Page 1

SEPT - OCT

ISSUE #58

RACING

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Inside

SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2016 // ISSUE #58

64 BIKE: KTM’s 2017 300EXC The story behind Daniel Sanders’ two-stroke, which just won the AORC’s Outright title.

12

10

20

EDITORIAL

FRAMED

Matt Phillips becomes Australia’s most successful dirt bike export of all time.

Eye candy for those with an appetite for dirt.

16

32

HIGH DEF

BIKE: 2017 BETA RR RANGE

Cinema-grade content you really ought to eyeball.

Small but judicious upgrades translate into big performance gains.


44 PICTORIAL: 2016 AORC We reflect on the series’ landmark moments and standout performers.

84 PROFILE: JACK SIMPSON The young bloke who’s taken the off-road and desert racing scenes by storm.

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74

BIKE: BMW F 800 GS

SPORT: AUS-X OPEN PREVIEW

An icon in adventure circles for a decade, but is it still competitive?

The inside line on the biggest Aussie vs Yank dirt-bike showdown ever!

110

127

PROFILE: JOSH GREEN

PRODUCT: NECKBRACE GUIDE

The anguish of injuries, and the upside of being sidelined from racing.

Which brand should your neck be embracing, and why?

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133

BIKE: SHERCO 450SEF-R

PROFILE: 3 PRIZED POSSESSIONS

Inside the cost-effective mods made to our long-term project bike.

Tye Simmonds reveals the three items he treasures most. 11


TRANSMOTO EDITORIAL

OZ’S #1

EXPORT ANDY WIGAN

L

eaning back in his chair, Fabrizio Azzalin orders another bottle of wine from the passing waitress and resumes his story. Like most Italians, the CH Husqvarna team owner has a dramatic streak. He speaks with a strong accent and flamboyant hands, and he has us buckled over with laughter. It’s the Sunday night of the 2013 Enduro World Championship in Portugal – Rounds 7 and 8 of the 14-round series – and the newest addition to Azzalin’s race team, Australia’s Matt Phillips, has just gone 1-1 and consolidated his lead in the EJ-class standings. Along with Aussie enduro stalwarts, Geoff Ballard and Peter “Foodge” Burrell, I’ve joined Phillips and a few of the CH Husky team guys at a restaurant in the local fishing village to celebrate their victory.

FUTURE7MEDIA

The table is overflowing with traditional Portuguese dishes – fried sardines, garlic squid, grilled groper – and no one’s too bothered with minding their manners. Azzalin tops up everyone’s wine glasses and launches into a series of hilarious stories about “the Stefan Merriman years”; about the Australian’s unconventional training techniques and bike set-up, and the other two world titles he should have won with CH Husky a decade ago. It’s clear that Merriman opened the long-time EWC team’s eyes to an alternative way of doing things, and to the riding talent in Oz. Azzalin signed two other Australians – Chris Hollis and now Matt Phillips – in the years since, and I ponder the coincidence that all three have also raced for Geoff Ballard’s Yamaha team.

“I think Italians and Australians both understand that there is a time to be serious and a time to have fun,” Azzalin says, referring to the two nationalities’ cultural affinity. “Having riders who know how to enjoy themselves – and win, of course – is very important to me nowadays. Matthew Phillips here ... well, he’s a fun guy,” Azzalin says with a wink at his young charger, who’s busily de-boning an oversized sardine at the other end of the table. Phillips hasn’t said much all night, but he’s hung off every word of the conversation. The 20-year-old has fast become a student of the sport; a sponge for everything EWC. But don’t think that Phillips is overawed by the occasion. The kid is itching to create some EWC history of his own.

“Winning three FIM world titles arguably makes Matt Phillips Australia’s most successful dirt bike export of all time.”

H

ow prophetic were those 2013 observations I made about Phillips itching to create some history of his own? Very... A few months after I wrote that, Matt Phillips wrapped up the 2013 EJ world title – a first for an Aussie. Twelve months after that, having signed on with the EWC’s powerhouse KTM Factory team, Phillips added an E3 world title to his collection – the first world enduro title won by an Australian since Merriman in 2004, and the first rider in history to win Junior and Senior world titles back-to-back. In the

2015 season, Phillips ran a close second to his teammate, Ivan Cervantes, in the E3-class title chase – despite butting heads with his team over bike set-up. And in 2016, after surprising many by leaving KTM to join the CH Racing Sherco team, the 23-year-old Australian won the Enduro World Championship’s (EWC) supercompetitive E2 class and the EnduroGP (Outright) title, and in doing so handed Sherco their first ever world title. Making the achievement extra special is the fact that 2016 was the inaugural time the EWC has officially acknowledged an Outright

champion. That, and the fact Phillips managed to win aboard a 300cc fourstroke – yet another first for the EWC. To my way of thinking, that amounts to creating EWC history. Lots of it! In fact, winning three FIM world titles arguably makes Matt Phillips Australia’s most successful dirt bike export of all time. Refreshingly, the young Tasmanian remains just as down-to-earth as he’s always been. He’s created a lot to be proud of; not least of which is the pathway he’s illuminated for the ever-growing talent pool of off-road racers in this country.

Be sure to check out the highlights video of the final, title-deciding rounds in France. Aside from the outpouring of emotion from Phillips, Azzalin and his entire support network at the French event, keep an eye out for Sherco’s head honcho, Marc Teissier, who’s literally bawling his eyes out in the background. That right there exemplifies the sort of passion that makes this sport go round.

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MANAGING EDITOR

Andy Wigan | andy.wigan@transmoto.com.au DIGITAL CONTENT MANAGER

Kurt Teague | kurt.teague@transmoto.com.au ART DIRECTOR

Matt Holmes | online@transmoto.com.au EVENTS MANAGER

Robbie Warden | robbie.warden@3cmg.com.au SENIOR PHOTOGRAPHERS

FourOhFour Films | John Pearson

USA CORRESPONDENTS

Jason Weigandt, Eric Johnson

EUROPEAN CORRESPONDENT

Jonty Edmunds

CONTRIBUTORS

Geoff Ballard, Garry Blizzard, Mark Brown, Ben Bunda, Jeff Crow, Simon Cudby, Nick Dole, Ben Foster, Josh Green, Danny Ham, Ian Hancock, Eric Johnson, Mark Kariya, Scott Keegan, Derek Morrison, Tony Nolan, Grant O’Brien, John Pearson, David Pingree, Beau Ralston, AJ Roberts, Ken Roche, Damian Smith, Ryne Swanberg, Cameron Taylor, Ben Tuffy, Jason Weigandt, Amanda West, Peter Whitaker ADVERTISING MANAGERS

Warren Randell | warren.randell@coastalwatch.com Shane Newman | shane.newman@3cmg.com.au DIGITAL ADVERTISING

Miles Finlay | mfinlay@coastalwatch.com ADVERTISING DIRECTOR

Doug Lees | doug.lees@3cmg.com.au CEO, 3CMG

ISSN : 1839-0358

Jason Haynes | jason.haynes@3cmg.com.au SPIRITUAL LEADER

Kim Sundell | kim.sundell@coastalwatch.com Transmoto Dirt Bike Magazine is published 6 times a year by TDBM Pty Ltd, ACN 141 679 423, 681 Barrenjoey Rd, Avalon, NSW, 2107. Phone (02) 9965 7364. Transmoto Dirt Bike Magazine welcomes photographic and written contributions. Send with a stamped, self-addressed envelope to 681 Barrenjoey Rd, Avalon, NSW, 2107. We do not accept responsibility for unsolicited material provided in this way. Transmoto Dirt Bike Magazine retains reprint rights; contributors retain resale rights. Views expressed by the authors are not necessarily those of the publishers. 13


2-STROKE // 125 SX » 250 SX 4-STROKE //// 250 SX-F » 350 SX-F » 450 SX-F

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VIDEO HIGH DEF

16


MX

NATION Recap the second season of MX Nation; an exclusive online series – presented by Red Bull – that follows 250cc racers such as Cooper Webb, Jeremy Martin, Austin Forkner, Jessy Nelson and more on their journey through the 2016 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. GARTH MILAN/RED BULL CONTENT POOL

EPISODE 1: Preparation Time

EPISODE 2: Fathers and Sons

EPISODE 3: Full Commitment

EPISODE 4: Picking The Pain

EPISODE 5: Rigors of a Rivalry

EPISODE 6: Get Angry

EPISODE 7: The Martin Brothers

EPISODE 8: 450 Class Dreams 17


SEE W HA BEEN M ©2016 OAKLEY, INC.


AT YOU’ V E MISSING TM


KTM’s #1 SON

What do you do when your title-winning rider has attracted so much international attention, there’s every chance he won’t be around to race with the #1 plate next season? You orchestrate a post-season photo shoot to get as much mileage out of the win as you can; just in case your rider is, in fact, poached by a factory team. That was KTM Australia’s thinking in the immediate wake of Daniel “Chucky” Sanders wrapping up the 2016 AORC Outright crown. Sanders and his title-wining 300EXC, fitted with the #1 plate for the first time, cut loose for this issue’s cover shot, plus this Framed image that’s so good, we just had to give it a double-page spread. Check out page 64 for the fascinating feature about Chucky’s risky mid-season switch to the 2017 KTM. KTM IMAGES


1400 REASONS

What’s your idea of the perfect trailride? Getting together with few good mates? Or joining a thousand characters you don’t know? Well, contrary to what you might think, that latter definition seems to hold sway for a huge cross-section of riders in NSW because this year’s 30th running of the iconic Sunny Corner Trail Bike Ride attracted a record 1400 entries. So, what’s the appeal? Well, “Sunny Corner” combines epic trails with superb organisation, a massive prize pool, and a real sense of being part of a larger dirt-worshipping community. It’s an annual coming together of the two-wheeled tribe; a celebration of roadtripping, camping, open fires, mateship, the great outdoors, and the sheer obsession of riding a dirt bike. ANDY WIGAN


RED-HOT BULLET

Can you think of a motocross racer who’s made a more successful premier-class debut than Jeffrey Herlings? After wrapping up his third MX2 world title (and his 61st GP win) the 22-year-old Dutchman made his highly anticipated full-time switch to a 450SX-F to contest the 2016 Motocross of Nations at Maggiora in Italy; and what an impressive debut it was. Herlings, or “The Bullet”, won his Open-class Heat Race convincingly before finishing second to America’s Jason Anderson in the MX2/Open race, and defeating his Italian teammate, Antonio Cairoli, in the MXGP/Open race. The 2017 season might be months away, but the likes of Slovakia’s Tim Gajser and France’s Romain Febvre will certainly have their work cut out in the off-season if they wish to keep up with flying Herlings next year. RAY ARCHER/KTM IMAGES


AUSSIES VS YANKS

We’re one round deep in the 2016 Australian Supercross Championship and, so far, it’s proving to be the best showdown between Australian and American racers we’ve ever seen. Australia is well-represented in Dean Ferris and Dan Reardon (who finished in second and third, respectively, at Jimboomba’s opener) as well as the likes of Todd Waters, Kade Mosig and of course, Chad Reed (come November’s AUS-X Open). Collectively, they’re fending off big names such as Justin Brayton (Jimboomba’s winner, pictured), Wil Hahn, Kyle Peters and Adam Enticknap – and they’ll also have to battle with Ryan Villopoto and Cooper Webb at the AUS-X Open’s final rounds of the championship. Stay tuned to Transmoto’s website for results, images and highlights. TONY PEARS


56


IRONMAN, PAIRS & TEAMS OF THREE OCTOBER 15-16, 2016 GREEN PARK, CONONDALE, QLD

CHECK OUT WWW.TRANSMOTO.COM.AU FOR MORE INFORMATION


BIKE 2017 BETA RR

Beta’s enduro models may only get a handful of upgrades for 2017. But, as Transmoto’s European Correspondent discovered at the bikes’ international launch in Italy, small but judicious changes can translate into big performance gains.

P

FUTURE7MEDIA

MARCO CAMPELLI, CRISTIANO MORELLO, ANDREA BELLUSCHI

erhaps we’ve been a tad spoilt by Beta in recent years. Since 2010, when they first introduced their RR range with the four-stroke engines built in-house, the dynamic Italian manufacturer has been unleashing long lists of annual upgrades and introducing significantly new models on a two-year cycle. In 2011, Beta was the first to put a 350cc four-stroke into production. Two years later, they joined the flourishing two-stroke market with two immediately competitive, large-displacement smokers. And in 2015, they started using fuel injection for their RR350. So it’s not for no reason that we were expecting some pretty big things from Beta in 2017. On paper, however, the upgrades to the 2017 bikes appear limited. Aside from a

32

few revisions to the four-strokes’ engines, the new models’ fork legs are 5mm longer, the new triple clamps are more rigid, the Excel rims move from black to silver, there’s a new digital display, and the fuel cap has been redesigned. But that’s more or less it. With this limited number of notable tweaks, it’s fair to say the 2017 RRs are the least-changed models since the Italian brand’s new era bikes arrived in 2010. There are no jaw-dropping surprises or shiny new models; at least, not yet. Instead, the new bikes feature a handful of well-considered changes, designed to make Beta’s highly respected RR line-up even better. So, let’s ride the new bikes and put these upgrades to the test...


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BIKE 2017 BETA RR

IS THE RIDE MUCH DIFFERENT?

Simply put, yes – albeit not that different. Compared to the 2016 bikes, the most noticeable change when riding the 2017 models is the upgraded Sachs fork. And the key word here is progression. We can’t be absolutely sure whether that’s the result of the new fork oil that Beta’s now using, or the fact that the longer stroke of the 2017 fork allows for an improved oil flow. Most likely, it’s a combination of the two, plus the revised internal settings. In any case, the fork’s action is much improved. With a more progressive damping character as it compresses, the 2017 fork absorbs impacts from big hits way better. The fork settings used for the RR250 and RR300 two-strokes produces a firmer, racier feel to the ride in the initial part of the stroke, making the front-end on those models a little livelier over to rocks and square-edged bumps at slower speeds. On the fourstrokes, though – assisted by the bikes’ weight and gyroscopic forces – the new fork offers a really plush feeling that keeps the wheels in contact with the ground. And with the fork sitting up in its stroke more of the time, the chassis remains better balanced than the 2016 models. The bike is way less inclined to hobbyhorse, which makes it more predictable and sure-footed over a series of bumps that would have unsettled its predecessor. The new fork is also married by a new set of stiffer triple clamps for 2017, which save 140g – the only notable weight reduction on the 2017 models. Completing the upgraded suspension package for 2017 is revised settings to the rear Sachs shock absorber, which also comes with a different high- and low-speed compression adjustment system to allow a wider range of adjustment and more accurate set-up.

“For 2017, there are no jaw-dropping surprises or shiny new models. Instead, there’s a handful of considered changes that are designed to make Beta’s RR line-up even better.” 34


35


BIKE 2017 BETA RR

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THE OPINION DIVIDER Though it has zero bearing on performance, the most talked-about change on the 2017 RR range at the launch was the new Excel rims; the new silver Excel rims. With Beta fitting the distinctive black rims on their RR models for many years, their decision to shift ‘back’ to silver Excels for 2017 was certainly an opinion divider. Many seemed to think the move represented an aesthetic step backwards for the Italian manufacturer. Countering that, Beta’s Head of R&D, Stefano Fantigini, pointed out that the silver rims give the new bikes a lighter look, and that they’re much less likely to get scuffed by trail debris or

a rogue lever during a tyre change. A redesigned digital dashboard might not sound like a noteworthy upgrade, but it is. And it was warmly received by everyone at the launch in Italy for its practical value. Its long list of functions now includes a battery voltage reading, which promises to be useful for the fuel-injected four-strokes and the (electric starter only) Xtrainer. What else? Well, the new fuel cap features an integrated bleed valve. As for the new graphics, let’s just say we’d really like it if Beta would go out on a limb and be recklessly creative. We can’t help but think these new RRs deserve a more distinctive look.

“Improved engine performance at low rpm is evident across the entire 2017 four-stroke range, making the thumpers even easier to ride.” THE LAWS OF AT-TRACTION Starting with a morning session in a rock-littered riverbed, before spending the rest of the day riding some of the best singletrail that Tuscany had to offer, there’s one word that sums up the experience aboard the new Betas: ‘traction’. With the dry, hardpacked and stony terrain providing a great testing ground, it soon became evident that all the new RRs put their power to the ground very efficiently, finding traction in places we weren’t always expecting them to. Improved engine performance at low rpm is a feature of the entire 2017 four-stroke range, making these thumpers even easier to ride. But it

was the RRR350 – which gets new intake and exhaust camshafts for 2017 – that made the most noticeable improvement on its predecessor. Pulling like a tractor from low rpm, the 350 motored effortless up snotty hills, refused to stall when shortshifted, and constantly kept driving the machine forward, not sideways. Compared to their 2016 equivalents, the relativities between the various capacities hasn’t changed that much. The RR350 is still the do-it-all machine that goes a bit flat at higher rpm. That’s where its bigger brother, the RR390, steps in, offering a bit of extra fun when the terrain opens up. The RR430 is the

closest you’d get to a traditional 450, combining a mid-capacity machine’s agility with broad and forgiving power. The RR480 is obviously king of the firetrails, but it’s also surprisingly easy to manhandle in tight terrain. In the two-stroke department, the RR300 has been widely regarded as a great all-round machine for several years now, and the improvements to the 2017 fork will make it more attractive to a wider ranger of rider weights and abilities. As the best-selling bike in Beta’s RR range (following the Xtrainer, that is), the 300cc smoker features an engine that performs much like a four-stroke.

With no aggressive hit as the power comes onto the pipe, its broad, smooth and predictable surge of grunt makes it incredibly easy to get the rear wheel hooking up. It’s little wonder why, using such an impressive powerplant as their race-bike base, Steve Holcombe and Johnny Aubert have been dominating the Enduro 3 World Championship this year. The engine map switch (available only on the Racing models last year) is now standard on all Beta RR models in 2017. Offering two selectable positions for dry- and wet-weather riding, the two maps make a larger relative difference on the two-strokes. 37


BIKE 2017 BETA RR

“With a more progressive damping character as it compresses, the revised Sachs fork on the 2017 models absorbs impacts from big hits way better.” GOOD TIMES AHEAD Sticking to the two-stroke RRs, one thing that our trip to Tuscany proved was how well Beta’s automatic oil injection system works. After a full 12 months of use to substantiate its reliability, the system is clearly a step in the right direction because it drastically reduces oil consumption and engine smoke. And for 2017, Beta’s engineers have designed an extra kit to fit the system to the Racing models. Though the full component specifications are yet to be announced by Beta Italy for the up-speced 2017 38

‘Racing’ models, they’re widely expected to use a different, closedcartridge fork, along with the usual extra bling and adjustability features to make them even more race-ready than their RR counterparts. If sales projections come to fruition, then Beta is set for some good times in the coming years. The company says its factory in Rignano sull’Arno will build 18,000 units during 2016 (that includes 2017 models), which represents a whopping 30% increase since last year.


ETA & PRICES IN OZ The 2017 two-strokes will be available from Australian dealers in the first week of September (although most of the first shipment has already been pre-sold to customers), while the 2017 fourstrokes arrive a month later. And according to Beta Motorcycles Australia’s director, Gary Grealy, the pricing for the entire 2017 RR range – both the two- and four-strokes – remains unchanged from 2016 (RR250 – $10,990; RR300 – $11,990; XT300 – $10,190; RR350 – $12,690; RR390 – $12,790; RR430 – $12,890; RR480 – $12,990). “With the Australian dollar still relatively high and stable against the Euro, and our excellent sales across the board at the current prices, we see no reason

to change,” Grealy explained. Beta’s unique Xtrainer300, meanwhile, has increased by a moderate $200 for 2017. “We introduced the XT300 at a discounted price to get it into the bush and under riders’ bums, and it has proven to be an incredibly well received bike. We have had to increase the price slightly for 2017 to get it back in line with normal margins. But at $10,190 for a 300cc enduro bike, it is still a bargain,” Grealy went on to say. ‘Racing’ Editions of all of the RR models will also be offered in 2017. It’s expected they’ll be available before the end of the year, though full specifications are yet to be announced by Beta Italy.

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SPORT 2016 AORC

ANDY WIGAN

ANDY WIGAN // JOHN PEARSON MEDIA

Transmoto’s Andy Wigan reflects on the pivotal moments and standout achievers of this year’s 12-round Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship.

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SPORT 2016 AORC

Sanders' Dominance Having won five AORC Outright titles in seven years since his 2009 debut, KTM’s Toby Price would have come into 2016 as the red-hot favourite. But the reigning champ’s departure left a hole that a number of top riders were intent on filling, and that completely changed the series’ dynamic when it kicked off in March. Once Daniel “Chucky” Sanders had shown his hand at the season opener in Queensland, however, it was as if Sanders simply took up where his former KTM teammate had left off. Sanders found a new level of controlled aggression at the dusty curtain raiser in Queensland, and claimed his first ever 1-1 Outright result. And when he repeated the 1-1 Chucky show at Portland in NSW a few weeks later, Sanders was widely regarded as the man to beat; his

46

happy-go-lucky race-day demeanour spookily reminiscent of Price. The Victorian youngster took great confidence from those opening round wins and – despite an ankle injury that caused him to limp through the next weekend’s racing with a measured 5-5 scorecard – he strung together another six Outright wins to close out the title. With 10 round-wins and 282 out of a possible 300 points, Sanders’ Outright win was one of the most emphatic in the AORC series’ 12-year history. At just 22, he became the AORC’s youngest ever Outright champ, and the first rider to claim the trophy aboard a two-stroke since AJ Roberts in 2005. Let’s hope Sanders fires again at the upcoming ISDE in Spain and uses that result to ink a deal with one of the EnduroGP paddock’s major teams. He sure deserves it.


Series Support When Dirt Bike Promotions stepped down at the end of the 2009 season, after promoting the AORC for five years, there was genuine concern for the future of the national series. And to be honest, the notion that the AORC could successfully piggyback on a handful of state rounds – overseen by a caretaker series coordinator – sounded a bit fanciful. But here we are, seven seasons later, and the Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship is more robust than ever. Thanks to the cooperation of MA’s State Controlling Bodies and their Enduro Committees, 12 rounds were staged across four states in 2016. Commercially, the AORC hasn’t lured private promoters back into the fray, but both Motorcycling Australia and Yamaha have tipped enough into the AORC’s coffers to underwrite its future, during which time Australia has evolved from international mid-packers

to one of the enduro world’s powerhouse nations. The AORC has now spawned riders who’ve gone on to win Enduro World Championships and the Dakar Rally, and the Holy Grail of enduro: the ISDE. And so it was very encouraging to see MA ratchet up its investment into the AORC this year – by way of an MAappointed series coordinator and publicist, a rider liaison to ensure consistency with the courses, and RaceSafe medical support. All of which highlighted the fact that the AORC’s series coordinator up until 2016, Denise Hore, juggled those roles herself on a tighter budget. And for that, the entire off-road fraternity owes Denise a huge debt of gratitude. Without MA, Yamaha, Denise and her core group of helpers, the opportunities that Aussies riders are now enjoying on the world stage would never have materialised. 47


SPORT 2016 AORC

Green's Injury For years, Active8 Yamaha’s Josh Green has almost made an art form of racing with injuries that would sideline riders with conventional pain thresholds. So when Greeny came into the 2016 season fit, healthy, focused and injury-free, it was somewhat of a novelty. And with the reigning E1 champ 48

stepping up to Yamaha’s all-new WR450F and the E2 class for 2016, many believed he was poised to go one better and finally etch his name on the AORC’s Outright trophy. Ironically, Green came unstuck in the very first special test at Round 1, obliterating the ligaments in his left knee. Kidding himself that he

could race through the pain, Green soldiered on for a few more rounds, clearly not at his best. But when he aggravated the injury in South Oz, he and his team succumbed to the inevitability of reconstructive surgery, meaning Green sat out the rest of the season. While the Yami rider’s disappearance certainly

made life easier for KTM’s Daniel Sanders – who sportingly conceded that Green would have probably won a few Outrights if he’d stayed healthy – even the cocksure Green wasn’t making any bold claims about his ability to upstage the rampaging Sanders in the back half of the season.


The Orangewash Yamaha might have won two of the three major classes last season, but 2016 was the year of the Austrians. Yep, KTM claimed 11 of the series’ 12 Outright round-wins. They won the E1 class title with Jack Simpson, the E2 with Tye Simmonds and the E3 with Daniel Sanders. And Sanders and Simmonds ran 1-2 in the Outright standings. What made the achievement even more notable was how little experience all three riders had had in the AORC. It was Simpson’s debut season, Simmonds’ second season and Sanders’ third. And the whole shebang was overseen by former enduro and desert racing legend,

Ben Grabham, in just his second season in the Team Manager hot seat. By fostering a team culture that prizes both fun and professionalism, Grabham managed to bring out the best in Sanders and Simmonds. And the scary thing for their rivals is that Grabbo has signed both riders again for 2017 – subject to Chucky scoring a factory ride in Europe, that is. When you combine this dominance with the KTM team’s 1-2-3 and 1-2 finishes at the Finke and Hattah desert races, respectively, there’s not a lot else the boys in orange could have achieved this year. Then again, the Australian 4-Day Enduro is coming up...

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SPORT 2016 AORC

Hollis' Swansong? When you look back over the AORC’s record books, just six guys have won the Outright title – AJ Roberts (three times), Toby Price (five times), Chris Hollis (twice), Daniel Milner (once) and now Daniel Sanders. But only one of them has raced since the maiden series in 2005: Chris Hollis. In 12 seasons, Hollis racked up two Outright AORC wins (2008, 2011) and seven class wins, and is widely regarded by his peers as one of the paddock’s most talented and likeable characters. Hollis’ uncharacteristic inconsistency in 2016 – by his standards, 50

anyway – led pundits to say he’d lost some of his drive and focus this year, and that he was about to call it quits. When pressed about the prospect of retirement after a very respectable third Outright in the series, Hollis remained circumspect, but did confirm he’d be racing the A4DE in November. If this season was, in fact, the 32-year-old’s final AORC appearance, all we can say is thanks for the memories, buddy. That, and a sneaky request for some inside information about any steals in the Port Macquarie property market.


The Two-Stroke Strikes Back When Daniel Sanders and his beloved 300EXC went 1-1 at the season opener in Queensland, it prompted us to go back through the AORC’s stats to identify the last time a two-stroke had gone unbeaten over an AORC race weekend. The answer? AJ Roberts and

his Husky WR250, way back in 2005. And if anyone thought the two-stroke’s win was an aberration back in March, they had another thing coming. While the 450cc four-stroke machines of KTM’s Tye Simmonds and Yamaha’s Chris Hollis managed to nab one

Outright round-win apiece this year, Sanders scooped up the rest of them. And to ram the two-stroke point home, Sanders and his training partner, Husky TE300-mounted Lyndon Snodgrass (pictured above) , went 1-2 Outright on the slick grasstrack at the final two

rounds; in conditions where you expect the four-strokes’ tractability to be unbeatable. Yep, these new-generation two-strokes have become much more versatile and rideable, and we’d expect to see a lot more of them on entry lists – for trail and race events – next year. 51


SPORT 2016 AORC

E1’s Young Punk vs Old Master One of the beauties of motorcycle racing is that it’s more about the size of the fight in the dog than the size of the dog in the fight. Which is just as well, because the variation in the physiques of the E1 class’ frontrunners was almost comical. With the pint-sized Jack Simpson 52

and Glenn Kearney often sharing a podium with big blokes such as Riley Graham, Scott Keegan and Stefan Granquist, it looked like an under 13s footie team lined up against a fence. But the class’ most intriguing battle took place between the 20-year-old Jack Simpson in his debut off-road

season, and the 35-year-old Glenn Kearney, who in his 17th season racing enduro somehow juggles the dual role of manager/racer for the Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team. It was a classic showdown of the reckless young punk and wily old master, with plenty of mutual respect. Aboard their 250F

machines, Simmo and GK both carded Outright podiums during the year, but it was the young Victorian who, against the odds, held his nerve and brought the title home. Magnanimous in defeat, Kearney sung Simpson’s praises and forecast a big future in the sport for the young KTM rider.


19s -Class Tussle Motocross riders tend to hit their prime in their early 20s. But in off-road circles, title-winning riders are more likely to be in their mid to late 20s, or even older – for the simple reason that enduro requires more measured aggression and race smarts, which is something that generally only comes with experience. And that’s exactly why Transmoto got behind the idea of introducing a ‘19 & Under’ class to the series in 2014; to help riders make that often demoralising transition from Junior hero to Senior zero, and to keep them involved in the sport. And hasn’t the initiative worked a treat! The inaugural winner of the Transmoto 19 & Under class (now referred to as Enduro Junior, or “EJ”, in line with international naming protocol) was Daniel Sanders – a bloke who, in the space of just two years, has gone from Transmoto EJ champ to an E3-class winner at the ISDE to Outright winner at the AORC. But Chucky Sanders is by no means the EJ class’ only flag waver. This year’s E1-class winner, Jack Simpson first sampled the AORC via the EJ class just last season. Broc Grabham finished a very impressive third place in this

year’s hotly contested E2 class, posting a few Outright podium finishes along the way aboard a near-stock Husqvarna. Season 2016 was also a breakout year for another Husky rider, last year’s EJ-class runner-up, Lyndon Snodgrass. Clearly benefitting from training with Daniel Sanders, the 18-year-old Snodgrass notched up four Outright podiums (and a few Outright test wins) over the series’ final round rounds, and promises to be a bloke to watch next year. Then there are guys such as Tom Mason and Tom Kite, who have already shown they’ve got what it takes to mix it with the AORC elite. This year’s crop of EJ talent, spearheaded by Sherco’s likeable young ripper, Wil Ruprecht, also augers well for the sport’s future. Besides one bad result when he busted a chain, Ruprecht was consistently on the box, holding at bay the raw speed of guys like Nic Tomlinson (pictured left), Fraser Higlett, Ben Kearns, Andrew Wilksch, Dalton Johnston, Jai Wedlock, Jesse Lawton, Stuart Holt, Jake McGlashan and Tasmania’s Jonty Reynders, who really put the cat among the pigeons over the final six rounds.

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SPORT 2016 AORC

Jemma’s Midas t ouch Over the past few years, the AORC Women’s class has felt like Groundhog Day as the Yamaha-mounted quartet of Jemma Wilson, Jess Gardiner, Emelie Karlsson and Tayla Jones all traded class- and titlewins. But season 2016 was all about Jemma Wilson. Admittedly, reigning champ Jones had disappeared to do battle against the blokes in the E1 class, and three-time AORC champ Jess Gardiner was beset with a few injury woes. But Wilson rode on an entirely different level this season, crediting the great Stephen Gall as the catalyst for her turnaround in self-belief and speed. It was Wilson’s third EW-class title, but her first since 2011. Demonstrating how much she wanted it, Wilson withdrew from the EnduroGP’s final round in France, which clashed with the AORC’s finale. Now she’s got her heart set on the win that’s always eluded her – the Australian 4-Day Enduro. That and her fourth consecutive ISDE title!

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Sherco’s Breakout Year With podium finishes in E1 (Glenn Kearney), E2 (Broc Grabham), E3 (Lachy Stanford) and EJ (Fraser Higlett), it’s fair to say that, after the dominant KTM squad, Husqvarna was the most successful manufacturer in this year's AORC. But it wouldn’t be fair to overlook the Sherco crew in just their second year in the AORC. In spite of a workshop fire that destroyed their fully prepped race bikes just days before Rounds 3 and 4, the Motul Pirelli Sherco Factory Racing Team managed to claim class-wins in the Transmoto 19 & Under (Wil Ruprecht) and the Over 35 Vets (Bjorn Osborne), plus podiums in both the Vets (Kurt Broomhall) and Over 45s Masters (Derek Grundy). Given that Australia’s Matt Phillips has just won the coveted EnduroGP (Outright title) at the 2016 Enduro World Championship aboard a Sherco, we’d expect to see even more of an investment into the Australian-based Sherco team for season 2017.

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SPORT 2016 AORC

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Two Biblical Wets Victorian off-road racers are a tough breed. At least, that’s what they like to tell everyone. And by refusing to cancel two of the wettest races the series has ever seen, Victorian organising clubs pretty much proved the point. In spite of a social media chorus of precious young motocrossers saying there’s no way they’d race in the rain, hail and fallen trees that greeted AORC riders at the Hedley round, racing went ahead. And at the series finale at Penshurst, in the state’s southwest, the sheer volume of water meant organisers had to hurriedly alter both the track and race format to ensure riders weren’t swept away. But the point is – aside from the fact it would have made Shane Watts proud – these rounds gave the AORC’s riders valuable experience in the sort of extreme conditions that riders regularly come up against in Europe. And if we want to continue to groom our off-road racers to be competitive on the world stage, we need this can-do attitude from both the organisers and riders; people who are prepared to take on the elements, no matter what.

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SPORT 2016 AORC

Outright Battles Coming into the final weekend’s racing, it looked fairly certain that Daniel Sanders, Tye Simmonds and Chris Hollis would occupy the top-three Outright positions. For more than half the season, though, Husqvarna’s Lachy Stanford had looked like he had second or third Outright in the bag, but after busting his hand at Round 8, the back-end of his season was more about survival and damage minimisation. Having been passed by CDR Yamaha’s Chris Hollis for third, Stanford came in the series finale with what looked like a stranglehold on fourth Outright. But when he knocked himself senseless in Saturday’s super-slick conditions and finished outside the top-20, he suddenly had a battle on his hands, with just 6 points separating him, Beau Ralston and Jack Simpson for fourth, fifth and sixth Outright. In the end, that’s the order they finished the series in, but when organisers triple-checked the math at the end-of-year presentation, they confirmed the trio’s Outright scores were separated by just 2 points. There was a fair gap back to Broc Grabham and Glenn Kearney in seventh and eighth. But behind them, just 9 points separated ninth through 13th Outright.

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The WA Posse's Appearance With former and existing AORC racers now performing so well on the world stage, it’s easy to focus too heavily on the elite riders in our national off-road series. But as any host club will tell you, it simply wouldn’t be viable for them to stage an AORC round without all the other riders underwriting its revenue base. And at the series finale, there was a feel-good story about a group of 10 young enduro riders from WA who’d raised enough money to make the 35-hour roadtrip across the Nullarbour to be part of the AORC. The initiative was the brainchild of WA-based off-road enthusiast Winton Lawton – a bloke who, over the past 15 years, has helped Junior Enduro

in WA evolve into a thriving scene that regularly attracts 200 riders. “To help fund this development initiative and exposure WA riders to the AORC, the Off-Road Riding Club of WA chipped in,” Lawton explained. “But it was the young riders themselves – who ranged from age 14 to 18, and whose parents weren’t in a position to fully fund the trip – who raised some $2000 each for their trip to the AORC finale in Victoria. It would be my dream to see more WA riders venturing over East as part of the development program to test out new terrain and develop their skills, so it’s something I would like to arrange annually,” Lawton went on to say.

LOG ON TO Check out www.transmoto.com.au for AORC rider interviews, image galleries and round highlights footage from the 2016 season.

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THE AORC MANAGEMENT TEAM WOULD LIKE TO CONGRATULATE... Everyone who competed in the 2016 Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship. And, in particular, the 2016 top-10 Outright and class winners: OUTRIGHT

CLASS WINNERS

1. Daniel Sanders – 282 2. Tye Simmonds – 226 3. Chris Hollis – 190 4. Lachlan Stanford – 177 5. Beau Ralston – 176 6. Jack Simpson – 175 7. Broc Grabham – 147 8. Glenn Kearney – 140 9. Riley Graham – 113 10. Tom McCormack – 112

E1: Jack Simpson E2: Tye Simmonds E3: Daniel Sanders Transmoto EJ: Wil Ruprecht Women’s: Jemma Wilson Veterans: Bjorn Osborne Masters: Peter Schaper J2: Ashden Gramlick J3: Corey Hammond J4: Zac Mitten


We look forward to seeing you back for a bigger and better 2017 AORC season.

STAY IN AORC LOOP VIA: www.ma.org.au www.instagram.com/aorc_ www.facebook.com/theaorc


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RACE BIKE AORC TITLE WINNER

TWO-SMOK This is the fascinating story behind Team KTM’s midseason swap onto the 2017-model 300EXC – the newgeneration two-stroke that Daniel “Chucky” Sanders just won the AORC’s Outright title aboard. ANDY WIGAN JOHN PEARSON MEDIA, ANDY WIGAN

ack in late March, when KTM Enduro Racing Team’s Daniel “Chucky” Sanders carded a perfect 1-1 Outright result at the Australian Off-Road Championship’s (AORC) opening two rounds in Queensland, much noise was made about the fact it was the talented kid’s first ever Outright victory. And rightly so, because Sanders rode the wheels off his beloved KTM 300EXC. What didn’t get much air, however, is the fact that Sanders’ Queensland performance also marked the first time a twostroke had won an AORC double-header since way back in 2005; since the series’ maiden season, when AJ Roberts piloted a Husky WR250 two-stroke to the Outright title win. Fast-forward six months, and Daniel Sanders has notched up five (of a possible six) 1-1 Outright scorecards at the AORC. Unsurprisingly, he also clinched the AORC title and, at just 22 years of age, became the AORC’s youngest ever Outright champion. How he clinched the title, however, was somewhat surprising. Despite conventional wisdom dictating that it’s way too risky to change race bikes mid-way through a series you’re dominating, Sanders and his KTM team did exactly that. So why the hell did they take the gamble when so much was as stake? Well, as Daniel and his KTM team boss and technician explain, they pretty much ran out of excuses not to embrace the all-new, 2017-model 300EXC...

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OKED ’EM!

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RACE BIKE AORC TITLE WINNER

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BEN GRABHAM TEAM MANAGER

“Straight after the KTM dealer conference in early August, we sent Chucky a 2017-model 300EXC. A week later, he called to tell me the thing was amazing – which is kind of what I expect to hear all riders to say after they get given a pretty-looking new model. But Chucky backed that up by saying he was able to do the same lap times aboard the 2017 bike as he was on his modified 2016-model race bike. “Still, I had no plans for him to race the 2017 bike because we had no parts, no second bike as back-up, no suspension, and no oversize fuel tank for the two cross-country races remaining in the AORC series. Plus, it made no sense to change our dialled-in 2016 race bike mid-season, especially when you’ve been dominating with it. So we went ahead and built up another 2016-model race bike and got Chucky up to NSW to run it in ahead of the final four rounds, which kicked off with a cross-country at Monkerai. I did suggest that he bring the 2017-model 300 with him, but only so we could help him get the bike set up for the Six-Day in Spain as KTM wanted him to race the 2017 there. “Anyway, while we were running-in the 2016 bike, the new WP Trax shock absorber turned up for his 2017 ISDE bike. So we guestimated a setting for that, and then put it and his 2016 bike’s fork into the 2017 bike. Chucky and I had a spin on it, and we were both blown away by how much better the new bike was. I immediately understood why he’d been so enthusiastic about it. Compared to the 300EXC we’d spent a couple

of years developing, this 2017 machine was a better bike in every possible way. “As good as the thing was, though, there was no way we could race on it because we still didn’t have a spare bike or the oversize fuel tank to fit it. But, when we got back to the workshop later that day, we discovered his second bike had turned up. And then the day after that, a 16-litre IMS fuel tank arrived. It’s designed to fit the 2016 450SX-F, but we discovered it fitted the 2017 300EXC perfectly. So it was basically a situation where we ran out of the reasons not to race the 2017 bike. It was only three days

same controlled speed and dominance. “I used to think there were some tracks where, compared to the big four-strokes, Chucky was at a disadvantage aboard the 300cc two-stroke – mainly on terrain where you needed smooth power delivery to get traction. But after testing 2017 bike myself, I believe the two-stroke is no longer at a disadvantage anywhere. The power is so smooth, it’ll hook up like a four-stroke, and yet it retains all the advantages of a two-stroke. Plus, the reduced vibration makes it feel so much more refined. “But for me, the biggest step forward that KTM has taken with this bike is the frame. The bike feels lighter and more agile, but there’s more to it than that. The way the new frame flexes – more longitudinally and less torsionally – makes the thing handle and turn a lot better. In a straight line, it works better than ever, and then when you go to turn it, it’s got a more responsive, positive feel. I found the WP 52mm Cone Valve fork a bit too firm in Chucky’s 2016 bike, but perfect for me in the 2017. So to me, it feels like the frame is contributing to the suspension damping in the new bike. “All that said, upgrading to the 2017 bike with an Outright AORC title in the balance was a risky move. There were a lot of eyes on us, and how we’d go on this new-generation machine, so closing the title out was a relief. It was also a really nice way to cap off the past two seasons that we’ve worked with Chucky, who is now a world-class off-road racer at the age of just 22.”

“Compared to the 300EXC race bike we’d spent a couple of years developing, this 2017 machine was a better bike in every possible way. We ran out of excuses not to race it!” before the cross-country at Monkerai – Round 9 and the 12-round series – but everything just fell into place. Chucky kept saying that God was telling us he ought to race the new bike [laughs], so I finally relented to decided to go with it. “Watching Chucky race the 2017 300EXC, you could see that he was really comfortable and never had to push too hard to stay ahead of his opposition. At Monkerai, he dominated Saturday’s cross-country and won every lap of the sprints on the Sunday. And then on the slick grasstrack of the final two rounds in Victoria, it was more of the

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RACE BIKE AORC TITLE WINNER

MICHAEL CARUSI TEAM TECHNICIAN

“Initially, because we could only get our hands on the one 2017-model 300EXC, the plan was to slowly put some effort into developing the bike, mainly so Chucky could get comfortable with its set-up ahead of the ISDE in October. No one was rushing into the idea of using it to replace his 2016 race bike, which we’d developed over the course of two years and had working really well. Plus we all knew how risky it would be to upgrade to the new model if there weren’t enough spares to cover us in case of a major crash. So the idea was pretty much put on the backburner until, as Grabbo just explained, the whole project just fell into place in the lead-up to the Monkerai round. We were left with no reason not to give the new bike a shot. After Grabbo tested the new bike and found it to be so superior to the 2016 in every respect, I think that made him more receptive to the idea of Chucky racing it over those final four rounds. And once the 16-litre tank arrived – which gave us the peace of mind that we could get

away with only one fuel stop in the three-hour cross-country races – there was nothing else holding us back. “In terms of the mods done to the 2017 bike, there really isn’t a lot to speak about. To get some base settings, we ran the 2017 bike on the dyno and the stock engine immediately produced a similar power curve to what we’d got out of the 2016 race engine after a fair bit of development. So we knew that’d be a great platform to work from. We did a little porting work to the barrel, pumped up the compression a bit, and tested an FMF muffler. We’ll run the standard muffler most of the time, but occasionally fit the FMF if Chucky wants more top-end or snap at certain tracks. “The Mikuni carb works well with the standard 2017 engine, producing smooth and crisp power. But after we did the porting work to Chucky’s 2017 race bike, we discovered we needed to run a richer slide in the carb (a 3.5 slide, from the standard 4), and the only way we could get this was by fitting a Keihin carb.

We literally couldn’t get our hands on rich enough slide for the Mikuni, but we’re in the process of making that happen now. “Because 300cc two-stroke engines can be a handful to get it hooking up smoothly in tight bush, we run the firmer green spring in the power-valve to delay the opening of the exhaust port and create a smoother transition into the mid-range. We then fine-tune the power delivery with the external pre-load adjustment to suit the track type or conditions. “With the suspension, we didn’t touch the internals of Chucky’s 52mm WP fork. All it needed was a few clickers here and there and it worked straight away on the 2017 bike. With the all-new Trax shock – designed to fit the updated 2017 swingarm and frame – the first setting we used worked, and we haven’t changed it since. And because Chucky was comfortable on the bike straight away, there was nothing major in the way of ergo mods required. In fact, his handlebarsand controls pretty much all swapped straight over.”

“We ran the 2017 bike on the dyno and the stock engine produced a similar power curve to what we’d got out of the 2016 race engine after a fair bit of development. So we knew that’d be a great platform to work from.”

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RACE BIKE AORC TITLE WINNER

DANIEL SANDERS TEAM RIDER

“I’m not a fan of changing anything drastic – especially my race bike – during a season, especially when things have been going so well. I generally like to stick with what I know and like. In the past, I’ve tended to be like that with my suspension, too; I’d get it set up well and then stick to those settings, instead of secondguessing my set-up every time we race a new track. But now that I’ve got the experience and input of Ben Grabham and the whole KTM team in my corner, I’m more open to getting out of my comfort zone and experimenting. And I like how the team is really methodical in the way they test anything new back-to-back with what we know. “So when the 2017 300EXC arrived, on the one hand I was open to the idea of racing it. But on the other hand, I’d built a 28-point lead with the 2016 race bike and really had no reason to be replacing it with something I’d had way less experience aboard. The only reason I even rode the 2017 bike was because I wanted to get a head start on its set-up for the Six-Day in Spain. We all knew it was a newgeneration bike, but we didn’t want to get ahead of ourselves by swapping to it prematurely. But then I rode the thing, and everything changed. “The biggest change I initially noticed with the new bike was how light and nimble it felt to throw around. It turned like a 125, and I found it much easier to get my weight forward on the seat to load up the front-end. And when I jumped back on my 2016 bike, the extra vibration it put through my hands and feet made it feel like a dinosaur. The counter-balancer they’ve fitted to this 2017 engine makes its ride that much smoother and more comfortable, but the engine’s still got all the punch and power I

need. I almost felt like fitting slicks to it and riding it on the road [laughs]. “As good as the new engine was, I also knew that just slotting my race suspension into a bike with a completely different frame

chassis, and the stock shock wasn’t too bad at all. So with that set-up and the stock motor, I did some back-to-back times against my 2016 race bike on the practice tracks I’m really familiar with, and found I as actually quicker on the 2017. That really got me thinking because I knew we could improve on that a fair bit by the time we did some engine work and fitted the Trax shock. But Grabbo kept pointing out that the new Trax shock hadn’t arrived yet, and that there were a few other things stopping us from using the 2017 bike – such as not having a cross-country tank and the limited spares and performance parts. “But literally within a week of Round 9 and 10 at Monkerai, all those issues resolved themselves. The tank and shock and spare bike all arrived within a few days of each other, and we kind of ran out of excuses not to switch over to the 2017. So it was really satisfying for me and the team when I came out swinging at Monkerai and won both the cross-country and sprint rounds pretty comfortably. I think the guys back at KTM HQ were pretty stoked with that too, as it made their job of selling these 2017 EXC models easier. But I should make the point that none of those guys ever pressured us into swapping to the 2017 bike. They left that decision entirely up to the team. “After my success at Monkerai, my teammate Tye Simmonds swapped to the 2017-model 450EXC-F for the final two rounds, where I wrapped up the Outright and E3-class titles, while Tye ran second Outright and won the E2 class. That was such a good way to cap off what’s been an awesome year, and to give back to the team and everyone at KTM who’ve supported us so much.”

“I’d built a 28-point lead with the 2016 bike and really had no reason to be replacing it with something I’d had way less experience aboard. But then I rode the 2017 bike, and everything changed!”

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probably wouldn’t work. But it did. Well, at first, we didn’t have the updated Trax shock to fit the 2017 bike, but I found my 52mm WP race fork worked really well in the new


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RACE BIKE AORC TITLE WINNER

LOG ON TO For a revealing insight into Daniel Sanders’ meteoric rise over the past two seasons, be sure to check out the exclusive interview we did with the 22-year-old immediately after his AORC title win.

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EVENT AUS-X OPEN PREVIEW

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KANE TAYLOR JEFF CROW, KURT TEAGUE, SIMON CUDBY, STEVE COX

The inaugural AUS-X Open was arguably the best two-wheeled motorsport event to take place on Australian soil in 2015. Can the 2016 edition live up to expectations?

O

n March 18, 2015, AME Management – a small athlete-management, media and events company based out of Port Melbourne – announced that they would be hauling 200 truckloads of dirt into Sydney’s AllPhones Arena, and giving birth to the largest action sports event in the Southern Hemisphere; the AUS-X Open. To say that this was exciting news for an industry and fan-base that had been starved from a supercross race of this stature since the legendary days of the Supercross Masters series would be an understatement. However, a month went by and no more information – other than a date and a location – had been released. Understandably, sceptics started to talk and rumours started to fly. Those rumours were silenced when the hard-working team at AME announced that Chad Reed and James Stewart – two of the greatest supercross racers of all-time – would be contesting the inaugural event on Saturday, November 5, which would also serve as the penultimate round of the 2015 Australian Supercross Championship. The next big announcement to come from the AME team was the FMX Best Trick contest; a crowd-favourite freestyle motocross format that was removed from the X Games back in

2013. Frenchman Tom Pagés and Japan’s Taka Higashino confirmed their attendance, and the stage for Australia’s greatest ever action sports event was set. At this point, everyone knew that the AUS-X Open was going to be an event to remember, but no one expected it to sell out so quickly that the promoters would be forced to announce a second event that would take place the following day. October came around quickly, and that’s when the infamous James Stewart saga started to unfold. James decided to withdraw from the event just two weeks before it took place, and dedicated fans – who purchased tickets specifically to see a CR22 versus JS7 showdown on Australian soil – were outraged and upset. Fortunately, the AME team was able to quickly board a plane to America and sign not one, but two high-profile racers to attend in Stewart’s absence. Locked in was the sport’s Greatest Of All Time, Ricky Carmichael, and America’s hottest motorcycling property, Cooper Webb. Carmichael warmed to the idea of a circa 2005 dose of nostalgia in a special head-to-head race with Reed, while Webb was heading Down Under purely to stamp his mark of supercross dominance on the Australian scene.

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EVENT AUS-X OPEN PREVIEW

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rom the very first riff of ACDC’s Thunderstruck at the beginning of the opening ceremonies, the noise made by fans made it evident that the AUS-X Open had ticked all the right boxes. As Chad Reed, Ricky Carmichael, Cooper Webb and Australia’s fastest supercross racers – such as Dan Reardon and Kade Mosig – started to grace the floor of AllPhones Arena, fans seemed almost unable to contain their excitement. The tight nature of the stadium meant lap times were faster than standard AMA Supercross races, and although the track seemed relatively simple on paper, many riders suffered substantial crashes during Qualifying and subsequently missed the night shows. Notable absentees included Adam Monea, Luke Arbon, Luke Clout, Matt Moss, Kale Makeham, Gavin Faith and Jed Beaton, as they all succumbed to trouble at different stages throughout the weekend, ending up on the injury list by virtue. Eventual 2015 SX2 Champion, Jimmy Decotis, dominated the SX2 class, winning both Main Events and posting lap times that rivalled the top SX1 racers. Joining the Hondamounted US import on the podium on Saturday was Wade Hunter in second and Jackson Richardson in third. Richardson was able to go one better on Sunday, securing second, while the likeable Geran Stapleton finished in third. From the outset, the SX1 class was absolutely stacked with talent. One of the main attractions was the battle between CDR Yamaha’s Dan Reardon and NPE Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Matt Moss who, from the way the media, fans and even they were carrying on, were on the brink of being announced as the headlining act for the coveted WWE Summerslam event. Throw Reed and Webb into the mix to mess with the championship points race and 76

anticipation was at an all-time high. Was a Royal Rumble about to unfold in Sydney? Thankfully, the answer was no. Reed blazed to a seemingly easy win on Saturday night, finishing comfortably ahead of Honda’s American star, Gavin Faith, and Reardon, who extended his championship points lead drastically after Moss recorded a DNF following two crashes. A very displeased Webb finished in fourth after clawing his way back from dead last, making it clear that a ‘win or die trying’ approach was going to be adopted for Sunday night’s race; and thankfully, it was the former. Sunday’s SX1 Main Event began with Reardon blasting out of the gate to grab the all-important holeshot. He led the first 10 laps of the race despite hosting close company from Reed, Webb and Lawson Bopping, who were all in hot pursuit. Reardon then proceeded to tuck the front-end after the finish line on the eleventh lap, and as he went down, the madness started. As Reed was right on Reardon’s rear wheel, he was unable to avoid the now-downed rider and went down himself; and that wasn’t where it ended, as Webb was in the same situation as Reed and also found himself on the ground. The top-three were in a frantic scramble to remount first and chase down Bopping, who had managed to avoid the carnage and assume the lead. Webb and Reed took off before Reardon could and were able to make quick work of Bopping. The two Yamaha-mounted riders proceeded to engage in an all-out brawl right to the end, where Webb was able to cross the finish line one second in front of Reed. Everyone inside AllPhones Arena – and watching at home via 7Mate on national television – was on their feet. The inaugural AUS-X Open had exceeded all expectations, and the bar was set high for the 2016 running of Australia’s newest and most impressive supercross race.


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EVENT AUS-X OPEN PREVIEW

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his year’s AUS-X Open, scheduled for November 12-13 at Qudos Bank Arena (formerly AllPhones), promises to be one of the greatest races to ever take place on Australian soil. Four-time AMA Supercross Champion, Ryan Villopoto, will temporarily come out of retirement to contest his first SX race since winning the Las Vegas finale two years ago. Joining RV on the gate for the first time in his career will be Webb; who funnily enough, just announced that he will run the #2 plate from 2017 onwards (following in the legendary footsteps of Villopoto and The King of Supercross, Jeremy McGrath). Webb has made it clear that he’s very excited to line-up against Villopoto, as he was still coming through the Amateur ranks as Ryan enjoyed most of his time at the top of the sport. Joining the two Americans will be the 2015 AUS-X Open Champion, Reed, who will undoubtedly want to keep the trophy in the hands of an Aussie. Huge additions to the 2016 event will be the 2013 East Coast 250SX Champ, Wil Hahn, and top-ten AMA Supercross racer, Justin Brayton. Hahn has anchored up at

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the NPE Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team alongside Mosig, while Brayton has joined Yarrive Konsky’s all-American Honda squad, and as we publish this issue, has already been able to dominate the opening round of the 2016 Australian Supercross Championship. Other Americans contesting the SX1 class include the ‘7DeuceDeuce’ of Adam Enticknap alongside Brayton, and Kyle Peters on board the KTM Motocross Racing Team’s 450SX-F; at the eleventh hour, Peters was able to fill the boots of the injured 2016 MX Nationals’ MX1 runnerup, Kirk Gibbs. While a lot of hype may be surrounding the Americans at the moment, Australia’s elite cannot be discounted, starting with Dan Reardon. The 2015 Australian Supercross Champion was able to put down a faster lap time than Reed and Webb in the 2015 AUS-X Open’s SuperPole, and as he missed the back half of the 2016 MX Nationals due to injury, he’s had a little more time than his competitors to prepare himself for the 2016 Australian SX series. The silky smooth veteran’s style suits the slick surface that will come into play, and he has all the tools at his disposal

to become the AUS-X Open – and Australian Supercross Championship – victor in 2016. Having said that, every rider who is lining up this year is capable of running away with the win. Crankt Protein Honda Racing Team’s Dylan Long and Jay Wilson will both be eager to redeem themselves from finishing fifth and sixth, respectively, in the 2016 MX Nationals, while the 2016 MX Nationals’ MX1 Champion and third-place finisher, CDR Yamaha’s Dean Ferris and Wilson Coolair Motul Factory Suzuki’s Todd Waters, will both want to back-up solid motocross seasons with a strong supercross appearance; something that neither rider has successfully been able to do throughout their careers. The fact that the AUS-X Open marks the final two rounds of the 2016 Australian Supercross Championship adds to the excitement, as entering the weekend there’ll be an established few riders who are battling for the #1 plate. Throw in Villopoto, Webb and Reed to potentially spoil the party, and the opening ceremonies may not be the only time that fireworks will be erupting.

WATCH: OFFICIAL AFTERMOVIE 2015 AUS-X OPEN SUPERCROSS & FMX


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nfortunately, the MX Nationals’ MX2 top-three – Jed Beaton (#1), Caleb Ward (#2) and Nathan Crawford (#3) – are all currently injured, and remain big question marks for the 2016 edition of the AUS-X Open. That doesn’t mean that the SX2 category won’t be stacked full of talent, though. Honda’s Jimmy Decotis will be aiming to defend his 2015 crown, and his toughest competition will come from his teammate, Gavin Faith; the 2012 and 2014 Australian Supercross Champion. Faith won the 2016 AMSOIL Arenacross Championship in the 450 class, and after contesting the 2015 AUS-X Open on board a CRF450R – and finishing in second Overall to Reed on Saturday night – will drop back to a 250cc machine for this year’s event. Another Honda-mounted competitor to look out for will be Josh Cachia, who has not raced supercross since the 2014 season on board a Husqvarna. Speaking of Husqvarna-mounted riders, SD3’s South Australian native, Luke Arbon, looked incredibly fast at the inaugural

AUS-X Open before a big crash in practice sidelined him for the entire weekend. The Serco Yamaha duo of Wilson Todd and Wade Hunter will also be seeking redemption and looking to put incredibly difficult 2016 MX Nationals campaigns behind them when the lights turn on at Qudos Bank Arena. Other key competitors to keep an eye on include Hayden Mellross and Jackson Richardson (who have both returned from the USA and found respective seats with DPH Motorsports Yamaha and Serco Yamaha), Raceline Pirelli KTM’s Dylan Wills, as well as Geran Stapleton and Lewis Woods. Add key attractions such as the FMX Best Trick contest, the Monster Energy Pit Party and Australia’s hottest DJ, Brooke Evers, into the mix and Australian supercross fans have an unforgettable weekend to plan for. The 2016 AUS-X Open is set to be a true clash of the titans, and will be a not-to-be-missed experience for supercross fans worldwide.

WATCH: 2015 BATTLE CHAD REED VS RICKY CARMICHAEL

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EVENT AUS-X OPEN PREVIEW

The 2016 AUS-X Open’s three biggest drawcards – Chad Reed, Ryan Villopoto and Cooper Webb – speak ahead of November’s showdown.

CHAD REED

RYAN VILLOPOTO

COOPER WEBB

“To be returning to the AUS-X Open for 2016 is awesome. It was such an awesome event last year, and I’m just generally pumped to be back. Cooper and I had a great battle last year on Sunday, and the Australians, like Dan Reardon, were very fast too. All-in-all, it’s just a great show for the fans.”

“I’m really excited for the AUS-X Open event this coming November. Obviously, I haven’t lined up behind a start gate for quite some time, so I am a little nervous about that, but we’ll see how we go. I’d like to be able to race with Cooper and Chad; we’ll see whether I can do that, though [laughs]. I’ve been riding around once a week, so I should at least be in some sort of shape. I’m excited to see Australia, meet the fans and just have an awesome time.”

“To be invited to the AUS-X Open event again and race against Ryan and Chad is a real honour. I had an amazing time last year – honestly, the fans were just incredible and were just so pumped I was there, which blew me away a bit to be honest. The CDR Yamaha guys run a great program, so to be able to come Down Under, pit with the best and have such great fans was awesome. The race on the Sunday with Chad was the most exciting race I’ve ever been apart of, and with how enclosed the stadium is, it made it all so exciting – you could hear everything and everyone. You don’t get that in the States, so I’m excited for that feeling and adrenalin again. See you there.”

WATCH: THE 2016 SHOWDOWN CHAD REED VS RYAN VILLOPOTO

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PROFILE JACK SIMPSON

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ANDY WIGAN JOHN PEARSON MEDIA, ANDY WIGAN

Meet the colourful young character from Victoria who has taken the national off-road and desert-racing scenes by storm this season.

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f Jack Simpson were a dog, he’d be a Jack Russell Terrier. Cheeky little rascal. Always tear-arsing around. Everyone’s mate. Never a backwards step. No ‘off’ switch. Constantly on the ‘hunt’. And not afraid to stand his ground in the company of bigger, more intimidating dogs. Yep, this 20-yearold Victorian is one tenacious little punk who punches well above his weight – in life and on a motorcycle.

And to prove it, he’s just wrapped up the AORC’s Pro E1 class title on debut. But where did Jack Simpson come from? And how the hell has he managed to mix it with the AORC’s world-class frontrunners in his first full season racing the national off-road series? The kid’s not one to pump his own tyres, but if you sit down with him for a chat, you soon realise his off-road riding history pre-dates his better-known success in

the MX Nats series in recent years. In fact, he’s has got a fascinating backstory that includes riding yarns with FMX legend, Cam Sinclair, and multiple Enduro World Champion, Matt Phillips. While “Simmo” was still covered in champers after his AORC title win, we sat down with the pint-sized, down-toearth Victorian to reflect on his stellar 2016 season and discuss what the future may hold.

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PROFILE JACK SIMPSON

When I Iwas “When wasonly only1010years yearsold, old,I Istarted starteddoing Backflips into Cam foam-pit. doing Backflips intoSinclair’s Cam Sinclair’s foam-pit.” What don’t people know about you, Jack? JS: Lots of things [laughs]. Okay, I’m into photography and film. I build drag cars. I ride Harleys. There’s a few things they probably won’t know. You’re also a student, right? Yeah, I attend trade school at Tafe, where I’m doing a mechanical engineering course. It’s three years all up, and I’m now two years in. I like the idea that I can work with a lathe and a mill and do things to my own bikes. I can deck my own heads and make my own axles; that kind of shit. Harleys and drag cars seem to fit with dirt bikes ... but cricket? Yeah, I know. Not many blokes at drag races are also into cricket. Dad played state cricket and AFL when he was younger, so that’s how I got into it. I’ve done both my knees, so it was obvious to lean toward cricket instead of footy.

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We hear that Cameron Sinclair played a part in getting you into racing bikes to begin with. Yeah, Cam lived just up the road at Pearcedale in Victoria. One day, I went up to his place, where I met Kade Mosig, Bilko, Adam Jones and Nate Adams. Can you believe it; I met all those superstars on that same day? Anyway, Cam used to come around to my place, where me, Bronte Holland and Cam would ride our 50s together a fair bit. And I’d flog them because I was only nine and about one-quarter of their weight. Cam told my old man that he thought I was pretty handy, so they put me on a 65 to see what I could do. After I threw down a few laps on the 65, Cam told me I’d have a number-one on my bike within two years. That definitely encouraged me to take racing more seriously. I had to start in C-grade, but sure enough, two years later, I ran second in the state on the 65. Cam also introduced

me to his brother, Mick Sinclair, who worked at Monza Imports. The boys sorted me out with some Fox gear and a heap of stuff for my bike, and I’ve been a Monza-sponsored rider ever since. Cam told us he tried to steer you into FMX too. He did. When I was only 10 years old, a week after I got all my new gear, I started doing Backflips into Cam’s foam-pit. Dad wasn’t that into the idea I take it to dirt though, so we focused on motocross instead. Most people know you as a successful young motocroser, but your old man tells us you spent a lot of time as a nipper in the bush. After having a year off from two knee surgeries, I won the first round of the 2013 MX Nationals in the Under 19s class, and ended up third in the series. But I always liked riding in the bush because it’s constantly

throwing different challenges at you, whereas a motocross track can get very monotonous. I grew up in Cranbourne South, where were had a little paddock I could ride my 50. But then Dad bought a 400-acre block up near Maffra, and we’d go up there riding every second weekend for about a decade; from when I was 7 to 16. We’d hit the state forest and goat tracks, and I just couldn’t get enough of it. I’d burn 30 or 40 litres of fuel on a weekend. Loved it! And when did you first take that trailriding obsession into a racing environment? In 2011, I raced my first enduro. It was in a Junior class of the Hedley AORC in Victoria. I was on my KTM 150SX practice bike and I had good dice with Nic Tomlinson in Saturday’s crosscountry ... until I blew third gear up. On the Sunday, I got on my race bike and beat the boys pretty convincingly


“Dad wasn’t that into the idea I take it to dirt though, so we focused on motocross.” in the Sprint-format laps. I won every lap and the Overall for the day. And I remember Matt Phillips really encouraged me to take the off-road racing more seriously after that. Matt had just got into the off-road scene himself that year. You actually spent a fair bit of time with Matt Phillips while growing up, right? Yeah, we first met when he came over and raced the Vic MX titles and cleaned up. No one knew who this kid from Tasmania was, but he was lightning fast. A year later, he was clearly the fastest guy at the 2008 Aussie Junior MX Championship in WA, but ran second due to some red flag incident. We then went to Tassie and did a few races with Matt over there, and in 2011 he was the one that pushed me to have a crack at my first off-road race at Hedley. It’s incredible to think that after

running a bit hot and cold on the Senior motocross scene, Matt got into enduro in 2011, and now he’s a three-time Enduro World Champion!

to race off-road. I did a few good laps, but a bunch of crashes cost me any chance of a win. I was way too gungho and overriding the course.

The first time we saw you at the AORC was this time last year, when you rocked up at the final two rounds. You were in the middle of the MX Nats season, but you had half an act in the bush. I had actually ridden another AORC earlier that year, so that Monkerai round was the third off-road event I’d ever done. We were on our way north to Queensland – for the Toowoomba and Coolum rounds of the MX Nats – and Monkerai was kind of on the way. So we thought we should swing by and see where I sat in the pecking order. My bike [#73, pictured above] wasn’t set-up for the bush – it was literally my 250SX motocross bike with two hand guards bolted on – and I wasn’t physiologically conditioned

Was that weekend a turning point for you? Because you did enough to show you could run with, or beat, the top 19s-class guys. It was, for sure. Dad and me were aware that the opportunities in the motocross scene were only going to get slimmer, so we talked about the option of going road racing or enduro, which I’d already done. Actually, enduro was always my back-up plan, right from when I started racing Senior motocross. So that Monkerai round kind of cemented my thinking. I think I finished 12th Outright that weekend, so it showed me that I had to potential to run in the top-10 Outright. I knew that I could go heaps faster on a bike that was properly set up, and if I attacked the track with a different mindset.

Coming into this season, you not only changed the bike set-up, but the model you were riding too. That’s right. The 250cc two-stroke MX bike I rode last year was way too aggressive. For this season, I decided to ride the 250EXC-F, which is a lot more placid and easier to ride. I made sure my suspension set-up was right and I went for mousse tubes in my tyres for extra grip and to avoid flats. I didn’t even get any engine work; I just changed the ECU’s mapping to let it rev harder. Right at the start of the year, at the Vic Off-Road titles, I ran a pretty close third behind Daniel Sanders and Chris Davey, and felt much more comfortable on the bike. By mid-season in the AORC, you’d obviously worked it out. You were leading the Pro E1 class and challenging for Outright podium positions. Did that leap forward in

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PROFILE JACK SIMPSON

“Getting on the Australian ISDE team has been the biggest thing for me. Now I’d better learn how to change a mousse tube properly – for both the Six-Day and 4-Day!”

the results surprise you? Not really because I’ve put everything into it this year and trained my arse off. I got the right sponsors on board and made sure I had the right people in my corner. All of that gave me the confidence to do well. It felt good for all the hard work to pay off – for me and for all the people who’ve helped me get here. For the first few rounds, I just took it race by race and showed people my colours and how fast I could ride. For the back part of the season, I suppose I started thinking more about the championship win. Your motocross intensity seems to have paid dividends in the AORC’s cross-country races, which use mass starts. Fair to say? When you look at the guys who’ve been successful in the AORC, plenty of them have motocross backgrounds – guys like Matt Phillips, Toby Price, Chris Hollis, Daniel Milner, Josh Strang, Tye Simmonds. That intensity

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is an advantage for cross-country. I think everyone was surprised by how rough I was prepared to be to get up front early in the cross-country races. Enduro riders generally aren’t used to that level of aggression, so many of them would let me by. I ran fourth Outright in a few crosscountry races this year, and if I’d had more than a 9-litre tank fitted, I might have got onto the Outright podium in one or two of those. You’ve learned a fair bit from Daniel “Chucky” Sanders, too. Chucky absolutely lives, eats and breathes racing enduro. He might not quite be a match for those other guys around a motocross track, but he’s a machine at both the crosscountry and sprint formats. He’s a purebred enduro rider and so I’ve learned a lot from riding with him and seeing how he approaches a race weekend. He’s progressed so much in one year, it’s incredible.

What would you say the main cultural differences between the motocross and enduro racing scenes are? Enduro is a much more likable environment. It’s friendlier, there’s no backstabbing, and you’re focused more on racing the clock rather than putting someone over a berm. The riders and the team managers and the supporters all seem to get on a lot better. It’s much more of a community feel. When I hurt my foot late in the season, guys I race against came over to check how I was. You’d never get that from your rivals in a motocross paddock. They’d be telling me to get it amputated [laughs]. How about bike set-up? I’d say it’s actually harder to get your bike set-up right for motocross. If your bike’s a bit too stiff on a hardpack track, it’s going to beat you up. With enduro, because the terrain tends to be more varied, your bike is set up more as an all-rounder. It

might work better in some sections than others, but it’s a compromise setup to begin with, so you can always ride around that. If you get your enduro set-up close, you’re laughing. And training? I’ve backed off my training intensity for enduro, and focused much more on perfecting my technique. That’s where you make up your time in enduro. I also spent a lot of time improving my skills with obstacles such as big logs and bogholes. The chicken line around these obstacles is always a lot slower, so if you want to run top-10, you need to be good in technical terrain, even when you’re fatigued. I’m naturally superaggressive on the bike, so I actually had to work really hard on backing that off. Going slow to go fast is a real art with racing enduro. And now that I’ve finally figured how to tame myself down, it’s starting to work. At the AORC’s final weekend, I went 3-3 Outright, and that was my best result for the season.


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PROFILE JACK SIMPSON

“I think everyone was surprised by how rough I was prepared to be to get up front early in the cross-country races.” Take us through those final two rounds in southwestern Victoria. Did the wet conditions and creek crossings make you nervous? I think I had about 14 points’ lead in the E1 class, so it was a comfortable lead, but I still had to come out and get it done. The focus was always about winning E1, but over the course of the weekend, it also became apparent that I had a shot at climbing up to fifth or even fourth in the Outright standings for the year. After running third Outright on Saturday, I think there was just 6 points between Lachy Stanford, Beau Ralston and me. And KTM had put a carrot in my contract for a top-five finish Outright for the series. I ran third Outright at the final round, but that wasn’t quite good enough to get in front of the boys. In the end, the three of us finished just two points apart for fourth, fifth and sixth Outright. Unfortunately, I stayed in sixth. That was a bugger cos I didn’t

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get to eat KTM’s carrot, but all in all, it was a really solid year. And you far exceeded your preseason expectations, right? Absolutely. Coming into the season, we were aiming at a top-three finish in the E1 class and a top-10 Outright. So we surprised ourselves. In a good way. Aside from the AORC win, you won the 250cc class at Hattah and Finke Desert Races (finishing 10th and 11th Outright at them, respectively) and you were selected for Australia’s Junior Trophy Team for the ISDE in Spain. A big year! Yeah, it has been a big year. I raced Hattah six years back as a Junior, but my bike only lasted two laps before blowing up. So winning both desert races this year felt really good. But getting on the Australian ISDE team has been the biggest thing for me. Even though Chucky is still under 23, he’s

moved to the Senior Trophy Team, so I was the first call-up for the Juniors, and I knew that’d raise some eyebrows. Now I’d better learn how to change a mousse tube properly – for both the Six-Day and 4-Day, which is only a few weeks afterwards [laughs]. I can ride a bike fast, but I’ve got a lot to learn about the rules of enduro – all the maintenance you can and can’t do in the work periods and at the controls. I don’t want to make any stupid mistakes and cost the team. I plan to learn a lot from all the world-class riders I’ll be up against in Spain, and use that experience to come into the Aussie 4-Day swinging. It’s the perfect preparation. So, yeah, there’s a lot to be excited about later this year. Have you put any thought into what next season might bring? Have you had offers from the leading race teams yet? I’m passionate about riding bikes,

but the focus of my racing at the moment is to make enough money to buy a house and give myself a future. I see it as a bit of a make-orbreak few years. I have had a few different teams approach me, and a couple of them have made me an offer. I’m not that fussed who I ride for. As long as I feel comfortable and have a fun and relaxed environment with good people around me – and making good money on a decent bike – I know I can win races. That said, I want to be around the sport for the long haul, so it’s all about identifying the best overall package. I’m just focused on the Six-Day and 4-Day for the time being. After we get through those events, we’ll sit down with some teams and talk about next season. Thanks, Simmo. All the best for the ISDE in Spain. No worries. I can’t wait.


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Adventure

ICON In 2007, BMW launched an unusual parallel twin called the F 800 GS; a machine that’s been very popular in adventure riding circles ever since. But with only a facelift for 2016, is it still competitive? Transmoto’s Llewelyn Pavey investigates.

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LLEWELYN PAVEY

s an adventure bike, the F 800 GS doesn’t need much of an introduction. BMW brought the bike in as a mid-range alternative in 2007, and it was met with a pretty damn positive reception. For the adventure rider, it’s got a lot of positives – namely, a 21-inch front hoop and chassis geometry that’s closer to a dirt bike’s than a dual-purpose machine’s. For really long distance travelling, it was a little short on fuel capacity, so BMW made an Adventure edition. And it was a little tall, so BMW produced the F 700 GS. But if neither of those ‘issues’ bothered you, then BMW’s F 800 GS

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SIMON PAVEY

represented a very capable adventure bike for a relatively good price. In the nine years since BMW first released the F 800 GS, it has had a few styling changes, and some updates to various components. But it’s essentially the same bike with the same key components. So, is BMW’s 800 still a great bike? Or have advances in technology pushed it down the list of choices? Llewelyn Pavey, Transmoto’s UK-based adventure bike specialist who produces the online Brake Magazine , set out to answer those questions by spending a week on this iconic Beemer in Portugal...


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BIKE BMX F 800 GS

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“Whatever you do and however you choose to ride the F 800 GS, the engine has a weird and endearing smoothness. It makes for an extremely relaxing bike to ride over long hauls.” THE OFF-ROAD ABILITY The trail rolls out across the hill. All around, cork trees coat the countryside, the midday spring sun beating down. Each turn we make gives way to an even better, twistier and steeper ribbon of perfect trail. Eventually the bush closes in, the trail becomes overgrown and loose. The more it climbs, the lower the grip. As I roll back the throttle and let the revs drop, trying to feel the grip, the 800 tickles the ground, makes friends with it, and they form a solid bond. Seconds later, we’re at the top of another epic hillclimb, looking across the incredible valley of folded hills. The F 800 GS is an awesome off-road bike. It’s also a bike with some caveats. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend a fair amount of time aboard the F 800 GS in the past 10 years. If it were the only bike I’d ridden, I would have had very little issue with it. However, that is not the case. In

10 years of motorcycle production, some seriously big advances have happened. For the better part of a week, my old man (Simon) and I rode the F 800 GS; thinking hard about the way it works, why it works and what we think BMW could do with updating. The overwhelming conclusion was that, as an all-round package, the F 800 GS is a bike we love to ride off-road. The engine is silky smooth and gets fantastic grip. It’ll rev quickly when you ask it too. It can be incredibly gentle with the ground when the grip is low, and will claw up most hills at a ridiculously slow speed. The motor is plenty quick enough on the dirt too, and it has a free-revving character that rolls along the track without letting engine braking interfere. Likewise, the chassis is really very good. Off-road, the geometry feels right. The standing position is much like a dirt bike’s, so the combination of the steering head angle and 21-inch front wheel allow the

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BIKE BMX F 800 GS

“The F 800 GS is an awesome off-road bike. It’s also a bike with some caveats.” bike to track the ground and turn well. It slots into tight ruts as easily as a big bike can, and is a pleasure to ride. The smoother you are, the more you get from the midrange GS, and on the variety of terrain we experienced in Portugal, it was a brilliant machine. The endless sweeping corners of the Algarve coast complement everything right about the F 800 GS. As good as it is to ride on the dirt, the bike isn’t without some niggles. A few of those are similar to our review of the F 800 GS Adventure; the first of which is the clutch. Quite simply, it is too heavy. Ten years ago, it was fine. But KTM, Ducati and the R 1200 GS have ruined that. An hour of technical riding quickly takes a toll on even the most conditioned forearm. Next on those list of niggles is the feel of the front brake, which is unquestionably strong but difficult to modulate. It transitions from not much braking power to a locked front wheel preposterously quickly. You can

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learn to ride around it, but it’d be nice not to have to. The last area where BMW could bring the F 800 GS into the now is in the suspension department. It lacks a little damping control or any adjustability. It doesn’t deal with big bumps particularly well, and the fork dives under braking too much, making the bike a little tough to control on downhills. In 2015, Triumph addressed this problem with their WPfitted XCx model, and it’d be awesome for BMW to do the same to unleash more offroad potential from the F 800 GS.

THE ROAD PERFORMANCE Much like on the dirt, the F 800 GS is a bike that takes a little getting used to. But once you understand how it works, it’s great. The 21-inch front wheel tips in a bit quicker than a smaller-wheeled bike, which can make it a bit hard to judge grip levels.


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BIKE BMX F 800 GS

“It’s the dirt where the F 800 GS made us smile the most. It’s capable, smooth and finds incredible traction when the terrain gets tough.” And it’s accentuated by a steep steering angle and the longer-travel suspension. That feeling quickly mellows out as you gain confidence and understanding. On twisty roads, it corners surprisingly well. It is a fun bike that rolls along and can be kept at a good pace, but the skinny front tyre and slightly too-soft fork are the limiting factors. The F 800 GS is a bike to think of as fun, rather than a high-performing machine. It isn’t a 1290 Super Adventure on the tarmac, but that doesn’t kill the fun-factor. The key to getting the most from it on the road is being a smooth as possible. If you attempt to push hard, brake hard and corner fast, it gets confused; the fork bounces around like a springbok being

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chased by a lion, and it stops being fun. Likewise, being smooth with the throttle is important. Mid-corner changes of the throttle position upset the bike when trying to push on. At a nice mid-range pace, the type of speed you’d ride when still really relaxed, the F 800 GS is a happy bunny. The engine is a little weird in that respect too, yet everyone on the test team loved it. It rides very nicely in a tall gear, but lacks outright torque to pull that gear out of the corners. It makes decent power when revving a little higher and moves well, but becomes tougher to turn smoothly. It’d be amazing if it had a little more pull from the bottom-end to drag itself up to speed.

That additional torque would be a positive addition to its off-road capability too. Whatever you do and however you choose to ride the F 800 GS, the engine has a weird and endearing smoothness. It makes for an extremely relaxing bike to ride over long hauls. It doesn’t need to be ridden fast to be enjoyable and its smooth nature makes it feel refined. Once you move from the twisties, you’ll find where the F 800 is at its weakest. Freeway riding is okay; it’ll do it with relative comfort when compared to a DR650, but I wouldn’t pick it from the garage to go and bust out an 800km ride. The long-distance bum comfort leaves something to be desired.


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The stock unit slopes downward from back to front prominently, which makes for a rather uncomfortable experience in the long run. By the time you need to stop for fuel on a long journey, it’s really welcome. Likewise, the screen is non-adjustable. At some point with a mid-range bike, there has to be compromise of components, and this is one of the areas where the F 800 GS is keeping the price down. Non-adjustable, small and relatively inconsequential, we’d be surprised if anyone over 5’9” (175cm) can keep their head inside the bubble of air.

THE LITTLE BITS While the F 800 GS has some significant things it does well and others we think need updating, there are smaller pieces of the puzzle that deserve mentioning. First on that list is the footpegs; they’re really good. Most bikes in the category come with skimpy, road-friendly, halfbaked footpegs that are about as useful as welding the remnants of a spanner to your frame. The F 800 GS, however, has a decent-sized peg that grips well and it makes a world of difference when riding on the dirt.

The handlebars are not perfect but they’re a good bend. Comfortable on and off-road, they work in most situations. I’d like it if they were little less swept back, but when compared with some of their rivals, BMW has done a good job. We mentioned the clutch before, but we’d really appreciate it if BMW did away with using the cable. Cables need too much looking after to stay feeling good, and hydraulic systems have very few cons these days. The sidestand and centre-stand designs on the F 800 GS are also good. It might seem trivial, but when the sidestand is a good length, it makes the bike easy

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BIKE BMX F 800 GS

RATED: 2016 BMW F 800 GS A great all-rounder that, despite wanting updating, still holds its own. ENGINE

BRAKES

ROAD HANDLING

COMFORT

OFF-ROAD HANDLING

ECONOMY

to manage in a lot of situations. The strength allows it to take the full weight of the bike many times over, so pivoting the bike on it in the workshop or the carpark works very well. Likewise, the centre-stand is easy to use. On top of that, the stand’s lever is well out of the way so even my oversized feet fit on the footpegs without a problem. And that makes riding in the standing position a much more pleasant experience. They’re little things, but they all make ownership that bit nicer.

CONCLUSION In 2015, BMW updated the fork and a few other little parts on the F 800 GS. For 2016, they gave the bike one last facelift

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before the new-generation hits showroom floors in the not too distant future. So logic would suggest that the F 800 is an out-of-date bike that has been well and truly overtaken by machines such as Honda’s Africa Twin or the incredibly premium GS and KTM models. But the reality is that, despite being a little less advanced in some areas, the F 800 GS is still a superb bike to ride. It’s probably not a novice-friendly bike, as the tall seat and quick-revving engine can make things ‘exciting’, but amazingly, it’s the dirt where the F 800 GS made us smile the most. It’s capable, smooth and finds incredible traction when the terrain gets tough. It handles well and puts a smile on my face, and I’m always sad to give it back.

8.2 OVERALL RATING

The road performance is also good. It’s enjoyable rather than exciting, but it gets the job done at a decent pace. As an all-round machine, it really is very capable and it still makes for a brilliant choice as an adventure bike. The little things we don’t like about the bike are all rectifiable, especially the fork – you could easily get the springs changed or run a cartridge kit and have an incredible handling machine. More importantly, it doesn’t seem on paper an impossible challenge for BMW to turn the existing F 800 GS into a bike that would have Honda needing nappies. So if the development team at BMW is reading this, congratulations on building a bike that has lasted nine years. Now we’d like to order a few changes…


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MITCH EVANS

2016 AUSTRALIAN MXD CHAMPION

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PROFILE JOSH GREEN

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Last year, Josh Green won the E1 class at the AORC and A4DE, ran second Outright in the AORC and Enduro-X Nats, podiumed at both Finke and Hattah, and was part of Australia’s ISDE-winning team. So, with Toby Price’s departure, Green looked like he’d be the man to beat this season. Sadly, his left knee had other ideas. ANDY WIGAN

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ANDY WIGAN, JOHN PEARSON MEDIA, TROY PEARS

osh Green has evidently been busy since I last visited. For starters, his oversized garage has had a major makeover. Aside from offering commanding views over his 150-acre Hunter Valley property, it now serves as a full-blown gymnasium, a workshop for his bikes and cars, and a workstation for his social media ‘commitments’. Full of enthusiasm, Green introduces me to his new, jacked-up Ford Ranger, and details the custom accessories he’s in the process of fitting to it. He gives me a rundown on all the gym equipment. He lights up when talking about how much mouth-watering grasstrack his new tractor can slash in a morning’s work. And he reflects on his plans to build a granny flat for his folks. Yep, it all paints a picture of a guy who’s been trying very, very hard to keep himself occupied during the six months that major knee surgery has kept him off the bike. And with epic riding terrain in every direction, it’s no wonder there’s not a motorcycle in sight. For a guy who eats, breathes and

sleeps dirt bikes, the temptation would simply be too great. Green’s enforced downtime prompts me to reflect on his journey over the past decade. I’d first watched him race in 2007; as a cocksure 17-year-old making his presence felt on the national off-road scene. And in years since, he’s evolved into one of Australia most complete off-road racers. Whatever he’s confronted with – an MX-style sprint, three-hour crosscountry, super-tech endurocross or high-speed desert race – Green has consistently been a podium guy for more than five years now, and that’s why he’s one of Yamaha’s highest-paid riders. He’s still got that self-assured air about him, but the arrogance is gone. In its place is a newfound maturity, and a more calculated approach to his racing. Instead of doing what we normally do at Greeny’s joint – ride his sick network of trails and grasstrack – I took the opportunity to sit down with the laid-up 26-yearold; to speak about what the time on the sidelines had taught him, and what his future might hold...

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PROFILE JOSH GREEN

"I blew my ACL in the second special test of the very first round of the season. I felt the best I ever have coming into a season, and then that happens before I’d even raised a sweat." Last season would have to be your best on record. By a long shot, right? JG: Yeah, we started the year off well when I ran second Outright to Mike Brown at the Australian Enduro-X Nationals, and then we took the all-new WR250F to its first ever major win; first Outright at the cross-country round at Hedley, Victoria. That was another cool milestone for us as a team because that WR250F is such an important new model for Yamaha. In the AORC, I won 12 from 12 rounds in the E1 class, and ran second Outright to Toby [Price]. I won the 250cc class at the 4-Day, and I was the second 250F home at the ISDE in Slovakia, where Team Australia scored a historical win. I also went third Outright at Finke and Hattah, and won the 450cc class at both events. So, yeah, it was a great year.

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Why the move to the 450 class this season for the AORC? I’m a bigger guy, plus Yamaha just released their all-new WR450F at Christmas, so my job was to win aboard that bike.

as more important. I actually think it would be better to award three number-one plates in the three Pro classes, and take the emphasis off the Outright, but that’s the way it is at the moment.

over those opening four rounds. Then it was me, Chris Hollis, Lachy Stanford and Glenn Kearney who were fighting over the other two podium steps. I posted the quickest lap at the opening two rounds and won most of the tests.

You and your teammate Beau Ralston are both big blokes, so how was it decided who’d ride in which class? After last year, I guess I was seen as the team’s lead rider and I was given the job of racing the 450. Beau and I could have both ridden 450s in the E2 class, but he seemed to really gel with the 480-kitted bike, and decided with AJ Roberts [Active8 Yamalube Yamaha team manager] to run the WR480F in the E3 class.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t this the first season in living memory that you didn’t carry and injury into the opening round? It is. But ironically, I blew my ACL in the second special test of the very first round of the season. I’d had the best off-season, and felt the best I ever have coming into a season, and then that happens before I’d even raised a sweat.

Initially, you and your team were very cagey about how bad the knee injury was. How exactly did it happen? We didn’t want to telegraph what was going on until we knew how bad it was. So there were a bunch of press releases where we tiptoed around the truth. The injury happened when I stomped my foot in a creekbed at that first round. I knew I’d done damage, but I kept racing. On the laps I didn’t tweak the knee, I’d win the test. On laps I’d catch my foot on the ground, the pain caused me to lose a bunch of time. I felt that cost me the Outright win at Rounds 1 and 2. In the two-week

The AORC seems to be much more about the Outright these days, rather than class results. The Outright is definitely regarded

Even injured, you still managed to notch up impressive results. Your Outright scorecard at the first four rounds read 3-2-3-3. Well, Daniel Sanders came out swinging and towelled everyone up


gap before the following rounds at Portland, I rested up and didn’t ride at all. I saw doctors and physios, who for some reason told me my ACL was fine. But it didn’t feel real good. Unfortunately, the tracks at Portland were off-camber and tight, which didn’t suit a bung knee. I nursed it through those rounds and still finished 3-3 Outright. So I figured I’d be okay to strap it up, keep riding and get through the season, and then get it fixed at the end of the year. So what changed? I went to see another doctor who looks after a bunch of the major footy teams, and this time the MRI scans showed I’d ruptured my ACL, torn my MCL, and done a fair bit of damage to the cartilage. I think I was in denial because I was still running second Outright in the AORC and first in the E2 class. We went out to Alice

Springs after that Portland round to do some pre-running for the Finke Desert Race, and I really struggled. We use Steg Pegz out there to help grip the bike with our calves, and that transferred a lot of movement into the knee. It started clicking and crunching and became progressively harder to walk each day after riding on it. We went straight from Alice to the Murray Bridge AORC round in South Oz – where it was really slippery – and I stomped my foot badly just a few special tests into the weekend. There was a massive pop and heaps of pain. I could hardly walk or carry my weight on the bike and finished way outside of the top-10. Aside from the fact that dropped me to third in class and fourth Outright, the injury really got in my head from that point. So I discussed it with AJ and we decided to there was no point battling for fifths when we should be fighting for wins. So we

pulled the pin and I got the surgery. Knowing I’d be out of action for at least six months, it made more sense to get it right, regroup and start again for the 2017 season. You’ve had AJ Roberts in your corner for five years now. He’s a former three-time AORC champ, so what wisdom has he imparted on you? AJ’s been in the industry for a long time and he’s learned a lot. He knows what works and what doesn’t. Probably the biggest thing I’ve learned from him is that racing is a full-time job, and that I’m lucky to have it. I mean, I’ve worked hard for it and I’ve earned my position, but it’s still a really cool job. It’s a short career – maybe another five or possibly 10 years. Who knows? AJ has helped me realise that I need to make the most of everything. He’s also taught me the

importance of building relationships and loyalty in the industry. For several years, AJ worked for Gas Imports, who distribute Thor gear in Australia – along with a heap of other brands – and Thor’s now been a team sponsor for the past four years. What has being sidelined freed you up to do or learn? I’m never going to be one of these princesses who doesn’t show up at the races simply because they’re injured. If I can’t be racing for the team, I still want to be there to help the other guys on the team win. So it’s been a good opportunity for me to get a better understanding for how the team works. After the operation, I joined the team for the Finke Desert Race, where we camped out and I helped out with the fuel stops. And as frustrating as it was not being able to race, it was really cool to get a totally different

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PROFILE JOSH GREEN

"I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do after racing, but taking on SOME SORT OF trainer and mentortype role appeals to me."

perspective on the race. The time on the sidelines also means I can work together with Beau to try to help him improve. Whether its line selection or bike set-up, you can see things from the sidelines that are often not so easy to see while you’re riding. Admittedly, that’ll probably bite me in the arse when I’m back racing [laughs], but it’s all about contributing to the team the best way I can at this point. I’m due to go back and see the surgeon in mid October, which is a month earlier than they initially thought, so fingers crossed he gives me the all-clear to get back on the bike by early November – which means I can join Beau to defend our Transmoto 6-Hour title at Stroud. From what I can see, the time off the bike has also allowed you to work on your new property here at Stroud and develop your rider tuition business – which is called Off-Road Advantage, right? That’s true. I’ve done a lot of work

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on the property. Plus I’ve started coaching some up-and-coming young racers – guys and girls – and a heap of blokes who want to improve their trailriding skills. I especially enjoy the trailriding coaching because those guys tend to improve so much really fast. I’ll generally start on basics – clutch, brake and throttle control, body position, flat turns, rutted turns, etcetera, etcetera – and then work on uphills, downhills and logcrossings. Usually, by the time they’ve got through all that, they’ve already learned too much. They’ll often want to go away for a month or two, practise those skills, and then come back to fine-tune things or move on to more advanced skills. I love seeing people improve. It’s cool to see a guy who starts off thinking there’s no way he can ride up and over a log, and then see him do it easily after I’ve explained the key techniques. I’m not sure who’s more pumped about that – him or me [laughs].

Is the rider coaching about futureproofing your income or giving back to the sport? Kind of both, I suppose. A few years ago, I started helping out a bunch of junior enduro kids. I gave a day of my time to Motorcycling NSW, who raffled off a coaching clinic with me to about 10 young riders. I got a kick out of that. For me, it was all about putting back into the sport of Junior Enduro and help to keep it strong. That led to me helping out some mates and their friends who didn’t race, but wanted ride with more confidence. The rider coaching business then became a natural extension of that. Longer term, I would like to stay involved in the sport by taking on a trainer and mentor-type role after getting my personal training ticket. I think there’s real value in giving younger riders advice about everything from line selection and reading tracks, to dealing with the media, to bike

set-up, to representing sponsors professionally. I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do after racing, but that’s the sort of thing that appeals to me. I’ve got my own gym and tracks here on the property, so there’s no harm in laying the foundations for that potential future. What have you seen in your AORC rivals, now that you’ve had the opportunity to scrutinise them from the sidelines? Daniel Sanders seems to have been on an entirely different level from the rest of the guys for most of the season. He’s working really hard and riding really well. And he’s been super-consistent. He’s got a good team and he’s confident. He’s just got every ingredient in place and that’s why he’s won a majority of the rounds. I think Tye Simmonds has definitely improved a lot from last year, and he got one over Sanders at Hattah this year. I’ve been


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PROFILE JOSH GREEN

impressed with how Lachy Stanford has stepped up this year too. He’s always been really consistent, but he seems to ride the bigger-capacity bikes better and he’s done really well over the past few rounds to fight through the pain of a busted hand and not loose too many points. Chris Hollis has been uncharacteristically inconsistent this year. He’s never really dominated cross-country races, but he’s often untouchable on his day in the Sprint formats. I’m just not sure if he really wants it as much as he has in the past, or whether other guys have stepped it up, but I believe Hollis can still win a national because he’s brilliant. Jack Simpson has clearly got his head

around racing among trees this year. He’s always been fast and aggressive, but has now learned how to rein that in a bit and not lose time in technical terrain. Glenn Kearney, the old dog, is still doing amazing things and running top-three Outright here and there on a 250F. And I have to mention Broc Grabham here, too. He’s also come on in leaps and bounds from last year and seems to be getting better at every round, despite not having a whole lot of support. He’s always been fast at state events, and he’s now learned to bring that game to the nationals. From the looks of him, he’s obviously been training a lot harder this year, too.

What do you think season 2017 will bring? Will Sanders’ departure to Europe leave the door wide open on the domestic scene? First of all, I need to sign a contract for next season. But Yamaha’s been good enough to support me through my surgery, so I’d like to think I’ll be back with the Active8 Yamaha team again for 2017. As you say, Chucky is likely to be in Europe next year, which means there’ll be a lot of guys who’ll want to stake a claim on the number-one plate. I think the frontrunners will be me, Beau Ralston, Tye Simmonds, Lachy Stanford, Chris Hollis, Jack Simpson and Broc Grabham. And where do you think Daniel Milner will be racing next year? I reckon we’ll also see a few new faces in

"I’m never going to be one of these princesses who doesn’t show up at the races simply because they’re injured. If I can’t be racing for the team, I still want to be there to help the team OUT." 116

the series. I mean, there are new faces every year – just like Toby Price was new in 2009. Every week, I’ll get a call from a Pro motocross rider who’s sounding me out about the best AORC round for them to come along and try. It seems those guys are starting to see that the off-road scene in Australia is strong and that Australia has become a real force on the international off-road racing stage. Can Team Australia defend their ISDE title in Spain this year? And how gutted are you that you can’t be there with them? Yeah, I’m going to really miss the opportunity to join the boys and see if we can create some more history. I’m sure they can bring it home again.


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PROJECT BIKE SHERCO 450SEF-R

Tour

DE FORCE For six months now, Transmoto’s Grant O’Brien has raced, trailridden and maintained our 2016 450SEF-R project bike. Here are his insights into the ownership experience, and the cost-effective ways to customise and improve Sherco’s flagship enduro weapon. GRANT O’BRIEN, ANDY WIGAN

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GRANT O’BRIEN, DAVID BURNETT


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PROJECT BIKE SHERCO 450SEF-R

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n racing circles over the past few years, Sherco’s credentials are impressive. With a focus solely on manufacturing enduro bikes, this relatively young French company has notched up stage wins at the Dakar Rally. They’ve carried more than half of France’s national team to an ISDE win. In Australia, they’ve recently clinched two class wins at the Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC). And Australia’s Matt Phillips has just handed Sherco what is arguably

the most coveted prize in the enduro world: the Outright, or “EnduroGP” class, crown in the 2016 Enduro World Championship. But how does that race pedigree translate into an all-round machine that lives in a suburban garage; a bike that’s used for trailrides, grasstrack blats and the odd enduro and MX race, and which is maintained by an average bloke rather than factory team mechanics? Thankfully, the boys at Transmoto HQ thought I’d be the perfect ‘average

bloke’ to help answer those questions, and they handed the bike over to me after the Transmoto 12-Hour back in March. Having now been shacked up with this 450cc French filly for six months, and put about 20 hours’ run-time on the bike, I’ve got a good handle on both its strong points and the areas it can be improved. The following pages offer an insight into how I’ve gone about customising and improving the machine, and the small things owners need to keep an eye on.

“It has to be said that this 2016 Sherco 450SEF-R boasts one of the broadest, most tractable and user-friendly engines I’ve ever tested.”

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PARTS FITTED...

RADIATOR GUARDS – RRP: $203.95

ALLOY BASHPLATE – RRP: $189.95

There are a few quick-fix tricks to repair radiators if they’re damaged during a ride, but more often than not you’ll be in need of a tow, which is a pain in the arse. Given that radiators are pricey, why risk it? For less than the cost of a radiator half, you can have much-improved protection for your cooling system’s most important components without restricting airflow. I fitted a set of Sherco Racing Hard Parts genuine billet alloy radiator guards because they’re easy to fit and offer great insurance against side impacts (from crashes) and front-on punctures (if speared by a branch or flying rocks). I’d recommend fitting these guards from new because radiators are undoubtedly one of the most fragile, but important, components of any dirt bike. If they lose their coolant without you knowing on a ride – and that can easily happen – you’ll be losing a lump of cash to repair the resulting engine damage.

As tough as the cast-alloy engine cases are on the Sherco 450SEF-R, they can easily be damaged by a decent-sized rock that’s flicked up by the front wheel or by a mate’s ‘friendly fire’ roost on the trail. The bike’s standard plastic bashplate is light and offers decent protection to the underside of the engine and frame rails, but I reckon it leaves both the side cases and water-pump cover a little vulnerable. That’s why I added the Sherco Racing Hard Parts alloy bashplate, which made from a 4mm 5083-grade alloy. It’s a bit heavier than the plastic unit, but that’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind that my engine is better protected at all times. Plus its black polymer coating (the alloy is heated to 300º so the polymer coating anneals to it) is incredibly long-wearing and noticeably quieter (both from rock hits and reflected engine noise) than conventional alloy units.

REAR DISC GUARD – RRP: $89.95

CASE SAVER – RRP: $49.95

Because you mono over many obstacles while the rear wheel drives you forward, a dirt bike’s rear brake disc tends to be more vulnerable than the front. And although they’re very strong, a rear disc can easily be bent when it encounters protruding rocks in deep ruts at the wrong angle. Aside from affecting the braking performance instantly, a bent disc can also be downright dangerous. So as a precautionary measure, I fitted a Sherco Racing Hard Parts alloy rear disc guard. It’s light but strong and gives the disc optimal protection from sideways and underside hits while not looking out of place.

Snapping a chain is rare, especially if you run a quality brand. But if one does let go and impacts with the engine cases, the consequences are likely to be costly. The same applies if a rock is flung out of your chain at Mach 3. Adding a purposebuilt billet alloy case saver gives you the peace of mind that your engine cases are much better protected in these scenarios, meaning there’s one less thing you have to worry about while out on a remote trail. The Sherco Racing Hard Parts billet alloy case saver bolts on in seconds, looks trick, and does the job.

Check out the entire range of Sherco Racing Hard Parts and your closest Sherco dealer at: www.sherco.com.au/news-5800/sherco-racing-hard-parts 121


PROJECT BIKE SHERCO 450SEF-R

PARTS FITTED...

PIRELLI SCORPION TYRES MX32 MID-SOFT FRONT (80/100-21) – RRP: $95 XC MID-SOFT REAR (120/100-18) – RRP: $119 Choosing the right set of tyres is tricky when you ride a wide variety of terrain. One week, I might ride loamy singletrail; the next, grasstrack; the next, sand mixed with hardpack sections. So trying to find a versatile set of tyres to handle all of the above is a challenge. After some advice from off-road ace, Glenn Kearney, I went with a set of Pirelli Scorpion tyres. I use a MX32 front and XC rear, both mid-soft, and they’ve proved to be excellent across a mix of terrain. While they excel in more loamy conditions, it’s surprising how well they perform in more hardpack, rocky terrain. www.pirelli.com/tyres/

SUSPENSION MODS

A

SK DESIGNS GRAPHICS KIT – RRP: $279 There’s nothing like a quality set of graphics to freshen up a bike’s appearance, once the standard set starts getting scuffed or lifting in places. SK Designs Australia produce high-quality graphics and they made us a set based off their new Sherco graphics design. Aside from looking trick, they also incorporate logos for Pirelli and Repsol, who are supporting this project bike. SK Designs use new technology with printing to ensure an exact match for tricky colours, such as Sherco’s fluoro yellow/lime. They also use a thick, highly durable sticker material that, once stuck, stays stuck. SKDA has an extensive online catalogue with 200 designs that allow customers to personalise logos and race numbers. www.skda.com.au

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fter 15 hours of riding and becoming more familiar with the Sherco’s handling traits, I realised the standard suspension just wasn’t handling the bigger hits as I started to ride the bike faster. I was running out of adjustment, so I gave David Burnett from Queensland-based suspension specialist, Suspension Matters, a call to dial it in to suit my weight and riding ability. And I’m glad I did because, in one day, he taught me a lot about suspension and how to take it to the next level. David confirmed right away that I was too heavy for the bike’s standard springs, and set about making the necessary changes. “When we first look at a bike’s suspension, we always start with the springs; they are the first and most important priority,” he says. “The standard springs on the Shercos

are really only suited to a rider in the 70-80kg range, and with you weighing in at 80kg-plus, we went up one spring rate in both the front and rear springs. The next step David and his technicians turned their attention to was the damping specs. And with me being an Expert-level rider who rides a little more aggressive than the average trailrider (and enters the odd enduro race), they firmed the suspension up and got it to sit higher in the stroke. “The higher in the stroke we can have it, the more available travel we’ve got left to absorb the next bump,” explained David. “And that also gives the bike’s chassis a more stable feel. That stability will make you feel more confident, and make you want to ride it faster,” he went on to say. David’s expertise is in the trail, enduro and adventure disciplines


OBSERVATIONS Here’s a bunch of small but important things that I’ve learned to keep an eye on after living with and maintaining the Sherco 450SEF-R for six months:

ENGINE •

It has to be said that this bike boasts one of the broadest, most tractable and user-friendly engines I’ve ever tested. I’m no Pro, so when I twist the throttle and the bike drives forward without losing traction, most of the time, it keeps me on track and saves me a lot of energy in the process.

WHEELS •

The standard rubber rim tape (on the front wheel, in particular) is pretty flimsy and should be replaced to avoid the risk of a spoke nipple causing a flat. While you’re at it, replace the standard tubes with heavy-duty items, move the rimlock four spoke-spaces away from the valve, and replace the thin little rimlock nut with a beefier item.

BODYWORK

because that’s what he and his technicians are most passionate about. They live and breathe it themselves, which helps them to relate to a customer’s needs. David started with a base setting he knows works well with the WP suspension on the Sherco 450SEF-R, and used my feedback to dial both the fork and shock in, pointing out that, “I interview every rider that comes through the door before even lifting a spanner to find out exactly what level they’re at, their weight, and what type of riding they do before revalving and adjusting their suspension. Then I take this information and apply it to the base settings I have for each type of suspension. That gets it very close to

the rider’s needs, so it then only requires minor clicker or sag adjustments to suit the different conditions a rider experiences.” David took me out for a blast at his local forest trails once the suspension work was complete, and the difference from standard was instantly noticeable. I thought the Sherco’s WP suspension worked quite well stock, but having it set up specifically to suit my weight and ability made a world of difference. The bike is now much more confidence-inspiring to ride through larger bumps and across rough terrain. Now I’ve just got to learn by trial and error how to fine-tune it for the different locations I ride. www.suspensionmatters.com.au

“I thought the Sherco’s WP suspension worked quite well stock, but having it specifically set up to my weight and ability made a world of difference.”

The redesigned/strengthened subframe for 2016 does create a little more room around the air filter in the airbox, but it’s still a tight fit. And that means you need to be careful to ensure no dirt falls into the intake when you’re removing a dirty filter. Also, make sure the bolt that locks the filter cage in place locates accurately, and is properly tightened to avoid it unwinding during the course of a ride.

The 2016 450SEF-R sure is a sexy-looking specimen, but it doesn’t stay that way for long because the graphics have a tendency to peel off after a few rides. The front of both sideplates’ pin-striping decals, and leg area, are first to lift.

Call me picky, but I reckon hard-nosed enduro bikes like this ought to come with a clear/translucent fuel tank. Aside from being way more practical, I reckon it actually looks better too. After all, Sherco fits clear tanks to its special Factory Model bikes (and, from the looks of it, Sherco’s 2017 models have answered my plea).

FASTENERS •

Like all bikes, it’s important to check the tension of a few key bolts after a ride or two. Aside from the obvious stuff (spoke nipples, sprocket bolts), two common things that come loose if not checked and greased are: 1. The top three engine mount bolts near the side of the head (if you don’t pull them out and grease them from new, they tend to vibrate out); and 2. It’s a good idea to pull out the 10mm head stem pinch bolt and Loctite it as this tends to come loose. Also make sure you check the Sherco’s fork protector bolts. Thankfully for 2016, Sherco now runs a nylock nut on the back of the upper subframe mount bolts (in the 2015 bikes, the bolts threaded straight into the alloy and often came loose).

Keep an eye on the lower radiator shroud bolts. One of the bolt-heads on my bike pulled through the radiator shroud plastics after dropping the bike gently on its side. There just isn’t enough surface area on the bolt head to hold the plastic shroud in place under pressure, so a larger washer and/or alloy collar fixed the problem.

Access to adjust the rear shock’s preload collar ain’t so easy. In fact, the collar is near impossible to access without removing the shock first. This is a pain in the arse when setting up suspension, so I’m looking to source a special C-spanner that’ll make the job possible with the shock still in the bike.

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PROJECT BIKE SHERCO 450SEF-R

“For less than the cost of a radiator half, you can have much-improved protection for your cooling system’s most important components without restricting airflow.”

MAINTENANCE •

In the bike’s owners manual, it states to use a 10W/60 oil in Australia, while in Europe it says to run 10W/40. The reason we run the thicker-grade oil is because of the hotter conditions here, and according to Sherco’s factory offroad technician Dave Suter, clutch life expectancy is noticeably better with the thicker 10W/60 grade oil. I’ve been running Repsol’s full synthetic 10W/50 oil during the winter period I’ve had the bike and have not experienced any issues whatsoever. I’ve been changing the oil and oil filter every five hours of engine run-time.

• The valve clearances were spot-on when checked at the first service interval

– around six hours. Dave Suter says he’s never had to adjust a set of valves on their race team bikes yet, and has only adjusted valves on Shercos in his workshop that were two to three years old. In other words, the valve train is proving very durable.

With fuel-injected bikes, it’s more important not to over-oil the air filter as excess oil can be sucked into the throttle body and upset the sensors. So squeeze out excess oil from the foam and let it dry as much as possible before installing. The Shercos have a protruding lip that the air filter sits inside, so you know when it’s located in the correct position before screwing it tight. That means

you only really need to grease the sealing surface in extreme, dusty conditions. •

At the 15-hour mark, I noticed slight movement in one of the bottom linkage bolts, so the bearings in the linkage will need to be replaced before too long. The lesson I learned is that it is advisable to grease the linkage seals with waterproof grease from new to prevent premature wear.

Removing the rear shock for servicing or tuning is time-consuming as you have to drop the lower linkage, swivel the subframe back a little, and remove the exhaust to enable you to get it out.

MORE ONLINE... Check out the online videos on www.transmoto.com.au of the Sherco 450SEF-R taking on the 2016 Transmoto 12-Hour, maintenance advice from the guys at Gold Coast Sherco dealership, Moto Solutions, and for a more detailed insight into the suspension mods and the fitment of the custom graphics kit.

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GP CHAMPION SHERCO 300 SEF-R

overall Champion across all classes

E2 CHAMPION SHERCO 300 SEF-R

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RECOMMENDED LUBRICANT

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P R O D U C T

S H O W C A S E

NECKBRACES The latest products designed to protect your neck are lighter, less restrictive, more effective in preventing injury, and significantly more affordable than their predecessors. Here’s an overview of what’s available. ANDY WIGAN

F

or decades, young riders have worn collars to protect their neck against impact forces. Curiously though, it wasn’t until 2006 – when Leatt released its revolutionary neckbrace – that their parents began to take neck protection seriously. In the years since, neckbraces have been widely embraced by adult riders around the world, and several other brands have joined Leatt in the category. As a result, neckbraces and neck collars have undergone significant R&D in recent years, and the major brands’

latest products offer much-improved fit and function. They’ve also come down dramatically in price. But what options do you have in the way of neck protection? What key features does each brand boast? How much do they weigh? Do they come in kids’ sizes? Can you accessorize them? And how much do the things cost? Turn the page for a snapshot of your alternatives – from the high-tech neckbraces to the even more affordable neck collar/roll products – and the answers to all those questions.

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NECKBRACES

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LEATT GPX 5.5 NECKBRACE

Chassis construction: Fibreglass-reinforced polyamide Key features: Totally new chassis design. Updated profile for the helmet-rim striking platform. Improved side clearance for helmet. On-board size adjusting (no parts needed). Four-angle folding Thoracic adjustment (0, 5, 10 and 15ยบ) to fine-tune the fit and improve comfort.

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ALPINESTARS BNS TECH CARBON NECK SUPPORT Chassis Construction: An advanced carbon polymer Key features: Advanced carbon polymer construction optimises frame strength and lightweight performance. Rear stabilizer spreads energy load over shoulders and neck, and away from spine. Large chest contact area for greater comfort. Low-profile on shoulders to limit collarbone breaks. Quick-release locking system with internal magnet for fast and secure closure. Available in two (XS-M and L-XL) sizes.

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SAS (Size Adapter System) provides adjustable fitment in size ranges XS-M and L-XL. Accessories included: X-Strap System. Stabiliser pads to transfer impact stress loads away from spine. Interchangeable EVA foam pads for rear, front and shoulders to fine-tune the fit and aid compatibility with other body protection systems. Optional accessories: A-Strap System Sizing options?: XS-M, L-XL Weight: 735g Warranty: 12 months RRP: $449.95

The GPX 5.5 model comes in Junior and Adult sizes, while both the GPX 4.5 and GPX 6.5 models are only available in Adult sizes. Accessories included: Chest strap Optional accessories: Cross strap Sizing options: Junior, Adult Weight: 740g (Junior), 790g (Adult) Warranty: 12 months RRP: $459.95 (Junior), $569.95 (Adult)


WWW.ATLASBRACE.COM

ATLAS AIR NECKBRACE

Chassis construction: High-impact polypropylene Key features: Split-Flex Frame Design promotes flex to mimic natural body movements for maximum comfort and mobility. Independent chest and back supports sit around sternum and spine to increase contact surface area for better force distribution and comfort. Rear Smart Mounts allow size and angle adjustment of back supports. Easy-open release

system. Super-lightweight polypropylene construction for high impact resistance. Accessories included: Hybrid chest strap. Height adjustment pads. Optional accessories: Custom graphics (templates available) Sizing options: Youth (Prodigy, Tyke and Broll), Adult Weight: from 375g (Youth), 599g (Adult) Warranty: Limited lifetime RRP: from $159.95 (Youth), $449.95 (Adult)

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EVS R4K NECKBRACE Chassis construction: Polyurethane foam base with Koroyd core and reinforced nylon upper shell Key features: Extremely lightweight Koroyd offers superior absorption and remains stable in extremely hot and cold environments. Aerodynamic chassis design. Rapid-lock closure system for easy front entry. Integrated X-strap cleats. Accessories included: X-strap fastening system Optional accessories: N/A Sizing options: Youth, Adult Weight: 270g (Youth), 445g (Adult) Warranty: 12 months RRP: $269.95 (Youth), $299.95 (Adult)

NECK SUPPORT

... AN ABBREVIATED HISTORY ● In 2001, after witnessing

the death of a rider due to a neck injury, a South African doctor by the name of Chris Leatt began designing his first neckbrace prototypes. ● The first Leatt neckbrace was sold in South Africa in 2004, but the first mass-produced versions of Leatt’s neckbrace weren’t available to consumers until 2006. ● In 2007, multiple AMA MX/SX champion, David Bailey, released an impassioned video from his wheelchair, encouraging all riders to

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NECK ROLLS

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EVS SPORTS R2 RACE COLLAR Construction: Closed-cell PU foam inner, nylon and synthetic leather outer Key features: CE approved, low-profile design. Removable and washable liner. Easy front-entry system. Fastening loops allow direct connection to chest protectors.

Lightest collar on the market. Accessories include: N/A Optional accessories: N/A Sizing options: Youth, Adult Weight: 224g Warranty: 12 months RRP: $46.95 (Youth), $49.95 (Adult)

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O’NEAL NX2 RACE COLLAR Construction: Neoprene outer, foam inner Key features: Protects against axial compression, hyperflexion, hyperextension and lateral hyperflexion. Easily connects directly to most chest protectors. Easy front-entry system. Removable and

washable liner. Accessories: N/A Optional accessories: N/A Sizing options: Youth, Adult Weight: 310g (Youth), 450g (Adult) Warranty: 12 months RRP: $44.95 (Youth), $49.95 (Adult)

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ACERBIS NECK STABILISING COLLAR Construction: Closed-cell PU foam Key features: Simple, lightweight, ergonomically shaped neck protection. Hypoallergenic, soft, comfortable and breathable materials used throughout. Fastening system to ensure a comfortable, secure fit.

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Completely removable and washable. Affordable option for neck protection. Accessories included: Fastening system Optional accessories: N/A Sizing options: Youth, Adult Weight: 320g Warranty: 12 months RRP: $49.95

NECK SUPPORT

... AN ABBREVIATED HISTORY (continued) seriously consider using a Leatt neckbrace. And sales of the protective product went through the roof. ● Shortly afterwards, Alpinestars released their BNS (Bionic Neck Support) neckbrace. And in the years that followed, Atlas and EVS joined the category with their own neckbrace and/or neck support devices. ● Worldwide sales of neckbraces peaked in 2010, when some industry sources have estimated that more than 75% of racers wore a neckbrace. ● Most brands reported a decline in neckbrace sales from 2012 to 2014 – due largely to concerns about the devices being too restrictive, and to claims that the braces were causing broken collarbones and damage to vertebrae in the upper back. ● During the past three to four years, the neckbraces produced by all the major brands have undergone a lot of R&D to improve both their fit and level of protection. The trend has been toward lighter, lower-profile devices (for a more comfortable fit and less restriction of the helmet), and larger contact areas with the chest and back (to better disperse impacts). Meanwhile, most brands expanded their sizing options – by introducing extra models or adjustability, or both. ● The improved fit and function generated by this R&D process, coupled with reductions in price, has resulted in a resurgence in neckbrace sales over the past 12 to 18 months. It has also broadened the product’s appeal, with dealers reporting that trail-oriented riders are now joining their racing brethren in embracing the idea of cost-effective neck protection.


PRIZED POSSESSIONS Tye Simmonds

KURT TEAGUE

T

ye Simmonds shocked the Australian motocross industry when he announced his retirement from full-time racing back in 2013. The Boy from Bourke was burnt out, and needed some time away from dirt bikes to rekindle his love

for the sport. Almost two years later, a casual bush-bash with Ben Grabham led to Simmonds joining the KTM Enduro Racing Team, and before he knew it, he was the runner-up at the 2015 Finke and Hattah Desert Races, and was part

TRUCK I approached the owner of Western Plains Automotive, Greg, about getting a fuel card to help me out with some travelling, and he called me back two weeks later and said, “Mate, I can’t get you a fuel card, but you can have a Mazda BT50 for the year if you want.” I was gobsmacked! This year, we traded the BT50 in for a Mitsubishi Triton, and Greg was nice enough to put some of my personal sponsors’ logos (as per my helmet) on it. He’s a really nice bloke who I’ve come to get along with nicely. He occasionally he comes out to Bourke and we hunt, fish and drink beers together.

JARRAD DUFFY PHOTOGRAPHY

of Australia’s winning Junior ISDE team. In 2016, Tye ran second to Toby Price at Finke, but was able to get the win at Hattah, and just recently wrapped up the AORC’s E2-class title and finished second Outright to his teammate, Daniel

HELMET Everyone who knows me also knows that I’m really proud of my country roots. I’m all about working with local families and supporting local businesses, so my Troy Lee Designs helmet is stickered up to thank all those who have helped me in the past and continue to support me today – the folks at Mooleyarrah Station, who have always treated me like family; the crew at Congararra Station, who I work for at the moment; my uncle’s carvan park, called Kidmans Camp; and Halls Transport. I’m realy appreciative of all these personal sponsors, so it’s my way of showing it. It’s the least I can do.

“Chucky” Sanders. Yep, taking a break from motocross racing was the best move the 24-year-old ever made. We decided to sit down (or stand up with) the likeable country boy to talk about the three items he cherishes more than anything else.

KNIFE My Pop helped me and my old man out a lot when I started racing motocross as a Junior. At the end of Canberra’s 2006 Australian Junior Motocross Championships, where I won three titles, he gave me this wooden knife. It’s just an ordinary knife that I use to slice up cheese for my biscuits; but he carved it himself and it means a lot to me. Pop passed away in 2012, so it’s nice to have the knife to remember him by. It’s got a lot of sentimental value, and I guess you could say it’s become a bit of a good luck charm for me, too.

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Improved performance Durability Smoother control feel

Venhill Brake Lines and MotoSprint Dirt Wheels are available at your favourite motorcycle accessories dealer. For more information visit www.kenma.com.au or are email sales@kenma.com.au Venhill “Powerhose” braided hoses and “Featherlite” control cables available at your favourite For QLD, NSW, ACT, VIC,information NT, SA &visit WA phone 02 9484 0777. Tasmanians phone 03 6339 2770 motorcycle store. For more www.kenma.com.au or email sales@kenma.com.au For QLD, NSW, ACT, VIC, NT, SA & WA phone 02 9484 0777. Tasmanians phone 03 6339 2770


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Transmoto Dirt Bike Magazine – Issue 58  

We head to Italy for our first taste of Beta’s 2017 enduro machines, and spend an adventurous week in Portugal to determine whether BMW’s ic...

Transmoto Dirt Bike Magazine – Issue 58  

We head to Italy for our first taste of Beta’s 2017 enduro machines, and spend an adventurous week in Portugal to determine whether BMW’s ic...

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