TOAD TALKS: Dakar Rally speed limits – are they a good thing?

With the news that the Dakar Rally could be imposing speed limits for the 2021 event, Visordown wonders whether or not it’s a good move

TOAD TALKS: Dakar Rally speed limits – are they a good thing?

THE Dakar Rally could, if proposals are agreed, impose speed restrictions for motorcycles for the 2021 running of the historic event.

The measures are part of a raft of new safety measures that include re-routing stages, making riders wear airbag vests and introducing a new navigation system that will allow competitors to focus on riding rather than navigating.

The quest to improve safety can only be a good thing; safer races are what we (fans, organisers, teams and riders) want, but are the speed restrictions going to take some of the spectacle away from the world’s toughest off-road race?

Obviously, any true fan of the sport is going to want to see competitors finishing the event, nobody want’s the Dakar to turn into a Running Man-style event where it’s every rider for themselves and the winner is the last one standing. But the organisers are going to have to tread very carefully to not dilute the spectacle of the race too much.

The rally organisers also plan to improve competitor safety by changing the routes bikes take, introducing mandatory airbags and new navigations systems. The new navigation systems and mandatory airbags for riders are especially welcome in my mind, as they could both have a drip-down in tech that could assist everyday motorcyclists in the future. Airbags in other major motorcycle competitions have been commonplace and even mandatory for some years now, and that has only made the kit safer, cheaper and more compact for consumers.

Roadbooks have been around since the dawn of the adventure bike, and while they have moved on in recent years, with some becoming electrically operated, the general idea that you have to glance down to read or roll the page is pretty outdated. The new idea, where the rider receives visual and audible notifications, is bringing Dakar riders something I’ve used when on the road – GoogleMaps and some headphones – for a number of years.

Look, I’m not implying that following a Rally route is as easy as popping in some earbuds and away you go, it’ll obviously be much more complicated than that but anything that allows the rider to focus more on the terrain ahead has to be a good thing!

Would power restricted bikes and top-speed restrictions take some of the shine of the Dakar for you?