The legendary Paris-dakar rally inspired a generation of stunning production replicas. This is one man’s obsession laid bare
When most of us hear the term ‘race replica’ our thoughts naturally turn to sportsbikes. However there is a whole subculture of competition-inspired machines that owe their existence to a totally different kind of racing activity – the legendary Paris-dakar rally.
The popularity of this gruelling offroad event – especially in Europe – means manufacturers have been building race reps of their Dakar-winning bikes ever since the inaugural rally in 1979. The fact that so many of the winners were closely related to production bikes certainly helped inspire this decision, but throughout the 1980s and 1990s, winning the Dakar carried huge prestige and helped to cement the off-road reputation and world-beating credibility of bikes such as the Yamaha XT500 and BMW R80G/S. These bikes
seeded the UK’S modern obsession with adventure machines.
However, after the event organisers changed the rules and limited the bikes to 450cc, the Dakar replica started to fade out of existence. But a few enthusiasts still remember these bikes with real love. And one such fan is Harry Metcalfe – who invited MCN into his garage to see his collection of Dakar replicas and relive the glory days of the replicas inspired by toughest race in the world. These are his bikes, in his own words.
WHO IS HARRY?
Growing up on a farm, Harry has been riding offroad since the age of 11 and to date his furthest road trip is only “about 100 miles”! In 1998 he founded EVO magazine, and currently hosts the Youtube channel ‘Harry’s Garage’.