Testing the endurance of human and machine against the rigorous strains of time and nature has been at the core of the Dakar Rally since 1978. The world-class, 14-stage sporting event requires riders to travel a grueling course that promises to push both rider and machine to their limits.
This year’s race is once again taking place in South America, where participants are facing a rambling course through Argentina and Chile. For motorcyclists the event can be a pivotal challenge that measures the true difference between a regular racing motorcycle and the ultimate machine.
But what does it take to build a Dakar Rally class motorcycle?
For the Australian Husaberg team, the 2010 rally cycle started out with a Husaberg 570 as the base. The engine was modified by using a copper head gasket in place of the stock gasket for higher reliability.
The gas tank was upgraded to a Safari fuel tank and a rear Safari tank was added giving the motorcycle greater range. Force accessories built several guards to protect vital motorcycle parts from road hazards and one of the guards even holds and emergency water supply. Some other items added or upgraded on the motorcycle include a TM Designs chain guide with 49T Stealth rear sprocket, Barkbuster Storm handguards, TM Designs chain slider and Berg radiator fan.
An iridium phone hook-up was added to keep communication between the rider and the rest of the team. The bike also carries a trip meter, odometer, road book, warning horn and light for the sentinel, 3 antennas GPS, IRI track, an emergency locator transmitter, jumper leads and two xenon headlights.
A Sentinel is a safety warning system that a rider would when approaching a slower rider. The faster rider hits a button and a signal is sent so others in the area will have a warning sound and light alerting them that a faster rider is approaching from behind.
This gives the slower rider a chance to pull over. The system also has a crash button; if a motorcycle crashes in a blind spot the rider should hit the button so a warning is sent so other riders will be aware of the situation they are approaching. The Sentinel also has an optional function called “speedox” that will warn the rider is exceeding the speed limit if the area has any speed restrictions.
The front tire and rim setup includes a Talon hub with an Excel Pro rim and heavy-duty stainless steel spokes, HBG front axle puller. Because of the varied terrain, different front tires are needed for the race. The Australian Husaberg team uses the Michelin Desert, Michelin M12 and Pirelli Scorpion MT410 tires.
Building a motorcycle that can take on the challenges of over 5,000 miles of abrasive sand dunes, rocky terrain, hairpin turns and unexpected jumps clearly requires more than your average motorcycle. Pushing the boundaries of mechanical endurance has been a long process for the Australian Husaberg team.
The Husaberg team consists of Magnus Arnalid, the mechanic for The Australian Husaberg team, rider Garry Connell, chief mechanic Richie Nyhouse and logistics and support vehicle driver Garry “Gazza” Wittle.
*Unfortunately the Australian Husaberg team had to withdraw from the Dakar in Stage 3 after rider Gary Connell suffered a knee injury.