In conversation with Wolfgang Fischer on the Hero Motosports Dakar bike
Sirish: Why did you change the fairing design?
Wafi: If you look at the bike there’s a different design. It doesn’t have a closed front fairing anymore, everything is shaped a little bit sharper. In motorsport, there is always development going on and this is the evolution of the bike that we had for Dakar 2017, with a focus to improve riding abilities for technical terrain and to make the bike easier handling in cornering over rough terrain.
Sirish: Is it lighter, the front end?
Wafi: No, you can hardly make a light bike that will need to go over 8000 kilometers in a Dakar rally.
Sirish: So how does it help with technical stages?
Wafi : With the weight distribution. The concentration was to bring the weight more in the center and lower in the bike. This is the main focus when you want to have an optimized handling bike.
Sirish: So the fuel tank is moved from the back to the front?
Wafi: The rear tank is shorter, front tanks are bigger and going down to the bottom and still we wanted to keep the bike as slim as possible as it was before. To get a good ergonomics for the rider so he is not disturbed by anything standing on the bike, and this we have achieved. The bike is one of the slimmest and most compact rally bikes.
Sirish: How does the fairing help in maneuverability and on technical stages?
Wafi: Not at all. The fairing mainly comes in more classic rally bikes and it was a more closed fairing but at the moment, everything is a little bit more motocross style – not lighter overall because you can hardly reduce so much weight.
Sirish: But looking light?
Wafi: Bringing down the mass is a different point. In the former Dakar times it was more about the stability of the bike and for high-speed constant riding, now-a-days it is getting more and more technical, the riders are making a difference in the technique of riding on a fast straight line, in technical terrain, in the mountains, in the cornering, over stones there you make a difference when you have a bike which is helping you as a rider. So maybe you sacrifice a bit of stability and you gain in handling. Also the aerodynamics, like protection of the rider in the wind but, like I said this is always a compromise.
Sirish: But everybody is moving towards this clear front end, why is that?
Wafi: This is the same for everyone as the rider is more technical, more hard riding.
Sirish: So they can look through to the front?
Wafi: They can look through; they don’t have any disturbance in the front so if you ride fast and straight, the closer, the better it is. In a more technical ride, the more open, the more motocross style of bike is the main difference.
Sirish: And is it on purpose that you made it look very mean and aggressive, or it just happened?
Wafi: When you always want to have a race bike looking aggressive and this is what we gained with the form following function of course, you are limited to the form that to make the bike work, as you think of it, as we have a very nice design support by Hero, we could also achieve a new aggressive look.
Sirish: Was there a lot of interaction between the CIT engineers and your technicians in the development of this bike?
Wafi: Obviously like we always said this is a partnership and we are working very closely together and everything.
Sirish: Do you have any engineers from CIT now working at Speedbrain?
Wafi: I don’t give details about how and where who is working.
Sirish: The engine is it new or is it the carryover from last year?
Wafi: Like I said the bodywork is new, the design, the tank, the fairings, the front structure is new. It is the evolution of the bike what we had and not a completely new bike, it’s an evolutionary step of the bike which was at 2017, obviously there are some parts that are the same.
Sirish: So it was never an issue of you needing more horsepower and anything like that? That was always enough?
Wafi: there is always an issue of getting the maximum power and the maximum reliability. And as Dakar is an Endurance race we don’t win the race when we have plenty of horsepower more, we win the race when you have reliability.
Sirish: Reliability is the main thing?
Wafi : Of course you need to have enough to be fast, there is no question about it but, there is always a balance between weight, power and reliability. This is easy to say but very difficult to achieve. And this is many years of experience from many dedicated guys who are doing the right things.