STORIES BEHIND THE PHOTOS: 2014 SUZUKI RM-Z250
This past Wednesday the MXA wrecking crew loaded up and headed down to the famed Perris Raceway, which we used to frequent often when the track held a bunch of races. Lately we haven’t set our GPS heading to Perris because we drive by a bunch of other tracks before ever reaching the gate. The last time we were at Perris was two months ago when we decided to ride Speedway. On that day we never put knobby to dirt on the moto track!
Yet last week we were going to Perris, and for good reason. Suzuki was unveiling their 2014 big bike line-up. Although Suzuki made minimal changes to the RM-Z250 and RM-Z450, we were still elated to throw a leg over the yellow bikes. Suzuki has done a commendable job of improving their machines in recent years (the RM-Z250 finished second in last year’s MXA 250 Shootout, and the RM-Z450 finished third in the 450 Shootout).
In the past I’ve probably gushed about the fun of a new bike intro. It’s a day of getting spoiled. How so? Let me count the ways: (1) We get to ride a brand new bike. (2) The manufacturer typically rents out the track, meaning that we have free rein to do whatever we want?and we often take that liberty. The AMA can’t penalize us for riding backward on the track. (3) There are a number of highly skilled technicians at our beck and call. They check sag, wield the necessary tools, adjust clickers and help apply preprinted numbers if we botch them up. (4) Free food! Free food! Free food! (5) Not only does the manufacturer give us the brand new bike to take home at the end of the day, but sometimes they even give us a parting gift. Suzuki handed us a fresh new Ogio gear bag to thank us for coming out to eat their food, drink their water, thrash their new bikes, summon their technicians and blow out the berms at their rented track. I’m flabbergasted that this trend continues year after year.
Now to the root of my topic. Every photo has a story. Some stories are better than others, depending on the photo. I’ll give you a few examples from the 2014 Suzuki RM-Z250 introduction last week. Daryl Ecklund was the photo rider. Perhaps you know him as the health and fitness guru at MXA, as the Assistant Editor, as a former professional racer, or as the guy that can whip off a sheet of rice paper (there’s a reason why I call him “Miracle Whip”).
I chose the first location shot?a downhill fluffy berm with a relatively clean background. Photo nerds will easily see that Daryl is side lit, which is nice because the angle provides good depth and edge lighting and yada yada yada. What you might not see from this photo is that Daryl is going about 15 miles an hour. Sure, it looks like he’s ripping the Earth a new fault line, when in reality he’s putting along. It’s not always about speed, especially when shooting photos. There’s nice roost coming off his Dunlop rear tire, thanks to the fluffy loose dirt. His front wheel is up because he carried a wheelie into the downhill turn?something that an advanced rider would have no problem doing, but a newbie could easily fall while attempting. Daryl’s elbows are up, his face is over the handlebars, and he’s looking forward while maintaining an attack position. Ecklund earned a gold star for this shot.
Shot number two and we’re feeling confident, because we know that the first turn we hit is a winner. So we move down the track 80 feet and turn our attention to a downhill roller. Daryl, at 28 years young and dangerously close to be labeled a Vet rider, can still throw down like the kids. Here’s proof. His scrub is tight, body leaned in and front wheel turned down like a boss. Though he doesn’t have the praying mantis arm style of the young scrub generation, Daryl’s low-flying yellow turnover is still a sight to behold. By the way, he hit this roller at Mach 1 and landed front wheel first every time. I have a few gray hairs from watching him ride.
So we had a cool turn shot and a scrubber, but what about a bar dragger? A back story. In January Daryl and I went to offroad racer Kyle Redmond’s house to shoot a YZ250 two-stroke and a TM 450 four-stroke. All went well, despite the lack of a serious motocross track. Daryl decided to build up a turn in the moist desert dirt, and he proceeded to nearly drag bar on the TM. It was superb.
I had remembered seeing photos of yore, where past professionals would lean so low that they could drag their hands through the dirt. Seeing Daryl slice through the chocolate desert dirt tripped the idea to have him put his hand out and grab some soil. He proceeded to do so, which caused the fibers in my mind to be blown. It was something else.
In the photo above Daryl didn’t get low enough to drag his hand. Well, he could have, but it would have looked corny. Not all corners are created equally, and this Perris rut didn’t have the makings of unbridled radness. We still managed to get a good shot.
Whenever I’m shooting a new bike with Daryl, I always take a gander at the biggest jump on the track. Why? Big air equates to big whips. As previously mentioned, Daryl could whip off a Saltine, but with enough air time he can get upside down. He has a better whip than most current pro racers (by the way, in my opinion I think that Josh Grant holds the crown among active top ten racers).
There aren’t very many huge jumps at Perris, but there’s a nice fourth gear tabletop near the famed rocks that looked appealing. I asked Daryl to bust out a few whips over the jump, to which he replied, “I hit that jump, and it doesn’t send you very high. I’ll try to do a whip, but I don’t think it’s going to work out very well.”
As you can see from the photo, Daryl was dead wrong. I give him all the credit though. A line had formed on the face that many other photo riders were taking, but it shot them rather low. Ecklund, ever the soil farmer (not to be confused with soil sampler), discovered a patch of terra firma that sprouted just off the main line. He clicked fourth gear, hit it hard, jumped quite a few feet higher than everyone else, and laid out a sweet whip. At that moment my heart filled with pride. Daryl had done it once again.
Like a mountain goat I scaled the rocks until I could find the proper vantage point to shoot down on Daryl. I thought it would make for an interesting backdrop. Instead of Daryl whipping against blue sky I’d have the track in the background. Truth be told, I discovered this angle a number of years ago at the Honda CRF250 introduction when Justin Barcia was throwing down some cool whips off the same basic tabletop. It pays to remember things.
I was happy with Daryl’s effort, and he was relatively pleased?the guy is never quite satisfied unless he comes within millimeters of wadding it up, at which point he’ll ask me if I got the shot. With the cool whip shot in the books we were done with the photo shoot and moved on to testing. It was a good day.
SEE THE 2014 SUZUKI RM-Z250 IN ACTION
VISIT THE AMA MOTORCYCLE HALL OF FAME FOR FREE
It’s a one day only offer, so get yourself to Ohio on Saturday, Sept. 28th to tour the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame
AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame offers free admission on Sept. 28. Current exhibits include AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Gallery, 2 Wheels + Motor: A Fine Art Exhibition and Dirt-Track! All-American Racing
The American Motorcyclist Association Motorcycle Hall of Fame will open its doors free of charge on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, as part of Smithsonian magazine’s ninth annual Museum Day. The nationwide event, “Museum Day Live!,” offers free admission to visitors presenting a Museum Day Live! ticket at a participating museum or cultural institution.
”Motorcycling’s rich heritage is something that all motorcyclists are proud of, and we are excited to share our nation’s two-wheeled story with all the members of our community as well as Smithsonian magazine readers and Smithsonian.com visitors on Sept. 28,” said AMA Vice President of Operations Jeff Massey. “The stories of the amazing men and women who have defined our sport, lifestyle and business are exciting and inspiring. We’re looking forward to showcasing these stories for all-comers during Museum Day Live!”
Inclusive by design, the event represents Smithsonian’s commitment to make learning and the spread of knowledge accessible to everyone, giving museums across all 50 states the opportunity to emulate the admission policy of the Smithsonian museums in Washington D.C. Last year’s event drew more than 400,000 participants nationwide, and this year’s event expects record-high participation.
Founded in 1990, the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to motorcycling, including those known for road riding, off-road riding and all categories of racing, as well as those who have excelled in government relations, business, history, design and engineering.
More information about the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame can be found at www.motorcyclemuseum.org.
VIDEO: PASSION – CHAD REED
This Kyle Cowling film shows why you can’t help rooting for Reedy
YOUNG TALENTED RIDERS AND THEIR CARELESSNESS
By Daryl Ecklund
Note that this sequence isn’t a fair representation of what Daryl is speaking of. That’s Chris Blose giving it to Jared Browne a few years ago in the Phoenix LCQ for the final transfer spot for the main. These guys are professionals, racing for money and a livelihood. Young amateurs, on the other hand, should tread lightly when sharing a practice track with other riders.
As we grow up there is a stage in our lives where we think we are always right. We know all the answers and solutions. We have the world figured out. Now combine this type of thinking with talent. With talent mixed in you have a misguided missile ready to hit the wrong target. For the kids that are on this roller coaster ride, their confidence is sky high, with a touch of ego and cockiness that goes along with it.
Up-and-coming motocross riders usually have this problem. It is something that will help them get to the peak of that roller coaster, but eventually they will come down screaming in fear on the long drop down if not directed with the right guidance. With the right guide this problem can turn a rider into a Champion.
I see riders at the track going so fast, yet they are careless as they blow by slower riders at breakneck speeds. Sometimes they hit or endanger other riders to ensure that their lap times don’t drop. In their mind, it is their track and the other slower riders should ride somewhere else, or at the very least wait their turn if they feel that they are in harm’s way.
Perhaps you think that I am getting ahead of myself by calling these kids out. I don’t have to know them, because I can merely watch them ride. They can be nice as pie to your face, but as soon as they step foot on the track their alter ego steps in. In a lot of cases these kids are oblivious to what damage they are causing?either to others, themselves, are the carnage they are brewing up for their future.
The funny thing is, these riders remind me of myself when I was coming through the ranks. I had the problem at its worst. I was the quiet nice kid off the track, but as soon as I stepped foot on the track I turned into the Tasmanian Devil. I just pinned it, with no regard to any of the other riders. A lot of the time I would take people out on accident due to my reckless style. I would usually look back to make sure they got up, but I wouldn’t let off or stop to ensure my lap times remained consistent. Sometimes the riders I endangered would come up to me in a fury in the pits and wanting payback. I always apologized and never fired back, because I was scared because I couldn’t fight?off the track, at least.
I slowly learned, but never the easy way. I would yard sale myself time and time again. Each time I would get up slower. I started to get a bad rap at the tracks. I wasn’t thinking about how small our industry is and how fast word gets around. By the time I started to learn better technique, respect others riders, and learn that losing a second off my lap time wasn’t going to be the end of the world my window for success was closed.
Watching these riders frustrates me. For one, I see the potential for what they are capable of. For two, most the time they won’t listen to helpful advice until they get to the peak of the roller coaster and come tumbling down. If you are a talented rider I suggest that you be humble and aware of your surroundings on the track. You might be off on your lap times here or there, or even lose a few races by being curious to others. Regardless, you still need to be able to think down the road of where it will take you. Don’t just live for today.
VIDEO: THE MANY FACES OF A GOON RIDER
This kid has a future as a method actor
SPONSOR ME: TWIN AIR
Perkasie, PA ? The 2014 Twin Air Rider Support program is now open. To become part of the prestigious Twin Air support program, please use one of the following methods to send us your current resume.
Or mail us a hardcopy to:
Twin Air USA
Attn: Rider Support
410 E Walnut St. #2
Perkasie, PA 18944
SPONSOR ME: NIHILO CONCEPTS
Stuart, FL – Nihilo Concepts is now reviewing applications for 2014 rider support. Nihilo Concepts rider support program is open to all motocross and off-road racers. Nihilo Concepts is the leader of innovative billet parts and accessories for all KTM dirt bikes. Our products are featured on the new KTM 50, 65 and 85 lines of SXS bikes as well as Robbie Maddison, Ronnie Renner, Jordan Bailey and Brock Papi’s event winning machines. Visit www.nihiloconcepts.com for more information. To apply, riders can submit their resume now through October 31st via email only (with the subject: as SPONSORSHIP REQUEST).
SPONSOR ME: RENTHAL
Renthal is now accepting rider support applicants for the 2014 racing season. For nearly 30 years, Renthal has run a successful amateur rider support program here in the United States which has seen so many of the sports elite stars come up through. Riders like James Stewart, Ricky Carmichael, Kevin Windham, Robbie Reynard, Tim Ferry, Mike Alessi, Davi Millsaps were all dominant at the big amateur nationals like Loretta Lynn’s and have all had support from Renthal at some point during their early racing years.
Support at the grassroots level is very important to us as it helps riders achieve their dream of turning pro and helps make the transition from amateur to pro more seamless. To apply for sponsorship from Renthal you must visit our dedicated sponsorship website at www.renthalsupport.com, which allows you to upload all your information and attach a resume in Word or PDF format.
Sponsorship is available for all disciplines of racing, whether you ride motocross, offroad, ATV, roadrace or something in between, we are looking for riders who can represent us in a professional manner on and off the track.
For more information:
SPONSOR ME: DeCAL WORKS
CHICAGO, IL. – DeCal Works, the leader and innovator of pre-printed backgrounds, proudly offers the Lifetime Support sponsorship program. Typically, riders reapply each year for support; however, DeCal Works’ Lifetime Support sponsorship program eliminates that hassle allowing our riders to concentrate on what they do best. DeCal Works Lifetime Support eliminates the annual registration process and removes any questions of future sponsorships while increasing rider sponsorship levels, benefits and rewards for loyal supporters.
To apply for Lifetime Support, riders can log on to www.decalmx.com and sign up electronically. Riders may also send a resume by mail. The “Free Enrollment’ Lifetime Support program opened September 1st and runs through November 30th each year. Riders who miss the November 30th deadline can still apply by paying a one-time administration fee of $19.95.
To launch your Lifetime Support program for FREE, sign up with DeCal Works prior to November 30.
DeCal Works Lifetime Support sponsorship discounts not only apply to all bike graphics, but also to the vast array of options offered here at DeCal Works, including MX Plastic (replacement plastic) Matrix (Mats/Stands/Ramps) clothing (shirts/hats), pit boards, neck braces, rider ID graphics, and more.
Thank you to all our current loyal riders. Welcome to our new riders! DeCal Works looks forward to working with all of you for years to come.
SPONSOR ME: MOTO-GATE
Moto-Gate is now accepting applications for Rider Sponsorship for the 2014 season! Moto-gate the innovator of the moto-gate is proud to announce they are accepting applications through mxsponsor.com and Hookit.com. Moto-Gate originated in 2005 and then not long after launched tie downs the moto-gate mini and utility work gloves. We are looking for all athlete’s please sign up free today and become Sponsored !
SPONSOR ME: ACERBIS
Acerbis USA’s Rider Support program is now accepting rider resumes for 2014 sponsorship. Acerbis is looking for riders of all ages and skill levels to participate in helping promote the Acerbis brand in Motocross, Off-Road, ATV, and Freestyle. If you feel you can help promote the Acerbis brand in a positive way, please send Acerbis USA a resume. The program will open September 1st and run until November 15th. Riders interested in Acerbis Support can submit their resume a couple different ways.
1. You can apply online at www.hookit.com.
2. If you do not have a Hookit account, you can send a hard copy via US Postal Service, to the following address:
Attn: Rider Support
PO Box 2030
Sun Valley, ID 83353
Please note, even if you are an Acerbis 2013 support rider, you must reapply for 2014. Any resume submitted after the submission date, will not be considered for support in 2014. Acerbis is looking for committed, driven athletes to represent our brand. Thank you for considering Acerbis as your plastic company and we look forward to seeing your resume.
SPONSOR ME: AXO
Apply for 2014 AXO rider support and have the opportunity to be a part of a world championship team! AXO America understands what riders go through on a daily basis trying to balance school, work and their passion for riding. We know this is no easy task. So whether you might be just starting out or a seasoned pro, at AXO America we are always willing to help you out. We pride ourselves on offering professional support to all of our riders young and vets. Sponsorship this year is available to off road, street and cycling riders!
Submit a resume to us in one of the following ways:
Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Apply on hookit.com
Please note, even if you were a 2013 AXO sponsored rider you must reapply for 2014.
SPONSOR ME: MOTOREX
MOTOREX USA has begun accepting rider support resumes and applications for the 2014 season and will begin to review them next month. Riders are encouraged to apply before December 1st 2013 as all riders applying after this time will not be considered for the 2014 season. To apply please send your resume with race results to the addresses below before the Dec 1st deadline. Be sure to include an email address in your resume as all rider contracts will be sent via email.
Mail: MOTOREX USA
Attn: Rider Support
900 Mendelssohn Ave. N.
Golden Valley, MN 55427
SPONSOR ME: MAXXIS
Maxxis’ 2014 sponsorship application period is now open. Through November 1, riders, teams and event organizers in ATV, bicycle and off-road motorcycle racing can apply for sponsorship in 2014.
Maxxis welcomes applications from participants at all levels, from amateur to pro. To apply, simply visit the appropriate link below and click the “Get Sponsored” tab. Download the official application form and follow all directions. Applications must be submitted via email along with race resumes or event proposals before November 1. All applicants will be notified of sponsorship status via email by November 22, 2013.
Off-Road Motorcycle: http://www.maxxis.com/MotorcycleATV/Motorcycle-Racing-and-Sponsorship.aspx
Maxxis looks forward to another great year of competition, with racing’s best riders paired with the finest tires on the market. Be sure to visit Maxxis.com and submit your application ASAP. Good luck!
SPONSOR ME: 100% GOGGLES
100% is now accepting “Rider Support | 100% Goggles, sponsorship program” sponsorship applications for the “100% Launches 2014 Product Line” 2014 season. Think you’ve got what it takes to be part of our “Team | 100% Athletes” team?
We’re currently looking for racers that represent the commitment and dedication to give it 100% in everything they do. Our “Company – 100% Premium Goggles MX, SX, FMX, MTB” brand was built on “The Spirit Of Racing” more than 30 years ago and it lives strongly today through our commitment to offer a full range of premium motocross “100% Goggles | Racecraft, Accuri, Strata, Strata Mud, Accuri Jnr” goggles, “2014 100% Eyewear – Hakan, Higgins, Heikki, Burgett, Bowen, Atsuta” sunglasses, “2014 100% Goggles Accessories – Lenses, Tears off, Nose Guard, Speedlab Vision” accessories, “2014 100% Sportswear – T-Shirt, Sweater, Hat, Beanie | 100% Team Clothing” sportswear.
If you’re ready to be a part of our program apply “Rider Support | 100% Goggles, sponsorship program” online now.
SPONSOR ME: RACE TECH SUSPENSION
Race Tech is now accepting applications to join the Race Tech Team for the 2014 racing season. After hosting a large grassroots support effort in 2013, Race Tech is going even bigger for the upcoming season. Apply today to join the Race Tech Rider Support Team for 2014, and let our years of testing, tuning, and product development give you the best suspension on the track.
Applying for Race Tech’s Rider Support Team is simple. A) Apply online at racetech.com by filling out this application. B) Apply at HookIt.com C) Apply at realMotocross.com D) Apply at MXSponsor.com
As a part of Race Tech’s Rider Support Team, riders are also eligible for support from our associate sponsors FMF Racing, Novik Gloves, and MotoE Performance.