Building the next generation of riders and professional motorcycle road racers isn’t an objective with an easy blueprint. The American professional motorcycle road racing scene has struggled with this in recent years, though things are improving. As with most long-term enterprises, an entire thriving ecosystem needs to be in place with coaching, areas to practice, and the proper tools to help them train. Just as students need pencils and books to learn, budding racers need the right motorcycle, with the 2021 Ohvale GP-2 190 as an available example.
Minimotos are the weapon of choice for youth-oriented racing programs in European nations such as Spain or Italy, giving kids the opportunity to develop their riding abilities at the kart track before saddling up on full-sized sportbikes. And that’s for a good reason—all-important skills like throttle control, cornering, trail braking, body positioning, and much more can be honed at safer speeds. So, it doesn’t come as a shock that the Spanish and Italian national anthems are played more often than not on MotoGP podiums over the years.
It’s no secret that some of our favorite MotoGP, WSBK, and MotoAmerica stars first dragged knees on lilliputian machines, and still do—several recently opting for Ohvale machines. Members of the pro paddock were surely lured in by the race bodywork, inverted fork, radial-mounted caliper, and bevy of tasty CNC-machined bits that speak to their pedigree and purpose. The Ohvale is a far cry from the modified kiddie dirtbikes and hopped-up Groms that routinely terrorize kart tracks.
And that’s on the surface. Ohvale designers take things a step further by replicating the sprocket position, chain pull, trail, and offset figures of modern supersports, achieving a 53/47 front/rear weight bias common among today’s sportbikes. In short, a proper motorcycle on a small scale.
None of that went unnoticed by American roadracer Brandon Cretu, co-owner of Rise Moto, the exclusive Ohvale importer in the United States, whose core mission is to elevate roadracing on the homefront. Since importing right the tools for the job, he’s also been instrumental in developing the four-round MotoAmerica Mini Cup. The Ohvale spec-series coincides with select stops on the resurging MotoAmerica Superbike Championship calendar.
As a man with a well-heeled résumé that includes multiple appearances at the Isle of Man TT, Macau GP, Northwest 200, Ulster GP, and endurance racing at 24 Hours of Le Mans and Suzuka 8 Hours—he knows what it takes to fire up a racing career.
That brings us to Ohvale’s range-topping GP-2 190. It is the most sizeable minimoto in the Italian brand’s lineup, flexing bigger 12-inch wheels, a larger steel-trellis frame, and roomier ergonomics. The GP-2 complements the more diminutive GP-0 line, including the GP-110, GP-0 160, and GP-0 190, which achieve the same training goals but are sized for the wee ones.
Designers tugged and pulled at the GP-2’s chassis to create a more spacious motorcycle, offering up more front-to-back room in the short 28.5-inch saddle, a longer reach to the adjustable clip-ons, and added some distance between the seat and the three-position adjustable footpegs. Geometry tweaks follow suit, with a 0.5-degree increase in steering angle, along with an aluminum swingarm that’s nearly an inch longer and repositioned to ensure proper chain pull.
Of course, it’s a snug fit for my 5-foot 10-inch dimensions, though not too dissimilar from the contortionism associated with fully-faired sportbikes. Unavoidable bear-on-bicycle comparisons aside, once you’ve set out, it feels almost, well, normal.
Despite its clownish proportions, the GP-2 is not here to amuse you. It is a push-button, miniaturized racebike ready to attack any kart track in the land. Pitbike or toy, it is not; this tool will make any rider better at their craft.
The path to becoming a better rider begins by kickstarting the air-cooled four-valve Daytona 190 single-cylinder engine. It pumps out around 25 horsepower, though Ohvale doesn’t cite specific performance figures, and it features an excellent Arrow full-exhaust system that belts out a baritone tune. Things are kept old-school with a 28mm Keihin carburetor that delivers crisp fueling at the racing throttle, adding to its enthusiastic personality. Simple is the name of the game, and that bodes well if your crew chief happens to be you or your parent.
Bolted in a package that weighs a mere 157 pounds (dry), those ponies feel properly quick on a tight, close-quarters kart track. Fun as this engine is, what it teaches is crucial. Foundational throttle control skills come into focus, as the Daytona 190 can make the grippy Pirelli Diablo Rosso Scooter tires squirm and squiggle when carrying decent lean angles—not unlike what happens on full-sized machines.
Neutral is at the bottom of the four-speed gearbox (N-1-2-3-4), the same as a MotoGP machine. This eliminates the long throw in the middle of 1st and 2nd gears caused by positioning neutral between them, as on most motorcycles. Our test unit lacked the optional EVR slipper clutch, meaning that banging downshifts required proper clutch feathering and rev-matching, or you’d get some severe wheel-hop. While the EVR unit will sort out the situation correctly, having that skill in your bag of tricks is always positive. Although shifting is on the stiffer side, hit the lever with conviction and it won’t let you down.
The star of the Ohvale GP-2 show is a chassis that highlights the good, the bad, and the ugly of your riding. At first, it is sensory overload. All of your usual inputs or poor techniques that heavier, more powerful machines might hide are amplified on a machine this small.
Bad habits get the spotlight shone on them immediately; adding too much weight to the bars by not distributing weight through your core and legs? The front end will protest loudly near the apex. Get on the gas or brakes abruptly? The little Ohvale bucks about, and there goes your exit. Recalibrate, listen, and learn what the GP-2 is saying and it slots onto the proverbial rails with ease. My lap times on the optional Alfano GPS dash began trending in the right direction when I started getting things right.
While this usually isn’t seen as a positive, bumping up to 12-inch wheels adds additional gyroscopic forces to the mix, introducing a tad more stability than the GP-0’s 10-inchers. That also kicks the doors open for more tire options.
Suspension duties are handled by a spring preload-adjustable 33mm USD fork and fully adjustable shock in standard trim. Meanwhile, I had an accessory fully adjustable 38mm fork with Mupo internals at my disposal. Together, the suspension translates the racetrack’s topography to the rider excellently. Beyond that, having adjustable suspension allows a rider to start understanding bike setup or how geometry changes the bike’s behavior. Again, all things that riders pushing their limits must comprehend.
There isn’t much of a difference between how you approach riding the Ohvale or a larger bike when you boil it all down, and experimenting with techniques is what the GP-2 is all about. Sure, maintaining your corner speed is a solid approach for any lightweight machine, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bury the front end with the sweet 4-piston J.Juan brakes, as you would on a point-and-shoot 1000cc bike.
In fact, I can attribute the Ohvale with strides I made in the braking department. Flirting with deeper braking or carrying more brakes towards the apex seemed more attainable at these more reasonable speeds. That point, as with countless others, I’ve translated to every other bike I’ve been on since—especially when racing my Kawasaki Ninja 400.
We should analyze what you get.
Our current U.S. market isn’t exactly rife with performance minibike options unless you rewind the clock to when the Honda NSR50 and Yamaha YSR50 ruled the roost, or grab a Kayo MiniGP MR150, which provides some context to the pricey $6499 starting MSRP. However, compare the price to the thriving motocross world, where a 2022 KTM 85 SX will set you back $6399, and you quickly realize the cost of a 2021 Ohvale GP-2 190 is not unreasonable.
Next year, we’ll have Cameron Beaubier, Joe Roberts, and Sean Dylan Kelly competing in Moto2, while Garrett Gerloff represents America in WSBK. Perhaps not so oddly, their social media profiles all show time on Ohvale machinery.
Whether you’re a professional racer, club racer, or an enthusiast looking to hone your abilities, spending time with the 2021 Ohvale GP-2 190 will improve you as a rider; that much is evident. Right now, there isn’t a more potent set of training tools than what Ohvale has in its arsenal—full stop.
- Helmet: Arai Corsair-X
- Suit: Alpinestars Missile Ignition
- Baselayer: VnM Sport Compression
- Gloves: Alpinestars GP-Pro R3
- Boots: Alpinestars Supertech R
2021 Ohvale GP-2 190 Specs
- Type: Daytona horizontal single-cylinder 4-stroke
- Displacement: 187cc
- Bore x stroke: 62 x 62cc
- Valvetrain: SOHC; 4 valves
- Fueling: 28mm carburetor (Keihin PE or Dell’Orto PHBH)
- Exhaust: Stainless steel with Arrow titanium muffler
- Starting: Kick
- Lubrication: Wet sump
- Transmission: 4-speed (neutral at bottom; reverse shift optional)
- Clutch: Wet 6-plate (slipper clutch optional)
- Final drive: Regina Gold Series chain
- Frame: Tubular-steel trellis
- Front suspension: Spring-preload adjustable 33mm inverted fork (fully adjustable 38mm inverted fork optional)
- Rear suspension: Fully adjustable shock w/ piggyback reservoir (Öhlins shock optional)
- Wheels: Aluminum
- Front wheel: 12 x 2.50
- Rear wheel: 12 x 3.00
- Tires: Pirelli Diablo Rosso Scooter
- Front tire: 100/90 x 12
- Rear tire: 120/80 x 12
- Front brake: 220mm floating disc w/ 4-piston radial J.Juan caliper and steel-braided line
- Rear brake: 180mm disc w/ single-piston D 25 floating caliper and steel-braided line
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Seat height: 28.5 inches
- Fuel tank capacity: 3.7 quarts
- Dry weight: 156.5 pounds (sans liquids)
- Colors: Black/Yellow; White/Red; Blue/Orange; Grey/Orange
2021 Ohvale GP-2 190 Price: $6499 MSRP
2021 Ohvale GP-2 190 Review Photo Gallery