who own and operate motorcycle dealerships.”

Marketing or Genius? Earlier this year Harley-Davidson convinced all the residents of the town of Ryder, ND to become “Riders” for this riding season and is teaching all 84 residents to ride a motorcycle. Ryder, located south of Minot (Why not Minot? – ed.) has agreed to change its name to Riders for the year. In addition to the rider training, Harley-Davidson helped refurbish the town’s water tower, painting it to mirror the design of the famous water tower that sits atop Harley-Davidson headquarters in Milwaukee. MMM will buy a slice of pie to the first rider that returns from Ryder/Riders, ND with picture of their bike at the city limit sign. Two slices if you are doing a smoky burnout.

new world record holder for the most motorcycle engines started (3,184) and motorcycle horns sounded simultaneously (3,177), city officials announced recently. Ben Backhouse, head of records management for Asia Pacific of Guinness World Records Ltd., said they have approved the city’s application for the two world records that were set April 29. The record attempts were among the highlights of the city’s ongoing 1st Motorcycle Festival and the 23rd national convention of the National Federation of Motorcycle Clubs in the Philippines. There was plenty of planning including a dry run of the event the day prior. Based on the numbers above, we wonder what happened to the last seven horns?

J&P Founder Honored City officials in Anamosa, IA honored the founder of the National Motorcycle Museum, founder of J&P Cycles, and AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer John Parham, by naming a street after him during the J&P Cycles motorcycle rally held in June. Parham, who founded the aftermarket parts retailer, J&P Cycles, as well as the National Motorcycle Museum, which is located in Anamosa, passed away in April of this year after a long battle with pulmonary fibrosis. He was 62. The dedication included a presentation by Anamosa City Administrator Alan Johnson, the Parham family and a celebratory first ride on Parham Drive featuring 15 motorcycles. Parham was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2015. MMM

Why not? Guinness World Records has officially recognized Koronadal City, Philippines as the

Photo Coutesty of Harley-DavidsonMotor Company

This month’s Road Rash is an oldie but a goodie.

Every issue 1996 thru 2017 — www.mnmotorcycle.com


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Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly® #186 August 2017

KTM 1290 Super Duke KTM

By Steve Tiedman

- READY TO RACE. This is the dashboard statement that greets the rider of the 2017 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT. It should be a warning to you. Moon Motorsports in Monticello, MN, had set us up with this sample from Austrian motorcycle-maker KTM, calling the 1290 Super Duke GT a “sports tourer”. (Yet they use the initials “GT”, from the Italian term Gran Turismo, i.e. Grand Tourer. Perhaps “ST” would be more accurate.) Now, I own what is considered to be a traditional sport tourer. It’s portly in comparison, has a big in-line 4-cylinder engine, spacious storage capacity, and it will run all day long like a (portly) gazelle across the plains of the Serengeti. The 1290 Super Duke GT? It’s a lean, muscular cheetah. And it wants to eat my gazelle. Approaching the bike, I wasn’t thinking sport tourer. I got the sense that it is equal parts “sport bike”, mild “adventure sport”, and “sport tourer”, always with an emphasis on “sport”. The engine was donated from the KTM Super Duke R naked sport bike, with new cylinder heads and crankshaft. The ergonomics are similar to some adventure sport bikes, meaning you sit a bit taller and upright, your legs are fairly relaxed, and the seating is good. For touring, KTM gives you almost 500 pounds of people/gear capacity, modestly-sized saddle cases, and optional rear shelf and tail box. Hmmm, this seems like a nice combination. And it is. If KTM is trying to change the definition of “sport tourer”, they may be on to something. Hyperbole aside, what it is not is a Super Duke R with luggage. At about 500 pounds wet (140 lighter than mine!), KTM refined the chrome-moly steel tube chassis for additional duties by creating a cockpit made for all-day 2-up riding. (As a reminder, my dimensions are 6’ tall, 30” inseam, 215 pounds.) The seat height comes in a tad under 33”, with a reasonable kick-over height, yet in the “Comfort” mode the electronically adjusted suspension gave me the ability to be just about flat footed on the ground. From KTM’s website- “The innovative WP semi-active suspension system introduces a new level of comfort and safety in motorcycle riding. The rider can select three spectrums of use: ‘Comfort’, ‘Street’ and ‘Sport’, while the SCU (Suspension Control Unit) adapts the damping rates in real-time to the riding surface and rider, based on the information provided by a set of stroke sensors and accelerometers. It also reads the vehicle load, making the suspension suited to different weights.” Yeah, well, all I know is that the suspension works very well. In Comfort mode, all-day touring suspension is provided. I was deliberately hitting small potholes and sunken manhole covers and the suspension made it feel like those dips were filled with feather pillows, without ever feeling wishy-washy. Frost-heave lumps went from spinal disk compressing whacks (my sport

Photo by Steve Tiedman

I got the sense that it is equal parts “sport bike”, mild “adventure sport”, and “sport tourer”, always with an emphasis on “sport”. tourer) to soft thuds that were quickly forgotten. High speed straight lines and twisty, curvy, broken surfaces were all handled smoothly, assuredly, and without drama. Sport mode, on the other hand, is best left for the race track. On public roads, it will wear you out. I didn’t try Street mode (because I thought Comfort mode was perfect for real world riding), but I’d go to Street mode if I was canyon carving on good pavement. Ergonomics- the aforementioned seat is probably one of the best stock seats I’ve ever had the pleasure of planting my rear end upon. KTM gets it. Wide, flat, and level, yes. Firm, yes. Supportive, yes. Room to move around, yes. Good ground reach, yes. My limited time with the seat gave me no issues at all, and I’ll admit that only an all-day ride would prove its tourer worthiness, but thus far, the factory seat gave me no reason to suggest planning for a rebuild or replacement. In terms of other human contact points, the handlebar is adjustable to four different positions (in addition to rotating the bar within the clamps) to allow fine-tuning of reach and wrist angle. Sweet. No need yet to order riser kits, just grab a Torx driver to try different positions. The brake, clutch, and gear shift levers are all multi-position as well, to suit your finger reach and foot size. Even the toe nubbins on the foot levers can be relocated. (Hmmm, I wish my bike had all of this adjustability.) The windshield is manually adjusted over a two-inch range, fast and tool-free. I tend to like a larger windshield, but this bikini fairing-sized windshield, along with the shapes of the fairing panels and gas tank, did a fine job of moving clean air around me at every height setting. The highest setting delivered the bulk of the air stream at about shoulder height, but the lowest setting was my favorite. On high-speed roads, the lowest setting brought the air stream down to mid-torso, and the air flow was so smooth that the wind was acting as a cushion against my upper body, relieving body weight from my hands on the bars. Minor buffeting was had only in heavy, high-speed traffic, when hitting turbulent air mainly from large trucks. (Yep, it performs better than my sport tourer and its large aftermarket windshield.)

Photo by David Soderholm

Radially mounted Brembo M50 four-piston Monoblock calipers. The best Brembo makes.

The 1290 Super Duke GT has a water cooled, 1301cc, 75-degree V-twin engine putting out a whopping 173hp and 106 ft-lb of torque. It’s connected to the 6-speed transmission with a hydraulic slipper clutch, and it all works beautifully. The transmission, with just a small tap of the foot lever, clicks into gear smoothly every time. Neutral was easy to find. The slipper clutch engagement was good, clutch pull wasn’t heavy, and from my first launch I never had an issue with getting under-

way. But the engine… the term “beast” is found on KTM’s own website in regard to this engine. It will buck a little bit if lugging under 2000rpm, but once beyond that point, watch out. I averaged 39mpg on 91 octane. On the road, I couldn’t give a rip about quarter-mile race track stats, or claimed power output. Instead, my “butt dyno” confirms that this engine is all business. There seems to be little flywheel effect, and it wants to rev. Of the engine management drive modes, “rain mode” kept the acceleration well controlled and makes for sensible fuel delivery in everyday/commuting situations. Acceleration is fast in “street mode”, again, best left to riding in lightly populated environments on the open road. Unleashing 173hp in “sport mode…” like the corresponding suspension setting, it would be best reserved for closed circuits. Leave the luggage at home (or in the hotel room in the town you traveled to) and go for a nice track day! On the open road, the high revving engine was happiest and smoothest in the low 5000rpm range. This related nicely to 4th gear/65mph, 5th gear/75mph, 6th gear/ticket. But the engine easily revved way beyond the 5000rpm range. Honestly, with this incredible power and its fast delivery, it was challenging to keep this motorcycle at posted speeds. You’ve been warned. Fortunately, the big, interlocked Brembo brakes have no problem bringing this beast under control. Grabbing them hard can give you the feeling that the bike will instantly stop but you will keep going. The bike is loaded with all kinds of safety features such as anti-lock brakes and programmable traction control and stability control. Is there anything I want to change? Yes, 2 things. #1- give the saddle cases the interior volume their outer lids purport to provide, the sculpted boxes rob valuable touring space; and #2, a shorter reach to the turn signal button. I wear a large size glove, but I had to partly release my grip to reach the turn signal button. Lastly, you’ll need KTM’s front and rear “lifting gear” (wheel stands) to tend to chain and tire maintenance; there is no center stand. There is so much more to share about this wonderful motorcycle (the comprehensive owner’s manual, heated grips, and cruise control for starters), but for that I’ll direct you to the KTM website, or better yet, visit your KTM dealer and get all the information you need. If you seek a pure-bred performance bike that can take you and your gear across the state in comfort, the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT may satisfy your needs and wants. Thanks to Kyle, Joel, and Amber at Moon Motorsports.

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MMM


Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly® #186 August 2017

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e GT — Ready To Race ity WP Semi-Active suspension. It monitors the suspension as you are riding and actively adapts the damping rates in real time according to the data collected through the suspension. It also reads the load on the suspension and makes automatic adjustment according to the weight on board. WOW. If that’s not enough – It also has three modes (Comfort / Street / Sport). It’s noticeably plusher in comfort and stiffer in sport (still quite yielding on bumps) but regardless of the setting, it always feels taught, athletic and buttoned down in a way that only high quality suspension can. All bumps are smothered and rounded off while keeping the chassis sharp, accurate and on track. It’s fantastic, and I would have no problem adapting this GT from street to track by just changing the suspension dash setting. Did I mention the brakes?? They are only radially mounted Brembo M50 four-piston Monoblock calipers. The best Brembo makes. They have a radial brake pump for massive feel and grip 320 mm discs up front. The M50’s come equipped with a racing ABS system attached to them…..state of the art…..and once again – brilliant. The racing ABS allows heavy braking, even when leaned waaaay over. I’m running out of superlatives for them.

Photo by David Soderholm

READY TO RACE

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By David Soderholm

et’s look at a little KTM history. The founding began in 1934 when Hans Trunkenpolz opened a “fitters and car workshop” in Mattighofen Austria. The KTM name itself first appeared in 1953, and in 1954 three KTM R125 tourist motorcycles raced the “Arlberg-Express” train from Paris to Vienna. This was a distance of 1300 kilometers and the KTM’s won by over 2 hours. KTM was on the map. In 1992 Stefan Pierson and Cross industries took possession of and revived KTM. Looking at their rich winning race history he coined the term “READY TO RACE”. In 1994 someone in the KTM shop chopped up an LC4 powered 620 enduro with an angle grinder, fitted street tires to it and the first pure asphalt KTM – the 620 duke was born. The bike quickly established the aggressive attitude that KTM would bring to the street and “READY TO RACE” street bikes were born. Twenty three years later, that message still appears on the digital display of KTM’s when you turn on the key. That message appeared on the 2017 1290 Super Duke GT when I turned it on in the Moon Motorsports parking lot. After riding the Super Duke less than 5 miles, I knew KTM takes that phrase seriously. It’s not just a marketing slogan. Sports Tour my ass. This thing is a thrilling top notch race bike with an amazing suite of riding aids and ergonomics built in to make it work. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a perfectly livable daily sport touring bike, but that little devil in the KTM helmet sitting on your shoulder will never let you treat it that way. He’ll want you to set it in Sport mode (Engine and Suspension) and the throttle hammered WFO. That’ll leave you breathless to the tune of 173 hp and the world thrown in a fast forward blur.

mode calms the engine down quite a bit and would work well as a city mode also. Street gives it full ponies, just softening the power hit as you twist the throttle. Sport is as you would think. Sharp response and wheel lofting at will in the first three gears. Response in sport mode is thrilling, but street is probably the best daily compromise. Attached to that engine is a fantastic 6 speed gearbox. It snicks through the gears like the proverbial bolt action on a high quality rifle. The transmission comes equipped with a quick shifter. I actually found it amazingly smooth and useful on the street running up through the gears. On downshifts it’s also a smooth operator with the slipper clutch and Motor Slip Regulation (MSR), a system that monitors the back torque of the engine and blips the throttle to quickly match engine speed to wheel speed. This avoids tire hop or drifting at corner entry. The clutch itself is smooth and amazingly light in operation considering the ferocious engine that’s attached to it. The chassis and suspension easily keep up with that beast of an engine. It’s equipped from the factory with race spec qual-

The crazy thing with this amazing collection of race quality parts is the equally amazing set of parts that make the 1290 a great street bike. Fantastic ergonomics and saddle allow long enough riding stints to drain the 6.08 gallon tank in comfort. The multi adjustable windscreen provides just the right amount of buffet free air. The high quality bars and switch gear include comfort features like heated grips and cruise control. The GT also comes with a nicely finished, easily removed and robust feeling set of hard bags that look great on the bike. Granted, they aren’t the absolute capacity kings, but still hold plenty for a weekend getaway. It’s got all the goods to make a great daily bike. At the end of the day when you pull this SPORT touring predator into the garage, you will slowly get off and linger. Beholding the fantastic specimen of bike porn you just got off of. You’ll revel in the quality of the welds on the trellis frame, the finish of the engine, the architecture of the single sided swingarm, while caressing the edges on the stealth fighter body work. Then you’ll thank KTM for granting the wish you never knew you had. And remember……It’s READY TO RACE anytime you are. MMM would like to extend a huge thanks to Kyle and Joel Erickson at Moon Motorsports for providing us with this GT. They have an amazing collection of Motorcycles (Honda / Yamaha / Ducati / KTM / BMW / Triumph / BRP / Motus / Polaris) to choose from! Well worth your short drive up 94…….

Let’s talk about that engine first. KTM lifted the engine from the naked 1290 Super Duke R. It is nicknamed “the beast”. It’s a 1301 cc liquid cooled v 75° twin that cranks out 173 hp @ 9500 rpm and 106.2 pound-feet of torque at 6,750 rpm. That’s a lotta go power. It’s loaded with torque all over the place. The engine revs quick and pulls like a freight train. All the while sounding like a motogp wannabe. It has traction control (MTC) and three different riding modes to play with. The amount of traction control varies according to the riding mode used. Having it in sport and running around some of my favorite Wright county backroads allowed some darkies to be laid on corner exits. I’ve never felt confident enough to do that on the street on any bike, but was with this GT. Some of that confidence is from the brilliant chassis, but this MTC is extremely well dialed in and no doubt contributed in a big way. As far as the throttle response in the modes themselves, rain

MMM

Photo by David Soderholm

Street gives it full ponies, just softening the power hit as you twist the throttle.

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Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly® #186 August 2017

Geezer With A Grudge

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Three Rules to Riding

By Thomas Day

ack in the 80’s, I went to a lot of L.A. Laker games, especially when Showtime wasn’t playing someone in the championship hunt because I could get scalped tickets cheap right when the game started. About half-time, the rich and famous folks would bail and I could filter down to the floor seats. In a game against Philly, Magic slipped a half-court pass through everyone and nailed Vlade Divac, who was standing under the goal, in the chest, knocking him on his butt, and putting the ball in the bleachers. Without slowing down, Magic ran a loop around the opponent’s end of the court, grabbed Divac by the jersey, yanked him up, hauled him down court, while saying (loudly), “Three rules to basketball, Vlade: Look, look, and look.” In the MSF rider education programs, we’ve sort of tried to instill the same religion. We spend a lot of time telling our students to “turn your head,” because you can’t look unless you’re aiming your eyes at what you’re supposed to be seeing. It’s a good start, but it’s just a start. The old school MSF program harped on the idea that “you go where you’re looking.” There is some reality to that claim, but outside of object-fixation you also have to steer where you’re looking for that to happen and not all beginning or experienced riders know

“Changing directions is only part of the vision game on a motorcycle. You can’t anticipate the next goofy move from a distracted driver unless you are looking for it”.

how to steer a motorcycle. Just looking at where you want to go isn’t enough, but it’s the first thing you have to do to get there. Changing directions is only part of the vision game on a motorcycle. You can’t anticipate the next goofy move from a distracted driver unless you are looking for it. The more you look, the more you’ll see. I don’t mean just the broad overview of looking for vehicles on the road. I mean looking for details. It’s nice that you’re trying to take in all of the cars on the road, but you ought to be trying to get a good look at their drivers, too. I don’t mean trying to catch the eye of the babe in the convertible. I mean get an idea of who everyone piloting a vehicle in your immediate vicinity really is: young, old, male, female, distracted, attentive, aggressive, happy, sad, mad, sane, and plain old crazy. ‘Dis me for stereotyping people and doing that nasty profiling thing, but this is about survival. The worst thing that can happen to me for being over-cautious is that I keep rolling down the road jelly-side-up. Maybe even more important than doing a psychological profile of your highway competitors is making a judgement of the driving skill. For example, if a guy is turning left into an intersection while looking right or at a passenger in his car or down at his POS cell phone, the guy is a clueless moron who is a hazard to your life. Create distance between you and this idiot as quickly

as possible. Try to get some other, much heavier, vehicle between you and Dumbo the Moron. Another example of a flashing warning sign is significant damage to the front end of the vehicle. This character is a tailgating bozo who imagines himself to be a NASCAR driver but who has the skills of a 3-year-old in a bumper car. Once you’ve bought into the idea that you have to look where you want to go and look out for all of the crazy folks in cages and on foot and on and in every other kind of vehicle on the road, you have to start looking for escape routes. Everything from an empty lane to a drainage ditch to a flower bed is a legitimate escape route if you can get there safely. So, while you’re scanning for crazy people you are also looking for ways to escape from crazy people. The only advantage a motorcycle has is agility. We can fit into spaces other vehicles can’t go. We sometimes have suspensions and ground clearances that allow us to go where no other vehicle can travel. (If you don’t have more suspension than a Honda Accord, maybe you should reconsider your motorcycle choice.) We can turn faster, stop quicker, and accelerate more rapidly than 99% of the overpriced heavyweights on the road. The only way we can safely take advantage of those advantages is to be constantly scanning for escape routes. So, “Three rules to motorcycling, Vlade: Look, look, and look.” MMM

Every issue 1996 thru 2017 — www.mnmotorcycle.com


Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly® #186 August 2017

Tales From The Road

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By Paul Berglund MMMRoadTales@gmail.com

he X-Games came to town. While I’m not their target audience I went ahead and watched the motorcycle parts. Thursday was flat track racing at the Mall of America. They, the X-Games people, built an entire dirt track in a large parking lot next to the mall. Parking was free, admission was only $10 and the concession stands were selling food and drink at a fraction of typical “event” prices. There were large bleachers with an excellent view of the track and a huge screen to watch the action, commentary and replays on. Even the sound system was top notch. My only gripe was they played music constantly. While the announcers were talking and even during the races. At times speaking to the person next to me was impossible. I guess the X in X-Games stands for eXtreme. There were two pit areas, one for the amateurs that run in the Hooligan class and one for the professionals. I got a chance to walk through both pit areas and I saw that the Hooligans were all riding various types of Harley Sportsters and the gear they wore was a mix of off-road armor and jerseys to race leathers. It was a wild mix of men and women with different budgets and interpretations of what a flat track race should be. On the professional side I saw shiny big rig trucks and factory backed teams from Harley and Indian. I didn’t count all the teams, but the Harley Street Rod was the most popular bike of choice, followed by the Indian flat track bike (that’s not available to the public yet) and then a group of Kawasaki’s and then Yamaha’s. There may have been more brands, but I couldn’t pick them out. The Harley and the Indian bikes are poster worthy. Both company’s have come up with

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Big Venue, Big Fun beautiful bikes that are ready for prime time television. I was really looking forward to seeing them in action. Up first were the Hooligans. They did not disappoint. The racing was fast and very fun to watch. I would highly recommend you find a local flat track near you and go watch. It was a blast. There are several heats and a final, all of which made the $10 entry seam like a bargain. The pros were up next and they looked great in racing leathers and shiny bikes. When the flag dropped and the first race started, I was amazed at how much faster these guys were. The X-Games brought in some of the best riders in the world and they put on a hell of a race. The crowd was on it’s feet for every heat. Friday, Saturday and Sunday the motorcycle part of the X-Games were held in the US Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis. Friday was a near perfect day and I was still fired up from the Flat Track racing, so I went out riding for the day in Northern Wisconsin. Much fun was had. Saturday I was in the stadium. It was my first visit to the US Bank Stadium and that itself was a spectacle. What the X-Games people had built inside the building was amazing. The place was filled with ramps, hills of dirt and a huge towering skate board jump. They had worked day and night for weeks to pull it off. There were two areas made with pored concrete for the skate boards and BMX bikes. All for four days of the X-Games. The largest part of the floor space was given over to the BMX bicycles and X-Moto motorcycles. I sat down in my seat just as the X-Moto high jump was starting. I could relate to the Flat Track racing. I know I could ride a motorcycle around the track kind of like a racer would do. I would be slow, but it would be possible. Everything I saw the X-Moto riders do was impossible. I

Photo by Chris Tedesco/ESPN

X Games kicked off the first of four days in its new summer home of Minneapolis on Thursday with a bonanza of events, starting with skateboarding and finishing with Harley-Davidson Flat Track Racing, in which Sammy Halbert (No. 69, not pictured) took the win. don’t know how they did it. Well I do actually, HUGE amounts of talent, olympic levels of conditioning and no fear whatsoever. Just to rub it in they did all this on basically stock two stroke MX dirt bikes. The high jump was literally that. Just like a track and field event where a person would sprint towards a high bar and jump over it, that’s what these riders did on dirt bikes. They had a short 20 foot run up to a ramp that made a very quick transition from the horizontal floor to the vertical face of the ramp. The bike and rider would shoot straight up in the air and using his body and rear brake (locking up the rear brake while in the air transfers all the rotating force of the rear wheel into the chassis of the bike causing it to rotate) twist the bike over the bar without knocking it down. Then they fell 30 to 40 feet depending on where on the downward sloping ramp they landed. The landing part alone was crazy. It was like riding off the roof of your two story house and landing in your backyard on a dirt bike. Simple. The jumping part was more complicated. The bar started out at 34 feet.

The winning jump cleared 44 feet. The rider’s head was over 50 feet in the air when his tires cleared the bar at 44 feet. All this while tossing a 240 pound dirt bike over a pole in midair. The other X-Moto events were just as impressive. I would watch a rider perform a trick that I thought wasn’t possible and then I’d turn to the one of the Gigantic high definition television screens on ether end of the stadium and watch the replay. Yep, it’s possible. Oh and look, when they play it back in slow motion, you can see he landed the bike without his hands on the bars. Fantastic. The X-Games of 2017 are over, but they are coming back next year. I didn’t have that much interest in all the other activities, like skate boarding and live bands, but all the athletes were clearly world class and I could appreciate the amount of skill and discipline that went into each of their sports. It was all highly entertaining and worth the time and money to go see it in person. I’ll be going back in 2018. MMM

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Moto X Step Up defending gold medalist Jarryd McNeil didn’t set a height record on Saturday, but since the record bar was set at 47 feet by Ronnie Renner back in 2012, no one has jumped over 40 feet in the event. McNeil looked like he could have gone as high as 50 feet, but with his last competitor going out at the 43-foot mark, he won the gold when he easily cleared the bar at 44.

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Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly - August 2017  

MMM 186