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Kalex the bike to beat in Moto2™ this year

Kalex the bike to beat in Moto2™ this year

Kalex’s Alex Baumgartel discusses why the Kalex is THE bike of choice on the Moto2™ grid this year with Motorcycle Racer magazine.

The Kalex is THE bike of choice on the Moto2 grid this year, with 21 of 28 bikes based on the German frame manufacturer’s chassis. In 2014, two Kalex riders battled for the title, eventual winner Tito Rabat, and teammate Mika Kallio from the Marc VDS squad. 

Alex, What has led to the success of the Kalex in Moto2?
First of all we have some good performance from the bike, and everybody heads for the bike that comes out in front, of course. In general I think we can give quite a wide range of set up for each individual rider, so I think one strong point we have is that we can have a wide set up range, to cover different riding styles.

How has the bike changed since the first couple of seasons?
Always there are steps of development, but without changing the character of the bike, front and rear response, ability and grip. The balance front to rear with the Dunlop tyres was quite good even in 2011. Since then, it’s been fine-tuning in all areas: aerodynamics, mechanical stuff, visibility. Also our understanding of the class has become better over the years, with more experience. Over time you get better prepared and get more feedback from individual riders. For example last season we had three different swingarms, developed with an understanding of what would suit different riders, so one would suit riding style A, the stiffness of another is good for B and the other for a type C rider. If you compare for example Tito Rabat’s bike in how it was set up and put on the track compared to Mika Kallio’s – both of whom were fighting for the championship with similar or identical lap times – it was like comparing black to white. In just that one team we saw the biggest difference of all. We’ve made changes for the 2015 machine: aerodynamics for every rider, but general set up and different swingarms are the key. A new development for 2015 is two new swingarms– again the same philosophy.

Which option does a brand new Moto2 rider get?
We have a basic set up for around 70% of the riders that are using Kalex. So, we prepared a basic set up for all the new teams for this season. Then we say to them “OK, you can use this to get a feeling for the machine and to prepare yourself for speed, for tests”. Then they can test different geometries and stuff like that, so that they can to a certain level with the bike itself, become familiar with it. And then the next step is to test the other options, in addition to that basic set up, when the rider is really capable of giving more feedback. From the first test that’s just impossible, you have to have time for the rider to adapt, and also the team. They need to understand how the bike reacts to certain changes. Then we can say “OK, maybe try this option. Now we understand you a little bit, our recommendation would be to use – let’s say – swingarm C with a different link.” Step by step, understanding comes and naturally, at the same time, speed should increase too.

Which other bikes pose a threat this year?
Tech3 had a good season last year and found consistency with their rider, Cardus, who has stayed with the team for this year which always has a positive impact from the development side. Also with Speed Up – that is interesting to look at. Competition will be tight and it’s down to fine-tuning. This class is so close, you need to understand the small details to make the big difference.

Suter are in a difficult position, with one bike and a rookie rider this year. But they’ve said want to come back with a higher range in 2016 and I’m looking forward to that because it was not our plan to fill 60% of the grid – that’s not our target. Dorna had so many requests for Kalex and we had pressure from the teams: “come on, sell to me, sell to me” and in the end we followed their wishes. But that’s not our goal. If nobody is in front of you, the race victory is not so sweet. We want to fight for wins; we come to Grand Prix with a lot of passion and competition is always good. There is always a shiny side and a more unhappy side to things but for us, it’s better like this than the other way round, I have to admit!

For the full story from the latest edition of Motorcycle Racer magazine, which includes Neil Spalding’s take on Ducati’s “wings” and Sam Lowes’ Speed Up machine, Wayne Rainey as Guest Editor, tests of Moto2 machines and much, much more, click on www.motorcycleracer.com

 

Tags:
Moto2, 2015

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