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001Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team’s Ross Branch has claimed a deserving victory at the opening round of the 2021 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, Rally Kazakhstan. Finishing second on the shortened final stage of the event, Branch maintained his position at the top of the overall leader board, which he’d held since the close of stage three. Joining Ross on the podium was Yamaha teammate Adrien Van Beveren in third, with Andrew Short claiming fifth overall to complete a highly successful rally for the team.

The decisive fifth stage of Rally Kazakhstan was cut short 158 kilometres into the special due to an issue with the event’s refuelling equipment, which effected all riders. Nevertheless, strong and consistent rides from Ross, Adrien and Andrew up until that point ensured their positions in the provisional overall standings were maintained, with all three finishing in the overall top five.002With a four-minute lead entering the final day of racing at Rally Kazakhstan, Ross Branch’s main objective was to deliver a consistent finish on stage five to claim the overall win. In placing second, Ross further extended his lead to just over five minutes to earn his first ever victory in the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.

Displaying incredible consistency throughout the rally, Adrien Van Beveren was the second Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team rider to stand on the overall podium at Rally Kazakhstan with a hard-earned third-place result. Despite much of the terrain not to the Frenchman’s liking, Van Beveren opted to focus intently on his navigation throughout the race - a fruitful strategy that has kick-started his season in fine style.

Rounding out a highly positive start to the 2021 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, Andrew Short placed fifth overall aboard his Yamaha WR450F Rally at Rally Kazakhstan. A few unfortunate mistakes during the week were minimised by consistent results from the American, who remained focused despite facing adversity on more than one occasion during the rally.003“All-in-all it’s been an amazing week here in Kazakhstan and I’m so happy to come away with the win. Before this race I really focused on working on my navigation and it certainly worked here. I opened stages and finished up front on each stage so I can’t ask for anything more. The goal today was to manage the lead that I had, and I feel like I was doing a good job up until the stage was cut short. Overall, I’ve really enjoyed the whole week. It’s great to be racing again and the team has done a fantastic job with the bike and it’s just been an awesome experience. I’m really happy to have won for myself and the team.” says an ecstatic Ross Branch.

The Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team will next be action in just a few weeks’ time at the Silk Way Rally, round two of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship from July 1-11.end bike test

2021 NC750X pic1One of Europe’s favourite all-rounders gets a well-rounded evolution: more power for the engine, plus higher redline and revised gearbox ratios, which come hand-in-hand with Throttle By Wire management, 3 riding modes and refined, expanded Honda Selectable Torque Control. Its renowned fuel efficiency is maintained, and a full 6kg has been shaved from the kerb weight. A redesigned frame is clothed in sharper-edged styling, the unique up-front storage compartment is usefully larger and seat height 30mm lower. The Dual Clutch Transmission variant continues to offer a technology unique to Honda on two wheels. A new screen, LED lighting and LCD dash round out the update.2021 NC750X pic10Since its introduction in 2012* the NC750X has enjoyed consistent popularity throughout Europe. Reasons for the success are several: a ground-breaking, torque-laden, fuel-sipping twin-cylinder engine, a relaxed, roomy riding position with wide handlebars and comfortable seat, compliant suspension and distinctive adventure styling all play their part.

The storage compartment (where the fuel tank would normally be), capable of holding a full-face helmet and Honda’s unique Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) that over half of European customers chose in 2019 are further features that set the NC750X apart.2021 NC750X pic17Viewed as a whole, the NC750X’s qualities combine to create a motorcycle which functions superbly. And for all types of riding – commuting, touring and simply for pleasure – it has proved a motorcycle with compelling all-round appeal.

Honda has taken care to continuously evolve the NC750X’s successful (and unique) formula, with several upgrades over the years. For 2014 it gained 75cc, going from 670 to 745cc; for 2016 a new more adventurous aesthetic, new instruments, DCT upgrades and LED lighting were added; for 2018 two-level Honda Selectable Torque Control and a 35kW version arrived.2021 NC750X pic66Now for 2021, Honda are building on its core strengths of practicality, do-it-all comfort and handling composure, improving all three. At the same time, there’s also more spirited engine performance, with an injection of extra torque and a boost of top-end zap, with a raised redline. The addition of electronic riding modes completes a polished package.

*As the NC700X2021 NC750X pic53Model Overview

2kW more peak power for the NC750X’s EURO5-spec engine, plus an extra 600rpm to the redline are the headline changes, thanks to work on valve timing and intake/exhaust efficiency. Shorter ratios for first, second and third gears smarten response while a slipper clutch reduces lever load and keeps the ride smooth on rapid downshifts.

Throttle By Wire (TBW) brings with it adjustable engine character through 3 default rider modes - RAIN, STANDARD and SPORT plus a customisable USER mode. Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) now has a finer level of input over 3 levels, while the Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) option features Automatic shifting schedules that integrate with the riding modes, as well as USER control.2021 NC750X pic31The other attention-grabber is the 6kg weight loss, thanks to a new frame and detail improvements around the engine and bodywork. There’s also a sharper, more minimalist edge to the bodywork, with fresh style for both LED headlight, taillight and rear indicators, while the redesigned storage space grows in volume and usability. Seat height is reduced 30mm, the screen offers more wind protection and a new LCD dash is an attractive addition.

The 2021 NC750X will be available in the following colour options:

Grand Prix Red *NEW*

Mat Ballistic Black Metallic

Pearl Glare White

Glint Wave Blue Metallic

2021 NC750X pic54Key Features

3.1 Engine

Throttle By Wire and an extra 3kW peak power: 43.1kW with 69Nm torque

Shorter first three gear ratios for sportier feel, plus an extra 600rpm to the redline

Slipper clutch reduces lever load 20%, manages rear wheel on down changes

EURO5 compliant, with 28.3km/l possible (WMTC mode)

35kW A2 licence version available

The design of the NC750X’s liquid-cooled, SOHC 8-valve parallel twin-cylinder engine ensures punchy performance in the low-to-mid range. Its relatively long-stroke architecture and specially shaped combustion chamber combine with the high-inertial mass crankshaft to produce large amounts of effortless torque from very low rpm. A forward tilt brings the centre of gravity down for optimum stability. Through the course of its 2021 update it is now 1.2kg lighter than before.

Also for 2021, thanks to a finely balanced delay to valve timing (which also now differs between the two cylinders), plus addition of Throttle By Wire (TBW) and improvements to the exhaust, the engine makes more power and revs harder for longer to the new 7,000rpm redline. Alongside the power hike it holds onto an increased torque output for longer above 5,000rpm.2021 NC750X pic58Peak power is raised 3kW to 43.1kW @ 6,750rpm, with maximum torque of 69Nm @ 4,750rpm. Hand in hand with the performance hike are shorter gear ratios over first, second and third gears (for both manual and DCT) improving standing start and roll-on acceleration through each gear. From 30 km/h the NC750X will cover 20m in 1.7s and 50m in 3.2s; at 60km/h the engine is turning at just 2,500rpm. Fourth, fifth and sixth gears are now slightly taller, for maximum fuel efficiency.

Twin balancers counteract vibration from higher rpm inertia, for an engine that is not only smooth-running, but has a distinctive ‘throb’ thanks to its 270° crank and uneven firing intervals. Bore and stroke is set at 77 x 80mm. Where possible, components are made to do more than one job: the camshaft drives the water pump, while one of the balancer shafts drives the oil pump. By keeping the number of parts to a minimum in this way, the engine is kept light, efficient and reliable.

The addition of a slipper clutch for 2021 reduces lever load by 20% and manages rear-wheel lock up under fast down changes of the manual 6-speed gearbox while decelerating2021 NC750X pic16.

A lightweight pentagon-shaped muffler uses two chambers joined by a hole-punched link pipe, which works with a final resonator chamber to create a deep, distinctive sound and exhaust pulse. The built-in catalyser has a two-layer structure for cleaner emissions.

The NC750X engine sips fuel ¬– with a measured consumption of 28.3km/l (WMTC mode) providing a near 400km range from the 14.1-litre underseat fuel tank – and is now EURO5 compliant.

3.2 Engine Electronics

Throttle By Wire delivers 3 default riding modes, plus USER customisation

Honda Selectable Torque Control features much finer control, and 3 levels of intervention

With TBW now managing engine performance and character there are 3 modes for the rider to choose from for various riding conditions. Mode selection is managed between the left-hand switchgear and the LCD display.

SPORTgives more aggressive delivery of engine power and braking, with low HSTC intervention and DCT mode 4.

RAINdelivers engine power and braking least aggressively, has high HSTC intervention and Level 1 for the DCT shift pattern.

STANDARDdelivers a balanced middle point for engine power delivery, engine braking and HSTC intervention, plus mode 2 for the DCT.

USERoffers custom options of low/medium/high for delivery of engine power and engine braking, low/medium/high/off for HSTC, and four different shift patterns for DCT.2021 NC750X pic17Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) is fitted as standard on both the manual and DCT NC750X. It now offers much softer, finer control as it manages rear wheel torque thanks to TBW, over 3 levels as opposed to 2:

Level 1allows the minimum intervention for some rear wheel spin – on gravel or dirt for instance, and its level of control is reduced from the previous design.

Level 2is the default setting and provides confidence-inspiring traction for general riding conditions.

Level 3provides maximum control for slippery roads.

HSTC can also be switched OFF.

3.3 Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT)

Differing shifting schedules employed depending on riding mode selected

USER mode allows choice of 4 settings

Adaptive Clutch Capability Control gives natural feel

Having arrived on the market on the VFR1200F in 2010, Honda’s unique-in-motorcycling DCT technology is now in its eleventh year of production. Over 140,000 DCT-equipped motorcycles have been sold in Europe since introduction, and 52% of customers chose the DCT option for the NC750X in 2019.2021 NC750X pic37The ‘easy and direct’ DCT technology delivers consistent, seamless gear changes up or down and very quickly becomes second nature in use. It uses two clutches: one for start-up and 1st, 3rd and 5th gears: the other for 2nd, 4th and 6th, with the mainshaft for each clutch located inside the other for compact packaging.

Each clutch is independently controlled by its own electro-hydraulic circuit. When a gear change occurs, the system pre-selects the target gear using the clutch not currently in use. The first clutch is then electronically disengaged as, simultaneously, the second clutch engages.2021 NC750X pic32The result is a consistent, fast and seamless gear change. Furthermore, as the twin clutches transfer drive from one gear to the next with minimal interruption of the drive to the rear wheel, any gear change shock and pitching of the machine is negligible, making the change feel direct as well as smooth. Extra benefits include durability (as the gears cannot be damaged by missing a gear) impossibility of stalling, low stress urban riding, reduced rider fatigue, and extra ‘brain space’ to concentrate more on all other aspects of riding.

With the DCT gearbox, the rider may choose Manual mode, using paddle-style triggers on the left handlebar to change gear, or Automatic mode. In Automatic mode for the NC750X, 4 different shifting schedules operate, with 3 defaults: Level 1 is the most relaxed, and is used within RAIN mode; Levels 2 and 4 shift up at higher rpm and are linked with STANDARD and SPORT riding modes.

Within the USER riding mode, a fourth DCT shift pattern – between those for STANDARD and SPORT in terms of ‘aggressiveness’ can be chosen.2021 NC750X pic38Adaptive Clutch Capability Control is a feature of the NC750X’s DCT and manages the amount of clutch torque transmitted. This adds a natural ‘feathered’ clutch feel when opening or shutting off the throttle for a smoother ride.

3.4 Styling & Equipment

Sharper, more aggressively minimal styling

New LED headlight/taillight, indicators and LCD display

New screen improves wind and weather protection

Larger 23L storage space now holds an adventure-style full-face helmet

The NC750X features a sharpened identity thanks to redrawn, smaller upper and lower fairings accentuated by the muscular fuel tank. A new LED headlight and running lights form a strong frontal signature.

Improving wind and weather protection, the screen is also new. The side panels and side covers are slimmer and, along with the svelte seat unit, are underlined by the exhaust muffler, further emphasising the mass-forward stance. A redesigned LED taillight mirrors the front beam and is matched with LED indicators.

A unique NC feature – the storage area where traditionally the fuel tank sits – increases in volume by 1L to 23L and in the process saves 1kg; its revised internal shape will now hold an adventure style helmet easily. The lid exterior features rugged external rails – useful for mounting a tank bag. The lid’s interior has four hooks to allow rubber straps to assist in organising luggage and make best use of all of the space. New for 2021 is the option to mount a USB-C socket, tucked away on the upper left.2021 NC750X pic50Also new is the full-colour LCD dash, which allows management of the riding modes through the selection switch on the left handlebar. The rear indicators now have an Emergency Stop Signal (ESS) function: at a minimum speed of 53km/h, with either brake working if negative acceleration of a minimum of 6.0m/s2 is detected, the hazard lights flash to warn other road users a hard stop is in process. At the same speed the threshold is reduced with ABS in play – for wet conditions ¬– to a negative acceleration of a minimum 2.5m/s2.

The indicators also auto-cancel; rather than using a simple timer, the system compares front and rear wheel speed difference and calculates when to cancel the indication relative to the situation.

A ‘wave’ key features the Honda Ignition Security System (HISS). If the ID chip embedded in the key and the ID in the Engine Control Unit (ECU) do not match, the engine will not start.2021 NC750X pic233.5 Chassis

Revised tubular steel diamond frame saves weight and makes space

Kerb weight a full 6kg lighter

Seat height 30mm lower

Shorter travel 41mm Showa Dual Bending Valve front fork and Pro-Link rear monoshock, spring preload adjustable

For an invisible – but major – advance of the NC750X’s chassis Honda’s development engineers started with the tubular steel diamond frame and, through a careful redesign (using varying tube thicknesses and weight) not only saved 1.8kg over the previous model but also freed up more useful space for the storage compartment by relocating the battery and redesigning the airbox. Detail work in all areas of the chassis contributed 1.2kg of weight saving.

Rake remains 27° with trail of 110mm, wheelbase of 1,525mm (1,535mm DCT) and front/rear weight distribution of 48/52. Kerb weight is 214kg (224kg DCT), 6kg lighter. Seat height is also 30mm lower, at 800mm.

The riding position is upright and neutral, with a high viewpoint for enhanced hazard perception. Another advantage of this adventure-style riding position is great low-speed control – combined with the low centre of gravity and generous steering lock, the result is exceptional low-speed handling and balance.2021 NC750X pic24A lower seat height has been achieved by a slight reduction in suspension travel. The 41mm telescopic forks now employ 120mm (from 153.5mm) travel and use Showa Dual Bending Valves, with ratios optimised for both compression and rebound damping. This allows the generation of damping force in precise proportion to piston speed – from the low speed range – improving ride quality and comfort.2021 NC750X pic25The rear monoshock features a spring preload adjuster system with 120mm travel, from 150mm. It operates through Pro-Link that offers an optimised balance of a soft initial stroke, for dealing with low-speed bumps, together with excellent control.

Up front the 320mm wavy disc and two-piston brake caliper deliver plenty of easy-to-modulate stopping power, complemented by the rear 240mm wavy disc and single-piston caliper. Lightweight two-channel ABS provides powerful and confident braking even on slippery or wet road surfaces.

Cast aluminium front and rear wheels – sizes 17 x 3.50-inch and 17 x 4.50-inch – wear 120/70 ZR17 and 160/60 ZR17 tyres. Forged aluminium L-shaped rim valves make checking and adjusting air pressure easier.2021 NC750X pic73

4. Accessories

A full range of Honda Genuine Accessories are available for the NC750X and include:

USB-C charging point for the internal storage area

Resin rear rack

38L / 50L top box with aluminium/colour matched insert option

Pannier stays

Panniers – right 26L/32L, left 33L with aluminium/colour matched insert option

Tall screen

Foot deflectors

Side protector bars finished in Metallic Silver

Fog lights

Heated grips

5. Pricing

NC50XA 21YM: R126 000 including VAT

NC750X DCT: R135 500 including VATend bike test

cq5dam.web.2000.2000 2Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team’s Ross Branch has raced to an impressive victory on stage one of Rally Kazakhstan. Completing a highly successful day for the team, Ross’ teammates Adrien Van Beveren and Andrew Short rounded out the top five, bringing home their Yamaha WR450F Rally bikes in fourth and fifth respectively.

With almost five months having passed since the Dakar Rally, the Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team riders were excited to return to action with all racers completing the opening 280km special with strong rides, kickstarting the 2021 edition of Rally Kazakhstan in the best way possible.

Focusing on improving his navigational skills during the off season certainly paid off for Ross Branch, as he opened stage one and then raced to a deserving victory aboard his Yamaha WR450F Rally. Despite a minor mistake near the end of the special, the Botswana native had built up a comfortable margin over the chasing pack to maintain his lead and complete the stage with a two-minute gap over second place. The victory marks Ross’ first ever stage win in the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.

Adrien Van Beveren put together an impressive ride on stage one to place fourth. After familiarising himself with a new style of roadbook used for this event, the Frenchman caught up to the leading riders but was forced to slow his pace to escape the dust kicked up by those ahead of him. Biding his time and concentrating on his navigation proved to be highly rewarding for the 30-year-old, as he stayed on the right course and found himself opening the stage after those in front made a mistake. Riding the final part of the stage in clean air, Van Beveren increased his pace and made up for lost time, going on to complete the special just seven minutes down on stage winner, and teammate, Ross Branch.cq5dam.web.2000.2000Rounding out a successful start to Rally Kazakhstan for the Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team was Andrew Short in fifth place. The slower, technical sections found early on in the stage were to the American’s liking, after which he pushed onto the finish and delivered a mistake free ride. Feeling comfortable on his Yamaha WR450F Rally, Short enjoyed the opening stage and looks forward to tomorrow’s stage two.

The second stage of the 2021 Rally Kazakhstan will see the Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team take on a 279km special located to the south-east of the city of Aktau. Each rider will have their navigational skills put to the test as they’ll be faced with a maze of desert tracks where mistakes could prove to be costly. At the end of the stage, the team will arrive in Bay Kendirli on the coast of the Caspian Sea.cq5dam.web.2000.2000 3Ross Branch – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team

"A really good first day here in Kazakhstan. It was great to open the stage and my navigation was pretty good. A few mistakes here and there but overall it was on point. It was a pretty fast stage and the bike was on the limit for most of the day, so it was a good test and it’s just great to be back racing. I can’t wait for tomorrow. I’ll open the stage again but I’m confident with my navigation, myself, and the bike, so I’m really excited to get going again."

Rally Kazakhstan 2021

Stage 1 Provisional Classification

  1. Ross Branch (Yamaha) 3:14:07
  2. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 3:16:15 + 0:02:08
  3. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 3:17:44 + 0:03:37
  4. Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 3:21:23 + 0:07:16
  5. Andrew Short (Yamaha) 3:21:46 + 0:07:39
  6. Joaquim Rodrigues (Hero) 3:24:19 + 0:10:12cq5dam.web.2000.2000 1end bike test

THE WORLD ADVENTURE WEEKPowered by KTM and RISER, THE WORLD ADVENTURE WEEK is the perfect excuse to put some mileage on your motorcycle. It is an invitation to go explore the tracks and trails you’ve always wanted to and is an opportunity to share your favorite places with the global Adventure bike community.

The most adventurous riders will be rewarded with daily and weekly prizes and the chance to be featured on and KTM’s global social media channels. There will be different challenges to complete on each of the seven days, with all riders completing 1,000 km or more in total receiving a personalized award.KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S 2021The challenges will be open to all Adventure riders from all brands. The goal is to strengthen the growing Adventure community and bring together riders who share the passion for Adventure motorcycling. To enter, you simply need to download the RISER app from the App Store or Google Play and start recording your rides.

For all adventurers keen to learn more about this exciting new challenge, more information is available on bike test

asbk1bobby fong1The fourth weekend of Suzuki race action in May sees Round 2 of MotoAmerica and the M4 ECSTAR Suzuki team back in action in Superbike and Supersport action at Virginia International Raceway in America.

The opening round of the series at Road Atlanta at the beginning of the month produced a sensational double win for Sean Dylan Kelly aboard his GSX-R600 and a second and fifth place for Bobby Fong in the Superbike class aboard his GSX-RR1000, with Superbike team-mate Cameron Petersen finishing a strong 4-4 position.

‘SDK’ leads the Supersport class while Fong and Petersen are currently third and fourth in the premier SBK class aboard their Team Hammer machinery.

May 22-23: Round 2. MotoAmerica. AMA Superbikes. Virginia International Raceway. Danville. Virginia, USA.asbk9cameron petersenend bike test

001The rain is coming down hard, soaking us to the skin even though we’re decked out in the finest waterproof gear known to mankind. And we’re freezing because the temperature has plummeted to somewhere down in the single digits, and there’s a gale blowing that means the wind chill factor is enough to make even a seasoned mountaineer grimace.

This wouldn’t be anything particularly out of the ordinary for the UK if we were testing bikes ‘Up North’ somewhere in the middle of winter, but we’re not.

It’s August and we’re on the south coast – an area that is occasionally laughingly referred to as the English Riviera – and we’re not even on the bikes at this point, but Bill is still slowly turning blue and I’m shivering uncontrollably as I fumble with numb fingers to revive my waterlogged phone.

We’re cowering under Brighton pier, trying unsuccessfully to shelter from the rain which is now coming in almost horizontally, as it often does in this ‘green and pleasant land.’14 Brighton PierPleasant my arse – which by the way is soaking wet and in danger of getting frostbite – but definitely green. How could it not be, with all this bloody water falling on it, all the sodding time? 

I’m wondering whether my editor at Superbike magazine, and my prospects for becoming his Deputy Editor will be affected if I leave the bikes and take a taxi home when I hear a low growl followed by a string of profanities that border on a severe case of hypothermia induced tourette’s.

Bill is staring at a small metal pipe and the nearly empty space that housed the tiny bit of sodden hash that was in there moments ago. With most of his scarce supply scattered to the wind and lost in the pebbles of Brighton beach, he stares forlornly at the remaining crumbs, mumbling something about death and how he wants to surrender to its dark embrace.

With a manoeuvre straight out of a David Attenborough documentary about exotic birdlife Bill somehow thrusts his head into his armpit while simultaneously summoning flame from a soggy match and emerges with lungs brimmed with smoke, thrusting the pipe into my hands before exploding into a spasm of coughing that threatens to turn him inside out.

Once I’ve stopped my own impersonation of the ageing Marlboro man after his first gasper of the day I let the psychologically warming effects of the assassin’s narcotic take me away to a better place. 

That place is where I’ve recently spent three years working for a bike magazine. A place where the sun shines so frequently that you need never look at a weather forecast to plan your next photo shoot. A place where speed limits seem to be only advisory. A place where the weed doesn’t cost a week’s wages for half a week’s supply and where more people seem to smoke it than not.

That place is South Africa.

“For fuck’s sake!” Bill is fiddling with a smouldering hole in his waterproofs where a hot rock has proved that it will always get you, no matter how severe the prevailing conditions. “What the fuck are we doing freezing our tits off under Brighton pier in the middle of the afternoon in the middle of the fucking summer!” he yells at nobody in particular. 

“Let’s go to the pub,” he adds with what might be the most intelligent thing he’s said all day.

“Let’s go to South Africa,” I reply, surprising myself with this sudden thought that seems to have escaped from my brain through my mouth without any conscious input from me.

Several medicinal pints later it has been agreed that this is indeed a worthy and valid course of action. Although we have what are literally dream jobs – working with the best people on the best bike magazine in the UK, possibly the world – we are both also in the process of being dumped by the women in our lives and always seem to be skint. And wet. And cold.

Three weeks later we’re drinking beer on a BA flight to Joburg with our entire lives stuffed into a couple of suitcases and with enough cash to keep us going for a month or two before starvation and shame sends us scurrying back to Blighty.

This is how Bill and I found ourselves in South Africa, where we ended up working for the nascent Superbike SA, and went on to start 2Wheels magazine that ran for a very enjoyable and successful decade before the world changed and print media began its inexorable decline. The financial crisis of ’08 instigated a chain of events that saw Bill establish this eponymous website and me go into further debt buying enough equipment to start ‘The Bike Show’ that, miraculously, still survives nearly 10 years later.

I will never forget that moment under the pier on Brighton beach towards the end of the 20th century, it was a defining moment in my life. I remember the weather, I remember that it was a two-bike test that we were shooting but I can’t remember who the photographer was and I have only the vaguest recollection that they were two naked bikes. Possibly.

But I remember the pipe, and the calm, warming aura of certainty that enveloped me as the plan for a South African return began to take shape. 

I have now known Bill for a very long time, first professionally, and quickly thereafter as a mate. He is in many respects, like me, a bit of an arrogant knobhead, but two things that I have always been guaranteed during twenty-odd years of friendship are – between the epic bouts of whingeing – a massive amount of laughter and an honest, expert and encyclopaedic knowledge of bikes.If you want to know about bikes, then keep reading this website. Chances are you’re going to have a laugh along the way, too.

With over two decades of working together, and a good few years of professional collaboration ahead of us I have many, many anecdotes that I feel it is my duty to record for posterity.

In the telling of these stories I hope to pass on the wisdom I have gained – in this case ‘a hot rock under a cold pier foretells a cool adventure’ – not just about life, but about the thing we all love most – bikes.

In my next Chat I will tell of the scariest winter riding episode I had as Road Test editor at Superbike UK, and the outrageously expensive and monstrously rapid special that so very nearly didn’t make it back alive.002

watch The Bike Show on Ignition (DStv ch189) or search The Bike Show on You Tube.

Mat Durrans

end bike test

mgp7joan mirr19The seventh round of the MotoGP™ World Championship saw a battle of tyre choice, high temperatures and high attrition.

Suzuki’s sole representative for the weekend, Joan Mir, got an impressive start from his 10th place grid spot, going eighth, before very quickly carving through to fourth on the first lap. On the following lap he had made his way into a strong third, which he defended very well against attacks from his rivals. He then briefly moved in a super second place, but on Lap 7 he found himself back in third.mgp7joan mir9As the race wore on, tyre choice became the dividing factor between the field and Mir began to struggle with his medium-medium compounds, especially on the rear of the bike. Despite this, he stayed focused under pressure from the Ducati pairing of Zarco and Miller behind him, holding them off until Lap 16. After that he switched his attention to bringing home the best possible finish; in the closing laps he saw off a chasing Maverick Viñales to achieve a very useful fifth place finish. With this result he also maintains fifth in the Championship standings.mgp7joan mirr31Shinichi Sahara - Project Leader and Team Director:

“In spite of only getting 10th on the grid yesterday, as usual Joan made a good start and recovered positions very quickly to get up to the front. Due to the tyre choice and maybe a few other factors, Joan couldn’t keep hold of a podium position, but 5th is still a nice result and it’s very important for the championship, so we’re feeling pleased. There are still a lot of races left this season, it’s a very long championship, so we will work to improve and continue getting strong results. I’ve realised this weekend how important it is to have two riders in the box, for comparisons and for judging the situation, but hopefully Alex will come back for the next race. Anyway, overall, this Top 5 result from Joan has been important for us.”

Ken Kawauchi - Technical Manager:

“Today we couldn’t replicate last year’s race where we managed a double podium, but last year we had the advantage of better tyre longevity. This time around we couldn’t manage the same durability of the tyres, and this is a pity and a shame for Joan. However, Joan did a very good job to hold onto a Top 5 finish in this difficult race. We will continue pushing and developing, we also have a test here tomorrow which could be useful. So now we’ll be turning our focus towards the next races and trying to build on our championship points. Hopefully at the next round in Sachsenring Alex will be able to rejoin the team and begin riding again.”

Joan Mir:

“We didn’t make the right decision with the tyres today, I switched to the medium-medium on the grid and then I had to battle against the rear spinning and it was a struggle, especially in the last part of the race. It’s a shame because I felt I had podium pace, but in the end I still achieved 5th place which isn’t bad. I tried my best to manage the situation and stay on the bike. The first four riders in the race had the hard rear tyre and it seems that was the better choice, but we will learn from this mistake - both me as a rider and the team too. Tomorrow we will try a few things and let’s see if there’s something that can help us in the future.”mgp7joan mirr19GRAN PREMI MONSTER ENERGY DE CATALUNYA - MotoGP™ Race Classification:

1. M. OLIVEIRA - Red Bull KTM Factory Racing - 40:21.749
2. J. ZARCO - Pramac Racing - +00.175
3. J. MILLER - Ducati Lenovo Team - +01.990
4. F. QUARTARARO - Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP - +01.815
5. J. MIR - Team SUZUKI ECSTAR - +05.325
6. M. VIÑALES - Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP - +06.281
7. F. BAGNAIA - Ducati Lenovo Team - +08.175
8. B. BINDER - Red Bull KTM Factory Racing - +08.378
9. F. MORBIDELLI - Petronas Yamaha SRT - +15.652
10. E. BASTIANINI - Avintia Esponsorama - +19.297
11. A. MARQUEZ - LCR Honda CASTROL - +21.650
12. L. MARINI - SKY VR46 Avintia - +22.533
13. T. NAKAGAMI - LCR Honda IDEMITSU - +27.833
14. J. MARTIN - Pramac Racing - +29.075
15. L. SAVADORI - Aprilia Racing Team Gresini - +40.291
Not Classified
I. LECUONA - Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing - 27:01.887 - 17 laps
V. ROSSI - Petronas Yamaha SRT - 25:24.511 - 16 laps
A. ESPARGARO - Aprilia Racing Team Gresini - 16:52.680 - 11 laps
M. MARQUEZ - Repsol Honda Team - 11:51.134 - 8 laps
D. PETRUCCI - Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing - 08:33.342 - 6 laps
P. ESPARGARO - Repsol Honda Team - 06:49.922 - 5 laps

MotoGP™ World Standings:

1 Fabio QUARTARARO Yamaha 118
2 Johann ZARCO Ducati 101
3 Jack MILLER Ducati 90
4 Francesco BAGNAIA Ducati 88
5 Joan MIR Suzuki 76
6 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha 74
7 Miguel OLIVEIRA KTM 54
8 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia 44
9 Brad BINDER KTM 43
10 Franco MORBIDELLI Yamaha 40
11 Takaaki NAKAGAMI Honda 31
12 Pol ESPARGARO Honda 29
13 Enea BASTIANINI Ducati 26
14 Alex MARQUEZ Honda 25
15 Alex RINS Suzuki 23
16 Danilo PETRUCCI KTM 23
17 Jorge MARTIN Ducati 19
18 Marc MARQUEZ Honda 16
19 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha 15
20 Iker LECUONA KTM 13
21 Luca MARINI Ducati 13
22 Stefan BRADL Honda 11
23 Lorenzo SAVADORI Aprilia 4
24 Michele PIRRO Ducati 3
25 Tito RABAT Ducati 1end bike test

KTM 300 EXC TPI ERZBERGRODEO 2022 Manuel Lettenbichler 2KTM’s relationship with the world-known Red Bull Erzbergrodeo dates back a few decades already. This long and successful history dates to the event's inception in 1995, with KTM riders taking no less than 16 wins since then. To celebrate the wealth of race success already achieved and with a keen eye on future victories, KTM is proud to introduce the 2022 KTM 300 EXC TPI ERZBERGRODEO as a special tribute to the iconic event.

Using the 2022 edition of the wildly successful fuel-injected KTM 300 EXC TPI as a platform, the KTM 300 EXC TPI ERZBERGRODEO steps up the READY TO RACE-ability with several race-inspired upgrades. Taking feedback from elite extreme enduro riders into consideration, the KTM 300 EXC TPI ERZBERGRODEO is specially built for the toughest offroad terrain across the globe.KTM 300 EXC TPI ERZBERGRODEO 2022 3Featuring a long list of special protection parts, including closed hand guards, clutch slave cylinder protection, a robust skid plate, brake disc guards and radiator protection, the 2022 KTM 300 EXC TPI ERZBERGRODEO is developed to withstand the most extreme, jagged rock-hopping scenario.

The 2022 KTM 300 EXC TPI ERZBERGRODEO also comes with further additions such as factory wheels with anodized orange hubs, enduro-specific pull straps, radiator fan, mapping select switch, CNC machined triple clamps, a grippier Factory seat and a special frame coating in orange for added racing appeal.KTM 300 EXC TPI ERZBERGRODEO 2022 Manuel Lettenbichler2022 KTM 300 EXC TPI ERZBERGRODEO – RACE-FOCUSED FEATURES
// Special Red Bull Erzbergrodeo graphics
// Frame finishing coated in racing orange
// Factory wheels with anodized hubs
// METZELER 6 DAYS EXTREME soft tire set-up
// Closed, heavy-duty handguards
// Radiator fan & radiator protectors
// CNC-machined triple clamps
// Factory seat & lightweight skid plate
// Chain guide bracket protection
// SUPERSPROX STEALTH rear sprocket
// Clutch save cylinder protection & orange oil plug
// Front & rear pull straps
// Front brake disc guard
// Solid rear disk & disk guard
// Rear brake safety wire
// Map selector switchKTM 300 EXC TPI ERZBERGRODEO 2022KTM 300 EXC TPI ERZBERGRODEO 2022 1Joachim Sauer - KTM Product Manager: “The KTM 300 EXC TPI ERZBERGRODEO is a bike 100% built for purpose - and that purpose is to tackle the most extreme of trails like those found at the notorious Red Bull Erzbergrodeo. Receiving all the updates of our 2022 KTM EXC model range, this special edition bike has features developed by Red Bull KTM Factory Racing riders to meet the extreme demands of every hard enduro rider. For 2022 it also comes with a unique set of Red Bull Erzbergrodeo graphics that make it stand out in any paddock. This is undeniably the most READY TO RACE extreme enduro motorcycle on the market – a bike that is fully ready to line up in the quarry and tackle the famous Iron Giant.”

The 2022 KTM 300 EXC TPI ERZBERGRODEO will be available in authorized KTM dealers from June 2021 onwards.     and   KTM 300 EXC TPI ERZBERGRODEO 2022 Manuel Lettenbichler 1end bike test

001After making a final corner pass for victory in the opening FIM Supersport World Championship race on Saturday, Evan Bros Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team’s Steven Odendaal did exactly the same in the weekend’s second race to take a sensational second victory at MotorLand Aragón. Meanwhile, GMT94 Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team’s Jules Cluzel produced an incredible fightback from last on the grid - due to a tyre pressure infringement - to a podium finish in third.

Off the back of his maiden WorldSSP victory, Odendaal lined up third for the second race and immediately took the lead after an incident ahead. Over the opening few laps, the South African dropped to third, but started to reel the top two back in when Cluzel overtook him with six laps to go. The 28-year-old followed the French rider through on the front pair with four laps to go, before a titanic battle for victory ensued.002On the following lap, Odendaal made his move at the final corner to take the lead of the race, holding on until the last lap, as Raffaele De Rosa’s Kawasaki got by. However, heading into the last corner, the Evan Bros Yamaha rider fired back up the inside and held on until the line for victory.

Having started from last on the grid and off the back of a disappointing end to the opening race, GMT94 Yamaha’s Cluzel wasted no time in his charge to the front. The three-time winner in Aragón was into the top 10 by lap three, and continued to pick off the riders ahead. With barely two-thirds of the race completed, Cluzel had overtaken Odendaal for the podium places, and just two laps later he had hit the front.0003It then turned into a four-way battle for the lead, with the 32-year-old dropping back to third in the final moments of the race. Cluzel held off a late challenge from Kallio Racing Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team’s Hannes Soomer to score a deserved podium finish in third.

Soomer, who had enjoyed a solid first race in which he finished seventh, had already shown his wet weather prowess after two podiums in the Magny-Cours round last year, and was once again right in the mix at Aragón. The Estonian initially dropped back from sixth on the grid, but as the race wore on, his pace continued to improve. Soomer found himself in the lead battle in the closing stages, but just missed out on his first WorldSSP podium of the season by 0.055 seconds, finishing fourth.006Ten Kate Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team’s rookie Dominique Aegerter enjoyed a strong first weekend to open his WorldSSP account. After finishing a sensational second in his maiden race, the Swiss rider put in another fine performance to take fifth, impressive considering he had never ridden the Yamaha R6 in these conditions.

Kallio Racing Yamaha’s debutant Vertti Takala was looking to make amends after falling in Saturday’s race, with the former Ice Road Racing rider using his experience of racing in slippery conditions to take a superb eighth from 18th on the grid.004After taking a point in the opening race, Ten Kate Yamaha’s Galang Hendra Pratama enjoyed a lightning getaway in the second race, finding himself in 12th by the end of the opening lap, having started down in 21st. The Indonesian youngster made up more places during the race and recorded his best-ever WorldSSP result in 10th.

ParkinGO Yamaha’s Manuel Gonzalez, who rode well to fifth on Saturday, was just behind in 11th, with the 18-year-old falling back after an initially strong start, while fellow Spanish rider Maria Herrera, who had finished 12th in Race 1 for the Biblion Motoxracing Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team, added more points to her tally for this weekend in 13th.005GMT94 Yamaha’s Federico Caricasulo was involved in a first lap incident, which saw him drop to the back of the field. The Italian made some progress, but was too far back to make an impact and crossed the line in 18th.

Steven Odendaal: P1 & P1

Evan Bros Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team008“It was the best way we could’ve started the season, with a double win. The conditions today were really difficult. Finally we won the race, it was a nice battle and I took a lot of risks, but in the end I can’t afford to play it safe if I want to win. It was tricky, I’ve never raced the intermediate tyres and I hadn’t even tried them on the warm-up lap, so it took some time to get into the race. Next we go to Estoril, I had a good race there last year so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do.”007end bike test

KTM 350 EXC F 2022 4Getting key updates that elevate performance across the range, the updated for 2022 KTM EXC model line-up is landing at authorized KTM dealers now. Perfectly mixing cutting-edge technology with enviable handling and READY TO RACE offroad performance, the new line-up is here to master all extremes.

With the 2022 EXC line-up, KTM reconfirms its status as the provider of the most comprehensive and exciting set of offroad bikes on the market. Whether riders are searching for a peerless motorcycle to ace any terrain or equipment to find those extra race seconds, there is no reason to think anything but ‘orange’. The key to this bar-setting versatility is the high standards and the quality that is injected through the updated for 2022 KTM EXC range.KTM 250 EXC TPI SIX DAYS 2022 1Across the new line-up there are two key upgrades to boost performance. All new models receive updated WP suspension settings aimed at offering a firmer and even more planted feel while riding across the gnarliest terrain. The second key upgrade is the addition of new MAXXIS MaxxEnduro tires. After extensive testing, the new tire combo showed improved durability and puncture-resistance and will provide even comfort for extended hours across a myriad of surfaces.KTM 300 EXC TPI 2022
Innovative Transfer Port Injection (TPI) engineering means KTM EXC 2-Strokes are perfectly meeting the increased demands of the modern offroad rider. The three motor capacities guarantee the best choice of horsepower and torque capabilities to suit the rider’s preferences. With the KTM 300 EXC TPI being the flagship model to satisfy any Hard Enduro ambition, it is the 2022 KTM 250 EXC TPI that has come under the R&D microscope featuring revised 13:52 gearing. This modification will help the quarter-liter in terms of traction and front end lift on the most technical sections.KTM 300 EXC TPI 2022 3The 4-Strokes KTM EXC-F models talk the torque as dependable, reliable, accessible and thrilling fuel-injected machinery. For several years, the symbiosis of 250 handling and 450 power characteristics has positioned the KTM 350 EXC-F as the definitive offroader and the crown remains steadfastly in place. With the now firmer, sportier settings on their WP fork and rear shock, all new KTM EXC-F models come with improved high-speed performance.KTM 350 EXC F 2022
KTM’s READY TO RACE mantra is a vital development pathway and the endeavors of racers like Manuel Lettenbichler and Josep Garcia help sculpt the KTM EXC models that make it into the hands of riders around the world. For 2022, KTM has visually emphasized the connection with competition even further through the incorporation of blue colors and the blue seat. The graphics and race plastics ensure that any KTM EXC will not be missed right at the front of the pack.KTM 350 EXC F 2022 1Inherently involved with top-level offroad competition for decades, KTM reaffirms its support to the massively popular amongst racers FIM International Six Days Enduro with the release of the full line-up of revamped 2022 KTM EXC SIX DAYS models. For 2022, KTM designers have gone bold with the introduction of a striking new colorway that perfectly mixes elements of a modern world map with a head-turning retro style. Featuring a long list of race-inspired parts as standard, the 2022 KTM EXC SIX DAYS models are ready to take on the grueling week-long event out of their crate.KTM 250 EXC TPI SIX DAYS 20222022 KTM EXC - KEY RANGE UPGRADES
// Revised WP suspension settings for a firmer & more responsive feel
// Improved oil circulation in the suspension for more consistent feedback
// New MAXXIS MaxxEnduro tires for unmatched grip in all terrains
// New 13:52 gearing giving the KTM 250 EXC TPI added bottom end punch
// Head-turning 2022 colors inspired by the Factory bikes
// Bold design & retro colors for the revamped KTM EXC SIX DAYS line-up     and     KTM 350 EXC F 2022 2end bike test