Every year Motorcycle USA sifts through the highlights of another riding season to determine our Best of Awards. While the motorcycle industry as a whole continues to struggle, that doesn’t mean innovation and competition has ceased. Our editorial team decides Best of 2010 winners in 13 categories. For the sake of consistency, we limit ourselves to the ‘10 model year when determining the best motorcycles in nine market segments, including our Motorcycle of the Year. Four other awards we dole out for industry achievements during the past year. In some categories we’ve nominated honorable mentions, but bikes and individuals whose accomplishments also warrant recognition. Now let us point out the highlights of 2010. Drumroll please…
Industry Leader: Mike Kidd, AMA Director of Flat Track Racing
Our 2010 Industry Leader Award goes to AMA Director of Flat Track Racing Mike Kidd for helping to resurrect the oldest, longest-running motorcycle racing series in America. A former champion himself (GNC 1981), Kidd brings a special passion to the sport he has been promoting since 1984.
Flat Track rule changes restricting the dominant Harley-Davidson XR750 have brought more parity to the sport. The move paid off with big results. In the Twins opener at Prescott Valley, a Ducati claimed its first-ever GNC victory. In fact, the first five Grand National races saw five different brands winning a race. Nine different manufacturers lined up to compete in 2010, and at the end of the season, Kawasaki was named the GNC Manufacturer of the Year and the only brand to earn points in all 16 Grand National Main events.
Former GNC champ Mike Kidd (above) has earned our pick for the 2010 Industry Leader award due to his tireless promotion of AMA Flat Track.
Sponsors like K&N Fliters and Motorcycle-Superstore.com helped promote the Daytona Motorsports Group-owned series to new heights – branching into new venues like the successful return to Northern California at the Calistoga Half-Mile. Flat Track racing, which reached its pinnacle of popularity in the 1970s, seems to be gaining prominence. The blue-collar paddock and its riders are some of the most accessible in all of motorsports, with Flat Track boasting a grass-roots appeal at fairgrounds and small speedways across America. Steel boot in tow, Flat Track is sliding forward to a promising future under Kidd’s guidance. – Bryan Harley
Rider of the Year: Ryan Dungey
Ryan Dungey was a big unknown in 2010. The Rockstar Makita Suzuki rider had done very well for himself in the 250 division but it was time for him to move up with the big boys. Facing the likes of James Stewart, Chad Reed and Ryan Villopoto, Dungey showed up at the Anaheim 1 Supercross and nearly won, immediately making the statement that he’s a real contender. He backed that up with two wins and continued to post consistent, high-scoring results throughout the season as other riders succumbed to injuries. He would finish with six wins and the AMA Supercross championship in his first try.
Ryan Dungey laid down an impressive rookie season in the 450 class taking the 2010 Supercross and Motocross Titles.
Next up was the AMA Motocross series where Dungey was even better. His 35% win ratio from the stadiums was only going to get bigger as the top professional racers lined up for the heart and soul of motocross. The outdoor season started slow at the opening round but RD immediately engaged a nine-race overall win streak. By the end of the outdoors he posted 19 individual moto wins and 10 overalls – a whopping 79% win ratio. But that wasn’t going to be the end of his racing season. Motocross of Nations came to America and Dungey was tapped as the Team USA captain. Remember, Dungey made his MXoN debut in 2009 where he claimed the overall individual title. This year he led teammates Andrew Short and Trey Canard to the overall victory, Team USA’s sixth consecutive, by claiming the top podium step in both of his motos.
Ryan Dungey is the golden boy of motocross. He keeps his mouth shut, kicks everyone’s ass and comes out to do it week after week. There were some big injuries in 2010, but they can’t take anything away from RD who weathered the storm and outlasted all challengers – all this in his rookie season on a 450. – JC Hilderbrand
Honorable Mention for rider of the year, Jorge Lorenzo claimed the ’10 MotoGP Championship with nine victories.
Honorable Mention: Jorge Lorenzo
Dungey’s dominance earned him uncontested ROY status in our book, but humbling the greatest of all time is no mean feat, making 2010 MotoGP champ Jorge Lorenzo a worthy honorable mention. The Mallorcan enjoyed a banner year in Grand Prix, claiming the title with the highest point total in GP history. Naysayers will point to Valentino Rossi’s broken leg as the real reason for Lorenzo’s dominance, but the young star got the better of his older teammate before the injury. Clearly getting under his rival’s skin, Lorenzo’s 2010 dominance was remarkable and his duel with Rossi will be one of the most anticipated plotlines of the 2011 season. – Bart Madson
Motorcycle USA Best of 2010 Awards
Best of 2010: Manufacturer and Innovation
Best of 2010: Sportbike and Cruiser
Best Streetbike of 2010: Ducati Multistrada 1200
Best Touring Bike of 2010: BMW R1200GS
Best of 2010: Off-Road, Dual-Sport & Motocross
Best of ’10: Adventure Model & Bike of the Year