American Flat Track has Found Its Groove, Man

August 31, 2018 John Burns 0

In an open letter sent out yesterday, AFT CEO Michael Lock writes:

Dear Friends of AFT,

American Flat Track is now producing audience and viewership dashboard reports for all stakeholders – and they tell a compelling story.

These reports, the first of which is attached here and downloadable via the link below, help shed light on the growth and health of our sport, which is measurable by the size and makeup of the audience we reach and entertain.

In the three years since 2015 we have risen from 193,000 total season fans (event ticket buyers and viewers) to 2,695,952 so far in 2018 – and with five telecasts and four rounds still to go!

Our viewership and fanbase isn’t just expanding, it’s also becoming more diverse. Our regional fanbase is spreading, as well, and rider-counts on track this year are up, too.

We are enjoying an era of rapid growth: more manufacturers competing, more sponsors and supporters becoming involved, and better social media content ensuring our message gets out quicker and to more people.

I invite you to download this dashboard report and take a look at what we’ve all accomplished. I’m hoping it’ll inspire everyone in our community to continue the hard – and fun – work that will make 2019 and beyond even better for everyone – paddock, sponsors, AFT and fans alike.

Thanks for all your contributions and your support for AFT,

Micheal Lock


If you want to know more than you thought you would ever want to know about who watches flat-track racing and how, it’s all here in this AFT Metric Dashboard.

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Pirelli Moto Mixer, Sept. 8, P Zero World, L.A.

August 30, 2018 John Burns 0

All we wanna do is have some fun, when the sun comes up over Santa Monica Boulevard. This just in from Pirelli:
What: Pirelli Moto Mixer
When: Saturday, September 8th from 6-9 p.m. 
Where: Pirelli P ZERO World (10349 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025)
Details: This moto gathering is FREE and will feature a variety of custom and exotic bikes on display from local builders and dealers, food, DJ, Pirelli ambassadors, special guests, giveaways from partner brands (Alpinestars, Motul, SENA) and the chance to win a free set of Pirelli tires for those who ride in. Motorsports artwork from Dennis Matson will also be on display with one lucky attendee getting to take one home!  

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Vee Two Is Building 12 Hailwood Replicas

August 29, 2018 John Burns 0

Even if you weren’t around yet in 1978, most motorcycle fans are aware of Mike the Bike Hailwood’s out-of-retirement win at the 1978 Isle of Man TT, on a very special Ducati. Now  Ducati have given permission for the bevel-drive Ducati experts at Vee Two to build 12 replicas of that machine, made possible by Brook Henry’s acquisition of the original drawings that laid out the Hailwood bike’s very special and stout 905 cc motor.

Meanwhile, Paul Taylor of Taylor Made Racing, in beautiful Van Nuys, CA, will be responsible for the bodywork and appearance of the bike, a responsibility he takes extremely seriously. If you have to ask, you probably can’t afford one, but you can read all about the project – including what Mike kept stuffed inside that tennis ball – here.


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Vodka-Powered XS650 Racer Off to Bonneville

August 27, 2018 John Burns 0

The only thing better than minimizing your carbon footprint is maximizing your spiritual one. The proprietor of Montgomery Distillery in Missoula, Montana, had a Yamaha lying around that didn’t run, some gallons of distilling byproducts resembling ethanol, and a little time on his hands. He may be blazing upon the burning sands as we speak. Read the full story over here and see Kurt Wilson’s very nice photos at The Missoulian.

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RIP Longtime Race Announcer Brian Drebber

August 23, 2018 John Burns 0

If you’ve been to an AMA, MotoAmerica, or US World Superbike round in the last 30 or so years, you’ve heard Brian Drebber doing the trackside play-by-play. The 67-year old Drebber was riding his bike, “Franken Wing,” (which he suggested yesterday I should include in today’s “Top 10 Motorcycles for People Over 50”) to the airport from his home in Cherokee County, Georgia, when he struck a deer and crashed. The Cherokee Ledger says Brian was conscious when rescuers arrived on scene, but later died at the hospital.

Mr. Drebber had a big heart, a kind word and a story for everyone.

Moto America sent this Press Release:

Brian Drebber, 1950-2018
MotoAmerica Announcer Passes In Motorcycle Accident

COSTA MESA, CA (August 23, 2018) – Longtime motorcycle race announcer Brian Drebber passed away today, August 23, from injuries sustained after a collision with a deer. Drebber was en route to the airport on his motorcycle from his home in Georgia to fly to Pittsburgh to commentate on this weekend’s MotoAmerica round at Pittsburgh International Race Complex.

MotoAmerica announcer Brian Drebber passed away on Thursday from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.| Photo By Brian J. Nelson

Drebber was 68 years old.

“The entire MotoAmerica family is saddened today by the loss of Brian,” said MotoAmerica President Wayne Rainey. “Brian had a passion for our sport that was evident in his announcing. He was a big part of our paddock and he will be missed.”

Drebber was a professional cyclist in the 1970s and that’s where he got his start in announcing. He began announcing and commentating on motorcycle racing in the late 1970s and has been the lead track announcer for MotoAmerica since it took over the AMA Superbike Series in 2015.

Drebber is survived by his fiancée, Mara Yetter, daughter, Robin von Drebber, and granddaughter, Kylie von Drebber.

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Safety Tip #367: Do Not Ride Through Fresh Concrete

August 22, 2018 John Burns 0

If you’re looking for your bike, the Michigan Department of Transportation has it, and is waiting for you to come pick it up. MDOT’s Facebook page says, “The motorcycle in question entered a closed lane on I-69 in #ClintonCounty and crashed after hitting a freshly poured longitudinal patch on Aug. 20. No injuries reported.”

Also this:

“Did you lose a motorcycle yesterday driving on I-69 in #ClintonCounty? Remember to always drive safely in work zones and do not use closed lanes to pass slowed traffic – you never know where concrete might be curing.

“You can pick your bike up at the impound, where the police will be waiting.”

That’s going to need a pretty serious pressure washer, looks like…

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Church of MO: Heavyweight Contenders 1996

August 19, 2018 John Burns 0

And in those days, God said let there be dial-up modems, and he yelled down the hallway at his wife to get off the line so He could fire up the AOL connection, see if He had any mail, and check up on Motorcycle Online when we were two years old. Phone home, Andy Saunders, where are you? 

Matchup of the Heavyweight Contenders

 By Andy Saunders, Mar. 03, 1996

It’s a hot, sweaty night in Sepulveda. Lined up at the lights, four motorcycles. Racing for pink slips. The light flickers from red to green, hammers down, they’re gone in a wisp of smoke and a black squeal of tires. Who wins? For our Musclebike contest we picked Yamaha’s V-Max, Triumph’s Speed Triple, Honda’s CB1000 and Ducati’s M900 street rods. As hot rod cars get more and more popular on the streets of the USA, can hot rod motorcycles be far behind? Well, actually, yes. The naked musclebikes that the rest of the world is demanding, and getting, haven’t reached these shores. Bikes like Suzuki’s 1200 Bandit, Yamaha’s FJR 1200 and TRX 850. What the rest of the world doesn’t have is Buell’s S1. Unfortunately, at the time of this
 test, we didn’t have one either, because the MO road test Buell had been deflected out on the racetrack – where it gave good account of itself before blowing up at the Atlanta round of the NASB EBC Brakes Sportbike Challenge Series. But that’s musclebike life: sometimes a short one.4th placeYamaha V-Max

It’s not the original musclebike — the Vincent Black Shadow was probably that — but it’s been around since the beginning of time. Well, at least since 1984, and that makes the 1198cc V-four cylinder V-Max one of the longest-lived motorcycles, and also one of the most unchanged. New brakes and all-black paint were the only changes for ’96. When it debuted more than a decade ago, the Max machine was astounding, offering more power than just about anything without wings and a Pratt and Whitney engine, all in a chassis that appeared to be deliberately designed for the street drag racer, who didn’t have to turn corners.

It never was a handler, even back then. And every other powerful motorcycle on the market was big and heavy, so its substantial weight wasn’t a disadvantage. Nowadays, with a new generation of lightweight motorcycles to compete against in the traffic light Grand Prix, its bulk is noticeable. On our brand new V-Max, even before it’s stock rear tire (the V-Max is shod with low-lifetime Bridgestone Exedras) went bad, handling was, shall we say, interesting. It’s quite a feeling to gingerly feel your way around a corner, throttle carefully feathered, as the forks pogo and the front wheel threatens to push every inch of the corner.

But the king of raw power since 1984 still makes it big in the cool stakes. Park on the boulevard on a Saturday night, and who cares about corners. The added grunt corralled by the V-boost system (which directs inlet charge between carburetors) and the beefy V-4 engine means that there are still few challengers who stand a chance. There’s still little that will beat a V-Max, at least in a straight line. The V-boost system and low gearing guarantee that. Once you get into that first corner though, all bets are off. And highway cruising is buzzy, thanks again to the low gear ratios. Suspension was primitive, even in 1984. The narrow, conventional front fork lacks sophisticated damping control and is easily overwhelmed. The rear shock is classically oversprung and underdamped, and the motorcycle is designed with a long wheelbase, carrying a lot of weight on the rear.

Try to corner hard, and you’ll regret it, as the front wheel starts to push and the back pogos all over the place.  It is fairly easy to lean over enough, at least on a smooth road, to scrape the pegs. As a practical, day-to-day motorcycle the Max is a little overwhelmed. The 4.0 gallon gas tank lives under the seat (the dummy tank actually contains the airbox and the header tank for the radiator), and to refill it, which you have to do after you hit the electric reserve button at around the 100 mile mark, you must first pull two underseat mounted toggles. Then, to the delight of gas station attendants everywhere, the mid part of the seat bursts open, revealing the lockable filler cap below.

Party games aside, the V-Max is fun to ride around town because of its good looks and low down grunt, but out on the open road the fun diminishes, as narrow, upright bars head the rider up into the wind like a parachute at any speed above 65. Apart from the electric gas reserve switch on the right handlebar (now why hasn’t anyone else copied that?) rider amenities are few. The tachometer is buried in the front of the faux gas tank, and only readable when you’re nodding off at the wheel. But, hey, you have to live with a few compromises when what you want to do is ride the coolest looking musclebike in town. And the Yamaha is still unarguably that.

3rd placeTriumph Speed Triple

 By now the Triumph formula should be well known. Take the basic, modular chassis design, add whatever frills are necessary for the task at hand, apply beautifully styled graphics and a couple of Union Jack flags, and watch the enthusiasts drool. The black on black Speed Triple has been available in Europe for three years now, but is a relatively recent arrival in the U.S. It uses Triumph’s 885cc three cylinder engine, in the same frame as the dualsport Tiger model, but with differing fork, shock and bodywork (or lack of: the Speed Triple is mostly about the naked look).

We had our doubts about including the Triumph in the test: After all, at only 885 cc, it gave away capacity to the multi cylinder competition and much weight to the twin cylinder rival (the Ducati). And at first the motor seemed low-powered: That was until we ran all the bikes away from the lights at once, and the Triumph took the lead. It’s a great motor once you realize it has to be revved. There’s not too much power down low in the rpm range, but get that three cylinder motor spinning and it pulls with alacrity. Carburetion glitches seem to hamper the Triumph in the midrange, and we’re sure that a little tuning would help the gas consumption: the Triple was the thirstiest of the lot, even out-gulping the V-Max into the low thirties when both were ridden side by side.

Once you do get the motor revving, power builds until it reaches a flat spot just before the 9,500 rpm redline. Keep it spinning in the sweet spot, and the triple will keep up with the rest of them, at least until the road begins to bend. The riding position was the sportiest of the lot, in that the narrow, clip-on bars put the rider into a forward crouch. But for most riders, the footrests were a little too far forward for the bars. If the bars were replaceable, we’d say just change to a cowhorn bar, but the bars are cast, non adjustable, non replaceable. It’s kind of a pity that a bike built from a modular design should be so non-customizable. We would have voted the Triumph higher marks but for one thing – the suspension and resulting handling problems.

For a sporty motorcycle, the Triumph sure has a lousy suspension setup. Both ends of the bike are underdamped and undersprung. The frame, (the same type used for all Triumph models), is a tubular steel spine type, and means the bike is high (too high for some short-legged riders: One of the reasons Triumph’s Thunderbird is popular is that shorter riders can get their feet on the ground). Combine the height with the mushy, wallowy suspension and uncertain handling and you have a recipe for rider distrust. These criticisms have been leveled at Triumph for several years now, and we’re beginning to wonder why they don’t fix up the suspension to suit the sporty image they’ve adopted. True, very few Triumph owners will push their bikes to the limit, but the competition (even the big, wallowy Honda) is just so much better around the bends. Heck, even the V-max wasn’t that much worse.

Given these criticisms, it probably doesn’t really matter that the Triumph was shod with slightly long in the tooth Michelin Hi Sports, which aren’t famous for their responsiveness. Bridgestone Exedras would have worked just as well. The Speed Triple has potential for the top of the musclebike class – but it doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. The riding position is a compromise between sportbike and standard. Low footpegs and knee cutouts in the tank are the sporty bits. Narrow handle bars lack musclebike leverage. The tires fitted were lacking feel in hard sporty cornering (although nobody expects a musclebike to corner well). Compromises in the suspension let this motorcycle down: but even with its compromised design, if it had been a smoother suspended performer, it would have been hard to beat on the street. For: Character, soulful wail of three cylinder motor. Good brakes. Surprising peak power Against: Hi-strung, peaky power, odd riding position nobody liked, spongy front suspension.

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Strider Bikes at Sturgis

August 15, 2018 John Burns 0

Get on your bikes and ride. You have to pedal before you can blaze your personal path to freedom on a fire-breathing iron horse, and Strider Bikes is all over that action.

———————————————————————————————————–Strider Press Release:

Rapid City, S.D. (August 14, 2018) – In front of an audience of over 1,000 attendees of the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame Breakfast, a passionate Ryan McFarland, founder and chief enthusiast officer of Strider Bikes, presented the 2018 Strider Inspiration Award to high school educator, Amy Speidel. Serving as the title sponsor of the breakfast, Strider Bikes awarded its second annual Strider Inspiration Award to Speidel, a special education teacher at Rapid City Central High School.

Strider recognized Speidel for incorporating Strider 20 Sport Balance Bikes into her high school classroom, utilizing them for the physical and cognitive development of her students. While their initial use was intended to focus on physical development, the bikes became a transformative tool for the students.

“Kids who I never thought would be on a bike at all, are now doing it every day,” noted Speidel. “We use them for recreation, social skills, community skills, physical therapy, adaptive PE, language development and behavior interventions. They’re incredible.”

On hand for the presentation was a student of Speidel’s, Grady Leonard, who progressed from an oversized tricycle to independently pedaling on two wheels after learning on a Strider. He plans to learn to ride a motorcycle by the end of the year, a goal that received loud cheers and applause from the motorcycle enthused audience.

Inspired by Speidel’s thought to include Striders inside the classroom to enhance students’ lives, McFarland sought to grow this model throughout the country, beginning with kindergarten classrooms.

“Our vision is to ensure all children, regardless of their race, gender, physical ability, socioeconomic background or other factors, can ride a bike before entering first grade,” stated McFarland. “To achieve this, we have created the 501(c)(3), Strider Education Foundation, designed to teach kindergartners to ride using the Kindergarten PE Program.

Launched in 2017, the Strider Education Foundation is a registered nonprofit focused on transforming lives with riding. One program of the Foundation is the Kindergarten PE Program, teaching kindergartners to ride safely and confidently as part of their PE classes. Schools across the United States are being adopted by donors to bring this program to schools at no cost.

The Hall of Fame Breakfast was one of several rally events featuring Strider. On Sunday, custom Strider Bikes were featured at the legendary Sturgis Buffalo Chip during the Flying Piston Benefit Breakfast followed by an appearance at the Motorcycles as Art exhibit. Seven Strider Bikes were customized by notable bike builders including Jody Perewitz of Cycle Fab, Rick Fairless of Strokers Dallas and Paul Yaffe of Bagger Nation. The collection was also featured at the Legends Ride, Biker Belle’s event and the Hall of Fame Breakfast.

On Tuesday evening, young rally-goers took to the track as 3- and 4-year-olds raced their Strider 12 Bikes at the American Flat Track Races held at the Black Hills Speedway in Rapid City. Approximately 30 racers took to the dirt track racing in two heats. Three toddler two-wheeling phenoms took home trophies as large as they were while the other riders received medals for their racing efforts. Along with racing their own bikes, all of the participants were treated to a free admission along with their family to take in the Flat Track Races.


Strider creates and inspires future generations of riders by giving children as young as six months old the best first-bike experience. Strider Bikes revolutionized the bike’s design to develop a child’s balance first and pairs each balance bike with a proven learn-to-ride process. Children across the globe are starting on a Strider Bike and becoming two-wheeling virtuosos – before they’re out of diapers.

Founded in 2007, in Rapid City, South Dakota, Strider has sold more than 2 million bikes and is distributed in more than 75 countries. Visitwww.StriderBikes.comFacebook or Instagram.

About Strider Education Foundation

The Strider Education Foundation is a US-based, 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2017. The Foundation supports nonprofit organizations, schools and government entities that share in its values of changing the world by inspiring and creating bike riders. The Foundation, supported through private donations and Strider Sports International, provides two-in-one conversion bikes, educational curriculum, and monetary resources to organizations and public institutions committed to teaching the transformative lifetime skill of riding a bike in a structured setting.

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Ride to the VBR in Fresh Cotton Riding Shorts

August 15, 2018 John Burns 0

Aerostich’s Very Boring Rally 4 is this weekend in Duluth, Minnesota and environs! While there’s probably no time to mail-order a couple pairs of new Cotton Riding Shorts, picking them up in Duluth becomes an excellent option when the dangling carrot is 50% off the second pair.

Aerostich Press Release:

Nylon or polyester fabrics worn directly between you and a riding suit’s nylon (or polyester) outer layer are not especially comfortable when things turn warmer. You want something against your skin that will absorb, disperse, and wick body moisture.
Step out of your gear at a roadside stop wearing only cotton boxers (or briefs) and as comfortable as this might be, someone might call the fashion-police, and they might come and haul your skivvy-clad butt off to fashion-jail in the back of their fashion-squad car.
Old-school all-purpose 100% cotton twill shorts are what you need. Simple. Unlined. The kind that become softer and better the more you wash them.
We looked all over the place for nice old fashioned cotton gym shorts exactly like these. You’d think finding some would have been easy, with Google and Alibaba and everything else right there on the internet. And with Asia full of hungry garment sewers. Not so.
Finding the perfect shorts was like finding the right temperature porridge in ‘The Three Bears’ children’s story. Some were too lightweight. Some were too elaborate. Some needed a separate belt. Some were too expensive. All had some type of goofy problem.
After a couple of years we gave up and stopped looking and the hell with it. We made our own. Now they are being sewn every day, here. Right along with the riding suits. In five colors and two lengths. Of a wonderful old-fashioned 100% cotton medium weight twill that gets softer and better every time it’s washed.
These all-purpose shorts last forever and they don’t look bad when you are just standing around somewhere in your riding boots and a t-shirt. Wear under your riding suit or pants, with or without other underwear. (Try commando.) When you are not in your riding gear they look like respectable shorts, yet function like comfortable underwear when you are. Especially after a few washes.
Cotton riding shorts like these are essential riding equipment when you wear synthetic protective textile rider’s gear. Try them. You won’t be disappointed. Ride all day in sweet comfort.

New 2018 design updates: Based on customer feedback and our use, these shorts now have deeper pockets and slightly narrower leg opening for greater functionality and comfort.


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Marc Marquez Goes For a Drive

August 14, 2018 John Burns 0

The week before the Austrian MotoGP at the Red Bull Ring (where Marquez finished second to J Lo by 0.13 second), the small Spaniard was granted the opportunity to schwantz around the circuit in a Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 car for a few laps.


At the 2017 MotoGP race there, MM qualified in pole position with a 1.23.235 lap. At the 2018 F1 race, Valtteri Bottas qualified on pole with a time of 1.03.130. Word from Red Bull is that the Catalonian cruise missile lapped about 9 seconds off his usual MotoGP pace in the four-wheeler – which means he’s 11 seconds from competitive.

Maybe if they’d put Valentino in another car ahead of him, MM could’ve gone faster, before the inevitable shunt?

The 2018 MotoGP points leader had this to say: “It was an unbelievable experience, and an absolute highlight of my career. There is a massive difference to MotoGP. The limited visibility was a great challenge, in particular, to begin with. You feel a lot more constricted in the cockpit. The braking distances and timing in turns is completely different. A Formula 1 car has much more downforce, of course, which made for a lot of fun in the part of the circuit with the most turns, in particular.”

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