MCN’S 20 QUESTIONS
‘I once caused a traffic jam crashing my chopper!’ BMW’S Ola Stenegärd
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