Kawasaki NZ brought their [then] favourite racer along to put the new KX450 through its paces with a view to racing one later in the year. So, in-between motos we got hold of Bay of Plenty’s Rhys Carter and chatted about the new bike, where he’s currently up to and his racing plans for the future.

Words: Paul Pics: Paul, Chris Ritchie, Andy McGechan

 

He’s currently sitting eighth in the Pirelli MX Nationals in Australia after five rounds, riding for the Complete Parts Kawasaki Racing Team. In what is a fully-stacked field and with the disadvantage of flying in and out between meets, that’s a bloody impressive result. He’s run his own race team (3twenty3 Racing), coaches other racers and has been at the pointy end of the NZ MX scene for over a decade. All set to represent NZ in the MX of Nations in 2017, a practice crash led to a decent break in his collarbone, putting him out of the team and off the bike for a few months. But he came back stronger than ever, and with his continued support from Kawasaki NZ you can expect Rhys to be fighting at the front of the pack come the beginning of the NZMX Nats later this year.

DRD: What are your thoughts on the new 2019 bike as a Kawasaki rider?

Rhys: Straight out of the box I like it. It’s more powerful than last year’s, feels a lot more stable which made me feel more comfortable straight away. I love the hydraulic clutch – although the feel for me is going to take a little bit to get used to with not having much free play. The electric start is unreal, and the suspension for me, especially the forks, is a big thing. We changed a couple clickers here and there which made a massive change to how I could turn, and gave me a lot more confidence in entering turns.

The power itself, it picks up a bit faster and a bit more aggressive than last year and pulls way, way more. The initial punch for me – I like it a lot down the bottom so we tried the aggressive map. When you roll the throttle on with the aggressive plugin, it snaps really good. If you go to whack it straight on, it’s better than the stock coupling but not quite as much as what I like. But in saying that, it’s a lot better than the previous year as well. All in all, it’s a massive step forward. The changes they’ve done is awesome. I actually like the footpegs, they are a lot wider and I feel a lot more balanced and I have a lot more movement in my body with them. The front brake is a lot sharper on last year’s which is a massive, massive, improvement I believe. So, the test has been really positive.

DRD: Does that mean less work for you to transform it into a race bike?

Rhys: Yeah, I think so. The power delivery is great, and once I do what I did with my bike last year with gearing and stuff, I reckon it’ll be even better. Then, when I put a pipe on it, like a Pro Circuit, it will give me more bark and the torque that I like. So yeah definitely. And with the forks and shock being so good straight out of the box and my suspension guys knowing what I like, there’s an easy fix as well. Yeah, definitely a lot less work. But then in saying that, you’re always wanting more, so it depends on how hard you want to go about it.

You can end up with too much. Like when I raced in Aussie a few years ago, I got my bike de-tuned cause there was just too much power. When you have too much, you pump up and the benefit is all gone. So, it’s good with this new bike ’cause you can change the couplings and they make a massive difference, where I thought last year’s ones weren’t huge benefits when you swapped them. With this year’s model, there are big changes between in each one, and that’s going to change how the bike feels which will help a lot people out.

DRD: You’re home from Aussie during the break in their season. How’s it going over there?

Rhys: Aussie is going really good, it’s getting better and better. My results have seen me running in top five within the last three rounds, so that’s really positive. And I got a Super Pole, which is really good for me as I’m not a strong qualifier. We’ve been in a 5-week break, so it’s a massive opportunity for me to gain more out of my riding, and what I’ve worked on in the last five weeks is already a massive benefit for me. You know, a stopwatch doesn’t lie. And when that’s getting better on the track, and the days you go riding with it, it’s really good for my confidence. So, I’m excited for our last five rounds.

DRD: The next round back is Canondale, just out of Brisbane. How do you usually go racing there?

Rhys: Yeah, I like it. It’s got a good flow to it whereas you find a lot of tracks in Aussie are quite tight which I struggle with. I like the nice flowing tracks much like here at Pirini. A few tight sections are okay but not as tight as some of the other ones in Aussie. Thankfully, from now to the end of the season the tracks are very flowy and really my type of tracks. So, I’m excited for those.

DRD: How are you doing the racing in Aussie? Are you part of a team?

Rhys: I ride for the Complete Parts and Equipment Kawasaki Team, so it’s a supported Kawasaki team but at the same time it’s the main Kawasaki team in Australia. There’s myself and a kid called Aaron Tanti – he’s on a 250 and obviously, I’m on a 450. So I just fly in on a Friday, turn up to the track and my bike and everything is there. And I’ve got an awesome team over there, so everything is sorted for me. The team owner is unreal. Everything is enjoyable you know, and I don’t have to stress. All I have to worry about is my flight being on time. So, it’s like a dream, like you go and the bike is immaculate, it’s unreal how it’s built, looks, and you’ve got a big semi truck and everything is there. It’s been really enjoyable and don’t really want it to end!

DRD: What’s the plan for the rest of the year? You’ll finish Aussie and then back here into the team and everything?

Rhys: The plan this year is to finish Aussie and then hopefully go to des Nations in America. Then it will be time to come back and the NZ MX Nats start. So, I guess the next couple months after Australia and des Nations we will work on this bike, getting it sorted and then go onto next year

DRD: Are you running the 3twenty3 team the same this year?

R: No, this year the team will be run out of Head Office, so Kawasaki will run the team. It means myself and Derek will be able to step away from those things, which is good in some ways, you know, Even though I enjoyed working on the team with Derek, now I just get to focus on myself and my riding and go do what I wanna do. So, yeah, it’ll be good.

DRD: Do you think that will make a difference, as you would have always had one eye on your racing and the other on the team side of things and your supported rider? Did that take your eye off the ball when it came to racing?

Rhys: I don’t think so, because I enjoyed it so much. Getting to work with Josh [Tredinnick] last year, like, I really enjoyed working with him. He was a great kid to work with. I don’t think it’s going to make that much of a difference, the only thing is I won’t have to worry about the kind of budget we have. I’ve just got a straight contract that I’ve got to go with and that’s it. So, just less paperwork and that. And as long as I get to work with all the sponsors I’ve had for years, I’ll be happy.

DRD: And, by the sounds of it they’re all staying the same?

Rhys: I think so. Gear-wise, I won’t change, Shayne [King] has been awesome. He looks after me really well, so gear-wise head-to-toe won’t change. Bike stuff I don’t think there will much of a change, maybe the odd one or two things. But, as I say, I’m not in control of those things anymore, so I just have to go with whatever’s going.

DRD: When do you get your hands on the 2019 model?

Rhys: Umm, that’s supposed to be my one. But for me, it’s not a major because I’m racing an ‘18 all the way through Aussie, so there’s not much point me having one. If someone else needs to ride one or it needs to be tested by someone, that’s fine. I think they’re here mid-July so that gives me plenty of time. 
If they go and say they want to race one in the last two rounds in Australia, then it might change a little bit. But right now, I’ll stick with what I have. I like the bike, I’m in a comfy position, so there’s not much point in changing aye.

 

Even though Forma is a relatively new company, the people behind the brand have been in the game for many, many years. We were invited to Forbes and Davies – the NZ distributor of Forma Boots – for a presentation on this exciting brand.

Starting off with a little background – the Forma brand was born in 1999 and created by a fella called Ivano Binotto and his wife Simonetta. Even though ‘new’ to the game with Forma, the pair had already spent 25-years as part owners and managers of the largest producer of OEM off-road motorcycle boots in the world.

Ivano decided to start a new 100% independently-owned company in order to launch his new Forma brand onto the world market. Since that time, Forma has continued to grow and currently, the brand is sold in more than 60 countries worldwide. The Forma brand is now recognised as one of the innovative brands in the motorcycle boot business – especially in the adventure market.

Italy-based and close to Asolo and Montebelluna – defined as the heart of the world’s sports shoes like soccer cleats, tennis shoes etc – the amount of manpower and skill on the ground made it the perfect place to get the ball rolling. Now with plants in Romania and Italy, the tagline of ‘Made in Europe’ is something Forma stands strongly by.

Interestingly, Romania was chosen not for its labour prices, but because of communism. It featured the greatest production of soldier’s boots for the entire communist area, so skilled labour was easy to find.

The Forma brand today is still not completely mature, which is why perhaps it is not on the radar of dirt riders in New Zealand. Global sponsorship of top riders like current World Enduro GP champion Steve Holcombe and Enduro GP stalwart Alex Salvini, show that Forma is out to make the brand more recognisable and a real option when it comes to buyers choice.

This is obviously working as over the past 10 years, as the growth of the brand has increased three times over. But this growth has not hit the dirt market in New Zealand yet, with Forma being much more commonly known in the road sector. The Forma Predator (top-level), Dominator, (mid-level) and Terrain X (low-end) boots are few and far between out of the tracks and trails, but that might change in the coming years.

With a market flooded with many different boot options, the lesser known Forma brand will take some time to get traction. But there is traction to be had if you are willing to give the brand a chance. New technology and a different approach to some of the aspects of boot making could see Forma really make a bootprint on the industry here, but that will still a commitment from dealers and consumers alike.

Mauro Pive, Sales Manager at Forma Head Office has been with the company for 17 years, almost from the beginning of the brand, so he knows his stuff. His excellent presentation of the 2018 collection from Forma was only matched by his knowledge of the product and passion for making great boots for all applications and levels.

The all-new Forma Predator 2.0 is on its way to NZ and will be a boot that will challenge any other in the high-end price point. Forma is coming in hot.

Check out www.forbesanddavies for a more in-depth look at the Forma Dirt range and to find a dealer near you.

Fun Fact

The name Forma came about when Ivano wanted to start his own boot business, taking part of a name off a boot that he already manufactured for an OEM company. Does Forma Pro boots from Fox ring a bell? Yep, having made boots for Fox Racing for many years, Ivano struck a deal where he could take the ‘Forma’ part of the name and go his own way. And as you now know, Fox went with the F3 boot before launching the Instinct, which is now also an industry leader in the Motocross market.

The annual Dansey’s Pass Trail Ride is the highlight of the trail ride calendar for many riders in the South Island. Since it’s inception in 1999, well over 20,000 riders have taken on what has become the longest one-day trail ride in Australasia. This ride is over 165km of tracks through private high country farms, braided rivers, forestry, native gorge and rolling farmland in the stunning Waitaki Valley. From Beginner to Extreme, the organisers have got you covered.

In a little pocket of the central South Island is Duntroon School; a rural primary school that sits on the doorstep of some of the most varied and stunning landscapes you’ll find anywhere in the world. This location was the catalyst to create a school fundraiser like no other!

Local landowners, parents and volunteers team up every year and spend hundreds of hours planning, building and running the famous “Dansey’s Pass Trail Ride”. This little school fundraiser attracts riders by the thousands, some travelling from as far away as Australia, Japan and Scotland just to ride it!

So what makes this ride so special?

Some say it’s the huge range of landscapes you can ride through in one day. Native bush, forestry blocks, rolling dairy farm, high country tussock, braided riverbed, swamps, it’s all there. Others say it’s the non-stop challenges around every corner.

We know this for sure: No one goes home without sore muscles and a tale to tell.

“This was the first time I’ve been to the Dansey’s ride. Thought I’d better come to see what all the fuss was about and was definitely not disappointed. I rode the extreme and advanced loops, and they were bloody awesome. Challenging with a bit of everything and never a dull moment, it is a really well-organised and run event with something for everyone, and should be on every riders bucket list,” said Devon Cambridge, a punter on his first Dansey’s Pass.

The ride is split into 5 different loops to accommodate riders of all ages and stages:

Family: A great circuit for beginners, or kids and their parents to enjoy a ride together.

Intermediate: Lots of open farm track riding, rising to over 1000m with some riverbed.

Advanced Moderate: The widest variety of mixed terrain you’ll ever find on one trail. Minimal farm tracks and some gnarly hill climbs.

Advanced Hard: Very challenging hill climbs, flowing into high country tussock.

Extreme: Some of the toughest hill climb descent combos on offer anywhere! For serious riders only.

The track guys spend weeks planning the new loops, then days and days cutting bush, digging tracks and building bridges. This year, there was an added challenge as three days before the ride, the Dansey’s Pass experienced some fairly significant rain, resulting in a few extra grey hairs for organisers! Rivers rose to over 12 times the usual flow and there was a mad scramble to build an entirely new track to replace the Extreme Loop which – after the rain – had become beyond hazardous!

Even with the rain in the lead-up, the day went off perfectly: cool and clear after a little more rain, which only added to the challenge. Despite the number of riders, because the tracks are so vast it never feels crowded. This year, over 1000 riders took on the legendary Dansey’s Pass Trail Ride and – while there might be a few bikes and bodies worse for wear – they’re all keen to do it all again next year on the 23rd of March 2019.

Simon De Lange had this to say. “The best thing about the ride is the different tracks and terrain which caters to most types of riders. Whoever marked out the advanced hard track was a champ. Rode the whole track with a smile. Never once got bored always a new challenge just around the corner. Would and do recommend this ride to others.”

See www.danseyspasstrailride.org for more info.

 

Hot off the press is the new line-up of gear from Fly Racing for 2019. Featuring a refreshing and bold colour range, with matching sets in every category, the new lines are made to deliver. Utilising high tech materials and new safety features, all while offering premium comfort and airflow. Mens and womens styles are available on every line – if the ladies want to stand out, check out the full hot pink sets!

The F2 Carbon Helmet is absolutely one of the top race helmets on the market. The new F2 has gone a step further, with its ‘one-piece tri-composite carbon fibre shell and mouth guard’, along with ‘MIPS’ (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System), and the best airflow in it’s class. Impact protection, airflow, and comfort – and cool colours too!

 

 

The Elite Vigilant Helmet range are Fly’s original helmet designed to maximise styling and comfort. With multi-port ventilation, reduced weight, and enhanced comfort, the Elite Vigilant is built to meet or exceed DOT and ECE 22.05 standards.

 

 

The Lite Hydrogen jersey and pant sets offer unparalleled lightweight performance, comfort, and flexibility. Taking on board feedback from racers, both amateur and professional, Fly continue to develop their best gear to meet the needs of riders. The new Lite Hydrogen pant is now 136grams lighter than last years line. Analyzed to provide maximum flexibility, breathability, and support where needed, the Lite Hydrogen is the original lightweight, minimalist racewear.

 

 

 

To go with their new helmet ranges, Fly have released new racewear in matching colours – the Kinetic range of Shield and Noiz gearsets blend form and function with ultra-durable construction. Made for anyone from the Pro racers to the weekend riders, and yes there is a line for the ladies, the Kinetic range makes a statement!

By comparison, the F-16 racewear sets have a cleaner look, with race-inspired graphics, and a more classic fit and finish. High quality, durable, but still comfortable and stylish, the F-16 sets bring premium features to the track. Whatever look you are wanting, Fly have it covered!

Whether you are a professional or a casual rider, Fly Racing have plenty of solutions for keeping you looking good, while staying comfortable and safe.

Check out their brand new ranges online at Whites Powersports (bits4bikes) or head into your local distributor to update your own gear!

 

 

The closing of 2017 saw the very first Transfer Port Injection 2-stroke motorcycle roll off the production line in Austria and onto dealer floors in what would be a world first…or would it? Could it be that a back-yard shed, deep in Waikato farming country, in 2012 be the actual birth place of TPi? We made a plan to find out.

Words: DRD | Photos: Supplied

Sometimes you stumble upon interesting information by sheer chance, sometimes you head out searching for it and other times it finds you. This was a case of all the above with regards to Transfer Port Injection – which from now on, we will call TPi.

Neil Hintz is an engineer, cum dirt bike enthusiast, cum serious microlight engine builder. His back shed is larger than you would expect, with all manner of engine, transmission, lathe and CNC machine lying round. He is also into casting his own engine cases, but that is a complete other story. What interested us the most was his claim that he in fact, invented TPi and installed it into a YZ250, back in 2012.

You might remember his injected Kawasaki F9 from last month’s magazine. That was Neil’s first foray into the motorcycling engine-injection business, which saw him meet with many obstacles, but ultimately led to success in a very old platform. It was a chance encounter at a trail ride that saw Wayne Blackwood from Blackwood Yamaha notice the F9 first-hand. Shocked at how well the old girl went with the injection system, he wondered what it would be like in his own YZ250.

Neil and Wayne made a plan to come together and sketch out a blueprint that would inject a 2012 YZ250 2-stroke right through the transfer ports, just like KTM and Husqvarna do it today.

In 2013, this was proven true on many different trail rides with the TPi YZ tested back-to-back with Neil’s standard carburettor YZ. Same bikes, same pipes, same reeds, everything the same; except for the fuelling system.

“We would fill the bikes and then go out and do a 30-odd kilometre ride, fill the tanks again, swap riders, repeat. Many rides were tested like this and the outcome was interesting. 14% savings if the track was open and fast with an impressive 21% fuel saving on the slower more technical tracks – much like we expected.”

It is also interesting that early on with this testing, no dyno time was used and it was just all seat of the pants tuning to get the fuelling system working right.

“I’m sure we could have had even better results with at least some test gear and it just goes to show how easy this system is to tune.”

A few months later, both bikes saw the dyno, with a very similar top end power output. But in the mid-range, the TPi didn’t have the same punch. With it being much smoother in the torque delivery, it had an almost ‘gutless’ feeling in comparison to the carb YZ.

“But the hard fact is, if you want to ride fast, the TPi is much better. Better control, better traction, just better all round. Less time reigning in slides and general uncontrolled wheel spin as on my normal YZ. It was very noticeable. It can lay on its side for as long as you want and start first kick with no flooding. In fact, it’s fitted with an auto clutch now so, as long as it’s getting fuel to the pump, it will just lie there and idle. But why is it laying on its side you ask? That’s just my riding.”

World ‘Release’

Late in 2013, a picture of the TPi YZ cylinder sitting on his work bench was released in a German dirt bike magazine, with some speculation as to whether it might be a secret Yamaha development.

“Ha – it wasn’t hard to tell it was my work bench by way of the Autogyro rotor head parts in the background. There were pictures being distributed of what I had already coined “TPI” on various websites here and around the world by this stage, with a lot of dialogue as to how it all worked with the hope that some manufacturer might run with it. There is a lot less of a story to accompany the TPi YZ unfortunately, as its development went so smoothly. After all the headache of the original Kawasaki F9 development, we were already half way there before we started, so you learn as you go I guess.”

The YZ project started in 2012 with the casting/machining of throttle body parts and modification of the original YZ cylinder to accept the injectors and the fuel rail around the cylinder – 6 years before the release of what you can now see on the KTM/Husqvarna set up.

“By March 2013, we had completed the hardware and ran the TPI YZ for the first time. I loaded my Kawasaki F9 program into the YZ’s Link ECU with a slight change to run it on petrol rather than the ethanol the F9 runs on.”

Within an hour of round the back yard riding Neil and Wayne had the tuning dialled well enough to take it out on an Epic Events trail ride on May 2013 for the YZ’s first official test.

Visit YouTube and search for the account GerbilGronk and check out the video of the first TPi YZ getting tuned around the back yard and its debut at the Epic Events trail ride.

“We rode the YZ on many rides in 2013, finishing up with the Acerbis Four Hour at the end of the year – it’s first competition event. The TPI YZ has completed the 2014, 2015 and 2016 events also, with development so low key (never needing to plug the laptop in) that not one person noticed this most unusual YZ circulating the pits.”

After the initial fuelling system was finalised, a bit of time was spent trying to work out a suitable oiling system. Turns out all that was needed was an old school auto lube, ironically.

“We ended up running a small solenoid-operated jet into the drum throttle body, supplying two-stroke oil. Under 60% throttle, it shut off. Over 60% throttle, the jet opened for business. A very crude way of doing it, but it seemed to work well enough with no big end or piston failures to date.”

The similarities between Neil’s design and the TPi found on the new KTM/Husqvarna are eerily similar. Neil admits that he had no patent on his idea and that it was never something he wanted (or would have been able) to keep to himself or make money from anyway. Something that suggests some truth of this situation is that Husqvarna has produced a short video, explaining exactly how its TPi system works for the world to see. Surely, this is something you would expect a large company like that to patent if it was 100% their own innovation?

“TM contacted me in 2017 to ask for the rights to my TPi patent after first seeing it online, and then on the new orange bikes, but I had to tell them it was free to all. It doesn’t bother me if they did copy my design, I just would have loved to have been part of their process. This stuff really interests me; the 2-stroke still has a lot to offer, especially once fuel injection is involved.

All this has led to a new development using a modern alloy, YZ250F perimeter frame fitted with a water-cooled, 360cc rotary-valve engine, (Neil’s favourite kind of engine), running a newer version of his TPi design, which should provide even better results in terms of power delivery and fuel economy.

“This is still in the works though and something I will be keeping to myself for now I think. Perhaps it will run in this year’s Acerbis Four Hour. At least, that’s the goal.”

“Wayne sorted the charging system, a YZ450F flywheel and stator” Neil explains. “I organised the injector placement and an induction throttle drum to replace the carburettor.”

It became apparent after some initial fiddling that the injectors needed to be in the ‘B Ports’ and aiming toward the incoming air that travelled up the transfer for the best mixing.

“This also has the added advantage of a place to store the extra fuel when the injector ‘on’ time exceeds the port open (or at least flow) time. It also is apparent that at high engine speeds, there is some fuel that finds its way into the ‘A’ ports. This makes for excellent homogenisation when running up on the pipe.

“At lower engine speeds, however, where raw fuel is traditionally lost out the exhaust port, partly due to the ‘A’ port’s proximity (right next door to the exhaust port) and partly because of the relative long port duration time available with minimal gas inertia, the fuel spillage is greatly reduced due to the ‘B’ port (where the fuel is introduced) being so far away from the exhaust port.”

All pretty technical stuff that was all thought out and tweaked before a single barrel was harmed in the process and which, in layman’s terms, means the engine is far more efficient, introducing fuel via the ‘B’ port over the ‘A’ port or the traditional carburettor.

THE WORD | Wayne Blackwood

The other piece to the TPI puzzle, Wayne Blackwood of Blackwood Yamaha, had the bike and the enthusiasm to make a great team with Neil.

DRD: What was the initial idea behind it?

Wayne: The idea came from Neil’s F9, because he spent a bit of time developing that and nobody even noticed, so he wanted to do something a bit more modern so maybe people would see it and wonder what was going on there. But again, no one really noticed.

D: Was it a reasonably straight forward build as far as you expected, when you’re doing something so cutting edge.

W: Yeah, yeah it was. Getting things to fit in there was a bit of a challenge, just physically getting the components where we needed them and still not making it too ugly or too big. Because of the two computers we ended up having two pickup coils so we just stacked another one up outside the flywheel on a little trigger plate. But now, with the newer computers available, we could probably do away with that and just run one pickup which would be cleaner. You can see the injectors here. There’s the custom-made throttle body we had made for us too. We could have just used a butterfly throttle body off something without the injector in it because we weren’t running an injector there. But this way, you can see there’s no restriction on airflow, there’s no butterfly in there, it’s a nice and clean intake, ‘cos that was something we were keen to try. So it’s a drum-type throttle position sensor on the side, and the injectors going down into the transfer ports.

D: Does it add anything in terms of weight to the bike overall over the ‘carby’ version?

W: Yeah, it added a little bit of weight. We’re carrying a battery on board – a small battery – and a fuel pump, but that’d be the only added weight.

D: Did you find the TPI much better than the carburettor?

W: Just different. No more horsepower or peak horsepower, but much more linear in the power delivery. No traditional 2-stroke surge, well not in the same way. It seems to be a bit more controllable. Right off the bottom, I don’t think it seems quite as sharp as the carburetted one, but much cleaner. Like I say, you could stall it, tip it upside down, fall off, pick it up, kick it and it would run clean straight away.

D: Would that delivery help in your traction as well – not being so aggressive and help you on a hill that’s a right sod?

W: Definitely. So that’s where we want to go next. I like 2-strokes, but the power to the rear of a 2-stroke is not good for fast lap times when its slippery. It’s hard to control, so this way we should be able to tune the engine for higher horsepower and still have it ridable. With the electronics available, we might be able to and we’ve got some ideas about putting traction control in it.