By John Basher

Justin Barcia signed a big bucks deal with JGRMX for the 2015 season. A longtime Honda rider, “Bam Bam” needed a change of scenery after struggling with injuries during the 2014 season. JGRMX, based in Huntersville, North Carolina, was happy to welcome the star power. Unfortunately, a gaffe while practicing during the early part of last year’s Supercross series–a painful hip injury that resulted in a cracked hip–kept him out of contention indoors. However, Barcia rebounded outdoors by winning at Budds Creek and Red Bud. He nearly finished out the last half of the Nationals by landing on the podium at every round. The strong comeback netted him third overall in the series. Coupled with a strong showing at the Motocross des Nations in Ernee, France–Barcia went 1-3 in the combined motos and took the individual overall win in the 450 class–and it was more than enough incentive for the MXA gang to beg for a ride on Justin’s JGRMX Yamaha YZ450F. Fortunately, Coy Gibbs and Jeremy Albrecht obliged.

Below is a breakdown of Justin Barcia’s 2015 outdoor rocket.

Factory: JGRMX is factory supported, meaning they get flowed works parts from Yamaha of Japan. Those items come out of a set budget. Justin Barcia asked for a billet-aluminum Nissin front brake caliper when he signed with JGRMX, because he had become accustomed to using the brake while at factory Honda. Coy Gibbs obliged, even though the caliper was $2100. Barcia was the only rider on the team to use the Nissin caliper last year. Weston Peick and Phil Nicoletti used a 2007 YZ450F caliper (which is commonly used by Yamaha’s race teams).

Uniqueness: JGR is known primarily as a NASCAR race program. There are close to 600 employees on the Cup side, meaning a lot of brain power is directed at research and development. That knowledge spills over to the motocross race team. Having said that, the JGRMX team is full of smarties. Spencer Bloomer is the team’s engineering whiz. He is responsible–directly and/or indirectly–for making the titanium footpegs, shifter tip, rear brake pedal tip, shock link, and other in-house parts. Each piece was made with performance in mind, rather than simply making bling that didn’t serve a purpose other than looking pretty. For example, the shifter tip was longer and aggressively knurled for easier shifting. JGR bent the shift arm in a press so that it was closer to the engine. The rear brake pedal tip was titanium, slightly larger than stock and had sharper teeth.


Engine: Race teams keep engine specs close to their chests. Finding specifics on piston compression, cam chain timing and everything in between is liking pulling teeth. Often we get nowhere when barraging race techs with questions. As such, JGR’s Jeremy Albrecht had this to say when we asked what was inside Barcia’s engine. “We do way more to the engine than many people would ever need done. We use different valves, buckets and cams and a different rod, piston, piston pin and cylinder head. Every piece in the engine is touched.” It should be noted that JGR uses a chemical process called “rimming” to strengthen the engine internals and reduce friction.

Preferences: Justin Barcia liked running 70 psi in his Neken air triple clamps, Renthal 996-bend TwinWall handlebars with full-diamond soft-compound grips, and extremely stiff KYB air forks mated with a soft shock. Our test riders noted how the forks became progressive and absorbed impacts well once they broke through the initial part of the stroke. That makes sense. It wouldn’t take James Clerk Maxwell to realize that Justin Barcia blasts through braking bumps with the speed and finesse of a bull charging through Pamplona.

Our take on Justin Barcia’s JGRMX Yamaha YZ450F was this: it was an incredibly tuned and advanced machine built for one of the sport’s most exciting racers. The bike had the personality to fit. Will “Bam Bam” catch fire like he did during last year’s Nationals? Time will tell.

bam bamcoy gibbsJeremy AlbrechtJGRjgrmxJOE GIBBS RACINGJUSTIN BARCIAone photo and one storyoposyamaha yz450f