The Niken has three wheels. A pair of 120/70-15s up front, and a single conventional 190/55-17 at the back.
Yes it rides pretty much like a motorcycle. There is no long adaption period to feel comfortable, just get on it and ride.
The riding experience is nothing remotely similar to the non-leaning Can-Am Sypder. The Niken leans, steers and powers out like a motorcycle, unlike the Spyder which rides like, well, a car, and a shit car at that.
Yes it can pull wheelies, stoppies, skid and perform all manner of stupidity, if you’re good enough to do so without dying.
Yamaha quote a 45-degree lean angle for the Niken, and yes you can get your knee down if you are going to hang off it to a ridiculous degree. That said, using a reasonable bit of body English does help keep the pegs off the deck and realise more cornering speed, just like a motorcycle…
Yes you can lane split, and quite easily. The widest point of the bike is still the bars/mirrors and you know once that front end is through then the rear is most definitely going to roll through without a problem. The Niken is 70 mm wider at the mirrors than a T-Max, and 120 mm wider than a Tracer 900.
It does not stand up by itself. The Niken will fall over if not placed on the side-stand or optional centre-stand.
Now with that out of the way and for those of you that have an open mind and are still reading, instead of throwing a pretentious little hissy-fit about it having three wheels and clicking away to somewhere else, let’s dig into this leaning three-wheeler business a little more.
I first tried out such a machine more than a decade ago when Piaggio launched the MP3 scooter. I quite liked it, revelling in the incredible front end grip the twin-tyre front end offered. But of course with modest power and a CVT gearbox it was still essentially a scooter. A fun, practical and versatile scooter that I rate highly, but still a scooter.
However, the Niken is a considerably more serious piece of kit.Even the name carries a bit of attitude to it. Two Japanese words Ni (Two), and Ken (Sword), is derived from a 17th century dual sword fighting technique. Well the Niken would want to be sharp then wouldn’t it…?
The drivetrain is lifted directly from the MT-09, one of the maddest motorcycles to be released this century.
The Niken gets the full monty 115 horsepower of the MT-09 and while 115 ponies doesn’t sound all that much these days, the slightly uncultured way that Yamaha’s enigmatic triple delivers them makes those ponies feel a little more Clydesale-like. In Niken guise the MT09 engine does carry a bit more crank weight, which is no bad thing, and its throttle response is a little smoother in operation than the manic naked.
A conventional six-speed motorcycle gearbox complete with quick-shifter, which is unfortunately up only in this application, carries over from its two-wheel siblings, as does the chain final drive. The rear sprocket carries a couple more teeth to help counteract the extra weight of the Niken.
At 263 kg wet, the three-wheeler is is around 70 kg heavier than the MT-09, and 50 kg heavier than the Tracer 900 GT.That mass certainly takes some urgency out of the power delivery, don’t expect the instantaneous response of an MT-09.
When jumping aboard the low 820 mm saddle and lifting the Niken off its side-stand the machine does not feel particularly heavy. The mass is also not felt at the lights or while manoeuvring at walking pace, the larger foot-print of the twin-tyre front end no doubt helping in those scenarios.
Yamaha claims that with a rider onboard the Niken has a perfect 50-50 weight distribution between the front and rear axles.I would say that feels about right as the Niken exhibits no untoward handling traits, and feels perfectly natural when scything through bends at speed.
Due to the gyroscopic forces generated by those two front tyres up front it also proves unflappable and affords great stability. Steering effort is light enough, and the Niken only ever feels slightly cumbersome when negotiating really tight sub-20 km/h corners. The longer and stiffer swingarm contributes to a 70 mm longer wheelbase than the MT-09, the Niken is also 10 mm longer between the axles than the recently released Tracer 900 GT.
Front grip is other-worldly. Yamaha claim the Niken offers up to 40 per cent increased front-end grip. It feels like all of that and more, you quickly start carrying entry speeds on less than perfect road surfaces that would be risky, heart-in-mouth type stuff on a conventional motorcycle.
The fact that those front wheels move independently of each other (on a camber, one front wheel can be running at a very different level of travel through its fork legs than the other), is another positive trait highlighted on bumpy surfaces. The Ackermann dual parallelogram front end just copes with any irregularities thrown at it. You are hardly aware of all those extra front end components doing their thing, it just works and is all completely hidden from your view. The unique front-end set-up also feels as though it completely eliminates any semblance of understeer.
Of course all this confidence in the front end of the machine pretty much turns your approach to back road corner carving on its head.When approaching a tight corner on a conventional motorcycle my concentration is predominantly on judging the road surface which, along with testicular fortitude, largely decides entry speed and aggressiveness on turn-in. While coming out the other side, the grip of modern tyres means it is largely a “hit the throttle hard as soon as you start picking the bike up off the rear tyre and see the corner exit” type affair.
From the apex of the corner is when you start really thinking about grip and the Niken’s purchase on the road, particularly when you really start to press on while chasing a skilled local on an MT-10. Here the Niken did not really do anything wrong, but I was certainly starting to get a little apprehensive in regards to rear end grip when attacking both low speed and high speed corners with some real aggression. Out of some of the tighter stuff the traction control was starting to impede progress and reign things in.
I am sure there was plenty of rear grip there, but the mass and the lack of feedback from the chassis in this scenario did not instil the type of confidence that I was enjoying from the front. I guess with less contact patch at the rear that is to be expected. The Niken could never be expected to be a perfect panacea for every scenario.
In any normal riding of course rear grip is plenty, but I was not game to start trying to drift the rear at lean, it felt as though when it did finally break away it might not have been all that pretty.I did slide the machine a little on dirt roads, but was certainly much more circumspect than I would have been on a normal two-wheeler, and that surprised me. I think a combination of the different ergonomics providing less response to peg inputs, and that extra weight, was enough to make me a little more cautious than I might otherwise have been. Perhaps a lot more seat time would have me more game to let it all hang out.
A pair of 298 mm disc rotors and four-piston calipers do a great job of hauling the machine up, while those two independent front tyres give you the confidence to turn-in late and hard.When really on it, and I mean really on it, I had those two front tyres squirming into the grey tarmac of the Crown Range descents under brakes. I could feel them walking about a little even before the well-tuned ABS system kicked in. The front Bridgestone A41 Adventure tyres were at their recommended 33 psi, I checked them myself, but if going full nutter again I think I might be tempted to try another couple of pound in them.
The riding position for normal riding feels natural enough, be that in the city or on the highway. Despite only that tiny little front spoiler above the digital instrumentation, the wind-blast was never onerous and I never once felt any turbulence disturb my Shoei ensconsed bonce. Even with that 847 cc triple turning 8200 rpm in top gear for an indicated 205 km/h.
The seat felt good until I was getting towards the end of a 600 kilometre first day, only then did I start moving about a little to ease the burden on the buns and upper thighs. All up I covered almost 1000 km on the Niken.
A pillion can be carried and the rear KYB shock has a convenient hand-wheel to change the preload, while compression damping can also be tweaked. The front offers rebound and compression damping adustment.
A GT version is expected next year and will offer more sumptuous seating arrangements along with standard panniers and other changes to improve the Niken’s long-distance touring credentials. The standard Niken does include cruise control.
The mirror-integrated indicators and trick front lights are all LEDs, and a 12-volt accessory port is provided next to the dash. Unfortunately, like virtually every other motorcycle with this feature it is of the regular Hella/DIN/BMW small cigarette lighter style port which, unless you buy all manner of adaptors, is pretty damn useless. Just give us a simple USB port or two FFS.
Unfortunately I did not take note of economy figures, and I would suggest that our strops would not have been all that indicative of what one would experience on a normal Sunday ride or multi-day epic. The aluminium fuel tank holds 18-litres, so you would expect a normal touring range of around 300 km.
The Niken is available now, but only from specialist Yamaha dealers that have undertaken servicing training on the unique beast. These dealers are also required to tool up for front end alignments and minor greases that are recommended every third service. A full re-pack with new grease is required every 50,000 km. Otherwise routine servicing is as per normal and recommended every 6000 km.
Yamaha’s initial shipment of 50 Nikens have now hit our shores, and are priced at $21,999 plus on road costs.
If you take one home, prepare to be the centre of attention when ever you hit the road, people will even come up and want to have their photo taken with it.
Oh, and order the optional Akrapovic full titanium exhaust system to liberate that triple chord symphony, it is just cruel not to. Yamaha dealers are getting their demonstrators ready to roll now, get down there and try one out for yourself.
After the poor weather across the nineteenth and final round of 2018 MotoGP in Spain, Red Bull KTM were able to count on sunnier and brighter conditions for their first work towards the 2019 FIM World Championship with a host of new riders, including two that have made the jump across from Tech3 Yamaha machinery to the KTM RC16.
Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsport Director
“Today was the start of a new phase for us in MotoGP and it was impressive and emotional to see four KTMs pulling out of the pitlane these days. We had a great end to 2018 and the work did not stop on Monday to get everything and everyone ready for Tuesday and today. It was another special moment to see the Tech 3 guys warming up those RC16s and making their first steps with us. It was a big effort to put it all together for these two days so thanks to everyone involved. On the track we went about our work. Pol carried over his confidence from Sunday while Johann came into the team and started to learn the bike and the guys around him. The same could be said for Tech 3. We’ll keep pushing now until next week and then come out strong when we can run on the track again next year.”
Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Team Manager
“It was quite an interesting test. We brought Johann into the team and we’d been looking forward to that for quite some time. The target of the test with him was to get him familiar with our bike and how it works and reacts. He tried many different things with the settings. He also has a new Crew Chief and some other team members so it was a good start. He crashed today but luckily nothing big and it showed him some limits and understanding. We’ll make some analysis this week and hope to make another step in Jerez. Pol gave some good feedback about the new parts we had for him and we have some exciting potential for a new direction. The job these days was firmly towards 2019 and overall we’re happy.”
Pol Espargaro, still elated after his run to a brilliant third position in the Valencia rain, notched 35 laps on Tuesday (before more untimely showers cut the afternoon short) and 47 on a dry Wednesday to focus mainly on electronics and other key points of the ’19 KTM RC16. The Spaniard showed top ten pace when pushing for a quick lap.
“It has been a positive test: you can always take the positive parts of whatever you do. We tried many, many things, especially electronics. We had a nice test, even if we had a problem going for a really fast lap in the end. The team is happy. We still have much to do but we have Jerez in a few days. Last year we were quite good there with a test after the race. I have good memories. The bike has changed much since then and we still have some changes to make. It is good to have more fast riders on the bike like Johann, the test riders and the young guys at Tech 3. They just need time and experience.”
Across the garage Johann Zarco made his eagerly awaited Red Bull KTM debut and spent both days feeling his way around the motorcycle and altering the characteristics to suit his style. The former double Moto2 World Champion and 2017 Rookie of the Year clocked 86 laps in total. He suffered two small crashes on Wednesday but otherwise profited from his initial taste of the Austrian machinery.
“I wanted to improve my lap-time more today but we could not do it. I can really feel the potential of the bike but we still need to get the speed. It was a shame to have two crashes but I didn’t have any injuries and it helped to understand things about the bike and what I might have to change with my riding style. Step-by step. I’m building up this adventure. We are working on corner entry feeling and to find a direction but we improved and I felt I could play with the bike. I’m already thinking about what changes I need to make. Anyway, it was pretty nice to get on that bike and something so different that I’ve discovered in MotoGP until now. Even all the colours, the suit: it was exciting!”
Another significant sight in Valencia was the all-black KTM Team Tech 3 KTM’s of Hafizh Syahrin and Miguel Oliveira. The Malaysian is beginning his first full MotoGP pre-season while the Portuguese is one of four rookies in the premier class for 2019. Both were also busy with their acclimatisation.
“Overall, we had a decent test. I didn’t look at the lap time these two days, but tried to feel good on the bike, to get used to it and to understand the electronics. On the first day, we didn’t touch anything on the bike but this afternoon we changed some things on the front and the rear, which was positive. Later today, it was quite cold and we used the medium tyre. I had a small crash in turn 10, but I was in a good shape and had a good rhythm to understand the bike. We try to continue working hard. I hope we have some great weather in Jerez and aim to improve with every session.”
“We did much more laps than yesterday and just continued to work on the bike. Toady we started to touch some areas after we had the same bike throughout the day on Tuesday. Now we were able to make some changes. Because everything is new, it took the team a bit of time to make these changes and also to adapt my comments from what I wish to have from the bike, so it’s a learning curve for everyone in this particular situation. So far, it has been positive.”
MotoGP will now move further south and to Jerez to continue testing on Wednesday 28th and Thursday 29th November and the last track days before the winter period.
2019 MotoGP Test Day Two Times
VIÑALES, Maverick Yamaha Factory Racing 1:30.757 50 / 57
DOVIZIOSO, Andrea Ducati Team 1:30.890 0.133 0.133 39 / 57
MARQUEZ, Marc Repsol Honda Team 1:30.911 0.154 0.021 39 / 53
MILLER, Jack Alma Pramac Racing 1:30.939 0.182 0.028 63 / 66
PETRUCCI, Danilo Ducati Team 1:30.959 0.202 0.020 57 / 60
Maverick Viñales (Yamaha Factory Racing) got his 2019 preseason off to the perfect start after he topped both days at the Valencia Test, setting the quickest time of 1:30.757 to better second place Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso by 0.133 and reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) by 0.154 as the premier class riders completed a busy day of testing in Valencia; the rain staying away on Wednesday.
For Viñales and teammate Valentino Rossi – who ended the test eighth fastest – another new spec’ of engine was available for them to test, after Tuesday saw them test the first spec of the 2019 Yamaha engine.
Ending the test top can only be a good sign for the Spaniard, who managed to complete 57 laps on Day 2, setting his quickest time on his 50th lap as we saw a mini time attack occur during the afternoon.
Viñales said it will now be important to continue testing in Jerez, feeling like they’ve made good progress but needing more time on the new one after another slightly later start on Day 2 due to a damp track.
“It has been a positive test. We’ve been working a lot on improving for the first lap of the race. I’m actually really happy because from the first lap I felt good grip and I could push. There’s still work to do to further improve the engine braking and the smoothness of the power, so that’s what we will work on in Jerez. It was unlucky that we couldn’t ride all day, like we had planned. We couldn’t test the engines very well, so we’re going to decide after Jerez which of the two we choose. As I said, we need to try more, to be more convinced about the engine decision, but I think we’re on the right track. We need to focus on the riding style and getting a smoother bike will be very important, especially when there’s no grip during the race, but there is an upgrade coming that will help a lot. In these last two days I only focused on the engine and didn’t touch anything concerning the setting. I think we could have improved the set-up for Valencia a lot, but I’m happy that just focusing on the engine we improved by some tenths.”
The Doctor was very focused on getting his YZR-M1‘s new engine in perfect shape ahead of the 2019 season. He completed 63 laps in total and set a 1’31.371s after completing two-thirds of his testing programme, which was enough to keep him in ninth position in the rankings, 0.614s from today’s best time. The lap also earned him ninth place in the overall Valencia test results, as almost all MotoGP riders improved on their best effort on the second day.
“We were able to improve compared to yesterday, but unfornately our opponents were able to improve more. Today was a bit more difficult. We tried a different engine and a different spec, but it was similar to the one we tried yesterday so they have more or less the same performance. For now we keep the same material, and next week we will try it again at another track, in Jerez, so there we’ll try to understand it in a better way. After that we have to wait for next year. The test in Jerez is important because in the GP there in May we weren’t very fast. We need to understand if we’re stronger now.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“We‘ve made a very productive start to the 2019 pre-season, and we have quite a few things to be positive about. Our wish for some dry testing time was granted, though we had to wait until the afternoon on both days. Still, the hours on track allowed us to get a lot of work done. As announced during the Valencia GP weekend, Maverick and Valentino focused mainly on comparing the new engine evolution to the 2018 engine. The new engines improve the engine braking, and the acceleration is smoother. Both riders really only concentrated on comparing the engines, without touching the chassis setting. They both gave positive and similar feedback on what we tried during this test. We managed to do 60% of what we had scheduled. So far we‘re on the right path. Next up is the two-day test at Jerez that will be crucial in preparing for the 2019 season. We’re heading in the right direction, so that’s our motivation to keep working hard.”
VR46 Academy rider and YZR-M1 rookie Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT), meanwhile, did 57 laps as he continues to adjust from Honda to Yamaha – but that adjusting doesn’t seem to be taking the 2017 Moto2 Champion long.
Interestingly, Morbidelli was also riding with a new spec engine to finish Day 2 just 0.217 off Viñales, but he was on a 2017 chassis. Carbon forks were also used by Morbidelli, while rookie teammate Fabio Quartararo got a valuable 63 laps (101 in total) under his belt as he impressed on his premier class debut – just 1.334 separated the Frenchman from the fastest time set.
“It has been a really good day for us, we have been able to complete more laps than yesterday and learn more about the bike. We have done a good job and in the end we have finished with a good lap time, although that’s not the important thing at the moment. The priority is to give good feedback to the team and the Yamaha engineers, to work on everything we can to improve the bike and at the same time maximise its strong points. We played around a little with the setting today but only at a basic level to understand more about how it works. I am very happy and a little surprised by our speed and consistency but we have to focus on continuing to improve because so far this is just testing.”
“We have been able to improve a lot on the second day of the test – as far as the lap time is concerned, by almost two seconds – and I am really happy with all the work we have done. We couldn’t get too many laps in yesterday but today every time I went out the feeling with the bike improved. With the new tyre I was always able to improve and with the used tyre I could stay constant. We have only tried some very small things with the set-up of the bike – little details like the footpegs and the front suspension. We had the last five minutes available to practice starts and the first one was a little strange because it was the first time I had tried launch control, but from the second one I felt better and better and I know we will continue to improve. I am very happy with this first test, the team have done a great job. Now I am looking forward to more at Jerez!”
Wilco Zeelenberg -Petronas Yamaha SRT Team Manager
“It has been a very positive test for the whole team. Fabio [Quartararo] has completed his first laps on a MotoGP bike and watching his progression, and seeing where he finished up, I think he has done a good job. We are trying to guide him in the best way possible but once he is on the bike it is him that makes the decisions. Franco [Morbidelli] has more experience and was fast from the start, I think we have all been impressed by his lap times and the flow of information is also very good. The start gun has been fired and now we have to keep working at Jerez next week.”
For Marquez and teammate Jorge Lorenzo, the ‘second version’ 2019 bike was used. This bike isn’t the full 2019 version, but a combination of parts including the chassis, engine, a Ducati-esque tank modification on Lorenzo’s bike, aero packages, a new air intake, new suspension and a relocated steering damper.
Honda have different combinations of everything and Marquez said he was concentrating on the engine, too. Plenty of laps were done by both multiple World Champions – neither of whom are at full power with some injury struggles – on a productive day, Marquez ended up in P3 after 53 laps, while Lorenzo completed 46 laps – 0.827 off the top for the ‘Spartan’.
Marc Marquez – P3
“It was a good day for us, as we tried many things and got a lot of information. Today we mainly worked on the new bike and the engine setup, but not only on that. We had many things to try and to understand, as the feeling is quite different. In the morning I was really comfortable and I was already able to be fast. Then I stayed there, remained calm and kept the rhythm, because to be honest, it was a must-not-crash situation today. We tried different combinations, spending a lot of time in the garage in the morning, but I was able to make a few consistent runs in the afternoon.”
In the Ducati garage, 57 laps were completed by Dovizioso – and the second fastest time – after a more productive day for the Italian. The number 04 and teammate Danilo Petrucci were on Desmosedicis that were very close to being 2019 specs, the latter ending the day fifth fastest after 60 laps – 0.202 from top spot.
“Today went better than yesterday because we were able to do a lot of tests, including back-to-back ones, during which we found some interesting solutions. These were small details and now we want to try them in different conditions and on another track to get some more precise feedback. These two days of tests at Valencia have been very positive and now we will try and confirm the same sensations at Jerez.”
“I’m pleased with this second day of tests because we were able to try a lot of things and we were always pretty fast, up near the top of the timesheets. I was able to lap consistently with excellent times, even though we didn’t do many tests with different set-ups, and this means that the 2019 bike has a good base. In the end, I only missed out on a quick lap, but I’m very pleased with the way the team is working, with even more engineers helping me, and this made all the difference.”
Meanwhile, test rider Michele Pirro – who crashed at Turn 2 – was on the full spec 2019 machine, with Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) on board a ‘first step’ 2019 bike, according to Team Manager Davide Tardozzi. Dovizioso commented he’d found something “interesting” that will now be explored further at Jerez.
“Today I didn’t do many laps, just 14 in total, when the track wasn’t very fast, but we still managed to do a test that gave us some very useful information. Unfortunately, the problem with my right shoulder, which has worsened since Sunday, didn’t allow me to work well and I crashed again. In ten days’ time I’ll finally be able to have an operation and then I want to turn over a new page.”
“I’m very happy. We’ve had two days of very interesting tests. The feeling with the bike is very good. It’s clear that there’s still work to be done on the setup and fixing some details but the first sensations are extremely positive”.
It was another good day for 2018 Moto2 World Champion Francesco Bagnaia, who – also according to Tardozzi – was on an early 2018 spec Ducati. The rookie was able to lap 49 times on Day 2 to bring his overall tally up to 87 as he ends the test just 0.648 off the fastest time.
“It’s been two important days. The first impact with Ducati was impressive and I must say that I immediately found myself very well with the whole team that made me feel at ease. We have made great strides forward and in Jerez we will work to continue to improve”.
Fellow Desmosedici rider Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) returned to MotoGP action at the Valencia Test, and impressed immensely. Still nowhere near 100% fit, the Spaniard completed 59 laps on his GP18 on Day 2 – in addition to his 36 on Day 1 – to finish just over a second off pacesetter Viñales.
“This was a positive test. We did a good job, we were calm and I used every lap to learn more about the new bike and some new staff members in my team. I’m very happy about this test and I’m in love with my Ducati GP18. The bike turns better and the power is incredible. Now we have to keep working in the same way at Jerez next week”.
Rabat’s new teammate Karel Abraham continued to familiarise himself with the team and to adapt to his new Ducati GP18, a bike quite different from the one he rode until last Sunday. Abraham also improved his pace from the first day and wants to progress even more at the next two days of testing at Jerez.
“Today we did a lot of work and we were able to test many things on the bike, but we have more to do next week in Jerez, where we will double-check the set-up base that we established. We know the potential of the bike is much higher than our position in the time sheets today, so we have to work hard to get the best out of this machine. That’s why I’m not completely happy. But the first connection with the team is good and I’m sure we will improve during the winter test to get to the maximum before the season starts in Qatar”.
The LCR Honda Idemitsu Team recorded positive results for their Japanese rider Takaaki Nakagami. Testing the 2018 Honda RC213V which his injured team-mate Cal Crutchlow had used during the season, Nakagami made significant progress, and ended the test as the second-fastest Honda behind world champion Marc Marquez. The 26-year-old completed 70 laps of the track, more than any other rider present, and ended up eighth on the timesheets, just a half-second behind the best lap overall.
“We made a really important step forward today, and with each outing I felt much more confident with the bike. The lap times were good and we were only a few tenths behind the fastest riders. I’m really happy to be on this competitive bike and step by step we are just trying to find the right set-up for it. The position is good, so I’m really happy with the work we have done as a team, and particularly happy with my new crew chief Giacomo (Guidotti). We mainly worked on set-up of the chassis today, and that was the main thing. Then we did a few back to back tests to double check things. The new Michelin rear tyre that all the riders tested was also a positive for me. All told it has been a positive test for us, and now we go to Jerez and try to keep moving on forwards.”
Elsewhere, some big news from the test over at Team Suzuki Ecstar was the new engine that Alex Rins was testing on Wednesday. The Spaniard was able to register 69 laps and set the seventh fastest time of the test, 0.497 from Viñales. And what about teammate Joan Mir? Well, the rookie continued his very solid debut to finish 0.957 off P1 after getting 56 laps done. Team Manager Davide Brivio says the engine will also be a key focus in Jerez, before important decisions are made going into the winter break.
“My first impression of the new engine was good. I did a lot of laps with both the old engine and the new spec one, so I could compare and contrast. In the end my fastest lap came with the old engine, but we’ll continue to work. The new one has a lot of power and that’s a good sign. The main difference is in the power delivery on the whole curve, I can feel that a lot with the new engine spec. Let’s see what we can try in Jerez next week. I’m feeling good.”
“I’m very happy overall, I was improving in each session on the track and I was able to try a lot of things such as electronics. I’m learning a bit more about how MotoGP works and how the adjustments change the feel of the bike. My pace has been good, and that’s a great thing. But in Jerez I will try to work on setting fast laps, because here I wasn’t really able to set a very pacy lap. But I’m very happy with how everything is going so far. I can’t wait for Jerez!”
Davide Brivio – Suzuki Team Manager
“This has been a productive and positive test for us, despite the weather conditions which prevented us from completing the whole programme we had. Alex made some improvements in setup and electronics at first, and then today he could finally test the new engine spec. Despite the fact that we still have some areas to finalise his first impressions were positive, and we got some important indications. We also wanted to try the 2019 chassis but due to the weather we’ll try it in Jerez. Joan continued his apprentice programme, after getting confident with the bike yesterday, today he began to appreciate how the bike’s behaviour changes as soon as we apply some modifications. For him the job was mainly focused on set up and electronics. These two days have been in line with our expectations and have helped us prepare for Jerez, where we will try to finalise the base bike that we will use in Sepang in February.”
Ken Kawauchi – Suzuki Technical Manager
“It’s been a positive test, except for the weather. It’s normal at this time of the year but it meant we didn’t have much track time. Alex at least was able to try the new engine for next year, which was helpful for starting the process of adjusting it. We’ll continue this work next week. As a rookie Joan has been very impressive and worked well, and both riders have done a very good job. The level of competition has been high among all the manufacturers, so we need to stay focused and get even more improvements.”
At KTM, it was a more difficult second day for Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) as he crashed twice on Day 2 trying to find the limit, ending the two-day test 1.752 off Viñales’ time. 50 laps were completed by the Frenchman, who was again the first rider to head out after the Circuit Ricardo Tormo took a while to dry in the morning.
Teammate Pol Espargaro ended 0.871 from Viñales in P13, 47 laps fulfilled for the Spaniard who had a new fairing to try – and was focusing on electronics, as he’d reported on Day 1.
“By the end, we wanted to do a fast lap time because it’s what people see, but we had some problems with that. Anyway, I think we’ve done a good job. We tried many things on the bike. All the staff are happy and have still a lot of things to try. We’ll continue in Jerez!”
There was a late crash for Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) at Turn 10 after the Malaysian continued his adaptation to a new machine, with both he and teammate Miguel Oliveira riding 2019 RC16 machines. The Portuguese rider completed 46 laps on Day 2 – 79 in total – to finish 3.041 from the top, shaving over a second off his fastest time from Day 1.
“Overall, we had a decent test. I didn’t look at the lap time these two days, but tried to feel good on the bike, to get used to it and to understand the electronic. On the first day, until we didn’t touch anything on the bike, but this afternoon we changed some things on the front and the rear, which was positive. Later today, it was quite cold and we used the medium tyre. I had a small crash in turn 10, but I was in a good shape and had a good rhythm to understand the bike. We try to continue working hard and to understand, also for the team to learn the new electronic. I hope we have some great weather in Jerez and aim to improve with every session.”
“Today we definitely made a step forward compared to yesterday and improved our lap time obviously. We did much more laps than yesterday and just continued to work on the bike. Toady we started to touch some areas, after we had basically the same bike throughout the day on Tuesday. Now we were able to make some changes. Because everything is new, it took the team a bit of time to make these changes and also to adapt my comments from what I wish to have from the bike, so it’s a learning curve for everyone in this particular situation. So far, it has been positive.”
With Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) crashing twice and test rider Bradley Smith crashing once, it was also a difficult day for the new Noale factory riders, although Iannone shrugged off his two crashes as a natural consequence of finding the limit on a new bike.
Teammate Aleix Espargaro was on engine testing duty and trying chassis updates, and a P10 finish and 55 laps completed signalled a solid day’s work as the Spaniard ended the two days 0.643 off the pace.
“We did a good job in these tests. Today I tried a new frame, also continuing the tests on the new engine that I had used yesterday. The feeling was good, although I want to try everything again in Jerez, which is a rather different track than this one and more indicative. We know well which areas we need to work on and the arrival of two new riders with a lot of experience helps us to focus our priorities. This will be a very demanding winter, because these two days confirmed the level of the championship that awaits – even higher than the season that just ended if that’s possible.”
It was the second day of work with Aprilia for Andrea Iannone as well who was able to carry out a series of comparative tests, lapping both with the 2018 configuration bike and the more recent evolution that the team had used in the latest races. The Italian rider continued his apprenticeship, working primarily on adapting the RS-GP to his riding characteristics. He turned 32 laps today, with a best time of 1’32.124 and two crashes without any physical consequences.
There was plenty of work for the Aprilia Racing Test Team, with two RS-GP machines entrusted to new-entry Bradley Smith. On today’s 58 laps, the English rider mainly looked for a base setup on which to then work in the next tests, testing new components and technical solutions. His best lap stopped the clock at 1’33.028.
“It was nice to do several laps with the new bike and the new team today. Our goal is first and foremost to gain familiarity with the RS-GP, find a base setup that will then allow us to better assess the various technical upgrades that we’ll need to test as our experience grows. We worked a lot on the electronics and we made some slight changes to the suspension calibration, reaching a level where I am more at ease. I adapted rather quickly. I didn’t struggle too much to find a good position in the saddle and I can’t wait to get back on the track in Jerez to give the guys more information so we can prepare the 2019 bike as best as possible.”
That’s a wrap from Valencia now, but there’s more action coming before the winter break! Make sure to keep up to date from the Jerez Test on the 28th and 29th November.
2019 MotoGP Test Day Two Times
VIÑALES, Maverick Yamaha Factory Racing 1:30.757 50 / 57
DOVIZIOSO, Andrea Ducati Team 1:30.890 0.133 0.133 39 / 57
MARQUEZ, Marc Repsol Honda Team 1:30.911 0.154 0.021 39 / 53
MILLER, Jack Alma Pramac Racing 1:30.939 0.182 0.028 63 / 66
PETRUCCI, Danilo Ducati Team 1:30.959 0.202 0.020 57 / 60
For 2019 BMW’s premium sports tourer, the R 1250 RS receives the new 1254cc ShiftCam boxer twin, with significant power gains of 11hp and 18Nm of torque, now reaching 136hp and 143Nm. While BMW also boast significantly optimised refinement and running smoothness – especially at low rpm.
The intake camshafts are further designed for asynchronous opening of the two intake valves, resulting in enhanced swirl of the fresh, incoming mixture and more effective combustion. Other technical changes to the engine relate to the camshaft drive – now taken care of by a toothed chain (previously a roller chain) – an optimised oil supply, twin-jet injection valves and a new exhaust system.
Two riding modes as standard adapt the motorcycle to individual rider preferences, while the standard Automatic Stability Control ASC ensures a high level of riding safety due to providing the best possible traction. The set-off assistant Hill Start Control is likewise a standard feature, enabling convenient set-off on slopes.
“Riding Modes Pro” is now available as an optional equipment item, featuring the additional riding modes “Dynamic” and “Dynamic Pro” (configurable); and Dynamic Traction Control DTC.
The new R 1250 RS also features a LED headlamp as standard and in addition to this, the LED daytime riding light is available as an optional equipment item.
BMW Motorrad Dynamic ESA is also available as an optional extra, providing automatically adaptive damping to the situation according to riding state and manoeuvres, and also automatic compensation in all load states.
The R 1250 RS also allows customers to choose from a variety of seat height variants as part of the optional and special equipment range. The 820mm seat is the standard version. The 790mm “low” version is also available as well as the 760mm “extra low” and 840mm “sport” version. As such, a total spectrum covering a height difference of 80mm is offered between the lowest and highest seat variant ex works.
The R 1250 RS also features ‘Connectivity’ as standard including a 6.5-inch full-colour TFT screen, which in conjunction with the standard BMW Motorrad Multi-Controller, means riders can access vehicle and connectivity functions swiftly and conveniently.
With an active Bluetooth connection to any standard smartphone, the rider can also enjoy listening to music during travel. In addition, the freely available BMW Motorrad Connected App offers handy arrow-based navigation suitable for day-to-day use directly via the TFT screen. The BMW Motorrad Connected App is available for free from the Google and Apple app stores.
2019 BMW R 1250 RS highlights
Evolved boxer engine with BMW ShiftCam Technology for variation of the valve timings and valve stroke on the intake side.
More power across the entire engine speed range, optimised fuel consumption and emission levels, increased running smoothness and refinement.
Increased output and torque to 100 kW (136 hp) at 7750rpm and 143Nm at 6250rpm.
Capacity increased to 1254cc (previously 1170cc).
Asynchronous valve opening on the intake side for optimised swirl and more effective combustion.
Camshaft drive now via toothed chain (previously roller chain)
Optimised oil supply and piston base cooling.
Knock sensor system for optimised travel suitability.
Latest generation of BMS-O engine control and use of twin-jet injection valves.
New exhaust system for optimum performance characteristics.
Two riding modes, ASC and Hill Start Control as standard.
Riding Modes Pro, featuring additional riding modes, Dynamic Traction Control DTC, ABS Pro, Hill Start Control Pro and Dynamic Brake Assistant DBC, available as an optional equipment item ex works.
Electronic suspension Dynamic ESA “Next Generation” available with fully automatic load compensation.
LED headlamp for the R 1250 RS (completely new design)
Connectivity multifunctional instrument cluster with 6.5 inch full-colour TFT display offering many features as standard.
BMW R 1250 RS – Black Storm Metallic (Standard Edition)
This traditional BMW Motorrad colour gives the R 1250 RS a dynamic look and as in all other versions, a newly designed model inscription is applied. Cylinder head covers with the lettering “ShiftCam” – referencethe new engine generation – set it apart from the predecessor model at first sight.
The body finish is to be found on the fuel tank cover, the rear side sections on the left and right, the upper trim section, the front wheel cover and the radiator trim elements. The contrast here is provided by the central fuel tank cover in Night Black, the main and rear frame finished in black matt and black brake calipers as well as wheels and front spoiler in Asphalt Grey metallic matt.
Upside-down fork slider tubes anodised in silver (without Dynamic ESA) or gold (with Dynamic ESA) add a technological accentuation, underscoring the sporty, active riding qualities of the new R 1250 RS.
2019 BMW R 1250 RS Exclusive
This style variant emphasises the new R 1250 RS by means of a body finish in Imperial Blue metallic. The cylinder head covers in Agate Grey metallic matt provide a discreet contrast, as does the main frame finished in the same colour.
As an additional contrasting colour Asphalt Grey metallic matt on the front spoiler and cast wheels underscores the exclusive character of the new R 1250 RS. In conjunction with the black embossed seat in the rear section, the main frame coated in black matt gives the new R 1250 RS a harmonious look.
The body finish Imperial Blue metallic is to be found on the fuel tank cover, the rear side sections on the left and right, the upper trim section, the front wheel cover and the radiator trim elements. Meanwhile, gold brake calipers and slider tubes in silver or gold emphasise the motorcycle’s appearance.
2019 BMW R 1250 RS Sport
In this style variant the R 1250 RS Sport features the colour Austin Yellow metallic with cylinder head covers in Agate Grey metallic matt with ShiftCam inscriptions. The wheels in Night Black, the powertrain coated in black and the black main frame give the R 1250 RS a particularly appearance.
Meanwhile the main frame coated in Lightwhite and the striking Austin Yellow metallic is the dominant colour, appearing on the fuel tank cover, the rear side sections on the left and right, the upper trim section, the front wheel cover and the radiator trim elements.
The dynamic qualities of the new R 1250 RS are highlighted by means of silver anodised slider tubes, gold brake calipers and a high-end stainless steel engine spoiler.
Option 719 Spezial finish Stardust Metallic
The high-quality paint finish Stardust metallic with metallic effect gives the new R 1250 RS a particularly exclusive touch. It is applied with enormous attention to detail by means of an elaborate painting process that involves gold and glass flakes being mixed into the brown-bronze base colour so as to provide effects when the finish is later exposed to the light. The body finish is to be found on the fuel tank trim elements, the side sections and the top of the front wheel cover – in the R 1250 RS also on the upper trim section.
Painted graphic accentuations in gold round off the overall impression. The main frame and cylinder head covers are finished in Agate Grey metallic matt, giving the new R 1250 RS a pronounced look of refinement in conjunction with the powertrain finished in black and the rear frame. Cast wheels in Night Black and gold brake calipers additionally emphasise the motorcycle’s character.
A supplement to Option 719 Spezial paint finish is the separately available seat in black/brown with contrasting seams and Option 719 Signet.
2019 BMW R 1250 RS
102.5 x 76
At engine speed rpm
At engine speed rpm
Air/liquid-cooled 2-cylinder 4-stroke boxer engine with two overhead, spur gear driven camshafts , a counterbalance shaft and variable intake camshaft control system BMW Shift Cam
Premium unleaded95 RON (option:
Valves per cylinder Ø intake/outlet mm
Ø Throttle valves mm
Closed-loop three-way catalytic converter, exhaust standard EU-4
Full-LED (option:LED daytime riding light)
LED brake light/rear light
Wet clutch with anti-hopping function, hydraulically activated
Constant mesh 6-speed gearbox with helical gearing system
Frame construction type
Two-section frame concept consisting of main frame with bolt-on rear frame, load-bearing engine.
Front wheel control
Rear wheel control
Cast aluminium single-sided swing arm with BMW Motorrad Paralever, WAD spring strut, continuously adjustable spring preload by means of hand wheel, rebound-stage damping adjustable by hand wheel (Option: Dynamic ESA Next Generation)
Spring travel, front/rear mm
Castor(unladen weight according to DIN) mm
Wheelbase(unladen weight according to DIN) mm
Steering head angle(unladen weight according to DIN) °
‘Tis the season to find a Schuberth or Held product for a heck of a deal.
Begin press release:
It’s the SCHUBERTH North America and Held Biker Apparel’s BIG Parking Lot Sale on Friday, November 30th and Saturday, December 1st! During this sale you’ll find everything you need for urban, sport-touring, cruising, or adventure riding. From tinted visors and accessories for your SCHUBERTH helmet to get you ready for riding reason to Held riding apparel and bags, this free event has something for everyone. The event kicks off Friday at 9am until 3pm and Saturday at 9am and ends at 3pm. The festivities are taking place in the parking lot at SCHUBERTH North America in Aliso Viejo, click here for directions: SCHUBERTH Parking Lot Sale.
SCHUBERTH will have unbelievable deals* on discontinued colors and graphics in different models to choose from. Held biker apparel will have amazing prices* on gloves, riding gear, and a limited inventory of riding bags!
*ALL SALES ARE FINAL (No exchanges or refunds and No warranties offered)
No parking fees, no entry fees, just walk on up to this free event and shop to your heart’s content. The sale will be a great way to spend a Friday or Saturday and help get you excited for riding season. Not sure about the size helmet you wear? Step into our mobile showroom to get fitted and while you are inside you can see our current portfolio of helmets and the variety of colored and tinted visors we offer.
Located at 33 Journey, in Aliso Viejo, CA, 92656; no matter if your favorite place to ride to is Cook’s Corner, Hell’s Kitchen, Palomar Mountain, down PCH, Jackson State Forest, the Sequoia National Forest, or Ranchita to Borrego Springs, SCHUBERTH North America and Held Biker Apparel will have you covered.
About SCHUBERTH North America
Helmet manufacturer SCHUBERTH is based in Magdeburg, Germany. They have been designing and manufacturing high-end head protection systems since the early 1950s. With their wide range of innovative products, the company is a world leader in motorcycle and motorsport helmets as well as protective helmets for industrial, fire service, police, and military use. For more information please visit www.schuberth.com.
In either setting, these risers make the ‘Wing more comfortable and competent than when it rolled off the showroom floor – during parking-lot maneuvers, flowing through corners and out on the open road.
Tour Performance Duo Position Handlebar Relocation Adaptersare simply installed between the motorcycle’s handlebars and their mounts, perfectly integrating with stock components. When set in Sport mode, the adapters elevate each bar 5/8-inch, relocate the handgrips 3Ž4-inch forward and place them 1-1/4-inch farther apart, offering optimal ergonomics for fully-engaged riding and making the bike feel even lighter on its feet. When set in Touring mode, the Duo Position relocators also move the bars 5/8-inch higher, but bring the grips 2-3/4-inch closer to riders, allowing ‘Wing pilots to sit back in the saddle with more relaxed arms, neck, shoulders and back.
The strong, light adapters are machined from 6061 T-6 aluminum and have drain holes in their recessed mounting bores to eliminate corrosion from pooling water. They also feature a hard-coat, black-anodized finish and come with high-grade 10.9 hardware. To reduce cost and complexity, everything integrates with the Honda’s original wiring, cables and hydraulic lines, so messy, time-consuming re-routing and fluid bleeding are not required.
The Duo Position Handlebar Relocation Adapters don’t adversely affect the Wing’s unique double-wishbone front suspension system. They’re also engineered to perfectly integrate with the Honda’s tank-top controls. Meticulous fit testing ensures that the Heli-bolstered handlebars still move freely from lock-to-lock and steer clear of the bike’s wide windscreen.
Since 1987, HeliBars has custom-engineered more than 80 different applications that greatly improve the ergonomics on bikes of every genre: ADV, cruiser, naked, retro, sport, and sport-touring, standard and touring machines — without changing their overall looks — allowing motorcyclists to venture further and more often in greater comfort.
HeliBars products are designed, tested and proudly manufactured in the US of A. They’re backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee via Heli’s 30-day return policy, and come with a one-year warranty.
For more information about HeliBars comfort solutions, to find a dealer or place an order directly, please visit HeliBars.com or call 800-859-4642, then visit the company’s Facebook page, YouTube channel and Twitter postings.
The Ducati Supersport is being recalled because their mirrors may vibrate too much, affecting their usability. The recall affects 1,676 motorcycles, including both the base model and the Supersport S version, from model years 2017 to 2019.
According to recall documents released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, certain frequencies created by a combination of vehicle and engine speeds as well as gear position, may cause the mirrors to vibrate enough to distort visibility of the reflection.
The problem was first identified in September 2018 as a result of ongoing testing by Ducati North America. The North American branch alerted the parent company which decided to initiate a recall on Nov. 8.
Ducati dealers will install redesigned mirrors on recalled Supersports. The new mirrors add a reinforcement plate behind the mirror (pictured in green below) that should reduce vibration. Unfortunately, the new parts are not expected to arrive until February.
If you’ve been thinking about trying an EagleRider tour but have been on the edge because of pricing, now’s the best time to give it a try.
Begin press release:
Retailers may look forward to holiday shopping every year but travel companies are fast becoming the biggest beneficiaries of the season of giving. Experiences have quickly become one of the fastest-growing segments of the gift industry, as research has shown experiences make us happier than consumer goods do. And with the growth of experiential gift options – from gift cards to subscription services to actual travel bookings – some of the leading American travel companies have learned to capitalize on the trend with incredible holiday promotions.
EagleRider, the world’s largest motorcycle travel company, is offering a 50% discount on motorcycle rentals for winter getaways. For a rental of a new Harley that normally costs $149 a day, EagleRider is only charging $79 per day.
“The growth of the experience economy has been incredible for us because these consumers want exactly what we offer: authentic adventures on the wide open road with some help from experienced professionals,” said Chris McIntyre, CEO and Co-Founder of EagleRider. “We have always delivered premium experiences for people and it’s exciting that such a business can still thrive today.”
If you’re interested in sharing more about the gift of riding, please visit: www.eaglerider.com.
Maverick Viñales (Yamaha Factory Racing) took the first honours of 2019 track action at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, setting the quickest time of 1:31.416 to head 2018 World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) by 0.302, with Valentino Rossi (Yamaha Factory Racing) third on the timesheets.
Onlookers also witnessed Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team), Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and others get to grips with their new machines – although it was an earlier end to the day than anticipated after rain cut action short in the late afternoon.
The day also began with similar weather problems, with the skies dry but the track a little damp, and that delayed proceedings a little. Once it did get underway, the day ushered in a new era.
At the Repsol Honda Team, Marquez was a threat near the top for much of the day and the reigning Champion had two other black-liveried bikes in the garage – a 2019 development bike and an all-new bike for the coming season.
But arguably the biggest talking point from the test was Lorenzo’s debut on an RC213V machine. The five-time World Champion didn’t head out until around 1pm local time, but eventually completed 30 laps before rain stopped play at around 15:20.
Still not up to full fitness after his wrist injury, Lorenzo ended Day 1 with the 18th fastest time; his 1:32.959 was 1.543 off Viñales as he begins his adaptation from Ducati to Honda.
“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to try everything we had planned to, as the track was still half-and-half in the morning and it started raining again later in the afternoon. So we only did 25 laps. Anyway, we tried three different bikes, starting with the current one but moving immediately to two other bikes, each with slightly different specifications. It was a positive test; there’s still a lot of work to do but we’re on the right path and the first feeling is good. Tomorrow we’ll continue with the same plan, trying to understand the bike’s balance because it changed a bit, and we still have to test the other small modifications. Pre-season just started, so we look forward to improving step by step.”
Viñales was the later improver to take to the top. The Spaniard’s main focus was on the engine, and he began with some time on the ‘old’ bike before changing to a new engine option which helped put him on the top of the timesheets.
“We tried to make a step forward with the engine, and I just felt really good going out. We still need to amend the engine in terms of acceleration, because the engine is different from what we had during the 2018 season. We need to keep going and I’m really happy. Tomorrow we might have another engine with another step. Maybe we will try that, but I’m quite happy with what we have now, so I want to make laps and set up the electronics really well, because it changes a lot over the whole track and we didn’t have time to do it today. I did my best lap with the new engine. I feel the direction we’re going in is the right one, because I feel much better in the corners, which is where we needed to improve, so now we can focus on acceleration.”
Teammate Valentino Rossi, meanwhile, was also near the top – and he had positive things to say about the engine he tried, that it stresses the tyre less. He also gave a peek of what he’ll be working on tomorrow – another spec.
“Today we tried one (engine) and tomorrow we’ll try the other one, which is similar but different. Tomorrow, the most important thing is try the second spec. For me, these two tests are not crucial, but are important. We have time until next February to choose the engine, but in this test we can give a good indication to work more in one way.”
Ducati was a slightly different story, with 2017 and 2018 runner-up Andrea Dovizioso left a little frustrated after Day 1. With no dry laptimes from the weekend as a reference, the Italian worked on an updated GP18 to lay down some laps to use as a comparison for the new bike – but then it rained.
Tomorrow the number 04 will be looking to get that base and then begin work in earnest if the weather proves better, but he did finish Day 1 only 0.001 off Rossi.
“Unfortunately the day wasn’t very productive because in the morning, with the track surface still partially damp, there weren’t the conditions to go out on track. We had to wait a lot, in the end we didn’t do many laps, and in addition we had to prepare a base set-up with the 2018 bike, because during the race weekend we were unable to lap in the dry. The tests we had scheduled must be done well and in a precise way, because the decisions we will take during these tests will have an effect on the definition of the bike we will use next year. We wanted to do a good back-to-back test but when we were ready, in the afternoon, it began to rain. Tomorrow morning, we hope to find the track dry and to be able to lap all day.”
On the other side of the garage, newcomer Danilo Petrucci described it as the first day at school as he debuts in factory colours, and had no negatives to report back.
“My first day in the factory team was a fantastic feeling, for me it was like the first day at school! The team welcomed me so well and I immediately felt at ease with them. We were able to work with both bikes, and it’s a pity the rain came when I was lapping strongly and there was a lot of rubber on the track. We did a lot of laps with used tyres and we were quite quick. The new bike is an excellent starting point and doesn’t have any negative aspects, but I’ll also have to work to improve my riding style. It was a good start and I hope to continue this way also tomorrow.”
Test rider Michele Pirro, meanwhile – the only rider to crash on the opening day – headed out on a GP19 for 19 laps to set the tenth fastest time, 0.804 from the top.
“Today we did several tests on various components and we gathered some useful information, but unfortunately the weather wasn’t much help and we started our laps late and finished early. However, we’ve already been able to identify the path we have to follow over the winter months, and this is a positive fact. Unfortunately, I also crashed because the shoulder I injured at Mugello is not quite right yet and even though the painkillers have an effect, I don’t always have total control of the situation. When you have this type of physical problem, these things can happen, but it’s just a matter of gritting my teeth until the end of the month and then I’ll have an operation to finally resolve the situation.”
Behind Dovizioso, LCR Honda Castrol’s replacement rider Stefan Bradl completed the top five after 51 laps, putting in a 1:32.015, with teammate Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) a little further down the timesheets in P13.
In sixth came one of the most impressive performances of the day from new team on the grid Petronas Yamaha SRT. Franco Morbidelli, fresh from being crowned 2018 Rookie of the Year, was only two tenths off Rossi and using a hybrid of Johann Zarco’s former 2018 bike with a new engine from the factory.
“It has been a great first day, I felt good with the bike as soon as I got in it and the connection with the team is really good. I managed to get some laps in this afternoon that were solid and fast. I have more time to find in my riding, as I get to know the bike and understand its strengths and weaknesses, to get the most out of this test. I have been surprised how smooth the Yamaha is to ride and how easy it is to understand.”
And on his first ever outing on a MotoGP machine, teammate Fabio Quartararo was able to get 38 laps under his belt to set a quickest time of 1:33.850 – 2.434 off Viñales. The biggest change? The Frenchman reported it was the power – and where he has to brake in the premier class compared to the intermediate.
“The first day of the test has gone really well. It was a shame we didn’t get to do more laps because of the conditions, which weren’t the best, but I am happy because each time I went out onto the track I improved. So far in the middle of the corner and the exit we are quite strong but I am losing time in braking. The team are encouraging me to believe in the brakes because at the start you think you’re not going to be able to get stopped but in the end you can do it and I enjoyed that. The most impressive thing about my first outing on the Yamaha was the power, especially on the first straight, and also the brakes. Hopefully we can have good conditions tomorrow because we want to work on braking and improving the feeling.”
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was satisfied and positive after Day 1, too. The Spaniard was working on updates and hopes the machine will be the basis of their 2019 bike, and he was up the timesheets from early in the track action and eventually finished up in P7.
“These tests started off on the right foot. In addition to the technical upgrades, there were some new faces in my garage: crew chief Antonio Jimenez and electronics engineer Gianluca Giorgini. From this point of view, the initial impact was more than good. The engine upgrade that I tested today also had some positive sides, especially in terms of power distribution management. This is an aspect that should let us be more effective in conditions with very used tyres, in other words, in the final laps which are often the decisive ones in the race. In any case, I want to delve farther and compare the different configurations calmly in order to avoid any rushed decisions.”
New teammate Andrea Iannone also took to the RS-GP for the first time. The Italian was only able to get 15 laps under his belt to as he ended the day in P19, while test rider Bradley Smith was able to get to grips with his new bike – 17 laps completed for the British rider, with a best time of 1:33.709.
Behind Aleix Espargaro and Petrucci was the hero of the hour for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing on Sunday: Pol Espargaro. The Spaniard was positive after Day 1 and ended up P9, putting in 35 laps due to the decreased track time and eager to go again tomorrow. The focus, he says, is currently on electronics – where KTM could stand to make a key gain as they aim to establish themselves as regular runners nearer the podium they took in the Grand Prix on the weekend.
New teammate Johann Zarco, meanwhile, reported a 50/50 day – the Frenchman said he initially struggled to find a base setting but is delighted with the feeling in the team and the factory support; another eager to head out again on Wednesday. Zarco was P17 overall, seven tenths off his new teammate.
The fastest rookie of the day was Francesco Bagnaia, who joins Alma Pramac Racing. He impressed in P11 just behind Pirro, and was focusing on simply putting in the laps and settling in.
“Unfortunately the rain stopped us after only 38 laps. But I’m really very satisfied with this first day. Honestly, we just tried to lap as much as we could. We’ll start working on the setup tomorrow. My first feeling? The bike is impressive.”
His teammate Jack Miller, meanwhile, said his new bike has almost nothing in common with the old and had positive reports – although the Australian’s day was brought to an even earlier end due to a small technical problem they’ll have rectified for Day 2. Miller ended the day in P14.
“Feelings are very positive. I feel that the new much is better in many ways. Unfortunately, we had a technical problem that forced us to stop the test earlier. I can’t wait to get back on track tomorrow”.
Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins slots into P12 after Day 1. A podium finisher on Sunday, Rins was straight back to business in testing and, much like Dovizioso at Ducati and Marquez at Honda, was about to head out to begin some key work when the rain came down. The Spaniard was suited and booted to start evaluating the Hamamatsu Factory’s new engine, but that will now be a task for tomorrow.
“Today was a bit of a shame, because at the beginning we could do some positive work, but when we were ready to go with the new engine the rain arrived and we had to give up. We were still able to put in some laps and try some small things, but we haven’t really tried anything major yet. The grip level was quite low so riding wasn’t easy today, we hope tomorrow will be drier and we can fit more laps in. I have a lot more experience now and this gives me bigger confidence to help develop the bike, we have a lot of confidence in each other when it comes to preparing for next season. Joan has a lot of potential and we’ll see how he continues, he did a great job today.”
Rookie teammate Joan Mir, meanwhile, ended the day in P15 just behind Jack Miller – and only a few tenths off Rins after an impressive first day of ‘official’ experience – having briefly tested the Suzuki in Japan previously.
“My feeling was really good. It’s my first real day as a MotoGP rider, and my first day in Suzuki colours and I’m super happy. I have a great crew around me and I feel comfortable with them and also quite comfortable with the bike, so that’s important. It’s a big challenge to adapt from Moto2 to MotoGP. Compared with Moto2, you spend a lot more time braking, and you must brake very hard. And, of course, the acceleration is much more powerful. Electronics will be one of the things that will require more efforts to learn. It’s only the first day, but I’ve already found it useful to compare info with Alex. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Davide Brivio – Suzuki Team Manager
“It’s been a good day but it could have been better because the rain arrived. Alex wasn’t able to complete his plan to test the new engine, so we hope it will be dry tomorrow so that we can do it then. We still tried some things, which of course is always useful, but we lost a lot of time in the morning due to the conditions. It’s been positive for Joan, he was able to do a lot of laps in the afternoon before the rain, he is learning, understanding, and adjusting. Everything is on schedule with him. He really enjoyed riding and that’s always a good way to start.”
Just behind Mir came Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing). The Spaniard, out of action since his crash at Silverstone, said he was positively surprised how he felt on the bike and his sixteenth-place finish on the first day showed once again that the former intermediate class Champion is made of steel.
His new teammate, Karel Abraham, was four-tenths off him as the Czech rider moves in one leap from a GP16 to a GP18. He spent most of the day settling in, and reported he made some big changes already.
Jonas Folger (Yamaha Test Team) was another man back in action as he begins working as a Europe-based test rider for the Iwata factory. He did 30 laps on the first day and was 0.040 ahead of Quartararo.
The final names on the timesheets were Hafizh Syahrin and Miguel Oliveira, who both begin new eras – as does the Tech 3 team. Beginning a new chapter with KTM, the KTM Tech 3 Racing riders put in 20 and 33 laps respectively as the Malaysian adapts from the Yamaha and Oliveira adapts from Moto2.
Hafizh Syahrin – P24
“I’m very happy to be in the KTM garage and part of this family. We were not able to do many laps today, because this morning the track was still wet and many riders were waiting. I did 20 laps and we planned to continue, but the rain suddenly came nearly two hours before the official end of the test, so we had no chance to do more laps on a dry track. At the moment, I have the feeling the bike is quite good in handling and more powerful, but obviously we need to change some things to adapt to my riding. Anyway, I’m very happy to be riding the RC16 and can’t wait to keep on working with it.”
Miguel Oliveira – P25
“I’m really happy to officially sit on the MotoGP bike for the first time. Everything feels obviously quite strange. We spent our runs on trying to get a sensation for the commands like the throttle, brake, gearing, also rear brake while trying to get an overall feeling for the bike, plus trying to understand a little bit how the electronic works. We were just getting the laps in, so I am happy for that. Obviously we were pretty slow, but I’m sure I’m getting my time to understand and make solid steps.”