‘I once caused a traf­fic jam crash­ing my chop­per!’ BMW’S Ola Stenegärd

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Matt Wildee SE­NIOR EDITOR

Q1 What are you cur­rently rid­ing?

I’ve got a nicely mod­i­fied R ninet, but to­day I was on an R ninet Racer. I love the thing – it gets so much at­ten­tion.

Q2 Which liv­ing mo­tor­cy­clist do you most ad­mire?

Thorsten Hell­mann – he in­tro­duced the world to mod­ern mo­tocross. He was a fac­tory Husq­varna rider and raced for ten years in the USA from the mid-60s. He won ev­ery big race over there, and later started Thor MX cloth­ing.

Q3 Whatõs your worst rid­ing habit?

I some­times fil­ter too fast.

Q4 If you could have one rid­ing su­per-skill, what would it be?

Crazy stand-up wheel­ies! When we’ve been at the track with BMW’S test rid­ers, I get very jeal­ous of what they can do on a bike. It wasn’t part of my up­bring­ing to learn to wheelie prop­erly.

Q5 Whatõs the fastest youõve been on a bike?

197mph on a pro­to­type S1000RR on the Nardo Speed­bowl in Italy while the bike was be­ing de­vel­oped. It was so cool!

Q6 When was the last time you were scared?

When I was rid­ing on the worst set of tyres I’ve ever en­coun­tered. I was rid­ing a bike from a ri­val man­u­fac­turer and I had a huge two-wheel slide in the wet. Later, I tried to pull away from some traf­fic lights and I thought that the clutch was slip­ping. It wasn’t – it was wheel­spin…

Q7 How many miles have you done in the last year?

I ride to work ev­ery day, ex­cept when it’s icy. So 45 miles each day, plus all the other stuff... About 10,000 miles a year.

Q8 Whatõs the high­est mileage youõve cov­ered in a day.

From BMW’S base in Mu­nich to Swe­den overnight, one summer. That was 1000 miles in 24 hours. It wasn’t painful.

Q9 Youõve got two weeks off. Where are you go­ing?

To the Got­land Ring in Swe­den for one week. It is a great track on Swe­den’s most-pop­u­lar tourist is­land. It was only built a few years ago, is per­fect for my track bike and very chal­leng­ing, with lots of tech­ni­cal cor­ners. Then I’d fly to Stur­gis in South Dakota for the an­nual mo­tor­cy­cle rally. Some think Stur­gis is just lots of crazy stuff and drunk peo­ple, but one of the at­trac­tions is the rid­ing, which peo­ple for­get.

Q10 What ir­ri­tates you the most on a bike?

Car driv­ers who don’t look. Plus, the fact that silent ex­hausts mean they don’t hear you com­ing ei­ther.

Q11 What pearl of wis­dom do you have for new rid­ers?

Visit a race­track. Only by rid­ing on the track will you get to know your bike well and ex­plore its lim­its. You can’t do the same on the road, plus track rid­ing gets rid of your crazy side. You leave it be­hind when you ride home.

Ever fallen off in a car park (or some­where equally em­bar­rass­ing)?

Not in a car park, but on a very nar­row road. I came down the hill on my chop­per, which has like, two inches of ground clear­ance, hit a cor­ner and just slid out on this very tight cor­ner. It was so nar­row that a whole line of cars had to wait for me as I blocked the road on this three­me­tre chop­per. Not cool.

Q13 Do you have one item of indis­pens­able rid­ing kit?

My Buco hel­met – it’s an old brand that was re­vived by a Ja­panese com­pany and has a lovely retro look. It was a present and it has been with me for so long.

Q14 Which four peo­ple would you in­vite for a Sun­day blast?

Roland Sands, as it’s just funny as hell to be on the road with him and he’s such a tal­ented rider. Roland Stocker, who was project leader for the R ninet, plus Ronna and Benna Norén – the peo­ple who built the R5 Homage con­cept bike.

Q15 Do you have a tool you could­nõt live with­out?

With­out my welder I would be half a man. I grew up with a welder and with­out one I would strug­gle in life. I could man­age with­out a lathe, just. But how do peo­ple live with­out welders?

Q16 Do you ad­just your own sus­pen­sion?

Yes, I un­der­stand it to a point and can make the ad­just­ments I need to help a bike. I’m not a pro, but I’m OK. Mo­tocross teaches you ev­ery­thing.

Q17 If you could have one of your old bikes back, what would it be?

My Shov­el­head Har­ley cus­tom which I built over a cou­ple of years. It was beau­ti­ful.

Q18 What would you never buy?

I wasn’t a fan of the Aprilia Moto 6.5, but I don’t hate any bike at all, re­ally. There is noth­ing that can’t be fixed with a grinder and a welder.

Q19 What road or track would you build on your own desert is­land?

I’d build a board track – that would be bitch­ing. A high-banked, 1920s-style board track like the old Dodge City track. There would be noth­ing like it in the world.

Q20 If you ruled the world, what new law would you pass?

I’d make it eas­ier to mod­ify bikes. In parts of Europe, the law makes it hard. When I see how peo­ple strug­gle in places like Ger­many it hurts. I’d pass the Swedish mod­i­fy­ing laws for all coun­tries.

‘It’s funny as hell to be on the road with Roland Sands’

Think he’s a hip­ster? He also de­signed the S1000RR...

Ola is also the man be­hind the R ninet Racer

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