Brown and KBR Honda Control Flamboro Flat Track National

Round four of the 2019 Parts Canada Flat Track Canada National Series at Flamboro Downs, outside Hamilton, ON, July 28, offered an impressive demonstration of the prowess of reigning National Champion Dustin Brown of Bracebridge, ON. The 17-year-old won the opening Feature Heat on his Kurt Beiger Racing Honda framer, took the Expert DTX Final on his production Honda CRF450F, then returned to the framer to control the 15-Lap Open Expert Final.

Brown now holds a commanding lead in both the Open Expert and DTX Expert categories, heading into the second half of the series starting with Cornwall, ON, next weekend, August 3.

Brown jumped into the lead from the start of the feature, pulling clear of Hunter Bauer’s Honda and the Rotax of veteran front runner Chris Evans. Soon Evans got past Bauer and set off after the leader but couldn’t make much of an impression. Bauer eventually came under pressure from KBR Honda’s Tyler Seguin, who had worked past the Kawasaki Ninja Twin of returning 2017 National Champ Brodie Buchan.

At the finish Seguin got a close fourth, with Buchan fifth followed by the Kawasaki twin of American Jeremy Higgins sixth and the Sehl Yamaha of Jimmy McCullough in seventh.

After the race, Brown was thrilled with his sweep, explaining “we’ve been working hard, and it seems like right now we have the perfect package. I don’t want to give away any of my secrets, but we really have things dialed in right now. I tried to stay low and work on the edge of the groove, it was a little difficult, but everything worked out.”

Brown went on to thank bike builder Bieger, Honda Canada, North Brace Auto Tech and Bracebridge Machine.

Runner-up Evans, 56-years-old, was fighting off an illness and was uncertain of how the event would go. “I thought it was allergies, but it’s something worse,” the second Heat winner explained on the Podium. “My Dad built this bike with a lot of help from Brian Olsen and American Harley-Davidson, but I didn’t know if I had enough wind in my sails – I was making some mistakes by the end of the race.”

For third placed Bauer, age 15, his goal was to maintain his placing in the top five in the points standings, and his already-injured ankle was a concern.

“My ankle got a little sore, and I started losing some speed,” confirmed Bauer. “I had to speed myself up. It was a good battle for third, I had to get the hammer down at the end and it worked out. I really love these big tracks, it’s good to get out here.”

Bauer also thanked KBR, Honda Canada, Steel Town Garage, American Harley-Davidson and Sturgess Cycle.

The Dash for Cash opened with former number one Buchan in the lead on his Ninja Twin, chased hard by Seguin, Brown, Evans Bauer and Higgins. Evans worked through the field to challenge winner Buchan, with Seguin third ahead of Brown.

In the Expert DTX round of production-based moto crossers, Brown took a solid lead and held it, with Dave Pouliot working his way to second on the John Parker Racing Kawasaki. Earlier, Pouliot had suffered engine problems with his framer in the Feature Heat. Trent Pickle earned a strong third in DTX counter with his Gmoto Honda.

Sunday, 28 July 2019 02:37

Crevier Leads Honored Hall of Fame Inductees in B.C.

The Delta Burnaby Conference Centre in British Columbia hosted the 13th annual Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Banquet and Reunion on Saturday, November 17, with crowd of almost 300 on hand to meet this year’s group of new Hall arrivals. The event was hosted by veteran Canadian voices Pat Gonsalves and IM’s own Frank Wood.

The evening opened with the Presentation of the Bar and Hedy Hodgson Award, delivered by the 2017 Award recipient, Cycle Canada Magazine co-founder John Cooper. This year, the special award went to Peter Gagan, a leading light in the Vintage community and co-founder of the CVMG. Their first meeting back in 1968 was by invitation at Gagan’s home and now the prominent group now numbers 2.700 members.

“that was pretty impressive,” quipped Gagan after hearing his introduction. “We really have to work to keep people interested in old motorcycles; we need to keep promoting this, as the market changes, and the old bikes start to decrease in value. Now we need to get people in their 50s to get involved; they have nostalgia for the bikes and they have the money! We need to keep these young people coming up.”

Star of the Induction Show was the always-entertaining Steve Crevier, the six-time Canadian Superbike Champion, 1998 AMA SuperSport National Champion and hero of the long-lost Westwood, B.C. venue.

“Well, it was a lot of fun,” deadpanned Crevier after getting an award from 1978 F-750 road race World Champ Steve Baker, another ace who started at Westwood. “I was raised in Port Coquitlam, and as a kid I use to go and see people like Steve Baker and Jimmy Dunn race at Westwood.”

“My Dad would ask me what I wanted to do when I grew up, and I would say a motorcycle racer. He would suggest an engineer, and I would say I don’t want to drive a train! When I was 17 I bought an RZ350 and headed out to Westwood, because that is what I wanted to do anyway.”

“My first race, they put the Amateurs in the back row, behind the Pros, and it was raining and I did pretty good, fourth overall. Any they gave me a cheque for maybe $ 180 dollars, and in Motocross I never earned a penny. But they tell me if I ride Pro, I won’t get an Amateur title. And I said I just wanted to ride with the fast guys, give me my friggin’ cheque! I thought they wanted to take away my cheque!

“My heart is really in where I started, here in Westwood. Those were the best years, even though I was broke, so broke. Those years were hard, but the travelling was so exciting, really in that first year we went east, 1986. I was with Gary Goodfellow, Rick Hobbs, Steve Wyatt, a few others.

“We blew a head gasket in my van near Golden, rebuilt the van, got to Shannonville, didn’t know where the race track was, so we slept by Hwy 401, and Tom Walther slept in a lawn chair on the roof of the van! It was so exciting back then, the racing was so great, we started at Westwood and went from there.

“I feel like I haven’t really accomplished that much in life, except for four great children, and winning on a motorcycle – I couldn’t ask for any more from my life. This is truly an honor.

One-time Crevier tuner Rick Hobbs also joined the hall of Fame, and spoke about his extensive career wrenching for some of the top Canadian and American road racing stars. Hobbs went to the U.S. to join the Vance and Hines squad in 1993, where his first race involved helping Eddie Lawson to a win in the prestigious Daytona 200!

Currently, Hobbs is California-based, and still working for Yamaha in Superbike. Since 2014 Hobbs has headed the program for three time MotoAmerica overall Champion Cameron Beaubier, continuing an impressive string of successes for the popular builder.

Hall of Fame boss Paul Germain, the popular Manitoba-based racer, presented famed Moto Cross star Allan Dyck to the Hall, the long-time Yamaha and Honda rider know as “Too Trick.” His best season came in 1989, when Dyck pulled of the Triple Crown, earning 125, 250 and 500 National class Championships in one season. Only the legendary Ross Pederson has pulled off this difficult triple.

Since completing his riding career, Dyck has developed a chassis tuning and suspension business, and in the past season started his own Team on the National M/X tour, backed by Sky Helicopters and Holeshot Motorsports. His Honda riders earned eight overall in the two divisions of the National Championship tour.

Moving to Canada in 1965, famed Alberta Trails advocate Dave Rhodes became a fixture in Alberta with the Calgary Motorcycle Club, and the Trails boom involving Bultaco, Montessa and Ossa machinery. In 1971 he organized the first European-style Trials event in the foothills west of Calgary, and was soon a sales rep for Yamaha, and organized the first North American Trials World round in Alberta in 1975.

Dave and his family moved to the Okanagan in B.C. in 1981, and since then have run OUTLaw TrialSport- supporting, training and sponsoring observed trials and remained active in World Trials Canada.

B.C. organizer, writer and Competitor Wally Klammer was a popular fixture on the “Left Coast” until his death from Caner in 2014. A budget Enduro enthusiast, Klammer was soon organizing events and representing the off-road community at the Government level. Among Klammer’s many achievements were his work to secure the Chipmunk Creek Riding area with the CVMC as stewards.

Daniel Amor had a brief life but still managed to make quite an impression with the off road community before his untimely death in 1983, right before he was schedule to once again represent Canada in the International Six Day Enduro squad in Wales, GB. A regular at the premier Enduro event, he earned a Gold Medal in Austria in 1976 and was mentioned by most of the other inductees at the 13th annual Hall of Fame gathering.

Also joining the Hall where Vera and Joseph Godsall, long time prime movers in the British Columbia and International Motocross scene, and staunch Canadian Motorcycle Association supporters.

Al Perrett grew up as a serious skiing competitor, but soon switched to dirt bikes and opened his first bike shop for Suzuki in Richmond B.C. in 1966. Another strong ISDE competitor in the 1970s, Perrett was a successful Baja racer starting in 1990 and went on to run Kamloops Harley-Davidson from 1977 to 2016.    

Support for the second Hall of Fame event held in B.C. came from Federated Insurance, BMW Motorrad Canada and Joe Rocket, with additional support provide by Yamaha, Husqvarna, and Beta.

Sunday, 18 November 2018 06:02

All Brown at Georgian Downs FT

Dustin Brown celebrated his 17th birthday in style at Georgian Downs Raceway near Barrie, ON, on Saturday night, dominating round ten of the 12 event Harley-Davidson Canada Flat Track Series presented by Parts Canada. Brown earned his third Feature race win in a row, moving steadily closer to his first overall number one plate for Canadian Flat Track – Brown holds a solid lead atop the Expert Open points standings.

With lightning on the horizon and rain threatening, the Flat Track Canada sanctioning group hurried the schedule, and Brown ran away with the 15 Lap expert Open Feature. Earlier Brown won the Expert Open race as well as the Dash for Cash at the venue described as the biggest track on the National tour.

“My plan was to put my head down after a good start and just check out, and that’s what happened,” smiled an elated Brown from the centre of the Podium. “I want to say a big thanks to all my local fans, it was just a great day. With two races left in the Series, the goals are still consistency, and then see how we do at the end of each race and now the end of the day for the series.”

After thanking main backers Sehl Racing, Kurt Beiger Racing and Yamaha Canada, Brown confirmed that he was lucky to earn the win in the main event.

“I guess the bike more or less blew up when I crossed the finish line,” confirmed Brown, who pulled off outside turn one and had to be pushed to the Podium, skipping the usual victory lap. “We really don’t know what happened, it just started bogging down on the last lap, and then just quit.”

Brown was aboard a well-travelled and well-sorted C&J framed, air-cooled Rotax single, in fact the same bike that Scott Sehl used to win with in 2000. The bike displaces 614cc, “as big as a short stroke Rotax can be and still stay reliable.”

Well behind victor Brown, 2018 multi-National victor Dave Pouliot aboard a Woods-Rotax held on to earn second after a near event-long fight against veteran fast guy Chris Evans. Evans netted third aboard a Honda-powered “framer.”

Following the Final, Pouliot admitted that his “framer” had lost the rear brake mid-event, perhaps as a result of an earlier crash. “I was trying hard, we were good, but we just were not quite there, and Dustin pulled away.” Pouliot thanked mentor and bike builder John Parker as well as Canadian Kawasaki, Moto Vanier and Inglis Cycle.

“I feel like I pushed the number 16 all day,” explained 55-year-old Evans of his pursuit of Pouliot. “It got a little exciting over those last few laps. I plan to race a few more years, and we have a couple of irons in the fire.”  

Reigning National Champ Brodie Buchan was back in action after missing the past four National Feature races due to an arm injury. The current number one opted to skip the production-framed DTX event, his typical speciality, and make his twin cylinder debut aboard a borrowed Kawasaki 650 powered “framer” belonging to American sponsor Tim Wells.

Buchan held fourth for most of the Main, showing good form on the rambunctious Twin, but was caught late in the race by the framer of a hard-charging Tyler Seguin. Seguin took fourth, Buchan fifth ahead of DTX Yamaha mounted Jimmy McCullough and the Honda framer of American Brandon Newman.

In the early-program Heats to determined grids for the Feature race, Brown dominated the opener as Buchan held off Newman for third. Seguin borrowed Evans bike but dropped out with a mechanical issue, meaning he did not qualify for the fan-favorite Dash for Cash.

In Open Expert Heat Two, Pouliot on his DTX-class Kawasaki edged Evans in a good dice, Evans aboard Seguin’s machine! Luke Rahm completed the Dash for Cash grid, battling to a strong third in Open Expert Heat Two.

Production Yamaha-mounted Brown also ran off with the mid-evening, ten lap DTX event, winding up almost four seconds up on Pouliot’s Kawasaki. Pouliot kept the pressure on in the overall season class points standings by coming out on top in a good battle with third overall Newman. Honda pilot Trent Pickle backed up his first Pro Heat win with a strong fourth ahead of McCullough.

As is frequently the case, the Dash for Cash was action packed, Pouliot crashing to cause an early red flag. After the second start, the motivated Buchan fell from his twin for the first time, but didn’t stop the action. Both riders were quickly back in action.

Brown ended up taking “Dash” victory, while Evans came out on top of Pouliot in another fight for second. Newman was fourth while Rahm completed the finishers with his Honda.

The next round of the tour is scheduled for Wheatley, ON, September 22, with the season wrapping up a week later at Sarnia’s Hiawatha Downs, September 29.     

Sunday, 02 September 2018 00:31

Yamaha's Sporty new Tracer Triples

IT is often said that the key to a great motorcycle design is an appealing, distinctive power plant. In the case of Yamaha’s new for 2018 Tracer 900, the tuning fork company are off to a good start – the engine is the 847cc Crossplane concept triple, a delightful and proven design established with the FJ09. The engine design is very compact, with the racer-style “Tri-Axis” stacking of the crank, main and drive shafts.

At the recent Canadian launch for the Tracer 900 and the more travel-ready 2019 Tracer 900 GT, Product Specialist Andrew Scott explained that the Tracer is a Sports Touring design, aimed at experienced riders in the age 35 to 55 range. Both Tracer’s engines are essentially unchanged from the earlier FJ, and the more expensive GT version has a host of additions to provide impressive versatility.

The engine is one of the most distinctive and enjoyable designs available, a sporty three cylinder with Yamaha’s distinctive “CP3” Crossplane that delivers both a strong mid-range and an appealing growl. Throttle control is fly-by-wire or Yamaha’s Chip Control Throttle (YCC-T), with two traction control modes as well as an “off” position.

Both Tracers start with revised bodywork and a revised, reshaped wind screen. The screen is now easily adjusted on the fly, with just one hand. The handle bars are slightly narrower, connected to narrower and lighter hand guards.

Both front and rear seats are redesigned, the alloy swing arm is significantly longer, and the rear end is generally tidied with a new fender, passenger peg mounts and better-integrated side case mounts.

The base Tracer comes with ABS, as well as the most helpful of often overlooked sometimes-accessories, the centre stand, a suitable feature somehow missing from the earlier FZ.

The obvious difference with the GT version beyond the well-integrated hard luggage is the larger, Thin Filament Transistor (TFT) instrument screen, offering a wide range of performance and status data. The GT gets a Quick Shifter, and that works well with the standard slipper clutch shared by both Tracers’ six speed transmissions. Heated grips are standard as is Cruise Control.

The GT’s Front forks are now fully adjustable while the rear shock is upgraded too, getting the luggage and passenger-friendly remote preload adjuster.   

The stock side cases are color matched to the other bodywork, the overall presentation tidied up if somewhat subdued. There is even a 12-volt plug on the side of the GT’s fancy TFT display.

On the road, the new Tracer is certainly comfortable, the revised screen and roomier, firmer seat immediately attracting positive comments. The riding position is relaxed, fairly upright, with lots of space to relocate to change pressure points over a full day in the adjustable saddle.

I started off with the throttle setting in standard, and this seemed to provide a somewhat deadened response at low revs and low road speed. A quick and easy to follow switch to the “A” mode gave the direct response I was looking for, and got the triple snapping to attention in style. On our dry test, I didn’t bother with “B,” but that looks like a rough road or hard rain option.

The huge flexibility of the engine and broad power band mean gear selection is not a big deal, and the transmission shifts well, although it prefers some revs for the long throw controls. Horsepower is in the one hundred range on a rear wheel dyno, and there is certainly enough urge to have fun.

Chassis-wise, the steering is a little slower than I remembered, possibly due to the longer swing arm. Still the new Tracer steers well and is very stable while cornering, and has good ground clearance, even with the extended “curb feelers” mounted to the stock pegs.

Overall, we enjoyed both Tracers, and admit we would first recommend the GT. When you factor in the cost of the hard luggage and look at the convenience of the GT’s added features, the more expensive bike wins out, but both are friendly, strong performers.

Thursday, 30 August 2018 13:38

Pouliot wins Flamboro Flat Track as Champ Buchan Injured

Dave Pouliot won his first National of the season at Flamboro Downs, near Hamilton, ON, in round five action of the 2018 Harley-Davidson Canada Flat Track Series presented by Parts Canada. The Kawasaki-backed Quebecer took control early and held off Dustin Brown of Utterson, ON, for the win over 15 laps in a big evening for the classic Rotax single cylinder powered flat track “framer” combination around “Canada’s Fastest Half Mile.”

Pouliot now leads the Open Expert series as the National Championship heads to the mid-point of the 12 event schedule.

Another classic race design netted third, Michigan-based American Stephen Vanderkurr completing the podium aboard a Harley-Davidson XR750 twin.

Veteran part-time National racer Dominic Beaulac of Trois-Riviere, Quebec, was a pre-race favorite, but a first-try jump start moved him to the back of the second start grid on his Rotax-framer. From there, the aggressive Beaulac charged up to earn fourth.

Missing from the race was reigning overall Flat Track Canada Champion Brodie Buchan of Leamington, ON. The Honda-backed Expert was scheduled to ride a borrowed Rotax-Framer in the main event, but injured his left arm in a crash during the twice-restarted “Dash for Cash” race.

Already the victor in two Feature races in 2018, Buchan’s injury throws his Championship chase in to question for the Parts Canada/Phibbs-baced rising star. Next weekend, the series has a rare double-header oval/TT combo at famed four-wheel venue Ohsweken Speedway.

The “Dash for Cash” ended with a wild battle between Pouliot and Beaulac, but Beaulac ended inches behind rival Pouliot at the finish line in a photo finish.

In the eight lap DTX Expert race, Tyler Seguin of Welland, ON, jumped into an early lead aboard his Parts Canada-backed Honda moto crosser. Class points leader Buchan worked up from a bad start to put pressure on the leader, but couldn’t make a pass stick. Seguin too his first DTX win of the year from Buchan, Pouliot third on his John Parker Racing built entry.

Fourth in DTX belonged to Brown on a Sehl Yamaha. In a tight battle for fifth place in DTX, former number one Don Taylor of Port Colborne, ON, on a KBR Honda just edged Luke Rahm’s Honda.

Following the main event, Pouliot didn’t want to be considered the man to beat for the Title, but admitted that “things are shaping up for the rest of the season.” Pouliot’s bike was built over the course of a year by mentor Parker, with backing form Moto Vanier.

Post win, Parker confirmed that the classic Woods-Rotax racer was created with “no budget, brand new build, it’s an exact replica of the bike that I won all those races with in 1999.”

For runner up Brown, just 16-years-old and second in the standings, the result came from “focusing on improvements with me and the bike, and doing my best to be consistent. I feel like I’m becoming a consistent rider, and I can put together a good run for the rest of the season.”

Third overall Vanderkurr appreciated the attention he received for racing a classic H-D twin against the classic singles. “I knew we could do well”, explained the Amsoil/RK -backer American, “but it is a challenge with this bike against the lighter bikes.”

Sunday, 29 July 2018 11:34

Lawrence Heads for American Flat Track in Georgia

Former Flat Track Canada National Champ Doug Lawrence is just about ready for his first National of the season, round two of the American Flat Track National Championship, coming up this weekend in Georgia. Lawrence will compete in the Harley-Davidson Atlanta Short Track presented by Hellbender Harley-Davidson at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock on Saturday, April 7.

“Atlanta, round two, was always part of the plan,” explained Lawrence prior to his next trip south. “We’re warmed up, and getting back in the game. This should be a good track for us, a forgiving track, it’s round and slippery, so that should work for us. The stage is set to get back on the pace.”

After skipping most of the American Flat Track series last season, this year Lawrence plans to compete on the tour full-time for the next couple of months.

“For Atlanta, it will be one motorcycle only, and that is our Harley-Davidson XR750,” confirms Lawrence. “We always had the plan to use the XR for the half miles, and then move to our new Kawasaki at the big (mile) tracks.”

Last month, Lawrence and his tuner/father Doug Sr. went south for the traditional warm-up events, bringing both their established XR and brand new Ninja twins. That program was a success, so now they are ready to get back on the premier Flat Track tour.

“We had two days with the Kawasaki testing at Savannah, and then raced the XR. Then we went to Volusia and raced the Kawasaki, and we were satisfied with the progress overall from those events.

“We had slow starts racing the XR, but we worked up good enough to get third, we were really going good on my kind of track, behind Brad Baker (Indian) and Kenny Coolbeth (Indian). As far as the slow start, my excuse is that it is tough to come off the bench!”

“At Volusia, we maybe should have ridden our XR, but we needed to race the Kawasaki, learn about that bike, so I knew going in that would be the harder plan. We were getting there with the Ninja, getting faster, and the shorter 15 lap race actually helped us.”

“We defiantly would have done really well with the XR at Volusia, but that wasn’t a goal. We got a 4th and a 6th with our Kawasaki, and we are getting there with the chassis and the handling in terms of set-up. Our whole mission for the trip south was accomplished, the lap times on the XR750 were fast, we are right there, where we need to be.”

“With the Kawasaki, we were about .2 of a second behind Jared Mees (Indian FTR750 mounted National Champ), so that is a positive. I’m not planning to race the Kawasaki on the Half Miles, it is there for the Mile races.”

“At Atlanta this weekend, the goal is obviously to make the Main event,” considers Lawrence. “With the new format down there, you only really have one shot to make it into the feature, and you can’t risk any kind of issue.   

“Things have changed with the American Flat Track tour, and it will take some adjustments,” continues Lawrence. “People are riding all the time, practicing, where as ten ears ago, people were busy working on their bikes. Now the top guys have paid mechanics to look after their twins. It’s tougher now, and you have to be mentally stronger.”

“Things are really serious now, everyone is in this to make a living,” continues Lawrence of the revamped National Tour. “It is different to before, and the little guy doesn’t really get much play. I’m going to be that little guy who makes it out of the Heat race, who makes his mark. I respect these guys, and I want to be part of all of this.

“We will have to see how we make out with our new plan in this new atmosphere. After this weekend, we have a short break and then we are on the road for five races. J.R. Addison will be taking my bikes across the country, we will share expenses.

“After the big Springfield AFT National (May 26/27), the next weekend is the Flat Track Canada National at Welland, and we will take our single to that if everything works out. And I’m still trying to work out a program for Mopar CSBK, maybe a 600cc program for Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in August.”

Among the supporters for Lawrence on the American Flat Track tour in 2018 are Town Moto, John Briggs, American Harley-Davidson, Arai Helmets, Full Bore, Side Boots and MotoNation.     

Wednesday, 04 April 2018 22:03

New XSR700 Twin Shows Well for Yamaha in Tennessee

On day two of Yamaha Motor Canada’s American spring Press event, the assembled Canuk scribes headed out on a cool and overcast morning aboard the 2018 XSR700 liquid-cooled twin. This “Sport Heritage” model is based on the successful MT-07 (and the previous FZ-07), using the existing engine, frame and slightly revised KYB suspension.

Yamaha have taken the workhorse twin and given it a circular makeover. The theme of the retro redo is expressed with the retro round headlight, tail light, instruments, exhaust canister as well as a restyled gas tank and short tail section, complete with leather accent on the tail.

This new XSR gets a new removable tail sub-frame section, a give-away that this bike will be the Yamaha 700 twin of choice for custom-oriented builders. Based on a Euro model, the XSR has front turn signals mounted on extenders to meet North American requirements – maybe the first part that will get revamped!

Yamaha showed a few accessories that suit the handsome XSR700, including a mini wind screen, radiator guards, small beige leather saddle bags and swing arm spools for a race/service central stand. All looked right at home with the 1970s-styled 698 cc Twin.

Yamaha see the XSR as a potential step-up model, for newer riders looking for more machine. Riders who want an around-town, versatile commuter will also like the XSR, and the traditional, upright riding position (and wider handlebar) offers good comfort and visibility for traffic work.

The round instrument pod is clearly marked and easy to use, but sits well down in my six-footer’s field of view, while the key is located in at the very front of the bike, a bit of an odd spot. The seat is somewhat high and fairly soft, OK for a couple of hours but not ideal for touring.

An iffy morning gave way to a gorgeous afternoon, and the roads north east of Nashville are among the best for sports riding. The XSR was in it’s element, the slightly stiffer chassis set-up a defiant improvement in terms of stabilizing the bike in aggressive riding situations.

The liquid-cooled vertical twin is a strong mill, and while it revs out to 10,000 RPM, power peaks at nine grand, so there is no need to chase the over-rev. Good power comes into play around 5,550 RPM, and the Dynojet Dyno indicates a maximum output of 67.9 horsepower, with a solid 47.4 foot/pounds of torque to entertain as you drive out of turns and get ready to work the smooth-shifting six-speed.

However, these good specs do not do the Yamaha justice. This is a machine that reminds me of the first couple of versions of Suzuki’s all-round vee-twin SV650, a willing and safe platform for rider’s looking to build and sharpen their skills. The XSR700 might not be an R series SuperSport, but it is plenty of fun for sporty activity.

At more than one thousand dollars more than the strong MT-07 offering, the XST700 might not be the best choice for everyone. However, if you enjoy the performance and are drawn by the looks, you won’t be disapointed.  

Tuesday, 27 March 2018 23:16

Yamaha Launches Venture and Eluder in Nashville, Tennessee

Yamaha Motor Canada launched their 2018 Star Venture TC and Star Eluder big twins this morning in Nashville, Tennessee, with northern media taking advantage of cool but dry conditions on some exceptional secondary roads. The two new 1854cc air-cooled vee-twins are built in Japan and share underpinnings, but the Venture TC is billed as a “Transcontinental Tourer,” the bagger Eluder the stripped-down sibling.

The engine is based on the performance-oriented Raider, but revised for smoother power delivery and more versatile, low-RPM rideability, with a claimed 126 ft-lbs of torque. Cams are new, the crank is now single pin, the counter balancers are updated and the six speed transmission now has two overdrive gears. The engine gets new cases, a hydraulic, assisted slipper-clutch and dry sump oiling with a lubricant tank in the sub-frame, as well as an oil cooler.

The Mikuni fuel-injection has 45mm throttle bodies, with a YCC-T (Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle) ride-by-wire throttle. The adoption of YCC-T allows for various rider modes, including Traction Control (a first for this style of machine), two throttle modes (Sports and Touring) and Cruise Control.

The twin muffler design features a distinct big twin sound, and Yamaha music pitched in the fine-tune the audio track.

Paired alternators are mounted low at the front of the engine cases, powering the heated seat, backrest and grips, audio and 7-inch LCD infotainment systems, as well as the Sure-Park system. Sure-Park allows low speed (1 km/hr) maneuvering, forward and backwards, powered by a lever-actuated electric motor – not the starter.

The chassis has a steel frame with rubber engine mounts, and a detachable alloy sub frame. The seat is narrow at the front and low at 695cm, and works with the low C of G to provide the big bike with surprising maneuverability and agility at speed.

We checked out the handling once we cleared heavy morning city traffic and tackled the perfect pavement and sweeping turns of the Backbone Ridge. Both twins handle well and are stable and predictable for machines of their size, but you might not call them nimble!

Power is ample, but fourth gear is best for spirited riding. The Sport mode offers great throttle response, but the Touring mode is less aggressive for general use. The soft rev limiter comes in around 4,500 RPM, but with so much mid-range, it isn’t necessary to spin the big twin all the way in every gear.

Both bikes are predictable when hustled, and only the eventual drag of the reinforced floor boards manages the fun. Suspension control is solid, and the linked brakes are powerful, predictable, and don’t affect turning angle even when applied when leaned over.

The Venture is very well appointed, but the long floor boards are somewhat spoiled by the left side rocker shifter that limits foot position. The Eluder benefits from a lower (80 pounds) weight, but doesn’t get the heated grips, Sure Park and the adjustable wind protection, and has only half of the storage.

Venture air flow is well managed with a good envelope of stable air for the pilot. On the Eluder, even with the slightly taller optional screen, the wind blast increases and turbulence is also an issue – but the Eluder is not the touring version.

The riding position is comfortable, with room to move to vary pressure points. Passenger accommodations are above average, with adjustable floor boards. Both versions work, but the Venture is the versatile workhorse.  

Monday, 26 March 2018 23:16

Lawrence Speeds South For Flat Track Openers

When we reached Doug Lawrence early (very early!) on Tuesday, March 6, he is heading south for the traditional launch of the flat track racing season. The 32-year-old former Flat Track Canada National Champ is in a van with his father, taking their twin cylinder “framers” to Georgia and then Florida.

“We’re going to South Carolina for a Wednesday Practice Day, on their three-eighths of a mile track,” starts Lawrence, who is letting Doug Sr. handle the driving on this leg of the trip. “Then we head to Savanah, Georgia for another three-eights mile facility and another Test Day. On Friday, we race the opening AMA All-Stars round at Savannah, the series that is a step below the American Flat Track National tour.”

“Then it’s on to Volusia Speedway Park in Florida for another All-Star round. We’ll be back in Canada on the 17th, and then we will announce our 2018 sponsorship package. Right now, I can confirm that my long-time supporters John Briggs and Town Moto are on-board.”

Lawrence has some choices to make in terms of equipment, and one of the goals of the trip will be to develop their years-in-the-making, Big A-framed Kawasaki 650 Ninja Twin. As well, their established and successful Harley-Davidson XR750 will be available, and likely be the preferred option, at least initially, on the short ovals. For the first time, Lawrence is not bringing any single cylinder racers with his for his spring journey south.

“I think the Harley will be better at first, but the goal is to get up to speed with the Kawasaki. We have a couple of engine packages available for the Kawasaki, different set-ups. We want to get the most out of each package, and ride the bike that works the best for the specific track conditions.

“We’re uncomfortable with the idea of using the Harley a lot,” admits the junior Lawrence, referring to the rare, collectable and costly to run air-cooled v-twins. “We don’t want to waste the XR750. The bigger tracks will suit the Kawasaki for sure, it will be more reliable and have better acceleration off the corners. The cornering speed is higher with the Harley, but the Kawasaki works better in a pack situation.”

Lawrence has achieved significant success on American-based Kawasaki liquid-cooled twins, riding for other teams, during the past few seasons in the U.S.

“I’ve had a few offers to ride for American Teams, but to be honest, these opportunities appeal but the machinery would not be as good as our bikes. I know what it takes to win, and the key is preparation.”

Talking about the opposition at the major races south of the border, Lawrence explains that “the Indians will be good again in American Flat Track, there could be as many as ten Indians in a Main event, but the new privateer bikes will take some figuring out.

“My goal is to get up to the pace, and that shouldn’t take too long,” continues the racer known as Fresh. “We’re not going to do the opening American Flt Track round, the Daytona TT, but we are aiming for the second event a month from now at Atlanta. That track is ‘D shaped,’ another three-eighths mile layout, and this year will be the second year Atlanta is a National.

“My initial plans for this year involve a focus on the States, as well as some races in Canada, places like Welland and Ohsweken. Right now I have eight races of American Flat Track circled on the calendar, and then we will see how it is all going.

“Our plan is to do the initial sweep out West in the U.S., and then regroup during the break and see what makes sense. In Canada, we’re looking toward the possible all-Twins feature class in 2019 with Flat Track Canada, and the goal is to come up with a sensible plan with sensible budget numbers.

“Recently, it has taken at least two or three bikes to win the National Championship in Canada, and the Twins class would match us up with what is going on south of the border, and control some cost factors. This would also allow more young Canadian racers to compete in the States, too.

“For me, I aim to do less but be more focused, be happy with my overall effort and confident in the direction. I want to get back to where I’ve been in terms of success, and I can do that.  

“I still plan to roadrace at the Mopar CSBK rounds if I can, but those plans are still in the works and I don’t want to spread myself too thin. It will be a weird year, it will be busy early in the States, and then we will make plans for the rest of the season based on how things are going.

Lawrence aims to open his 2018 National Tour in a month at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, Georgia, April 7. From there, he aims to head west to Texas, California and Arizona.

Tuesday, 06 March 2018 08:13

Flat Track Star Beattie Leads 2017 Hall of Fame Honor Roll in Toronto

The Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame held their annual Induction Banquet and Reunion at the Sheraton Toronto Airport Hotel on November 4, with a crowd of over 250 riders, racers, Hall members, fans and industry types on hand to enjoy the festivities.  The 12th annual event was sponsored by Husqvarna, with additional support from Joe Rocket, BMW Motorrad Canada, Honda Canada, Flat Track Canada, Yamaha Canada and event founder Bar Hodgson Productions.

Top racer honored at the event was Steve Beattie, the 2016 Flat Track Canada National Champ who suffered a major injury at the end of last season at Ohsweken, and then worked in the pits last summer for the KTM Canada National Motocross program with friend and neighbor Cole Thompson.  Beattie has also had success in the U.S. as a chassis tuner and rider coach for top American Flat Trackers Jared Mess and Brad Baker, as well as winning an AMA National himself.

“I think I’m kind of young to be up here,” cracked Beattie when he took the stage after his Audio-Visual introduction.  From there, Beattie suggested he’d had a tough career since he didn’t start racing until he was ten, shortly after heading out to buy a bicycle with his dad and returning with a Suzuki 80 dirt bike. 

“I have lots of people to thank, especially all my family, and specific people like Jon Cornwell and (fellow inductee) Kurt Beiger,” said the always-jovial Beattie.  “I really have to thank my wife Michelle, because if she had stuck to her guns the first time I broke my neck, I would never have done enough to get into the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame.”

Beattie admits to five major neck injuries during his career, forcing at least a couple of retirements, and explains his tolerance for, and ability to forget, pain are major factors in his many successes in a wide variety of two wheeled sport and competition.  His first major retirement in 2006 lead to the creation of his chassis set-up business, 26suspension.

Legendary motorcycle builder and tuner Mike Crompton started off by saying that when people have asked how he gets away with being busy with bikes and racing, his wife Kim has always encouraged him to participate and take advantage of the opportunities available.

“In the end, we always have a great time and come back with lots of stories to tell,” confirmed Crompton, who has built title winning machinery for George Morin, Art Robbins, Michel Mercier, Miguel Duhamel, Jordan Szoke in the glory days of the works CSBK Kawasaki program, as well as a host of others.

Crompton explained that is was a great honor to be inducted at the same time as fellow super tuner/builder Nick Kemp, since “he was always a go-to guy when we needed something fixed in a hurry, or if something was wrecked, and we could weld it, or rebuild it, or make another one or a redesign, whatever it took.”      

“I have other great friends here tonight who were always there for me like Harald Surian, always part of a top notch fantastic team, and Jon Cornwell (already in the Hall of Fame) who was always a big help and always there when I needed him.

Crompton spoke of his time with Suzuki Canada, Team Manager George Morin, ace racer Michel Mercier (now all in the Hall of Fame) and the mid-1980s, first generation Suzuki GSX-R750 Superbike.

“Michel rode with his heart, an incredible racer and an incredible athlete.  But it could be frustrating, and at times we were racing three different motorcycles over a weekend, and there were some incidents.

“Suzuki were great to deal with, but they always insisted the bikes to be blue, and I one time when I was at Suzuki, I asked if we could switch to the red ones, and they wanted to know why.  So I told them – I can see them coming out of the sky easier!”

Once the laughs died down, Crompton also wanted to recognize the famous Ontario Honda race Shop in downtown Toronto on Queen Street, and owners Murray Brown and the late Ricky Andrews, a real beehive of activity that supported a wide range of endeavors from the 1970s through the 1990s.

“The best thing with the motorcycles is always the friendship and the camaraderie that goes along with racing.  My father-in-law once said that I have the most fascinating array of friends and associates, and I think he meant that in a good way.”

Kurt Bieger, former racer and top Flat Track builder and Tuner, explained that when he started in competition, he crashed a lot.  “One of my best friends, and old Brit, asked me why I crashed so much, and I told him the tires just were not good enough!”

“It took me some time to figure out that I had to slow down a little bit.  I gradually figured that out, and then, when I got hurt, I started letting other people race my machines so they wouldn’t just sit.” 

“In closing, I want to say that It’s hard to explain why anyone spends hours and hours alone working on their race bikes.  We’re trying to figure out how to put the combination of bike, rider and track together, day by day.  I’m happy to be up here, I’m proud to be part of this group, and thanks everyone.”

Famed Announcer Pat Gonsalves opened his remakes by explaining that he briefly considered having his alter-ego, Guyanese announcer Huntley Williams, speak on his behalf.  This took some in the crowd way back, since Gonsalves hadn’t worked that character into his race coverage since the late 1970s at Shannonville Motorsport Park.

With a career spanning many types of motorsports in a variety of countries, both on the P.A. and television, Gonsalves admitted that he has never “met a microphone I didn’t like.  This evening is truly special, and I want to thank the group of racers that nominated me for the Hall including Kathleen Coburn, Alan Labrosse and Bernie Ryan.”

“I am filled with gratitude for my career announcing, now at 40 years and counting.  Harry McCluney hired me to work with the Canadian Road Racing Club at their events at Mosport when I was at Ryerson in 1972, and I eventually worked at Shannonville for John Nelson when it opened in 1976, and started announcing at Daytona International Speedway in 1977.”

The next event for the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame will be the 2018 Banquet and Reunion scheduled for November 17 at the Delta Burnaby Conference Centre in British Columbia.

Sunday, 05 November 2017 01:09

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