News 15 Dec 2016

The Point: Tear-off ban

Industry insiders share their opinion on the controversial rule change.

The controversial tear-off ban to be implemented by Motorcycling Australia in 2017 has sparked major debate through motocross communities across the country. With a variety of mixed views on the rule change, has gathered thoughts of several industry insiders to share their opinions on the topical regulation.

Image: Jeremy Hammer (Foremost Media).

Image: Jeremy Hammer (Foremost Media).

Peter Doyle (Motorcycling Australia):
There’s a personal opinion and there’s the process that it went through. I came back to Australia in 2014 and this ban was already approved. It must have been around 2013 that is started to come up, and they were starting to move towards a ban that was actually supposed to come in January 2016 if you go back through the minutes. It was brought in by the motocross commission, it went through the normal process and has been out there for a number of years. I got involved in discussions with some of the goggle manufacturers here in Australia through the motocross championship during 2015, it appeared from a perspective of sales and stock they had in the market that they didn’t have much communication with them. I actually led a proposal to defer it for one year, which I managed to get through – hence the delay to 2017. That’s the process that was followed, it was brought in by the motocross commission and the previous Motorcycling Australia (MA) management, and it was approved by the board back in 2013. Everybody has been well aware of it, there’s been lots of debate and many of the tracks in the country, including Conondale and Ballarat. I spoke with the Broadford management recently, and they were going to ban tear-offs if MA didn’t. There’s a number of tracks around Australia who are supporting this sort of ban. A couple of countries in Europe have obviously headed in that direction, I think the people who brought it in were obviously considering environmental issues in the future, they were probably hoping it would speed up development of roll-offs and biodegradable tear-offs. Unfortunately, biodegradable tear-offs haven’t come a long way, so I guess that brings us to where we are now. My personal opinion – and my personal opinion doesn’t matter because I’m only one person in the organisation – is that I wouldn’t have done it. I would’ve thought a lot more about it and about other disciplines, but that’s subjective. It’s been out there for three or four years and everyone has had plenty of time. Four weeks or five weeks before the rule’s implementation isn’t the right time to be talking about it, it’s been publicly known for three years. There’s been suggestions of banning it for motocross and not for supercross, I think if there’s going to be a ban, it needs to be a blanket ban. If there are specific circumstances where it doesn’t work, then you’re looking at an exemption process. I don’t think any riders in enduro have a problem with it, I know riders in Europe don’t have a problem with it, and I think everyone in Australia had a long, long time to think about it, and the keyboard warriors are only coming out now to discuss it.

Joel Ryan (Ficeda Motorcycle Accessories):
I think that anything we need to do to keep riding areas open, we need to do. I think it’s an interesting stand that MA has taken this approach, but at the end of the day, throwing tear-offs on the ground is a very old-school thing. In this day and age, you just can’t get away with it. Whatever we’ve got to do to keep riders in riding areas, I think is important. It absolutely has an impact on us, we’ve worked really hard on developing the Prospect film system – which is a 50mm film – it’s the best system we’ve ever released. We’ve put a lot of development into this goggle – we built the goggle just so we could put the film system on it. Obviously we’ve worked with tear-offs in racing for a very longtime and it’s been a big part of our business, but now we’ve need to evolve and the future is in roll-offs. We’re really lucky that we have really solid products on the market. It actually makes it a lot easier on race day, the most work I’ll ever have on a race day is if the weather is sort of in between. Riders will maybe need roll-offs or maybe need tear-offs, in this case, it’s just the roll-offs – there’s no question about it. Our riders have the choice to put the film system onto any lens – if they want to put it on a grey lens, a rose lens, then that’s fine. I think everyone will forget about it, everyone is in the same position and everyone has to use film systems. I think supercross is going to be really interesting, I don’t know if anything has been specifically said about supercross and there being an exception because it’s an enclosed circuit. But I think there’s enough quality film systems on the market these days that riders have a good choice of products and viable options other than tear-offs. I don’t think it’s going to impact the sport at all. We knew this was on the supplementary regulations 12 months ago and we’ve only started this discussion in the last few weeks, which is crazy. A lot of people have mentioned biodegradable tear-offs, but it’s just not an option – you’re talking about something that might degrade in a matter of years instead of 10 years, it doesn’t solve the problem of tear-offs laying on the ground after a race meeting. That’s not to mention the lack of quality when using them.

Kyle Blunden (KTM Motocross Racing Team):
I think that being a motorsport and all that, we do have to be very environmentally conscious. I think the tear-off ban brings that element a little bit closer to us again, and I think it’s something that was sort of inevitable – it’s a change that’s been coming for sometime now and it’s finally hit us. There are a lot of guys that will be uncomfortable going to the roll-offs, I’m pretty sure in saying that most of them have had a malfunction with a roll-off system at some point. I think most goggle companies have been working hard since something like this has been on the cards, and the roll-off systems have come a long way in recent years, especially in the last two years. I think it’s the same as any change, there’s going to be resistance, but it is what it is. We do need to be conscious of the environment, it’s something that we just need to accept and it’s coming – it’s happening – we just have to make the most of it I guess. I think it’s something we need to be aware of, and be a little more proactive in making sure the boys are on top of it with their goggles and that sort of stuff. It is kind of their role, and a lot of goggle manufacturers have people who come with goggles to make sure the boys are prepared. But it is something that we need to be proactive to make sure that all of our staff have the correct goggles and stuff like that with them for anyone who needs to come during a race, or if they need to change after a parade lap. We’re definitely going to have to be more focused in that area for the opening rounds, for sure. For anybody to continue riding in tear-offs is probably not a great idea, if they’re banned in racing, you may as well not practice with them. All elements of what you’re racing in, you should probably be practicing in – I would definitely be recommending the boys start practicing with their roll-off systems.

Image: Jeremy Hammer (Foremost Media).

Image: Jeremy Hammer (Foremost Media).

Dylan Long (CDR Yamaha):
I’m not a massive fan of, I don’t mind roll-offs, but you know, it’s harder to see out of them and little kids can’t fit them into their helmets properly – little kids are going to struggle using roll-offs. Just generally, to run roll-offs on every single track isn’t something I’ve really wanted to do, but I’ll do what I have to do. The goggles that I run have a really good roll-off system, so it won’t be a big drama, but I just feel that it didn’t really need to be changed, to be honest. It doesn’t really matter with roll-offs, anyone can set them up, but they do have a lot of malfunctions, just because they’re roll-offs. Without having one or two tear-offs for start straight, if you’re buried in the pack and get that big clump of dirt on your goggles, they’re generally going to stuff up – they usually do. I do run roll-offs sometimes and I don’t mind them, but I usually have a tear-off or two for the first corner so I don’t get swamped with dirt. You know, it’s going to be a lot more expensive for a lot of people, a lot of people who have to pay for them are just going to stick it out and go to ride parks and stuff like that, just because it’s going to be cheaper. The sport is pretty expensive as it is, and the guys that don’t mind the roll-offs shouldn’t really be saying anything, because if the tear-offs stay, they get to keep their roll-offs anyway. I’m not a massive fan of roll-offs, I’ve just had a lot of bad luck with them. I’m sure everyone is going to step up with how they make their roll-offs now anyway. We as a sport could probably handle the tear-off thing a bit better in terms of picking them up – I was thinking of ways where they could charge a little extra for entry fees and pay someone at the end of the day to pick them up. $5 or $10 each person on the entry fee, you could pay some a certain amount of money to go and pick them up – stuff like that probably would’ve helped out a lot.

Dean Porter (MX Nationals privateer):
For me, it’s not really a bother because I run roll-offs pretty much everywhere – every time I run tear-offs, I pull them all off at once. I don’t use them, but I think it’s a bit stupid, but it is what it is, they’ve got the rule so you can’t change it. A lot of the guys prefer the tear-offs over the roll-offs, I know some guys that have said they hate roll-offs so much that they can’t really ride with them – you only get that strip of vision. I know there’s brands now that have wider strips, but I’ve they also break a lot too. If you break the string and that, you have to take your goggles off and race without them – it’s more danger for all the riders then. You should be able to choose whether you want to run roll-offs or tear-offs. I’m lucky that I get support through Spy, but I’d say the cost would be pretty similar – you go through more tear-off’s than what you do roll-off films. The roll-off setup is more expensive, but I think the rolls would last longer. I don’t think they would be too much more expensive, a packet of tear-offs is around $30 or something, and rolls are around $10. I’ve heard that a brand makes biodegradable tear-offs, if they’re not invented, then someone should do it. I remember in America that after a race meeting, Spy had a thing where you got a shirt and walked around the track at the end of the day picking up all the tear-offs off the track. They should try that at the big events where lots of tear-offs are used, I don’t know, maybe that would help. If a goggle company like Spy or Oakley gave away some shirts at the end of the day, fans would probably hangout, walk the track, pick up some tear-offs and clean the place up a bit.