This coming weekend, Tyler O’Hara is hoping to have a big one. The seasoned motorcycle rider heads to Atlanta, Georgia to defend his title as King of the Baggers riding an Indian Challenger after an incredible victory in the series’ inaugural race in 2020. And he will do so just a day later. having participated in an American Flat Track Super TT round at an Indian Scout FTR750– one way or another, this is only the second time he has flown an FTR75o.
As motorsport is making a comeback after pandemic slowdowns and coronavirus restrictions, Atlanta is looking to lead the way after inviting Supercross and Monster Jam to town last month. And this weekend, the Georgian capital welcomes the second round of the American Flat Track followed by the first race of the 2021 King of the Baggers series.
Anyone who is concerned that professional athletes took a step back during the pandemic can guess it again – at least judging by the enthusiasm O’Hara showed when I spoke to him and asked him what it takes to be prepare for this kind of competition straddling two radically different Indians. Motorcycle products.
Asphalt and Fat Bike Specialist Tyler O’Hara
O’Hara is originally from Petaluma, Calif., And owns a impressive career to his credit which gives him a lot of confidence. But as fun as racing bikes may seem, he takes the job seriously, preparing himself mentally and physically for the challenges he will face. When we spoke, he had just finished a session with the chiropractor – it’s hard to imagine the physical level of racing bikes year after year the way he does.
âI’ve raced motorcycles most of my life,â O’Hara said. âI started racing when I was five and my whole family raced, siblings. My dad put me in it, grew up on flat track and started professional Supermoto racing in 2005 and started racing. road racing in 2008. And I rose through the ranks. I raced Superbike for a few years and also raced the V-twin spec series they had with the AMA Pro series. “
Such a long career requires a commitment to maintenance – and not just bikes. After O’Hara mentioned that he ate well with his family, I asked if he passed on the motorcycle genes that are clearly linked to his family to his own children?
âI don’t really push the bikes too hard,â he replied, âI was sort of waiting for them to start bothering me to get in. I bought them a go-kart so we might switch to. four wheels. So I’m just trying to do that. be a role model for my kids in terms of training, doing the right things, living healthyâ¦ Make them pursue their dreams, whatever they are. “
Riding an Indian to the King of Baggers
As much as O’Hara could perfect his body and his mindset to compete at the highest level, he clearly has a lot of respect for the Indian motorcycles he will be riding this year for the Mission Foods S&S Cycle team. Given his experience behind the wheel of Harleys, I asked how the two famous American companies compare.
âThe opportunity to drive a 750 Indian Motorcycles factory is just one you should not miss. So I am very lucky to be riding the best bike ever. “
Regarding the Challenger comparison, he said, âWell, it’s basically night and day. The new modern V-twin is the American-made Indian Challenger. It has all the modern technology with mapping. and motor water. cooled, it buzzes like a sewing machine. It is smooth and very easy to drive, very smooth and linear, the chassis is really nice. It does not wobble, it is very stable under braking, in the middle and at the top. They really did their homework and I would say it’s a very comfortable bike and easy to ride fast. “
An incredible victory in 2020
Even though O’Hara thinks the Indian Challenger is ahead of the pack when it comes to easy and quick driving, the story of how he won the King of the Baggers 2020 racing at Laguna Seca always manages to impress.
âDuring the race, on the warm-up lap, Frankie Garcia was telling me the bike was smoking,â O’Hara recounted, âAnd I just didn’t pay much attention, I just blew it off. the race official came over and tried to stop me at the line, I said there was brake fluid leaking on my pipe. But I told him, ‘It’s good, it’s good, it’s good. I’m fine, let me run. ”
He had crushed the competition throughout practice and qualifying and didn’t want to lose his momentum – but the chickens quickly came home to roost when his rear brakes quickly failed.
âBasically I had the rear brakes until about turn five on the first lap,â O’Hara said. “And then it was one of those races where you did and all the workouts at home where you do front brake drills only and you react and you adjust to the situation … And, you know, I am. just glad everything worked and I have to take care of the work. “
Preparing the Indian Challenger for 2021
No one wants to run with such a dangerous disadvantage and yet O’Hara took the win with aplomb, claiming that being forced to use only the front brakes may have helped him become “hyper-focused” while on the run. throughout the race. Obviously this year his team is hoping to avoid any potential disaster like this, but I also asked O’Hara if they had made any other changes to the bike before the Atlanta race.
âWe made some minor changes, changed the front fork valve to get us more in the middle of the range,â he admitted. âWe were sort of maxed out last year in the race and as the pace on the track increases, usually you want a little more spring stiffness. So we got a little stiffer with the stiffness of the springs. rear springs – just really tweaking it. Made us a tester and I did about 100 laps. The main thing is just to be able to feel comfortable on the bike and ride it to the limit. “
Back on American flat track in Atlanta
But how can you expect to be comfortable enough to pilot a big heavy Challenger cruiser for King of the Baggers and a 750cc Scout for American Flat Track at the same time? Turns out the answer sounds like a lot of work.
âThis weekend at Road Atlanta I’m going to practice at 4:40 p.m. on Friday afternoon until 5:00 p.m. and then we’ll jump in the car and drive an hour and a half to Atlanta Motor Speedway where they have an American Friday. . Flat Track test before Saturday’s race. So I’ll grab the tail, hopefully have a couple of sessions just to feel the bike and see what the grip looks like on the asphalt. “
In a previous practice session, O’Hara told me he had quickly returned to the flat-track swing after nearly a decade since his last outing at Salinas in 2012.
âTo be honest I was like and I said to my dad and I said to the team, ‘This will be my first outing, I’ll take it easy, ‘” he’s laughing. “But of course I go out last and Jared Mees the champion was right in front of me. And I just went with him and the bike was so easy to ride and so smooth and so appropriate for the flat.”
Looking forward to the challenge
Looking forward to the full list of races that make up the expanded King of the Baggers series schedule this year, O’Hara has expressed even more confidence in the bike, his team and his own experience.
âWell, Laguna Seca, this is the most technical track we have on the calendar in terms of elevation, incline and reverse camber,â he recalls. âJust a good road ride. We’ve got a little bit of data from last year and are tracking knowledge and setup. All the other trails, we’re just going to take one session at a time and learn. Luckily I went on. all the tracks we’re going to be racing on, so I have track knowledge and experience. “
But even with a victory at the King of the Baggers last year and what looks like a good chance to win this year’s title – plus the chance to roll over dirt in the Atlanta Super TT – O ‘ Hara recognizes the lucky position he is in. Mission Foods S&S Cycle Team.
“I’m trying to blow up that door,” he said. “Right now it’s open and I’m going to try to blow it up, have a good weekend and have fun and try to finish on this podium.”
“Go fast, take risks” is what we say. Stay tuned, I’ll go.
Sources: totalmotorcycle.com, floydsofleadville.com, indianmotorcycle.com, americanflattrack.com, roadracingworld.com and motorbiscuit.com.
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