Yamalube Yamaha Rally team riders are all set to take on the 2019 Dakar aboard the newest edition of the WR450F Rally works machine. With this 41st edition of the prestigious event contested exclusively in Peru, Yamaha will be strongly represented by Adrien Van Beveren, Xavier de Soultrait, and Rodney Faggotter. Franco Caimi’s participation will be decided prior to the event’s start in Peru. Working hard during the last few months to be ready for the biggest event in the annual rally racing calendar, the Yamalube Yamaha Rally team members are all looking forward to the 2019 Dakar. Remaining under the guidance of team director Alexandre Kowalski, team manager José Leloir and sport manager Jordi Arcarons, all riders are looking to make the most of their experience as they battle against the world’s elite rally racers in what is expected to be an anything but easy event.

Spearheading the team’s efforts for yet another year is Adrien Van Beveren. One of the revelations of the 2018 Dakar Rally, Adrien is eager to impress by fighting for the overall victory next January. At the top of his game following months of hard work, the French rider is now ready to do battle in the dunes of Peru. “I couldn’t be any happier with how things have worked out the last few months. I had some good weeks of training on and off the bike and I feel I’ve made a big step going into the Dakar. Physically I feel even stronger than last year and I just want to work on some minor details before heading to Peru. Race organisers announced there’ll be more than 90% of dune stages. I love racing in sand so I feel really comfortable going into this rally. With the race being shorter and more intense than in the past, I believe the level of competition will be quite high. These conditions really suit my style of racing and I really can’t wait to take the start of the race in Lima.”

Putting in many thousands of racing and training kilometres aboard his WR450F Rally machine in 2018, Xavier de Soultrait is set to enter the fifth Dakar Rally of his career this coming January. Working hard to further improve his navigational skills, the Frenchman has his eyes set on climbing onto the podium in Lima. “If the race started tomorrow, I’m happy to say I’d be 100% ready for it. These last few months I’ve been working hard, riding my rally bike in the sand in France and elsewhere. Physically I feel strong and I’ve also worked a lot on navigation. Last year I had a very good first week in the dunes of Peru. We’ve done a couple of races there now so I am feeling comfortable with the terrain and the conditions in the area. The next Dakar will be shorter and I like this new format. We’ve made some small changes to the gearing and the suspension and our bike now is perfect for the conditions we expect to have. I’ve studied the stages a lot and made my plans for each one of them. If it all goes well I believe I have a good chance to be among the frontrunners and battle for a good overall result in Peru.”

Playing a crucial role for the Yamalube Yamaha Rally team during the last two Dakar Rallies, Rodney Faggotter remains with the squad going into the 2019 edition of the event. Enjoying an extremely consistent run that saw him finish 16th overall at the 2018 Dakar Rally, the Aussie will look to improve on this result in January 2019. “I’m looking forward to the 2019 Dakar. I’ve been racing some Bajas and training hard back home in Australia these last few months. I feel strong physically and also mentally. In the beginning of December we’ve spent a full week testing and training with the team in Morocco and that was a good morale booster for me. We have a great spirit within the team and I want to be there for my teammates if they need me. I want to have a good clean run and do my own race. This Dakar might seem shorter, but we all know it’s still going to be a long and demanding race. If it all goes well, I’m confident I can improve my overall result from last year and fight for a spot inside the top-10.”

With the team 100% ready to have Franco Caimi enter the 2019 Dakar Rally, his participation will be decided just before the start of the race. Doing everything possible to return to full fitness following his injury during the Morocco Rally, the rider from Argentina is expecting to undergo his last medical checks just a few days before the start of the event. “I’ve been working really hard to get back to fitness and I’m getting stronger and stronger every day. Ever since I came back home to Argentina after my injury in Morocco, I’ve been closely following the plan that my doctors together with my trainers have set for me. I’ve been working every day either in the swimming pool or on my bicycle and I will jump on my rally bike as soon as the doctors allow me to do so. I am doing the best I can at the moment and I am positive I will be allowed to race the Dakar in January. A few days before the start in Lima, I’ll have to pass the medical exams from ASO and then I’ll know whether or not I can race. For the past few weeks I’m making good progress and I am positive I will be able to make it happen.”

Further strengthening Yamaha’s presence at the 2019 Dakar will be Camelia Liparoti. Teaming up with Rosa Romero Font as her co-driver, the two highly-experienced racers will compete in Yamaha’s YXZ1000R side-by-side machine at the coming edition of the event in Peru. Taking place in the southern part of Peru, the 2019 Dakar Rally features a total of 10 demanding stages. The race kicks off on January 7 in Lima, with competitors returning to the Peruvian city for the big finish on January 17 and after an exhaustive 5,000km in the dunes of the South American country.

Race Schedule – Dakar Rally 2019
Stage 1 | Jan 7 | Lima to Pisco | SS: 84km | Total: 331km
Stage 2 | Jan 8 | Pisco to San Juan de Marcona | SS: 342km | Total: 554km
Stage 3 | Jan 9 | San Juan de Marcona to Arequipa | SS: 331km | Total: 779km
Stage 4 | Jan 10 | Arequipa to Moquegua | SS: 352km | Total: 511km
Stage 5 | Jan 11 | Moquegua to Arequipa | SS: 345km | Total: 776km
Rest Day | Jan 12 | Arequipa
Stage 6 | Jan 13 | Arequipa to San Juan de Marcona | SS: 317km | Total: 839km
Stage 7 | Jan 14 | San Juan de Marcona to San Juan de Marcona | SS: 323km | Total: 387km
Stage 8 | Jan 15 | San Juan de Marcona to Pisco | SS: 361km | Total: 576km
Stage 9 | Jan 16 | Pisco to Pisco | SS: 313km | Total: 410km
Stage 10 | Jan 17 | Pisco to Lima | SS: 112km | Total: 358km

 

Honda have stepped into the ‘sports side-by-side’ market, in a highly anticipated move, finally with new all-new models: the 2019 Honda Talon 1000X and Honda Talon 1000R. Released during a special event in conjunction with Honda’s Automobile Division, and coinciding with the Los Angeles Auto Show, American Honda proudly unveiled the two aggressive looking four-wheeled off-roaders. Having held a strong position in the two-wheeled off-road market for decades with the CR and CRF lineup, and recently introducing the Pioneer multipurpose side-by-side, Honda made the decision to marry the two, creating a new level of off-road excitement, precision, performance, and quality to sport side-by-side driving.

 

The Honda Talon 1000X, specified at 64.0 inches (1651 mm) wide, has 2.0-inch body Fox Podium Quick Switch 3 shocks (QS3), with 5/8-inch shafts combined with the double-wishbone front suspension design and 3-Link rear system. The suspension has 14.6 inches (371 mm) travel at the front end, and 15.1 inches (383 mm) of suspension travel at the rear. The one-piece frame retains consistent geometry even when pushed under the hardest loads, for a controlled and confidence-inspiring ride. The 999cc parallel-twin four-valve engine features Honda’s own Unicam® design, mated to a high-tech Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT), with two automatic drive modes as well as the steering-column paddle shifters for Manual mode. The Talon 1000X also utilises Honda’s I-4WD, the powersports industry’s first and only brake traction control system, managing the amount of slip between the front wheels in four-wheel drive. The system also optimises brakeforce distribution, applying pressure to the most effective wheels during braking in two-wheel drive. The Talon 1000X also features Hill-Start assist, temporarily holding the vehicle in place when stopped on an ascent, simplifying the process of resuming motion.

 

The Honda Talon 1000R shares 85% of its parts with the Talon 1000X, diverging only in wheelbase, width, and suspension arrangement. The Talon 1000R is 68.4 inches (1737 mm) wide, 4.4 inches wider and 5 inches longer than its sibling. The Talon 1000R has a double-wishbone front suspension layout, and a 4+ Link rear configuration, with 2.5-inch body Fox Podium QS3 shocks with 17.1-inches of travel front, and 20.1-inches of travel at the rear. The combination results in remarkable performance in diverse situations, but is particularly impressive in high-speed, rough conditions.

“For some time now, our customers have told us they’re ready to purchase a high-performance sport side-by-side from Honda, and I’m particularly pleased that we’re now able to offer them not one, but two all-new models,” said Chuck Boderman, Vice President, Motorcycle Division at American Honda. “We know that many sport side-by-side enthusiasts own Honda powersports products of other types or have a strong emotional connection with our brand. Now, the Talon 1000X and Talon 1000R—both U.S.-developed and -produced sport side-by-sides that are uniquely capable and incredibly reliable—connect these worlds.”

Pricing is due in February 2019, with the first units expected here ‘mid-2019’… Scroll down for more photos!

 

Following on from the massive technological advancements to Yamaha’s MX1 flagship for 2018, it was only natural for all that juicy tech to filter down to the MX2 machine for 2019. We sent Scotty Columb over to Aussie to give it a go before any other Kiwi got a chance.

“Get ya passport ready Scotty, because you’re off to Willowbank MX Park in Brisbane to test out the new 2019 YZ250F for DRD.” Yep, I was off to Aussie after the call came down from DRD Ed, Paul, that he needed someone to test Yamaha’s all-new MX2 machine.

And when Yamaha say the model is “all-new”, they really mean it. Okay, the changes aren’t exactly a surprise, but essentially the bLU cRU have taken all the best improvements from the latest YZ450F and adapted them for the lites machine. And with the current YZ250F still really competitive, I was interested to see what it was going to be like with a bit of the same magic they’d sprinkled on the 450. And nothing was left alone, with the powerplant, frame, suspension and electronics all getting some form of attention, varying from something minor like a change in angle by a degree or two, or a complete update.

One thing of note straight outta the gate is that a Yamaha is still blue to its core, but like the YZ450F there’s now an option of Competition White available. I don’t think it will stay white for long – a bit like ya jocks, sometimes they change colour after ya have one of those “moments” over a kicker – but if you’re not a fan of blue there’s another option.

First impressions are that the bike’s ergonomics are upgraded, 19mm lower in the rear of the seat, making the bike’s cockpit flatter, as well as being 9mm lower in the middle. Foot pegs are also lower because of these adjustments made to the ride height, which would likely be a real bonus if you’re of average height as the YZs were always really tall.

The width of the bike is 18mm narrower than the previous model, and that’s even with the air filter located front and centre of the saddle. All new plastics with a change in contour forward of the saddle mean you can grip tighter with your knees, thus giving a better feel and maneuverability of the machine, and the 250F really does feel small and agile.

After sitting down with the rest of the other testers, a nice bloke from Yamaha Australia called Geeza – he’s got a real name, Sean, and is the Communications Manager at Yamaha Australia – tells us everything we need to know about the new 2019 model. There’s so much information on the plethora of changes Yamaha have made to the YZ250F for 2019, it’s almost daunting.

However, stand out points where a smaller fuel tank, moving from 7.5 litres down to 6.2, mass engine updates, and importantly an electric starter matched with a lightweight lithium battery bringing it up to speed with the European MX2 competition. Oh, and don’t go looking for the kick-starter as there isn’t one and the exhaust can be hot!

Yamaha have also gone all out on the chassis and made adjustments to the frame, head angle and the engine mounting in the aim for more balanced rigidity characteristics. Add to that stronger wheels – still conventional round wheels but the rims are stronger! – and updated KYB suspension and you’ve got a very appealing package. After all was said and done, I was chomping at the bit to get out and race… I mean, test (okay, it’s always a race at these press events) the new machine.

After a lap around the car park just to feel the bike and controls it was onto the track, wide open. The rasp of the exhaust is amazing; it sounds great and I think you don’t even need an aftermarket one, the stock one was that impressive. After 5 or 6 laps of pinning it to win, I had to pull in and rest my arms. Taking the time to speak with a couple of Yamaha mechanics, a few adjustments were made to the controls.

Now, this bike pulls really well in the mid-power range, right where you want to be. But when you hit full throttle or up top, the bike opens up and goes in to “turbo mode” and revs to the moon. The mods to the DOHC powerplant for 2019 have turned this into an amazing engine that just pulls like a freight train. There is also less induction noise with the new air-box, which conveniently features a single piece Dzus clip for easy access to change filters, which also now stay cleaner as they are away from the rear wheel.

After a bit of talking smack with other riders about the track and bike, it was time to load maps onto the ECU. Now like its big brother, Yamaha have an app you download on your smart phone. After connecting to the bike’s WiFi, you can load pre-programmed maps, with the three basic settings: hard-hitting power (loamy), linear TRQ (hard pack) and smooth linear (slippery) settings. I tested them all out, and you can even switch between map 1 and 2 with a push of a button on the fly with the bar-mounted button. Oh, and on the handlebars, they’ve been reduced in weight but not strength due to a thinner bar wall and higher strength metal.

Back out on the track and it’s easily to notice there is substantial differences in the maps. My favourite was the hard-hitting power, but it would entirely depend on rider preference and course. Then, of course, you can play with your phone and adjust fuel and air mixtures yourself and load them on to the ECU, with the safety of not going so extreme that you risk doing damage to the engine. There are also many other features with the app, allowing you to put in information like track settings, air temp, maintenance records, run time of the bike and more. It’s like playing at being an MXGP mechanic which I found I rather enjoyed, or at least ya dad will.

The course chosen by Yamaha to show off the new YZ was beautifully ripped, loamy dirt and with some sand sections. There were no jumps, but lots of ruts and berms to rail. There was a jump track out the back where a few whips and cross-ups were done. No complaints here as the bike flew well in the air. However, I felt the rear shock, which is new, was hurting my back and felt a little harsh on acceleration bumps and braking. A few of the other riders also felt this.

Everyone made their own adjustments and I went a few clicks softer and faster on the rebound and that was it. The forks were also dropped in the clamps 3mm, and from here I just went around and around and around, happy as a pig in shit. I have to admit, I had one hell of a day on this new machine.

The bike comes with Bridgestone tyres and felt like glue around the Aussie circuit. Changes have been made to the steering head angle and frame, but not having ridden the ‘18 model I couldn’t compare the two. But any improvement must have been right because this bike seemed to handle and feel great. As you may or may not know, a lot of new model testing is done by ex-pros, and a Kiwi guy named Josh Coppins (you might have heard of him…) had a lot to do with tuning the general feel and make-up of the bike, so you know it’s going to be good.

The 2019 YZ250F feels great, is fast and corners fantastic. The only slight niggles I had was that it sometimes struggled a little starting if you were in gear, but it sure beats kicking it in the guts. And another thing was every now and then the footpeg would get jammed up with the heavy dirt. To be honest I may be getting a little too picky here, but there was nothing else negative to comment on. And I reckon the fact Courtney Duncan and Aaron Plessinger are dominating on these bikes, I’m sure you will be alright too!

Broxy grabs multi NZ Champion Brad Groombridge’s championship-winning RM-Z450 to find out just what makes this bike so versatile.

Luke Temple is one of those guys you can’t help but get along with in the moto paddock, but he has a bit of a secret affliction, an addiction to all things Kawasaki…

Words and Pics: Mat

 

If you’ve ever had a mate who passed all his exams at school without studying while you sweated blood over cram sessions, well, that kid is kind of Luke in the moto paddock.

Instead of building his way up the ladder of power, Luke graduated straight from juniors to the big leagues when he bought his first KX450F, but it was the old KX500 that stuck in his mind…

There is an unmistakable allure to the big 500cc, 2-strokes of the 90s.

Maybe it is the huge expansion pipes, the blocky plastics, or maybe it’s the insane power. Whatever it is, Luke Temple is a man who lives the KX500 life, but getting his own example of the mighty KX wasn’t without its challenges.

“I’ve been wanting to build a KX500 for a few years now,” Luke says. “But every time a decent one popped up, I always found an excuse why I shouldn’t buy it.”

That bad attitude wasn’t to last though, and it wasn’t long before a bike popped up that Luke couldn’t say ‘no’ to.

“Earlier this year, around March, I found a really good clean 2000 KX500 that came out of California, and I finally just decided I should get it or it would never happen; you only live once, right? Next thing I know it’s in my garage.”

With our winter slightly soggier than normal this year, it gave Luke plenty of time to fettle the big 2-stroke thumper back to perfection.

The Build

“Slowly over winter, I spent my days looking for every aftermarket part I could get my hands on and even had some custom parts made. I got in touch with Sean Collier in America, who put me in touch with the team who built the KX500 that he won the 2-stroke Nationals with at Glenn Helen.”

Along with the special custom touches, Luke also raided his more modern Kawasaki parts bin.

Incredibly, even with 17 years between the heroes of the Kawasaki dirt range, the air forks from a 2017 KXF450, bolt right up to the existing KX500 triple clamps; so naturally, they went on – along with most of the KX450F front end, including the far more modern brake discs, with Luke rebuilding the stock KX500 calipers using new KX450F internals.

The wheels also were pinched from the KX450F, but considering the standard KX500 axle is an 18mm unit and those on the new bikes are up around 25mm, Warp 9 Racing in America was called and they made up the necessary spacers to ensure the rear wheel would fit.

The rear wheel also required a custom brake disc as well, which Warp 9 also made for Luke’s project.

While the front end is completely up to date, the stock rear shock has surprisingly been left in place – mainly due to the fact it tapers downward with just enough space to suit the exhaust – but Luke had a card up his sleeve to get more value out of the 17-year old shock.

He gave Mark Patterson Suspension a call and instructed them to throw every aftermarket RaceTech component at it they could.

The result is a bike that actually rides pretty well, according to Luke, and going by his performance at the Sand Prix, he isn’t lying!

While the engine is mostly stock, Luke has ensured it’s ready to take a good fang with a fresh piston, rings and a full aftermarket exhaust.

The only true modification surprisingly doesn’t produce any extra power, but instead makes the beast easier to kick over. Remember, this is a bike from a time when real men kicked their bikes to get them going.

“I’ve had an auto decompression diaphragm added to the head, which feeds off the vacuum created from the reed valve.”

This little mod makes the big 500 kick-over like a 125, and it’s hilarious to think that it is, essentially, a valve off a Briggs and Stratton lawnmower.

“The only other engine mod is the one-piece clutch cover that I have cut off, I’ve had a space plate machined up and attached my 450 Hinson clutch cover. This looks cool, and now I can get at the clutch easily.”

Finishing off the build was the obligatory graphics upgrade, which Cam Huggins from DB Graphics made up, while DR Trim in Morrinsville recovered the seat to match Luke’s 450F.

But we don’t spend all that time in the shed just to sit back and admire what we’ve put together, we build bikes to get them dirty – and Luke is no exception.

The Ride

“Once the bike was built up, I rode it at Mercer at a practice day, thinking the bike would suck. It would look and sound cool, but ride like a bike would have done in the 90s.

“To my delight, it actually rode really well – nowhere near a modern 450, but pretty good nonetheless.

“Once the Mercer Sand Prix came along I thought, ‘why not have some fun and ride the 500 instead?’ I’m a bit past the days of racing nationals and trying to get good results. Nowadays, I ride for fun, so I thought: ‘why not race the 500?’ I ended up doing really well on the old girl and came home in 5th.”

Not bad for a bike based on a design first penned in the early 80s.

But the coolest thing about this bike is the number of people that come up and drool over it. It seems everyone – no matter their age or background – can appreciate the old 2-stroke Kawasaki.

“It must be a nostalgia thing or something, but people just love to look at it,” explains Luke, and we’d have to agree.