Back in 2016 we were approached by Taichi Honda who asked if we would like to help out their Dakar Team. At that point in time we had been working with the motocross team for 15 years with zero failures. Honda has a long history of winning in almost every type of motor racing yet Dakar was still elusive in the current era. Of course we jumped at the opportunity! Below is what a contract with Honda looks like. We are more of a “hand shake deal” when it comes to contractual arrangements while Honda is official on everything. It was cool getting the contract by a global carrier and seeing our name and logo on the contract.
The bikes required a different cable ratio for the clutch lever to start. They also needed mounting threads added for a switch to mount on the top of the RC-8 perch. The brake lever had to be completely built from scratch since it is an application that we never addressed before. This is the type of work that we specialize in here at ARC. We also made the shock linkages out of billet material.
This bike has parts that look almost normal at first but then you notice something is slightly different about it. Check out the carbon kickstand! It is a great honor to be involved with a project of this magnitude. WE ALMOST LOST THE DEAL! We get VERY busy between october 1st and mid december. That is when we stand on the gas and make all the special parts for the super cross teams. There are all the custom levers that fit the top riders’ requirements and then we make a HEAP of factory trinkets. When you look at a starting line for a super-cross main event, just about every bike has something bolted on it that came out of our shop. Exotic titanium fasteners, crazy light washers with holes, pull-down devices, caliper mounts, transponder mounts, these are just a few of the parts and the list goes on.
Taichi ordered 20 sets of the same gear we made 4 years ago. I almost never keep track of the spec’s for something that old. I repeatedly asked for some images of the gear since the picture would show our markings stating the spec. Due to both of us working at the limit, the images never appeared in my inbox. When Taichi stopped by the shop for some gear I said “not done, I need the spec”. I could build it all in a day if I knew what to duplicate. He made a call to Japan and they said that they had some parts on the shelf. I am thinking that I blew the deal and that were going to run stock or something other than ARC since our gear was at least 4 years old.
For nineteen years in a row KTM has won Dakar. They used different bike sizes and riders over the years but always won. Last year Honda almost won but had bike issues just short of victory. This year it all came together for them. There were days when Honda was 1-2-3 on the leader board and days when they were back a few minutes. You could not predict a winner at any stage of the race. After winning the race I was not sure if we had gear on the bike or not, plus I never though I would see the bike. THERE IT WAS! I went to the San Diego super-cross pits to due my rounds and the bike was under the Honda tent, with our gear!
FOUR YEARS OLD and still durable enough to win Dakar! That is the levers, perch and shock linkage.
It looks like a high tech navigation device is missing from the center mount. Everything else is as raced. Track walk was going on when I took these pictures and nobody was around. I took the liberty of sitting on the bike to get an image and see how the bike felt between my legs. This is not something a normal fan can do, ME EITHER. When the guys came back to the semi and saw me sitting on the bike I knew that it was a non-approved maneuver. ...sorry about that! I am trusted with a lot of things but I should have asked before treating a bike of this stature like a kiddy ride at the park.
Ricky Brabec has been a longtime user of ARC products. He grew up in Hesperia, California which is where I spent a lot of time riding in my younger years. I can understand why his desert racing skills are as sharp as they are. Congratulations to Honda and Ricky!!!