Dakar Motorcycles Day 1


Last year’s Bike champion Sam Sunderland picked up where he left off by setting the quickest time in the first special. The Red Bull KTM Factory Team rider finished ahead of Adrien van Beveren (Yamaha) and Paul Quintanilla (Husqvarna). Fourth place went to Spain’s Joan Barreda (Honda). His team-mate and fellow Dakar champion Toby Price, who is still recovering from the severe injury that ended his 2017 campaign, finished the special in 14th place.

Sam Sunderland: “I’m happy to have start strongly, but it’s only 30 kilometers, so it doesn’t mean much, it's only the first day of a long race. I went on the attack, of course, because we’re in a race! The title and I start with a victory, which is fantastic!”

Toby Price (AUS) of Red Bull KTM Factory Team races during stage 01 of Rally Dakar 2018 from Lima to Pisco, Peru on January 06, 2018.


This is Dakar! - Dakar 2018 




New Signing: Ryan Villopoto To Yamaha


Whenever a new deal is on the horizon, it is usually leaked at some point and most people are aware that it is happening. The fact that Ryan Villopoto is now a brand ambassador for Yamaha caught most by surprise, however, as he has been such an integral part of Monster Energy Kawasaki in the last ten years.

"All good things must come to an end," he wrote on social media. "Proud of all the great things I have done and achieved throughout my racing career both amateur and professional at Kawasaki. They will forever be a part of my legacy. Excited for my next chapter and partnership." Villopoto later stated that he is "excited to join Yamaha Motor USA. Thanks to all involved can’t wait to get to work and show you guys what we have in the works."

It is thought that Villopoto will undertake various projects as a brand ambassador at Yamaha. There is no doubt that his face will continue to pop up frequently, as he is involved in the industry through many avenues.


Starting Tips!


Bones on Suspension!


By Bones Bacon

This is one article that is going to be a little difficult to write, but I feel it has to be done. I know I am going to offend some people, but that is not my intention. I believe I have a responsibility to help guide riders into making the right decisions about their suspension. I don’t want anyone to have suspension problems that may lead to them being beaten up or, in a worst-case scenario, crashing.


Over the years I have seen a lot of messed up suspension—broken parts, parts put in wrong or just sloppy workmanship. But, as of late, I have noticed that a lot of riders are sending me stuff that has been worked on by another suspension shop. This isn’t unusual. Lots of riders are suspension shoppers who jump from tuner to tuner in search of the magic setting. I’m sure that my suspension has ended up on some other suspension shop’s re-do list.

But, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about shoddy work from local suspension shops—things that are so egregious they could cause a rider to get hurt.

Here are some examples: When taking the valving off the end of the shock shaft or a fork piston-holder assembly, there is some delicate grinding or machining that has to be done to get the ends of the shafts un-peened. All manufacturers peen over the ends to make sure the nuts don’t come loose. After aggressive grinding, there may not be enough threads left to securely put the nut back on. On fork shafts, sometimes a tuner needs to make a new piston holder with more threads so that the new locknut will be fully engaged. On the shock, it is very critical to grind or, as I do, machine the peened-over area on the shock shaft so the nut can be removed and still have enough threads left for a new nut to be reinstalled after the re-valve has been done. I’m shocked at the number of components I get in my shop that have nuts that are barely held on by a couple of threads.

Another common problem are shocks that have been reassembled with too much oil volume inside the shock body. Most modern shocks have a bladder inside the reservoir that isolates the oil from the nitrogen. If there is too much oil in the shock, the nitrogen bladder will stay in a collapsed shape. When this happens, the collapsed bladder cannot respond to the oil being displaced into the body as the shock compresses. This can cause the shock to hydraulic lock, which can rupture the shock and cause it to break at its weakest point. It’s bad, dangerous and very expensive if this happens.

When I take a fork or shock apart and find that questionable practices have been used by whoever worked on it before, I get angry. I am not talking about their valving, spring rates, oil viscosity or setup choices; it’s more about their knowledge, experience and passion to do a good job. I don’t like suspension shops that take shortcuts—out of ignorance or negligence.

When picking a suspension company to send your components to, it should not be about who can do it the cheapest. It should be about who has the experience, knowledge, concern and funding to make the necessary replacement parts and do the job correctly. Most important, they should take pride in their workmanship.

Think of your suspension shop in the same way that you think of the clinic that is going to do Lasik surgery on your eyes. Are you going to go with the doctor who can do it for the cheapest price? Or, are you going to research the doctor’s credentials, get references from previous patients and check his tech equipment? Trust me; not every suspension shop is perfect or flawless, including mine. But, if the desire and passion are there to do the best job possible, then that is your best investment.

Jim “Bones” Bacon has tuned the suspension of the biggest names in motocross, including Jeremy McGrath, Ricky Carmichael, Ryan Villopoto and Adam Cianciarulo. If you have a suspension question, send it to


Ricky on Ryan



Husky Off-Road Team

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing 2018 Off-Road Team Announced


Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing is pleased to announce their 2018 off-road team featuring Colton Haaker, Josh Strang, Thad Duvall, and newest member Dalton Shirey. 

Looking to defend his 2017 FIM SuperEnduro Championship and contend the 2018 AMA Endurocross series is Colton Haaker. His commitment and perseverance makes him a true pioneer and an integral part of the off-road team. 

Josh Strang will be making his return to the Grand National Cross Country series riding the FX 450 alongside teammate Thad Duvall on an FX 350. Strang will also be racing the Full Gas Sprint Enduro which is a challenge he is looking forward to. Thad Duvall is looking to not only claiming a GNCC title, but an AMA National Enduro title as well. His bout with the team has been successful one and Duvall is a driven racer looking for the top spot. 

Newest member of the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory racing team is Dalton Shirey. Dalton will be competing aboard the FX 450. He will be put to the test racing the 2018 AMA National Hare and Hound and AMA Big 6 West Coast Grand Prix Series. 


Colton Haaker, Dalton Shirey, Josh Strang, and Thad Duvall make up the 2018 Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team. Colton Haaker, Dalton Shirey, Josh Strang, and Thad Duvall make up the 2018 Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team.  Simon Cudby





Eveybody Wants To Win...Not Everybody Works To Win!


Dakar Rally — it’s almost time!


Rally fever rises as 142 motorcycle riders sign up for the 40th edition of the Dakar, which starts in Lima on 6 January. 

Defending champion Sam Sunderland scored a double whammy in 2017, when he completed the rally for the first time and won the race to boot.   Austria's KTM are once again the favourites, but the general classification is wide open, with their Honda and Yamaha rivals ready to pounce on any weakness.

  “There are probably 10 guys with the capability of winning the Dakar,” Sam Sunderland's diplomatic prediction obviously includes him as one of the contenders. 

Based on the number 1 that will be displayed on his motorcycle and pinned to his race suit, some would even say he is the big favourite. 

KTM target #17

At any rate, the Brit's analysis goes to show just how much things have changed since that time when the ever-consistent Cyril Despres and Marc Coma divided the spoils between themselves. 

KTM's new leader is well aware that, in rally raid, dreams of glory can often crumble under the weight of unexpected events. 

He experienced it first-hand this year, when heavy rains in the Rally of Morocco caused him to drown his bike and wave goodbye to the world championship. 

Toby Price, the other former champion racing this year, could also say a thing or two about how hard it is to defend one's title. 

The Aussie spent most of the year recovering after breaking his femur in the fourth stage of last year's race. 

However, the doubts around KTM’s leading duo do not in any way diminish their firepower in a quest for a 17th consecutive victory. 

Last year's runner-up, Matthias Walkner, claimed the Rally of Morocco, while teammate Antoine Méo finished fourth and proved that he is also a force to be reckoned with. KTM's rivals have had to settle for minor placings and stage wins so far, but their never-say-die attitude makes them once again a serious threat for the overall victory. 


dakar rally 2018 riders 1 1200

Photo Credit: Philipp Schuster/Red Bull Content Pool

Honda attack

Honda, for example, can never be written off. Joan Barreda may not be the most consistent rider, but he is probably the fastest one, with 19 specials under his belt. 

However, HRC is pinning its hopes on 2015 runner-up Paulo Gonçalves, if he manages to fully recover from his recent fall during training. 

Kevin Benavides, who had to sit out the 2017 edition, was hot on Walkner's heels a few weeks ago when he finished second in Morocco. 

Yamaha's trio

Yamaha, meanwhile, has finished on the podium with David Frétigné (2009), Hélder Rodrigues (2011 and 2012) and Olivier Pain (2014) since it returned to centre stage. 

Now, Adrien van Beveren (fourth in 2017), last year's best rookie Franco Caimi (eighth) and Xavier de Soultrait, who won the Merzouga Rally and finished fourth and fifth in the Argentinian and Chilean legs of the world championship, have brought in a breath of fresh air to the team. 

Chile's winning hope

Like in 2016, the most consistent rider of the season has been Pablo Quintanilla, who will be riding for Husqvarna again. 

So, as far as we are concerned, Sam, that makes it 11 guys with a shot at winning!

The Dakar Rally begins on January 6th 2018, starting in Lima, Peru.

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