The Slat Flat Races

The Early Years

Bonneville is named after Benjamin Bonneville, who was an Army Officer that explored the Western United States back in the 1800s. The salt flats were first discovered to be driveable when a man by the name of Bill Rishel and two of his business partners drove a Pierce-Arrow across the salt in 1907.

Soon after this test drive, word began to spread that Bonneville was driveable and the first land speed record was set there in 1914 by American race car driver, Teddy Tetzlaff who was well known for his Indy 500 racing fame. Tetzlaff would set this first record in a custom built 200hp car known as the Blitzen-Benz. To set this record, Tetzlaff was able to get the Benz up to 141.73 mph on the flats.

However, despite Tetzlaff setting this land speed record, promoters had a tough time getting more drivers to attempt setting records at Bonneville. This proved to be a problem till the mid 1930s when a local Utah man by the name of Ab Jenkins began setting long distance and endurance records at the salt flats.

Jenkins got his start on the flats back in 1925 when a highway was being built. A friend who worked on the highway asked him to race against a Union Pacific Railroad train across the flats and Jenkins won the race and beat the train by nearly five minutes.

After this race, Jenkins became inspired to set land speed records of his own on out on the flats. He also felt it would be a great place for other racers to come out and set records. However, he had a problem convincing racers to come out since most of them preferred more established race venues. Jenkins kept setting his own endurance and land speed records at Bonneville and in 1932 he was able to attract the attention of the car manufacturer Pierce-Arrow.

Pierce-Arrow was testing a new 12-cylinder car at the time and they contacted Jenkins to see if he could help them improve the performance since, at the time, it was slower than the v8. Jenkins did some tuning to the engine and he then came up with an idea to test the performance of the new 12-cylinder. He would drive the car as fast as he could at Bonneville for 24-hours straight to show how powerful and durable the engine is and prove to the racing world that Bonneville was indeed the place for land speed records.

With the help of his friends, Jenkins ran the car on a 10-mile course that was set up at Bonneville. He would only stop every two hours for fuel and during the 24 hour period he never once left the driver’s seat. His average speed during the endurance test was an amazing record of 112.916 mph.

He would then make another endurance run using the Pierce-Arrow in 1933. During this run he was able set a new record by getting up to an average speed of 125 mph. Also at this run, three of Britain’s top racers John Cobb, Sir Malcolm Campbell, and Sir George Eyston happen to be in attendance and became interested in setting some of their own records.

The British Invasion of Bonneville

John Cobb was already a well-known land speed record holder back in Great Britain and after witnessing Ab Jenkins, Cobb decided to give the salt a try. He asked Jenkins if he could use his car to perform the 24 hour endurance run at the flats. After driving for 24 hours Cobb would end up beating Jenkins’ record with an average speed of 134.85 mph! This record Cobb went on to say, “would open the door for many more records to be broken at Bonneville.”

1935 would prove to be one of the best years in Bonneville’s early history. John Cobb would open up the year with a new record but Ab Jenkins would crush his record in his new Duesenberg hot rod, nicknamed the “Mormon Meteor.” On August 31st of 1935, Jenkins would use the Meteor to set a new 24 hour endurance record of 135. 47 mph. However, that record was quickly forgotten because just days later on September 3rd, Sir Malcolm Campbell of Britain became the first man to break the 300 mph barrier on land by setting a record speed of 301.129 mph.

Sir Malcolm Campbell was already a well-known land speed record holder back in Britain and had already set several records at Daytona Beach. A record in 1933 at 272.46 mph and again in March of 1935 at 276.82 mph. The records were set in what many consider to be the first Bonneville Streamliner which was a car known as the Campbell-Railton Blue Bird.

The Campbell-Railton Blue Bird was built in 1933 and it was the fourth car of Campbell’s to carry the “Blue Bird” name. The car was built from the last Blue Bird and it had a 13-foot 8-inch wheelbase and its body was designed to be as aerodynamic as possible. The Blue Bird was powered by Rolls-Royce “R” Schneider Trophy aircraft engine that produced over 2,500 hp at 3200 rpm – which was as a lot of power for the 1930s!

Campbell’s run at Bonneville was his 9th and final land speed record, after his 300 mph achievement he was hailed a National Hero in Britain and then retired from land speed to focus on setting other records on the water.


Just two years later a new land speed record would be set at Bonneville. Another Brit, Captain George Eyston who also had previous fame as a land speed record holder would push the envelope a little further using a custom car of his own known as the Thunderbolt.

Thunderbolt was powered by two Rolls-Royce “R” Schneider Trophy aircraft engines which were equipped with centrifugal superchargers. The mighty 24-cylinder beast produced around 4,600 hp.

On November 19, 1937, Eyston was able to achieve a record speed of 312 mph, but this wasn’t fast enough for Eyston and he know that John Cobb was on his heels and would try to break the record, so Eyston spent the next year improving the aerodynamics of the car and the performance of the engine.


In 1938 Eyston returned to the salt flats with his improved Thunderbolt and set a new record of 345.49 mph, but this record still wasn’t sufficient to keep Cobb off his tail. On September 15th, 1938 John Cobb would return to Bonneville and break the 350 mph barrier in his new hot rod nicknamed the Railton Special.

The Railton-Special was a newly designed vehicle that was powered by two supercharged Napier Lion V11D (WD) aircraft engines that produced 2,500 hp and for the first time, this one was 4-wheel drive. John Cobb reached an astonishing new speed of 350.20 mph but it was one of the shortest records yet, because on September 16th Eyston would set a new record with Thunderbolt of 353.30 mph. So the battle was on, and more and more people began to take part in breaking records of their own.

On August 23rd, 1939 Cobb would return with the Railton-Special where he would set an amazing record of 369.27 mph. Sadly however, this would be the last record of the 30s because the very next day, Nazi Germany declared war on Great Britain and WWII for the British had begun.

After the war John Cobb would return to Bonneville in 1947 with a Rebuilt Railton-Special and he had a new goal of reaching 400 mph! On September 16th, Cobb would make a run of 385.6 and another of 403.1 giving him an average of 394.196 mph between the two runs.

The American Hot Rod at Bonneville

By 1949 a new era in Bonneville had begun, an era not just of streamliners trying to break the 400 mph mark, but the era of home-built hot rods and rock ‘n’ roll began to take shape. In 1949 the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) decided to expend its land speed events from the dry lakes of So-Cal to Bonneville. Instead of just big budget streamliners, Bonneville was now full of returning GIs and their ’32 Ford Coupes, and Highboy Roadsters.

The Belly Tank Lakester was one of the earliest post war Bonneville developments. The idea came from a Southern-California hot rodder named Bill Burke who wanted to build a streamliner for land speed racing similar to that of John Cobb, Sir Malcom Campbell, and Captain George Eyston. But he didn’t have the budget for that caliber of project.

Burke remembered when he served in WWII in the Pacific, while in Guadalcanal he saw the P-51 Mustang belly tanks being unload. He was impressed with how aerodynamic the tanks were and he purchased a surplus tank for $35 after the war to use for his streamliner. He built his hot rod out of it using old Model T and Model A parts to run in the dry lakes of Southern California.

Seeing Burke’s hot rod, inspired Alex Xydias the owner and founder of the famous So-Cal Speed Shop to by a P-51 Mustang drop tank and build a Lakester of his own. His Lakester had a bubble canopy and the vents around the engine looked similar to those of an aircraft. The So-Cal Lakester was powered by a 156 ci V8 engine and in 1951 at Bonneville, Xydias reached a speed of 145.40 mph.

That night Alex and his So-Cal Speed Shop team swapped out the 156 ci V8 for a 259 Mercury flathead and they were able to get the car up to 181.08 mph the very next morning, which set a new record for their class! Things really started to heat up, and guys were swapping motors right out on the salt to try and top one another.

The Bonneville Coupe was another unique development to happen in post war salt flats racing. Originally coupes were not supposed to run at Bonneville, because the SCTA didn’t consider them hot rods back then. They only considered Roadsters, Lakesters and Streamliners for the hot rods classes which soon changed thanks to yet more hot rod ingenuity.

It made Bob and Dick Pierson want to set out to prove to the SCTA that Coupes were true hot rods. Dick originally bought a 1934 Ford coupe to be his daily driver, but the brothers agreed that they would turn this car into their Bonneville racer. The Brothers went to their good friend Bobby Meeks who worked for Edelbrock to help them hot rod their coupe for the salt.

One of the first things they did was give the roof an excessive chop, then they streamlined the body by 9 inches and channeled the car by 3 inches. They first tested the car in the dry lakes of So Cal were they set a few record runs. The car then went out to Bonneville in 1950 where it pulled off an amazing run of 150 mph which was faster than any Roadster at Bonneville that year including the Edelbrock Special.


Roadsters also flooded the salt and became very common at Bonneville after the war and were eventually given their own class. One of the earliest roadsters to have success at Bonneville was Vic Edelbrock’s 1932 Ford roadster nicknamed the Edelbrock Special (pictured here).

Vic and his team built the roadster in late 1949 to be ready for the 1950 Bonneville season; the Special was powered by a 259 Ford Flathead engine which was hooked up to a three speed transmission. Bill Lakes drove the roadster at his first Bonneville appearance in 1950 and was able to set a new record of 146.36 MPH. This was an amazing accomplishment for a roadster and it also let other hobby and home-built hot rodders know that they can build fast cars on a budget.

Dean Moon also played an important part in the early days of post war Bonneville. Not so much as a record setter but as someone who developed parts that would help others set records. Dean Moon started out by making parts for his own Hot Rod in the late 40s while he was still in school. After coming back from the Korean War as an Air Force photographer, Dean Moon used his money to open up a hot rod shop in the back of his Father’s Cafe to sell his new parts.

His first best-selling part was the “foot shaped” gas pedal which sold like crazy in the first month it was out. He used the profits to develop a part that would help improve top speed performance in land speed racing in places like El Mirage and Bonneville. After weeks of testing and experimenting, the part he came up with was a hand-spun aluminum hubcap known as the Moon Disc. The Moon Disc was designed to help improve a cars top speed while on the flats through aerodynamics and they are widely used even today on every type of car from Roadsters to Streamliners.

The Right Stuff – Battle of the Jet Cars

The early 60s brought on a new era for setting records at the Bonneville Salt Flats. American Streamliners were now regularly getting over 300 miles per hour but none were coming close to John Cobb’s 394 mph record that was set back in 1947.

An American Hot Rodder by the name of Mickey Thompson made it his goal that he was going to be the first to break the 400 mph barrier. He was already famous for building the first dragster in the early 50s and for setting a record of 294 mph with his twin-Hemi Engine dragster in 1958.

To try and reach 400 mph he built a custom streamliner that was nicknamed Challenger. The Challenger was powered by four Pontiac 415 V8 engines that are hooked up to four ’37 Cadillac transmissions. Mickey took the Challenger to Bonneville in October of 1959 and was able to reach a speed of 363.48 mph. However, this was not the 400 miles per hour record that Thompson had hoped for.

Thompson would spend the next year improving the cars aerodynamics and engine performance. A 6-71 GMC supercharger was added to each individual Pontiac V8 motor, and other minor adjustments were made which gave each engine 750 hp. Mickey Thompson and his crew then took the Challenger out to the Bonneville Salt Flats on September 9th, 1960 and made an amazing one way record of 406.60 mph which made him the fastest man on Earth!


By 1962 Jet cars had begun to become a more common appearance at Bonneville with a few different jet cars trying to achieve speeds that were thought impossible to reach. Those who brought jet cars to compete were; drag racer Art Arfons, known for his Allison V12 powered Dragsters and his brother Walt Arfons, another man by the name of Dr. Nathan Ostich, and a drag racer by the name of Craig Breedlove.

During this era record setting at Bonneville changed from being a weekend hobby into a full scale competition with high dollar cars, a high level of competitiveness and it finally became a serious business.

Art Arfons ran a series of cars that were powered by General Electric J79 turbo-Jet engines that continued running the name Green Monster which is what he nicknamed his dragsters.

His brother Walt Arfons would run a car nicknamed Wingfoot Express, which was powered by a Westinghouse J49 triple jet powered engine. Craig Breedlove would run a three wheeled car that was nicknamed the Spirit of America which was powered by a J47 engine out of an F-86 Sabre fighter plane.


The record setting in this era became similar to that of the test pilots; Chuck Yeager, Scott Crossfield, Gordo Cooper and Gus Grissom of “The Right Stuff” and NASA fame. Every time one of the Arfons or Breedlove would set a record, the other guys would go back and rebuild their cars or build a new car just to beat that last set record, even if it was only by a couple miles per hour.

The competition officially started in August of 1963 when Craig Breedlove beat Mickey Thompson’s 406 mph record with a new record of 407.45. The record would stand until October of 1964 when Walt Arfons and his driver Tom Green would set a record of 413.20 mph in Wingfoot Express. This record would be short lived because like any good brother Art was competitive and had to crush his older brother’s record.

Just three days after Walt set his 413 mph record, Art took his budget-built Green Monster to a record breaking speed of 434.02 mph. Art just didn’t beat his brother’s record, he crushed it!

Like most records of this time, Art’s record would only last eight short days because Craig Breedlove was back at Bonneville with a rebuilt Spirit of America to push the envelope even further. Thanks to his rebuilt J47 engine and improved streamlining on his car, Breedlove was able to achieve a new record speed of 468.72 mph.


However Art’s record would only last just eight short days because Craig Breedlove was back at Bonneville with a rebuilt Spirit of America to push the envelope a little further.

However, Breedlove knew his Spirit of America was capable of going even faster, so back to the garage he went. They made a few minor engine adjustments and were able to run and crush all previous records by breaking the 500 mph mark with a record setting run of 526.28! He achieved a speed of 539 on his return run before his parachutes tore off and he lost control crashing through a telephone pole before crashing into a brine lake that was at the end of the course. He would escape completely unharmed but his Spirit of America was completely destroyed.

Art Arfons would then break this record with his rebuilt Green Monster at the end of the month by setting a new record of 536.71 MPH which was the final record set for 1964.


Breedlove would return to Bonneville in 1965 with a brand new car nicknamed Spirit of America Sonic 1 that used the faster J79 engine with a 4-wheel design. During his first run of the season Breedlove would temporally lose control of his car and almost end up in the same lake as last year, but he was able to recover his car in time. He found out at high speeds that his front end was lifting off the ground and causing the control problems, so they added fins to the front of the car to add more down force to help keep it stable at higher speeds.

On November 2nd of 1965 Breedlove would set a new record of 555.483 mph. Art Arfons and his rebuilt Green Monster would then break this record when he managed to achieve a speed of 576.553 mph. He was still able to break the record despite having to regain control of his car after one of his rear tires blew out and one of his parachutes ripped away. However just eight days later, Breedlove would then shatter Art’s record by breaking the 600 mph barrier and setting a record of 600.601!

Art Arfons would return in 1966 with a newly rebuilt Green Monster to try and break Breedlove’s record. However, during his first attempt at setting a new record one of the front wheel bearings broke and his car went out of control while he was at the speed of around 610 mph. Sadly, the car was totaled but Art survived with only a few minor scratches and some salt burns to the eyes. Arfons would soon retire from Land Speed Racing and begin a career in tractor pulling.

Craig Breedlove’s record would stand for five more years until 1970 when a man by the name of Gary Gabelich would shatter his record. Gary Gabelich used a car which was powered by not a jet engine but a rocket engine that used hydrogen peroxide oxidizer combined with liquefied natural gas.

The Final Record

On October 28, 1970 Gary Gabelich would do the impossible, not only would he break the 600 MPH barrier and shatter Breedlove’s record he would set the fastest record in Bonneville history!

During his record breaking run Gabelich pushed the Blue Flame to an average speed of 630.478! His record was not broken until 13 years later by Richard Noble but that was done in Nevada so Gabelich’s record still stands as the fastest record in Bonneville.

It really amazes us how much ingenuity and hard work that gets put into the cars that have run at Bonneville throughout the years. Bonneville is a really unique and special place that has so much history and so many stories that it’s hard to fit them all into one piece. We sincerely hope that Bonneville will remain the ultimate proving ground for generations of hot rods to come and we support all of the “Save the Salt” efforts to ensure that those who have the desire to create one of a kind machines and the courage to drive their machines as hard and as fast as possible will have the opportunity to become the fastest man (or woman) in the world!



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Dynamometers Explained

Everyone Talks Horsepower, But how do you actually measure it?

The term “horsepower” is often discussed at a dealer. “How much horsepower does this model have?” “How can I get more horsepower from my bike?” “These two engine are the same size. How come one has more horsepower than the other?” This article will provide a brief history of horsepower as well as the tools used to measure it.

Defining horsepower has always come down to who you ask and what machine (dynamometer) was used to measure it. To complicate things further, there are many definitions of horsepower, including gross, brake, shaft, effective, indicated, relative, SAE Gross, DIN, JIS, ECE, ISO, shaft, watts, kilowatts, advertised and rear wheel. To understand the term – and be able to explain it to your customers – horsepower needs to be put into historical perspective.

How much power an engine produces has been a subject of controversy since the advent of the steam engine in the late 1700s. The dollars and cents of measuring engine power is easy to understand. For example, if an engine made by one company makes 100 horsepower and another manufacturer makes an engine that produces 104 horsepower, and both engines sell for the same price, which is more desirable?

This logic applies not only to engines, but also anything that can be added to an engine to increase horsepower, like exhaust systems. Many aftermarket exhaust manufactureres advertise that their systems will increase the power outlet of an engine. If two similar systems claim different power increases, one will have an advantage in the marketplace. This is also true of motorcycle manufacturers. Honda, Harley-Davidson, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Ducati, BMW, Triump, KTM and other manufacturers are all trying to sell products, and if horsepower is a factor in the equation, more can only be better.

Read the latest review of any motorcycle and more than likely rear wheel or crankshaft horsepower will be listed as a means of comparison between similar bikes in a particular class. Horsepower is measured using a device called a dynamometer, and while these machines don’t produce power like an internal combustion engine, they have something else in common. When it comes to advertising horsepower numbers, more is always better.

Every company that manufacturers dynamometers has a practical reason to steer potential customers away from their competition by pointing out why the other guy’s dyno produces inflated or inaccurate horsepower numbers. Messing around with the numbers that calculate horsepower has been going on for a while. In 1712, Thomas Newcomen designed the first commercially successful steam engine, but it was not very efficient and had limited uses, mostly pumping water out of deep mines.

A scottish mechanical engineer, James Watt, came up with a vastly improved version of the steam engine in 1764 that used 75 percent less coal than the Newcomen engines. Watt’s business plan was to collect royalties from his customers based on the savings in coal, which worked for customers that had existing steam engines and could track their use of coal. But mine operators that still used horses to get their work done need a different way to calculate what they would pay for this cutting-edge technology – the steam engine.


Watt’s plan to entice mine owners to purchase one of his steam engines was based on how many horses the owners could replace. But a question had to be answered: how much work can a single horse accomplish in a given amount of time?

Watt reasoned that if a horse could hoist a bucket of coal weighting 366 lbs. up a mine shaft at the rate of one foot per second, in one minute the horse could raise the bucket 60 feet. With this information, Watt calculated that the horse could raise 21,960 lb.s one foot in one minutes (366 x 60 = 21,960 foot-pounds per minute). Other engineers at the time placed the amount of work a horse could do at 22,916 or 27,500 ft. lbs.

Watt experimented further, and in 1782 found that a brewery horse (a large breed) was able to produce 32,400 ft. lbs. of work per minute. Watt rounded that number up to 33,000 and that became the standard still in use today.

Few horses of even the largest breeds can pull that much weight for any length of time, and there was speculation that Watt had exaggerated the number to his advantage for the purpose of overvaluing his steam engine’s capabilities. Another view is that Watt was just applying good marketing techniques by comparing horses (a familiar form of power and effort at the time) to new technology – the steam engine. With the proliferation of the steam engine, and Watt’s formula for horsepower, a way to measure power output was needed.


(Above: William Froude was born in England in 1810, and in 1877 he invented the hydraulic dynamometer, or water brake. Pictured is a large version of an early water brake circa 1890- a model FA7, Froude Hofmann. The torque arm is easily visible to the right and looks to be almost 15 feet in length. The company was established in 1881 in is still in business, providing design and manufacturing of high technology and specialized test equipment. They produce power measurement products for engines used on ships, automobiles, aircraft even motorcycles.)

The Dynamometer

The first dynamometer was invented in 1821 by Gaspard de Prony. The de Prony brake, as it was called, was used to measure the performance of engines and other types of machines. Dynamometers have been widely used since the late 1800s to measure the torque of steam engines. The water brake type of dynamometer, sometimes mistakenly called a hydraulic dynamometer, is the oldest type of design and is still used today. These power absorption units can accommodate anything from a Briggs and Stratton lawnmower engine that makes two horsepower to marine diesel engines that can produce hundreds of thousands of horsepower. These early dynamometers basically consist of two half couplings – a rotor and stator.

For measuring horsepower from powersports engines, there are two basic types of dynamometers: engine and chassis. Engine dynamometers are used to measure power directly at the engine’s crankshaft or flywheel. The engine is tested without its transmission or drivetrain connected – in other words, it’s not installed in a motorcycle but rather on a test stand. For the majority of riders, removing their engine for this type of testing is too costly and impractical. The chassis dynamometer measure power at the motorcycle’s rear wheel and the bike simply has to be ridden on to the chassis dyno and strapped down.


( The Dynojet 200i from Dynojet Performance is an inertia type chassis dynamometer that provides a quick way for motorcycle dealers and independent repair shops to verify repairs and diagnose a variety of performance problems. It comes with an atmospheric module that provides a correction factor to ensure consistency between dyno runs made under varying conditions.)

Inertia Dynamometer

The most common design of dynamometer for powersports use is the inertia type. It doesn’t actually measure torque, but instead calculates it by measuring acceleration. The rear wheel of a motorcycle (or ATV) accelerates a 900-lb. steel drum. Force at the surface of the drum is measured indirectly by measuring its acceleration from one revolution to the next. Force is calculated using Newton’s 2nd law (mass times acceleration). Because the mass, or weight, of the drum is known, force (horsepower) can be calculated.

A typical dyno run begins with the engine running just over idle, in fourth or fifth gear, with the rear tire turning the drum. When the throttle is opened, the engine accelerates the dynamometer’s drum as engine speed increases to redline. Computer software used with inertia dynos can accurately measure acceleration of the drum over small increments of time and calculate a value for torque. Using torque and engine RPM, rear wheel horsepower can be calculated.


(This Dynojet 250i load control (eddy current) dynamometer can hold engine speed steady at any throttle opening. The dyno can measure up to 750 horsepower at speeds of 200 mpg. It can also be configured to run sweep tests like an inertia dynamometer. This type of dynamometer is available in a portable design (pictured above) or for in-ground installations.


(This Dynojet eddy current load absorption unit is ideal for testing motorcycle engines because of its quick response and loading capabilities. The electromagnetic coils can be seen next to the heat absorption rotor. The rotor looks like a disc brake for a car and has large cooling fins and passages to dissipate heat created by a loaded engine.)

Eddy Current Dynamometer

The eddy current brake type dynamometer uses electricity to place a load on an engine by creating a magnetic field. The engine under test is connected to the dyno’s input shaft that spins a metallic rotor creating a magnetic field. When current is increased to the dyno’s internal electromagnetic coils, the rotor shaft becomes harder to rotate and thus loads the engine. Torque load is measured using a strain gauge similar to those used on a water brake dynamometer. The rotor gets hot as the dyno resists the engine’s power and must be cooled. Eddy current dynamometers that are used for testing motorcycle engines are usually air-cooled, employing what looks like an oversized automotive brake rotor with large cooling fins. Eddy current dynoas are accurate and offer the flexibility to perform steady-state load testing or acceleration sweep testing like the inertia dynamometer.

Credit: Tracy Martin via Dealernews

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Loretta Lynn National & A Lot of Heart

IMG_394099762189260Sometimes you find a rider that won’t quit even in the face of physical challenges and big crashes, here is a short story from the perspective of a father in one of those situations, enjoy the read and photos.

IMG_394021686171426“Couldn’t be more proud of this kid. Just 4 weeks ago he fractured his collar bone preparing for the Mid East regional at Red Bud. He was heart broken thinking his dream of Lorettas this year was all but gone. He knew if he did everything the Dr said he would have this chance at Sunset Ridge to make this last chance in the North Central. He drank his milk, ate his vitamins, ate healthy.  Dr released him to ride just days before the regional. With 3 weeks off the bike and no practice he knew he had to give it everything he had. These kids have been riding the whole time. Practicing.  Moto schools. Training. But he had something more than them. Heart! Man does this kid have heart..”


“Moto 1 he took a 2nd. Moto 2 he took a 4th. Which sets him up good going into moto 3. They only take the top 6 out of a 40 rider gate. Moto 3 he comes out of the gate in 5th.  Coming around the turn on lap 1 just before the finish line he falls and gets ran over. By the time he gets up I think it’s over. He’s hurt. But no. He’s came too far. He gets back on his bike. Gets it started. And gets it going.


By now he’s in 25th on lap 1. He Flys by me like he’s on a mission. I hear the sound of his bike reving so high like he’s going to blow it up he’s riding it so hard. By lap 2 he’s now in 15th. Again riding so close to the edge I can tell he wants this very bad. By lap 3 he’s now up to 12th. And on the final lap he finishes in 8th. Aginst the fastest kids from Texas, Florida,  Washington, Colorado,  Illinois.  Etc… his lap times were 3 seconds faster than the leader.

By the time I got to the trailer I could see in his face the look of disparity on weather or not he qualified.  He walked straight to the results booth to wait for the post.  Within 5 minutes which felt like forever he was overjoyed with the results.  He’s been on cloud 9 since!”


Sent in from the father, Blaine Switzer, of the little rider with heart – Cayden Switzer.

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Thierry Sabine & One the Greatest Adventure Races in History


Where it Started: 1978 Paris–Dakar Rally

Thierry Sabine was a French wrangler, motorcycle racer, and founder/main organizer of the Paris Dakar- one of the greatest cross-country adventure races from Paris, France, to Dakar, Senegal. The race originated in 1977 when Theirry Sabine got lost for several days in the Tenere Desert, the south central Saharas, during the Abidjan-Nice race. He was suffering from dehydration and hallucinations before being rescued by a tuareg, a nomadic pastorialist of West Africa who helped him recover and get him back to safety.

Thierry naturally wanted to share the experience and harshness of the African Desert, the local people, and the vastness of the country itself. By December of that year he arranged the race which started in Paris and finished in Dakar, Senegal which is thousands of miles of way along the western coast of Africa. It gained a major following within years and attracted hundreds of eager adventurers, one of which was supposedly Margaret Thatcher’s (Britain’s longest running female prime minister) son in 1984, who got lost and went missing for 4 days in a desert sand storm.


“A Challenge for those who go. A dream for those who stay behind.”

The race itself has claimed the lives of many racers, spectators, and journalist since it’s inception. Participants and public alike shared in the harsh climates and war-torn areas of Africa throughout the country during the past races. Much of the areas are still even plagued with thousands of landmines. Competitors have been known to have lost their feet due to the landmines when going off course or have even been killed by armed soldiers even. The challenges faced by those involved with the Dakar-Rally have been extensive yet the race has brought in many and united adventurers from all over the world. 2002 marked the last consistent year the race left from Paris, and in 2008, because of a military coup and the dangers of terrorism in Mauritania (the country basically surrounding/leading into Dakar from the race)  the race was cancelled and finally moved to South American starting in 2009.

So what is so special about the Dakar-Rally? It’s basically the the Ocean of Fire race from Hildalgo but with motorcycles..and which started in Africa in the 70’s versus Arabia in the late 1800’s. It’s about both survival and skill with the riders having about a 5% chance at dying. The race seems to be one of the ultimate l tests for both amateur and professional riders requiring some of the most daunting tests in strength, endurance, courage, navigation, patience, vehicle maintenance, on-the-go fixing and engineering, and personal perseverance that one can possibly muster. The event is now run by the same organization as the Tour De France, the Amaury Sport Organisation.

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Where are we now?

Well the Dakar-Rally isn’t really a rally, it’s properly called a “Rally-Raid,” also known as cross country rallying. It’s a form of long distance off-road adventure racing that takes place over several days. Since the radical Islamist Al-Qaeda militants in Mauritania threatened the race outside of Dakar in 2008 it has now moved into Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile. See 2015’s Route Map below-





Population: 40.6 million inhabitants, Surface Area: 2,766,890 sq. km, Capital: Buenos Aires, Currency: Argentinean Peso, Motto: In Unity and Freedom!

With nearly 3,500 km in between the Bolivian border and the extremities of Tierra Del Fuego or “Land of Fire”, Argentina is a very large country. It’s expanse from all cardinal directions gives it several different climate variations for the adventure riders to endure. Much of the race takes place in Argentina and winds through cities such as Villa Carlos Paz, San Juan, Chilecito, Salta, Termas de Rio Hondo, Rosario, and of course where it all begins and ends, Buenos Aires. With nearly fifteen million people in Buenos Aires, it has become one of the most thriving economic and cultural cities in all of South America. After the cancellation of the 2008 Dakar-Rally in Africa, the country welcomed the racers from around the world under the Obelisco de Buenos Aires, a national historic monument and icon of Buenos Aires. The capital stands as not only a gathering place for the start of the race but for so much more as they became the country that opened their arms to all sorts of colors and nationalities to keep up with and help the adventure spirit thrive.



Population: 16.7 million inhabitants, Surface Area: 756,950 sq. km, Capital: Santiago De Chile, Currency: Chilean Peso, Motto: By reason or by force!

Chile is a long and relatively thin country as compared to others in South America, one side is bound by the Pacific Ocean and on the other is the long stretch of Andes. Chile is one of the longest countries in the world with 4,300 km from north to south with an even larger coastline. Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia along with other Rally supporters have helped out with a large portion of this race by helping contribute assistance throughout South American and Africa. From the Dakar Website:The rally has not forgotten its roots or its values. For more than 30 years, it has given its support to several initiatives in order to forge and maintain links with the populations of its host countries in Africa and now in South America. After setting up Actions Dakar with S.O.S. Sahel which continues to exist in Africa, the Dakar has developed aid focused on transitional housing thanks to a charity which is present in Argentina, Chile and Peru: Techo.”




Population: 10.5 million inhabitants, Surface Area: 1,098,581 sq. km, Capital: La Paz/Sucre, Currency: Boliviano, Motto: United We Stand!

Bolivia has a rich history with all of South America. It’s first pesident, Simon Bolivar, helped play a role in the emancipation of Columbia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Venezuela, and also supported the project of a political confederation to help unite and bring together all countries in Latin America. Highly respected throughout the world, it has become a major tourist destination due to its geographical features and amazing sites. The various climates and geographical locations make for some of the most outrageous motorcycle riding conditions in the world, period. Importantly, Bolivia has hosted motorcyclist from the Dakar-Rally in 2014 with a marathon stage in the south of the country in Uyuni. Here they raced on the Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat.


2014 Dakar-Rally Route Map


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This brief history and look into the Dakar-Rally hopefully gives you a little more respect for the world of adventure races and motorcycle Rally-Raids. Men and women have put their lives on the line and have tested their limits with the Dakar-Rally. It it is pretty unbelievable at the amazing support that countries around the world have helped with and given back to the riders and supporters of this race to make it possible. In honoring the memory of the founder Thierry Sabine, the race can be summarized in his beautiful words on describing the race, “A challenge for those who go. A dream for those who stay behind.” Such is life.

By Daniel Muschiana , Social Media Director – Parts Pit Stop 

Looking for a little more history or recap of some of the past Race videos? Check out Dakar’s Official History Page here >>

For more information about motorcycles, atvs, utvs, personal watercraft parts, accessories, or maintenance tips please see our sponsor at: .

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KTM Releases 2015 SX Model Line-Up!

Year after year KTM competes in the most prestigious Motocross and Supercross championship events worldwide. The Austrian manufacturer, whose roots revolve around racing, demonstrates its defiance and strength with the best and most efficient technological advancements that are tested in the toughest conditions. The goal has always been to bring the best to its production motorcycles that roll off the assembly lines in Mattighofen. For 2015, the model range includes a wide range of engines and displacements from the powerful yet lightweight two-strokes, to the all-conquering ability of the four-strokes with a vast array of updates to further improve these already well-refined machines.

Chassis – NEW FOR 2015

  • New machined cross tube in the frame that provides a stronger more accurate connection of the frame and the linage due to an improved production process resulting in a 60 gram weight reduction. The frame is now powder-coated in KTM Factory orange
  • New linkage geometry with an improved rising rate, better control, stability and balance
  • For the linkage there is now an improved production process for higher quality resulting in a 40 gram weight reduction
  • New WP 4CS fork specifically designed for Motocross
  • New fork lugs with a 22mm front axle for reduced weight and better feel along with a 2mm reduced off-set for improved handling
  • New fork protectors with an open design, which are easier to replace for better maintenance and cleaning of the fork leg
  • New monoshock setting, which has been re-valved and set-up to match the new linkage and fork. The shock features a 4mm increase of shaft travel while maintaining the same amount of wheel travel with the new linkage package
  • New Dunlop GEOMAX MX52 tires for excellent traction in all conditions
  • New aluminum o-ring support for the lower bearing on the steering stem for a weight saving of 22 grams and a new steering stem bolt, which is also 8 grams lighter
  • New high-quality black colored Excel rims for aggressive looks and top performance
  • New softer two-compound grips


450 SX F

Frame – (NEW)

The improved, modern and lightweight frame design manufactured by WP Performance Systems is made from lightweight, high-strength chromoly steel sections. The design for MY 2015 now has a new machined cross tube that unites the two sides of the frame and connects the linkage rods to the frame.  This provides exact production tolerances and consistent chassis characteristics thanks to the absence of welding. It is also lighter (58 grams) than the previous cross tube design.


Created using the latest in calculation and simulation software, the design and wall thickness of the cast aluminum swingarm has been refined for minimum weight at optimum stiffness. Precisely defined flexibility provides perfect stability, which gives excellent traction, stability and comfort.

Rear suspension – (NEW)

The new fully adjustable rear monoshock by WP Suspension has been re-valved and set-up to match the new linkage geometry and characteristics. A 4mm longer stroke allows the same amount of wheel travel thanks to the new linkage design.



350 SX F

Linkage – (NEW)

The suspension package features a new linkage with revised geometry due to the development and testing done by the Red Bull KTM Factory Team along with the US R&D department. These revisions provided an optimized rising rate that utilizes a higher starting rate to achieve a flatter, less progressive curve for better control. The innovative production process of the triangle and pull-rod saves 40 grams of weight while improving the quality of the component.

Front suspension – (NEW)

For the United States, the SX model range features the WP 4CS fork. The completely new four chamber fork has been specifically designed and tested for motocross. The advanced 4CS fork offers improved damping, is lighter than previous models and can be adjusted easily for compression and rebound via the dials on the top of the fork tubes.

Front Axle – (NEW)

The front axle has been reduced in size from 26mm to 22mm to reduce weight and offer a better front-end feel. Also with the smaller axle it was possible to move it back 2mm in the axle clamp. The adjusted offset and increased trail provides more stability.

Front fork protectors – (NEW)

The fork protectors have been revised for MY 2015 to fit to the new axle clamps, and are also lighter. They allow easier access to the fork legs for quicker cleaning and faster maintenance.

Triple clamps

Top quality CNC machined triple clamps have been something of a KTM trademark for years. Offering a precise handling with top quality performance, they particularly support the flex characteristics, and with it, the forks’ action. The o-ring support for the lower bearing on the steering stem has been revised and is now made of aluminum to save 22grams, while the steering stem bolt is now also 8grams lighter.


250 SX F

Bodywork and graphics

In shaping the bodywork the KTM designers’ ergonomic and design focus was to achieve complete harmony between rider and bike, right down to the finest details. The front fender is a prime example of a molded polymer component, gaining maximum stability through a well thought-out structure and mounting system. For MY 2015 the bodywork will be decorated with updated graphics to highlight the racing character of the MY 2015 SX range of cutting-edge motocross bikes.


The airbox design offers maximum protection of the air filter against dirt, while providing maximum airflow for high performance. The TwinAir filter can be changed without tools in seconds, which is a standard feature by KTM for fast and efficient maintenance.

Wheels – (NEW)

The wheel rims are now colored in black for aggressive looks and use lightweight, CNC machined hubs, high-end Excel rims and spokes with lightweight aluminium nipples to achieve maximum stability at minimum weight. The wheels are fitted with the latest MX tires from Dunlop, the Geomax MX52, which have been developed with the RedBull KTM Factory Racing team and the US R&D department. The tires guarantee excellent traction and outstanding performance.

Sprocket – (NEW)

The new sprocket design is 50grams lighter and contributes to the overall refining of the MY 2015 KTM motocross range.77064_85_sx_re_vo

85 SX F


All SX models are fitted with the super-strong, tapered Renthal Fatbar 827, with a bend that is specifically suited to the requirements of motocross while boasting superior quality and performance. The proven standard KTM mount allows the handlebar to be mounted in four different positions. A large Renthal bar pad offers effective protection for the rider.

Hand grips – (NEW)

New, softer two-compound grips are used on MY 2015 motocross models for increased comfort and less stress on the rider’s hands in every situation.


KTM works with WP systems to produce the highest quality exhaust systems to maximize engine performance and meet racing sound levels.


High-Tech Brembo brakes have always been standard equipment on KTM off-road bikes, and combined with the lightweight Galfer Wave discs, they are the ultimate solution in braking technology. Being the class-leading brakes in motocross, they remain unchanged for MY 2015.

250 SX-F

The 250 SX-F is once again a World Championship winner in MX2 and adds a prestigious AMA Supercross Lites Championship in 2013 and 2014 to its amazing trophy cabinet. The 2013 season was a great success in racing at all levels around the globe. The performance combination of a powerful and lively engine in a lightweight and agile chassis is sure to make the 250 SX-F the star of the show for yet another year.

Revisions of the engine for MY 2015 include a lighter clutch basket and new clutch springs for a more consistent behavior under stress and over time as part of the CSS (coil spring steel) one-piece clutch system. The clutch continues to use the Brembo hydraulic system for light operation and controllable modulation. Within the proven DOHC engine are also new O-rings on the oil pump suction screen for increased durability, and MY 2015 continues to use the Keihin Engine Management system with electronic fuel injection and a 44mm throttle body, a quality wire harness, lightweight gearbox, and electric starter.

- Compact DOHC engine with two overhead camshafts & DLC coated followers

- Titanium valves (intake 32.5mm, exhaust 26.5mm)

- RPM limit 14,000rpm

- Flow optimized ports

- Forged box-type piston for a low oscillating mass

- A crankshaft that employs a plain big end bearing for longer service intervals

- NEW O-rings on the oil pump suction screen for increased durability

- Multifunctional counter balance shaft, which drives the water pump and timing chain for reduced vibrations

- An electric starter as standard, a clear advantage in the heat of the battle

- Lightweight and compact CSS clutch (coil spring steel) with eight clutch plates and a wear free steel basket

- NEW clutch basket with a weight saving design

- NEW clutch springs for more consistent behavior under stress and over time

- Lightweight five-speed gearbox for precise & easy shifting adapted for the 250 SX-F

- Engine management system for a spontaneous throttle response & the possibility to change characteristics or read engine data with the available to purchase User-Setting-Tool




350 SX-F

The 350 SX-F never ceases to amaze! In 2013, this exciting machine won another MX1 World Championship in convincing fashion, and dominated the Motocross of Nations. Antonio Cairoli masterfully defeated the competition on-board the 350 SX-F thanks to the combination of its low weight, playful agility and a high-revving engine. It enjoys all of the very best characteristics in a package suited to amateurs and pros alike.

The bike features a DOHC engine with lightweight titanium valves and DLC coated followers for a spontaneous power delivery that can rival any 450 on the track, along with a crankshaft that has been designed to increase service intervals. New O-rings increase durability on the oil pump suction screen, and the bike continues its advantage with having an electric starter. A new lighter clutch basket with new clutch springs compliments the CSS clutch with the Brembo hydraulic system for easy and precise control of a 250-agile bike with the power that can match a 450.

- DOHC Cylinder head with ultra lightweight titanium valves and DLC coated followers for a spontaneous power delivery and 450-rivalling maximum power

- A crankshaft that employs a plain big end bearing and force-fitted bearing shells for longer service intervals

- NEW O-rings on the oil pump suction screen for increased durability

- Multifunctional counter balance shaft, which drives the water pump and timing chain for reduced vibrations

- Electric starter as standard, a clear advantage in the heat of the battle

- CSS clutch (coil spring steel) eight clutch plates and a wear free steel basket

- NEW clutch basket with a weight saving design

- Lightweight five-speed gearbox for precise, easy shifting adapted for the 350 SX-F

- Engine management system for a spontaneous throttle response and the possibility to change characteristics or read engine data with the available to purchase User-Setting-Tool

450 SX-F

The 450 SX-F has proven itself in the main championships around the world. It is the weapon of choice for the Red Bull KTM Factory Race team in the AMA championships thanks to its compact SOHC engine that delivers explosive but controllable power, combined with an agile and stable chassis.

- A compact 60hp power pack with a single overhead camshaft and the latest electronic fuel injection, which offers class-leading performance

- A single overhead camshaft controls four ultra-lightweight titanium valves via extremely rigid rocker arms, which are DLC coated on the intake side

- Engine speeds of up to 11500rpm and a three-layer head gasket for durability under the most extreme conditions

- Bore of 95.0mm with a lightweight box-in-box type piston for low engine vibrations

- A crankshaft that employs a plain big end bearing and force-fitted bearing shells for longer service intervals

- A side mounted counter balance shaft that also drives the water pump

- Electric starter as standard, a clear advantage in the heat of the battle

- The DDS clutch with Brembo hydraulic system is a compact design that integrates internal damping system

- Lightweight five-speed gearbox for effortless shifting

- NEW O-rings on the oil pump suction screen for increased durability

- Engine management system for a spontaneous throttle response & possibility to change characteristics or read engine data with the available to purchase User-Setting-Tool


Two-stroke motocross machines have remained an important part of KTM’s heritage and the Austrian brand continues to retain its belief in these products. Not only do two-stroke bikes offer generally lower maintenance costs, KTM believes that the lower capacity machines are an excellent proving ground for youngsters to cut their teeth and learn a strong basis with their motocross skills.

KTM is the only major manufacturer that continues to develop its two-stroke range from year-to-year while generating new technologies to further improve the handling and performance of these machines, which are proving to be ever-popular on practice and race tracks worldwide.

125 SX

The top performing 125cc two-stroke on the market has been at the front of the field for years. Powered by a high performance two-stroke engine with power valve and six-speed gearbox, the 125 SX remains a favorite among young champions. For MY 2015 a new ignition curve improves performance and reduces the potential of detonation.


- High performance, maximum fun and low running costs

- Amazing agility and easy handling

- Hydraulic clutch

- Brembo brakes – the very best for motocross

150 SX

With a strong engine and a low overall weight, the 150 SX is a formidable competitor on the track. The fun never ends, as the bike retains the agility of a 125 but the power and torque to take the fight to the 250cc four-strokes. For MY 2015, a new ignition curve improves performance and reduces the potential of detonation.





- 250cc four-stroke rivaling performance, low maintenance costs

- 125 agility and handling

- Never-ending fun

- Hydraulic clutch

- Brembo brakes – the very best for motocross

250 SX

With enough power to excel on all tracks and terrain, combined with an extremely lightweight chassis, the 250 SX has one of the best power-to-weight ratios in motocross. The unrivalled performance of the lightweight two-stroke engine makes it a true contender against the more complex four-strokes.  For MY 2015, the clutch basket has been reworked for lighter weight.


- New clutch basket for weight saving

- Unbeatable power-to-weight ratio

- Less weight and more agility than the more complex four-strokes

- DDS hydraulic clutch system for effortless and flawless clutch action

- Brembo brakes – the very best for motocross


85 SX

With the most powerful engine in the field and a super lightweight, stable chassis this bike is the ultimate for amateur racing. High-end WP suspension technology is utilized and a reworked cylinder with a revised transfer port for improved reliability has been added. A newly designed swingarm, which is 500 grams lighter, is also fitted and offers optimized stiffness at minimum weight. A new chain guide, chain roller and brake hose clamps are also included on the bike as well as Maxxis tires that offer excellent grip on any terrain.

- Cutting-edge two-stroke technology combined with a six-speed gearbox and a hydraulic clutch form the foundation of the 85 SX’s superiority in all amateur racing series

- New reworked high performance cylinder with flow-optimized ports and a high precision exhaust control valve provides the engine with its unrivalled performance. For MY 2015, the cylinder has an improved transfer port for better reliability

- The crankshaft has a perfectly sized lightweight conrod with minimum vibrations and maximum durability

- A high-quality chromoly steel frame with a lightweight, bolt-on aluminum rear subframe. The frame offers maximum stability at minimum weight

- New swingarm for a weight saving of 500 grams and optimized stiffness

- A standard feature on the bigger KTM offroad bikes is also available on the 85 SX; air filter changes are possible within seconds without tools

- High-quality WP suspension with 43mm upside down forks and a PDS monoshock, which are all fully adjustable

- New chain guide and chain roller

- New brake hose clamps

- High-quality wheels; lightweight CNC-machined hubs are paired with high-end Excel rims

- New Maxxis tires which offer excellent grip on any terrain

- High-quality Renthal handlebars

- Hydraulic clutch mechanism by Formula for an easy and precise clutch action

- High-quality Formula braking system with lightweight Wave discs

- New graphic design for striking looks

65 SX

The 65 SX is a fully-fledged motorcycle for young riders aged around 8 to 12 years. This bike defines the standard of its class in terms of power, riding dynamics, equipment and craftsmanship. As expected with all KTM machines, the R&D department continues to develop its minicycle range to give youngsters the very best in terms of technology and style on the track.

- The 65 SX’s engine utilizes cutting edge two-stroke technology and an easy six-speed gearbox

- New optimized ignition curve for a smoother power delivery

- High-quality 35mm upside down front forks by WP Suspension, which are fully adjustable with 215mm of travel with outstanding riding stability

- New high-quality rear shock with a new setting, and now including high and low speed compression damping adjustment

- New modified frame to accommodate new shock width

- High-quality Renthal handlebars

- Hydraulic clutch mechanism by Formula for an easy clutch action

- High-quality brakes with Wave discs

- New Maxxis tires, which offer excellent grip on any terrain

- New graphic design for striking looks

50 SX & 50 SX Mini

The 50 SX and 50 SX Mini are true Ready to Race KTMs for young MX riders aged around 4 to 8 years old. These machines are high-quality, racing motorcycles, which are easy to control and have an engine that is distinguished with a steady power delivery, as well as an automatic clutch, which is great for novice riders. The 50 SX Mini differentiates by being oil injected to make the first race bike even easier to maintain. These bikes may be small in size, but they are being designed and built by the same engineers that produce our World Championship winning machines in the adult classes.

- Modern, extremely compact two-stroke engine with superb, manageable power

- Liquid cooling system, which even cools the crankcase

- Centrifugal multi-disc automatic clutch of easily manageable acceleration, which can be easily adjusted to the requirements of the track and rider skills.

- Top quality upside down front forks by WP Suspension and a monoshock linked directly to the swingarm

- High-quality Formula hydraulic brakes front and rear

- Like the factory racers, both bikes have super lightweight black anodized aluminum rims

- New Maxxis tires which offer excellent grip on any terrain

- High-quality Renthal handlebars

- New graphic design for striking looks

- Power reduction kit from the PowerParts program can be added for absolute beginners



For more information about motorcycles, atvs, utvs, personal watercraft parts, accessories, or maintenance tips please see our sponsor at: .

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The Fastest Electric Production Motorcycle in the World & the future of transportation.

Engineers, eco-friendly commuters, and avid motorcyclist have awaited a solid line of first-rate high-performance electric motorcycles for some time, this year they will get a taste from renowned sectors worldwide including the chance to purchase the fastest production motorcycle in the world.


2014 Zero SR

Motorcycle technology has been advancing at an astonishing pace and just weeks ago the Lightning LS-218 set a land speed record making it the world’s fastest production electric motorcycle in the world. The interesting ecological and technological movements the automotive world is trending towards between fuel efficiency, hybrid-electrics, and full-electrics have been topics that blanket both economical and sociological discussion for quite some time. We can see in the United States alone and in other countries with highly dense populations and heavy-trafficked cities that gas still rules with an iron fist, however, iron as we know it is a great conductor for electricity to flow.


The film Who Killed the Electric Car?  is a U.S. documentary film that explores the creation, limited commercialization, and subsequent destruction of the battery electric vehicle in the United States, specifically the General Motors EV1 of the mid-1990s. Important questions of how our society can maintain it’s current course and reliance on the oil industry, automotive manufacturers, and how government roles have limited both the development and adoption of this technology are prevalent themes that have spilled over into the 21st century. The public has slowly started to become more aware of these issues as media coverage helps bring many of the socially sensitive topics covered in Who Killed the Electric Car? to light. We’ve seen a large increase in hybrid car options over the past decade and now we’re finally beginning to see a real boom with motorcycles which can be 100% electric without nearly the high costs of what cars are aiming for. These electric motorcycles help leave cars in the dust..literally.


As our electric grid gets cleaner, as do our plug-ins. Plug-in cars and motorcycles can help move emissions away from highly populated centers reducing pollution and smog in large cities. Output from a few thousand power plants is easier to control than 200 million vehicle tailpipes, many which are beyond “terrible” as far as being outdated versus the cleaner emission standards set in present-day vehicles. However, if the masses can’t afford high gas prices or these hybrid vehicles, how can anyone possibly update to a lower-emission modern-day vehicle type? The solution to pollution isn’t solved so simply.


With the ability to produce fewer emissions, the electric motorcycle has a real chance of making a positive environmental impact worldwide. Plug-ins would provide carbon emissions reductions in 49 U.S. states, including some that are heavily dependent on coal, for a car – about a 70% reduction in emissions, for a motorcycle – over 90%-100% reduction in emissions. A complete summary from Plug in America regarding Emissions Comparisons can be found here.




Beyond the advantages, environmental impacts, charging and solar technology integration we find in these vehicle types, the government is finally helping out the “e-motorcycle” public sector by providing tax incentives. These incentives paired with the drop of gas expenses can help save the owner money on fuel and maintenance from day one. In fact, over the life of their motorcycle many owners would save more with a Zero than if they would have purchased an internal combustion model (a gas-powered bike). The Zero Motorcycle pictured above has one of the longest ranges in the lineup, the +Power Tank can get 171 miles in the city. According to the US Department of Transportation, the average driver travels up to 13,476 miles per year which breaks down the average travel to 37 miles per day. The Zero Motorcycle translates this into a 37 cents per day there is no routine powertrain maintenance.

Interestingly enough, we’ve seen electric motorcycles take leaps and bounds beyond the electric car industry in many ways because of the accessibility and versatility that a motorcycle’s body can provide (not to mention it needs so much less power and engine weight to actually make it move based on their fraction of size as compared to the car.) Some of the technology featured in the 2014 Zero SR electric motorcycle above features a motor that is completed sealed and requires no maintenance. It boasts a compact brushless motor that requires no liquid or forced air-cooling. The company placed the heat-producing elements towards the outside, where the heat radiates away via aluminum cooling fins. Pair this up with some mobile solar panels and you may have a very interesting combination. Check out the Road Test Review to check out this electric performance by clicking here.


The Fastest Production Super Bike in the World: Lighting LS-218

Enter the world’s fastest superbike available and now in production. Last year it made history by winning against the world’s best gas bikes in the famous Pikes Peak Hill Climb, this was the first electric bike to ever do so and thus set a precedence for all motorcycles, electric or gas, to follow. The following video helps illustrate the innovative technology of the Lightning’s race team’s solar charging stations and features two “solar islands” to help charge the bike very rapidly. Check it out here. Also be sure to watch the video of the lightning breaking the world record by clicking here.




The Lightning at a mobile solar charging station

Consumers are no longer required to pay more for less performance to support green technology especially when it comes to the adrenaline junkies of the motorcycle world. The Lightning LS-218 has competed against the best gasoline race bikes available worldwide and has proved it’s capabilities. Last year it beat out over 93 motorcycle teams (both electric and gasoline) by over 20 seconds in the Pike’s Peak race. With a liquid cooled 10,500 rpm electric motor that can produce in excess of 200 hp and 168 ft/lbs of torque, the lightning has more horsepower, more torque, more speed, and more performance than any other production motorcycle on the market. It’s standard battery can move you in distances of 100 miles per charge and it can easily be recharged at public fast charging stations in less than 30 minutes. Lighting’s Motorcycle Specs can be found here.



Though these bikes are somewhat smaller steps in the motorcycle or racing communities, these are huge innovations for transportation as a whole by showing how effortlessly the merging of power, speed, electric, and solar power technology can help shape the way we look at vehicles and perhaps our transportation infrastructure as a whole moving forward. With the news of the “New” lithium-ion battery design that is also making its way around the media, which boasts a design that is 2,000 times more powerful and recharges 1,000 times faster, we may see some interesting capabilities for electric platforms globally when the technology is perfected. Companies like this will hopefully continue to push the boundaries and not be hindered by some of the past limits that larger corporations have placed upon the emergence and necessity of the electric vehicle.

By Daniel Muschiana , Social Media Director – Parts Pit Stop 

For more information about motorcycles, atvs, utvs, personal watercraft parts, accessories, or maintenance tips please see our sponsor at: .

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The Yamaha RD350LC is a motorcycle that was initially released in 1980 – just about the time the world thought the end of the 2-stroke was nigh. It was an evolved version of the Yamaha RD350 – with added water-cooling and heavily modified porting and exhaust systems to keep the engine within the EPA’s regulations, despite this the model wasn’t officially sold in the USA until a few years after its initial release. It was available in Canada, Australia and much of western Europe where it quickly developed a cult following that persists to this day.

The heart and soul of the RD350LC is its engine – a power unit that would stay in non-stop production from 1980 until 2012, giving it an astonishing 32 year run. The addition of water cooling meant the engine was far quieter and less buzzy that its air-cooled equivalents, the more stable thermal environment also reduced the number of spark plug failures which significantly boosted reliability.

The light-weight frame and relatively small engine contributed to the RD350LC’s giant-killing performance, this was a bike that handled well and could out-accelrated almost anything so long as the rider could keep the tachometer needle banging off the red line.

The Yamaha RD350LC you see here is presented in its original Kenny Roberts paint scheme, the engine has been rebuilt by Bob Farnham and custom steel expansion chambers were custom built by Jim Lomas. It’s now easily one of the finest non-museum examples of the RD350LC anywhere in the world, it also happens to be for sale via Proper Bikes – for those of you who fancy the idea of spanking modern sportbikes before breakfast on the weekends.

Yamaha-RD350-LC-1-740x493 Yamaha-RD350-LC-2-740x493 Yamaha-RD350-LC-4-740x493 Yamaha-RD350-LC-5-740x493 Yamaha-RD350-LC-6-740x493 Yamaha-RD350-LC-7-740x493 Yamaha-RD350-LC-8-740x493 Yamaha-RD350-LC-9-740x493 Yamaha-RD350-LC-10-740x493 Yamaha-RD350-LC-11-740x493 Yamaha-RD350-LC-12-740x493 Yamaha-RD350-LC-14-740x493 Yamaha-RD350-LC-15-740x493


For more information about bikes, atvs, parts, accessories, or maintenance tips please see our sponsor at: .

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With all the marketing hype around ‘adventure riding’ these days, many motorcyclists won’t dare go off the beaten track without a large capacity dual-sport, an array of aftermarket parts and a support vehicle. It’s easy to forget that there was a time when this wasn’t an option—and that it’s possible to see the world without blowing a budget worthy of a reality TV series.


Thankfully there’s a growing contingent of people that realise this, and choose to plan their adventures with a more pragmatic mindset. Enter James Crowe and Jordan Hufnagel. Under the monikers Crowe Metal Co. and Hufnagel Cycles, they build custom motorcycles and bicycles respectively. Collectively they’re known as West America—and are currently riding two hand-built Honda XR600Rs north-to-south across the Americas.




These might not be the type of bikes you’d expect to see on Bike EXIF, but they are worthy of sharing. Partly because they’re great examples of function trumping form, but mainly because we’re envious of (and inspired by) James and Jordan’s epic journey.

“Three years ago my shop mate Jordan Hufnagel and I found ourselves living a life of routine,” explains James. “All day every day in the shop, summers slipped away and winters were long. Things finally reached a boiling point. We were both building and creating things that inspired us, but the balance was off.”


“We needed a change and the decision was made to put everything on hold and focus all our efforts on building a pair of motorcycles to ride from Whistler, BC to the southern tip of South America. I left my shop in Portland and headed back home to Canada to work on the oil rigs for the summer. It allowed me to return with enough money to take eight months off to build the bikes.”

The pair chose Honda’s legendary XR600R for a number of reasons: it’s bulletproof, easy to work on and has remained relatively unchanged since the late 80s—so parts can be found just about anywhere. The steel frame is also easier to modify (and repair along the way if necessary), and the big single makes ample power for lugging around gear. James sourced three mid-90s XRs: two plated ones and a third, unplated parts donor bike.


“Before cutting into the bikes we spent the summer of 2011 blasting around Oregon and northern California trying to figure out what changes were needed. The list was pretty basic. Stronger subframes, more gas, more comfort and good solid luggage mounting.”

For the tanks James started with foam mock ups, before making a wooden buck and shaping them out of 19 gauge steel—making them durable and easy to repair with basic welding equipment if needed. Each tank holds 7 gallons and incorporates a raised air intake through the center, with a pre-filter at the top to keep the main air filter clean. “The snorkels allow no worries on river crossings and I have only had to clean the main filter four times since leaving Canada. We clean the pre-filters as needed, but it only takes a minute.”


James also modified the subframes, moving the vertical supports further back and using thicker tubing for strength. He then fabricated luggage racks for the top and sides, to accommodate Wolfman dry bags and a 1.5-gallon auxiliary fuel tank. The total fuel range for each bike is now around 400 miles on pavement. “Even with seven gallons of fuel we have had to buy our fair share of barrel gas in remote areas of Peru,” says James. “The bikes even ran fine on the 84 octane up in the Andes. In Patagonia we have been filling both the main and aux tanks, allowing us to explore all the back roads that most have to skip.”


Shorter, wider and thicker seats were made and sent to Ginger at New Church Moto for upholstery. Up front, James installed his own wide scrambler bars, dual Hella headlamps and small, hand-made racks to hold tool rolls and tubes.

Once the fabrication was complete the bikes were tested for a month, before the engines were completely stripped and rebuilt from the crank up. Most of the transmission and rotating assembly had to be replaced. James also sourced new barrels, had them refurbished and fitted them with low-compression pistons, before sending the heads to Baisley Hi-Performance in Portland to be rebuilt. “I bolted them up with a thicker copper head gasket to bring compression down for the poor fuel we would be encountering. Otherwise I left as much stock as possible, since the bikes are going to get dropped and banged up non-stop.” For an extra boost, FMF mufflers were fitted to the stock Honda headers.


When I last heard from them, James and Jordan were deep into Patagonia, Chile with over 13,000 miles behind them. How have the bikes performed? “Knock on wood, but all has been good.”

As for their experience, James had this to say: “Time away from the shop has allowed us to realize what’s important in life, and we are both very motivated to get back to work. Long days on the bike have had me dreaming of the next build.”

“At the end of the month we hope to be as far south as we can ride, then we will be pointed back north for the ride home. Jordan will most likely ship out of Santiago, Chile while I will continue north to Bolivia and back into Peru, making my way to Columbia.”

We wish James and Jordan all the best on the last leg of their journey.


Photos by James Crowe and Jordan Hufnagel, shot on film and scanned. Follow the trip on the West America website or head over to our Google+ page for a hi-res gallery with more images.

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1. With injuries really setting in late in the season, who is taking advantage and opening the most eyes?

Jason Thomas: Injuries have always been a part of this sport and that isn’t going to change. Rough beginnings to a season can be turned around as the field thins out … I know this from experience. Lately, I have been watching Chris Blose improving his results and removing the inconsistency he showed early on. Chris has very little support and has literally been racing out of a rental car so it’s cool to see things go his way. It’s crazy that a guy that talented can barely squeak by in the sport. No one ever said it would be easy I suppose.

David Pingree: Injuries down the stretch are common in supercross racing, unfortunately. It always seems like the consistent riders who typically finish just out of the limelight end up gaining the most ground when riders start dropping out. Broc Tickle has taken advantage of this in the past as has Nick Wey and this year guys like Chris Blose and Nick Schmidt are posting solid finishes. Sometimes the confidence that comes with finishing inside the top ten is all it takes to help bump these guys to the next level. The 250 class is the title that nobody wants to win. AC looked to have things handled only to pull out with injury. Now Davalos, who was finally putting things together, may be out with an injury of his own. This leaves Jusin Bogle holding the baton. Will he toss it or win GEICO another championship? I’m not guessing on this one.

Steve Matthes: Injuries are going to happen and they’ve definitely struck the series this year. The real benefactors are the privateers. Guys like Ronnie Stewart, Cody Gilmore and more are putting it into the main event every weekend and riding well. Next year they can potentially get better sponsors and be more excited to follow the series because for some strange reason no one remembers what happened in any particular year, but looking at the results on the paper (or computer screen) is what matters. So in a way the injuries help the sport in terms of helping out privateers. Weird, right?


2. Is having a race in the NYC area going to be a big deal for the sport?

Thomas: I don’t think that it being in NYC (yes, I know it’s in Jersey, don’t freak out) is necessarily a big deal for the sport. I think it’s cool that it will be so close to the Big Apple and any exposure is obviously a plus. When it really comes down to it, though, this sport is an enthusiast driven sport and I don’t see that changing.

Ping: I think so. There is a huge fan base in the Northeast and they have waited patiently [kind of] for supercross to come back there. The City will be a draw for guys like myself who want to see the sights, eat a slice of NY-style pizza and hit a diner to try the world’s best cup of coffee. It’s always fun for the riders and teams to go to a new venue, also. By this point in the season they are going through the motions like zombies after crisscrossing the country all winter. With RV looking to wrap up the title and Stewart wanting to go out with a win, this round should be fun for everyone.

Matthes: Nah. I know this isn’t a popular opinion and not one that people want to hear but it’s just another race in a big stadium in America. I think the crowd will be solid—the Northeast hasn’t had a supercross for a long time—but as far as being in this huge media market and the sport getting all this exposure, call me skeptical. We are what we are, a small niche sport that will only ever be so big because of the fact that it’s motorcycle racing and not that many people ride motorcycles. Everyone drives a car and can relate somewhat to NASCAR but supercross, we are what we are. And I love it. There is nothing wrong with that in my eyes.


3. That said, name some cool things you’re going to do while you’re there—you know you’re doing something besides ordering room service at the hotel.

Thomas: I am flying in on Thursday afternoon and heading into the city to take in the sights and enjoy the New York springtime weather. Friday I will take care of some daily work responsibilities and then a big group of us are heading over to Yankee Stadium to watch them play the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I am sure we will check out the Manhattan nightlife at some point over the weekend as well but generally I plan on being right in the hustle and bustle of NYC as much as possible.

Ping: I’m spending all day Sunday and Monday checking things out. I want to see the memorial at the World Trade Center, visit a fire station in the city and maybe head over to Harlem and check that out. You know, just for fun. I’ve got a friend playing tour guide so I’m sure it will be amazing. I’m really looking forward to it.

Matthes: I was hoping to go to a New York Yankees game on Friday with my best friend Jason Thomas but he informed me that a couple of his friends that are richer than me and more famous than me have bought him a ticket and he’s going with them. He said I can still go and buy a single ticket but then I would be sitting by myself. So with these plans dashed, I’ll probably sit in my hotel room in Newark and cry.


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