American flat track racing is back in the wider public gaze this Thursday when the AFT Pros and some of the most high profile hooligans will race at the X Games in Minneapolis. It is, we understand, being shown live via X Games facebook page. Go to their site for timings.
This is the third year the made-for-tv extreme sports festival has featured flat track. We gather that Harley have paid a substantial 'support' budget to get the sport in front of an enormous audience of Gen Xers and Millennials. Clearly their hope is to establish the brand, and street riding in general, with new generations to replace the loyal but ageing grey beard demographic the brand is so strong with. H-D are playing the long game, heavily supporting the relatively tiny hooligan racing element, to reposition the perception of the brand with a younger audience. X Games has long been linked with freestyle motocross, but it's hard to quantify that to brands selling more bikes. More Fox caps, sure. More Monster energy drink? Undoubtedly. More Honda streetbikes or even CRF450s? Probably not.
The bike that got the big push from Harley in relation to the X Games was the Street 500 and 750, which didn't hit the mark when it came to design or sales (though Harley said sales eventually hit their targets). The most recent model to use the liquid-cooled XG motor, the 2017 Street Rod, is being well received by the mainstream bike press, costs from £6745, in the UK, and $8699 in the US, and seems to be in demand.
The X Games track, in the parking lot of a huge mall in central Minneapolis, looks horrible from what I can make out, but I might be doing them a disservice. The Austin track was horrendous, though. Making temporary flat tracks that can stand heats and mains of 12 or more 750s is incredibly difficult. So expect a spectacle, not a classic.
Have a look at the video below, if you can stand the obtrusive backing track. It's worse than tinnitus (and I talk form experience. Pardon?)
Remember, DirtQuake VI is on ITV4 at 8pm on Wednesday too.