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The Aussie flat-track talent steps up to AFT twins class for 2024 thanks to signing with Harley-Davidson.

Aussie flat-track star Max Whale steps up to AFT twins this year, but before the start of the 2024 American Flat Track season he took some time out to tell AMCN’s Matt O’Connell all about his switch to Harley-Davidson.

This is the start of a huge year for you! Tell us all about the changes and stepping up to the twins class, the premier class of American Flat Track.

I’m excited. It’s a completely different bike with longer races and I’ll be riding the Harley-Davidson XG750 for Latus Motors Racing. Harley-Davidson has deep roots in flat track. They built the XG750 after having the XR for so long. The XR was air cooled, whereas the XG is water cooled. It’s a modern 750cc, twin-cylinder, fuel-injected flat-track bike. The frame and tail section is all custom. It’s a special machine.

Max Whale

Max Signed to Harley-Davidson

How have you handled the adjustment to the twin? Has it been difficult at all?

So far I’ve been riding the new Harley about three times a week, working out what I can and can’t do on the bike, making a few mistakes and getting out of shape a few times, but everything has been all-systems-go since I arrived back in the States on 10 January. It’s very different to ride (compared to the singles he previously raced). I think the weight is the biggest thing that caught me off guard. It’s not double the weight but it sure feels like it. It’s lower to the ground and a lot wider. It’s hard for flat trackers to practice regularly. We have to have access to the tracks – but also with our tyres and suspension components, you can’t just go riding all the time. Motocross tracks are a lot more common, but flat tracks are harder to come by.

The first round at Daytona this year will be very different for me. The dirt they use is quite unique, also the track length is much shorter than what we would normally ride. Daytona Bike Week is such a cool event to be a part of, though. I’m really excited to get underway and see how I stack up against the others.

You’ve had five years to learn the trade on a single, with some really impressive results with the factory KTM team – but you look like one of the physically bigger guys out there. Will the twin be easier for you to ride?

I’ve been getting told I will suit a twin – my style is kind of smooth and relaxed. So far it’s felt like an easy step up, but I haven’t raced against anyone yet. It’s hard to get the bike properly ready for Daytona because the track is so small. I’m definitely just trying to get comfortable on the bike before we make any broad changes to the suspension or chassis. I haven’t had a problem with the power. I actually really like it. It will be good having some extra horsepower with my weight and not having to worry about my height on the mile tracks.

Max Whale

How about your living arrangements for this year, where will you be based?

Right now I’m based in Port Orange in Florida, renting a house with three friends – Kody Kopp, Jared Lowe and Hunter Bauer. America has only just come out of winter, so renting this place in Florida to train and get ready for the season has been really beneficial. We’re all motivated and push each other along. Normally I live in Illinois, about 40 minutes from St Louis. It’s got those small-town vibes but there is no ocean. I miss that. The team is based in the Pacific North West in Washington State, it’s a big distance. So I think the team will stay on the east coast for a while instead of going back and forth.

We’ve seen a few changes for flat track this season – your factory KTM team pulling out of singles and also Estenson Racing dropping back to a single-rider effort in the twins and singles classes. Yeah, the KTM team withdrawing from singles is a big blow. Kody is still riding a KTM 450 in singles, but he has put his own team together – Latus Motors will be helping him out as well, so we are still teammates in a way. I didn’t want to change too many things so it will be great staying together like this.

Is there still a big buzz about competing in the USA on a Harley?

Yeah! We go to a lot of races and a lot of people ride Harleys to the events. This year it’s me and one other rider on a Harley, so it’s an opportunity to build a good fan base – but I’ve got to get the results, of course. My team is awesome. George, the team owner, he’s putting a lot into it. Having the right people around me is also a big confidence boost. I also think a change is a good thing, I’ve been riding a single for five years. This year is a new adventure and the change in scenery with switching teams has really given me a big boost. I’m really pumped for the year. I’m the first Australian to ride a twin in American Flat Track since Michael Kirkness and to be on the orange and black, it’s pretty sweet!